Be Nice to Ed!
You may have been trying for dry humor with "Best Troublemaker" (Best of Baltimore, Sept. 19), but it comes across as just another publication making a snide attack on a man who is an expert on crime, a successful radio host, and a person who this city desperately needs at the moment. Would it be so much trouble for a publication in this city to just give him credit for the good he has done and then leave it at that? Ed Norris is a troublemaker, and we should all be grateful because he is currently one of the only checks the failing leaders of this city and state have. You can bet these leaders would all love for him to go away, and as an alternative weekly (with a reporter who contributes to the show, no less), one would hope that you could rise above the usual media treatment he receives.
I do however enjoy City Paper and your Best Of issue is fantastic. As a rider of the miserable MTA (10, 20, and 11 lines), I think your depiction of them is spot on.
Back At Us
A couple of Best of Baltimores you missed:
1) Best New Position(ing): This Modern World relocated to City Paper's Mail page. (The "new" Coke didn't work out either.)
2) Best Conspicuous Absence: the Iraq "body count" at the top of the City Paper cover. Please continue this badly needed drumbeat/reminder.
Editor Lee Gardner responds: We occasionally bump the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq off the cover for special issues, as we did for our recent Comics Issue and Best of Baltimore, and as we did for this week's Big Books Issue. Sadly, it'll be back next week, and most likely for weeks and weeks to come.
Michael Eckenrode's letter questions the value of voting in Baltimore ("No Vote," The Mail, Sept. 12). I disagree with his cynical assessment of the city, and his consequent lack of participation in the process. However, I would like to propose another reason for local voter apathy: the relentless surge of automated voice messages from candidates in the weeks preceding an election. For those already disinclined to vote, I can think of little about these intrusive sound bites (which often begin in midloop on my answering machine) that would encourage them to do so. If the campaigns have become so disengaged, passive, and impersonal that they can't mobilize real human beings to make these calls on their behalf, why would they expect anyone on the receiving end to get out and vote in response?
Please bring back the regular restaurant reviews! While Henry Hong (Eat Me, Sept. 12) can be somewhat entertaining and occasionally informative, his column is unnecessarily wordy and consists mainly of ranting regarding his personal likes/dislikes. I remember his letter to the editor complaining of Richard Gorelick's reviews and stating that he could do a better job; after reading his columns I hereby disagree! I don't want a "foodie" telling me how to cook/eat; I want a regular guy/gal who samples our many restaurants and gives a simple, honest opinion. Mr. Hong's writing reads as though he belongs in some expensive magazine-- hey, maybe Baltimore magazine needs another snob.
I truly miss Richard Gorelick's reviews (some of which have been cut and saved in a file for future dining decision-making), and their helpful info on hours, prices, etc., as well as his even-handed opinions on quality and service.
The only comment I can make to Mr. Hong is that I'm certainly glad I don't have to cook for him.
Lee Gardner responds: Richard hasn't gone anywhere, though we have been trying out some new food writers and new types of food writing. Look for Omnivore to nosh again soon.
On Capital B, Iraq, and Ice Cream With Fritos
I read the truth-telling illustrative comments of your accomplished writer Brian Morton's most recent column (Political Animal, Sept. 5) and realized a fact that made Brian Morton's article believable. Whenever a writer writes about a subject he knows, eye-opening and unquestionable truth is revealed. Another idea of authentic writing occurs when the writer uses his or her own personal experience to write revealing information that is not trivial.
The most interesting one statement in Morton's column was this fact: "Last month The New York Times noted that black"--please, Brian Morton, and all writers, capitalize the "B" in Black when writing about Black people; thanks should always be given to Gwendolyn Brooks who asked Black folks to do this authorization of self-evident racial enshrinement--"enlistment and retention in the service has dropped through the floor, due to the Iraq war."
Several weeks ago, I wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. I told him that my grandson Abubakari Kitwala, who is 10 years old, was not going to be drafted or volunteer to fight the war in Iraq. Such action might have added my name to the Homeland Security's list of unstable and un-American citizens. As long as my name is not on Satan's list of citizens selected to go to hell, Larnell Custis Butler, Afrocentric feminist, can be on anybody's list because it does not matter to me. God knows e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g about Larnell Butler.
Robert Gates has to know that the war in Iraq is about "white annihilation"--the killing of white young men between the ages of 19 through 24. It is a shame. The Iraq war is the killing of white people. Young dead white men cannot replenish the population of the white race in America.
That's why 83 percent of African-Americans, according to a CBS poll, said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq--a fact Brian Morton told us in his recent column.
Wasn't it A.D. Hope who wrote the short poem "Inscription for a War?" The poem reads:
Linger not, stranger; shed no tear
Go back to those who sent us here
We are the young they drafted out
To wars their folly brought about
Go tell those old men, safe in bed
We took their orders and are dead.
I think I am going to listen to the recording of "Mississippi Goddamn" by Nina Simone. Then I'm going to eat a bowl of two scoops of vanilla ice cream (frozen stiff) with my own version of topping. It's simple to make: crush a handful of Frito-Lay corn chips in one hand, and drop on top of vanilla ice cream scoops. (Larnell Custis Butler's Hog's Heaven Delight of Plucky Pleasantry.) Afterward I'll be able to sing my own version of "Goddamn Iraq." Don't blip me out for making an honest thought.
Larnell Custis Butler
Editor's note: City Paper is now officially accepting entries into its annual Fiction and Poetry Contest. The issue doesn't come out until Nov. 28, but the deadline for submitting your precious brainchildren is Oct. 26; click here for full details.
In sadder news, late last week we learned that longtime City Paper calendar editor Pam Purdy had died. Check out next week's issue for an appreciation.
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