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The Boobs of Summer

Posted 4/10/2002

What an amazingly insulting and awful article ("Zeros of Birdland," April 3). Here is my proposal for a future City Paper feature: "The Most Useless Free Alternative Weekly Writers: Zeros of City Paper: Tom Scocca and Andy Markowitz."

Please be certain to include their photos so that we readers can cross the street when we see them coming.

George Eichler

I enjoyed the CP cover story on some of the worst Orioles ever. Face it: It is easier to have a losing team than a winning team, and no one has shown us that more than Peter Angelos. It is also easier, and more fun, to find some of the worst players. The Orioles are full of them and, just like the Wizards, have shown it by having countless losing seasons.

I was a bit surprised by not seeing one name in particular in the article: Albert Belle. The infamous outfielder (I cannot remember if he played right field, left field, or center field) was a pretty good defenseman and a home-run king. But as an Oriole, he was only known for his greediness and his inability to try at any aspect of baseball. If Brook Fordyce was included, how come Belle wasn't? He brought in high hopes of championships but, like so many Orioles listed in the article, he became just another Zero.

Leor Galil

Kevin Brown! Argh!

Mark Mcintire

Tom Scocca and Andy Markowitz reply: Mr. Galil: As we explained in the introduction to the article, "A player who did his job well at all, even if he later turned bad, doesn't count as having been useless. This is why Albert Belle is off the list: The O's brought him in to carry the offense, and he gave them 37 homers and 117 RBIs in his first season. His subsequent breakdown doesn't change that."

Mr. McIntire: Kevin Brown certainly underperformed in Baltimore relative to the rest of his career, but we'd take his 10-9, 3.60 season over anything our five "useless" starters managed here.

Mr. Eichler:

Michael and Me
Heather Joslyn's review of Michael Moore's Stupid White Men is about as biased as she claims his book is (Imprints, March 13). Her mudslinging fight with a literary work is more than a little childish. I get the feeling that her politics were wounded by Moore's sarcasm. She seems bitter that someone would point out the flaws in a system she still endorses. Maybe she was one of the 10 percent of Americans who cared enough to vote. Maybe she is even one of the 4.995 percent of Americans who thought George W. Bush would be a good leader. Democracy at work. Despite everything else, it should be kept in mind that this is a work of dark, sociopolitical humor. If you don't like dark (maybe even morbid) humor and believe that politics are both honest and serious, then maybe Moore's not for you.

Nic deGroot

Threatening Posture
As a longtime protester of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, I was glad to read Sue Johnson's letter about bogus research and weapons contracts (The Mail, March 13). However, what I really long to read is a detailed article about APL's research. I notice The Sun only publishes articles about the APL's nonmilitary contracts, which are only about 5 percent to 10 percent of the estimated $400 million that the lab receives per annum from the Navy. APL is currently No. 43 among the top 100 Pentagon contractors. It should be noted that handing out leaflets at APL subjects a person to arrest and a probable sentence in the Howard County Detention Center. The refusal to permit First Amendment rights at APL was in effect long before Attorney General John Ashcroft took over the misnamed Department of Justice.

APL was a supporter of the USA Patriot Act well before it was a twinkle in the eyes of President-Select Bush. Surely there is a City Paper writer interested in the dichotomy of a university with a world-class hospital, designed to save lives, and an infamous laboratory that researches mass-murder weapons?

Max Obuszewski

Veteran's Daze
It always amazes, even after all these years (32 and counting), to read something like "Absence of Valor" in City Paper (The Mail, March 13). Henry Cohen's remarks in response to a column by Wiley Hall III (Urban Rhythms, Feb. 6) smack of the sound bite. The Universal Soldier--he really is to blame. Really?

As a 19-year-old college dropout, the draft looming large, into the Army and off to Vietnam I went. Never thought about Canada. Like many 19-year-olds, I felt impervious to injury and death. Evil? Well, Mr. Cohen, here's my take on evil. I think evil is putting 18- and 19-year-old soldiers onto Asian battlefields. Evil is a government policy that had no clear vision of its goal or how to accomplish it. Evil is pitting young Americans against a ferocious and resolute enemy with no real purpose other than survival, and ensuring with the six-months-and-out rotation policy that all too frequently we were led by inexperienced officers with no combat experience. Again and again, we retook the same ground. And lest we forget, 58,000 Americans dead. Policies that engendered such things--that is evil.

Incidentally, the vast majority of the people I soldiered with conducted themselves morally, given the terrible nature of war. Only those who have been there can understand it. With time, perspective has allowed me to view my experience with some objectivity. My fellow vets and I, more than most, understand the futility of putting soldiers in impossible situations. It's really all about leadership. Yes, we should have never been there. But you're going to lay that on teenage soldiers? I am so grateful for former Vietnam soldiers like Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf who have carried their Vietnam experiences forward in positions of leadership. I hope no young American will ever again face such choices. I hope the leaders of our great country, who form American policy, will be wise enough and honest enough to never again involve us in military adventurism far from home.

Don Miller

Ted Baxter's Nightline
It did my heart good to read Wiley Hall III as he took Ted Koppel and all things Nightline to task (Urban Rhythms, March 20). The sanctimonious Koppel and his fellow travelers in the mainstream media reacted to ABC's trial balloon about replacing Nightline with David Letterman as if the network cheeses had spit on the Holy Grail.

Hall's point about Nightline's tilt toward "members of the conservative elite" is well taken, but what makes Koppel's establishment love fest so hard to take is Koppel's love fest for himself. Network news has been a narcissistic wallow for a very long time. The news takes a backseat to Koppel's hair, Tom Brokaw's speech impediment, Peter Jennings' sonorous charms, and Dan Rather's earnestness, and it has for years. Cable news is no better. CNN, Fox, and the various NBCs strive for their own cults of personality. The dot-commers call it branding, but the practice of putting a face on the news and pretending the viewing public is in love with that face is a conceit that has dominated TV news for as long as most of us can remember. Content and truth are distant priorities.

Local news is even worse. People who can barely read the copy placed in front of them are palmed off as "News You Trust" when the stations' only real motivation is scaring people into thinking their coverage is some sort of hedge against the meanies out in the night waiting to get the viewers besieged in front of their TV sets. Koppel isn't about the news, but neither is anyone else on the air. If somebody is going to be overpaid by millions of dollars, it might as well be Letterman. At least he is consciously trying to be funny. As far as TV news is concerned, Joseph Goebbels would be proud, and the people at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) are in for a frustrating time of it.

Joe Roman

Women Requiring a Karing Legislature
I read with mounting horror your story on Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (CRACK), an organization that pays cash to women for sterilization (Mobtown Beat, March 13). I am outraged that no one in city government has made any attempts to protect the most vulnerable among us. One need only look at the individuals involved to know that their aim is to eradicate those they consider unworthy of life. How insidious. It smacks of Nazi Germany. Women who are seriously ill from the ravages of substance abuse should not be engaged while waiting in line at needle exchanges. I would hope that lawmakers recognize this organization for what it is--a plague! Wake up, readers, soon they may be coming for you! Mobilize, demonstrate, and demand that the people you elected take their duties seriously and move swiftly to legislate against this type of organization.

Jacquiline Johnson

An Ear is a Terrible Thing to Waste
What Nigel Assam fails to understand in his response (The Mail, Feb. 27) to the article "The Revolution Will Be Vocalized" (Feb. 20) is that black culture, and the functional aspects associated with it, make it unique. Many black artists embrace a responsibility to use their art or poetry to move people to a deeper understanding of their lives and of the forces that manipulate their lives. With this in mind:

Put your Western ears away
Your preconceived boundaries
Of the way you are accustomed
To hearing poetry, away
Don't compare--listen
The new wordsmiths or
Spoken-word artists can be a
Jarring departure from Keats,
Shakespeare, Ginsberg, etc.
Listen. An open ear is a
Wonderful thing.

Conal Rose

Correction: While ex-Oriole Jim Traber did make his major-league debut in 1984, as reported in last week's cover story, he did not hit 13 homers filling in for an injured Eddie Murray that year, as also reported in last week's cover story. That came two seasons later.

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