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You Say "Tomato," I Say "Terrorist"

Posted 11/6/2002

I was flabbergasted to read the calendar entry for David Rees' Nov. 5 signing at Atomic Books, which began "right after so-called terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center . . ." (Baltimore Weekly Highlights, Oct. 30). Whatever could the writer, Joe MacLeod, have had in mind? Are readers to conclude that City Paper believes that the Sept. 11 hijackers were not terrorists? Surely such a position warrants an explanation, not a passing reference in a calendar entry.

Barbara Karni
Baltimore

Joe MacLeod responds: Since Sept. 11, 2001, I have been questioning everything, including all the labels we throw around. The label "terrorist" has lost its meaning for me. I hate the people who did this terrible thing. I often fantasize about killing those responsible with my own hands. I also think we need to figure out why there was enough support in other parts of the world for this attack to have been carried out. Please excuse me for also calling them "people."

Democracy Inaction

OK, I understand that you're a quite left-leaning publication, but your endorsements tilt toward political bigotry ("Hold Your Nose and Vote," Oct. 30, ). What in the name of God have the Dems given the people of Baltimore over the last 40 years? I'll tell you. A city that in parts resembles Dresden after the fire bombings, or perhaps what the Russians saw when they entered Berlin in 1945. Rampant crime, murders, urban flight, and loss of business all have thrived under the Dems. Also, a $200 million deficit from a $100 million surplus has resulted under Gov. Parris Glendening. If the folks in Maryland would give a Republican administration a chance, maybe, just maybe, we could make some headway in the state and city. Hey, if it doesn't work out, there's always the next election.

Jim Keen
Baltimore

Kudos to City Paper for declining to endorse state Sen. Nathaniel McFadden and delegates Talmadge Branch and Hattie Harrison. None of them deserve to represent the 45th District in Annapolis, particularly Harrison, who dragged her good friend, convicted felon Bruce Bereano, to work for her at my polling place on Primary Election Day.

Your characterization of the 45th, though, as a "troubled district, which is plagued by crime, drugs, and poverty," is not consistent with the demographics of the "new" 45th District created through redistricting. The district now includes significant portions of Northeast Baltimore, including my neighborhood, Glenham-Belford. These are good, solidly working- and middle-class, predominantly owner-occupied neighborhoods that will demand top-notch representation. While I expressed disgust upon learning I had been redistricted into the 45th--precisely because of the poor quality of representation--I know look at it as an opportunity for new representation to emerge. And who knows? With the number of gay and lesbian folks that live in my neighborhood, maybe one of us will get elected in four years! One can only hope.

Cathy Brennan
Baltimore

Odd Fellow

City Paper has surely led the way in breaking the Baltimore-area media "Cone of Silence" over the Spear Lancaster/Lorenzo Gaztanaga gubernatorial campaign. A fair, well-balanced article, including a few thoughts (?) from the "anti-libertarian" ("Odd Man Out," Oct. 23).

Lorenzo Gaztanaga
Libertarian Lieutenant Governor Candidate

Baltimore

PS: "Whazzat, Chief?" "Whazzat, Max?"

Underachiever

I am always underwhelmed by Underwhelmed. Underwhelmed isn't a title; it's a forecast. It seems that Ms. Sandy Asirvatham is unable to develop an original thought. When she started this column some years ago she spouted cookie-cutter feminist "theory," and although it was simplistic, I thought, "Hey, a woman's point of view. It's bound to get better." No such luck for your female, feminist, critical-thinking readers. For some reason, I have failed to write about my disappointment in the past, and as I started to read this week's column, I thought I was going to have to take it back and praise Ms. Asirvatham (Underwhelmed, Oct. 30). But no. It turns out Ms. Asirvatham's column about racism and serial killers is more of the same--someone else's thoughts spit at us and a conclusion with no point whatsoever. There must be someone else out there for the female reader to appreciate. Find her and give her a job.

Aimee Darrow
Baltimore

The Penultimate Letter

In Mr. John Barry's review of the two posthumous releases of William Gaddis, The Rush for Second Place and Agape Agape, he incorrectly cites the latter as Gaddis' "penultimate work of fiction" (Imprints, Oct. 23). To look at this point a bit askance, perhaps cynically, we could say that there is every possibility that something in the Gaddis estate is redeemable as his "final work of fiction," and we can endlessly expound with humor on what that could be that might effectively slide Agape Agape to the chronological ranking of "penultimate." (And beyond humor, there is undoubtedly something bizarrely accurate in making this claim. For example, will we ever really know the absolute and "final" work of Jimi Hendrix? That is, there seems to be an almost constant retreading, remixing, and rediscovery that puts a blank under the heading "last work.") Officially, and for my dollar, Agape Agape, is and will remain Gaddis' last.

B.J. Packett
Odenton

Crack You Up

The essential Lenny Bruce era was from the middle to late '50s, when much of his prime routines were devoid of scatological references (Books). The busts and their aftermath have overshadowed that initial period when he burst upon the scene. I got the impression that the CD accompanying The Trials Of Lenny Bruce was the reviewer's first introduction to Bruce. It is common knowledge that he wasn't as funny at that point, which is understandable.

Listen to any of Fantasy Records' Bruce catalogue from that early period and discover why he became legendary in the first place. His skewering wit on pop culture and social mores notwithstanding, an aspect that made his comedy so good was that he was a master mimic who populated his best routines with an array of characters to hilarious effect. The two Jewish booking agents who discover Adolph Hitler, the CEO of Religion's Inc., the sleazy car salesman in "Fat Boy," and the sadistic Captain Whackencracker come to mind. Bruce's mimickry was a technique that was an obvious influence on Richard Pryor 10 years later. Just as Lord Buckley and his hipster patois was the progenitor of Bruce, George Carlin absorbed his idol's rapid-fire stream of consciousness styling and carried the torch as Lenny became increasingly dated by the ensuing hippie generation and mired in legal battles.

Terms used in the article such as "pedestrian and obvious" do not fit in light of the Fantasy output. And perhaps the perception of a "herky-jerky flow" referred to may be due to the practice of splicing together different live performances of the same bit--while on extended stay at a club, for instance--to capture evolving improvisations.

Warren Cherry
Baltimore

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