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Letters to the Editor 

Week of Wednesday, March 24, 2004

President Pretty Boy

Vote Gavin in 2012!: I think Matt Smith's article hits Gavin Newsom dead on ["Mayor AWOL," March 10]. The one thing Newsom has proved to me is that he's really good at trying to do whatever people tell him to do.

I think it's great that his name is on this gay marriage issue, because it's opening all this up. But I have to say I don't really see him taking a very big risk here. He's comfortable in a city that supports his decision and has a lot of straight and gay people who have enough money and power to get his back should things go wrong. I, too, heard him talk, before the mayoral runoff, about "my workforce housing initiative."

I understand that someone who had to have the two biggest names in the Democratic Party flown in to bail him out and still got fewer votes on Election Day than his opponent may not be used to the idea that we expect him to have a backbone and to take a chance on something he actually believes in. But I for one do. I think Newsom probably will be president someday; he seems like just the kind of person who, unfortunately, usually makes it.

Ariel Dovas

Attaboy: I just caught Smith's article, and his observations about Newsom are very astute. I find Smith's work in general to be very well-researched and well-reasoned. This is very unusual for most who write on the topics of San Francisco land use, development, and local politics; so many other writers just spout off without much basis in fact. Smith's good. He does the homework. Hope he's not catching too much flak for telling it like it is.

D. Wong

Of Faked Suicide and, Um, Jewish Slurs

You'll love this combo letter, folks: In her recent article "Obsessive Pursuit," Lisa Lambert stated, "[Chilean President Salvador] Allende went into a side room and blew his brains out" [March 3]. Last year I read Ariel Dorfman's Heading South, Looking North. At the time of the coup, Dorfman was a member of Allende's government and, according to him, was to have spent the night at the presidential palace.

Due to circumstances, he did not. But ultimately, he did meet up with those members of the government who stayed until Allende asked them to leave. Dorfman's presentation of Allende's last hour is that he was handling an automatic weapon as junta soldiers came around the hall he was in. From a distance, they shot him, leaving him dead or nearly so. One of the generals, who supposedly had it in for Allende, attempted to have him dressed in an unbloodied outfit and to stage photos to make it look as if it were a suicide. Rigor mortis and logic apparently make the images too unbelievable, since it is difficult to hold such a weapon and pull the trigger at the same time.

On an unrelated matter, Meredith Brody's deli article, "Jew Eat Yet?," caught my eye, me being of the Hebrew persuasion. I thought that we were beyond tasteless headlines, but I guess not. I suppose we'll be seeing other cute headlines or phrases in articles with such endearing terms as "spick," "wop," and who knows what else.

"Jew" is considered derogatory ("Jewish" is not), even when not prefaced by "dirty." Making a pun is not an excuse among people beyond high school age.

Robert Winshall

Zines: Clichéd Crap or Creative Crucible?

You be the judges, folks: I enjoyed Karen Zuercher's recent article on the Alternative Press Expo ["Zine Stealers," Books, Feb. 25]. I share her opinions about the epidemic of clichés in the "alternative" press release (if I see another bunny or other furry creature holding a knife, for instance, I will explode), and publishers' focus on just appearance ("like a teenager who concentrates on his clothes to the detriment of his schoolwork" -- ouch!).

I like the fact that Zuercher didn't just add to the all-pervasive atmosphere of cynicism with these comments; she gave constructive criticism. I've recently been looking through my old collection of zines and the like -- Search and Destroy, Puncture, Bunnyhop, AnswerMe!, Raw, etc., and going, "Wow" -- and getting inspired. One could get the feeling, these days, that good independent literature/comix are harder to find. Zuercher's article showed that she cares and has a sense of humor. I'll definitely be reading her column in the future.

Daniel Colombo
San Rafael

Your writer missed the boat: Zuercher's disappointment that she didn't discover "a new Maus" at the Alternative Press Expo doesn't make for much of a media column, let alone a cover story. While the "Zine Stealers" headline promised some sort of cultural exposé -- the death of zines by, uh, comic book artists? -- what SF Weekly actually delivered was an undercooked essay that revealed more about Zuercher's lack of imagination than the state of independent comics.

What I saw at the expo was thrilling: In an industry where cliché-ridden superheroes make the big bucks, hundreds of enthusiastic artists and publishers are devoting themselves to truly expanding the art form -- despite the fact that they won't get much money or appreciation for their efforts.

Certainly, many of the young, self-published illustrators at APE '04 offered crude work -- but that's how artists of any medium start out. To conclude, as Zuercher does, that "'independent' usually translated to 'unreadable'" is a ridiculous overstatement about indie comics as a whole. There were plenty of independent artists and publishers at APE '04 offering sophisticated, involving comics. It's unfortunate that your media expert wasn't excited by the storytelling of artists like Adrian Tomine, Jessica Abel, Dave Cooper, Joe Sacco, Julie Doucet, Joe Matt, or Phoebe Gloeckner -- among many, many others published by such indie houses as Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Top Shelf Productions, and Slave Labor Graphics. It's even more unfortunate that your readers won't discover these artists and publishers through your alleged "cover story." They could've used your support.

Coury Turczyn

Technical Difficulties

The Count had to deal with 'em, big time: OK, I'll humor Garrett Kamps and allow him to change the name and title so as not to come between an independent musician and his income [OK Then, Feb. 25]. But as an old sound guy/engineer, I just wish he had chosen a better substitute, time-line-wise.

By the time Weird Al's "I Lost on Jeopardy" was released in 1984 and even the Greg Kihn Band recording on which it was based came out in 1983, the three-track norm that the Count had to do his "name changed to protect the indie" remix from was ancient history.

The point of Kamps' article is well taken and I support the "fair use" of previously recorded material, as long as the original songwriters and such get paid. But I just wish Kamps hadn't picked a substitute song and recording that muddled the technical issue that the Count had to deal with. That's my two cents' worth, anyway.

Lee Brenkman
Via the Internet


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