Letters for the week of April 4-April 10,2007 

Readers talk about the Oak to Ninth controversy, cultural mixups, and ads from Big Tobacco.

"Unhappily Ever After," Books, 3/28

No to Mills
"Thanks for the mention of my new book, The Year of Fog, but I was surprised to hear that I'm a Mills College alum. I've never even visited the campus! I am instead an alum of the University of Alabama and the University of Miami."
Michelle Richmond

"Disservice to Readers," Letters, 3/14


The dog ate his homework
We, too, had considered John Russo as "a politician who is a true progressive and a man of perfect integrity," as David L. Roth described him in Letters (March 14-20). That is why we were shocked when he tossed out the referendum petitions. Apparently he did not do his homework and accepted the version of the ordinance presented by the developer's attorneys as the "true and accurate" copy. He did not ascertain what the city council actually passed at the second hearing on July 18. Indeed, although it said "NOT ACCURATE, TO BE UPDATED," it is the "TRUE" version because it was the one passed by the city council. As such, it was the only one that could be referended. Substantive changes were made in the month after its passage, a violation of the city charter. And if we had waited for the city to make those illegal changes, all or most of thirty days we had to gather signatures would have vanished.

It is ironic that Russo would not check the city council's packet, since when he served on the council he frequently complained about late and incomplete packets. Well, Mr. Russo, it is still happening on your watch as city attorney!
Pam Weber and Joyce Roy, members of Oak to Ninth Referendum Committee, Oakland

Headline, This Week, 3/14

Time for a bypass
I am writing in response to the use of the phrase "blood clot" in the Calendar section of the 3/14 issue. First of all, this is a Jamaican patois term that should be spelled "blood claat" — or in English, blood cloth, not clot. It refers to a sanitary napkin or tampon and is used as a term of denigration.

Furthermore, it is a sexist term in this context — that which is associated with a woman's menstruation is used as we would use f__ing. I have no problem with its use by speakers of patois — they're entitled to their culturally specific swear words just like we are — but it has no place in the hip-hop culture.

Just like we should refute the rampant homophobia in Jamaican dancehall music, I think we should probably avoid importing their sexist lingo as the latest hot new thing. If the Express staff had bothered to investigate this term and its meaning, perhaps they would have realized it carries a lot more cultural baggage than an innocuous "blood clot."
Mary Cousins, Oakland

Camel advertising insert

Think of your daughters
I am a senior at Berkeley High School, and I have been a Berkeley resident all my life. I often pick up your newspaper to view the latest movie listings, peruse upcoming events, or check out the reviews, but this time something truly shocked me: When I grabbed the one from the top of the stack, an advertisement for Camel no.9 cigarettes fell out onto the ground. Not a small, insignificant piece of paper, this was as big as a piece of binder paper and felt like posterboard — and it was pink!

I later realized that the ads were intended to innocently escape from the centerfold, as they were littered all over the streets of Berkeley, especially around the downtown BART and bus stations. This concerns me greatly because an estimated three thousand high school students (and thousands more UC Berkeley students) pass through these areas twice each day. It is obvious to me that this is a marketing campaign that promotes cigarettes to young women. Plus, it's littering! Because these ads show up more and more, I am becoming more and more concerned with the motives of the tobacco companies.

On several occasions in the past, Camel was caught and admitted to marketing in ways that were unlawful. For example, their Joe Camel ad campaign was stopped short because it was targeting youth ten to twenty years old, presently their largest-growing consumer group. Now I am convinced that they have found yet another illicit loophole and are desperately trying to get young women hooked on their deadly, disease-ridden products, because in most cases all it takes is one pack — and in this case it's pink.

I urge you to morally reexamine accepting money from this advertising campaign (and those similar). Instead, think about the future of your daughters, the young women of this nation, and the health of generations to come.
Antonio Beroldo, Berkeley

"Original Zin," Wineau, 3/21

Wine for the people
Who is the reader who complained that we're all rich? My household may qualify as "rich" by some standards, since we live within our means and therefore have built up some assets, mainly our humble home in East Oakland. Because we live within our means, we drink wine we can afford. I think we are not the only middle-class family in the East Bay living in a modest, overpriced home (with a big mortgage), as we stay within a budget and drink decent wine with dinner. Furthermore, I attend graduate school in the East Bay, and I can assure you that there are many, many students here who like to drink wine and have pinched finances.

Free-spending, SUV-driving, million-dollar-home-buying yuppies seem to have taken over the whole East Bay, but the truth is there are many more of us regular citizens who want to drink wine that doesn't cost fifteen or twenty dollars a bottle.
Leila Abu-Saba, Oakland

"Goat Stew, Por Favor," On Food, 3/14


Oh, yuck
I was excited when I started reading the review. I had tasted goat meat several times. It was particularly good at a Hispanic friend's party and at a Jamaican restaurant. So I wanted to experience it at these very authentic restaurants. The descriptions in this review, however, ended up nauseating me. I've tried many restaurants as a result of Express reviews, but I'd be hard pressed to want to try these.
Judy Freeman, Berkeley

"HD Radio on the Offense," Music, 3/7


iBiquity's boondoggle
As the chief engineer for a group of "ma and pa" stations who have no interest in going IBOC or HD, I am constantly dealing with colleagues from the big companies who would like to keep their jobs. They are expressly forbidden to voice any criticism of iBiquity's boondoggle. I feel like a voice in the wilderness.
John Higdon, Pleasanton


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