Letters for the week of July 19-25, 2006 

Acknowledging the death of punk. Lamenting the death of the hofbraus. Bashing B-town bureaucrats — and Chris Thompson. Imploring a conservative to "love it or leave it."

"Lonesome Crowded Jest," Press Play, 6/7

I miss my punk-rock belt
I thank you wholeheartedly for writing that article on the downfall of alternative culture. I have seen the death of counter- and subculture looming over kids' heads for some time now. (I can't wear a studded belt anymore; too many people in rap videos have them on.) Punk is lost or dead or I am not a part of it anymore. The fact of the matter is the sarcasm was on par with the makeup and the black clothes and the teen angst that you can buy at the mall. Funny.
Jeremiah Michaels, San Francisco

"Triple X," Movies, 6/14

Small clarification
Thank you for your very kind words about Colma. I am very flattered. One thing: The film was not adapted from a stage play but rather a concept album H.P. wrote for his best friend, a faux musical called Colma: The Musical, about them growing up together. The movie is loosely based on that. Hope that doesn't change the way you feel about the film. :)
Richard Wong, San Francisco

"Roast Meat & Camaraderie," On Food, 6/14

A less civilized place
Jonathan Kauffman is a wonderfully perceptive and entertaining food critic. Moreover, I am in complete agreement with his review of the food at Harry's Hofbrau here in San Leandro. Nevertheless, I question whether he is being subsidized by some developers in order to knock off these charming cafeteria-style restaurants and replace them with sterile, high-rise condos. The loss of Harry's Hofbrau, as a result of his efforts, will make the Bay Area a less civilized place in which to live.
George Banks, San Leandro

"Leaders Fiddle While Berkeley Rots," City of Warts, 6/14

Move to Texas
Three years ago, in June 2003, I filed for a use permit to open a restaurant in economically depressed South Berkeley, called Spud's Pizza and Brew International. Though my plan was greeted enthusiastically by the community, the city's permit center did not mirror this emotion.

It took almost a year for us to get a building permit and then it took the rest of eighteen months to get signoffs from design review, landmark, seismic, and fire inspectors. We were finally able to open in November 2004, albeit without the beer and wine license required per our business plan. After another year and a half and after two changes of the Berkeley zoning laws, the ZAB voted unanimously to grant our request to serve beer and wine. With Berkeley's okay, we were finally cleared to get the state of California's okay, which has now been mired in the state's bureaucracy for nigh on four months now.

All the delays have cost us $100,000 over our original budgeted development costs, making us question the wisdom of the investment. How can any business be expected to establish itself with the difficulties posed by Berkeley's bureaucracy? I have nothing but empathy for Glen Yasuda. Maybe we should all move to Texas; I hear it is more business friendly.
Andrew W. Beretvas, Oakland

"Liberal Oppression and the Conservative Christian," Letters, 6/7

Move to Kansas
We hear this sort of whining about the Bay Area every so often — that we are "liberal Nazis," fiercely intolerant of anything that disagrees with our version of "political correctness," etc. If the big, bad Liberal Establishment is so narrow-minded, so bigoted, so anti-Christian, why continue to live here? It's a big country — move to Kansas! Follow the old conservative slogan, Love It or Leave It! The heavy-handed inclusiveness, the bigoted diversity, the neofascistic political correctness — that is how it is in this part of the world, and it is as likely to change as Pat Robertson is to convert to Zen Buddhism, so — there are plenty of places where conservatives rule, the only religion is Christianity, and the dominant race is white, so why stay here and whine? I do not myself feel the oppressive, narrow-minded atmosphere at all — turnaround is fair play, the shoe is on the other foot, and so forth. And certainly anybody who thinks the East Bay Express is a "leftist" paper doesn't belong here anyhow! (It is an "alternative" newsweekly about as leftist as Al Gore.)

PS — I did not happen to read the sidebar on chastity that prompted the letter this responds to, but a chaste woman in modern society is one who is easy for you but hard for the other guys — or at least, she can convey that impression!
Clayton O'Claerach, Oakland

Blame landlord greed
Chris Thompson has reached, even for him, new heights of hyperbolic ignorance and bias in his piece on the crisis on Telegraph Avenue. He omits a key factor in the avenue's demotion as a destination site. That key is the exorbitant rents being asked. Landlord greed is why many stores remain vacant. The owner of Amoeba Records went public voicing the same fact. To omit this info is just plain bad reporting.

Instead of stating what would be for the Express a bold fact, Thompson chose to cast People's Park and homeless people as the villains. Blaming the poor and youth for all that ails the avenue is a stale reactionary tactic. That is the same shameless classism we are knee-deep in.

Thompson's piece and Will Harper's aptly named Bottom Feeder attack on how Mayor Dellums might behave toward the press did, however, clearly prove one thing once and for all.

That thing is that the Express is not progressive in attitude, in spirit, in print, no matter how cool it poses. I suspect that last sentence will doom getting this letter published.
Maris Arnold, Berkeley

A photo caption in last week's cover story ("The Moonies and the Sharks") misidentified Kevin Thompson's Bay Area Family Church.

The Raw Story writer cited in "One Blowhard Down, Plenty More to Go" (City of Warts, 7/12) is merely a contributor; he does not run the Web site. Furthermore, he disputes Professor John Barrie's recollection that he congratulated Barrie for exposing Ann Coulter's alleged plagiarism.

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