Rodney King's Urban Mythology
I wish I had a dollar for every time I've read or heard a story erroneously stating that the LA officers in the Rodney King incident were acquitted by an "all-white Simi Valley jury." How can so many journalists misreport such a basic fact about such a major story, as did Chris Thompson in "It's a Small Town After All" (City of Warts, December 11)?
For those who keep score on such matters, the jury contained one Latino and one Asian-American. A jury reflecting the proportion of minorities in America would contain one more -- three instead of two.
Still, Thompson did a reasonably good job of excoriating Tom Bates over his outrageous act and his denial of it. He didn't go far enough, though. Bates should resign.
Mark Johnson, Berkeley
A Simple Rebate Is Not Enough
Even among us who consider ourselves resolutely pro-Tom Bates, hardly anyone now debates the proposition that Mayor Bates should resign his office unless he strongly reprobates newspaper theft as an election ploy. This regrettable act may mushroom into Berkeley's own "Waterbates" crisis, even if Mayor Bates now rebates The Daily Californian all its lost expenses. Ultimately, those so-called moderates who always opposed him, sotto voce, as "Red Bates," may ultimately come to topple the one anointed by the voters as Berkeley's own "Master Bates!"
Patrick Gordis, Berkeley
The laughingstock That's Rolling Stone
I cannot thank you enough for this article on the current state of music journalism ("Puff Piece," December 11). Mr. Harvilla summed up the situation perfectly and hilariously.
Rolling Stone (among many other magazines) has become a laughingstock. The scantily clad actresses on the cover and its lack of any sense of the musical history it once helped document is not only insulting to its readers, but an injustice to the unheard musicians (not rock stars) who struggle every day to make great music. I hope this article encourages people to seek out alternatives to what fills the pages of these magazines. There's a wild and beautiful world of music out on the fringes. There are people making music of integrity. Real people who have actual musical identities rather than constructed personas that change with the whims of popular culture.
P.S. Although it's not a major sized magazine yet, TapeOp is great.
Odessa Chen, Oakland
I just wanted to point out that you missed the mag I read, Relix. I know, I know, improvisational music that is not pure jazz is forbidden to be even recognized by the media, but you could have at least mentioned it, couldn't ya?
By the way, Relix has many of the flaws you elaborated on in your article. It ain't perfect either.
Michael Morris, Houston, TX
What the Herd is Buying
As a fellow freelance music writer-type (for Express, point of fact), I wish to shout a hearty huzzah! to your "Puff Piece" (December 11) article. Allow me to interject that the type of prevalent 100-400 word review you mentioned (a bit of bio, toss names, collect $25) is alas "required" by most editors. Other than that, your essay pretty much summed up what's wrong with pop-music "journalism." I mean, reading Creem, Crawdaddy, and Op got me into so much music I might've never otherwise heard living near McKeesport , Pa., as well as exposing semi-innocent teenage me to the prose of William S. Burroughs and Hunter Thompson, among others ... now, whadda we got? It seems like $$$ talks, slick/ephemeral/trendy bullshit sells, and nobody wants to "offend" a "demographic." Or it's "ain't we got attitude but who cares if nobody knows what we're talking about." But that's what the Herd is buying ... oy.
Mark Keresman, Chicago
He's Younger Than That Now
I enjoyed Mark Keresman's review of the new Bob Dylan album, Live 1975 (Hearsay, December 11), a compilation of Dylan's 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour.
The one exception I'll take is this: The reporter notes that in recent years Dylan has been accused of "phoning in live performances."
Mark's information is a little dated. Since the late 1990s (pick a year '96,'97), Bob Dylan's live performances have been very strong, invigorating, and highly enjoyable. I will concede he's had bad shows. God knows, I paid to sit through the ordeals. But he's consistently delivered high-quality shows in the recent years. I think Bob Dylan believes his art is best expressed in live performances. I enjoy those more than his strong recorded work of late, like Time Out of Mind and Love and Theft.
Other than that, Mark, thanks for the review ... It was posted on a Bob Dylan web site known as "Expecting Rain," a fine site for material about Dylan and other things related to his music.
Mike Mahoney, Kansas City, MO
Our Youth Need Not Die
Thank you for your story on Councilmember Larry Reid and his grief and frustration with the violence that is taking so many young lives in Oakland ("Bearing Witness to a Tragedy," December 11). He is not alone in his compassion for the victims, innocent and criminal alike. If we are to create healthy neighborhoods in which to raise healthy children, we must work together to achieve a collaborative effort between the various governmental and community agencies throughout the county who interface with families and youth in the juvenile-justice system. Other counties throughout the U.S. have achieved this, saving taxpayer dollars without compromising public safety. Just look at our neighbor, Santa Cruz.
With the retirement of Chief Probation Officer Sylvia Johnson at the end of January, a search for a replacement will soon begin. It is vital that our county board of supervisors select a chief who has the vision, openness, and experience to rebuild the probation department, build a new juvenile hall, and offer leadership for effective collaborative practices for Alameda County. Our youth need not die, and Mr. Reid can hear the phone ring without flinching.
Iris R. Winogrond, Oakland
In our recent story about online dating ("Plug In, Turn On, Go Out," December 25), we incorrectly identified Norman Mickey's Web site. The correct Internet address is www.VideoIntroductions.com.
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