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Speaking Up

Posted 2/8/2006

In his Feb. 1 column, Right Field’s Russ Smith doesn’t agree with Joel Stein’s opinion, but admires its clarity and shock value. “Blaming the President is a little too easy,” wrote Stein. “The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they’re following orders or not.”

There’s a reason this viewpoint is not frequently heard. It’s not just the “following orders” issue. The Bush administration has lied to the soldiers from the beginning with regard to the nature and duration of the unprovoked and unnecessary War on Iraq. Stein’s opinion, no matter how shocking or clearly stated, adds nothing constructive to the debate on Iraq.

If the First Amendment is thriving during the Bush presidency, why was Cindy Sheehan, a Gold Star mother and invited guest at the State of the Union ceremonies, arrested because the message on her T-shirt read: 2,245 dead. how many more?

Lee Lears

George Bush Doesn’t Care . . .

I read Russ Smith’s provocative take on the present-day Democratic Party members (Right Field, Jan. 25). It’s amazing to me that narrow-minded, bigoted Republicans want to make liberal Democrats feel bad for not supporting “good-ole-boy” President George W. Bush. Let me make it female clear: President Bush does not truly care for all American people. Bush is for wealthy white guys who want to use their money in businesses that will help “rape” all the natural resources (coal, gas, energy by-products) from the earth.

I am an Afrocentric feminist who is a militant-moderate member of the Democratic Party. My party is in the toilet stool of this government because white wealthy males do not think the growing grass-roots people in America have sense enough to remove them from office. Maybe we poor people should show no allegiance to any party.

As I see it, the national Democratic machinery and its white congressional members as well as statehouse members are in a state of depression. The many reasons for the depression are obvious. Democrats don’t believe that they can dig themselves out from the hole of dung-infested Christian fundamentalism that the Republican “demonic” party has created for the supremacy of white folks. If there is a way of recovery, the Democrats do not want to use the word “hope” in their everyday talk to the American people. As a result, we don’t care.

Since the Democrats do not want to deal with the truth, those of us who are poor must continue to suffer under the sham of democracy that is slowly going out of America.

I want the Democratic Party to become militant. I want the Democratic Party to acknowledge that racism is a “fixed” entity in America, and they don’t know how to get rid of racism. The Democrats are not taking care of the labor class of poor people—period.

Finally, I am not a big fan of Sen. Hillary Clinton. She can talk about “plantation” all she wants. I would remind her that it was “white liberals” who worked in the civil-rights movement only to have something on their future résumés that said, “I helped liberate America’s poor niggers in the South.” White liberals of the civil-rights era are among the many reasons why this country cannot move forward (many are working for the federal government or private colleges and universities). I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton (let the thugs from New York come after me).

In my opinion, con artists such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Bruce Gordon, and other black saps can vote for Hillary Clinton. The brothers are doing next to nothing to help poor black everyday women who do not want cotton-kingdom black men. Go, John Edwards!

Larnell Custis Butler

Screw Us

The headline to my letter on former Baltimore journalist Tom D’Antoni in the issue of Feb. 1 was not written by me, but by the editor, as is his right (‘Fuck Him,” The Mail). That having been said, I want it known that I have never used that language in any of my published writings, nor will I ever. This is especially important to me in that City’s Paper’s letters, written by me and others, appear on the world wide web. Then there is an even more important issue to me: While I tried to state what I believed to be the truth about Mr. D’Antoni’s public image, both past and present, I am not in the business of hurting another human being’s feelings unnecessarily.

Blaine Taylor


I was told to edit my original letter. City Paper’s Edward Ericson Jr. (Editor’s note: He administers The Mail) told me, in an e-mail, “The policy is 500 words or no soap.” So I want you to realize I had a lot more to say about Gadi Dechter’s hatchet job (Arts and Entertainment, Jan. 25). Dechter had no such restraints. You can find the complete letter on my blog.

I knew I was going to get nailed, but what Dechter doesn’t tell you is that he seriously slanted and cherry-picked the things I told him in order to set me up as a straw villain. What else can we expect from an L.A. guy whose aim is to gather as many scalps as he can before he moves on to a larger market.

My impression, after talking to him for a couple of hours, is that he hates Baltimore much more than I. He agreed with me on many points.

So when the headline says, “Fuck Us,” Dechter isn’t including himself in the “us.” Believe me. I’m more “us” than he’ll ever be.

Baltimore . . . Gadi Dechter is not on your side.

Before he hung up, he said that he’d like to hang out with me and see how I reacted the next time I came back to Baltimore. Uh, no thanks, dude. I’ll stick to Jimmy’s and people who know who Jerry Turner was.

By the way, I still yell “O” during the national anthem when I drive up to Seattle to see the Orioles.

Here are only some of Dechter’s blatant mistakes:

1) I was never a news producer at WJZ-TV. I was a news producer at WMAR-TV and a story producer at WJZ-TV’s Evening Magazine. I never told him that Evening was new and hiring producers. It had been on the air for a year and was already a hit when I came to work for them. I also never told him that I regretted coming back to Baltimore to work for Evening, as he claims. I don’t regret a moment of my work at Evening.

2) I said “Baltimore’s greatest cultural contribution in the past 50 years is Divine eating dog shit off a sidewalk on Read Street,” not “Baltimore’s greatest claim to fame is that Divine ate shit on Read Street.”

3) I did not tell him I was a “children’s party DJ.” I was a wedding reception/party DJ. If he had bothered to check the piece I wrote for City Paper in 1996 on my brief DJ career, he would have discovered that. Notice how sloppy Dechter is? I sent him my résumé with the jobs I’ve had and the dates I had them. Apparently he did not avail himself of that document.

4) He says I took “odd jobs to pay the rent on his Mount Vernon apartment. . . . penned tabloid articles, created screaming car dealership TV ads, produced features stories for. . .’Trucker TV’ network, and worked as a children’s party DJ.” Actually, other than the tabloid work, I did all those other things from 1986 to 1996.

Tom D’Antoni
Portland, Ore.


I can’t believe I wasted my time and read the entire boo-hoo article about Tom D’Antoni and his hatred of Baltimore. He blames Baltimore for his bitter, mean, miserable life?

Puh leeze!

I have a teeny-weeny violin playing the blues for him—maybe not.

Cindy Chambers

Fuck Tom D’Antoni. What a douche bag. The city may or may not become a great American city, but spewing venom at your hometown helps no one. I’m sure D’Antoni loves über-white Portland because it was obvious in the article that he believes that blacks are the problem. But you know, who needs him? Let the people whose hearts aren’t cold save the city.

Matt Selander

Here’s a catchy Sun (no relation to The Sun) supermarket tabloid headline: “Ninny Hack Writer Cries a Real River of Tears All the Way to Portland.”

Hey, D’Antoni, why don’t you blame the sun (the star, not the Baltimore daily or the supermarket tab) for each of your career shortcomings next time, dick.

Liam Sweeney

Drood Awakening

What is that awful smell? Coming from City Paper? Oh, it’s Robbie Whelan’s review of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at the Vagabond Players (Stage, Jan. 25).

Because he has no experience reviewing theater, let me help him with some clarifications. You see, I attended the show on the same night and was confounded by some of his criticism.

1) He came on opening night. In local theater there is not the luxury of previews, so this is the first time before an audience. For a show so heavily weighted toward audience reaction, this is the chance to fine-tune pauses, reactions, smooth transitions, and so on.

2) Vagabond Players is a small theater holding about 100 audience members. The only way an orchestra could perform there would be to empty half the audience and remove the bolted-down seats. Not to mention the limited budget failing to cover such accompaniment.

3) I’m still trying to figure out how one actor’s “hammy” facial expressions don’t fit in with the other actors’ lack of subtlety—sounds like the same thing. This is a show where hammy music-hall actors are overplaying a melodrama, in an unsubtle way. It ain’t serious drama.

4) The voices in the show were the best I’ve heard in local theater. They were well-rehearsed, powerful, filling the house with beautiful sound.

5) Granted, this kind of show may not be to his taste. Fine. He, as critic, is responsible to critique, let us know this prejudice ahead of time, and look at it in as unbiased a manner as he can.

6) Finally, the opening audience and I roared with laughter, applauded energetically, and had a grand time. We followed the story, laid out by the Chairman, and enjoyed voting and customizing the play’s ending to our taste. Sorry your reviewer was so befuddled—any one of us could have explained it to him.

For the volunteers in community theater, the only pay is applause, a name in the program, and a reasonable review. Next time he should try to do his part.

Michael Stricker

Punched in the Throat

From the bolded excerpt in Vincent Williams’ Jan. 11 Social Studies column, I was certain I was about to read a well-merited rant blaming the general public for rendering something amusing trite with overuse. Instead, I read an article that promoted the ridiculous and limiting stereotype that a person with rhythm, who can keep beat and performs, is either black or “acting black” for laughs. Come on. “Lazy Sunday” isn’t funny; it’s fun. Not because two white guys are acting black, but because it is a pretty good rap song about a very mundane event. The lyrics are clever, the beat is good, and the video is watchable. Blame American pop culture and the massive force of the internet for ruining it. Praise Saturday Night Live for producing it.

Whitney Snead

No More Art-School Trash

As of late, “In Your Face” looks more like the self-conscious profile pictures found on Suicide Girls and MySpace. Is there a reason for this? Honestly, I’d like to see more pictures of everyday Baltimore people who don’t strike a pose and refuse to smile, or who don’t look like they’ve been anywhere near art school. I think we’ve all had enough of that.

Susan Lee

Correction: Last week’s Media Circus identified the Sun’s Mike Leary as national editor, a position he held from September 2000 to January 2005. Leary is now assistant managing editor for Metro. City Paper regrets the error.

Clarification: Our Jan. 18 cover story “Murder by Numbers” featured photographs taken at the locations given by the Baltimore Police Department for various murders in 2005. One of the photographs depicted the corner of Pratt and Payson streets, where Milton Johnson was involved in a fistfight on June 21, 2005, that led to a blow to the head; Johnson walked away from the fight, but died two days later of complications from his injury. While the Supreme Kutz barbershop is visible in the background of the photograph we ran of Pratt and Payson, there is no evidence to suggest that the business had any involvement with or connection to the incident, and City Paper regrets any impression created to the contrary.

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