Letters for the week of October 6-12, 2004

Quibbles about housing and transit, thoughts on hip-hop emcees and slang, and a whole lot of feedback about Mike Seely's anti-pop-star screed.

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


Unless you like commuting …

As executive director of East Bay Housing Organizations, I wanted to comment on one of the issues raised in Chris Thompson’s article about development in Emeryville, specifically the issue of jobs-housing linkage fees and their relative importance as a planning and economic development policy.

The mismatch between job creation and housing is one of the major problems facing communities in the East Bay and throughout California. As a result, jobs-housing linkage fees have evolved as a relatively common strategy to address this imbalance and are considered a central component to smart growth development. Seventeen Bay Area cities — including Oakland, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Palo Alto — have adopted fees. These cities have embraced jobs-housing linkage because of the urgency of the Bay Area’s affordable housing crisis and because they recognize that creating housing affordable to the local workforce helps reduce traffic congestion and improves the quality of life in our communities and the region.
Sean Heron, executive director, East Bay Housing Organizations, Oakland


Learn some manners

Way to go, C. Thompson. Do you treat all your neighbors with the same venom? Perhaps before you attempt to earn a livable wage you should learn some manners. Your religion divides the community. Leave that to GW.
C.J. Koss, Emeryville

“Crackin’ Nutz,” Feature, 9/15


Neva a bitch thang

I am a Female Emcee and part of the group Wasaname An Em’ … Our group album is set to drop in a month and we recently gained financial backing for our project and promotions so it bout to be crackin’ … Anyhow, I wanted to voice that your article was good but I feel as though you are leaving out a vital aspect of female emceein’ … I do not rap about killin’ and rappin’ Bitches up in bags or beatin’ their asses … Hip Hop to me is a whole different ballpark … right now it’s not enough tight female emcees out there on the undaground for us ta be talking bout’ fuckin’ each other up! … The article does not address those female emcees who have good shit to say, “an’ I ain’t soft.” I choose not to focus on the shit that fucked my past up … I choose to jus love dis’ Hip Hop, live dis’ HIP HOP, an’ blow the fuck up! … For example, if I were to compare my flow to a major artist I would say, Kanye West/Talib Kweli/Lady bug/Lauryn Hill types of lyricist cuz I sing also on the tracks to smooth shit out … Your article does not touch on the positive aspects to being a tight-ass female emcee … We ain’t all had it hard, although I did, and all Hip Hop artists don’t have to talk about havin’ it hard … In my rhymes I talk about how tight I am … I am more of a battle rapper, I think … I realized the variety in Hip Hop, but when you talk about females spittin’ you ain’t talkin’ about anything nice and I jus’ couldn’t let your article go without saying something … I personally like being around my male Hip Hop counterparts cuz they do respect me and it is neva a Bitch thang and they ain’t soft either cuz we got each otha’s back.
Simone Nia Rae, Oakland

“The Politics of Hyphy,” Close 2 tha Edge, 6/30


Suitable for framing

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but a member on MySpace.com posted your article. I just personally wanted to send you a quick e-mail to say thank you for representing the bay. I’ve noticed that over the years Bay Area slang has been used over and over by outsiders who have no problems passing it off as their own. I think what sent me over the edge was when Usher came out with a song called “Pop Your Collar.” I almost threw up! I just sat there in the car in utter disbelief. How someone could “jack” something like that, pass it off as their own, and actually feel good about themselves is beyond me. Could you tell me where your article was originally printed? I know it sounds silly, but I would like to frame it and hang it in my house for people to read.
M. Patterson, Santa Clara

“Careening out of Control,” City of Warts, 9/8


BRT beats BART

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been very effective. Los Angeles currently has five BRT routes similar to San Pablo. Wilshire BRT has attracted 45,000 riders per day, and adding the existing service, the total ridership equals our highest carrying BART line. Its total cost per mile was under 1 percent of BART. Because of its success, LA is installing over twenty BRT routes. Additionally, LA plans to upgrade portions of BRT routes into Busways.

Yes, many have raised objections because of lanes being taken away from autos. In the last twenty years, despite expanding our roadways at great expense, congestion has tripled, so BRT is an excellent alternative. On downtown streets in Seattle, Portland, SF, and LA where traffic and passenger interchanges are heavy, busways are commonly used to improve transit access and operation. Most take existing lanes where a busway could serve as well and cost far less.
Roy Nakadegawa, BART director, District 3, Berkeley

“Hate Them Now,” Music, 9/15


Just like high school

Reading through Mike Seely’s “Hate Them Now” brought me back to my high school years, when displaced anger and hormonal frustration inspired poorly written diatribes which were shared with gusto in my sophomore English class. I understood the motivation for such works and at least took solace in the fact that no one would ever have the misfortune of seeing them in print. But now I have found Mike Seely. God help us all. I admit that his opinions are not completely without merit. Fred Durst is an abomination, and Jimmy Buffett is physical proof that evil walks among us. That said, Seely’s article is arrogant, badly written, and hardly worthy of your pages. Please get some decent rock critics so I can carry the Express around without embarrassment.
S. Rayn, Oakland


Did you pay him for this?

When I read Mike Seely’s article, I experienced the curious effect of time dilation. All of the sudden I was in the ’90s, before the bubble burst, Clinton was prez, and raving, self-indulgent articles like these were a dime a dozen because life was so good. Well, it appears a little denial about the times we live in goes a long way because critics still get paid to share their personal music tastes (and distastes) with the general public. I mean, come on, you hate such people as Stevie Ray Vaughan (a blues musician long dead) and Zack de la Rocha (someone who actually sings about how fucked up things really are)? Do people really get paid for this? I have a better idea for a vitriolic feature that fits more with the times: Do a top ten of politicians who write creepy patriotic music such as “Let the Eagle Soar” and put John Ashcroft in the top ten instead of Sir Paul.
Kevin Stamps, Oakland

Misery and vitriol

Why on earth are you so vitriolic and mean? Your remarks under Paul McCartney are unbelievable!!! Why was it necessary to say “alleged pedophile Michael Jackson”? Surely you could have said Michael Jackson; I’m pretty sure we would have known who you meant! Why refer to Mr. Jackson as “wacko Jacko” when he has said repeatedly he doesn’t like it and it is not his name?

You don’t like “Say Say Say”? Tough. So you don’t like Paul McCartney. Tough again. He can at least take credit for bringing a lot of happiness to a lot of people with his many musical contributions with the Beatles. Who are you exactly? What happiness have you brought to people?

My only other remark — perhaps Mr. M was too cheap (with all his money) to bid high enough to outbid the King of Pop for his own catalogue? While I admit to not knowing anyone else on your list but C. Santana and E. John, the stunning unpleasantness of your column prompted me to write. Feel free to respond if you have a problem with anything I have said, you miserable wretch!
Miss Sunny Safiya, El Sobrante

I want to break your hand

Okay, Paul McCartney is probably a jerk as cited by Mike Seely in his vitriolic article. However, calling the Beatles “an overrated boy band” sounds like the same schlock from every other rock snob that never dug any deeper than “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The Beatles deserve their reputation as perhaps the best band ever. And I am under 35.
Erika Knutson, Oakland

Do not dis Sir Paul

I completely disagree with your remarks about Paul McCartney. He is a great man who has done great things for the world with his music. He wrote about half, if not more, of the music that the Beatles recorded. Yes, his solo career has had its ups and downs. He is a very hard worker for his causes, too. Right now, I think what he is doing for land-mine awareness is awesome. I also believe that his involvement with PETA shows how he feels about the world.

Sure, Michael Jackson was not the best person to be around, but back then did any of us really think that twenty years later he would be in trouble like this? You will note that Paul has had no connection with Michael Jackson since the early ’80s.
Debbie Hanon, San Diego

“Devin Satterfield’s Culture of Chaos,” Feature, 9/1


Youth is gold

About a year ago, I met Devin at Peter’s Bar-Cafe Van Kleef. We were there to gather in solidarity with other Oakland artists. As the evening wore on, the crowd dwindled down to the two of us. Devin is our young Warhol … and, the photo on page 19 shows no one over the age of 26.

Dan Fontes and I attended many, many CAC meetings. I quit over two years ago, and Dan left for a houseboat in Sausalito and to keep to his art. We both share responsibility with Pro Arts in Oakland, but Devin is so young, and like the WEST … youth is gold. Jerry Brown and Phil Tagami hold Park Place and Baltic Avenue, and the powers that be hold the rest. Youth will make the change for the ARTS in Oakland, as the young are restless and the old are greedy. Where this puts me, at 62 years, is in my Oakland studio painting away. For all well said, and well done, the making of ART is truly the only independent exercise that can reach the minds of people who, in turn think for themselves by passing along their “new ideas” down the line to others. New becomes the Master … only if you keep kicking.
Rob March Harper, painter, Oakland

“Rockridge in the Raw,” On Food, 7/7


There’s grit in my oyster

Your restaurant reviewer recently gave a glowing review to Pearl, the new seafood restaurant in Rockridge. While the food is indeed great, there’s nothing else pleasant about eating there. I felt like a sardine packed into the tiny dining area where the seats are a few inches apart. The place is so tightly packed with people and so poorly insulated that the noise was deafening.

Worst of all was the arrogant waitress who reacted with obvious irritation when we asked her for food recommendations. We had to literally flag down other waitstaff when we needed something, since she never came by to check on us. The pretentiousness of the place is also a turnoff. At the end of the meal, when I asked whether I could purchase some chowder to go, the snooty waitress sniffed, “We don’t do takeout.” Earth to Pearl: You’re not Chez Panisse. There are numerous other restaurants where you can have a great meal without the attitude.
Stacy Taylor, Berkeley

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