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Regrettable Stereotyping

Posted 8/4/2010

While I want to commend City Paper on its continuing interest and research into drug treatment ("Old Habits," Feature, July 28), I found some of the language and assumptions in the story regrettable. The statement "People with diabetes and heart disease seldom break into homes . . . or push over grandma to snatch her purse. People with substance abuse disorder routinely do these things" is extremely offensive to the many individuals with alcohol and drug addictions who do not "routinely" commit crimes. One of the burdens of recovering from this illness is coping with the popular belief that anyone with a drug or alcohol problem is a criminal. Nothing could be further from the truth, since drug and alcohol addictions are equal-opportunity diseases which affect individuals at every economic level, without discrimination. The author seems to have interviewed many eminent experts in the field, but somehow failed to comprehend one of the most important truths: that addiction is not a problem of "them" (those crazy criminals out there), it is a problem of "us" (all of American society), and that while the field does not yet have a magic bullet to address this issue, we won't find one by continuing to spread stigma and shame, rather than encouraging greater understanding.

Elizabeth Disney
Listening Softly

In your article entitled "Soft Core" (Music, July 28), Amanda Schmidt says that "when we all listen to soft music in our homes (or wherever it is), there is a very specific way in which we enjoy it. None of us would put on Brian Eno's Discreet Music and then listen to it in while standing in the middle of a cold, concrete room with our arms crossed."

Initially, I was rather puzzled by this remark. I've never heard the Eno album she refers to, but I also can't say that I've ever listened to any album that I own while standing in the middle of a cold, concrete room with my arms crossed. Does this mean that when she refers to "soft music," she's including the Wu-Tang Clan album which I listened to recently while lying in my soft, comfortable bed? I always thought that was considered rap. While eating sitting in my living room the other day-air conditioned, but neither cold, nor concrete-I listened to the Circle Jerks. Isn't that punk? But does the fact that I listened to it with "care and attention" mean that it is actually "soft music"?

Although I was confused at first, I have now come to realize that what is going on here is actually a radical re-evaluation and re-interpretation of all of music. Although Schmidt says it is not a genre, music evidently transforms, morphs into soft music whenever it is listened to carefully. Though I was all set to congratulate her and the members of Soft House on this discovery, I'm more or less sure they're a bit late. Haven't people been listening closely, and intently, and being moved to tears for many, many years in fairly comfortable concert halls to the music of Bach, Beethoven, and Schoenberg, among others? It seems that the softies are just taking something students of music have been doing for years and giving it a new name.

I can only hope that the next time I see Rapdragons, it's at Soft House.

Ted Fendt

Editor's note: In honor of our annual Best of Baltimore issue, coming Sept. 22, we want to find out what you think is the best of Baltimore. And this year, that means a contest: City Paper's Personal Best Video Contest. It's simple: 1) Grab your video camera and make a short video (60 seconds or less) about what you think is the best of Baltimore-your favorite bar, your favorite thing to eat, your favorite place to go, your favorite thing to do, whatever. Creativity and passion count as much as technical proficiency, and please be sure to state your name and what your best is as part of the video. 2) Upload your video to YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, or your favorite video hosting site, and send us a link to it via by Friday, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m. 3) We'll check them out, post our favorites on our web site, and the winner (as chosen by us) will receive two tickets to the Best of Baltimore party on Sept. 22 and other fabulous prizes.

And with this issue, we say goodbye to City Paper special projects editor Anna Ditkoff. Anna started out at CP in 1998 as an intern and quickly made herself indispensable. Her passion and ruthless sense of organization (aided by her abiding love of spreadsheets) has helped keep the paper running smoothly, and her writing-in the Bar Scars nightlife column, in a series of excellent features, and in the weekly Murder Ink column-has helped make the paper worth reading each week. She's leaving the paper to pursue a masters degree in social work this fall (don't worry, she'll still write Murder Ink). Though she'll be missed, we wish her the very best of luck.

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