You're either with the Bushwa, or you're with the proletariat
Seeing the word "bourgeoisie" on your front page (December 25) reminded me that when I was a kid during the Depression, that word had been distorted a bit and was widely used. When somebody said something you couldn't believe, the retort was "That's a lot of bushwa!" That word has taken on a current usage for the present administration: "There's a lot of Bushwa coming from the White House."
Hal Dreyer, El Cerrito
Stop whining and solve the problem
It is correct to say that, in the days before Proposition 13, "property taxes played a central role in California's revenue stream," but wildly inaccurate to say that property values were stable from year to year ("It's the End of the World ...," December 25)." The whole reason for Proposition 13 was an inflationary real estate market in which assessed values rose steeply every year, causing many people -- senior citizens and working people, especially -- to lose their homes because they could not pay the increased taxes. Proposition 13 resulted from their rage at being treated unjustly.
In fact, the situation then was not very different from what it is today: values are extremely high, and the taxes for the owners are in line with what they were in pre-Proposition 13 days. This is especially hard on young working people and explains why they have so much difficulty buying a house: because they can't afford the taxes, they can't get mortgages. Just giving the state blanket permission to increase property taxes will not solve the problem of financing California's state government. And it is really dumb to think so.
We need a fair, nonconfiscatory tax system, one that includes super-rich billionaires as well as the middle class, so that we can all pay taxes without feeling exploited. Progressives should stop whining about the good old days before Proposition 13 and make an effort to figure out a fair tax system (something beyond the Legislature's capacity). Thinking is hard work, but that is what needs to be done.
Phil McArdle, Berkeley
Everybody knows this is nowhere
AMEN! is all I was thinking the entire time as I read your piece ("Puff Piece," December 11). I want to see writing with intelligence, honesty, complexity, depth, integrity ... many of the things I like to hear in quality music. When I discovered the first issue of Revolver back when it came out, I immediately signed up for a subscription, wanting to support people who went out on a relative limb like that. (I bought it at a Longs drugstore, for god's sake!) I'm sure you can imagine how I felt when I received my first lowest-common-denominator-oriented issue -- and then was stuck with the mag for a year.
That Vines bit in Rolling Stone was probably the worst piece of crap I have ever read in a music mag! Rob Sheffield is a disgrace, and I am happy to report much snickering at his expense during his appearance in a recent San Francisco showing of Sundance shorts that included videos from Sparklehorse. What ever happened to all the writers who made Spin what it was in the early '90s? Where did they go? Their legacy has been discontinued, or maybe taken underground, where it is difficult for many (unless they have the time and/or incessant drive) to sift through and find articulate voices -- too many people talking at once. Polyphony. We need a full, accessible, challenging magazine that includes polyphony within its covers. Otherwise that kid who loves Blink-182 out in Montana may never be exposed to the Clash or any number of bands that could lead him or her to a sound and indeed a life that involves more thought, more passion. The deadening effects of shoddy music are often underestimated.
I read as much about music as I possibly can, across the board, from total crud to the quality bits I can salvage from zines. I'd really like to see a major mag that treads between mainstream and indie, that has respect for the old and the new, that needles mainstream into maybe making that change, as Michael Jackson would sing. I seriously doubt there will ever be one in existence. I believe writing can make a difference and so can music.
My reaction to the Christina Aguilera Rolling Stone cover: "A guitar?! Whatever for?!"
Thanks for reading. I'm just glad to know there are a few people around who still give a shit about what enters their brain and aren't afraid to say it out loud.
Sarah Rogers, Santa Cruz
It works in Beantown
It was good to have an article on providing BART service to East Contra Costa (City of Warts, December 18). However, the article's thesis that BART is broken before it is even built is inaccurate. The article does not provide any data to back up the premise that BART is inferior. Instead, it is filled with hyperbole. There are also a number of examples of heavy rail systems like BART providing light-rail connections to suburban areas. Boston's "T" operates a very successful light-rail connector from the Mattapan community to its heavy rail system. And your author may not be aware that the federal government gives great weight to funding projects that generate new transit riders in a cost-effective manner. Your author should report this information as well, which was one of the major driving forces for not considering an extension of BART heavy rail service at this time. Also, I noticed that you did not interview any transportation experts beyond the former BART director. A more balanced article would have been more useful to readers.
Kenya Wheeler, Oakland
Our January 15 review of the Moroccan restaurant Tanjia incorrectly stated that co-owner Said Zahid was formerly the head chef of San Francisco's El Mansour. In fact, he was one of several chefs.
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