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Posted 2/10/2010

As an Afrocentric feminist and loyal City Paper reader, I was disturbed to learn of the premature cancellation of Just Ask Larnell ("Bring Back Larnell," The Mail, Jan 27).

No other comic in any publication has so consistently brought me such spontaneous joy. We suffer so much mediocrity; why not let us have a warm, funny, weird, confusing celebration of black womanhood once a week? It reads right to left for God's sake! She got everything right!

My love of the strip aside, it is your duty as an alternative publication to give voice to Baltimore's marginal players. A voice as effervescent as Ms. Butler's ought not be silenced and certainly not without an explanation. I will give you the benefit of the doubt for now, but I demand answers.

Owen Gardner

Eh, Robert?

As a long-time Baltimore peace and justice activist, I believe we the people should know our history and record it, as we cannot depend upon the corporate media. Because of this belief, I strive to keep an accurate history of the movement and was disappointed by the letter "It's All Politics" (The Mail, Jan. 13). The letter writer wrote about Bob Kaufman's "alleged disruptive behavior." There is no alleged when it came to Kaufman's disruptive behavior. It was constant.

The next problem presented by the letter writer was an out-and-out lie: "As a general matter, the differences between Bob and those who accuse him of bad behavior were political." I know of few activists who are scared of socialism, and know many advocates of socialism in Baltimore. We did not fear Bob's ideas; we just would not tolerate his belligerency during the group process. There is an endless list of groups who could not tolerate his ham-fisted attempts to exert control.

I could go line-by-line with the fallacies in the letter, but most importantly the writer persists in an approach similar to McCarthyism: Capitalism, in this case Kaufman, is the only ideology, and anyone who besmirches capitalism/Kaufman is a communist/an unbeliever of the wisdom of Bob. Using the phrase "those who accuse him of bad behavior" is little different than Tailgunner Joe announcing he has a "list" of subversives.

Again, I know of no activist who feared Bob Kaufman's ideas, but there are many who would not tolerate his bullying, his unwillingness to participate in a democratic process at meetings, and his me-first philosophy. I never heard Bob say "we" accomplished--it was always "I." Anyone who really knew Bob knows that his intent was to control a group. If this failed, as invariably it did, he would try to destroy the group.

Possibly the most revealing part of the letter was a quote from Bob which ended with a vulgarity, which no progressive person should ever use. It is a vile insult to a person's mother. When Bob used that pejorative to my face, that was the end of our association. Anyone is welcome to describe me or my actions using any barnyard epithet, but I will not tolerate any invective hurled at my mother.

The concluding comment by Bob was rich in irony: "There's a lot of people who see themselves as pacifist or progressives who are very intolerant or who are masters of passive-aggression." What a parting comment for the pot to call the kettle black. Thanks for letting me attempt to bring accuracy to the historical record.

Max Obuszewski

Take the Snark Challenge

Dear Michael Byrne,

I'm begging, I'm pleading, please please please let up on the attitude a little bit! It seems that every time you sit down to write a description of a musician, album, performance, and/or genre, you cannot resist the temptation to outright bash some other musician, album, performance, and/or genre . . . which are often times contextually impertinent. Critiquing the subject of an article is fine and necessary, however, your critique consists solely of interjectional taunts directed towards something or someone that has nothing to do with the subject of your article, whatever you loathe the most this week.

What most strengthens Baltimore's (or any) artistic community is support and transcendence of tribal factions. Your supposed advertisement for local events only serve as a platter for a full-course meal dripping in a sauce of snarky, sarcastic commentary about other perceived trends that might slightly annoy you, many examples of which you have never seen with your own eyes or heard with your own ears. Your attempt at playing different groups and genres off each other is petty and not rooted in reality.  Who knows, perhaps more people would be interested in the events you purport to be advertising if they understood the author as someone who likes art and music, not tires of everything before he sees it. I dare you, in your next City Paper contribution, to not say ANYTHING NEGATIVE AT ALL. Are you up to it?

Kaitlin Murphy

Corrections: A film still of Jennifer Firestone was misidentified as Tita Chico in a caption for last week's piece on the film 60 Writers/60 Places ("Minute Waltz," Feb. 3).

The source poems for the Poulenc songs referred to our interview with soprano Theresa Bickham (Arts & Entertainment, Feb. 3) were written by Jean Moreas, not Francois Mauriac.

And last week's Social Studies column ("A Whole New World," Feb. 3) incorrectly referenced an episode of The Twilight Zone starring Ronny Howard. The actor in question was, in fact, Billy Mumy.

City Paper regrets the errors.

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