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Letters from September 20, 2000


The Caen Mutiny

A little change would do us good: As an avid reader of Matt Smith's columns and articles, I want to thank him not only for his reassessment of the legacy of Herb Caen ("Past Imperfect," Sept. 13) but also for the number of great articles he's done in recent years.

As an urban planning professional, I've thought a lot myself about San Francisco's affinity with cozy nostalgia. People have moved here thinking it would be a special place where things are different, a world not unlike that described by Caen and further popularized (even if not always romanticized) by Armistead Maupin. There is enormous disappointment in many when they find that this is not the magical land of Oz, that we face the same problems and opportunities that other cities face. I find that people are fighting to "return" the city to this never-never land rather than embrace the fact that cities are inherently dynamic.

The greatest cities of the world owe at least some of their greatness to an ability to embrace change. In San Francisco, the culture seems inordinately obsessed about freezing change and enshrining the past.

John Cook
Duboce Triangle

If You Thought Bonds Was Cranky, Read Our Letters

Well, you're not Barry, so lighten up: In response to your cover story on Barry Bonds and his moods ("Bow to the King," Sept. 6), I find it curious that everyone seems so concerned that Barry Bonds is testy. We could always trade him in for any one of the drug-addict, wife-beater, coach-strangler, low-rent thugs that are all over the sports world. But, no, we have to be all up in his face because he's cranky. I'd be cranky too if I were Barry.

Once, while leaving a spring training game, I watched a crowd of people first cap on him for having a bodyguard and then lift him completely off his feet in an effort to get autographs. I have heard children at the ballpark, coached by their parents, yell at him that he owes them an autograph. He doesn't owe us anything. If he retired from baseball today, he'd have more than fulfilled his so-called obligation to the fans of this town. He was hired to go to the ballpark every day and play the best baseball he can, and he does that. Game over.

Vickie Akers
Outer Sunset

That, and the press' poor hygiene: Can SF Weekly ever do a positive cover story on an African-American? It's stories like this that inspire sports and entertainment figures to maintain as little contact with the press as possible.

Harrison Chastang
Civic Center

Are we the crackpot or the journalist?: Barry Bonds and Greta Garbo are right. Privacy is sacred. Being famous does not mean you want to have your life exposed to crackpots and journalists. The writer has wrongly assumed that readers are as interested in Barry's private life as they are in the Giants' amazing success this year. At one point this season, Bonds led the National League in home runs. He plays almost every game. He is or is not loved by everyone. Who cares? The Giants are in first place in the NL West, for gosh sakes. And you can still love him, from afar.

Denise Ward

If You Can't Say Anything Nice About Someone, Put It in a Memo

Delusions of grandeur: Great Dog Bites column ("A Little Crazy," Sept. 6). Amazing. Hilarious. Laurel Wellman is tops.

Poor Julian Guthrie. Someone should tell her a Pulitzer Prize is probably not in her future. Nor for her counterpart at the Chronicle, Nanette Asimov. These two cannot write a story on education without concluding that we only need to spend more money if we truly want to improve our schools.

Now [Guthrie's] amazing memo. The sort of memo you put in a book of poetry to visit whenever you're feeling too big or too ugly.

Poor Julian Guthrie.

Paul Burton
Bernal Heights

You Try Writing a Music Column Every Week

On behalf of bed-wetters, we're insulted: Oh, Lord, why? With the creative band population of San Francisco disappearing overnight, why champion possibly the worst group I have seen in 25 years of gig-going -- the Fairways ("Playing Through," Music, Sept. 6)? They are singularly bereft of all style, substance, melody, and wit. They seem to aspire to be a sub-Belle & Sebastian rip-off for bed-wetting, Japanese-fetishizing indie kids -- twee, affected, and puerile. There are some good pop groups in S.F., but the Fairways are not one of them!

Susan and Dave Yamani


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