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Average White Letter

Posted 8/15/2001

As an Average White Guy who speaks truth that is beyond white power, I want to acknowledge that Larnell Custis Butler annoys the hell out of me (The Mail, Aug. 8).

Even someone who isn't an Afrocentric feminist can appreciate Wiley Hall III's column. Well done, Mr. Hall!

Brian Czarski

Broad-Brush Tom
With a ridiculously broad brush Tom Chalkley characterizes the response of local artists to Glenn McNatt's cursory dismissal of Artscape as the uncivil, bitchy howlings of an attack mob (Media Circus, Aug. 8). He derides those of us who wrote to The Sun to complain about McNatt's longstanding and persistent ignorance of the work of local artists and valorizes the admirably unrattled McNatt, citing a mere lack of passion for the arts as his most notable deficit. None of this goes to the heart of the problem. The core of the trouble with McNatt is this: When he deigns to condescend to local artists by including them in his coverage of the arts, he routinely misses the point of what he is supposed to be reviewing. He calls Artscape too crowded and curatorially unfocused. Of course it is; it's Artscape! How long has he lived here? In the few local shows about which McNatt has stooped to scribble, he pines for some preternatural fabled purity of vision and craft to which all art is supposed to aspire, conveniently packaged for him in ready-to-use portions. I'm sorry, but the real world just isn't like that.

Charles Fairchild

Tom Chalkley replies: Jeez, Chuck, did you actually read the column?

Renaissance Tom
I am sorry to see Tom Chalkley leave Media Circus. Aside from being an all-around great guy and one of Baltimore's true Renaissance men (full disclosure: He's a buddy of mine--but half of Baltimore could make that claim, much to his credit), Tom's the best local media critic to come along in a while. His fairness, insight, integrity, and wit gave the column a degree of credibility not seen elsewhere in this town--or, for that matter, in preceding Media Circus scribes. (In all fairness, as Tom would say, David Folkenflik has made great strides at The Sun, but that beat has its limitations.) So, Tom, I'll follow you to other City Paper pages as I have over the years, and Michael Anft, take heed and good luck.

Oh, and while I have the paper's attention, a note to the cover-story designer: Please make sure that callouts are legible. They're meant to be read, not just serve as interesting-looking graphic elements. (See the Aug. 8 Reservoir Hill piece and other recent cover stories.)

Miriam Tillman

Cover designer replies: What's a callout?

Tasty Reading
For some time now, I had been planning to write you in praise of Susan Fradkin and her funny, on-the-mark column, Belly Up. What better time to do so than after Danielle Wingfield, some bumpkin from Washington, D.C., of all places, takes a bunch of cheap and erroneous shots at her (The Mail, Aug. 1).

Ms. Fradkin, in my estimation, writes fair, funny, well-written, interesting, and informative columns about restaurants in the area. Frankly, I'm not all that interested in Popeyes, Burger King, or McDonald's. The vagaries of super-sizing and grease content have no appeal to me and, presumably, most other CP readers. I love Belly Up. It is the first thing that I turn to in the paper, and I hope Ms. Fradkin continues her excellent work. As for Ms. Wingfield . . . well, she can keep sliding in and out of the grease joints she seems to love.

Thomas Platt

Broken Wings
I am sick of Anna Ditkoff! Maybe someone should remind her that she is writing for City Paper, which means that all of metropolitan Baltimore is her audience and not just her indie/punk friends. I find her In the Wings contributions particularly biased and in poor taste. In the Wings is supposed to be about upcoming shows and events, not a music review and ass-kissing for whatever band is playing at the Ottobar or the Sidebar. Furthermore, what is the purpose of going on about how bad tribute bands and the Dave Matthews Band are (In the Wings, Aug. 8)? Why would she go out of her way to make readers feel bad about liking tribute bands? That's not the purpose of the In the Wings section. She devoted an entire paragraph to denouncing both tribute bands and the Dave Matthews Band, space she could have used to inform readers of more upcoming shows. Of course, these are just examples; check any given week and you'll find her ranting about a nonindie band and vice versa. The city and City Paper deserve better.

Pauline Huether

I accidentally came across Anna Ditkoff's pre-review of the Rolling Rock Town Fair (In the Wings, July 4). What the hell was she talking about? What a twit! I'm curious as to whether she actually attends the events that she slams, or does she just pass judgment by what she imagines the events to be? I'm writing to tell her that she missed the concert event of the summer. I know that she has to effect the "hipper than thou" attitude in order to prove how cool she is, thereby making her worthy of writing for such an esteemed newspaper as CP. But she was talking out her butthole on this one. I actually took the time and trouble to attend this event and have to report that it was fantastic. It seems as though in today's world of concert and music reviewing, it's not cool to like any band that people have actually heard of. Anybody that has released more than two CDs is just so passé, ya know. I guess that she would rather attend a local show featuring a local band that nobody has ever heard of in a local bar than something like Town Fair 2.0. Cool! News flash, Anna: Every band was good. Even the "ick-worthy" Staind and Incubus. People came from all across the country. Everybody had a great time. So, in other words, Anna, you really know not of what you write. Unless you're right and the 50-60,000 people who went to the festival are wrong. If only everybody had read your review before the concert we could have been spared a great time. I only wish that Baltimore could stage an event like this one. Fat chance.

David Rupkey

Crying All the Way to the Bank
Regarding the column "Money for Nothing" (Urban Rhythms, Aug. 8): Would Wiley Hall III have had a complaint if Clinton had been instrumental in the refund? Also, whose fault is it if someone purchases an SUV or designer sunglasses that they cannot afford? On the first issue, it appears Hall's reasoning stems from a continued hatred for President Bush based on the election outcome (cry, cry, he stole my milk and cookies--how many liberals will still be crying in 2004?). On the second issue, Hall still seems to believe Americans are not responsible for their financial decisions. Yet many of varied races and ethnic backgrounds have worked hard for their wealth (or, conversely, their laziness has led them to poverty). Perhaps before Hall writes his whining editorials he should look at the facts or think first. I wield a bucket to catch the tears every time I open City Paper.

Donald Holland

Editor's note: Sandy Asirvatham is on vacation. Underwhelmed will return in two weeks.

In other news: This week brings the launch of CPGo, our new and improved Web version of the Baltimore Weekly calendar. CPGo is searchable by both date and type of event, updated daily, and includes extra critics' choices and other stuff not available in the print edition. Check it out at In the coming months look for additional online guides to cultural, culinary, and community activities as we continue in our effort to attract "eyeballs," make our Web site "sticky," maybe even turn a "profit."

Oh, and we made some changes in the paper too. Hope you like our new direction.

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