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Crack the List

Posted 7/18/2001

Regarding the list of local musicians in your music issue ("Local Heroes," July 11), has our memory gotten too short, are the writers and readers that young, or are the criteria too strict? Maybe I'm mistaken in thinking that Crack the Sky and Little Feat are Baltimore bands. (I won't even get into the Frank Zappa issue.) Admittedly, not all members are born and bred Baltimoreans, but very few bands would completely meet those restrictions. I'm pretty sure that Crack should be considered a B'more band, yet there was no mention by any of the musicians in the "Local Heroes" article. Maybe if you had asked for more than one, they would have made it. These musicians' memories went all the way back to the late '80s. Whew!

Anyway, all praise to the local, growing music scene. Long may it thrive in all its formations. I just had to show some appreciation for my roots. Now I'll grab my cane and my Maalox and take my ass back to the Barcalounger where I'll crank up my system and let Rick and John and Lowell and Paul rock my eardrums. And if I'm wrong about them being from B'more, I'll blame it all on the Alzheimer's.

John Friesner
Stewartstown, Pa.

What Becomes a Legend Most?
Regarding your recent spate of Cal Ripken bashing (Urban Rhythms, June 27): I've figured out why Cal can't be a sports hero. He's not addicted to or recovering from crack/smack/speed/booze, steroids, or wife-bashing. He hasn't been accused of rape, assault, or murder. He hasn't been busted with a gun in his limo. He doesn't hang out with sleazeballs. He hasn't bragged about "shagging" 1,000 women. He hasn't choked a coach or gone after anybody with a baseball bat. He can string more than two intelligible sentences together without saying "motherfucker."

He is consistent, kind, self-effacing, hard working, very charitable, and has a sense of humor. Lastly, those baby-blue eyes are a dead giveaway. C'mon, let's give our kids a real man, a real rock-'em, sock-'em hero to look up to!

Michael S. Eckenrode
Baltimore

Cool for Cats
I am an ex-Annapolitan living in London who reads City Paper online every week for my much-needed dose of Maryland. I have always had a deep admiration for Wiley Hall III, but after this week's column on Cats & Dogs (Urban Rhythms, July 11), I think I just might have to gush. Mr. Hall, we all know you normally use your column to point out common, if usually understated, truths. But I think this piece might just be the most wonderful thing you've ever written. I'm a cat person, so I'm bound to agree. It might not be the most pressing concern you've ever addressed in your column, but it surely did hit home, even if I'm 4,000 miles away from mine.

Sarah Manvel
London

Journal Ease
I was glad to see Michael Anft's story "Getting the Word Out?" on local literary journals (Books, July 4). Through the years, Anft has kept good track of the local literary scene. Like the small-press editors he writes about, he's been faithful to what often seems like a lost cause.

To me, the reason for small press' woes is simple: It's the so-called poets who don't care about poetry. We tell ourselves that it's the public that doesn't appreciate good writing, and that's why there's no market. That's simply not true; Lucille Clifton reads to rooms that are packed to capacity. Publishers do not have to ask Anthony Hecht to stuff envelopes.

A few local poets care deeply about poetry, and it shows in their work. But why is it so hard to find new stuff by these few, including David Beaudouin, Richard Sober, or Eleanor Lewis? Perhaps, like the small-press editors, they are discouraged by the tidal wave of bad poetry around.

Why is it that so many folks sending their works to journals have never heard of nationally published and acclaimed locals like Joe Harrison, Matt Brenneman, or Greg Williamson? These poets' work shows what you can do if you are just bug-nuts talented, and then work, practice, study, and read like mad. These poets are not just lucky--they are good. Maybe even great.

Good art requires talent and hard work, and, unfortunately--heartbreakingly--most of us who write poems don't have it or won't do it. But we try and get published anyway, because we mistakenly think our name is more important than poetry itself.

That's why it's kind of unfair to hound the public to "support" small-press poetry. Readers get sick of trying to pick a diamond or two from a mound of broken glass--and having to pay for the experience. When the poetry is good enough, eventually it will get read and respected.

When more poets themselves start to care about poetry--really and truly care--we will understand the hard fact that not everyone is talented, and a few of us will have the courage to sit down. Or we will try harder to do the most with what talent we have. We will buy, read, and study the work of poets who are much better than we are and try to get closer to making something of beauty and value. Real poets are the servants of poetry; it's not the other way around.

Jenny Keith
Baltimore

Thanks for continuing to cover regional arts! We have an important addition to Michael Anft's excellent piece on local literary journals. Link: A Critical Journal on the Arts in Baltimore and the World has been in print for five years now and is still going strong.

Besides publishing essays, humor, visual folios, biography, and the occasional CD, Link prints poetry and short fiction. Past literary contributors include Blaster Al Ackerman, Rafael Alvarez, Sandie Castle, David Franks, Karl Woelz, and Jennifer Grow.

Mr. Anft is right. It is challenging publishing a journal--"beneath the radar of big-time publishing houses and national magazines" are cadres of devoted volunteers sharing not only writing credits but also the more thankless jobs of distribution, sales, and production. Link has been extremely lucky in this regard: Thanks to our staff, we currently publish twice yearly, and Link's sixth issue is now on sale at Amazon.com, the Baltimore Museum of Art bookstore, Normal's Books and Records, and select Tower stores around the country. And with the turnover in personnel that is natural to this genre, Link is always looking for more talent in this area.

Artists and writers interested in contributing to Link, or anyone who wants to help keep Baltimore Link-ed in other ways, should contact us at editors@baltolink.org, www.baltolink.org, or call us at (410) 327-4001.

Elizabeth Donovan
Publicist, Link

Baltimore

Simply Divine
I debated on whether to respond the various letters that have appeared regarding my performance in the show Divine (The Mail, June 27, July 4, and July 11). I decided I should, based on two issues. The first is the spelling of my name. Future letter writers and current and future producers, please take note: My name is spelled Schapiro, not Shapiro.

The second issue: Steve Yeager's comments. I have great respect for Mr. Yeager and his work and, consequently, for his opinion. I did not approach Mr. Yeager. I did watch Divine Trash to prepare for the role, but I had no idea he was there or what he looked like. Mr. Yeager approached me while I was talking to a large group of friends. He explained his reason for being there, the phone call from Divine's mother, Frances Milstead, and proceeded to express his opinions. These opinions went beyond those stated in the paper. All were positive.

I am hoping, as I expressed to Mr. Yeager in a personal note, that we will have the opportunity to discuss my portrayal of Divine further as we prepare for the full-length version of the show. My goal is to represent Glenn Milstead in the most positive way possible, the way he would want to be represented. This was a workshop production. It is in no way a finished product. Though the workshop production is over, there is a CD available containing all five songs from the show. If you would like a copy, please send a check or money order for $15 to 519 W. 40th St., Baltimore, MD 21211. Please include your name and return address.

For those of you who would like to sample my acting ability for yourselves, I am currently performing the lead role in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Cockpit in Court Theatre at Essex Community College through July 22.

David Schapiro
Baltimore

Editor's note: Led by art director Joe MacLeod, City Paper staffers and contributors took home four prizes in the Alternative Newsweekly Awards, presented July 12 by the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (AAN) at its 2001 convention in New Orleans. The competition honors work done last year by the more than 100 AAN member papers in the United States and Canada.

MacLeod won first place in the editorial-layout category for papers with circulation above 54,000 for his design of the Oct. 25 feature "Ooh, Scary". Also honored were contributing writer Michael Anft, who won third place in the arts-criticism category for his book reviews; contributing artist Chuck Shacochis, third place in illustration for the cover of the Aug. 9 issue ("High Life"); and contributing photographer Christopher Myers, honorable mention in photojournalism for his Sept. 6 photo essay "Shooting Baltimore".

In addition, Ruben Bolling's comic strip, Tom the Dancing Bug, which runs in CP and many other alternative weeklies, won honorable mention in the cartoon category.

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