Media Shirk Us
Managing editor, The Baltimore Chronicle
Michael Anft responds: It was only made clear recently on the Chronicle site that the November Web-only edition was a one-time deal. The site now states that the December issue will be available both online and in print. But the message adds ominously: "The economics of our communities do not permit us to expand our print version. . . . [W]e plan to make permanent changes in how we publish our newspaper." I'll await word from Cherbonnier before making any ultimate interpretation of that statement, however.
Big Harry Deal
Concerning Wiley Hall III's column "The Trouble With Harry" (Urban Rhythms, Nov. 21): I have no problem if Mr. Hall disliked the Harry Potter books and will not see the movie. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea. However, where does he get off calling those of us who have found these books and the movie to be enjoyable "asses"? He never addresses a far more obvious reason for its popularity: It's good. Or does Mr. Hall think that because he doesn't like it, it isn't worthy enough? He also makes no mention of all the children who have become avid readers in an age of video-game consoles. Corporate America has tried to push fads at us countless times, and these have a limited life span. (Pokémon comes to mind.) However, the first Potter book came out in 1997, and the phenomenon shows no signs of slowing. I guess Mr. Hall wanted to quickly finish up his column before Thanksgiving--and it showed.
Long Live Bock
Kudos to City Paper for recognizing all that is truly blessed in the world. Naturally, DeGroen's Doppelbock is what I want for Xmas besides those two pesky front teeth ("Hon for the Holidays," Nov. 14. This bock rocks! More gonzo in a growler than the honorable Hunter S. Thompson has summoned since Fear and Loathing. It seems that it was just last year--in fact, it was--that I witnessed grown men weeping, laughing, and foaming after a mere sip of this soon-to-be-illegal-I'm-sure beverage.
However, CP characterized this insane brew as "bitter and hoppy." Sweet and malty is sort of like bitter and hoppy, I suppose, in some sort of parallel universe. When you folks sober up sometime after the Orange Bowl, consider awarding Best Beer in Baltimore to suds other than Clipper whatever. Its swill is bound for the $3.99 shelf at Wells Discount Liquors faster than a Fastball follow-up record at the Sound Garden. Besides, it simply encourages this Yuengling nonsense to continue.
The Guys Who Tasted the Doppelbock respond: The Doppelbock we've had in the past has indeed been sweet and malty, which is why we were surprised when we got a growler earlier this month (strictly for journalistic purposes) and found it hoppier than usual (though not unpleasantly so). Turns out it was an old batch--this year's Doppel wasn't ready in time for our tasting. Maybe it was a heavily hopped sample; maybe it was past its prime; maybe we're just idiots. We kinda like Yuengling. In any event, we apologize if we misrepresented the fruits of DeGroen's brewers' labors.
Marc and Mindy
This is in response to a letter poor-mouthing WJHU (88.5 FM) talk-show host Marc Steiner (The Mail, Nov. 7.
Mr. Steiner and occasional substitute host Mindy Mintz are two of the most decent, knowledgeable, and astute talk-show hosts in the Baltimore listening area. I respect them greatly and am an avid supporter of the station.
Mr. Steiner and Ms. Mintz are in sharp contrast to the right-wing, junkyard-dog, reactionary troglodytes on the AM stations--Ron Smith, Tom Marr, Bruce Elliot, to name a few. There is also the insipid, tepid mediocrity of Chip Franklin, who sadly replaced the witty Allan Prell. Keep up the good work, Marc and Mindy.
Gerald Ben Shargel
Michael Anft, friends of mine will tell you I'm the first to shy away from phoniness and commercialization. But Jonathan Franzen was just plain rude to Oprah Winfrey (Books, Nov. 7), and I will tell you why.
Oprah is bringing reading back to the forefront with kids and adults. I was upset when Charles Osgood stated (on CBS News Sunday Morning) that Mr. Franzen changed his mind after a patron almost shied away from his book because he thought the books in Oprah's Book Club are for women. How sexist! I would like to think after recent events that Mr. Franzen would have said, "I'm glad people are enjoying my books and that my writings are not locked away in a warehouse collecting dust." I read a Sun article on authors who decide to write but then don't because the hopes of getting on Oprah's Book Club are so slim. Oprah brings attention to great writing. For me, it's about Oprah doing the work I don't have time to do--searching for great books!
Mr. Franzen, the next time a sexist makes a remark that makes you question your reason for writing, do what my mother taught me as a child: Consider the source of the remark and write on! I do applaud that Mr. Franzen stands for something when so many people don't! Oh, and hire a public-relations expert.
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