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L. Ron is Laughing at You

Posted 2/15/2006

Times must be tough when you guys run a full page ad from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) (page 42, Feb. 8). I suppose you’re aware that this organization is a mouthpiece for the Church of Scientology. Scientology is, after all, a church, and like all religions it invariably lashes out against rational science. Do you care? Should you care? If you enjoy your credibility, you damn well better. Would you run an ad from the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design, another pseudoscience group whose purpose is to promote intelligent design? Or perhaps something from the Institute for Historical Review, a revisionist history group that denies the Holocaust ever happened?

I fully understand that business is business, and free-alt folks like you need the revenue. I would have no problem with you running an ad for a Scientology meet-n-greet, just like I could care less if you run one for a Baptist bake sale. They have a right, they’ve got the cash, and they make no bones about what it is they’re promoting. The problem with running spreads for pseudoscientific organizations (knowingly or otherwise) is that you only serve to blur the line between rational discourse and sensationalized dogma. Groups like CCHR mask themselves in erudite language, questionable statistics, and dubious logic. The end result is a media environment that confuses the readership it seeks to inform, some of whom may be greatly affected by blanket statements like “Psychiatry Kills.”

No amount of money should be worth the threat of doing that. Information is a commodity, and you are the purveyor. Please don’t lend credit to those who trade on the margins—those who seek to create controversy where there should be none, and twist genuine needs for discussion into opportunities to shill a belief structure.

I would imagine that, like any therapy, psychiatry techniques work great for some people, not so good for others. Valid arguments can be made against “correcting” what used to be considered normal childlike behavior in children. It is well documented that people like Einstein and Edison were considered addled or undisciplined as children; I wonder if the current medical climate is subverting the brilliance of young minds with the convenience of chemicals. However, there are reasonable outlets and methods for this kind of conversation. CCHR is not one of them. I like reading City Paper. Don’t make me wipe my ass with it by casually hawking this sort of trash.

Sean J. Stanley
Baltimore

The Rolling Stones Will Not Be Mocked

Your piss/fuck review of the Stones at 1st Mariner Arena seemed more like a bitch pitch over a stale pizza the morning after (“Hearts of Stone,” Feedback, Feb 8). What the fuck was the writer doing while the real show was going on . . . pimping in the ladies room?

The Stones lit the place up, gave it a shot of adrenaline long missing since the days of U2 and Kiss playing the greatest spectator venue in the city.

From the get-go the energy level was higher than the writer’s skill level of embarking on a mission of conveying a scribble of what was going on in the packed hall (it’s a great hall by the way—totally) to the ticket-paying public who launched four, maybe five generations of fans inside that chilly Feb. 1 evening. The Stones, kidding no one of their age and vulnerability, took the job at hand and said, well now, let’s get busy, and whomever has a stroke or heart attack, then we can slow down to more of what the vapid reviewer seemed to deem plausible.

“If you’ve seen the Stones more than once, you begin to notice how rote the rituals can become.” What the hell train were you on? I’ve seen them three times, and each time, from the show Stevie Wonder opened for them in D.C., to the one at RFK 30 years ago, to the one this year, it’s a fuckin’ happening, man. It’s New Year’s Eve, with confetti and wonderment and excitement and the thrill of seeing a band that has done more than merely survive. They still shovel shit and shake tits, they make us get up and share the job of getting the sacrament delivered, swallowed, and savored till the next time, if there is a next time . . .

So why the bitching? Just dig what good shit comes in a small, neat, friendly venue.

Todd Holden
Bel Air

Pertaining to your review of the Rolling Stones concert, a couple of retorts. 1) Your reviewer apparently did not attend the same show I did. What I saw was 15,000-plus people screaming and shouting from the first note of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” to the encore of “Satisfaction.” True, most of the audience were “boomers” who grew up with the Stones’ music, but I did notice a significant number of teens and 30-year-olds in the audience. 2) As far as the physical appearance of the band is concerned: Your publication has never been kind to the rock bands of the ’60s and ’70s who tour, calling them “over the hill,” “aging rockers,” or worse. 3) You call Mick’s “fashion-model strut and melodramatic arm flings” calculated and lacking in spontaneity, but it has been observed by many rock critics that only James Brown, in his prime, could work a stage better than Jagger.

The Stones have been rock ’n’ roll icons for over four decades—an achievement one cannot obtain without a major amount of talent as well as stage presence. I mean, where are Guns N’ Roses, Whitesnake, and a host of other rock bands now?

Lastly, the Rolling Stones—still rocking after four decades—are simply the world’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll band.

David Stepalovitch
Baltimore

. . . Nor Will the Head of the Abell Foundation

My brother, Bob Embry, has a great sense of humor, but he is not in the humor business—just like your columns rarely result in any hand-to-knee action (Right Field, Feb 8). Bob is in the business of making Baltimore a better place to live, and he has been at it about as long as you have been alive. In concrete ways, not abstract like, say, opinions.

So easy with the potshots, ace.

Gordon Embry
Baltimore

The Enmity Within?

Was this article written tongue in cheek (“Fighting the Power: Part 1,” Feb. 1)? A bunch of “Panthers” apparently without any parental intervention are dancing and smoking their way into the deepest mission work of the Black Panthers. But wait, a knock at the door! Is it that dreaded Ward Cleaver, pipe and paper in hand, ready to oppress the young idealists by telling them to turn the music down so that the Beav can do his homework. NO! It’s another young black male with a gun who is eager to use it. Have we indeed met the enemy and he is us?

Mick Vogt
Howard County

Someone Should Coordinate the Transit System

Tom Chalkley did an outstanding job of covering the sheer breadth of recent development activities in the Middle Branch area (“Harbor Next,” Jan. 25), but something was bound to fall through the cracks: the city’s shameful banishment of the Greyhound bus terminal to an isolated sliver of land with poor access to local transit.

The city kicked Greyhound out of its central downtown terminal, which had superb local transit access. Its first relocation choice was Penn Station, which had decent access to at least several local bus routes, but was incompatible with neighborhood plans and thus drew protests. That’s when the city settled on the Middle Branch location, halfway between two light-rail stations and virtually inaccessible to either.

While the city is fully to blame for this, the underlying problem is the lack of structure in the Maryland Transit Administration transit system. To create a true transit system, instead of a mere web of routes, it must be focused on hubs of activity to facilitate transfers among the hierarchy of local, regional, and interregional services. One of the most important roles of rail transit is to create such an organizing element, but not if the Greyhound terminal is mindlessly located halfway between stations.

Greyhound has another terminal at the Baltimore Travel Plaza in Southeast Baltimore. While this site also has very poor access to local transit, it is a location that could potentially have excellent access if the MTA system could be restructured with the Travel Plaza as a hub. Unfortunately, the MTA’s current “Red Line” rail transit study does not extend far enough eastward to consider this, and none of its proposed east-side alternatives identified thus far has anything like the type of hub that is an essential element of any effective transit system. This continues an ongoing pattern.

The MTA’s current Metro and light-rail lines don’t connect either, and the Metro terminus at Johns Hopkins Hospital has no direct bus connections.

Of course, Baltimore should not have to wait for the construction of yet another new rail line to create a rational transit system. The Baltimore Travel Plaza offers tremendous potential for the convergence of local, regional, and interregional bus routes, including high-speed express service to downtown through the Fort McHenry Tunnel. But as long as the city and the MTA keep making isolated, expedient, piecemeal decisions, we will continue to get projects like the Middle Branch Greyhound bus terminal.

Gerald Neily
Baltimore

The Wife’s Tale

I am Tom D’Antoni’s wife. I just received copies of your paper (“Fuck Us,” Arts and Entertainment, Jan. 25). I worked as a political journalist, have read three papers a day for more than 30 years, and never, in that time, have I seen an article so vile as the one on my husband.

I sat there during the interview, so was surprised at the article that was written. It was nothing like the interview. Tom loves Baltimore. We have Baltimore stuff all over our apartment and a Baltimore Orioles bumper sticker on our car.

Tom hit bottom in Baltimore, and it almost killed him, but he is proud to be from Baltimore. When he runs into folks here from Baltimore, they sit around and joke about their hometown, just as he did with Gadi Dechter. When friends come over he loves to show stories he produced for Evening Magazine about ordinary people who define Baltimore. Those who most would make fun of, Tom found something heartwarming about.

Tom has always talked about moving back there, but obviously, that is no longer an option.

Mr. Dechter, instead of doing some work and talking about some significant accomplishments of a complex and talented man, chose to base a story on tongue-in-cheek comments he and Tom both were making about Baltimore.

Tom just finished a documentary on assisted suicide. He filmed a man who ended up taking his own life, with cameras rolling and wearing Tom’s mic. Tom has said this was the most important work he’s done. I heard him talk to Dechter about this and was sure it would be included in the article. Of course, Tom talked mostly about his book, because that was the pretense Dechter used to call Tom.

Have you seen this man destroy other people? Did the article seem familiar?

Tom’s mother lives in Baltimore, as does the rest of his family, and a lifetime of friends. They have been hurt by this article, as have I.

Many of the things in the article are infactual and libelous, but that is what attorneys are for.

This is what wives are for.

Tom has done thousands of stories in his career. They have been well investigated and reflect good journalism. I am sure I cannot say that about Mr. Dechter.

Karen Fox
Portland, Ore.

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