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Shut Up Already

Posted 6/20/2001

Recognizing that the issue of noise pollution has affected my life deeply since childhood, I was moved by Andrew Reiner's article "Quiet, Please" (June 13).

I am 38 years old, and noise has played a major role in my life, impacting my sleep, grades, and mental health from the seventh grade all the way through college, and to the present day. I just have not figured out how to get the peace and quiet I need with a poverty-level income.

When I was 12, my parents lost their home and we moved into a "family" apartment building. We were on the second floor, and my parents kept the apartment until I was 22 years old. Between the extreme noise from next-door neighbors, neighbors below, and neighbors above and the outside noise, I developed an ongoing case of severe sleep deprivation. By the seventh grade, I was receiving D's in all my classes. These low grades continued for the next four years. Additionally, I became suicidally depressed.

From age 18 to 22 (still in that apartment), I couldn't keep jobs, which I also largely attribute to sleep deprivation. Since moving out of my folks' house, I have only been able to afford city residences in low-income units or noisy neighborhoods, which has led to ongoing illness and a continued inability to keep a job.

I often think about how badly I want to flee to the county or country. In order to do this, I would have to be able to afford a good car (which takes an adequate income--which takes proper sleep). Maybe I should write a dissertation on this subject some time. Between the sirens and the motorcycles and the excessive noise in many workplaces, it's no wonder the poorest of Baltimore's poor are deadening their senses with drugs of all sorts.

I don't know the answer to a peaceful, quiet, and healthy life, but I plan to devote lots more time figuring it out! Thank you for bringing this critically important topic to the public's attention!

Elana Duchenne

Patton's Defense
I was disappointed in Joe MacLeod's article on Dale Patton (No Cover, June 6). I felt as though I was reading a caricature of Dale, not an insightful farewell. Mr. MacLeod somehow overlooked Dale's most defining characteristic: his huge heart. Dale may not have been the classiest dresser or the least-hyper individual, as Mr. MacLeod illustrates, but Dale was very kind. He cared deeply for those around him and was always concerned about their problems, even when dealing with his own. Sure, I've seen him roll his eyes in disapproval when hearing stories about parties or late-night drinking, but he would always listen. He was truly interested in the lives of his friends and offered advice and love. He will be missed by many.

Traci Bentz

Swan Song
I found the self-serving tone of Sandy Asirvatham's farewell to Susannah McCorkle an outrage (Underwhelmed, June 6). Too bad, and too sad, if Ms Asirvatham had difficulty reconciling her admiration for McCorkle with McCorkle's inability to go on living. How dare she be so judgmental of her choice of exit. Even more outrageous, in speaking of McCorkle's depression, Ms. Asirvatham chose not to include the fact that McCorkle was a cancer patient. Surely in judging one's reason for suicide--as if one could--this must be included in the mix. One can never know another's demons.

Under the guise of admiration, Ms. Asirvatham has shown an incredible lack of compassion for the life of an artist whose work brought joy to many. Susannah McCorkle's contributions have not been diminished by her choice of finale.

Georgia Parker

Sandy Asirvatham responds: I don't think pondering someone's suicide is the same as judging them for the actions. As for neglecting to mention cancer, it was a lapse on my part, not an active choice to hide information. The news reports I've seen have only glancingly mentioned McCorkle's previous fight with breast cancer; I've seen no public indication that she was suffering a remission or that cancer played any part in her decision--although her loved ones may know different.

More Sensitive Than Thou
The main message I got from Matt Barham's response to Lisa Hurka Covington's letter addressing the fiction-and-poetry-contest ad is that Matt is a hell of a lot more sensitive about the subject of suicidal artists than Lisa is (The Mail, June 6, and May 30). Cool your jets, Matt--Lisa was simply expressing an opinion. It's one I don't share but it's not going to send me into hysterics as it has apparently sent you. What's wrong with "young people under the age of 24"? That is Lisa's definition of "young people" and helps me understand who and how many people she includes in that category. That's opposed to "young people under the age of 16" or whatever other definition of "young people" exists. I don't think that makes Lisa an idiot.

Coleen A. Hanna

Correction: The last few lines of last week's Urban Rhythms column were accidentally cut off. The final paragraph should have read in full:

"Out of the night that covers us, black from the Pit from pole to pole, we are joined together--mad-dog terrorist and mad-dog executioners. We deserve one another. As long as the death penalty remains on our books, we are very much like him in our arrogance."

The complete column can be read here.

Editor's note: Will the bomb bring us together? City Paper is looking for folks who still have vestiges of Cold War-era fallout shelters in their basements or backyards. Were you ready to duck 'n' cover during those dark days? If you have such history in your house, please call Brennen Jensen at (410) 523-2300, ext. 234.

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