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Letters to the Editor
A Grateful Child of the '60s
I have just read Janis Cooke Newman's piece entitled "City Song," on The Last Page of the March Noe Valley Voice.
I grew up in the suburbs of Marin. When I was a child in the '60s, San Francisco was a magical place of forbidden exploration and untold adventure. We sought the city out any way we could. I remember wandering around the Panhandle with my parents during the Summer of Love. These moments defined and informed who I was to become.
Now I live in the Sunset District overlooking the baseball diamonds of Golden Gate Park. Each day I revel in my decision to live in our beautiful town.
I enjoy the diversity, the tolerance of the people, the striking architecture, the liberal, labor-oriented politics. I think this is a great place to raise a child. No, you can't protect kids from all the evils of the world. But what you can do, as Ms. Cooke Newman has done, is inculcate in your child a knowledge that people are different: some good, some bad. This way, we raise a generation who will act rather than react, and think rather than be told what to think.
I thank Ms. Cooke Newman for an excellent, thought-provoking article!
Singing the Same "City Song"
I so enjoyed reading Janis Cooke Newman's essay, "City Song," in the March issue. I found myself laughing out loud and nodding in wholehearted agreement as I read. As a mother raising two children in Noe Valley, I related to many of the issues she so poignantly discussed. Thank you for a thoroughly entertaining back page.
Fair Oaks Street
Please tell Janis Cooke Newman, writer of "City Song," to quit worrying about all the quirky, outrageous, "in your face" antics, people, products, and events that 4-year-old Alex will see, be confused by, comment on, and wonder about.
His life and outlook will be enriched, broadened, and ennobled. His visions and acceptance of diversity will be the future payoff for an enlightened and progressive human being.
Welcome, Alex, to San Francisco.
Crying Babies Can Be Annoying
I just read with dismay the letter by Sophia Woo in the March issue, complaining about a restaurant patron's "discrimination" against her crying baby.
As the mother of three children, the youngest of whom is 7 years old, I am appalled at Ms. Woo's notion that we must all tolerate and be sensitive to the needs of a crying baby in a restaurant. In the interest of those who go out to lunch to enjoy a quiet, relaxing interlude with good food and the conversation of friends, I would like to suggest that common courtesy requires her to take her baby outside.
No one -- especially the parents of other young children who take a break from their parenting responsibilities to go out once in a while -- appreciates the sound of babies crying. But some parents insist on subjecting others to the noise and disruption of their babies in movies, at the ballet, at the symphony, at restaurants, and even at student dance, piano, and dramatic performances given by dedicated young musicians and performers. Instead of removing their babies and toddlers when they become noisy, these self-absorbed adults persist in allowing their youngsters to ruin the moment for the rest of us.
Ms. Woo, you need to learn where and when it is not appropriate to bring your baby. The infant and toddler years fly by quickly, and in no time at all, with good direction and encouragement from you, your child will learn to behave in public without disturbing other people.
In the meantime, have the decency to attend to your baby in such a way that the rest of us can dine out without listening to your baby screaming in the background. It is not a question of discrimination against your baby, but rather frustration with your lack of good manners and lack of consideration for the rest of the community that prompted the gentleman in Barney's to complain, and he had every right to do so.
Bari S. Ness
Noe Valley resident
Fuming About Smoking in Bars
Certain "butt-heads" are continuing to pollute the bars by spreading smoke in the eyes of nonsmokers and making it hazardous to breathe.
There has also been a breakdown of law and order, since despite the fact that smoking in bars is illegal, the police and politicians have refused to enforce the ban. The major newspapers have also been accessories to the crime, by failing to expose this situation in the media.
The longer the mayor and board of supervisors allow the pollution, the more they will alienate the massive non-smoker community. Bar owners should realize that nonsmokers spend money too, and if some patron gets infected by a smoking-related disease, the bars could face a serious lawsuit. If the smokers do not like the law, they should convince the lawmakers to change it.
Save Our Garage Sales
Please join the Ad Hoc Committee Defending Free Speech in San Francisco at an April 6 hearing before the Board of Supervisors Housing and Social Policy Committee (10 a.m., Room 263, City Hall). I will be there, along with others, to protest a proposed ban on the taping and stapling of signs on street poles.
The sign ordinance, introduced by Supervisor Barbara Kaufman, stipulates that citizens should use string or twine instead. This is extremely impractical, and will seriously inhibit residents from posting garage sale, lost pet, concert, or other community signs and fliers.
I've asked the supervisors to consider two points:
1. They should allow the use of staples and tape on wooden posts, concrete, and painted steel poles. Contrary to what you might have heard, taped signs do not harm these types of poles. The real problem is that the signs are left up too long, and the weather eventually "seals" the tape. This leads to my second suggestion.
2. They should limit the length of time a sign can be posted (how long it stays up after the event). It would be reasonable to set a three-day limit. A fine should be imposed on any persons not adhering to that schedule. Enforcement of this rule would ensure that tape would not stick permanently to the pole, and that signs would not proliferate. (The ordinance would address this issue by requiring a date, name, and telephone number.)
These practical and commonsense measures will control the posting of signs and at the same time protect community communication through the streets. Freedom of speech should not be infringed upon in the name of sanitized signposts.
Garage sales are a San Francisco way of life! Tens of thousands of us enjoy them for social, recycling, and economic reasons. What if there were no more garage sales?
Come down to City Hall, or phone the supervisors and let them know what you think. The members of the Housing Committee are Alicia Becerril, 554-6488; Sue Bierman, 554-6661; and Mabel Teng, 554-4981. If you'd like to reach the Free Speech Committee, call 289-6575.
Native San Franciscan
'Friend of Parrots' Needs a Perch
The parrot movie is in full production, but I have a problem: My "star" has to move out of his cabin on the side of Telegraph Hill in early June, and I need to find a place for him to stay while we finish the movie! You've read about Mark Bittner in the Voice [November 1998] and in the Chronicle. You've also seen him on TV or heard him on NPR. This story is getting a tremendous amount of press. But the fact remains, we need your help.
After Mark feeds the birds for the last time and moves out, we will film various North Beach "flashback" scenes and the two parrot flocks -- the cherry-headed conures and the yellow-wing canaries -- in their haunts throughout the city.
If you know of a place where Mark Bittner, the "Friend of the Flock," could stay for several months, such as a house-sit or caretaker situation, please contact him at 989-5909 or me at 824-5822. Thanks for supporting Mark and The Wild Parrots of San Francisco.
Producer, IDG Films
Tips on Street Safety
"It's hard to know what I could have done differently..." That is what one of the women who was robbed on 24th Street a couple of months ago told the Voice ["Two Women Robbed at Gunpoint," February 1999].
I go to Mexico City during the summer, where I teach English with the Salvation Army. Although a lot of my friends there have been robbed, I am glad to say that I have never been assaulted, either here or in Mexico. Maybe it has something to do with growing up poor in the city. Or maybe people think I look mean (?!).
One thing I do know is how not to stand out in a crowd while walking down 24th or Mission Street. I never carry a purse. If I go to dinner with another gal pal, I always wear my unassuming everyday jacket, and I walk with caution.
I say caution, because you have to be aware of everything around you, and pay attention at all times. I will assume that the "robber" probably had his eye on the two women on 24th Street. A person who is going to rob you will try to make sure that no one is close by.
Another good habit for pedestrians to get into is to not carry much cash. Also, avoid wearing flashy jewelry. The only thing I wear all the time is my watch. (My watch was a gift from a sister. It was only about $20, and I have had it for 10 years now.) You might wonder where I put my money. Well, I made a little knit bag to conceal inside my clothing, usually inside my bra.
Hope this helps.
P.S. Regarding the Just for Fun debate: If a student behaves in the store, there should be no problem, but when the student decides to go against the "rules of the store," they should be removed from the store and banned in the future. I remember when I was a kid growing up in San Francisco, some of the kids were real stinkers. They used to get kicked out of stores because they shoplifted or made a mess. I think all students have the obligation to treat others with respect, and if you can't respect the store, you should not be in there. It is really that simple.
Juanita "Jane" Landero