Letters for February 2

Readers sound off on Berkeley cab drivers, Amy Chua, and Feelmore510 sex shop.

“Berkeley Cabbies Take on City Hall,” News, 1/19

No Respect

I’d say go on strike and show the city you guys mean business. I drove a cab for several years and saw how it is. The city allowed too many cabs to operate in Berkeley. This started back in the ’80s or ’90s. The city government does not respect working people. Cab drivers have one of the most dangerous jobs there is. They should be respected.

John Delmos, Lebec, California

Keep Digging

Judith, your article on cabbing is a fine piece of journalism. I was particularly interested in what you had to say because I’m a former cab driver who spent seven years cabbing in New York City. Some of the issues you mention are complex. I would take a passenger to her destination, but I was not allowed to pick up another passenger. So I had to return with an empty cab and an empty purse. And, of course, with lost time. The most serious problem cab drivers confront is being forced to be independent contractors. So the cab driver has to first pay upfront to take the cab out, and also had to fill up the tank. I don’t know the situation in Berkeley. But if you ever plan to do another piece on the hassles of cab driving, perhaps you should look at the independent contractor issue. Since I drove a long time ago, I was defined, appropriately, as an employee. My take was 43 percent of the clock. If I didn’t make money, nor did the employer. That seemed, and still seems, fair to me.

Harry Brill, El Cerrito

“The Tiger Mother and the Talk Show Host,” Lectures & Lit Preview, 1/19

Take Responsibility

Regardless of intention or not, Chua’s article in the WSJ (a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch) was irresponsible and a marketing ploy. I highly urge readers not to buy this book — or her daughter’s recently published piece in, as Jeff Yang notes, another paper owned by Rupert Murdoch. While Jeff seems willing to let Chua off the hook, I strongly disagree. Chua should take responsibility for those words published under her name — but she won’t ’cause (according to Yang) she’s gonna get more than 500Gs off the book sales. So wait for it at the secondhand bookshop, support local bookstores, and give a donation to your local API mental health services agency or organization. And don’t buy the book or go to the book signing.

Diana Pei Wu, Los Angeles

“Fight to Feelmore,” Culture Spy, 1/5

Not Feeling Good

The decision, on the part of the Oakland Planning Commission, to greenlight yet another unfortunate project proposal on 12/15/10 was more than a huge letdown. It was also a gigantic slap in the face for them to okay the Feelmore Adult Sex Store on 17th and Telegraph. Our protests were loud, yet seemingly heard in vain. Possibly this issue came up in a timely fashion, so that Northgate neighbors, Youth Radio and the Oakland School of The Arts, would need to trudge through the grinding sands of “Furlough Week” as the city shut down over the holiday, making it very difficult to raise the $1,000-plus fees to appeal and file paperwork in seven days! We all vehemently oppose this positioning of “Feelmore” within one to two blocks of the schools close by.

These sex shops have no business being “around the corner” from our kids’ classrooms. We already have an adult parlor on 24th Street and Telegraph, seven blocks from the new one. These places are intrinsically linked, regardless of what big bow you put on it to seem acceptable, to: 1) the high rise of addiction to porn in this country, 2) sex trafficking of minors, 3) drug trade, slave trade, and gambling rip-off activities. Healthy individuals, sound of mind, do not need ten “toys,” hours of Internet porn, etc. in order to enjoy “it.” “It” is a natural expression of the need for closeness and affection felt by all. That’s it, period. Simple. Our community’s children should never need to win over adults on the planning commission in order to keep this “Feelmore” place out of the way of being a child, going to school, developing healthy relationships with peers as well as with adults.

If our kids don’t want it, no one has the right or “privilege” to shove this crap in front of them. Survivors of the child and teen sex trade know that subtle grooming and dishonest flirtations can convince even a ninety-pound fifteen-year-old with acne that no medicated pad seems to abate, that he or she could be transformed from geeky to attractive with a hair and wardrobe re-do. One can easily fall for such persuasion if self-esteem is weak. Predators are always on the lookout for kids who so desperately need for someone, anyone, to tell them they matter. Places like adult bookstores, bus stops, schools, malls, parks, etc. are ideal locations to creep up, cozy-up to a lonely kid, and isolate him/her. Then begins the schmoozing work, getting them ready to take that plunge into hell.

So, no, no, no sex shop on 17th and Telegraph. It is not an “arts and entertainment district”; it is a business district and schools. It doesn’t matter how much you ballyhoo it, or even if you make it look like a church. It is still a sex shop. So, yeah, call P. Allen Smith to design some exterior planters around it, call Martha Stewart to design the interior. It won’t change anything at all. Feelmore would still be an adult bookstore one to two blocks from two schools. And no, thank you, we also don’t want our children to be enticed inside for “educational” instruction. No, that’s the job of the school, the parents, the counseling facilities available for teens, and which have certifiable mentors who are truly concerned about the life they give guidance to.

And, oh, by the way, Fred Jones of Roscils’ Shoes needs a serious spanking with one of those chain whips for approving this place as well.

Tao Matthews, Oakland

“Is Going Back to School Worth the Price?” Education & Careers, 1/12

Not Worth It

So you went to school for an English degree and your daughter is a social worker? And you wonder if you should spend more money going back to school to get another useless degree? Why not go back to school and get a degree that might actually be usable in the workplace. Go be a doctor or a nurse, or, take that English degree and become an educator. Don’t whine about the high cost of education when you’re the one at fault for choosing a degree that doesn’t pay very well in the real world.

Jason McGuire, Richmond

“Parks in Peril,” Feature, 1/19

Lacking Equality

Schools, health centers, libraries — parks, join the seekers of the ever-elusive “funding fix” as Nate Seltenrich scribes it in “Parks in Peril.” Trouble is, a fix is not a sustainable response. It’s a paradigm shift in priorities we need, in Oakland, statewide, and nationally. As long as corporations rule, i.e. squelch any talk of equitable taxation, budget strategies will continue to focus on funding cuts to services used by the many, with a few bones thrown for PR. Until that shift occurs, anyone from the A’s, Raiders, or Warriors care to subsidize a field for NOCCS students and their neighbors?

Louise Chegwidden

Linden Park Litter and Feces pick-up detail


“The Hahn Side of the Story,” Letters, 1/19

A Similar Scenario

I appreciated Mr. Hahn’s letter explaining the circumstances of Acorn Center. Since I live in Emeryville I am not familiar with this project except that Emeryville’s redevelopment agency also has taken over parcels with viable businesses operating, considered them blight, and proceeded to subsidize developers for office buildings and shopping centers.

One example: a block parcel at Hollis, 61st St., 62nd St., and Doyle had a hand-truck factory operating for at least thirty years. Dutro Company retained an attorney but I guess the legal expense wore them down. They submitted to the city and left Emeryville.  Although a beautiful park was installed, it could have easily been a high-rise office building or parking lot.

Shirley Enomoto, Emeryville

“The Cruelty-Free Pizza Zone,” Food, 1/12

Crust Isn’t Bland

How nice to see, on the front page yet, a rare report of whole wheat pizza crust in the Bay Area! I felt hopeful we might eventually also hear about whole grain pissaladiere, the French version of pizza, exquisite versions of which I’ve tasted by master levain bakers Jacques deLangre and Jean Poncé, once active in the Chico area and both gone now. But disappointingly true to form in local pizza talk, the review discusses toppings and barely mentions crust. In fact, its only mention was the contrast of a strong ginger flavor against “bland pizza crust.” Pizza crust doesn’t have to be bland! Forget dead white flour. Whole grain flours with a little salt and some herbs make a very tasty crust, far from bland … and one perfectly suited to stronger flavors and real cheese, nothing against the substitutes mentioned.

Sandy Rothman, Berkeley

“Why IDs Matter,” Letters, 1/12

Quasi Police State?

We were both astounded and dumbfounded by the letter entitled “Why IDs Matter.” In this allegedly progressive region of the Bay Area, where going sustainably green, championing human rights, and decriminalization of medical Cannabis are all given 3½ stars or 2½ thumbs up, why is someone, anyone supporting the same fascist, totalitarian methods used by Nazis during the “trusting” times of the 1930s-1940s Europe?? Everywhere one lived or travelled in German-occupied lands, one was subject to being halted by Gestapo and ordered to “show your Reich pass.” If an “ID” was not at the ready, it’s off to the Commandants’ offices for “questioning.” This, my grandfather told me in 2006 (one year before his passing), was where people were spat upon, beaten, and confined in less livable cells than even animals enjoyed at that time. As a young student in France and a Lutheran, he said even “pigs had it easier than someone missing or forgetting to carry an ID. You’d better not be lacking your ID.”

So, now, what’s the point of fighting World War II if we are to currently continue to accept the brainwashing of a war-mongering ex-president who attempted to retreat the US back into a quasi-police state/Cold-War era? In this country we are supposed to be, and we are, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, etc. Our present administration needs to: 1) Get rid of the Fourth Reich in this nation, otherwise known as Homeland “Security,” 2) Get out of the Middle East and 3) Tell the truth (do they know what the truth is?) about how the Twin Towers imploded from the inside while a Steven Spielberg-type expertly filmed our planes being issued to invade our own “homeland.”

And just like Lucille Ball and others were not found to be communists as the so-called Red Threat became thereafter a laughable item in the history of the US loosing its grip on reality … this insane terrorist paranoia can also pass out of our system. Such poisonous drainage can be cleaned out to be once again replaced by common sense and the restoration of human dignity. We watched the TV special on the history of John Lennon and nearly fell over laughing when a hilarious photo of him with an artiste-style beret on was shown while comments were voiced about him being a threat to National Security. And oh, by the way, the reasons people don’t always “drop” a “dime,” or squeal on someone else committing a crime is because if they do, their family just might be subjected to punishment by “dudes’ crew.”

It has nothing to do with “ID.” Regarding immigrants? What they need when they are here, working at low-paying jobs that we don’t want, is amnesty, not “illegos” treatment or discrimination. Does anyone else want to just move forward here?

Down with brainwashing, up with illumination. It’s 2011, right?

Northgate Neighbors for Historic Preservation and Responsible Change, Oakland

“Batts Traded to San Jose?” Seven Days, 1/19

Picking on the Vulnerable

There is very little difference between Brown’s budget proposals and previous budgets, because Brown’s budget is master-minded by the oil industry. There is no provision for ending corporate tax loopholes, no oil extraction tax, and no oil corporation, windfall profits tax. Californians paid the highest price for gasoline in the nation. Brown’s budget is the same, because again, it picks on the most vulnerable. Jerry appears to be working for Big Oil and not for the Californians who voted for him.

Earl George Richards, Halifax, NS Canada

Total BS

That Councilman who was pulled over for suspicion of DUI should have been charged; that’s total BS. I got pulled over and cops still ticketed me and I spent a few hours in the tank; my blood alcohol was only a fraction above the legal limit … all political … goes to show that politicians protect politicians. What a crock.

Billy Ward, Oakland

“Legal Limbo,” Feature, 1/5

Double Jeopardy?

Let’s see. If you were convicted of a crime, and served your sentence and/or fine, now you can be persecuted/prosecuted further by the government for violating restrictions they may place on you anytime in the future?Isn’t that “double jeopardy”? The next step is for the state to make this barber sew an identifying patch on his coat and relocate his business and home to a part of town occupied by other people on the list. This whole attitude has a little too much fascism in it for me to accept.

Richard D. Fritz Jr., San Diego

“Would Batts’ Departure Be That Bad?” Seven Days, 1/26


WTF is wrong with the Cheng’s? It must be nice to own a theater that you don’t need to rent out.Eminent domain might not be the best option, but how about designating the theater as a historical landmark? That way it could not, god forbid, be torn down and turned into condos.The neighborhood needs the Parkway.

Andy Kleiber, Oakland

“Medical Cannabis Etiquette 101,” Legalization Nation, 1/19

Equitable Deductions

I think everything here makes sense. A collective should set their standards very high, but I also think they should receive business deductions. They’re a legal business so why not let them have what others have.

Eric Kauschen, San Francisco

5733 Advertisement, 1/12

Closer to Boring

Great Idea. Better than “boring them with ennui until they feel justified in cancelling the check.” Which effect, by the way, you are producing now.

James Fenton, Oakland


In our January 26 restaurant review of Addie’s Pizza Pie, we erroneously referred to the restaurant as Emilia’s.


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