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Thompson Sub

Posted 9/22/2004

Good on ya, Brian Morton . . . finally writers are name-checking Hunter S. Thompson (Political Animal, Sept. 8). He’s the father of all these so-called alternative journalists and more relevant than ever now, in these times of political despair. He more or less predicted all the current problems the Democrats are experiencing: lack of leadership, wimpiness as virtue, defensiveness in the face of aggressive attacks, and so on, and so on.

Despite how addled and obtuse Bret McCabe may find him (Books, Aug. 11), HST is, how Ghostface Killah put it, “nigga’s fathers.” So recognize that and ape his style in the open, reflexively, instead of scribbling gibberish in the darkness cast by his monstrous shadow, hoping no one will notice the similarities when it goes to press.

Yeah, and let Anna Ditkoff have my contact info; she’s the only one worth her byline on yer whole damn staff . . . plus I’d really like to get to know her anus, er . . . I mean her highness.

Eli Weber

Editor Lee Gardner responds: Arts editor Blake de Pastino found Thompson’s latest book addled and obtuse, not Bret.

Anna Ditkoff responds: Yiighachh!

Enforce Existing Building Standards

The article by Edward Ericson Jr. on falling scaffolding and uninsured contractors (Mobtown Beat, Sept. 8) pointed out some longstanding problems with renovation and rehabilitation work being done in the city (not just in Reservoir Hill), but it may have left the impression that we need more licensing and more regulations. This is simply not true. What this city needs is effective enforcement of laws and regulations that are already on the books.

We have the benefit of more than 100 years’ experience, embodied in the building codes—the IBC, NEC, AFPA, etc.—to guide the work being done.

We have a building permits office that is well-organized and well-staffed.

We have both federal and city wage and hour laws. But we don’t have enough inspectors out there enforcing existing building standards.

I was once unfortunate enough to watch an improperly attached scaffold collapse, sending one man to his death (at the scene) and another to a hospital for many months. It was a sobering experience. But no amount of regulation is going to prevent it from ever happening again.

Perhaps Mr. Ericson could spend some time studying the inner workings of the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, studying both its purpose and its frequent failure to fulfill that purpose, before we set up more hurdles to getting the job done, getting it done right, and getting it done at a reasonable price.

To quote former President Johnson: “You do not examine legislation in light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.”

Mike Walsh
Mount Washington

Political Correction

I haven’t read City Paper in ages, mainly because I think the paper is a tad snooty and always seems to focus on the city’s ills, rather than anything good. City Paper writers never review movies or music, they just tell you how much they hated it.

A friend recently told me of Murder Ink, a new column in the paper that lists the city’s murders for the week. Intrigued, I checked it out and was quickly annoyed by the fact that the columnist seemed to be trying to make it a game to see how many times she could add the phrase “African-American male” in the smallest amount of space. Having family that lived 20 years in Africa and having black friends, I was surprised to see that the columnist choose to use the politically incorrect term “African-American.” I haven’t ever met an African person that didn’t hate that term—they don’t want to be associated with American blacks. My black friends think the term is funny because they prefer to simply be called American.

If City Paper or the columnist wanted to be politically correct, they should simply call the deceased person a male, rather then an African-American male. I suppose I have been annoyed by City Paper for years, but this was the last straw. How dare you try to be politically correct in a paper that also advertises she-male prostitutes and continues to publish weekly the Savage Love column, which people only read to be grossed out. Shame on you.

James Lutkenhouse

Feasts of Burden

When I see an arabber I don’t think, Gee, I’m so glad Baltimore is such a ‘quirky’ city, as filmmaker Scott Kecken alludes to in the City Paper’s Sept. 8 Q&A column. I think, What is so charming about a horse pulling a huge cart overburdened with heavy crates on a sweltering day in the middle of summer? I wonder, What is so lovely about an antiquated tradition that imprisons innocent, helpless animals to a life of toil day after day, year after year?

I can understand how this practice was needed 100 years ago when it wasn’t as easy obtaining produce. Scott Kecken falsely says the neighborhoods arabbers serve don’t have grocery stores. I see arabbers in Canton, Federal Hill, and Sowebo—all neighborhoods with major grocery stores and small convenience stores on practically every other block. Kecken also says that this is not the ideal situation for a horse, but they seem to be in pretty good condition. That is just sad to me. I don’t understand why anyone would think working a horse that looks like it is in pain makes Baltimore look good. If the Keckens want to make a statement about the corporatization of America, they should have made a documentary about Wal-Mart. Those horses have suffered enough for our petty desire to keep an outdated custom alive. To quote Gandhi: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Of course, the same can be said for our city.

Jane Kelly

Editor’s note: And since we forgot to mention it before, we’d like to belatedly welcome erstwhile freelance contributor Christina Royster-Hemby to the CP family as a staff writer.

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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