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Bring Back Larnell

Posted 1/27/2010

Please return Larnell Custis Butler's Just Ask Larnell, the winner of the most recent City Paper comics contest, to the pages of City Paper. When we agreed to judge the contest, the rules were clear: The winner would be awarded space in the newspaper for a full year.

Just Ask Larnell was our overwhelming favorite. Our panel of judges believed that Butler's vigorous, uninhibited, and distinctive work belonged to the best traditions of City Paper, and of the city of Baltimore. Her published comics have confirmed that judgment.

Now, without notice or explanation, the paper has canceled the strip. Whatever reason you think you had for doing it, you broke the terms of the contest. You have failed to honor your own commitment--a commitment to which we lent our names and efforts.

You owe Larnell Custis Butler eight more months. You also owe an apology to her, to the other contestants, and to your readers.

Tom Scocca
Tony Millionaire
Dina Kelberman
Benn Ray
Emily Flake

Tom Scocca is a former CP editorial staffer; the other signatories are CP contributors.

Editor Lee Gardner responds: Contest winner or not, Ms. Butler's comic became part of City Paper's weekly editorial content, and each aspect of that content runs or not at my discretion. She will receive full payment for a year's run. I have a good deal of regard and respect for Ms. Butler, but I stand by my decision.

Empty Boxes?

Why do we need a new supermarket at A. D. Anderson when we have a practically new Safeway three blocks away from the site and a Giant on 33rd Street? ("Thinking Outside the Boxes," Mobtown Beat, Jan. 20) Both are usually empty as it is.

James T. Aguirre

Whose You Callin' "Burge"?

Thank you so much for using the photo I submitted to Whose Responible? of "Capt'n Frank's Seafoo" for the Jan. 20 issue. Incidentally, my name is spelled "Burger" not "Burge." I've only worked for you idiots for 28 years.

Jim Burger

John Ellsberry responds: I do regret the error, but I do not feel compelled to dignify that off-the-cuff comment with a reponse.

Oh, Chalkley

So let me get this right. After nearly four years in office, it appears that all Tom Chalkley can congratulate Sheila Dixon on is her "Cleaner, Greener Baltimore" initiative ("Oh, Sheila," Feature, Jan 13). This may come as a surprise, but inner-city residents trapped in crime-ridden neighborhoods with failing schools have more to be concerned with. The city's homicide rate is still among the nation's highest, and the city has no viable tax base to support itself. Businesses are leaving the city, not flocking here. It is low crime and a higher standard of living for the city's poorest residents that make any urban mayor successful, and judged by these standards, Mayor Dixon was a failure. Hopefully Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake can pick up where William Donald Schaefer left off.

B. Scott Patrick

Quit Your Switching

I'm just a tad bit perturbed with Vincent Williams' assessment on code-switching ("Symbols," Social Studies, Jan. 13). It's not just a "black" thing. I usually am right here with Mr. Williams; it seems we are around the same age and each have a daughter around the same age. I remember his article about meeting other fathers at the playground and just having that instant bond. It almost bought a tear to my eye, 'cause right before I read that article I spent the previous day with an older white fellow with a little girl my daughter's age. Two different men, from what it looked like on the outside, two totally different backgrounds, and we were clicking like we've known each other for ages. I think we wanted to stay longer than the kids.

Anyway, back to this particular article, I just don't accept "code switching." To me, it's an institution that allows black kids to continually feel smaller than their white counterparts, as if on our own, we aren't able to speak proper English. It says to the youth that it is OK to speak to each other, even your parents and elders, however you please, but if you come across a white person, you'd better clean it up and fly right.

This is a small part of why our communities are in shambles and why white communities are well kept. It's OK if we throw trash down in front of our stoops, but when you're in a white neighborhood, you better find a "trash receptacle."

Growing up, I was always told I spoke "proper" and never understood; I felt almost as if I didn't fit in. These days, I tell my friends "I'm geeking my daughters up" when they hear them speak and are baffled at their pronunciation. I believe we should not even acknowledge "code switching," as it is a crutch. Have you ever seen a young black teen "attempt" to be professional? Performing this so-called "code switching"? I'd rather them speak normally and be comfortable. They sound as though they are mentally impaired, selecting each word carefully, with pauses and "uh"s and "um"s generously peppered in. "Code switching" enables this.

Now, back to Sen. Harry Reid. I'm not surprised, nor should anyone else be. These types of comments will always come to light, as racism, classism, and stereotyping remains a huge virus to our society. I'm more hurt that this type of stuff is not ignored and that it makes the news. Let's stop entertaining this useless drivel which isn't news and cover actual "news."

Darryl Clark


Jonathan Safran Foer's latest book, Eating Animals, is filled with thought-provoking stories that will convince people that there is no excuse for eating animals ("Friend or Feast," Books, Jan. 13). I first stopped eating animal flesh because it is high in cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories, and it contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. I feel much healthier without meat, but I feel even better knowing that I am helping to stop animal suffering. Animals feel pain, grief, joy, love, and other emotions just as we do. We must move beyond selfish acts that cause others to suffer. It doesn't take "credentials" to know that it's unethical (perverse, even) to confine and kill animals simply because we like the taste of their flesh. We have vegetarian alternatives that are not only healthier and kinder, but delicious. It's time for us to evolve.

Katie Moore

Bob and Archie

I hope it's not too late to say a few words about our dearly departed brother A. Robert Kaufman, Baltimore's militant Menshevik! ("A. Robert Kaufman," Mobtown Beat, Jan. 6) This story comes to you late, because I have done some research.

Our dearly departed A. Robert had a quick wit. He was the master of the zingy retort. Let's go back to his college days at Goddard College. Guess who Baltimore Bob's roomie was? It was saxophonist Archie Shepp! Yes indeed it was! The very same Archie Shepp who went on to work with Coltrane and lead ensembles of his own. Well, Archie Shepp would tease our dearly departed friend.

According to both parties, Shepp would say "You call yourself Bob Kaufman because you want to be a brother!" (Here the reference was to the African-American beat poet with the same name.) Kaufman would reply "Your real name is Shapiro--you're just trying to pass."

So long Bob.

Alan Barysh

Editor's note: There's only one more week to submit your free valentines for our Feb. 10 issue. The deadline is Feb. 3.

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