Page One

Letters to the Editor

Saturday September 30, 2000

Bad management real reason theater may close  



Why the UC Theater is so close to closing down for good is really no esoteric mystery to longtime patrons attending it less and less these days – and the reasons have next to nothing to do with the whitewashing excuse of costly seismic retrofitting. 

For one thing, moviegoing is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Patrons hardly shell out their hard-earned cash for tickets and overprice refreshments (despite begrudged re-fills offered for large items) to be insulted at the box office by smug, scowling or smart-aleck punk kids, which the theater management excels at hiring and training to be rude and obnoxious to customers.  

Watching these brats being forced to enter the real world and act like adults would by itself make seeing the theater shutdown worthwhile – almost.  

For another, UC Theater’s film programming has grown so regressively repetitious and monotonous that it’s reached the point of outright tedium, especially in its tiresome fetish for French films and its imitative parroting of the Castro Theater’s calendar. I mean, how many times ad nauseam can you sit through “Breathless,” or any other of the same, recurring cycle of fatiguing fad films which the theater specializes in cramming down our throats, without starting to lose you own breath? 

Sure, the theater screens a catchy flick every now and then, sucking in a sizable, sheepish, seal-clapping, fad-following audience with Film 101 class movies like “Lawrence of Arabia.” But no amount of Berkeley Bowl-style bailout city subsidies for seismic retrofitting will save the theater from permanently shutting its doors due solely to uncreative, unimaginative film programming.  

Bringing back the unruly hooligans who go along with the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” turning over the theater to the Pacific Film Archive, so everyone can be forced to suffer even more obscure and unknown films which most moviegoers neither know nor care less about, or turning it into yet another vapid multiplex – catering to the sophomoric film tastes of supposedly hip and cool students (translation: town transients) – rank among the very last things the theater should do to expedite its death knell even further, and sooner.  

Original film programming aimed at adult audiences, by somebody who really knows movies, is the only thing that will continue to attract the resident baby-boomers who mostly support this theater. 

Refusing to face facts by censoring the truth in the press, while in Berkeley’s habitual mode of denial, will neither change the truth nor save the theater in the long term – even if the UC Theater name does manage to hang on, barely, as one of the town’s sacredest of sacred cows.  


Joseph Covino Jr. 



Next, go after the bully 



I applaud Channel Four for removing the ax-wielding Nike ad. However, I am just as concerned about a Bud Lite ad I feel is even more insidious.  

I am referring to the ad that depicts a marathon runner taking a man’s Bud Lite during a race. The man sets out after the runner, shoving people out of his way, even knocking some of them to the ground. This ad disturbs me because it depicts the bullying mentality that seems to be growing in our country: if I want something, I can do anything to get it no matter how it hurts other people. The Nike ad was a shocker. This ad is not removed from reality and that’s what scares me.  

I hope this ad is also pulled. 


Anne Smith 



How Berkeley can we really be? 



So, once again, thousands of people celebrated “How Berkeley Can You Be?” while, once again, what put Berkeley on the map was never mentioned, i.e. People’s Park and Vietnam. Let’s face it, the People’s Republic of Berkeley is no more. Instead, we have a brain-washed community like Berlin under Hitler. 


George Kauffman 



Time for the new fire station is now 



It has been nine years since the devastating Oakland-Berkeley hills fire. Those of us living in the Berkeley hills still do not have adequate protection in case of another such fire or the “promised” earthquake. Must we wait another nine years, or until another disaster, for a modern firehouse to serve our neighborhoods? 

Station No. 7 is seismically unsafe and too small to house an extra engine and crew, as a safety measure during the fire season. The present station is located on a narrow, winding street. The fire truck cannot turn left without first backing around. It must also go uphill to get to the east side of the hills and the Tilden park area. This takes time.  

Common sense tells us that increased response time will inevitably lead to larger and fires which are more difficult to control. Every minute counts, especially considering that Engine No. 7 has to act alone until additional help arrives from downtown. 

Time is also very important in medical emergencies. As we get older, this is a concern for many of us living in the hills.  

After the 1991 fire, Berkeley and Oakland were to build a new fire station together to serve both cities. For many reasons, Oakland has gone ahead and built their new fire station in the Oakland hills. It is far south of the proposed replacement site for Station No. 7 and would be of little immediate help for the North Berkeley hills and the Park Hills area. 

While the voices of the neighborhood need to be heard, it is hard to imagine any serious objection to the proposed Shasta-Park Gate site for the new Station No. 7 from anyone who experienced the 1991 inferno. It is past time to pick up the pace on this project.  


Betty & Frank Saarni 




Jr. college recognized, can still get better 



As the department chair of the Architecture/Engineering department of Laney College in Oakland, I was pleased to read of the plan to formally use the community colleges to increase diversity on the UC campus. The simultaneous admission to UC and an appropriate community college will finally include and legitimize our roll in preparing students for the professional world.  

A simple addition to the plan would solve what I see as a continuing problem with transfer at present. As a class is formed each year all the seats are filled, but in the next two years there will be dropouts leaving empty seats for that class as it moves through the University. Every empty seat costs the University money for the remainder of the semesters as that class proceeds to graduation.  

What I suggest be included in this new plan is the opportunity for these students to transfer both in the Fall and Spring semesters. At present, our department’s existing articulation agreement for transfer allows for transfer only in the Fall semester.  

Using student/institution “academic contracts,” putting more responsibility on the student, admissions for either semester could be determined once a year with minimized extra work for the admissions departments, and would quickly address the on-going, economic problem of empty seats remaining unfilled.  


Thomas L. Thurman 



Problem’s not the ferry service, it’s lazy people 



What's all the fuss about the Ferry service not advertising enough to draw ridership? Fact is, it took me all of 5 minutes to determine where the ferry leaves from in Richmond, the bus to get there, as well as phone numbers to call for fares, timetables, etc. It's all right there in the front of the Pac Bell Yellow pages, page 14, under the section 'Public Transportation'. 

To be somewhat more thorough (i.e. I have too much time on my hands...) I did a quick check online. If you go to Yahoo | Regional | State | California | Metropolitan Areas | SF Bay Area | Travel & Transportation | Mass Transit | Passenger Ferry Service | Red & White Fleet - well there it is! ( the maps section does seem incomplete - that's the internet!!) 

I agree with that last sentiment, though. People don't want to sit in traffic. John Doe wants plenty of alternatives for Mr. Smith, so that Jonny has an empty freeway to ride on. 

Lets face it, it's not so much that the ferry service hasn't spent enough money to tell people of their existence, as it's that our society tends to be lazy, self serving, and spoiled. 

Oh - and if anyone wonders how I commute - it's by bicycle, avoiding busy streets like the plague, riding instead on back streets and along Aquatic Park, where I enjoy viewing an assortment of avian life, fresh air, good exercise, little traffic, and a speedier commute than by car (I've timed and compared with friends during rush hour!!). 


David Zucker 










Gray Brechin  








In the name of fairness, the Landmarks Preservation Commission should issue 

a short roster of the buildings, parking lots, and tool sheds which, under 

its exceedingly generous definitions, the commission considers neither 

landmarks nor structures of merit. Since there are so few of them and 

because Berkeley is easily America's Sinea, it might be simpler to declare 

the entire city a landmark district and freeze it forever in legislative 



The problem is that "landmark" no longer has any meaning in Berkeley. 




Gray Brechin 

1364 Scenic Avenue 

Berkeley, CA 94708 





Richard Register wrote: 


Pays to Advertise 

396 September 29, 2000 

Richard Register 


Taking out the add for an Ecocity Amendment to the General Plan and 

against Gene Poschman's opposition to ecological innovation has brought 

ecological city design right into the center of public debate, so it's 

working. That's what it means when we get 20 phone calls, 50% 

condemning us and 50% congratulating us for bringing these issues out 

into the open. 

To Morlock Chaillot, hiding under a nom de plum and fictitious 

organization, let's be clear that Berkeley's "well-thought-out zoning" 

has in fact left us with a gigantic housing problem. Higher density in 

centers, not scattered throughout town, is a known solution around the 

world and the use of ecological features like rooftop gardens and solar 

greenhouses, pedestrian streets and bridges between buildings, far from 

being fantasies, exist in many places but are so small in number they 

are overwhelmed by a car-swamped way of building cities. Though 

Berkeley is better than most cities in this regard it has not a single 

pedestrian street nor real public plaza. Rooftop gardens exist in a few 

hidden places. Are bridge buildings a ridiculous fantasy? Check out 

Stephens Hall directly south of the Campanile on campus. It's a really 

magnificent bridge building seven stories tall, nestled into the 

redwoods and up against beautiful Strawberry Creek. If such features 

were common instead of rare we'd have an extraordinarily lively city 

with room for both people and the creeks now buried. 

Let's be clear about "attacking" people too. Is pointing out the real 

meaning of Carrie Olson's use of the term "rabbit warren" an attack on 

her personally? Though she seems to be quite a decent person, she 

should take responsibility for use of such terms. The fact is, small 

places serve low-income people and calling them "rabbit warrens" is 

genuinely unhelpful. 

Meantime Carol Denney's presumably non-personal attack on me saying I 

attack others, I don't work for transit and I'm all about greed 

suggestions she should learn something about her subject. I organized 

support for AC Transit's 52 line when my neighbors were about to shoot 

it down years ago, and I've been exploring ecological cities for 3 

decades and am as broke as ever. Either there is something about me 

that is definitely not greedy or I'm an incredibly slow learner. 

Bottom line: we need more specific, clear content in addressing these 

very real problems, not generalizations, inaccuracies and sarcasm. 


Hello Judith, 


Sorry, it's a short Perspective-length one, one third longer than you 

asked me to write. Maybe though, after printing three or four to one 

against me I can rate a modest piece rather than sound bite. If you 

don't like it or would rather cut it and change its basic meaning so it 

can fit a small format, please do me the courtesey and let me know by 

phone or e-mail soon so I can send it elsewhere. Thanks. 


I have to add for you personally that when you say I shouldn't attack 

people then you print personal comments about me like "Morlock's" 

comparing me to Nixon saying "I am not a crook," that I am personally 

"indulging in his usual obsessions," calling me "vicious" when I'm 

pointing out the meaning in exactly what other people are saying, which 

in particular is denying people housing by the hundreds, that I should 

get in touch with my "inner" whatever it would happen to be... This is 

not personal?! You loose me, Judith. You print Carol Denney's comment 

about me being greedy and her false information about me not supporting 

transit. That's not personal too? It seems you have a double standard 

going here. She's so far off base in so many comments in a very short 

letter she's kind of really talented! (But that's the way it is if you 

feel no obligation to substantiate what you say, which she and "Morlock" 

don't do, which would make their letters much longer.) I am proposing 

open space and transit in downtown first and she says I'm not, and my 

neighborhood is threatened by new development, and she says it's not, 

namely the University's planned Surge Building (which I oppose) that 

would bring hundreds of cars a day to a corner exactly one block from my 

apartment. You are under no obligation to explain your policy to me but 

you should at least know that I see that it is inconsistent. 

Then again, why do you print such a strictly personal letter as 

"Morlock's" with almost no substantiation in particulars other than his 

or her statement of slightly exaggerated (15 stories) height limits? (I 

usually support more like 12 or 13 actually, but only with terracing, 

solar access and the like. My schemes are "wild?" How so? They are 

based on a pretty thorough and sober assessment of today's urban 

condition and on successes all over the world. "Hollow," "looking 

glass," "no basis in reality," "phallic," "shadowy?" How so? Those 

last three certainly don't have anything to do with my drawings 

representing what I actually propose. My opposition is "wonderful," 

"distinguished," "good people?" How so? Gimme a break! They render 

many hundreds of people stuck for a place to live and promote automobile 

commuting like crazy along with all the pollution and hazards that 

causes. We need a little specificity here! Your criteria you mentioned 

to me on the phone, "abstain from personal attacks," certainly isn't for 

such editorialists. I'd suggest you not print letters by people who 

don't have the courage to stand up personally with their real names and 

that you make sure when they say they represent an organization that the 

organization actually exists. 


Richard Register