Letters to the Editor 

That’s cold, Jack

There’s obviously something personal when it comes to a Lessenberry column about the Free Press. I never really had a problem with that. What offends me to no end about his Aug. 10 column “Read All About It” is the line about the “smug little people who now work at the Freep and swore they would never work for Gannett.”

Hey, Jack: Do you think we knew this was coming? Do you realize that we have families? Do you realize that many of us are full of anxiety right now? I would ask if you care, but I know the answer. —Ben Schmitt, reporter, Detroit Free Press, Detroit, schmitt@freepress.com


Ads and admissions

The point of the Free Press-News shuffle was to grab a monopoly in print advertising. Gannett wants to be in a position to jack up ad rates for businesses and make it stick (as they do most places). Consumers are going to pay for the higher rates. In other words, we are going to pay when we shop. It’s just like a tax increase.

The Justice Department could intervene but it’s not likely to. Antitrust enforcement is pretty much dead in this Republican era. If the government ignored it when Gannett bought the former Observer & Eccentric newspapers a few months ago, it isn’t going to wake up now.

The U.S. communications industry is right up there with the pharmaceutical companies when it comes to monopoly. Both industries have extremely large profit margins. And the Bush administration wants them to make bigger profits, not smaller. That was the point of the proposed changes in Federal Communication Commission regulations that the Bush administration has been pushing. Gannett wants to own the television stations as well as the newspapers so it can — ahem — better serve the advertisers. And the Bush administration wants to help Gannett do it.

By giving up on Detroit, Knight Ridder did implicitly admit that the newspaper chains’ strategy of forcing a strike in 1995, if not the joint operating agreement itself, was a fiasco.

I value that admission. —Alan Forsyth, Toledo, Ohio


Reviewer off the mark

Re: Marsha Miro’s review of Rebecca Savage and Greg Kowalski’s book, Art Deco in Detroit (“Picture imperfect,” Metro Times, July 6), her point that Detroit’s art deco heritage deserves a slick, scholarly book is well taken. Unfortunately, she appears to be blaming this book for not being the definitive study of art deco architecture in Detroit. Nowhere in the introduction does the book imply that that is its intention. The introduction states quite clearly that the book’s goals are to describe art deco and to highlight the significance of Detroit’s buildings. I believe that these goals are successfully met. Arcadia Publications has published a great number of books about America’s past in a series entitled “Images of America.” This series has a strict format including the use of many photographs in a 128-page book. Given these guidelines, the authors have done an excellent job of showing off the wonderful array of architecture in Detroit utilizing professional images as well as charming amateur snapshots. The result is an informative and affordable summary of our Detroit heritage.

Unlike Marsha Miro, I found this book to be timely and satisfying. —Armando Delicato, Beverly Hills, acdelic@aol.com


When verse is free

Upon reading Rob Keast’s article on amateur poetry (“Poetry’s beer leagues,” Metro Times, Aug. 10), I felt immediately compelled to express my thanks for a really lucid, thoughtful, genuine piece. I dare say I’ve been heart-warmed (which is a thing I very rarely say).

I’m about to graduate from a private liberal arts college with a degree in creative writing. I’ve ached my way through lots of workshops, I’ve conferenced with a few big-name poets, I’ve gossiped about my less-talented peers with my more-talented peers, I’ve fretted about MFA programs and publishing in important journals and have learned how to be cutting, flip and esoteric (while of course remaining at all times totally guarded about my own work).

Now, as I contemplate an imminent future without aloof professors, poets-in-residence, and public readings, I am beleaguered by thoughts of survival and self-worth. Do I really have the luck? Do I really have the talent? Am I really a born literary star, and will I really make it into that pantheon of historically significant people?

Keast’s article was a god-sent reminder that, even though not everyone “makes it,” no one is barred from enjoying themselves at it — and maybe, just as the amateur chess player, baker, gardener, actor or food critic, those who don’t “make it” end up enjoying themselves more. I’m tired of debates over whether the academization of poetry has been good for poetry, and happy to hear an argument fully in support of letting poetry live unencumbered by snobbery and mean-spirited competition. Thanks for that. —Amy Elliott, Northville, amy.c.elliott@gmail.com

PS — I could never get through Ashbery either.


Little bit of paradise?

I thoroughly enjoyed “Paradise Regained” (Metro Times, Aug. 3). Like most women, I have always had the fantasy of being an exotic dancer, if only for one night, but I am not interested in today’s brand of dancer. Your article has informed me of the neo-burlesque movement and given me hope that my desire for 15 minutes of fame might yet be realized. Thanks for helping to rekindle this dream. —Keisha L. Hairston, Mt. Clemens, khairsto@med.wayne.edu


Dismayed by endorsement

I read your mayoral endorsement (“What Detroit needs and what Detroit can get,” Metro Times, July 20) with much interest and more than a little disappointment and dismay. You give a lukewarm nod to Freman Hendrix, saying that you have major reservations about his ability to run the city government. You then claim that a perceived notion that Sharon McPhail might have some beliefs you disagree with kept you from endorsing her despite her obvious competence and revolutionary ideas.

Hendrix had his chance to make the creaky, dysfunctional city bureaucracy work. Instead of implementing desperately needed change he shoved his pet projects through the convoluted process without challenging what needs to be fixed in this city. Had he been a true leader, he would have shaped the bureaucracy to allow small businesses in the city to flourish, and fostered a culture of accountability among all city employees. Instead he focused on a few flashy projects and unnecessary and expensive outsourcing to a company in which he later took a leadership role.

McPhail, on the other hand, has consistently stood up for the citizens of Detroit. She recognizes that we are in crisis and approaches the situation with innovative new ideas that don’t simply resign our city to constantly shrinking while the privileged few get decent city services.

I expected more from the Metro Times. —Brad Kenoyer, Detroit, kenoyb@hotmail.com


Sealed with a KISS

I must commend Serene Dominic for the absolutely hysterical parody “50 Cent vs. Gene Simmons: Who’s the Original G?” (Metro Times, Aug. 10). Obviously, Dominic has to be a KISS fan because only a fan could capture the highs and lows of the band’s history, and some of Gene Simmons’ more interesting views of life, sex and making money.

Despite his sometimes “nontraditional” viewpoints, Simmons should be credited in realizing early that product licensing and merchandising is a cash cow to be milked continuously. As a KISS fan, I sometimes think that Simmons might be going overboard by stamping condoms, dolls, model cars, lava lights, etc., with the band’s logo, but, hell, what he has done has been instrumental in making musicians of all genres realize that they don’t call it show business for nothing — and the only way to make money is to have total control over one’s image and product.

So in the end, while Fiddy may be rap’s playa du jour, we must give a collective tip of the cap (and our wallets) to Gene Simmons for being the Original G. —Lisa Jackson, Dearborn, lljackso1@aol.com


Where are the stars?

I noticed the Metro Times has dropped the star system on movie reviews. Is this to force us to actually read the reviews or the magazine didn’t want to shame The Dukes of Hazzard with zero stars? —Allen Salyer, Royal Oak, salyerallen@hotmail.com


Errata: Due to a last-minute error, we ran with an earlier, incorrect version of “Learning to scrawl” (Metro Times, Aug. 10) in our print edition. The offices of 826 Michigan are on State Street in Ann Arbor. Colleen Gillis is no longer affiliated with the organization. For more information about the group and its efforts to mentor young writers, call 734-765-3463.

Also, in “Group work” (Metro Times, Aug. 10), one of the artists was incorrectly identified as John Freeman. The artist’s name is Gary Freeman.

Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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