Letters for April 30 

Readers sound off on the AC Transit driver incident, evangelical Asian-American students, the Alameda Power & Telecom debacle, Three Stone Hearth, wine-buying for wineaux, and the United States Marine Corps.

"Agency Fires Driver Over New Buses," Full Disclosure, 4/2

The Other Side of the Driver Firing Incident

Robert Gammon once again proves to be a master of obfuscation, innuendo, and outright deception. Although the vast majority of AC Transit's drivers do their jobs courteously and admirably in service to the public, in Gammon's story of April 2, he has seen fit to sadly misrepresent the rude and inexcusable behavior I encountered with a single bus driver, in order to prop up his pathetic and irresponsible attacks on AC Transit.

The bus stop at Solano and Peralta in Berkeley is a relatively easy stop to pull into and out of. I ride AC Transit buses to and from work almost daily, and you will find the vast majority of drivers actually do pull effortlessly to the curb. On the other hand, the driver in question not only made no attempt to approach the curb; he stopped in the middle of the street and completely blocked traffic.

Contrary to Gammon's characterization of what happened, I asked the driver why he hadn't pulled to the curb, and without any response, and before I could disembark, he closed the door in my face and took off. I ran to the front of the bus and insisted that he let me off. It wasn't until after he refused to respond a second time that I identified who I was. I asked him for his driver identification number, which all drivers are required to do if requested by passengers in matters of dispute, and instead, he launched into a tirade about the bus. I demanded that he let me off at the next stop at Solano and Santa Fe and told him that we would discuss this incident at a hearing before his supervisor.

As I was departing the bus, he told me to go to hell. At NO time did I use any derogatory language during our exchange, but you can be sure, as any member of the public would justifiably feel, I was completely outraged at this driver's discourteous behavior. To be sure, he was dismissed as a result of numerous altercations with passengers, and he was reinstated because of procedural reasons and not because he was unjustly accused of being inconsiderate and rude to AC Transit customers, including myself.

Robert Gammon's stories are nothing more than malicious gossip at best, and at worst, they hurt honest people and completely undermine the importance of good, investigative journalism, while severely tarnishing the credibility and value of the fourth estate. It's about time you hold yourselves and him accountable to a higher standard of journalistic professionalism.

Jaimie Levin, AC Transit Director of Marketing and Communications, Berkeley

Robert Gammon Responds

Jaimie Levin did not return a telephone call seeking comment for my story.

"Young, Asian American, and Christian," Feature, 4/2

Safe Away From Home

I am a youth worker at Golden Gate Christian Church in San Francisco. Ninety-eight percent of our church members are Asian, mainly Chinese. Our students are either American-born or from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong, and many are students in the UC system. I just read your well-written, informative, interesting, and inspiring article, "Young, Asian American, and Christian" and have e-mailed it to the other youth workers at church for distribution to the students. Copies have also been forwarded to our pastors. Thank you for writing such an outstanding piece. It's good to know that our students can find a safe "home" even when away at a secular university.

Dexter Young, youth worker, Golden Gate Christian Church, San Francisco

More Jell-O Shots

Oh Lord God in Heaven, why must you make mock of these, the most unhip of all your children, and lead them to fundamentalist Christianity? Recall the days when you too were embarrassingly studious and strait. When you spent eons in that 4.32 GPA state of mind assiduously cleaning up after the Big Bang. Or in that earnest "Teach for America" style, painstakingly shepherding quadrillions of frankly stupid protein molecules until three or four finally stood proudly in caps and gowns with ethnically appropriate sashes and graduated as protozoa.

We beseech you: Sprinkle a mite of pixie dust and wake these dullards to the joys of Jagermeister, Jell-O shots and sex.

Sherman Kassof, Oakland

Origin of a Science Nerd

Evangelicals were really popular in the 1950s with Asians at Berkeley (my parents' generation). I always thought it was because the civil rights rra hadn't happened yet so there was no vocabulary developed for Asians to fit in. That's why they all became engineers or science majors. But obviously the civil rights era missed something because these folks need Christianity as a framework for having a social life.

The problem might be the high schools just aren't preparing them adequately, with all the emphasis on grades and testing. More emphasis should be placed on critical thinking, community service, and humanities. Hopefully with time there will be more people of color in the public schools that will make education more relevant. Personally when I was in high school I was a science nerd because I didn't relate to white people's history and white people's literature being passed off as "classics," but that was 25 years ago.

Robin MacLean, Oakland

"Drink Your Beef Tea and Pipe Down," Ideopolis, 4/2

It's the Flavor

Nice article, Eliza, and a good overview. But no mention of a tasting — did they let you try the food? For all the complex nutrition science involved, the flavors of the food and the way my body feels great after a Three Stone meal make this place special. Try it out: pick up is at their West Berkeley kitchen Wednesday evenings and Thursday morning. See ThreeStoneHearth.com.

Greg Barker, Berkeley

"Mais Oui!" Wineau, 4/2

One Wineau's Buying Tips

I don't often see the Express, as I live in the city, but have enjoyed reading your column a couple of times. You may already have covered these things, but here's some of what I've learned in about thirty years of buying wine.

I've learned as much as I can by drinking all kinds of wines, taking wine tasting courses, volunteering at wine tastings, reading wine books, and listening to people who are in the trade. For me, the most important thing is to know what you like, but always to keep open to new wines from places and wineries you've never heard of. I think you can do better to avoid supermarket wines. I buy lots of even cheaper wines at discount stores like Grocery Outlet in Berkeley and Bargain Bank in SF. Once you have a pretty good knowledge of the better wine regions, the varietals or blends you like, and the wineries you know are reliable, you can do really well at the bargain stores. Lots of very good wines are dumped there for various marketing reasons — and if the wine is bad, you can always return it and try again. (Not like a bad war.)

Berkeley is a great place to buy bargain wines. Kermit Lynch always has some wines over in the corner at half price. Better still, Morgan at Oddlots Wine Shop, up the street on San Pablo, has really interesting wines, mostly European, at the same prices of the most ordinary mass-produced supermarket wines. Edmunds St. John and some other small producers have a December open house that's free. Rubissow Sargent on 4th Street has several free open houses a year, and sales that are amazing. We're drinking their La Trompette cab and merlot, which go for $40 or more, and which we bought by the case for as little as $4.00 — and it's all good, too, nothing over the hill. And North Berkeley Wines had a sale a few years ago that was 60 percent off on four cases. We found four wines that we knew we'd like that were under $20 (cheap for NBW) and loaded up.

If you get on the mailing list of a winery you like, you can pick up other extraordinary bargains. Peterson, in Sonoma, which has annual barbecues that we've gone to many times, offered his best Meritage wine, retail $54, for $15, to make room for the new vintage. We still have a few bottles. And, if you join a few wine clubs of wineries you like, you can get specials that can be as little as $4.50 for $20-25 wines (Bonny Doon, last year).

For champagnes and unusual liquors, D&M in SF is unbeatable. I can get artisan champagnes for less than half the list prices, and drink much more interesting bubbly than the big houses make, for way less.

Again, if you can use any of this, please do. I think maybe my tips are themselves over the hill by now, but there they are, for what they're worth.

Ken Scudder, San Francisco

"Biker Boycotts, Bridge Bashers, and Justice for Jerks," Seven Days, 3/26

Berkeley Can Go to Hell

I am still appalled by your treatment of the United States Marine Corp. How dare your city continue to support those protesters? You call us thugs, and then later you state that we are gang members. You are so wrong; we are flag-waving veterans and freedom fighters. I will never ever step foot in your city. God bless our troops and Berkeley can go to hell.

Tom Swanson, Hanford, CA


Our April 9 CD review of the new release by the Chapin Sisters, mistakenly said the album name was Lake Bottom Lip instead of Lake Bottom Lp.

Our April 23 profile of Hector Rangel, a subhead improperly described the nature of the Latino and Filipino punk scene described in the story. The story also misspelled the name of Xavier Llanos.

Our April 23 article about the San Francisco Film Society's expansion plans, ("Base Desires"), incorrectly stated the location of a proposed film center. The center would inhabit a rehabilitated historic theater on the Presidio's main post.

Our April 23 column about Clinton Killian, ("Chamber's Candidate Has Quite a History in Business"), failed to note Killian's fourth opponent for the Oakland City Council at-large seat, Frank Rose.

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