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Charles Not in Charge

Posted 7/12/2006

In response to "Coming Soon" (July 5), I would like to make the following remarks, because the Charles Theatre was portrayed as having unfair booking practices causing the Senator Theatre to suffer financially.

The Charles Theatre has no exclusive arrangement with any distributor to show its movies. Distributors frequently offer us an exclusive engagement to entice the Charles to show their movie. This arrangement is on a movie-by-movie basis and does not prevent the Senator from booking any movie. If the Senator Theatre is unhappy about this, it should book the movie before the Charles. I’m sure any distributor would prefer to open a film at a 900-seat palace rather than a theater half its size at the Charles.

On the second matter, that the Charles is responsible for the Senator’s financial hardship, I would like to note the following as the likely cause. In your article you report that the Senator was having trouble with a $375,000 indebtedness in 1999 and facing foreclosure. The Senator’s solution was to increase its indebtedness to $1.2 million. This additional indebtedness increased the financial burden 320 percent, plus rent at the Rotunda Cinematheque, while providing the disproportional advantage of two more screens and 30 percent (900 to 1,200) more seats. This decision appears to me to be the Senator’s problem.

The difficulties of the Senator are unfortunate. I recognize that the Senator Theatre is a great asset to Baltimore, but the management of the Senator has done little to solve its problem and most likely has made its problem worse.

James "Buzz" Cusack
co-owner, the Charles Theatre

Car Wars

Thank you for your wonderful article and especially for the brilliant cartoon ("Carless Culture," Mobtown Beat, July 5).

There are a few points that need to be clarified.

1) The article seemed to indicate that I did not understand the process of exhibit curation. I have applied for inclusion in many shows. I understand the process and I believe strongly that the curator should be free to create his own exhibit, however, when criteria are officially published then the curator has to stick to those criteria for the first cut.

The criteria for the Artscape Car Show made no reference to the exclusion of gas-powered vehicles. Therefore, my vehicles met the criteria. Why then did I get an e-mail from the curator telling me that they did not for that reason?

Now . . . once entries meet the criteria the curator is free to structure the show as he or she desires. I understand completely. Therefore . . . of all the applicants they may wish at that point to select all green cars only, or maybe tell the applicants that although they met the criteria there were, for example, too many entries.

It is very important that your readers understand that I appreciate and understand the process of exhibit curation. I hope that they also understand that an application for inclusion in an event is essentially a contract for employment--albeit a volunteer position. Changing the entry criteria after the application was published is extremely unethical.

2) An important point missing from the article was that after the criteria were changed, the curator gave the applications received to a third party (aLtsKape) without the permission of the applicants. These applications contained personal information--address, name, e-mail, and phone numbers. In this day and age, this practice is completely unacceptable, especially in the case of a municipal government. This is intolerable.

3) I do not doubt that the American Visionary Art Museum likes art cars, however, the curator said he only changed the criteria of the exhibit very recently--a matter of two to three weeks ago.

Several months ago AVAM planned a major fundraiser, the Bra Ball, to occur on the traditional date of the art car parade and exhibit: July 22.

Now . . . this is like finding a new date for Christmas and scheduling it for the Fourth of July! Clearly this is no planning error!

Will the real killer of the art car event please come forward? It is terrible to make a hard-working, good curator a scapegoat for decisions made elsewhere.

I still hope that the confrontation created by AVAM and Artscape will be resolved by better communication and better treatment of local artists.

Conrad Bladey

As an artist who has made an art car and continues to make art of a variety of media, I’d like to note that I’m not represented by Mr. Conrad Bladey. A number of artists have responded similarly to Bladey’s meanspirited response to Sherwin Mark’s offer of a venue to display their work at aLtsKape. Google Bladey’s various names and "art car" and "AVAM" and you’ll realize he has been alternatively raging against the Artscape/AVAM "machine" since 2000, then demanding funds, leading the boycott, then buddying up to powers that be, leading the boycott again, then demanding more funds.

Check his publicly available list:

"I still am promoting a total boycott of the Visionary Parade." (May 2000)

"Now . . . I will re-phrase my Boycott call but I will not take it away. It will be held in reserve." (October 1999)

"I have been begged to reurn [sic] to artscape by the organizers. I have refused." (November 2001)

Linthicum sounds like a perfect place for art car artists who fear "ghettoization," yet demand more and more funds for their participation. Maybe they can get some National Security Agency grant money for the tinfoil hats that keep in those voices that shout "ka-ching ka-ching ka-ching."

J.G. Heck

Not the Nazis Again

Was it absolutely necessary to print Blaine Taylor’s quote from Karl Dönitz: "As Grand Adm. Karl Dönitz told Albert Speer about Hitler once, ‘He knows his business’" ("Correspondents Kudos," The Mail, July 5)?

Quoting people who tortured and murdered 6 million who died and thousands of those who still walk this earth with numbers tattooed on their arms and the screams of those who didn’t make it haunting their days and nights is not a forum for a punch line, nor is it fodder for those who are trying to be cute.

Mr. Taylor proved only that he is still a child trying to shock the grownups. He didn’t shock me; he made me sick with fear, because he proves there are still people out there who just don’t get it.

Linda Segal

Oprah’s Poor Taste

Now the reason I think it’s time for Queen "O" to do a show on hip-hop is because if she can help a mistress sell a book while the wife and unborn child float at the bottom of an ocean, then rappers deserve their day (Social Studies, July 5). If she can help a video ho sell a book whining that she "willingly" slept her way through the entertainment industry and now cries "they used me," then rappers deserve a day. Others have given brilliant examples of the scum of the earth who have graced Oprah Winfrey’s stage just because it was a cause Oprah felt needed attention and justice. I have no problem with this Queen Oprah, but let me give you some of my "cheap" advice.

Hip-hop has gone down the drain. Dr. Dre, one of the hottest producers in the rap world who has ruled for years, remembers when it was about the struggle. Not gold teeth, shaking butts, and popping liquor in videos! See, Oprah, if I were one of your producers, this is the angle I would use for a show. You won’t be glorifying rappers or a culture, but 50 Cent is correct. The teens of your white female audience keep these rappers rich. I was a teen listening to rap and Stevie Wonder while praying God would get my siblings and me out of East St. Louis, Ill. Oprah responded to the rappers because her conscience is probably planning the show as I type. Hip-hop is a billion-dollar industry, and everyone knows Oprah doesn’t ignore popular culture, whether positive or negative!

As for Star Jones, she should have called Oprah and said, "Girl, I had surgery to lose weight for health reasons, but I don’t want to alienate viewers who might have the same struggles by flaunting my wedding, fresh weave, and being coy about my new body. How do I deliver the news and keep Rosie off my ass?" Oprah would have replied, "Girlfriend, lying about weight can ruin a career, and although I regret dragging 60 pounds of fat onto a stage and setting myself up for failure, I can say I was honest. Even Rosie can’t battle honesty!" And that’s how she became a billionaire, Star!

Sharon Wright

The Raw and the Cooked

David Morley’s article on the raw diet touted many the health benefits of going raw and vegan ("An Uncooked Tour," June 21). A few words of caution are warranted, however. This so-called natural diet requires the dieter to take supplements for B12 (impossible to get without animal products) and zinc (hard to get). Any woman of childbearing age on this diet should take iron supplements as well, for most will find they are anemic.

The raw movement is founded on three incorrect principles. Cooking does indeed kill plant enzymes, but these enzymes are for the plant’s growth and decomposition. They aren’t part of the human digestive system. In fact, digestive enzymes are used in digestion.

Nevertheless, plant enzymes spared the heat are destroyed by stomach acid along with other proteins. Next, humans aren’t the only animal to eat cooked food. Humans’ ancestors developed a taste for cooked food foraging for grasshoppers and small critters killed in brush fires. The charred bodies of animals and plants have been eaten for millions of years. Finally, while mass-produced meat poses serious food-safety issues, the more common forms of food-borne illnesses are from raw vegetables, namely sprouts, green onions, and lettuce.

Please research this diet well before trying. Cooking increases the absorption of carotenoids and other nutrients. Conversely, raw (sprouted) kidney beans and rhubarb are poisonous.

Christopher Wanjek

The writer is the author of Food at Work: Workplace Solutions for Malnutrition, Obesity and Chronic Diseases.

Wanna Job?

I am inspired to respond in kind to the review of the abstract art of Robert Motherwell ("Dark Continent,"Art, June 21) that prates on about the Baltimore Museum of Art work’s "[w]hite pseudopodia cut into the deep, matte black as if erasure marks, leaving behind an uvula isthmus of a black bell clapper," and furthermore which "flutter somewhere between genuflecting onanism, visceral emotional ripples, sparring condescension, and the polite soft-shoe," as follows:

My glass of Bordeaux had a note of cassis tempered by old car seat leather, but only if the car was a Subaru, and furthermore said wine did titillate but not tintinnabulate the palate--as if a soft rain was falling on the newly tarred parking lot up at the Rotunda shopping mall.

Dave Eberhardt

Editor’s note: Staff writer Gadi Dechter did such a fine job reporting on The Sun and other local media for the Media Circus column over the past couple of years that the daily recently up and hired him; with this issue, we bid him adieu. While we’ll miss Gadi here on Park Avenue, we wish him the best of luck over on Calvert Street.

Also, Brian Morton was unable to file his column this week--he said something about a broken-down car in the middle of nowhere--but Political Animal will return next issue.

And finally, for those who need their weekly fix of the Perry Bible Fellowship, the strip will be back next week. No story about broken down cars or getting hired by a competitor, sorry.

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