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Posted 2/25/2004

Congratulations on the hat trick of journalism. The Feb. 11 City Paper was the perfect game of publishing. Never have I experienced such a high quality of writing and reporting.

Let me start with The Mail. The dialogue begun on Jan. 28 (The Nose) and continued with the response from the director of public affairs of the Baltimore Police Department was precious. This is the type of communication that this medium was made for. Thanks for the last word from writer Terrie Snyder, by the way.

All of the columns at the front end were top notch. While I loved disagreeing with Brian Morton's uninformed opinion of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, I must say that my hat is truly off to Russ Smith. His take on the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident was not really right wing or left wing. It was just the truth. You don't know how good that made me feel.

I could say so much more about quite a few other features, like your imaginative piece on the city's schools and Bob Massey's spiritually intoxicating contemplation of the iPod revolution. But I do not want to violate the maximum word limit.

Thank you again for showing us why City Paper is an undiscovered treasure of Baltimore, and why Baltimore is an undiscovered treasure of the good ol' U.S of A.

Darryl Lorick

Board Walk

Tom Chalkley's illustrative tale in the Feb. 11 issue gave a good overview of the public school situation in Baltimore ("Welcome to the Hall of Blame," Feb. 11).

How do concerned Baltimore residents force the state to adequately fund public school education and ensure that the School Board is properly spending its budget? The City Wide Coalition's solution to transform the politically appointed School Board into a democratically determined one would make sure Baltimore schools were well-managed and well-funded. Those groups most concerned with public education--parents, teachers, students, principals, maintenance personnel, etc. --would elect a member or members from within their ranks to the School Board. Such a democratic board would eliminate the current board's dependency on politicians who serve only corporate interests.

Michael Melick

Wheels of Misfortune

I am writing in response to your article "Vehicle for Change" (Mobtown Beat, Feb. 11).

As a citizen taxpayer and a former chief of police, I find this act, coupled with other decisions made by this police commissioner, to be troubling.

Here we have a senior officer trying to do his job and what he believed was the right thing, only to be terminated. This officer's career was ended just for doing what he has been paid to do and at the same time saving the department and eventually us taxpayers some money. What was this administration thinking? How dare he do something this thoughtful, we must tax and tax and tax! When will this department and others in government understand that bigger isn't always better?

While our so-called officials line their pockets with special-interest money, one would think they would welcome a savings. This is not the case. Is there anyone in government who really cares about our schools, safety, and our communities--other than around election time? This selfish act of injustice brings to mind additional thoughts: Why does our government seem to have a fascination with New York law enforcement? Have we not learned from the previous commissioner? I do realize that there are very fine officers in the New York City Police Department. But I do believe that there may be a few within the ranks of the Baltimore Police Department as well. From what I have gathered, these individuals believe that they are above the law while the administration blindly accepts whatever they suggest and do. Again, tax, tax, and more tax.

I have been informed that morale is at an all-time low in this department and that this current commissioner believes in "Do as I say." I have been told that good leaders surround themselves with others who have the same interests and goals. Note: I did not say "yes" people.

It appears that again the Good Ol' Boy Network is again rearing its ugly head. This commissioner promotes officers for poor or substandard performance and terminates those who stand up to either him or what is right.

Enough is enough. Why are our rights, safety, and education being sacrificed? It is done to satisfy the egos of a few individuals. Again, as a former chief of police, I am outraged. The officer discussed in the article should be commended for his cost-saving measures.

Steven Jones

Talk About the Passion

I find it remarkable that Brian Morton can write a column condemning a film that he has not even seen (Political Animal, Feb 11). Perhaps the Political Animal is the one trolling for an audience with content that should not be "condoned"--even when it's free.

John Troll

Gov. and Take

Brian Morton writes in the Feb. 4 Political Animal column, "Like the irrational fears the South once had about integration, the modern conservative looks upon the idea of raising taxes the same way his forebears [emphasis added] 50 years ago looked upon drinking from that 'other' water fountain."

The way I read this, Morton seems to think that modern conservatives are all descendants of white KKK, slave-owning bigots. My parents got here in 1949, I'm not white, I'm not in the KKK, I'm not a slave owner, I'm not a bigot, and I am a modern conservative.

Go ahead, Mr. Morton. Keep calling us names. Keep on trying the politics of racial division while we keep winning elections.

By the way, it was big government that legalized slave owning in the United States, a Nazi big government that started World War II, and a big Communist government that yanked my grandfather out of the physics department and put him to work on a farm.

It is the U.S. Constitution that limits the size and scope of the government that makes the United States a great place to live.

Mr. Morton, it is not the South that had irrational fears of integration. It is you who have an irrational fear of conservatives. Instead, you should join conservatives to keep the U.S. government small.

Tom Hwang

Mr. Write Wrong

I don't understand how it is that someone with so little to say can be published so frequently. Your Mr. Wrong column is so horrifyingly idiotic that I have to question whether you find it humorous or if you are really as pompous and obnoxious as you pretend to be. If you think it is funny, really, it isn't. All you are doing is making people who are really ignorant and obnoxious think that it is OK to be that way, and not only is it OK to be that way, but you can get published for it! Yeah, I know that's how Howard Stern and Dennis Miller and all these other loudmouthed fast talkers who think they have something to say got to be famous, but maybe you should consider writing a column where you actually convey something other than the fact that you don't have anything to say, are totally incapable of using the English language to convey it, and that being self-centered and pompous is an acceptable way to be. Just a suggestion.

Signed: An angered writer who is mad because she could write a much better column than you but she doesn't have one.

Rebecca Schwartz

Tech Yes

I'm sorry, but I really can't help but respond to the person who wrote the letter (The Mail, Feb. 18) commenting on Bob Massey's article concerning the decline of the album (Music, Feb. 11). Now I don't completely see a decline of the album. I love concept albums, such as those by Nine Inch Nails that are made to be heard as albums. What I am in agreement with is the medium on which that album is heard. Being in the technology field as well as a huge music lover, I must say these technology-will-be-the-end-of-us naysayers really get to my last straw quick. Technology is the reason that we have access to all of the music that we do today, with the ease with which we listen to it.

As for the hi-fidelity argument . . . first of all, I would never say that just because you listen to music on headphones instead of in a perfectly acoustic room with 5.1 surround sound you aren't a fan of music. On the contrary, I would say that you are even more of a fan of music. I would much rather listen to music on an iPod (which I don't own, but wish I did) than not at all. I am sorry if you are such an elitist that you can't see the logic in that, but what I say to you is: There is hope . . . get in your car . . . there's an Apple store in Towson (which I have never been to, I swear). The fact is, I am sitting in my office right now, which last I checked wasn't THX certified, listening to Sun Kil Moon off of my laptop over Internet radio (KEXP out of Seattle rocks). Last I checked, I would have never been able to do that about six years ago. So thank you technology.

And on one last note, your comment, "First, where in this Brave New World manifesto does Massey solve the problem of how the music makers are supposed to earn a buck? He wants to get paid for his music but doesn't want to support an 'industry' that might allow this to happen." You're missing the point. If you don't have to make albums and distribute them, you don't need the industry nearly as much, and the industry knows this. Why do you think they hate it so much? All you need the label for is for producing the album, marketing it, promoting it, and kissing Clear Channel's a** to play it.

Ryan Detter

Editor's note: Be sure to check out EAT, CP's annual dining guide, a copy of which should be tucked inside the paper you're reading. And while you're checking it out, please be advised that although the listings feature Downtown Southern Blues on Howard Street, the restaurant has closed since EAT went to press. R.I.P.

Address letters to The Mail, City Paper, 812 Park Ave., Baltimore, MD 21201; fax: (410) 523-0138; e-mail: Only letters that address material published in or policies of CP, are no more than 500 words long, and include the writer's name, address, and daytime phone number will be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

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