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Letters to the Editor 

Week of May 14, 2003

Coming to a City Near You -- Maybe

Burned Rubber by the Bay: In "Grand Theft Auto: Baghdad by the Bay," writer Ben Westhoff mentions the rumor that Las Vegas will be the next city in the GTA series and that S.F. would be a better choice [April 30]. That is an old rumor.

The latest is that S.F. will in fact be the basis for the next one. It will be called GTA: San Andreas and Rockstar already obtained the domain names for it. The original GTA featured three cities: Liberty, Vice City, and San Andreas. That game featured the neighborhoods "Richman" and "Sunrise." See the official site on the original GTA at The new domains reserved in March: and

Michael Butterfield

SFFD = Hog Heaven

Thanks for telling it like it is: Matt Smith's article on the San Francisco Fire Department was great and it needed to be written ["Hosed," April 30]. With all the cutbacks and budget crises in the city, and the large property taxes that people are paying, it's too much. The property taxes on a half-million-dollar home in S.F. is what one used to pay for rent. Why shouldn't the Fire Department be included in the cuts? Are they the sacred cow?

I am glad that Smith had the initiative to write the article. Our political people would never step up to the plate and admit there is a problem. What goes on in those firehouses in the name of work -- the public would be real surprised.

Often an ambulance, firetruck, and sometimes a hook and ladder will respond to a drunk or some other character in the downtown area. Do we really need all of this response or are they justifying their existence? How many of these firemen are living in S.F. and paying these high property taxes?

Name withheld by request
Glen Park

Stick it up yer chai-sippin' keister, you damned scribbler!: One simple question: How many of Smith's friends' funerals has he attended that died while at work doing their duty, typing a report or investigating news? Probably none. And that is a good thing. Well, I have been to more than one of my friends' (fellow firefighters) funerals who have died doing just that, their job. Trying to save others.

I can guarantee firefighters across this country were putting their lives on the line during the hour or two Smith sat at his desk and typed his slanderous message in his sterile office (which is probably at home), and sipped his chai tea. In fact, San Francisco's bravest were probably among them.

Spencer Nelson
Phoenix, Ariz.

History Lesson

It's always open to interpretation: Dan Weir claims "Protesters did not bring down Milosevic's murderous regime, 78 days of NATO bombing did. Look it up" ["Might Makes Right," Letters, April 30]. Where? On Fox News?

Weir's claim is false history of the same sort as the myth that Reagan brought down the Soviet regime all by himself, rather than its collapsing largely from its own, decades-old problems. It wrongly suggests people need the U.S. military to get rid of tyrants, rather than doing it on their own.

In Milosevic's case, opposition had been growing for years. The 1999 NATO bombing related to Kosovo came and went. A year and a half later, Milosevic decided to hold an election for his post as Yugoslav president, certain he would win against a divided opposition, as in the past. This time the opposition united. He tried to falsify the unfavorable results. Crowds gathered, though not entirely peaceful. The Yugoslav Supreme Court ruled against him. The army and police wouldn't back him. He fell.

Did the bombing fatally weaken him? In itself, almost certainly not. It's history, always complex, always open to interpretation -- not a fact you could look up, like some baseball stat.

Michael H. Goldhaber

Ethnography Lesson

Yes, Virginia, there is something called Persian food: Meredith Brody comments that there are "no self-identified Iranian restaurants" in the Bay Area ["Movie Meals," Eat, April 16]. Although the political boundaries of modern Iran and ancient Persia do not overlap exactly, the cuisine in question is usually called Persian. Bon appétit.

Teva Gayou
San Francisco


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