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Off With Their Pretty Little Heads

Posted 2/1/2006

It seems odd that just when The Sun has admirably, albeit belatedly, been publicizing abuses committed by the Baltimore Police Department’s “flex squad,” City Paper decides to run a puff piece commending the department for hiring more female officers (“Girl Power,” Mobtown Beat, Jan. 25). Also, I’d like to know more about the “recent incident with pepper spray” mentioned by cadet Jasmine Riggins. Did the “incident” involve a civilian she happened to encounter, by any chance? Did the person being sprayed feel good that a woman’s hand was doing the spraying? Will Ms. Riggins show more caution the next time she tests out one of her new toys?

All my life I’ve been hearing this same crap. “Put more black officers on the force and community relations will improve.” “Women cops are more sensitive.” What a bunch of bullshit—nobody should be fooled by this smiley-face fascism. And before you accuse me of overkill, consider that the word “fascist” is derived from fasces, a weapon used by ancient Roman rulers to behead troublemakers (they didn’t have pepper spray back then).

Jon Swift

Fuck Him

I vaguely remember Tom D’Antoni from his glory days at Harry and elsewhere, and my impression then was that he was overwhelmingly negative (“Fuck Us,” Arts & Entertainment, Jan. 25). Reading his words now reminds me of what Napoleon said of the ruling Bourbon dynasty upon his own return to France in 1815: “They learned nothing and they forgot nothing.” When I was a boy—born in 1946, the same year as Mr. D’Antoni—I recall seeing and hearing old men who did nothing but bitch and complain all the time about how rotten life was, and I vowed right then that I never wanted to grow up to become one of them. Whatever other faults that I may have—and they are many, indeed—at least I’ve kept that vow to date. Looking at Mr. D’Antoni’s picture that you ran with your article makes me believe that our loss is Portland’s gain—and I wish them both the best of luck.

Blaine Taylor

More on Murders’ Costs

I have read the article “Murder by Numbers” ( Feature, Jan. 18), and I have also read the comments on it (The Mail, Jan. 25). Having lost my brother, Samuel Richardson, to homicide this summer, I did find some useful info in this article.

My question is when will City Paper, or any paper for that matter, do a story focusing on the families of these homicides, the court process, the grief, anger, and sorrow they experience, as well as the families of the killer(s) as they have to go through their own struggles. I think this article is overdue in a city where, in 2006, we’ve had more murders than days.

But in closing, I thank City Paper for giving people an insight into the sad reality we call Baltimore.

Elizabeth Richardson


Talk about burying your lead. It wasn’t until the end of Anna Ditkoff’s lengthy and informative article, “Murder by Numbers,” that the author got to a pretty big fact: Just over 80 percent of Baltimore’s 269 murder victims—216—were African American men, and just under 50 percent of them—107—were young black men aged 18-29 killed by gunshot. Those same 107 gunshot victims represented just under 40 percent of all murders for 2005.

Those are some pretty daunting figures, and I think that leaders of the city’s non-Hispanic black/African-American population (63.8 percent of the city’s population in the 2000 census, as noted on ought to take them into account when deciding whether to endorse Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial bid.

John Husson

Feeling Poorly Reviewed

I have never been compelled to write a rebuttal to a review in my 25-year theatrical career, but Robbie Whelan’s Jan. 25 review of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Vagabond Players left me scratching my head. Mr. Whelan (isn’t he a music critic for you?) seems to have attended a different performance from the rest of the audience.

Granted, melodrama set to music and set in a British music hall is a highly specialized brew, but a comment suggesting the musical numbers were “shakily cast” makes me question your critic’s credentials. If he meant to suggest that there is any choice about which characters get to perform which songs, like a garage band divvying up a set for their first gig, that’s not how theater works. If he was suggesting that the show was shakily cast, then he was highly insulting to 15 of the finest performers in Baltimore musical theater. I also thought it was a bit naive of him to suggest that the show, staged in a 100-seat theater, would benefit from a pit orchestra. I suppose we could have put an orchestra on the 20-by-18-foot stage, but then the evening would begin to look suspiciously like a concert. Oh . . . right. And if Mr. Whelan is half the musician that 22-year-old Josh Tuckman (our pit orchestra and piano virtuoso) is, then Robbie will have a very promising career.

There were also some factual flaws in the review, e.g., the first act does not end with a Christmas dinner. In fact, following that scene (and clearly indicated in the program as “Christmas Eve”) is another 20-minute scene that contains two more musical numbers, including the stirring Act 1 finale. So, the titular character actually disappears in the first act, not in the second. And there are seven possible murder suspects each evening (who hold up cards, confusingly numbered “1,” “2,” “3,” “4,” “5,” “6,” and “7”), thus providing the possibility of seven different confessions, not four as Mr. Whelan states in his piece. I can see how befuddled at least one audience member was the night Mr. Whelan saw the show. Maybe it was all those other people in the audience laughing at the poorly timed, flat jokes that distracted him from what was actually happening less than 20 feet in front of him. Or maybe it’s just a case of poor hearing, damaged from too many nights of listening to overly loud house bands. I’m sure I don’t know. But I do know that Robbie Whelan is not a theater critic, no matter who decides to call him one.

John W. Ford

The author is the director of Vagabond Players’ production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Correction: The amount of former lobbyist Ira C. Cooke’s 2000 legal settlement with Isle of Capri Casinos was reported incorrectly as $3 million by City Paper on three occasions (“Running on Empty,” Mobtown Beat, Jan. 18; “Cooke-d,” Mobtown Beat, Feb. 2, 2005; and “California Scheming,” Mobtown Beat, Oct. 29, 2003) due to reporter error. The actual size of the settlement is protected by a confidentiality agreement and unknown. Many thanks to a reader for bringing up the mistake, which City Paper regrets.

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