Letters for the week of October 11-17, 2006 

Readers comment on conscious rap, the Orkin Man, and secondhand smoke.

"Eating on the Brink," On Food, 9/13

Stop it — now!
John Birdsall seems like a great food reviewer — 900 Grayson is in my neighborhood, yet I didn't know about it before his review. But in the eight reviews since then, he has used — I kid you not — 100 em dashes, or about 13 per review. In the kitchen, a good chef is always multitasking — or so I've read — working the burners, watching the stations, yelling at servers. In writing, though, one wants a coherent narrative, flow, reason amid chaos — not 1.2 em dashes for every paragraph (average since July 19). Birdsall has a great background — the Contra Costa Times has produced some brilliant writers — but, as a graduate student instructor wrote on an essay of mine six years ago, sometimes it's best to start a new sentence — especially if a comma won't do.
Ryan Tate, Berkeley

"Conscious Rap Is for Nerds," Haters Stand Up, 9/13

You're an idiot, homie
Not this again. What's the point of this mess? You're an idiot, homie. This conscious rap backlash is so 2004. You need to catch up with the times. This was a horrible article with no point. I can't believe they let you post this shit.
Joe Gabel, Santa Rosa

Who's Che?
I feel you for real, but don't let the nerds get you down! They'll either come around or, like most, end up falling off! You are right though, the underground is weak! Conscious rap is weak! I say, "This goes out to the underground or otherwise/who running around with butter knives and playing with scissors/you making a lot of noise but it doesn't deliver/it don't create dialogue and does nothing to figure/into the grand scheme, ain't saying a damn thing/might as well remix it and bring in a dance team."

My friend was on a plane once, and sat next to a girl with a Che T-shirt. He says, "Hey, nice shirt, I'm reading Motorcycle Diaries right now," and showed her the book. She said, "Huh?" He said, "It's about Che's life." She said, "Who's Che?" Anyway, no matter what, Che and Ani DiFranco are the real deal. Even if most of their "fans" are geeks!
Nate Mezmer, San Francisco

"Ant Wussy," Game On, 8/9

Musta been Terminix
This firm represents Orkin Expansion, Inc. in trademark matters. Orkin owns, has registered, and uses the mark THE ORKIN MAN in connection with pest control services ("Orkin Man Mark"). The Orkin Man Mark is an important park of Orkin's intellectual property portfolio. The law imposes an obligation upon the owner of a mark to police the marketplace to ensure that the owner's mark is used properly and does not lapse into the public domain as a generic term. Improper use of the mark as a generic term by others may cause the trademark owner to lose rights in the mark.

Orkin views as improper your use of the term "Orkin man" in a recent article about The Ant Bully video game. In that article, you discussed different parts of the game, including the "final battle," about which you wrote: "Ride on the back of a wasp, and swoop in to sting the Orkin man in the butt." However, we understand that the video game does not include an Orkin representative, but rather a fictional pest control company representative. Accordingly, use of the term "Orkin man" to generically refer to an exterminator is inappropriate. In the future, please take care to refer to the intellectual property of Orkin accurately.
Kevin T. Kramer
Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, and Pittman, LLP
Representing Orkin Expansion, Inc.

"Where There's Smoke, There's Anger," Cityside, 9/20

Bring on the nanny state
The fascinating article about secondhand smoke would have been improved by a bit of background about the physiology of those of us who have a bad reaction to our neighbors spewing toxins into our air: an overexposure to a problematic substance commonly causes hypersensitivity. This explains why so many ex-smokers really hate smoke — and it's not just our fragile addictive psyches overreacting! I also got two packs a day while in utero, and since the embryo stops breathing every time mom inhales it's not that surprising that I took up the two-plus packaday habit for a while. And that 25 years later I really, really hate it when my hipster "social smoker" neighbors light up on their porch — which means I can't be on mine. Shit, if this were a "nanny state," I'd love to go cane their skinny butts!
Jeremy Szold Ginzberg, Portland, Oregon

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