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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Zine Scene

APE was more chaff than wheat: I, too, was a little disappointed by (my first) visit to the Alternative Press Expo, but for different reasons than your writer, Karen Zuercher ["Zine Stealers," Books, Feb. 25].

First, the attendees barely outnumbered the exhibitors, it seemed.

Second, the attendees were flat broke, having spent everything on hair products, piercings, and tats. They didn't seem interested in picking up books and zines. They seemed very interested in being seen walking around at APE and gazing at the T-shirts hanging behind the AK Press table.

Third, I found plenty of beautiful and moving books and zines. True, most of them were not brand spankin' new and were largely available at the Last Gasp and Fantagraphics table (rather than at the independent creators' tables). But as someone who easily spends more than $300 a month on alternapress titles (not to mention the free altswag I receive as an arts and entertainment editor for a weekly paper), I think I can speak with a little authority that there was in fact great product at APE.

Not that I can fault Zuercher for not seeing it. There was, by the same token, a lot of chaff obscuring the wheat.

Jarret Keene
Las Vegas, Nev.

I should be jaded about APE, but I'm not: Read Zuercher's article about APE, and I got the feeling I was at a different show than she was. I found the whole thing amazing, and I wasn't so jaded that I came out of it with the feeling that there was nothing to read.

Which is all the more odd, because I'm one of those rare people that makes his living publishing independent comics, and if anyone should be jaded by now, it's me.

Larry Young
Via the Internet

Plugola: Not being familiar with 99 percent of the exhibitors there, I have to agree with Zuercher. I saw a lot of cute things to look at, but not much else. In fact, I had only gone to pick up the print version of Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim, and I had hoped Zuercher would mention him in her discoveries. Alas, he was not. If you're unfamiliar, it's a quiet, human story, first serialized on the Web. I would encourage you to read it there:

Stacy Wong
Via the Internet

Watch Your Step

You might get one of this guy's columns on your shoes: Matt Smith continues to bemoan San Francisco's political activism ["An Instigator's Instigator," Mar. 3]. This time, he attacks ordinary citizens like me who participate in government as loathsome "gadflies" who are often found "below the crust of manure piles, and at San Francisco committee hearings."

I can think of many things worse than San Francisco's "400 tiny interest groups, neighborhood associations, and related gadfly swarms," including anti-democratic journalists like Smith. The difference between me and Smith is that I let people know my position and what I think of them to their faces rather than after manipulating a story from them (I invited Matt to do a story on the Natural Areas controversy and set up the meetings and contacts he used to do his hatchet job on me). I do actual productive civic work and I don't get paid for what I do.

As I told Matt (and he failed to report), there are legitimate differences between the stakeholders in San Francisco's Natural Areas controversy. But I'm convinced they can be worked out through mediation with win/win results as we recently did (under my leadership) with the Quail Recovery Plan for San Francisco.

As Socrates noted, gadflies are useful prods to sluggish governments. I don't know if gadflies are often found "beneath the crust of manure piles," but if they are, Matt Smith is one steaming pile I would avoid.

Steve Cockrell
Via the Internet

On the other hand, you might get Steve Cockrell on your shoes: Smith missed the best part of the story. This is Cockrell's second switcheroo -- he turned on the native plant groups several years ago when he "went to the dogs."

So it's native plant groups 2, dog groups 1, and this is one contest I'm quite happy to concede to the native plant folks. When Steve turns, he does it with a particularly nasty viciousness and leaves no friends behind.

Linda McKay
Via the Internet

Politics + Money = Disaster

Exhibit A: This so-called progressive candidate: Peter Byrne's exposé on Democratic congressional candidate Rohit Khanna is a useful example of why efforts to reform the Democratic Party are doomed to failure ["Neo Con Artist," Feb. 25]. The influence of corporate money in the Democratic Party is so widespread and so pernicious that even those candidates who appear to be progressive populists are often sponsored by and beholden to the millionaires of the corporate world.

I've been puzzled by Matt Gonzalez's endorsement of Khanna. As a Green and a candidate for the San Francisco Green County Council, I believe Greens should not endorse in other parties' primaries. We wouldn't want Republicans or Democrats meddling in our primaries, and we shouldn't meddle in theirs. I think Gonzalez erred in endorsing Khanna, and Byrne's article helps illustrate how.

I also think Gonzalez erred in his endorsement of Dennis Kucinich. For one thing, I thought Al Sharpton did a better job of articulating a progressive vision for the Democrats. For another, the candidacy of Kucinich diverted the attention of a lot of progressives toward a candidacy that would inevitably be crushed by the party's corporate masters. And Kucinich made no bones about the fact that his candidacy was intended to undermine the Green Party.

The only way to break the corporate stranglehold and get to truly representative democracy is to build a noncorporate party based on grass-roots democracy. That party is the Green Party. I hope your readers will join me in supporting the Green nominee in Congressional District 12 in November, whether that turns out to be Pat Gray or Barry Hermanson.

Paul Quick
Upper Market

Gimme the veteran over the newbie: As a 24-year resident of the Sunset District, I want to thank SF Weekly for providing honest and thorough reporting on Rohit Khanna. Unlike the Guardian, which blindly endorses candidates left and right, SF Weekly has done the proper job of providing in-depth information about a candidate who receives notice only because of his ability to fund-raise.

Khanna hasn't even lived in the district for a year, much less the region, and feels he's qualified to represent our district. Even though incumbent Tom Lantos voted for the resolution to go to war in Iraq as well as the PATRIOT Act, these two resolutions are not enough of an argument to oust him. In fact, John Edwards and John Kerry both voted for these resolutions. But we would take them any day as president over Bush.

Lantos has done some great things in our district. He is the reason why we have BART to SFO. With his experience and political clout in Washington, he can represent us better than any Yale Law grad can -- especially one who doesn't know our area and with no political experience.

Christopher Saalfeld

Politics + God = Yuck

Ministers oughta keep their mouths shut about gay marriage: I was fascinated by Matt Smith's exposé of my organization ["Institute of Hate," Feb. 25]. What a cultural divide! He believes the defenders of traditional marriage are hatemongerers. And we on the other side believe the advocates of same-sex "marriage" are launching a rudderless ship without moorings or destination.

Yes, we at the Institute on Religion and Democracy are generally conservative. But the Penn Kemble whom Smith describes as one of our founders served for eight years in the Clinton administration. Perhaps we are not as stereotypically "right-wing" as Smith would like to believe. In general, we think church leaders should stay away from political specifics, whether of the right or left, and should uphold the teachings of their churches.

S.F.'s Rev. Karen Oliveto, when ordained, pledged to uphold the beliefs of the United Methodist Church, which has repeatedly rejected acceptance of same-sex unions. If she cannot abide by church rules, then perhaps conscience requires her to step aside.

It is interesting that Methodism on the West Coast, which professes to be so inclusive and liberal, has suffered steep membership decline. And Methodism in the Deep South, and in Africa, where it is the most evangelical and traditional, is growing. If the non-churchgoing Matt Smith likes the liberal policies of Rev. Oliveto and others, why doesn't he attend their churches? The truth is, when most people seek out a church, they find one whose theology is not "modern," but rather one whose beliefs are timeless and, yes, even eternal. Religion that is fashionable and transitory rarely inspires awe or loyalty.

Mark Tooley
Washington, D.C.

A right-winger under every bed: It seems that everywhere you look these days you see a conservative, corporately funded group telling us that global warming will be good for Antarctica, or that we need to be spending much more than just 56 percent of our budget on the military to be safe. I guess that it really shouldn't be so surprising to find out that there is a group like the Institute on Religion and Democracy active in religious affairs.

Typical of such a mind-set, they have an article observing that family problems are less damaging when there is adequate income without either advocating policies that would increase income or addressing our increasingly two-tiered economy.

Jim Holsen
St Louis, Mo.


In "Zine Stealers" [Feb. 25], Karen Zuercher reprinted a story from Little Elegy without mentioning its author. The piece, "July Fourth With Crazy Legs Miller," was written by Wayne Wolfson of San Mateo. SF Weekly regrets the omission.


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