Letters for the week of August 13-19, 2003 

Jenna Nanetti didn't deserve it. Jerry Brown did nothing for it. Gina Arnold overdid it once again (but, hey, will she marry me?).

"Little Miss Murder," Feature, 7/9

You only deepened the pain
I am DEEPLY offended by your remarks in the article written about Jenna Nannetti. Your statement, "Jenna and Mike ran with a crowd of angry, disaffected Livermore kids. Many were high-school dropouts or teenagers who, like Jenna, ended up in a continuation school for troubled students at risk of not graduating. They hung out at a local Internet cafe, worked low-end jobs, and partied in the hills surrounding the town" is poorly written, inaccurate, and grounds for a libel suit, if I were so inclined. There is only ONE Internet cafe in Livermore, that being the one I frequent and am also volunteer business manager for, and I do not appreciate your characterization of our clientele.

First off, Jenna was a cafe regular PRIOR to becoming involved with Simons. After the two became involved and later married, Jenna was rarely seen at the cafe. I believe Mike came to the cafe a total of three times. Prior to her disappearance, we had not seen Jenna for approximately two months. I don't know what you consider to be "hanging out," but that doesn't count in my book.

Secondly, your portrayal of our clientele as angry, disaffected youth who quit school and are only out to party and eke out a living on a "low-end" job is COMPLETELY out of line. Before volunteering to manage the cafe, I was a cafe regular. I am neither angry nor disaffected (although reading this article makes me very angry). I did not drop out of school and I do not have a low-end job. The same follows for almost our entire clientele.

The cafe you are referring to is a safe place for the youth of our community to gather and network, and is drug- and alcohol-free. It is a place where they can feel supported and appreciated; a place where they can come to when they need to talk or just be with friends. We are not here to bring each other down, or encourage negative behaviors. We try to lift each other up above what life and circumstance sometimes dish out. We are a local business, led by a very caring local businessman who has had the foresight to create a haven in our often uncaring society.

I also want to make it clear that Jenna was well loved by our "family," and her death was as much a tragedy for us as for her other friends and family. We miss her and are still pained by all that has happened. Your article has inflicted more pain and reopened the wounds that we all suffered back in October.
Laura Wilcox, Draggin Bytes Internet Cafe, Livermore

"Firing Folks Is Hard Work," 7 Days, 7/16

Didn't Jerry work for Gray?
The Jesuit Prince has got to go.

What has he done for Oakland? In recent memory, Jerry Brown has presided over the neglect of our Parks and Recreation programs, a nixed affordable housing and downtown stadium deal, the disintegration of the public school district, and our worst murder rate in decades. His answers? Fire local leadership, give multimillion-dollar subsidies to developers, eject public artists in favor of charter schools, and bring outsiders into upper-middle class, downtown lofts.

Do you like the work he is doing?

Though you may not be a baseball fan, the Oakland A's are an example of a local asset that has been awfully neglected by our current city leadership (there are many others we could name, such as the African-American and Latino communities, public schoolchildren, seniors, and others). Look at the players on the team: young, talented, multiracial, willing to stay with the team, and poised to win championships. (Kind of like our youth.) With a downtown ballpark, and the concurrent revenue it would generate for the team, we could retain our stars and attract more of the talented players who appeal to our diverse community of baseball fans. Such a team, by rousing excitement through pennant races and by changing our city's social patterns, would generate a buzz soon to rebound into improvements in dining, housing, nightlife, and more. Instead of the stale, enclosed, corporate environment proposed by the current Forest City project, we could create a real heart for our as yet unrealized downtown.

Alas, Bobb is off to green pastures, Forest City is in our bed, San Diego is luring away Miguel Tejada with more dollars (and a new stadium), and we are faced with Moonbeam until 2006.

Why don't we throw him out?
Michael Siegel, Oakland

"Exile in Whinerville," Music, 7/16

Talk about backhanded sexism
Okay, let's start from the top. Liz Phair's album sucks. The lyrics are often insipid and stupid to a fault. Lines like "I'm extraordinary, if you'd get to know me" sound like high school come-ons. The lyrical conceit of "Favorite" runs about as thin as the frayed underwear she trumpets.

The music. Ugh. If you like what's on the radio, you'll like this. Which is, in my book, a somewhat damning thing to say about somebody who aimed higher. The point is there are substantive reasons why Liz Phair is a bad album.

Now, let's turn to Gina's comments in particular. A work of art? PLEEEEAAASE! She goes on to excoriate the MALE critics implying they don't know what it's like to be female, don't like an empowered female, and therefore don't appreciate the album. But hold that bus. Didn't Slate editor Meghan O'Rourke write the damning NYT piece? The Slate piece by NYT writer Mim Udovitch (what was this, job-sharing day?) was a pretty uncomplimentary review as well.

Now let's turn to the MOST OFFENSIVE comment Arnold makes -- itself a bit of backhanded sexism that she should be ashamed of: "When it first came out, the record [Exile in Guyville] -- or, more accurately, Phair herself -- was also excoriated by (mostly male) critics who found her persona (smart, blonde, sexy, self-aware) too threatening for their weak little brains to contemplate." DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT? It's such a ridiculous misstatement of the facts and history it practically begs a retraction. This was the NUMBER ONE album in the Pazz & Jop critics' poll that year (a vote of more than three hundred critics). So who were these Exile-bashing critics, or is this just reconstructed history?


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