Letters for the week of January 24-30, 2007 

Readers comment on our "Best Movies" issue and Jerry Brown.

"Taking the Long View," Film, 12/20

Children of machines
Just a quick note on your article on the long takes in Children of Men. While I agree with most of your comments, I have to say I get frustrated at the remarks you and other writers make about digital effects in films. In some ways I should be flattered that you don't know what it is you are seeing on the screen, but I can assure you, you are watching faked digital images. Visual effects these days have entered a completely new era, where the film watchers are totally unaware of what is real and what is faked.

Children of Men is only 110 minutes long, and yet fifty of those minutes contain digital visual effects. The car shot alone spent nearly ten months in post-production, having its six separate takes shot in three different locations painstakingly stitched together. The Molotov cocktail was added, the motorbike crash was added, the cracking breaking windscreen was added, and a completely CGI roof was added through all 5,300 frames of the shot.

I'm happy that you think of the shot as being real, but it just grates a little when people dismiss digital manipulation as if it somehow cheapens the movie. It's an integral part of most modern films today, however "un-effects-y" the movie might look. There might not be any dinosaurs or spaceships, but digital effects are here; you just won't know you're watching them.

Thanks for your time. I'm glad you enjoyed the film.
Andrew Lockley, 2D visual effects supervisor, London, England


"Grading Jerry," Feature, 1/3

If a tree falls, is Brown still AG?
If you drive above the speed limits, if you drive while drunk, if you jaywalk, if you shoplift and you are not cited, have you committed a violation of the law? If you have violated the law, what are the consequence?

In each instance you have violated the law. Under each set of circumstances there are no sanctions. This is a philosophy that Jerry Brown and his administration have lived by.

Jerry Brown knew, or should have known, he was not qualified to hold the office of attorney general for the state of California. He knew that in spite of his inability to legally hold the office, he could win the election for the office, and if unchallenged he could hold the office after winning the election. He also knew that if challenged after taking office, he could use taxpayers' money to defend himself against all challenges. His defense will be that the rule under which he is not qualified to serve is unconstitutional. Even if he loses this challenge, that loss will take several years of the legal process to be resolved. He faces no consequences for his lawlessness.

The Port of Oakland let a $300 million no-bid construction contract to Turner Construction Company [and] thought that this illegal contract would not be challenged. They thought that even if it is challenged, the legal process will exhaust any challenger. They resisted any challenge by making false statements and by offering illegal and false documents to support their position.

In 1969, the Board of Port Commissioners passed an ordinance, No. 1606 section 5(a), which purported to give the port the authority to let construction contracts without competitive bids. This ordinance has stood unchallenged for 38 years. The port's attorney, Dave Alexander, drafted port resolutions exempting Turner from having to compete for $300 million worth of construction. The basis for such a resolution was the illegal 38-year-old ordinance.

This writer challenged the port, in a letter to their executive director. The port's attorney answered the correspondence and affirmed that this no-bid process was legal. The most upsetting part of this process was Turner got $300 million worth of construction without bid and minority subcontractors were then required to bid competitively for a fraction of this no-bid work.

This writer begged the city attorney, the county grand jury, the Alameda County grand jury, and the Port of Oakland to stop this illegal activity. No one would take any action. After many attempts to find a lawyer who would bring a legal complaint, this writer brought this case to court, for himself (Pro Se). The courts are not kind to nonlawyers. As we saw with O.J., Jerry Brown, and the Raiders, the winners are often those who violate law, not often those who are right.

As with Jerry Brown and Al Davis, Turner Construction has or will have collected enough public money from the port, illegally, to afford to hire and pay enough lawyers to prevail. There is a code section of state law that requires the district attorney to take some action in this case. He has not even acknowledged receipt of this writer's correspondence. John Russo, the city attorney, washed his hands of this matter by stating that the port can do as it pleases, contrary to the city charter. The Alameda County Grand Jury investigated the matter, by asking the port's attorney if this bidding process was legal.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does the tree falling make a noise? If I jaywalk and no one cites me, have I committed a crime? If a large company steals money from the city of Oakland and no one complains, does the theft matter?
Joe Debro, Oakland


"A Match Made at Epitaph," Music, 12/20

On their way
Thank you for writing about one of the Bay Area's treasures — the Matches. Although Kathleen Richards described the crowd at the sold-out Fillmore show in December as "teenagers," I wanted to let folks know that plenty of us in our twenties and thirties also appreciate the refreshingly original, poetic, energized, and smart music of the Matches!

I was at the show and can tell you that they easily upstaged +44 with their energy, talent, and charisma. Their latest album — Decomposer — makes you feel so good listening to it that you crave it — the songs run through your head at work and in your sleep. I think these guys are on their way somewhere big.
Erin Rogers, San Francisco

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