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Letters for the Week of August 20

Readers sound off on incense, bagels, and Barack Obama.


"Toxic Incense," News, 8/3

Incense Is Illegal, Too

Most people aren't aware that incense is actually covered under Oakland's sweeping anti-smoking ordinance, which bans "inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, weed, or other combustible substance" in any enclosed place of employment, or in unenclosed recreational or common areas. Taken literally, this would outlaw even the burning of candles in restaurants. Of course, everyday air pollution from cars poses a far greater public health risk. It's time to put some common sense back into the law and let owners and renters establish designated areas where people are free to light up what they please.

Dale Gieringer, Oakland

No Escape

It's about time more people knew about the dangers of incense, which many of us have known for decades. Scented candles also are toxic, as well as smelling horrible. It's ironic that some "health food stores" are extremely toxic and bad-smelling because of the amount of incense, candles, and other scented products they sell. There is almost no escaping this crap. It is not spiritual to damage other people's health.

Bev Jo, Oakland

"Sound Walls Bound for Rockridge?," Eco Watch, 8/3

Sound Walls Aren't a Solution

Sound walls do not reduce noise — they send it to people further away. We could not hear Highway 24 from my neighborhood (just north of Moraga Avenue) until the construction began. Now we do. Sending the noise pollution to others is a lot like putting pollution into the air to disperse to those downwind.

Jon Adams, Oakland

"Obama's Big Sell Out," Seven Days, 8/3

Obama's True Constituency

Obama's not a sellout — he's been loyally serving his true constituency: the Wall Street crowd. That whole "change you can believe in" and "hope" nonsense was purely for consumption by the gullible masses, who drank his swill wholeheartedly.

Naturally, after Bush, the country yearned for a change. Just as predictably, the powers that be trotted forth an apparently more acceptable candidate, who lulled the masses with meaningless platitudes, while keeping the essential power structure intact.

Here's something for cognitive-dissonance fans: receive a Nobel Peace Prize, then begin bombing Libya in the name of "Democracy." O, brave new world that has such people in it.

Jim Mellander, El Sobrante

"Cut the Music, Bring the Noise," Music, 7/27

Boycott the Solano Stroll

I am disgusted once again to see that musicians are not respected in their profession, particularly in this country. People like Carol Denney, who have the guts to stand up for what is right, should be commended. The musicians should have been told before applying that they would not be paid. It is reprehensible that they were not told.

Cuts should have been across the board. Not just the musicians. Thinking that musicians as so desperate to play that they should play for free makes me sick.Saying that they "gain exposure" for future gigs is just bull.

That band that plays for free hoping to get other jobs should be named "The Bend Over Band." They could have at least paid a stipend to each musician.

The Solano Stroll has become overcrowded and lots of people benefit in profits. Everyone eats and pays for food. The musicians have expenses, such as gas and parking, not to mention all the hours of rehearsal that are unpaid.

I live in Napa and have come to this event every year. I am boycotting the event this year. Musicians deserve to get paid.

I wish the other musicians would have the strength to stick up for each other and walk away from this event. Without the music it would be a sad event, indeed.

Debra Sherman, Napa

A Merchant Responds

I am on the board of the Solano Avenue Association, but only for about six months, so my comment is from a personal perspective, as I may not know all the details from the past. I'd like to clarify some of the misstated accusations and address some of the slanted perspectives of the reporting:

1. Musicians were told on the application, in advance, that pay could be zero. And nobody is being forced to participate — they choose to, or not.

2. Vendor fees did go up.

3. The board has made cuts in other areas.

4. Allen Cain is our only paid employee; the board of directors is all-volunteer. I know that some of the members have been generously volunteering many hours for years. Speaking just for me, Cain does a lot for the street in addition to his job responsibilities. He contributes his time. It's no small thing — Allen actually picks up garbage on Solano every weekday morning between San Pablo and The Alameda.

5. The merchants on Solano (not all merchants on Solano are members, but they all benefit from the Solano Avenue Association) are not "making money off their [the musicians'] music." For most shops, the Stroll interferes with our normal business, but it's a day for the community and visitors to have fun, and it's free to those who attend.

As for the article:

1. Terrible headline, there is no cut in music.

2. Why wouldn't the Express have a picture of one of the bands who will be performing instead of one of the two who chose not to?

3. None of the nearly one hundred bands who will be playing were interviewed. How do they feel?

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