Letters to the Editor 

Detroit has money to burn?

Re: Lisa Collins’ report on the dire finances of the city of Detroit (“Detroit faces massive layoffs in 2005,” Metro Times, Dec. 22, 2004), it would help if the city shut down its trash incinerator located at I-75 and I-94. As the largest incinerator in the United States, it not only is a major source of pollution and a threat to human health and the environment, but it is also depleting Detroit’s coffers. Detroit pays about $76 million per year to dispose of approximately 550,000 tons of waste, most of which is burned. This works out to about $137 per ton, while the Canadians are paying approximately $11 per ton at local landfills. Detroit should give back the incinerator to its owners Philip Morris, recycle all it can and landfill the rest. —Ed McArdle, Melvindale, ecoed@netzero.com


Religion, reason and riches

I enjoyed reading Keith Owens’ article “When not thinking is fundamental” (Metro Times, Dec. 15, 2004). My mother is like your ex-girlfriend’s brother-in-law. She is constantly telling me how she is praying for my salvation and doesn’t want me to go to hell. She seriously worries, to the detriment of her own health, I believe, about me not being “saved.” I love her and everything, but it just seems so ridiculous to me that I can hardly keep from laughing. They all seem like brainwashed cult members that can’t listen to reason. I have talked and talked and made every logical point under the sun, but everything is easily explained in her mind. Her counter to every argument is “the Bible warns us about the scientists trying to explain everything.” Or, “you just have to have faith” (no proof necessary — how convenient). The people who wrote the Bible sure did think of everything.

I don’t have a problem with religion in general, but some of them seem to have become like a big pyramid scam. When I visited my mom in Colorado (home of Focus on the Family), I could not believe the marketing being done by churches. There were huge church-supply “super-centers” with giant billboards everywhere. So many of the churches I saw were the size of shopping malls. It is insane. It seems so superficial. It’s just a big money-making industry now, and they’re suckering in so many that can’t afford to give anything, much less a tenth of their earnings, to a church. And the churches do stress that part. Believe me. I’ve seen my mom’s checkbook and she’s giving way more than she can afford. On top of it, the churches operate tax-free. This can’t be what God intended. It’s just a bunch of greedy, fat-cat hucksters getting rich off people’s desperation and hopelessness, and laughing all the way to the bank. In my opinion, the people running these mega-churches are criminals. —Sheri Renaud, Roseville, shemiren@comcast.net


What about Boston?

Re: Keith Owens’ “We’re all in this brawl together” (Metro Times, Dec. 1, 2004), the media once again got it all wrong. They blame Detroit when Detroit is not to blame. The brawl occurred in Auburn Hills, 40 or so miles from Detroit. Two, Indiana players are seen brawling, not Pistons. Three, how many of the brawling fans were from Detroit? (And even if some were, should a few fans reflect an entire city)?

A few months ago, after the World Series, fans in Boston rioted, threw bottles, fought police, set cars on fire — and a woman was killed! You don’t seem to recall this recent incident. While it was much worse than the “Palace Brawl,” it didn’t get the same attention, nor did many say Boston’s image would be hurt.

Well, the rioters were white and so the riot didn’t get the same attention.

And also, if you do a story attacking Detroit, you can give white out-of-town readers and viewers a sense of superiority. Never mind getting the facts straight. Producing a racist sense of superiority sells papers and boosts ratings. It is very difficult to locate accurate television or print journalism coverage concerning this incident.

Everyone wants to sell that glorious feeling of superiority and they ignore the truth. The Associated Press described it as “one of the ugliest brawls in U.S. sports history.” Even our local television and newspapers joined in.

But when Ben Wallace pushed back, everything was soon under control with the Pistons. So what is the justification for printing that Detroit’s image is hurt by this incident? It was not correct to blame Detroit for the brawl or to downplay much worse incidents. No wonder a survey finds that the media are not trusted. —Demetrius Sherman, Detroit


What’s the beef?

Our family had reservations at Pampas the same night that Jane Slaughter’s article came out (“Sounds like pompous,” Metro Times, Dec. 29, 2004). The article was so negative that I almost suggested that we cancel.

I am happy that we did not. Our experience was totally different from hers. We all thought that the salad bar was exceptional, with wonderful veggies, including terrific asparagus, hearts of palm, grilled leeks, marinated mushrooms and perfect smoked salmon, to just name a few items. Also there was a wonderful Brazilian vinaigrette (sort of a Brazilian pico de gallo) that we had the waiter bring in a bowl to the table to accompany some of the meats.

When we sat down I did mention to our waiter James (who was excellent) that we just read the Metro Times review and were concerned that the meats would be salty and dry. He asked us how we each like our meats done and said he would be sure that we got what we asked for. I like my meats medium rare, my nephew likes his well done, and everyone else is somewhere in between. We all were happy with how our meats arrived. My niece, who will eat chicken and fish but not other meats, was very happy with the meal as well, if it was a bit pricey. She went back to the salad bar a few times and also enjoyed the chicken.

This type of restaurant is unique. They are trying to make it a fun, relaxed evening — nothing pompous about it. You do have to show some self-control, since there are so many choices and they try so hard to please. Definitely Atkins-friendly, South Beach-friendly and, be warned, overeating-friendly. Ms. Slaughter was right that this restaurant is not vegetarian-oriented. Also, if you are going to eat at an upscale restaurant in Birmingham, expect to see fur coats.

One more thing, even though they do not have Argentinian or Brazilian beers, they do have a very nice short beer list that includes beers from not only excellent domestic breweries but also a sampling from England, Germany and Belgium. It does make me wonder what Ms. Slaughter was complaining about. —Steve Reisig, Sylvan Lake


The center cannot hold

Re: “The city and the suburbs — again” (Metro Times, Dec. 15, 2004), great article, Jack. I was a longtime resident of the city, and saw firsthand the many problems and the failures of the political leaders (and voters) to address them. Just look at the City Council — a bunch of idiots. Look at the mayor — enough said. Kilpatrick came in with so much potential and such high hopes only to become yet another small-minded big-city mayor. The city of Detroit lacks vision and leaders willing to take the risks necessary to see their vision through.

On the national level, can’t the same be said for the Dems in general? Kerry lost because he had no vision nor did he have passion. There was no inspiration, there was no “here is a better vision for America.” All we got was, ”I’m gonna be better than Bush as a tough guy.” Bush is an asshole and sucks beyond belief as a president, but he did say what he believed and he supported his own belief structure — however morally corrupt it may be. Kerry was afraid to be himself, the same way Gore was.

I voted for Nader in 2000 simply because Gore did not support any of his own true convictions. For God’s sake, he could have brought his freakin’ book on the environment to the debate, held it up and said, “You’re right. I care deeply about the environment, and I will do my all to protect it.” Instead we got some lukewarm statements and as much distance as possible from anything close to liberal.

Damn it, Jack, aren’t there people other than Republicans and conservatives that have true convictions anymore? The world is feeling pretty lonely right about now. —Brendan Nolan, Royal Oak

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