You Have to Play to Win
It is very hard to describe or predict why an event like that works in this town, where local music support runs hot and cold so often, but for a weak analogy, I would say it was like being stuck in an elevator for nine hours . . . with people who kick ass!
To all at the Ottobar who organized the event or worked, to the tireless and creative musicians who played, and especially to everyone in the unexpectedly exuberant crowd, a job well done.
Put 'em Up
What are your credentials to review my book, Baltimore's Boxing Legacy, 1893-2003, Zachary Saxanoff (Imprints, Jan. 14)? You are not obviously a boxing fan, based on your review of my book, let alone boxing history. First of all, have you ever reviewed a book from Arcadia Publishing before? They are pictorial history books. They have a set format for all their books: The book has to be 128 pages, and there are two photos per page on average with figure captions. The introduction is limited to one page, too. You should have taken this into account before you said, " [Thomas] Scharf's attempts to compress 110 years of boxing history into 128 photo-filled pages makes for, at best, a hasty survey. Boxing by its very nature overflows with melodrama--high-running emotions, passionate fighters, high-stakes betting, and blood . . . ." You were not obviously reading the figure captions when you said this statement. Passionate fighters were on every page.
You missed the point of the book. It was a history of boxing with places and people from its start to present times. High-stakes betting has not always occurred in boxing. Who ever said " boxing" and "romance" are linked? Yes, the book is a time line and factual information was predominantly given. You should stick to fiction book reviews if you want plots and romances. Again, Arcadia Books are pictorial history books. There is no time to develop characters and continue with plots!
Also, you said, "it seems too vague a survey for the boxing expert and too dry for the novice." Where do you fall in? Boxing experts have been praising its release for the two months since it has been out. Need references? You should do your homework and ask real boxing experts before you make a claim like this! In fact, you go on to say, "But if the names Howard Bennet, Vince Dundee, and Benny Schwartz don't--pardon the pun--ring a bell, you may find this history a little bloodless." Well, I got news for you: Boxing experts do recognize these names. On the other hand, a novice would recognize Vince Dundee, too--he was a world champion! Actually, novices will be enlightened with names like Schwartz and Bennet since they are not commonplace with Baltimore's history. A "little bloodless"? You think boxing is a brutal sport? It is a science.
The Cup Runneth Empty
Your article titled "Hot Water" really made a lot of things clear to me that hadn't been clear before (Mobtown Beat, Dec. 31). I was a regular patron of Funk's Democratic Coffee Shop for almost two years, and actually happened upon Janet Pfeiffer on the night she was closing up Funk's for the last time. Janet and I had gotten to know each other pretty well, and Funk's had become my haven, my refuge, as it was for most of the people I had met there. Since it closed I haven't found a similar place to go.
However, in the time since the closing of Funk's, I have never known the precise reasons for it, other than the general impression I'd gotten from Janet that she "just couldn't handle the business anymore." One thing you forgot to mention in your article was that most of those she employed were also partners in the business. I personally witnessed the rapid departure of these partners when they realized they couldn't work with her anymore. Each person responsible for Funk's future seemed to have a different idea of the direction the coffee shop should take in terms of culture, atmosphere, and special events such as concerts and music. Your article helped me in determining the surrounding economic woes that had remained ambiguous to all involved or interested, up to this point.
Thank you for taking the time to do this investigation, since it does so much in helping me personally put Funk's to rest for good.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201