Letters for the week of May 14-20, 2003

Raising the bar through criticism, shedding crocodile tears for the military, telling it like it is to pseudo-liberals, and inventing scandal in lieu of reporting.

“Industry and Entropy,” Visual Arts, 4/9

We all need occasional whacks with a stick

Thank you for your recent review of the Oakland Art Gallery. As a local artist, it is sometimes frustrating to see the lack of writing about local art shows for emerging artists. The best thing about your review was the depth of analysis and the courage to be honestly critical (Tim Jag’s goofiness getting in the way of his ideological concerns). Often reviewers only focus on the good, which is wonderful and all, but c’mon, we need a good whack with a stick every now and then to up the bar of professionalism. Good work.

Billy McNash, Oakland

“No One Left to Confront,” City of Warts, 4/9

Don’t cry for me, Chris Thompson

It is only crocodile tears that can be shed for the loss of the Bay Area’s military infrastructure that Chris Thompson so wistfully laments in his column. The powerful Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee despised Ron Dellums, a radical black man in their eyes, sitting at the helm of their “sacred cow” military committee. It is likely they who conspired to strip the Bay Area of its military facilities.

Good riddance! The military held much of the prime waterfront real estate in the bay, off-limits to civilians I might add, and was shrouded in secrecy without municipal or environmental oversight. Although often denied, it is no leap of rational deduction to assume that the Naval Air Station in Alameda stored or transited nuclear devices — weapons of mass destruction sitting squarely in the middle of the Bay Area. Toxic cleanup there is still at issue, and the now-absent noise pollution from the stationary jet-engine testing or “touch and go” operations was deafening to port workers like myself working on the opposite shore of the Oakland estuary.

Because of the military stranglehold on real estate, the Port of Oakland’s inability to expand had caused its share of Pacific Rim commerce to dip to only 14 percent of all West Coast shipments. This should no longer be an issue. With the addition of five new berths, ten new cranes, and a new rail yard, the conversion of the former Naval Supply Center should allow the Port of Oakland to compete more effectively for Pacific Rim trade.

In addition to the creation of good “union” jobs, there is now public access with a large aquatic park being built at the end of 7th Street in Oakland. The Oakland Army Base is being used as a safe and secure venue for Oakland’s youth and sports program, while its military warehouses are open for commercial development. The Alameda Naval Air Station is likewise an economically viable zone where huge airplane hangars have been turned into gymnasiums, indoor play fields, and technical development laboratories.

The loss of Alameda’s military personnel and their families is of little consequence. Military families rarely mix with the local culture or put down roots, as they are shuffled from one base to another during the course of their military careers.

The Bay Area is not a backwater burg whose economic existence depends upon the pork-barrel largesse of congressmen or the paltry paychecks of enlisted men and their families. Like little Br’er Rabbit begging not to be tossed into the briar patch, the Republican contemporaries of Ron Dellums on the HASC actually did us a big favor.
Brian Lewis, Richmond

The great tenor of the low blow

Chris Thompson is the great tenor of his genre of low-blow, “tellin’ it like it is,” shock-and-awe pseudo-liberals. I used to be puzzled by how Chris Thompson, who lives in a formidable political environment and has even apparently attended a few antiwar demonstrations, comes to the same stupid conclusions as does the mainstream press, but now I am afraid he may be doing it deliberately. He lays down yet another wave of insults and intimidation in his article, “No One Left to Confront,” and perpetuates the same stereotypes. The assertion that “there’s no one in the Bay Area left to convince” is fiction. I dare him to count the number of congressional representatives and state senators openly opposing the war. I dare him to do an article on whether or not people who oppose the war get proportional representation in the government or the press. His characterization of Direct Action Against the War’s attempt to shut down the San Francisco financial district as a “nihilistic tantrum” and “an inarticulate primal scream” and his emphasis on the woeful $900,000 it is costing in police overtime doesn’t mention the cost of war, or the fact that among those attending was former president of the Pacific Exchange and US Air Force veteran Warren Langley, who does not believe demonstrations are in vain, obstructionist, or redundant.

Kahlil Karn, Berkeley

“Don’t copy this one,” 7 Days, 4/9

Stretch your legs

Chris Thompson’s paranoia that Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Becky O’Malley’s role as executive editor of the Daily Planet influenced a story on the destruction of a landmark is comic. He once wrote a story on Free Radio Berkeley covering the split vote on a controversial decision, without revealing that it was his own vote that created the split and the ensuing difficulties for the station.

Thompson seems to think that inventing scandal passes for reporting. If he would stretch his legs and take a look around town, he might find there are plenty of interesting issues going unreported.
Carol Denney, Berkeley


In “The Best Place to See Naked Actors in a Basement” in last week’s Best of the East Bay issue, we printed the wrong contact details for Impact Theatre. The correct ones are ImpactTheatre.com and 510-464-4468.

Meanwhile, in “The Best Silversmith and Metal Restorer,” we mistakenly created the impression that Monsen Plating and Silversmiths sells antique metal items. Restoration and replating is the name of its game.

Also, in the movie-listings section of the April 30 issue, a caption incorrectly stated that the character Deathstrike in X2: X-Men United was defending Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters when she was, in fact, attacking it.


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