As a longtime reader of the express, i have to say i loathe your new format.

Dojo à-go-go

As longtime practitioners of Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu, we were happy to see your article on Henry Okazaki, the system he started, and our colleagues at the Suigetsukan (“Grappling with Tradition,” June 15). We’d like to add a piece of the DZR puzzle that got omitted from the article, though.

Back in 1962, following a series of attacks in Oakland, the YWCA approached Ray Law and asked him about teaching a women’s self-defense class. Prof. Law’s black belt student Betty (BJ) Maillette took them up on this. Her students were so enthusiastic that she started a women’s jujitsu club at the Oakland Y. This was among the first martial arts schools developed by and for women.

In 1972, Maillette moved the club to a storefront in Oakland’s Laurel District and renamed it The Dojo. By 1980 when Maillette retired from teaching, she was a sixth-degree black belt and a professor in the American Judo & Jujitsu Federation (AJJF). She had trained several women to black-belt rank and taught jujitsu and self-defense to thousands more. After Prof. Maillette retired, her student Mady Shumofsky became Sensei of the Dojo, and Elise Prowse followed Shumofsky. The Dojo closed in 1987, to be followed by Laurel Jujitsu, where third-degree black belt (sandan) JoAnn Strang has been Sensei since 1990.

At Laurel Jujitsu, we are proud to carry on the traditions and teachings of professor Maillette and the Dojo, and to contribute to the dissemination of Master Okazaki’s system. We are an AJJF dojo; we offer Dan Zan Ryu jujitsu and self-defense classes to all women and girls. We’re at 4148 MacArthur Blvd. (still in the Laurel District); 530-5043.
Sensei JoAnn Strang, Sandan (Head Instructor); Laura Tow, Lisa Hirsch, Susan Liroff, Sarita Johnson (Instructors)

Laurel Jujitsu, OAKLAND

Pathology Watch

I’m writing concerning the cover story of July 4, “Talking the Talk,” about the controversies surrounding John McWhorter.

To begin, I am an African-American male, 42 years old, working in the finance/accounting department of a large Bay Area law firm. Thank you for such a well-balanced story, for making that media scrim less opaque in your detailing of McWhorter’s book and how it has come to be used against him. This brings me to one of my reasons for writing: Now that McWhorter has been through the media and political circus while trying to promote his book, do you think he can now see why some in the black community think that there’s a pathology of contempt toward us from other cultures, which manifests itself in racism and bigotry?

I hope he has had time to ruminate on what, deep in their hearts, apart from being good career moves — led all those writers, reviewers, columnists, talk-show hosts, and politicians to use his most provocative pronouncings to further their own agendas, which could include a justification for unequal treatment. That’s the pathology some in the black community see, and it does indeed distill into a pathology of contempt and distrust within black people.

I also believe McWhorter should look at how much of this he has brought on himself, based on his apparent glee in taking the role of provocateur toward the right and the left. If he could remove this tendency from his character, maybe the discussion of ideas could be more up-front, and wouldn’t be clouded from the start. In saying all this, I’m now anxious to read his book because, in the sober light of morning, McWhorter isn’t saying anything that I haven’t found to be true. Hope that makes me a open-minded person of ideas, and not an ideologue to be exploited. Thanks for the article!

Aaron Jones, San Francisco

You’re left, I’m right, Pedro’s gone

Bravo to John McWhorter (“Talking the Talk,” July 4) for having the courage to confront the pink elephant in the living room everyone else prefers to ignore. Yes, racism is still a force in America, but so, too, is the pathology of denial so unflinchingly described in Losing the Race.

Meanwhile, Pedro Noguera has left the Bay Area for Harvard, where he will continue to espouse his popular views that have had no lasting impact on student achievement in our local schools.

Wendy Brubaker, Berkeley

No Sanctuary

As a longtime reader of the Express, I have to say that I loathe your new format and new content.

I have not always been interested in the cover story — maybe eighty percent of the time — but I have always found many other articles of interest. There was not one single story in your new issue that was interesting. I hate having the movie and restaurant reviews buried in the middle of the listings. I couldn’t find culture watch. Your “Sanctuary” issue (June 22) was a classic example of how good you can be. The new issue can’t touch it.

I have also generally found your articles well written. The cover article, of which I read the first page or so, was atrocious. It wasn’t reporting, it was sliming. If this is going to be typical of the writing style of your lead stories, they will be unreadable to someone who wants meat and not slime. Since the Media Madness bit had the same slimy quality and both were written by Chris Thompson, I assume it is his writing that I’m not liking. If he’s the same person I used to enjoy on KPFA, I can only say I’m sadly disappointed. If these are going to be typical of his style, I suggest you get rid of him right away.

One of the reasons that I’ve chosen the Express over other papers was because of its two-part format. If I was not looking for entertainment, I could keep the first section, fold it conveniently to put in my purse, and read it at leisure. The new one-volume form will not allow that, and so it is more likely that the whole paper will go unread. I resent being forced to carry around ads and I can only assume that you have a new audience in mind for your paper now, and don’t care about longtime loyal readers. I’ll try one or two more issues. But, if they continue as the new one, I will have to write off a valued part of my life and mourn the passing of a good paper.

Cathleen Caffrey, Berkeley

Here’s another useless hodgepodge you’ve gotten us into

Yeah! Put a gaggle of experts on a project and they’ll screw it up every time. The Express is two things: a journal of political gossip and diatribe, and an entertainment guide. Reasonable. These were separated so we could browse through the first, toss it in the recycle bin, and keep “Billboard” around all week. Please, at least make it a center pullout like the Chronicle‘s Datebook neatly does with its movies section.

“Movies A to Z”: Obviously, the all-caps titles of the old format were easier to read, but, counterintuitively, the closer line spacing of the old format was actually faster to scan than the page-wasting new look. Don’t believe me? Put the old and new papers side by side and try it.

But the really dumb change is in the “Music” section. We, the readers, plan our entertainment dates (emphasize dates) day-by-day. We want to know at a glance what’s happening Sunday, or Friday night. “Billboard” used to give us that beautifully — now the concert listings are a useless hodgepodge.

The Express is another victim of change for the sake of change, much of it for the worse. And speaking of page-wasting — the staff list now consumes four times as much space as before. Ego-tripping, anyone?

Jerry Landis, Berkeley

Local developer steamed at newExpress design

Stylish and easier to read while eating lunch or sitting in a steam bath. Keep up the innovations (July 4).

Patrick Kennedy, via the internet

We still publish in English — how much is that worth?

Regarding the Express‘ new look:

Keeping “Slow Wave”: 20 points.

Dropping “Queen of Hearts”: -10 points. (Would have been a bigger hit, but lately she’s drifted into writing seven-hundred-word responses to questions like “I pour warm Gatorade down my pants while watching Leave It to Beaver reruns. Am I weird?” Of course, you could have just said something to her; she probably would have improved.)

Adding “Savage Love”: 0 points. (We can read all we want of him in the SF Weekly.)

Dropping “The Straight Dope”: -20 points

Misspelling “Amalfi” in the table of contents: -20 points. (What is this, the Fangxaminer?)

Letting the New Times’ corporate design people and their he-must-be-good-he’s-from-New-York designer tart up the Express so it looks like the love child of the Guardian and the SF Weekly: -120 points. (You could have used the money to hire proofreaders and come out with a less flashy but better-produced paper.)

Your overall score: -150 points.

Better luck next time.

John Kelly, Berkeley

Skreddy’s Dead

Even before I read your blurb about the new Express layout (July 4), it was apparent you guys went through lots of effort in this endeavor.

Overall — looks great! I like the large white borders throughout. It gives the eyes a break. But I couldn’t help but notice you dropped the second-to-last-page astrology column. Bad, very bad. I don’t even believe in astrology, but I’ve come to love the “Aquarium Age,” and so have many I know. It far exceeds the columns in the Weekly or the Guardian, and like the comics, lightens things up a bit.

Omigod, I just realized: Did you trash “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” too? Tell me it isn’t so. Oh god — I’m feeling sick. Now that is sacrilege.

Kaylynn, via the internet

Just as soon as you get some more fresh, contemporary readers

You spent your money reinventing the wheel if it was wasted on the “team of editors and graphic designers,” whose vision for a new look for the Express (July 4) was simply to lift the SF Weekly/Bay Guardian design. Giving the Express a “fresh and contemporary look and feel” sounds great — when does it start?

Elinor Roberts, Berkeley

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