Letters for the week of September 20-26, 2006 

Passionate response to our report from the front lines of Uptown Oakland's underground art scene. Plus, Frances gets the last word.

"Invaded by Hipsters," Feature, 8/30

You were way off
David Downs is an idiot. Marcel Diallo is a racist. Esteban [Sabar] has no clue what it means to be an artist. This article was way off in every possible sense.
Brian Slagle, Frederick, Maryland

What's really going on
As a member of Rock Paper Scissors Collective, a mentor to local youth who use our space, and someone who has worked extensively in community-based organizations, I was horribly upset to see David Downs' article. I truly welcome a discussion on gentrification and community-led actions in the face of condos and displacement — a plan the city has heavily been investing money in for years. And although I agree with Marcel Diallo's sentiment that white artists cannot be ignorant of the community around them, Downs' article used sensationalist tactics that did nothing but divide and polarize a community that could benefit from working together, and in fact, has been.

Instead of reverting to "Mason-Dixon line," a "comfy homo" vs. "awkwardly hetero," as Downs did — let's talk about what is really going on in downtown Oakland (and all over the USA). Let's look at the complexities of the situation that allows us to see beyond dichotomies: how gay, straight, poor, privileged, white, black, Latino, and Asian artists, community activists, and residents can take advantage of the resources and diversity they have, so regardless of when the last condo is built in Oakland, our community will be solidified and strengthened, and ultimately revitalized by and for ourselves.
Taylor Neaman, Oakland

No illusions
It's a shame Mr. Diallo is lumping poor white kids in with government-funded developers unless he was misquoted. It's ironic that he wants community history to be appreciated when he speaks without a clue about the punk-rock community, where he'd find that they and the government are far from bedfellows and have been in low-income areas for a long time. And you shouldn't have to be jumped into the neighborhood to use its name for your business. Respecting your neighbors is one thing, demanding respect for the murderers and drug dealers who gave those neighborhoods their bad reputation is another. They don't own those names, and I doubt Mr. Diallo actually means to insinuate that the community identity he wants to preserve and celebrate is the criminal element perpetuating that reputation. And I'd rather not have to step over a pile of human feces outside my door on the way to BART, but like a lot of the punks this is the only place I can afford to live.

Rock Paper Scissors should have been good business neighbors and introduced themselves to Ms. Gaines, but she as an art major, it would seem, could do the same, especially considering it's an art gallery. Both of them share that responsibility and the neighborhood.

The community would stand up as a whole against the developers and the bullshit if it's anything of a community, something I've seen no evidence of. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but it's hard to get past that pile of feces.

It's a tall order that you can't fill with the same arguments that pit poor whites and poor blacks against each other. The cops have equal disdain for the black youth and for white punks. I'll be damned if I'm going to feel guilty for the shortcomings of a community in need of a positive change because I am white, or hip, or punk, or participating in the only coming together of my neighborhood that I see.

I make no illusions about my place in this community: I am not a member of the black community, but I live in a black community, and I won't be lumped together with government-sponsored gentrification when I myself am facing possible eviction for the development of the building I've lived in for three years here in Ghost Town.
Joshua Elowsky, Oakland

In celebration
The British music press already coined an adequate phrase in the '90s to describe the Murmur Hipster Scene: "The Scene That Celebrates Itself."
Nick Fury, San Francisco


"My heart breaks," Letters, 8/9

A gift, not trash!
In response to Ms. Victoria Zeppi, I, this "source," Frances, would like to validate every intention of this article ["Methadone: Not Just for Junkies Anymore"], let alone MY TRUTH in all of it. Never was there any intention of ruining this man's life; he did that himself. Also, never did I ask for pity. You, Ms. Zeppi, have no idea, because you were not there. My "small child" adored, and was adored by, Mr. Kinsella.

Credibility is surpassed in this sense. My love, as well as the journalist who wrote the article, was one of the true motivations for this contribution. (Meth it was not ... ?) Shame it is not. Trash, it seems, of another relation that Ms. Zeppi knows too much about. Legal counsel? Call me when you are ready for testimony. The point is clear. A genius gift of a man is lost! Not trash! True information is what Ms. Gard's article holds, just as Simon's would have. If any heart breaks, it is not Ms. Zeppi's. Let us forgive her for her lack of understanding.
Frances Lorraine Duff, Oakland


"Cops vs. Cocks," Bottom Feeder, 8/23

Noise and pollution
Rebecca Daniels says that she has a legal right not to have to listen to a rooster crowing all day. What about legal rights of protection from freeways which are constant and have a higher decibel rating than is allowed under the Oakland noise ordinance? What about motorcycles, leaf blowers, advertising planes, and TV helicopters? Besides the noise, these machines create air pollution that is injurious to health.
Caroline Kim, Oakland

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