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Too Cool for Corn

Posted 5/28/2003

I am a longtime reader of City Paper. With regard to your Sizzlin Summer intro, I was a bit puzzled as to why your writer chose to label the experience of "sitting on a picnic-table bench, picking crabs, gnawing on an ear of Silver Queen, and sipping a frosty beverage" as "corny" ("Summer's Ready When You Are," May 21). This labeling is typical of the attitude of many of your writers that suggests a "I recognize that these experiences are somewhat beneath me but condescend to enjoy them for the banal pleasures that they are" attitude that plagues your otherwise fine publication. There is nothing "corny" about picking crabs on a picnic bench. Rather, it is simply a summertime pleasure.

Brian Young
Upper Marlboro

"Wretches?"

As one who spent 25 years in alternative journalism, it gives me some glimmer of hope to see an issue like City Paper's latest (May 14). From Tom Tomorrow's dead-on installment of This Modern World to Brian Morton's latest "Political Animal," and on to Tom Chalkley's well-observed cover story ("From Baghdad To Baltimore"), your paper casts the adjective "alternative" in the best possible light.

The mainstream media has become a joke. Even the once dependable NPR/PBS duality has become just an echo of party-in-power propaganda, never questioning the premise of the "war on terrorism" and consistently buying into the "may," "might," "could be," and "possibly" caveats that are consistently ignored by mainstreamers who blithely go on to accept whatever sanctimonious crap the administration is putting out in the name of national security but in the service of self-aggrandizement.

As the latest establishment media scandal at the august New York Times proves conclusively once again, the mainstream newspapers are nothing but insular clubs for journalism-school schmoozers whose real talents lie in the areas of "networking"--the latest euphemism for posterior kissing. Jayson Blair, the Times' errant reporter, stayed on the job in spite of repeated misdeeds because he was so good at "networking" with editor Howell Raines, who got where he is because he was so good at "networking" with his bosses at Atlanta's Journal-Constitution and, later, at the gray lady. There's no point in even mentioning those havens for fraternity and sorority rush chairs, the teevee and cable networks.

God bless you City Paper wretches, who do what you do without making the big bucks or getting the fat benefit packages. Without you, even we relative few who read your pages wouldn't have any chance of getting at the real truth.

Joe Roman
Baltimore

From a Sun Alum

Please inform my friends back in Baltimore that I have not--contrary to what they might have inferred from reading Brian Morton's recent piece--gone over to the dark side since leaving The Sun to write a column at the Rocky Mountain News in Denver (Political Animal, May 14).

In Morton's column, he is attacking the right-wing hypocrites--I'm with him so far--who give top-gunner-in-chief George W. Bush a pass for his more-than-questionable National Guard duty while continuing to attack Bill Clinton for not serving during Vietnam. Then he decides to name me--when there is, at last count, an entire Fox News Channel--as one who persists in calling Clinton a "draft dodger."

Unfortunately for Morton and for me, this is the danger of Googling (type in: "Clinton" "draft dodger") without reading the actual text. Here is the relevant excerpt from the Jan. 7, 2003, column I assume Morton is citing: "Donald Rumsfeld says the military--the one inherited from that old draft dodger Bill Clinton himself--can fight two wars at once. I believe him. We can probably fight the entire evil axis and every army in Lord of the Rings at once."

If my 11th-grade English teacher had it right, my usage of "draft dodger" was something not unlike irony. Obviously, the point was that those who would call Clinton a draft dodger are often the first to praise the military that he left them. By the way, in the same Jan. 7 column that I'm sure Morton would have enjoyed, I took on Bush and the Bush school of chicken hawks, meaning those who favor war except when it comes time to personally fight one. And this once, of course, the man in the olive flight suit moves to the head of his class.

Mike Littwin
Denver

Brian Morton responds: Much as I'm a slave to Google like any other Internet research fiend, Mr. Littwin might be interested to know that, yes, I did read his entire column (and found it reasonably enjoyable). And perhaps he hasn't gone over to the "dark side," but the fact remains that even with his intended use of "irony," Mr. Clinton gets referred to as a "draft dodger," but Mr. Bush, the current White House occupant and "military deserter," as some might call him, gets spared any blatant identification. Mr. Littwin had his chance to bring up the fact of the AWOL president in his Rocky Mountain News column--with a circulation much larger than our humble free weekly--but preferred to continue bringing up a charge of which the conservatives in this country are more than happy to remind us. If he wants to write a column about "chicken hawks," I would argue he shouldn't chicken out when it comes to naming the one at the top of the henhouse's pecking order.

God's Gift to City Hall

I read the May 7 Nose piece "Julius the Seizer" and laughed to myself (The Nose, May 7). Is the Nose envious of Julius Henson's talent for finding and supporting talented politicians?

Let me set the record straight. We need a new mayor in Baltimore City. The deteriorating housing in Baltimore shows the lack of humanity of Martin O'Malley and the squad of urban soldiers on his staff that does not understand poor people and their struggles to survive in a city of shame.

As an Afrocentric feminist, I will be voting for Dr. Andrey Bundley on Sept. 9. Dr. Bundley is man enough to meet the challenges of making Baltimore a community for all racial groups, not a city of chaos as we presently have.

I know that Dr. Bundley is a smart individual. He graduated from Coppin State College and later earned a doctorate of education from Pennsylvania State University. What I am excited about is that Dr. Bundley is a "new light" in the Democratic Party. He is interested in people, and his concerns will be to fix the social and economic problems in the city he lives in. He will work with all people to create a community of spiritual godliness.

I know that Dr. Bundley is a young man. He is the principal of Walbrook High School. When Dr. Bundley was hired to work at Walbrook, the graduation rate was 40 percent. Today, the graduation rate at Walbrook is the highest in the city. Smart individuals who desire to make children's lives better portray a character rife with humility, godliness, hope, charity, racial pride, and love for people. The students at Walbrook admire and respect Dr. Bundley.

Dr. Andrey Bundley did not ask me to write this letter. Neither did any members of his staff. I am a black woman who can do my own thinking, and I do it very well.

As I see it, a lot of people do not like campaign consultant Julius Henson. Julius Henson has the uncanny ability to read people and situations. He is an urban communicator. It's an obvious fact.

Dr. Andrey Bundley is God-given. Everything he touches will prosper because he has divine spirits God has given him. He is a holy man.

Larnell Custis Butler
Baltimore

Vocal objection

What exactly does Bret McCabe have against Mike Patton? I have never seen a kind word for the vocalist in City Paper, which isn't a problem in and of itself. I'm just flummoxed by McCabe's intense loathing of Patton on what seems to be a strictly personal level. I had never seen reviews that would praise a band to the heavens in every way with the sole exception being the vocal parts--until McCabe's previews of Tomahawk (The Short List, May 21) and his review of the Irony Is a Dead Scene EP by the Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton (Soundtracks). That a man who thoroughly enjoys DEP, Melt Banana, and the Jesus Lizard (to name a few) cannot find a single redeeming feature in Patton's performances defies logic. Was McCabe among the countless journalists rudely dismissed by Patton? Is McCabe simply jealous of Patton's peerless technical prowess as a vocalist? Or is McCabe a jilted Red Hot Chili Peppers fan who, like Anthony Kiedis, is still bitter over the decade-old Faith No More vs. RHCP grudge? For God's sake, give us an answer!

Regardless of what you think of the man's music, credit must be given to Patton for his skill as a singer. But given much of the music that McCabe writes about enthusiastically, his outright dismissal of Patton's work is stylistically hypocritical. Color me confused. Regardless of whether or not McCabe can come up with a reasonable defense for his belligerent attitude toward Mike Patton's music, I do request that, in the interest of journalistic integrity, you pass off the next Patton-related album you receive to another reviewer. After all, why bother writing a review for an album you already know is going to suck?

Seb Roberts
Baltimore

Music editor Bret McCabe responds: "Peerless technical prowess as a vocalist" does not a great band member make. His voice is impressive, but he wields it like a toddler playing with a machine gun--eventually, he'll hit something, he just hasn't yet. If he ever bothered to sing as if he listened to the music made by the band he's in--and wanted to play with them--his projects might be more rewarding. But for the moment, he seems content to be the Yngwie Malmsteen of the vocal chords.

The Love that Dare Not Get Physical

Lee Gardner had a great reply to Regina Boyce, who claims she is not homophobic but is astonished to see Ethan Green actually having sex in the April 30 issue (The Mail, May 14). Boyce gives herself away when she says, "I usually . . . briefly look over [City Paper] . . . and to my surprise saw something I know I haven't seen before . . . two men in bed." If she followed The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green on a regular basis, she would know that this strip is, title notwithstanding, about a guy who actually has a job, has friends, goes out, and, yes, occasionally gets laid. Just like real people. It's not the first time the strip has depicted Ethan getting some sweet lovin', either. It's just a small part of the story line, again, much like real people.

If what she's saying is, "Oh, I don't mind seeing gay people in the paper, I just don't want to see them having sex," all I can say is, "Et tu, Santorum?"

Beth Woodell
Baltimore

Corrections: Due to an editing error in our Sizzlin' Summer issue, 18th-century surveyors Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon were credited with more work than they actually did ("Stones in My Pathway," May 21). The 12-mile arc drawn around New Castle, Del., referred to in the story was actually drawn by surveyors Isaac Taylor and Thomas Piersons in 1701. Sorry, guys.

Also, we missed at least one date in our Sizzlin' Summer calendar: the Reese Volunteer Fire Department's Outdoor Flea Market and Craft Show takes place June 7, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., at the department's carnival grounds (1745 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster). We regret the error.

Clarification: The attack on LeeRoy Allen mentioned in our story on crime in Canton took place at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Spring Street--technically in Fells Point, not Canton ("Safe at Home?", May 7). Mr. Allen does live in Canton.

Editor's note: With this issue, we bid adieu to Smell of Steve Inc.'s Ziggy-With-a-Hat comic. Please see the comic for his parting wisdom.

Also, this is the last issue we can encourage you to enter our annual Fiction and Poetry Contest before the June 2 deadline. Please see the entry form for contest details and entry guidelines.

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