Letters for August 2, 2001

And now a word from the sponsors

Re “Not a Pretty Picture” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Cover):

R.V. Scheide did the Uptown area a huge disservice with the negative cover article in your July 26 issue. The loss of the Himovitz Gallery is by no means the death knell for the resurgence of the North Sacramento area.

A little more research and a little less affected cynicism might have brought to light the more substantial indicators of an area on the upswing. Mr. Friedlander’s confidence, the amount of improvement being put into existing and future businesses on the Boulevard, even the success of the Uptown Cafe (serendipitously named before we were aware of the Uptown Arts District)—these are the true gauges of what’s happening in the area.

Mr. Scheide should come down to the Boulevard on a Saturday morning and see the crowd at the Uptown Cafe, a short walk from the lovely Woodlake area, enjoying the best breakfast in town along with the artists and other residents, and those who travel from Lodi, Elk Grove, Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn, Placerville …

No, Sacramentans don’t so much support “the Arts” with their wallets. It’s a sad fact. But they will support a stunning furniture store, a really great cafe, a superior classic car upholsterer, or a talented and imaginative commercial artist/designer. All of these are also “the Arts,” but they’re more readily accessible, affordable and available. Likewise, the galleries that offer art classes encourage more involved participation, more commitment to the area, more return visits. Second Saturday was never intended to be the entire picture.

Rob Kerth is right—the area won’t revitalize itself overnight. It took years for the city of Sacramento to suck the life out if it, and without Rob Kerth in the mayor’s seat where he belongs, it may take a little longer than we hoped to breathe that life back in. Please don’t “help” us by perpetuating the idea that this is a crime-ridden, frightening place to be. Let’s talk about the crime and panhandlers Downtown, or the rapist in Midtown. Parking in the Del Paso Boulevard area should be no more of a concern than in these areas.

Don’t denigrate the businesses that have hung in here year after year, like Sammy’s and Li’l Joe’s. SN&R writers and artists have visited our neighborhood and enjoyed the food and atmosphere—and yet the only restaurant that is listed under North Sacramento in your magazine is the Enotria (is this because this is the only business that has advertised with you?). We like the Enotria and eat there often, but it’s not the only place to go in North Sac.

Don’t focus on the mere possibility that the Matrix Gallery might leave, while throwing the tiniest bone to the innovative and exciting live/work space project (Surreal Estates) that will bring more artists directly into the neighborhood!

More positivity on your part will help bring more people to our area to invigorate the businesses that are investing money and effort here. The Himovitz Gallery did not create the Uptown area, and its loss will not destroy it. You have insulted the business people in this area; we live and work here, we know what’s going on. You did not ask us.

Katharine and George Karyszyn
via e-mail

Uptown is not down

As a resident in “Uptown,” I was deeply disappointed in R.V. Schiede’s “Not a pretty picture” story (SN&R Cover, July 26).

We are an Arts District, we are successful, and Kerth and that Chamber have done great against the odds of media rock throwers like Scheide.

Momentum gone? Yes. New Councilmember Sheedy has no vision and no plan. The new Community Development Corporation guy is weak, too. Kerth’s loss in the mayor’s race allowed City Hall to turn its back to us again. Since that election, Himovitz tanked, and the gallery scene has declined.

But residents like me are committed to our homes and we shall overcome with God’s blessing.

G. Smith
via e-mail

Re: Cycle

Re “Criticized Masses” by Margo Whitmire (SN&R Sidelines, July 19):

To any cyclist thinking that taking part in a Critical Mass bike ride will get you better treatment in traffic, I offer the following advice: It has been my experience that if you ride in the gutter or sidewalk, you will be treated like you belong there. I have found that by behaving like a vehicle, observing all traffic laws, including going with the flow of traffic, cycling is enjoyable and worthwhile in Sacramento.

You must control your space at all times. Don’t let what is behind you prevent you from moving forward. Concentrate on what is infront of you. If you feel that it is not safe for motorists to pass or they are cutting you off, you have a right to take the whole lane. You do this by riding down the center of it. Cyclists must take the space they need to ride—bike lane or no bike lane. This vehicular cycling theory is based on the fact that the Uniform Vehicle Code laws do not grant any vehicle special status. All are equal, although some are faster and might get impatient at times. It is best if this occasional sign of impatience is viewed as “I see you” and not a “move off the road!” signal. It is when you give into a bicycle inferiority complex that problems arise.

I would highly recommend reading Effective Cycling by John Forester, especially the chapters on riding in traffic. The book is at the public library. Or take an Effective Cycling-based Bike Ed class. If the only bike education you can remember is your parents telling you to “watch out for cars,” you may have some attitudes that need changing.

So how is Critical Mass improving any conditions for cyclists? By riding up and down the street? Consider joining or volunteer your time to SABA, Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates. At least they have a plan.

Brian Lambert

Harping on the conductor

Re “Conductor Addresses Critics” by Zvonimir Hacčko (SN&R Guest Comment, July 19):

Zvonimir Hacčko’s pitch sounds to be: “I know the arts better than you; send money, shut up and listen.” Wrong, buddy.

I for one have heard enough of his art—poorly rehearsed orchestras led at tempos that suck the life out of the music. His art received a fair hearing in Sacramento and didn’t take. No less an elitist than the elite he complains of. He doesn’t look any better in the ill-fitting victim costume he’s chosen. It is long past the time for him to move on.

Paul Kramer

Prevention is better than cure

Re “Robert Downey Jr. and Drug Legalization” by Wayne Roques (SN&R Guest Comment, July 12):

You’ve gotta love those moralizing, holier-than-thou right-wing nuts. Let’s see—we have a drug which “destroys families, wreaks havoc on the immune system, impairs memory and motor skills, causes cancer … ,” so we should keep it or make it illegal?

What about tobacco or alcohol? My response to Mr.Roques is that we’ve been there and done that and it did not work with alcohol. The old saying is “follow the money.” It is so very true in the crusade called the “drug war.” Law enforcement types, prison contractors and a host of others who stand to gain financially from the ‘drug war’ have no interest in legalizing their stock in trade. Would it not make more sense to legalize some substances, tax it, and use the tax for education and social programs? Follow the tobacco model. We know education and treatment works. The fatal flaw (to use George W’s phrase) is that it substantially reduces a source for revenue, for the parties mentioned above.

You have to ask yourself the question: What else can you expect from a country that spends more on prison construction than on schools? I guess the threat of children growing up poorly educated and consequently depriving society of vast human potential is not as persuasive as the threat of the rampaging criminal hordes storming the gates of “civilized,” white middle-class society.

Michael Peart
via e-mail

Unstifled comment

Re “Do You Know the Most Powerful Man in Sacramento?” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, July 5):

How sad “ … that many people contacted for this story steadfastly refused to talk about him” (Bob Thomas). It’s shameful that fear of retribution from City Hall is stifling public comment. Nice suck-up by Mr. Hammer, he must be the only one getting customer service from Bob. And cheers to George Bramson for having the fortitude to call a spade a spade.

Mr. Garvin, thank you for highlighting that the city is in a crisis of leadership. Now mayor and council, let’s see how you respond and get the city back on track.

Trish Johnson