Letters for the Week of May 25

Readers sound off on bike shops, UC Berkeley's chancellor, and local jazz musicians.

“Taking the High Road,” Summer Guide, 5/11

New Bike Co-op

Thank you for your great article on local bike shops and collectives in the 2011 Summer Guide! As we all know, bikes are an excellent way to get around, to save money, to stay in shape, to feel independent and self-sufficient, to discover new neighborhoods, and to reduce your carbon footprint. I believe that the more cyclists know about how to maintain their own bikes, the more they are likely to ride them, which is good for all of us. That’s why I’m thrilled that a new bike co-op called Spokeland has just opened up in North Oakland’s Golden Gate District, right around the corner from Actual Cafe. It’s part of a larger effort focused on nonprofit sustainability education, anchored by the Sustainable Living Roadshow. You can trade volunteer time or money for shop time and parts and there is always a mechanic on hand to help out with projects. It’s an opportunity not only for people to learn how to maintain their own bikes, but to also help others by sharing the knowledge they’ve gained through volunteering. You can stop by the shop at 1121 64th Street during their open hours, Wednesdays from 3-8 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. or visit them online at Spokeland.org. See you on the road!

Liz Reid, Oakland

Don’t Forget About Us

Nate Seltenrich’s article about local bike shops in Summer Guide highlighted a number of wonderful projects. We are so lucky here in the Bay Area to have so many resources for all kinds of cyclists. But we think he was remiss not to mention us at the Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative (1988 Shattuck Ave., 510-843-7471, MissingLink.org). Your readers should know that they can use our self-help repair stations, known as Loaner Tools, seven days a week, absolutely free. And if you need to brush up on your repair skills, we offer a series of classes covering everything from fixing a flat to building a wheel by hand. We repeat the class series several times a year — again, totally free. Our “bigger cause” missions include promoting cycling as healthy for people and communities, as well as promoting worker-owned collectives as a healthier alternative to other business models, since they provide democratic, empowering, locally-controlled and sustainable jobs. We’ve been at it since 1973, and hope that with the continued support of our community, our collective will be around for many more generations.

Danita McGinnis

Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative


“Guilty Treasures,” Summer Guide, 5/11

The Happy Hollisters Live

I enjoyed your article about “Guilty Treasures,” particularly your reference to the wholesome Happy Hollisters, and wanted to introduce myself. My grandfather, Andrew Svenson, wrote all 33 volumes in The Happy Hollisters series under the pseudonym Jerry West. The Hollister children were patterned on the personalities and adventures of his own children: my father, aunts, and uncles. In the 1960s, The Happy Hollisters was the best-selling series in the United States for children in the 7-11 age group, with lifetime sales of more than 11 million copies. More than one million children joined The Happy Hollisters Book Club in the 1950s and 1960s. I thought you might be interested to learn that after being out of print for many, many years, The Happy Hollisters are making a comeback! Over the years we’ve heard from many fans who have fond memories of the wholesome Hollister family and their exciting adventures. They appreciate the squeaky-clean adventures and want to share the stories with their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews — but don’t want to give up their prized collectors’ editions. To meet this demand, we have recently reissued the first three books in the series in paperback and eBook editions: The Happy Hollisters, The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip, and The Happy Hollisters at Sea Gull Beach. The stories are identical to the originals, with their family-friendly dialogue and charming illustrations by Helen S. Hamilton. We are currently working on producing the fourth and fifth volumes in the series, and intend to produce several volumes each year until the series is completed again.If you’d like to learn more about our project, and see pictures of the “real” Hollister family, please visit our website: TheHappyHollisters.com or join our Facebook group Facebook.com/pages/The-Happy-Hollisters/33291503077. Of course, you may also contact me directly if you’d like more information at any time!Thank you again for mentioning The Happy Hollisters! They would certainly provide a wholesome balance for some of the steamier summer reading you mentioned!

Andrew E. Svenson III, Tarpon Springs, FL

“Recall Brown,” “Bankruptcy Not a Bad Idea,” Letters, 5/11

Local Crank Shortage

There must be a shortage of cranks in the East Bay if you have to look in Southern California to find them!

Bruce De Benedictis, Oakland

“Yoo: Obama Should Have Tortured Bin Laden,” Seven Days, 5/11

Replace Birgeneau

I have 35 years’ consulting experience and have taught at UC Berkeley, where I was able to observe the culture and the way senior management work. A few of Chancellor Birgeneau’s inept decisions: recruits (using California tax money) out-of-state $50,000 tuition students that displace qualified Californians; spends $7 million for consultants to do his job and the jobs of many vice chancellors (a prominent East Coast university accomplishes the same at zero cost); pays ex-Michigan governor $300,000 for lectures; allows Latino enrollment to drop while out-of-state enrollment jumped in 2010; allowed tuition return on investment (ROI) to drop below the top ten; placed the basketball program on probation.Chancellor Birgeneau’s fiscal track record is dismal indeed. He would like to blame the politicians, since they stopped giving him every dollar he asked for, and the state legislators do share some responsibility for the financial crisis. But not in the sense he means.A competent chancellor would have been on top of identifying inefficiencies and then crafting a plan to fix them. Able oversight by the UC Board of Regents and the legislature would have required him to provide data on inefficiencies and on what steps he was taking to solve them during his eight-year reign. Instead, every year Birgeneau would request a budget increase, the timid regents would agree to it, and the legislature would provide it. The hard questions were avoided by all concerned, and the problems just piled up to $150 million of inefficiencies … until there was no money left.It’s not that Birgeneau was unaware that there were, in fact, waste and inefficiencies during his reign. Faculty and staff raised issues with Birgeneau and Breslauer whose salaries are $500,000 and $400,000 respectively), but when they failed to see relevant action taken, they stopped. Finally, Birgeneau engaged some expensive ($7 million) consultants to tell him and the provost what they should have known as leaders or been able to find out from the bright, engaged people.

UC Berkeley and Californians have been badly damaged by Chancellor Birgeneau. Good people are losing their jobs. Cal’s leadership is either incompetent or culpable. Merely cutting out inefficiencies does not have the desired effect. But you never want a crisis to go to waste.Increasing Cal’s budget is not enough; we believe the best course of action for the University of California is to honorably replace Birgeneau’s.

Milan Moravec, Walnut Creek

“Kind of Blue,” Feature, 5/4

They Need to Work Harder

Interesting story. I run a small arts venue in the Mission (Kaleidoscope) where we have both an early jazz jam on Wednesdays and other jazz performances randomly when they’re scheduled. Among the musicians mentioned in the article, only Dayna Stephens has played Kaleidoscope, and though jazz doesn’t bring much in the way of audience or money at Kaleidoscope either, there is certainly no paucity of talented musicians playing, many of whom are young and at the beginning of their careers. It seems to me that in order to revive the jazz scene in the Bay Area though, one of the first steps would be for jazz musicians to support each other. I also notice that other musicians seem to work harder at the business of music than do jazz musicians. They do a lot of promotion for themselves, bring e-mail sign-up sheets to gigs, sell CDs, hand out fliers, etc. I don’t see many jazz musicians doing any of that and yet, when somebody does, the show is always better attended.

Sara Powell, San Francisco

Raise More Jazz Lovers

While I do try to go out and support as many of my fellow jazz musicians as possible, you have to understand that jazz musicians have families, too. Spending every night of the week out till 2 a.m. is not really an option for most of us. If we’re lucky we’re playing our own gigs several nights a week after the kids have gone to sleep. So to say jazz musicians need to support themselves is bull pucky. Art lovers need to support jazz musicians. I play a hip-hop/electronica show with a new hip-hop act from out of town and sold out a club I booked. My own band plays several venues in the Bay Area and gets between 20 to 75 paying attendees. My band gets more promotion, what’s the difference? The difference is having a young mobile audience with almost 100-percent disposable income and an audience with family that maybe doesn’t want to be out at 10:30 p.m. on a weeknight. The only way this changes is by raising more young jazz lovers. Maybe when my four-year-old is seventeen she’ll be sneaking out to see a jazz show instead of a hip-hop show.

Clifford Brown, Emeryville

“The Recycler Relocation Project,” News, 5/4

Where to Dump?

Once they move and their massive corrugated steel structure with no windows is gone, where will all those low-cost construction contractors and considerate West Oakland citizens dump their unwanted paint, burned mattresses, and broken particle board furniture?

Vince Rubino, Oakland

“Shouts and Murmurs,” Culture Spy, 5/4


The problem with Art Murmur is that hipsters are in the minority now. There are these stroller people and suburban-looking squares cluttering up our once cool event. The new galleries are all boring and suburban-looking, too. And the music there suuuUUUUuucks! It’s totally rad that RPS is forging ahead with something new!

Chrissy Teagarten, Oakland

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