Letters for the week of November 20-26, 2002 

Hassling innocent people, French-kissing Jennifer Lopez, explaining why Pavement sucked, and drowning small blue bunnies.

Oakland and Los Angeles are just the start of it
Thank you for bringing these actions to light ("Bum Rap," November 6). Far too often the criminal activities of police officers are knowingly hidden by the very people who are hired and paid to expose such things.

This also goes on in Richmond. There are numerous criminal violations against innocent people by Richmond police officers that go unchallenged or reported because the victim has a prior criminal history.

Police officers are my friends. But criminals are criminals, even if they wear blue.
Name withheld by request, Richmond

Today's transit villages are tomorrow's pedestrian malls
Many people may not think out-of-control development is a preservation issue ("Short Buildings, Vast Subdivisions," October 30), but it most assuredly is.

Developers have been clever in jumping on the "smart growth/density near transit" fad because it suits their purposes just fine. Some of us are clear that it's the same old bad development in sheep's clothing, and in ten years it will be viewed in the same light as "urban renewal" -- a really stupid idea that was trendy at one time. Anyone who believes that allowing dense, out-of-scale buildings in Berkeley will somehow prevent some other developer from paving over farmland in the Central Valley is delusional. Developers are concerned only with making money -- they don't become developers out of the goodness of their hearts.

When many of Berkeley's flatland neighborhoods were up-zoned in the '60s and beyond, the excuse was "we need more housing." Once-pleasant and historic single-family neighborhoods were ruined by the intrusion of badly designed, cheaply built multi-unit apartments, which are still a blight on the neighborhoods in which they stand. "We need more housing" makes a great excuse, because the need for housing will be endless as long as we refuse to address the issues of population growth and uncontrolled immigration.

It's unfortunate that Measure P didn't pass. I'm sure the developers will take that as some kind of mandate, although all it really proves is that you can buy the outcome you desire if you are able to spend enough money. The citizens of Berkeley don't have that kind of cash. Developers don't even need to buy the politicians (though they do), because everyone from the politicians to the planning department has embraced "smart growth" like they were French-kissing Jennifer Lopez. It's just a planning fad, folks, like urban renewal, downtown pedestrian malls, festival marketplaces, aquariums, and downtown baseball stadiums.
Jane Powell, former president of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, Oakland

My band sucked, and I'm proud of it
Regarding your Planet Clair article supporting Floyd's theory that nice bands suck and asshole bands rock ("Pick 'Em and Flick 'Em," November 6): I was associated with a band that went nowhere in the '80s and we played with several bands that went nowhere and several bands that went somewhere. Alas, the theory mostly holds true.

Pavement: When they were taking Ecstasy all the time and were overly friendly and never shut up, did they ever suck.

Faith No More: "We Care a Lot" became an ironic statement and they garnered some measure of success.

The list of the nice guys and gals who deserved record contracts and didn't get them is just too long and sad. But there's one case of the exception proving the rule: Primus. Nicest guys on the planet. Shirt-off-their-backs nice. Honestly, not just showing up on time but giving us a hand with the amps nice. They deserve the most boring "Behind the Music" ever produced. "And they lived happily ever after, making music they liked in their nice houses with their beautiful, loving wives."

It's been many a year since I've been anywhere near a club or a studio, but I'm presuming little has changed in the business. Most nice guys and gals will finish last. You have to sacrifice the getting-along-with-people skills to focus on the creativity, mechanics, performance, and technical skills. I certainly sucked at getting along with people and was a shit-hot programmer. Now I can't code worth a damn, but I'm supposedly a much nicer guy. It's often one or the other.
Jerod Pore, Berkeley

NPR: Not progressive, really
Thanks for the role of NPR in keeping down the LPRs (Planet Clair, October 30). Even more important is the role they take in the complacency of being paid whores of commercial enterprises like Archer Daniels Midland, which subsidizes the Lehrer NewsHour, the right-of-center news which passes as the most objective -- but they never, in their semiannual begging for money, ask that they be sponsored by the state, as is true of a radio and television station or channel in every first-world country!
Jack Martin, Hayward

I'll take Car Talk over BETV, any day
It's interesting that you begin your article by complaining that NPR is too highbrow (Raymond Carver references), then proceed to snipe at Car Talk. I think that your real issue is not with quality of programming, but with power -- that is, who gets to choose what is carried on the airwaves. For what it's worth, I would take NPR over a "community" radio station any day, if the quality of public-access cable TV is an indicator.
Ronnen Levinson, Berkeley

Bursting with ideas?
The Express is seeking experienced freelance journalists based outside of Oakland and Berkeley to pitch stories about the people and events of greater East Bay communities (including all of Alameda and Contra Costa counties). Controversy in Concord? Fracas in Fremont? All amiss in Alamo? If you've got a good story idea, we want to hear from you. But please get familiar with the Express before sending your ideas along.

E-mail pitches, along with a description of your experience and links to published work, to Michael Mechanic, managing editor (mike.mechanic@eastbayexpress.com). Pitches from public relations professionals will not be considered, so don't even bother.

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