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Don't Let The Haven Die

Posted 10/1/2008

In light of Baltimore's vibrant universities, historic and homey communities, many lush parks, and thriving commercial districts, it is a shame and a sin for our city that Kenneth N. Harris Sr., former City Council member, was the victim of homicide in an area of the city he where he had worked so long and hard, calling for answers to stop the crime, and make Baltimore a safer city (Murder Ink, Sept. 24).

One of Baltimore's best lounges, known far and wide for its mission of keeping jazz alive, sits in the midst of the Northwood Plaza, just across the street from Morgan State University. The Haven has been just that to me now for 15 years. No matter what time of day, or for a long weekend night of vibrant live jazz, I've always felt grateful to have such a club to come to, with warm and friendly patrons, the utmost courtesy, and respect from the people making this night spot possible--the owners and staff--while everyone enjoys the atmosphere. I am brokenhearted to have seen the news, yesterday, of Kenneth Harris Sr.'s senseless death, in front of the place he must have loved, as I do.

Two weeks ago, on a Friday evening, a friend and I went to the Haven and, as always, were thrilled by the jazz. I understand Morgan State advises its students not to go to Northwood Plaza. It shouldn't have to be this way. Johns Hopkins University students go to Charles Village, and Goucher College students to Towson. There is really a large and profound story here, surrounding Northwood Plaza, with both Morgan and a large police station each two blocks away, and where I grew up walking past Morgan from Lauraville each day on my way to and from what was then Eastern High School, diverse and wonderful, in the late 1950s. We, as a predominately black city, deserve to be able to celebrate the diverse past and present of all parts of our city, in peace, with safety. I sincerely hope City Paper will cover the story surrounding the New Haven Lounge.

Theresa Reuter
Fallston

Dis-gorgeous

Cecil Adams, in his most recent installment of the Straight Dope (Sept. 24), suggests that some people early last century may have intentionally ingested tapeworms for weight-loss purposes. Utterly disgusting, but wow, what dedication, huh?

Such determination to be thin, slim, and sick must be applauded.

However, I wonder why these people didn't resort to the more traditional methods of weight loss, i.e. starvation and the binge and purge diet. I've always said that if I had enough willpower, I'd be anorexic. Unfortunately, I can never pass by a Starbucks without purchasing some super-calorie smoothie and an oversized pastry to satisfy my appetite that bubbles up after every meal.

As far as yacking it up later, I paid for that shit! I want a return on my investment--a gelatinous waistline and a hearty bowel movement.

Justin Cuffley
Baltimore

All the Best to You

As executive director of the Coldstream Homestead Montebello Community Corp., I want to thank City Paper for acknowledging Clifton Park as the Best Park (Best of Baltimore, Sept 17). Over the last four years, our organization, in conjunction with other partners, has worked tirelessly to increase the profile of and improve the image of Clifton Park--forming "the Friends of Clifton Park," conducting beautification projects, hosting community events and activities, working with organizations to stage events, and completing the Clifton Park master plan. It is good to see that our diamond in the rough is reclaiming some of its once-lost luster.

Mark Washington
Baltimore

Thank you so much for calling my Tax Experience CPA office the Best Accountant for Starving Artists. I would be remiss if I didn't recognize the contributions of my office manager, bookkeeper, and budding tax technician Jacqui and fellow CPA Bert.

We are truly honored to be recognized, and to serve the creative and extremely resourceful community of Baltimore fine artists, graphic artists, craftspeople, and performers.

Approximately 75 percent of our clients have deep ties to the arts and entertainment industries; among them are real-estate investors, college professors, scientists, retail establishments, wholesalers, lawyers, families, corporate CEOs, and a host of other professionals and DIY-ers.

So thanks again for the kudos, CP; we love you, too. We do, however, need to point out that your advice to potential clients to bring their receipts to us on April Fools' Day would subject them to either an extension or substantial rush fees. They should come in February instead, and benefit from our early-bird discounts.

Jonathan Mayo
Baltimore

Thank you very much for selecting our family-owned and -operated sno-ball stand Baltimore's Best for 2008. This is the second time we've won in three years, having also won in 2006. I very much appreciate City Paper's generous selection, but have one small correction. At Walther Gardens we use no high fructose corn syrup. When we make flavors we only use real honest-to-god sugar. We hate high fructose corn syrup.

Thank you again for the honor.
Jamie Sinsz
Baltimore

The Aristocraps

Unsurprisingly descriptive describes Dan Savage's latest blast of sexual faux pas. In last week's column, "Say What?!?" (Savage Love, Sept. 17), Mr. Savage tackled the distress of a male reader recently defecated upon by a female hookup: "Shit happens, as the saying goes. Shit shouldn't happen; it's gross when it does. But when you're fucking ass, shit has to be regarded as a `known known.'" All too true, I suppose.

Subscribe to it or not, sex is best dealt with on frank terms. Along with the rest, I enjoy Mr. Savage's grainy, at times subtle, voice when it comes to sexual dubiousness. This said, it is evident that we live in an era of sex marketing, disguised as sexual disclosure. Since surviving the conservative ethics crusade of the '80s, sex has gained permanent residence in a media-bred American culture. Outlived are the days of strict public censorship and enraged PTA mobs. Rooted are the days of media deregulation and whatever-flies marketing. Thus, continuously exposed to sex, we blur the line between what is open sexual discussion and what is actually just a grab for headlines.

As individuals, we benefit from a more sexually disclosed culture. Open sexual discussion helps a culture by dispelling many of its preconceived notions, whether they be gender, race, or age related. Further, it creates a social atmosphere free of fear.

So what's the difference between open sexual discussion and sex marketing? Through the media prism, nothing--and that's the problem. The media, more than ever, functions as a cultural guide for the public. Thus, it maintains a responsibility to promote cultural health. To this, airing/printing low-brand sexual commentators like Howard Stern does not cut it. These people don't get paid to give healthy guidance; rather, they exist to bump ratings. The media needs to stop cashing in on sexual disclosure. Rather, it should offer more professional, transparent, sexual commentary.

I don't mean to come down on Mr. Savage. Certainly he has given poignant commentary in the past. Further, I'd wonder if he might consider addressing this issue in a forthcoming column. It would be of great benefit and enjoyment for us, his readers.

Matthew Gentry
Baltimore

Animation Nation

Vincent Williams, you are not alone (Social Studies, Sept. 10). I love cartoons and any other kind of children's programming! I watch everything from Corneil and Bernie to The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Growing up in the late '70s and '80s, my mother also had this crazy idea that I would only be allowed to watch two hours of TV a day. She told all her friends that she had my brother and me on a short leash, but this was not true. I watched so much TV that I can almost recall line for line dialogue from every Charlie Brown special, He-Man, Superfriends, and, of course, The Cosby Show. Hey, at least you have a partner in crime when you partake in your cartoon activities. I do not have any children and do not use my nieces and nephews as reasons to go to the theater to see a Pixar, Disney, or any other kid movie. I stand with my head held high and a crisp $20 in hand: "One for The Incredibles, please." My boyfriend thinks I'm nuts.

Charmane L. Baker
Baltimore

Tobacco Load

My appeal remains unchanged: for City Paper to cease running tobacco advertising in it pages. In the Sept. 3 issue, a large insert for R.J. Reynolds new Frost brand of snus was placed within the center of the publication, entreating the reader to "get the pleasure without the smoke."

Many in the United States are still unfamiliar with snus, a product that was largely popularized in Sweden. The tobacco industry has for years been trying to bring snus to U.S. markets. Snus is a packet containing ground tobacco and is chewed over a period of time without spitting. Think chewing tobacco in a teabag. Why make this comparison? Because snus use carries many of the same negative health consequences as chewing tobacco. Not coincidentally, promotion of snus was occurring the same time a major development in tobacco control was also occurring, the proliferation of smoke-free indoor air laws. With fewer and fewer places that Americans are able to smoke, the industry leaders developed a new tactic--to vary the forms of tobacco consumption. The implications of their actions is clear: Rather than have people quit, as over 70 percent of people who use tobacco have stated they wish to do, they are attempting to sustain their addiction through a new product, snus.

The very week that City Paper displayed this snus advertisement, the National Cancer Institute released a massive paper, years in the making, on the relationship between tobacco industry marketing and tobacco use behavior. The industry racks up $37 million a day in marketing just to advertise, by its own admission, lethal and addictive product like snus because it knows that marketing works. The paper concluded for the first time that tobacco advertising and promotion causes increased tobacco use. The paper focused on key messages the industry repeats over and over again in its marketing ploys. Examples of these messages are present in this particular advertisement to deceive and lure potential snus users. "Get the pleasure without the smoke" aims to lessen anxiety about the harm from tobacco use by playing on the general public's misconception that smokeless tobacco does not have the same dangers as, say, a cigarette. There was a coupon attached to the Frost snus advertisement. The industry puts 75 percent of these marketing dollars into price discounts, especially to draw in the more price-sensitive youth tobacco user. Bottom line, don't all companies market their goods? Certainly. However, not all companies are peddling a deadly product for the sake of initiating and maintaining addiction to a population that largely wants to quit and are actively attempting to do so.

I maintain that one of the more concerning effects of this type of advertising is the high likelihood of being viewed and acted upon by your youth readers. With letters to the editor appearing from authors as young as 14, we know that this happening. The question that remains is a matter of resolve. Will City Paper assert itself as Baltimore's Free Alternative Weekly and freely disconnect itself from the tobacco industry in favor of a less destructive alternative? Baltimore is waiting your response.

Ryan Coffman
Baltimore

Correction: Due to a misprint in the play's program and an understudy in the cast, two performers were misidentified in the review of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at Vagabond Players ("The Music, Man," Stage, Sept. 24). Toledo was played by understudy Les Lemar, and Dussie Maes was played by Cheveé Crafton.

Also, we printed the incorrect web address for Good Samaritan Hospital in our blurb naming it Best Geriatric Rehab (Best of Baltimore, Sept. 17). The correct web address is goodsam-md.org.

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