Letters for the week of October 1-7, 2003 

Good luck at the polls Tuesday. Good workplaces have contracts. Good stocks are always risky. Good story at last; please repeat.

Page 2 of 3

"Wanted: CEO-Location Technology," Cityside, 9/3

Let the investor hire the auditor

Call me cynical, but US Wireless sounds like shareholder déjà vu all over again. Let's face it, the stock market is all about investor psychology. It's a gamble on human frailties. That being the case, how can we expect CEOs, boards, and auditors to be anything other than human, too? And once in a while when we pull the handle on the one-armed bandit of stock ownership, we shouldn't be surprised to get a row of three raspberries.

The risk -- and reward -- of the stock market is its unknowns. But if we want justice in the corporate world, we need to eliminate the unknowns. Companies should be employee-owned and debt-financed. While it may sound radical, in fact companies raise capital with debt, not stock. What's important about debt is that it is a known contractual relationship with a definite end. What gets paid back is quantifiable. There is a certain freedom in that for both the employees and the investors.

The other important aspect of debt is covenants. Covenants are the most overlooked tool of corporate justice. Every company has to borrow money at some point in time (US Wireless went bankrupt because it couldn't borrow money). Forget shareholder advocacy; all it takes is one covenant in one debt agreement to force a company to change its practice. Here's a simple one: Let the investor hire the auditor. Here's another: Practice equal-opportunity employment. And another: Reduce waste by 20 percent per annum. Get the picture?
Rupert Ayton, San Mateo

"Black Like Me," Feature, 9/3

How do white youth contest whiteness?

This is an outstanding article, featuring superb analysis of Lindh's postings and sophisticated and articulate theoretical reflections. I especially appreciate the author's thoughts on blackface and whiteness. Implicitly throughout, and explicitly at times, the article poses the question: How do white youth contest whiteness? What options are available to a young white man who comes to understand the legacy of white racial violence and oppression in the US? This is a question that has haunted me personally. As a white guy, I am still not sure how to answer. And as a hopeful academic, I spent a year writing a paper on white youth's interaction with hip-hop. The paper attempted to deal with many of the questions so adroitly raised in the article.
Tony Leonard, Berkeley

Cousin to a pineapple

If only the benighted, skinny kid had eschewed the violent, pointless bravado and victimhood of rap and the pinch-butt nonsense of religion. Islam, no less -- Good Christ!

Why not the Coasters for negritude, Jan and Dean for honkitude, and the Ronettes for passion?

Now, alas, as Elvis sang in one or another of his Hawaiian movies, "He's second cousin to a ripe pineapple, baby he's in the can."
Sherman Kassof, San Francisco

"Smells Like Teen Ambition," Music, 8/27

We ain't teenyboppers, pal

So I just read your article on iMusicast, and I must say I think you got the wrong idea.

iMusicast is hardly the "scene." Sure, it's a great venue that helps bands reach all kinds of different people, but it isn't the scene. The scene is the bands that play at iMusicast and Blake's and every venue they can get into. The scene is about great bands trying to be heard by playing tiny little hole-in-the-wall clubs and hoping they will make it up to places like iMusicast, where people like me can see these guys rock out and do what they love to do.

Unfortunately I don't live in California anymore. I live in Tucson, Arizona, and the Matches are my favorite band, with Locale AM coming in at a close second.

I'm just a tad curious as to why you wrote that article the way you did. I'm sure you could have thought of much better ways to do it. We as fans have been fighting the image you are trying to place on us. You want us all to sound like little teenybopper groupies. Well I'm sorry, but we aren't.

Haven't you ever had a favorite band? A favorite actor? A favorite anything? Something that you never wanted to miss out on, and when you did you wished that there was some way you could have seen it? Well that's what the Matches are for a lot of people out there, a favorite. iMusicast is our eyes when we can't be there in person.

Shawn Harris is an amazing writer; his songs are totally awesome. The fact that he is 21 makes all of us think that if he can do something that great for us, then we can do something that great for someone else. Jon Devoto is one of the best guitarists I have ever met, and being that he is the youngest guy in the band and closest to all of our ages only inspires us more. Matt Whalen is a great drummer with mad skills and will help anyone with anything. Justin SanSoucci keeps the crowd jumpin' with his sweet bass playin' and with his extremely high amounts of energy.

L3 [iMusicast's Live, Loud, and Local concert series] is the scene. Not iMusicast.

I'm curious as to why your article on something extremely wonderful had such a negative vibe? The Matches are only trying to build a scene that kids can rely on, which is definitely what kids need. Yeah, the bands are lucky to have a great venue, but the Matches have skills and so do a lot of bands out there. They could build the scene without iMusicast -- it'd be a hell of a lot harder, but they could do it.

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