Letters for the week of October 20-26, 2004

In praise of our ice cream scoop; in disappointment over our MC story; in shock over the Emeryville situation; and in conflict over reggae politics.

“Fire & Ice Cream,” Feature, 9/22

No more ice cream for me

Your feature article on Fentons is further evidence of the superb quality of your lead stories. I feel exhausted after reading it, thinking about the number of hours that went into the research. It’s especially interesting for those of us who are lifelong devotees of Fentons, and can remember its original location and high quality. As an accountant and business consultant, I smelled a rat even before the time of the fire. I’d stopped patronizing Fentons years ago, when the quality and service declined. The restrooms, for instance, looked like toxic waste dumps. And no business should take so much time to rebuild after a fire.

Fortunately, my adolescent cravings for ice cream have long been suppressed. I think this article may have killed them altogether.
Brian O’Neil, Alameda

Eggnog and crab sandwiches

Read “Fire & Ice Cream” with interest. Our family considered holiday season incomplete without Botts’ eggnog. We looked forward to special outings to Fentons for the crab sandwiches. When Botts sold out, the product became unreliable, and we understood it was bought out by Moonie interests! Also regretfully, Fentons’ crab sandwiches ceased in about the same decade.

Yours is the kind of local reporting I look forward to reading. Keep it up.
Rob Jones, Berkeley

“Jaywalking Threat to Society,” Culture Spy, 9/22

He should be in jail

Who cares if some young punk arts commissioner who wants “street cred” went to jail for a warrant? Not paying a ticket or not fighting it to prove your point is a crime. He should be in jail if he thinks he’s above the law. Who cares about some young kid who throws loud parties and gets arrested; it sounds like suburbia to me. He just wants some stupid publicity for his ego.

“Crackin’ Nutz,” Feature, 9/15

Quit with the hatin’

I thought your article on female MCs and their perceived idea that they need to stoop to the level of the many misogynistic male MCs was interesting. I find it unfortunate that these women must delve into the pool of uncreative, unthoughtful, and un-uplifting lyrics. Tsk, tsk, sistahs. I’m especially disappointed with Conscious Daughters, who I thought were much more creative than that. They were quoted as saying that many of their original fans are now in their late thirties and aren’t buying hip-hop. This is not at all my experience.

I was sixteen when hip-hop was introduced on the airwaves. I’m 41 now. Like many people my age, I grew up with hip-hop, love hip-hop, identify with hip-hop more than I do R&B. I do find myself listening to more contemporary R&B artists today because too many contemporary hip-hop artists have taken on the Daughters’ mentality: Go gangsta if you want to sell CDs. Every now and then, a creative artist like Missy Elliott, Kanye West, or Eminem comes along and earns a CD sale from me, as well as from my peers. I continue to support some of the longtime artists like KRS-One and LL Cool J who continue to put it down for their original fans. I have made it my personal responsibility to play some of the older artists for the many youth in my life, and they enjoy it at least as much as the new stuff, sometimes more. Special One may be surprised to know that my 46-year-old boss turned me on to the Roots’ latest. I went out and bought it, both because I enjoy the music and to support the artists.

Artists like the Conscious Daughters have more talent than they allow to shine through. I want to see artists who do their own thing and “keep it real” by keeping it creative and quit with all the hatin’ already. There’s more to life than who you want to “wet up, strangle, and pop full of lead.”
Jovanka Beckles, Alameda

“Pixar Foes Turn Tables on E’ville,” City of Warts, 9/15

Let’s work together

While waiting in line I was talking to a gal at Home Depot, and she was telling me about how some organizations and individuals in Emeryville do not want Pixar Animation in town unless Pixar provides funding for certain special interests. I’m more than a little concerned about that mindset. I’ve been here in the East Bay for 25 years and remember how rough the neighborhood was before Comp USA, Home Depot, IKEA, Pixar, and Chiron came in. As a concerned community member, I’d like to say these “Big Guys” have helped to bring in lots of Small Guys which helps to make our community feel more like a community again, and safer at that.

I understand that the Big Guys have Big Wallets, but demanding them to empty their wallets (or leave town) to fund local charities and needs doesn’t make sense to me. Community to me is working together to help with the kids, working together to clean up trash and crime in the neighborhood, working together when someone is down. Asking the Big Guys to do this for me isn’t what I’d like for my daughter to grow up with.
Keith Johnson, Emeryville

“Beenie Manhunt,” Close 2 tha Edge, 9/15

Bad acid flashback

I was happy to see the hateful and murderous Capleton, aka Clifton George Bailey III, replaced in Reggae in the Park. Perhaps he was canceled at Cal State Sacramento and Arcata as well. Personally, I hope he never darkens the door of our Golden State again. I was picturing thousands of these progressives — a lot of them GLBT themselves, hippies and wannabe Jamaicans — dressed up in their Rastafarian drag and dreadlocks, all hopped up on da ganja weed, gyrating ecstatically in Golden Gate Park to the throbbing hypnotic reggae beat:

“Okay, everybody, I want you all to put your hands together and sing along with me: Kill the queer!/Slit its throat!/Make him dead!

What’s that? Bad acid flashback, you say? No, it’s Reggae in the Park! Wild, mon.
Rusty Rush, San Francisco

Globalism, art, and you

Your Beenie Man article was just spectacular. So smart, so well-written, so balanced, so thorough. What an opportunity to illuminate the intersection of so many complex dynamics of race, class, gender, sexuality, colonialism, globalism & art. You handled it with phenomenal finesse.
Aya de León, Oakland

“Hate Them Now,” Music, 9/15

A modest proposal

What disgusted me about “Hate Them Now” by Mike Seely was not so much the piece itself, but the mail you received in response to it. Have these readers ever heard of satire? Well, music is not exempt from it. Seely’s piece wasn’t worth much and those full two pages could have been much better spent, especially in a community with such active music and writing scenes, but it was good for a hokey laugh. What’s so bad about that?

Sometimes us music fans get so sick of reading pretentious criticism that doesn’t actually make much sense most of the time. That’s when we read Chunklet [satirical music mag] and remember that all’s well in the world and that no one should escape the torture of a good roast. I beg these readers not to take themselves so seriously the way the musicians Seely slammed do.
Carla Costa, Oakland

For the benefit of Sir Paul

As someone who’s been spellbound by the Beatles and Paul McCartney since 1963, I took a deep breath before reading Seely’s article crowning McCartney the music biz’ king of evil. Seely’s approach was unabashedly brutal, but I think he’s got it right. If I understand him, his words could be reversed in the looking glass to say that McCartney is the most masterful performer in show business.

I don’t see that McCartney has ever put himself forth as more than a craftsman with no knowledge of musical theory who happened to be a genius at show business. If you read his words without a self-induced glow of fandom (something it’s taken me years to do), he speaks openly and truthfully about how he plies his trade.

We’ll never know what the Beatles could have been, had they not been subjected to a manufacturing process which continues to market and deliver their pleasurable products en masse to an endless crowd of hungry consumers, of which I remain a member. A thorough reporting on how the Beatles were launched and manipulated by the Culture Industry would be tops on my reading list. I appreciate your bold initiation of this discussion.
Virginia Nichols, Alameda

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