Letters for the week of May 4 – 10, 2005

Bono was the better choice; give us the Berkeley Bowl, please; someone soiled Thompson's cornflakes; and enviros can't be all to everyone.

“Bono for Pontiff,” Music, 4/13/05

Is vice pope taken?
Weird, man … too weird. The Saturday after the pope died, I was sitting on the couch thinking about the history of the pope and suddenly this thought occurred to me out of nowhere: “Bono should be pope; it’s perfect!” I began telling everyone I know about this idea. I opened up the paper today and saw your article and just laughed. Is this the zeitgeist and I just didn’t realize it, or are we all thinking the same thing and nobody realizes it? So glad somebody in the media took up the cause!

Paul Inman, Oakland

“Why Berkeley Can’t Do the Right Thing,” City of Warts, 4/13/05

Decent food matters
I am a longtime resident of West Berkeley, and I cannot imagine a more welcome addition to our neighborhood than West Berkeley Bowl. The notion that light industry will ever return to our neighborhood is pretty amusing: I don’t think the current detractors of the Bowl proposal would welcome any to the site, even if any were clamoring to move in. My neighbors are unanimous: Give us a decent place to shop, and upstanding citizens who want organic produce instead of those who come only for illicit drugs and blow jobs. Thank you for an excellent article on this subject.

Christine Staples, Berkeley

Don’t foul our nest
I have two questions for Chris Thompson about his article regarding the West Berkeley Bowl. One, who crapped in his cornflakes the morning he wrote the article? Two, why didn’t he throw those cornflakes out, wash out the dish thoroughly, and make another bowl of cornflakes before sitting down to write such a ridiculously obtuse piece that ignored major pieces of the story?

Jesse Townley, Berkeley

Swinging the wrong way
Hats off to Chris Thompson’s Berkeley Bowl chronology for illustrating how endless “public input” trumps decent “public service” in Berkeley. Once upon a time, grand but wrongheaded redevelopment schemes became reality thanks in part to omnipotent planning departments. Citizen outrage over the profound lack of public input on postwar megaprojects (think of San Francisco’s Fillmore district) started changing that forty years ago. Berkeley has long since arrived at the other extreme.

Rather than being celebrated for providing a great public service as a seller of healthy greens at reasonable prices, Berkeley’s legion of naysayers emerge to vilify the Bowl’s Glenn Yasuda as a postmodern Robert Moses. If that weren’t so pathetic, it would actually be funny.

One trifling oversight in the story: Bike access has merit. The four-block-long “bike lane to nowhere” that Thompson dismissed actually closes the gap between Berkeley’s Ninth Street route to Albany and Emeryville’s Doyle Street path (under construction). The Emeryville segment will connect to bike lanes on Mandela Parkway that reach West Oakland BART and will also connect to the future bicycle approach to the new Bay Bridge.
Marc Albert, Emeryville

“Would You Like Beer with That?,” Culture Spy, 4/13

Time for civic leadership
Having grown up in the East Bay and frequented the arts/rock band scene for years, I want to set a few things about the French Fry Factory straight to your readers.

First, no one was making profit off the space; simply making rent was a cause for celebration. Far from the picture Sergeant White painted, proprietors were not holding the equivalent of weekly “rent” parties, but instead struggling to keep the space running. Oakland has a vibrant underground arts scene, and the French Fry Factory served as a vital venue in that scene, showcasing local bands, artists, and filmmakers who otherwise may not have had such an opportunity. The Factory was run on gut dedication.

Secondly, the French Fry Factory was by far one of the safest warehouse environments I have been to. Instead of the raucous bottle-breaking, dangerously inebriated teenage girls, predatorily lecherous characters, and random pitbulls that characterize many warehouse environments, the crowd at the Factory tended to be mellow, discreet, and simply there for a good time. I never felt uncomfortable as a female there.

While it was most definitely illegal to sell alcohol without a license, and while code violations did exist, I think the City of Oakland risks losing an art space that was largely conducted with responsibility and maturity, a space that contributed to a side of the community that makes Oakland Oakland. I think the city should strive to work with the French Fry Factory to achieve a resolution that would allow the space to exist in accordance with local law.
Lauren Quinn, Oakland

“The Skunks at the Garden Party,”
Cityside, 2/9/05

Save the environmentalists
I found this article misguided, and I am afraid it gave the wrong people too much publicity. The article would have been more balanced if it had someone saying the obvious, i.e. that environmentalism at worst is in slump or a rut, or facing a setback. Environmentalists have many concerns, but they usually can be depended upon to defend things that have no voice and cannot protect themselves, i.e. endangered species and habitats. They are also concerned with our general interests: clean air, clean water, etc. Why should environmentalists also be expected to be social workers, civil rights activists, politicians, family members, friends, and clergy?

Ryder Miller, San Francisco

In an April 20 capsule art review, we erroneously stated that Ginny Parsons’ art exhibit The Art of Sprawl was displayed at the headquarters of Bay Area Rapid Transit. Actually, it was at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

The April 20 Bottom Feeder misquoted the cheapest weekday rate for a room at the Silverado Resort in Napa. While the resort’s Web site lists a minimum weekday rate of $260 for a junior suite (the price quoted in the article), a standard room with a king bed goes for $160.

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