Tinseltown On The Ohio
I have to agree with your story "Blown Away" (Feature, April 30). I am a talent manager (I know Johnny Alonso) and I am sending my actors to Pittsburgh like I have a tour bus. It's only May, and Pittsburgh has three full-length movies shooting. Philadelphia has three also, with the upcoming Demi Moore movie. Keep up the good work.
In following the story about the death of Baltimore police officer Norm Stamp (Murder Ink, April 30), I'm compelled to comment. Let me preface by offering my sincerest condolences to the Stamp family. It is profoundly tragic the loss they are suffering.
Most law enforcement entities frown upon their officers having any association with a club or organization with a less-than-credible reputation, or in this case, a want-to-be outlaw or "one-percenter" motorcycle club. How one could be in an official law enforcement capacity and also be a patch holder in a rogue motorcycle club is baffling to me. Mixing the two worlds could only end up badly, and it sure did. Why a veteran officer would draw his weapon before other officers, knowing that he would be fired upon, is beyond me. And last time I checked, brass knuckles were illegal, whether worn or brandished. Now the Chosen Sons are hailing and praising this man when, quite frankly, it is their behavior that precipitated his death. And it is they who have to live with their part in this fiasco.
I have been a motorcyclist all my life and spent my share of time with various motorcycle groups and clubs. During my tenure in Baltimore from 1986 to 2000, the Chosen Sons were always reputed as a bunch of thugs. Plain and simple. Always trying to be hard-core biker outlaws but basically just your average thugs. They reigned out of a hole-in-the-wall "clubhouse" in Highlandtown that the rest of us steered clear of. The Bay Riders motorcycle club (now defunct) wasn't keen on the Chosen Sons' members coming around its clubhouse, either. If any Chosen Son bearing his "colors" showed up in a bar, most people would just leave. Not out of fear, but merely out of nuisance. Inevitably, they would behave belligerently, pick fights with patrons, and just create an environment you didn't want to be around.
Lots of us bikers would frequent Haven Place many nights, and with the exception of the very occasional scrap between a couple guys, there wouldn't be an incident even remotely close to what happened last week. The owner, Charlie, wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior in his establishment. I'm not the least bit surprised to learn that the Chosen Sons broke into a full-out brawl in this bar that night over some knuckle-dragging machismo mentality.
It's pretty obvious mistakes were made by those participating in the fight, and by Norm himself. The officers, however, are not at fault. They carried out their duties as trained. You mix a bunch of so-called "outlaw" bikers, a strip joint, alcohol, and a huge dose of machismo, and there's going to be a scene. You draw a weapon before police officers, they're going to draw theirs . . . and they're going to fire upon you. It's just too bad that Norm Stamp forgot the policeman in himself at that moment. Seems he's died for the Chosen Sons' sins.
After reading the review (Omnivore, April 23), I was curious to try the new restaurant Meli. Upon arrival, I noticed the décor reminded me of a Howard Johnson lobby. The menu was limited and the food mediocre. Prices were extremely high considering the quality of food. Although the dessert menu was extensive, limited supplies of popular pastries were available. Meli does not compare to Mezze or Kali's Court.
Fear of a Black Phallus
I do not like to write about things I do not know, or have not read or seen for myself. This is a rare exception, because poverty of speech is not what I lack.
Vincent Williams' article ("Sometimes a Big Black Man Is Just a Big Black Man," Social Studies, April 2) had enough written statements in the article about perceived black images that I have come to realize all racial groups have beliefs on the issue of race that are forever tied to the memories of slavery (white guilt or black bitterness), the ineffectiveness of a Civil War fought because of race enslavement divided by states, and Jim Crow economic politics.
As I see it, LeBron James is an NBA star perceived as a mature adult even though he is merely 23 years of age. James' impulses are still evolving, and he knows that some people think his aggressive behavior on the basketball court, and in the street, is an identification of his possible lifestyle of "balling." When his childish attitude sometimes appears, it seems to say to us: "I know what you're thinking in a racist way about me, let me act out your thoughts about me." Perhaps, the scream scene on the cover of Vogue.
As an Afrocentric feminist, I believe it is difficult for most black men to act in normalcy that is acceptable to white folks. For most black men (especially the poor), it is hard to show up on time to work every day, and have no opportunities to succeed in a job based on their black skin color. For most black men it leaves a bitter taste in their gut when taunted by white cops because all black men are criminal beasts by nature--a perceived reality. It is hard for most black men to live in America's Jeffersonian democracy as a "problem person" who is a burden to the psyche of white folks.
Finally, but true as far as I am concerned, most white people want to sexually oppress all black men and men of color because of the fear of the "black phallus" and the threat the phallus makes known in the minds and hearts of most white men, who feel defenseless in protecting their wives, daughters, and mothers from the "criminal phallus" of all black men is full of leeriness misgivings (read The Man Who Was Almost a Man, by Richard Wright).
As I see it, phallocentric theology is a belief that this Afrocentric feminist believes exists, and is accepted by humanity of, and about, black men.
LeBron James might have screamed upon taking the cover picture for Vogue because racism in America has worn the spiritual soul of black men, and the pain of racism has made a lot of black men self-destructive to themselves and to other people because conduct unbecoming is expected of black male beasts.
Larnell Custis Butler
What Happened to Dougie?
My sister sent me this article months ago ("The Dealer," Feature, Jan. 9). I am just getting around to reading it. I am totally amazed. I grew up in Remington along with Dougie and Kelly Brooks. As a matter of fact, Kelly was one of my kids when I worked at the Wyman Park recreation center in the summers in the early '80s. When I read this you could have knocked me over with a feather. These were the nicest kids you could ever meet. No one could pay me enough money to believe that these boys would live that type of lifestyle. Even as I read the article I could not believe what I was reading.
What makes me even more surprised is that I still had family living in Remington, and I still had not heard anything of this activity. I moved out of the neighborhood in 1987, but my mom, my aunt, and my best friend's mom still lived there, so I was in the area quite often. I just can not believe that they were living like that. I can not even fathom that they would entertain the idea of selling drugs. These guys were so well-mannered and extremely smart. I just don't understand them turning to that lifestyle. Now that I have read the article, I still don't understand. Somebody help me to understand how someone that I once called my friend (Dougie) could turn into the man that you have written about.
Editor's note: Congratulations to Ronald Clinton Jr., who won an all-access pass to the 2008 Maryland Film Festival thanks to his correct and speedy answers to our Film Fest Frenzy quiz.
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