Who is Extreme Elvis ("Disgraceland," August 15)? A man who once canvassed door-to-door with situationist writer Keith Schurholz and me to abolish nuclear weapons and cut the military budget in half. A man who has described avant-garde composer Keith Schurholz to me as "one of my best friends and worst enemies." A man who has French-kissed me on a dare. A man stunned speechless when I pointed out to him that, while the US Constitution allows funding for a standing army a maximum of two years, America has endured a military presence since 1861. A man who witnessed his father, driven to what some in our media-addicted, post-Hiroshima world label schizophreniform disorder and other call spiritual emergence, crying out about the urgent need for real love. A man well aware of the Pentagon's Vision 2020 plan to surround Earth with orbital platforms capable of deploying laser-guided nuclear missiles to any point on the globe with greater precision in less time than current ICBM technology allows. A man who invited me onstage to hold his microphone and encouraged me to radiate love for him, the chickens, and everyone attending San Francisco's Dadafest as we sang "Love Me Tender" together. Finally, a man who knows, as my friend and Thelemic scholar Keith Schurholz knows, a truth once spoken by Elvis Presley: "Everybody comes from the same source. If you hate another human being, you're hating part of yourself."
Jim Burr, Oakland
I strongly disagree with Jonathan Kauffman's recommendation that a table at Zaika is worth the wait ("Successor to the Crown," August 1). We found the food to be merely average, the portions to be meager, yet at exorbitant à la carte prices; the service to be rushed, inattentive, and generally unwelcoming; the unwieldy menu to arrogantly list the price of rare mushrooms.
The dining room is very uncomfortable despite the expensive and extravagant furnishings. An expensive chair is no more comfortable if the room is so crowded with furniture that you can barely squeeze yourself between said chair and table for lack of space to pull it out. I can only attribute this severe overcrowding to miserliness; with the rush to turn over tables, they must be desperate to squeeze every cent they can out of every square foot of floor space. I don't half wonder if the fire department or those who enforce the ADA rules shouldn't have a look at Zaika's floor plan.
There seemed to be much confusion that our request for a table for five included my toddler as one of the five. At one point I nearly had to leap on the fifth chair -- which was stuck into the busy center aisle to preserve it for the seating of my child -- before it was whisked away. Fortunately, we have our own booster chair, which we carry in the car, as Zaika had neither highchair nor booster chair available.
Because of the crowded table arrangements, there was nowhere other than this busy center aisle to seat my child, which proved to be very difficult for us and for the staff to manage. We were approached no less than three times for our order before my husband and I had even sat down in the chairs, as we were struggling to set up the booster seat and get my son settled. This only added to the stress, confusion, and feeling of unwelcomeness.
Ordering was very disheartening, as virtually everything was listed and priced individually. When the entrées start at over $10, including even vegetarian dishes, this adds up quickly. When our meals arrived, the portions were disappointingly small and the food only average, and we were brought only one small platter of rice for four adults. We immediately requested more rice and were quite begrudgingly brought only one more serving. Our water glasses were never refilled.
Those of us who dined together that evening are all experienced diners of Indian cuisine, among us having eaten in numerous Indian restaurants in the East Bay, many in San Francisco, in other states in the US, and in other countries around the world including England and India itself. None of us has been so disappointed with the food or hospitality as we were with our much anticipated visit to Zaika.
Finally, I have two bones of contention, as it were, to pick with the reviewer, regarding the following comment, "I would only recommend to diehard vegetarians the Tandoori Aloo Dilnaz...very dry." I take umbrage at the term "diehard," as if being vegetarian were some sort of silly and unreasonable choice in life. Secondly, you would only recommend this dry meal to us zealots because apparently we have no legitimate taste in food? Why would I want to spend good money on bad food, just because I choose not to eat bits and pieces of dead animals? Especially in the East Bay, as I suspect the number of us "diehards" is higher than in most places, I expect the professional food critics and restaurateurs to take us more seriously than comments like this suggest.
Karen Edmondson, San Leandro
Until George Warren's letter ("White Man's Burden," August 8), I never gave much thought about the White Middle-Class Suburban Man character in Derf's The City as I've seen the strip over the years, back when it was carried by the SF Weekly. I just never thought it funny and it seemed an unoriginal throwback to comix of the '60s.
The writer's letter made me think of my own upbringing as middle class and in the suburbs (Concord and Pleasant Hill) during the '50s and '60s.
Like all the other fathers I knew of in those days, my father was hard-working. He put his family first and was as well-adjusted as any cross-section of society, of any race, gender, income, or locale -- even if Derf or the Express puts them beyond such stereotyping reserved for WMCSMs.
I am now 51 years old and have always respected my father. While I didn't choose to follow my father into a white-collar profession, becoming a mechanic rather than a lawyer like both my younger sisters, I appreciate my father for giving me the opportunity to make my own choices. While my parents and I chose different forms of livelihood, I never ridiculed them.
David McGregor, Oakland
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