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Letters for May 26

Readers sound off on Nic Nak dispute, redevelopment agencies, Oakland nightlife, and more.

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The answer is obvious to all who wish to see. Inflation of the housing market has driven many working-class people, especially those with children, out of the area. This in turn causes school class size to go down; which in turn gives a ready excuse to close ever more schools.

The prime movers of this connected affect is the California Redevelopment Association working hand-in-glove with Oakland's Redevelopment Agency (which is actually the Oakland City Council under another name). Years ago, the city council had to choose between selfish intersects and public service, and it decided to go with the former (like some journalists).

But what goes around comes around; and so Oakland, having adopted the philosophy of the cancer cell and produced growth for the sake of growth, now has a surplus of "developments" for nobody.

The really remarkable thing here is how few people have noticed that this economic Perpetual Motion Machine is hopelessly broken down; and that the abject condition of our own public schools is one of the many predictable side affects. What does anyone think happens in an ethically bankrupt society with corrupted values? How can schools teach "Civics" classes when the adults themselves have no sense of just what that means? But oh, I forget, teaching public morality is out of fashion now (unless, of course, it's done hypocritically).

Years ago, it was predicted there would be a dog fight between the developers and the California Teachers Association for public funds; let's hope it happens soon. Let the developers hold "bake sales" for funding in the future, instead of schools.

James J. Fenton, Oakland

"What About the Children?," Letters, 5/12

Who's the Terrorizer?

This is in response to Richard Levine, who doesn't like people playing music that he can hear at night where he lives, feeling that people are "adversely affected" by noise from bars and clubs and such. Levine calls it "amazing, what a single dance band — a single percussionist — can do to terrorize an entire neighborhood."

"Terrorize?" Please. How do you think dozens or hundreds of people out enjoying themselves feel when a handful of grouchy NIMBYs complain enough to get the police to come and shut down a party? 

Siccing the law on somebody bears a lot more resemblance to "terrorizing" than simply playing music!

And what about being "adversely affected" by the very vocal grinches who insist on living in a built-up urban area but appear to expect it to conform to the characteristics of a bucolic suburb? Not to mention the evident bias against fun — unnecessary use of emergency vehicle sirens and the clanking of garbage trucks probably do more to interrupt nighttime rest than do the sounds of your fellow residents out having a good time.

Many people feel there is far too little to do for fun at night in the East Bay. Compare Oakland with fabulous European cities like Paris and Madrid, where you can find the streets full at 3 o'clock in the morning. "Nightclubbing in Oakland is almost an oxymoron," said the friend I was having breakfast with when I told her I was writing a letter to the editor in response to a person complaining about nightlife.

Levine writes of "ordinary, hard-working, early-to-bed-early-to-rise citizens." This sounds like a thinly veiled attempt to brand people who enjoy nightlife as second-class citizens who are somehow lazier or less important than other folks. Since he talks up employment, presumably he is making money and can invest some of it in soundproofing his house. If he's not "hard-working" enough to be able to afford that, he can always pick up some earplugs for a couple bucks at the local drugstore. Not everybody who works hard has a daytime schedule, and just because you do have a 9-to-5 job doesn't necessarily make you a better person or mean that other businesses and activities should be structured around your preferences. If you live to work, don't hate on those who work to live!

Levine also writes of being "able to go to sleep when we wanted to." But he shows no similar concern for others being able to dance and play music when they want to. Dancing, socializing and enjoying music are no less valid social activities than sleeping, and going out and partying is an important part of life to hundreds of millions of people in the world, especially young people. Perhaps Mr. Levine has forgotten what it's like to be young. But does he really think it is preferable to restrict late-night entertainment venues so that more bored youth are out cruising the streets?

Finally, he complains that sound reverberates upward from the bottom of the valley along which Grand Avenue runs. But playing the adversarial NIMBY card is not the best way to address this issue. A win-win solution would be to relax zoning and land use rules so that entertainment is allowed to happen in more non-residential areas such as in large parks, on the waterfront, etc., where those who can't get with the groove are less likely to be disturbed.

If you follow these suggestions and still have trouble sleeping, maybe it's because you have a guilty conscience about trying to use government to stop people from having a good time.

Starchild, San Francisco

"What Just Happened to Nina Wise," Theater, 5/12

Truth, Not Fiction

Thanks for attending my show and reviewing it. FYI, the material I use is true not fiction.Re: "Nor is it clear whether the visit happened at all, or if it happened exactly the way she described it. Wise appears to have phenomenal event-recall, but she often blurs the line between reality and her elaborate fantasy life."I do my best not to blur the line between my fantasy life and my real life. I did spend a week at Max's home as I said in the performance, and the experiences there were as I reported them.


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