Letters to the Editor 

Gaga a-go-go, Figment responds and more

Thoughtful defense

Re: "In defense of Gaga" (June 8), I'm not a Lady Gaga fan. I can appreciate what she represents, and don't hate her, but I am not part of that musical demographic. But it was gratifying to see a publication devote space to an old-fashioned critical essay, with perspective, in an age of Twitter journalism. Bill Holdship's essay stands as an excellent counterpoint to Camille Paglia's negative Lady Gaga essay in the London Sunday Times magazine last winter. —Morira Morden, Santa Monica, Calif.


You gotta be kidding

Not being familiar with Lady Gaga (seriously — I love music but don't watch much TV or listen to what is popular in music a whole lot), I launched into Bill Holdship's cover story on Lady Gaga with great interest. I have no preconceived notions about Gaga; I was a captive audience in a hospital waiting room once when, on the television screens prominently placed all over the room, she was displayed as a guest on a daytime talk show, and I thought she seemed like a junkie. On the other hand, I was touched when I read in a magazine interview that she is not at all materialistic (she said the only big ticket items she has spent her money on were for her parents, including an operation for her father). So I approached Mr. Holdship's article with an open mind, wanting to know more about Gaga and why she is so popular. What I found was a piece that was not at all objective. Mr. Holdship did little but rail against the Gaga "haters." I didn't realize so many millions of folks hated Gaga! Why would anyone hate her? Either you like her, or you don't. Simple as that. No? By the time I finished the article, I concluded that Mr. Holdship had written the entire article with his tongue firmly in cheek, and that he is one of the Gaga haters himself. Hilarious! I mean, comparing Gaga to such awful artists as ABBA, Meatloaf, Queen, etc. Way to go, Bill — you had me there for a minute! But if Bill is indeed serious about Gaga's greatness, I can't imagine that anyone who was undecided before reading his article would be swayed by it in the least. —Ken Sauter, Royal Oak


Hatred isn't intolerance

In his recent book, 33 Revolutions per Minute, author Dorian Lynskey insinuates that anyone that thought that "Disco Sucks," back in the late '70s, was a racist homophobe. As though people simply weren't sick of hearing it constantly, as well as annoyed by the fact that some of their favorite rock groups, such as the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart, recorded Disco songs. I'd wager that the vast majority of people back then, both among disco's supporters as well as its detractors, were totally unaware of any connections between black or gay subcultures and disco music; certainly neither were portrayed in Saturday Night Fever.

In his article on Lady Gaga, Bill Holdship totters on making the same argument. Ms. Gaga writes songs in defense of immigration and gay rights; therefore, anyone who doesn't like her must be against these as well. Those who don't share Mr. Holdship's enthusiasm for Lady Gaga are derided as "haters." Personally, I wouldn't waste the energy. I feel that her ridiculous costumes are attention-seeking devices, and that her music is bereft of any original ideas.

But it's cool: He can spend his summer listening to what, seemingly, everybody else is listening to. Which prompts the question: Why does it need defending? Will he not be satisfied until everyone else conforms to his musical tastes? Is there no room for dissent? I'll spend my summer watching what a relative few others will: The documentary of the 2004 Le Tigre world tour, Who Put The Bomp. If that makes me, in his eyes, a "hater," well, so be it. —Don Handy, Mount Clemens


Defending Figment

I am the project lead for Figment-Detroit and I just read your piece "Public offense" (June 8). I must admit that I am taken aback by some of the points you presented. There are a few one-sided and false comments printed in your article regarding Figment, and I wish you had contacted me for verification.

I personally met with the producers of Access Art in April to discuss a possible alliance, but no follow-up has ever been asked of us. In my view, there was never a "turf war" for Belle Isle. Instead, I think the island should welcome all collaborative efforts that benefit the city and its people. I see Belle Isle as an arts destination of 982 acres in Detroit.

I understand that there are others who've been creating events there, but it's a public place, and a big one at that. Surely it's big enough for everyone.

Figment-Detroit is about participation, engagement and the experience of art, which by nature involves collaboration and community too. Yes: It did start in New York, but some of the other facts are incorrect. This project is not about outside art, it is all about what Detroiters make it. It is organized and run by Detroiters with extensive histories of bringing art to the city in a variety of forms. Collectively the curators, who are artists, have more than 100 years of experience in Detroit arts.

Through art, Figment seeks to level the playing field between people of all backgrounds and build community. It encourages the idea that we are all artists and makes art more approachable, moving it from white walls to a place where it can come to life by the people creating it and participants engaging in it. It is not about politics or personal egos.

Figment has collaborated with hundreds of artists and cultural organizations of all sizes in Boston, New York, and Jackson — and is looking for collaborators in Detroit. —Danielle "Doxie" Kaltz, Detroit


Suburban lament

While I seldom find myself agreeing with Jack Lessenberry, I have to say that he nailed it this time with "Cost of corruption" (June 1). Sadly, I doubt that the people that you tried to reach are listening, and it's always going to be "them vs. us" when it comes to the citizens' thinking in Detroit. Which is why I very seldom go south of Eight Mile Road in the decades since I stopped working there. —Frank Cizek, Troy


Slippery slope

This is what bothers me about Dr. Kevorkian: Someone says (or thinks) he's not ready to die yet.

"But, Dad: Susan has four years of medical school ahead and Jim wants to start his own business." So Dad goes ahead and asks for something he isn't ready for yet. It is true, medical bills in the final months of life are horrendous; but where does it end? Soon, anyone who is not a healthy 25-year-old will be at risk. —John Mills, Detroit


The ABCs of K

I read with interest Jack Lessenberry's article, "The meaning of Dr. K." I give Dr. Kevorkian credit for getting us to think about what most people hate to consider — death. If it weren't for him, people might not plan for death as meticulously as we do for life. It helps explain why it is so common now for people to have an advance health care directive, also known as living will, personal directive, advance directive, or advance decision, which are instructions given by individuals specifying what actions should be taken for their health in the event that they are no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity, and appoints a person to make such decisions on their behalf.

However, I don't like the idea of being obsessed with death or using death as a solution to all of our problems. Life is a gift and should be valued as such, and should not be terminated unless somebody is terminally ill. According to a report by the Detroit Free Press, 60 percent of the patients who committed suicide with Kevorkian's help were not terminally ill. In his view, a patient did not have to be terminally ill to be assisted in committing suicide, but did need to be suffering. To me, that's unacceptable, —Pradeep Srivastava, Detroit


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