My name is Arata Zushi. I work at Consulate General of Japan in Detroit, which is located in the Renaissance Center, and I was one of the exchange students from Toyota City in Japan in 1995. I read your editorial about the sister-city relationship between Detroit and Toyota in Metro Times ("Sayonara, sister students," May 28).
As one of sister city exchange alumni, I'm so disappointed that the program was canceled this year because of the city's budget cuts.
I was assigned here a year ago as an extra chancellor. I was so glad when I got the news that my assignment is in Detroit, because, when I was here as an exchange student, I really enjoyed my stay here and made a lot of friends. The next year, I accepted a student from Detroit. We've been sending letters to each other since then.
Detroit is one of my favorite cities in the United States thanks to this experience.
This year I was really looking forward to seeing exchange students from Toyota, as they are usually scheduled to visit our Consulate Office. But it's now impossible ...
I know so many people got involved in this program both in the United States and in Japan. We have a long history, and built up firm friendships. I am so sad they have to cancel it because of the budget shortage.
I hope two years later, the city of Detroit will resume the exchange program again. —Arata Zushi, Troy
I would like to thank the editors at the Metro Times for dedicating so much heartfelt coverage to the tragic death of fellow artist Matthew Blake ("Detroit loses a great," May 14; "Remembering Matthew Blake," May 21; "Portrait of the artist," May 21).
His presence was intricately woven into so many levels of the Detroit experience and rightly deserves the attention. I was one of those "Propeller boys" years ago and shared some of the small-pond limelight that Matt was clearly the most deserved of — much of it in the pages of this very paper. Like some radioactive element whose immense potential could barely be contained, Matt's bright energy and unrivaled inventiveness powered our unstable and briefly assembled group of friends. The Matt of my past was not an artist, he was art. A higher plane. Completely unselfconscious and without external influence. A pure example of creative being that those around him, like me, could only wish to attain. Long before the more formal art-making, Matt expressed himself through amazing acts of urban existence.
Buzzing around Detroit in the rain, driving his tiny yellow-and-black striped Honda with the roof chopped off, wearing a wet-suit and welding goggles, collecting Detroit's golden detritus, he was a performance artist blissfully unaware of the term.
Diverging paths moved Matt to the periphery of my life and I foolishly procrastinated for years the simple act of reuniting. Now it is too late. It saddens me that the Matt of my past will now remain only there, a place that will get pushed farther away with time. But it saddens me infinitely more to know that for those who knew him as a dazzling part of their present lives, he will be moved to the same place. Be reassured that my memories after so many years are still bright, I'm sure theirs will be too. This city will miss you dearly. —Michael McGillis, Royal Oak
We discovered Traffic Jam and Snug ("One of a kind," Metro Times, May 28) long before we even moved to Detroit, and then we coincidentally ended up living within walking distance of the restaurant. I'm somewhat obsessed with their vegetarian lasagna and their bread pudding; both are always delicious. The interior space is wonderful, too; it's very eclectic and attractive. —Susan J. Levinson, Detroit
Searching for excellence
I just wanted to say that I enjoyed the review by Mel Small of Tre Monti Ristorante in Troy ("Tiny, tasty," Metro Times, April 30). I was recently there with my fellow gourmand and wine specialist, and was quite impressed by the price-to-quality ratio, especially of some of the wines. The pasta seemed on par with what one could make at home, but perfect if one doesn't feel like getting out the KitchenAid.
In the last six years since coming here from Toronto, I've found very few restaurants worth writing about. "OK if you don't want to cook" is about as good as it gets with a few notable exceptions. But the reviews I read in your paper seem to constantly mislead me into thinking I'll finally arrive at a restaurant worthy of excitement.
I understand the function of reviews is often more marketing than critique, but perhaps the reason we have yet to see good restaurants in the Detroit area is that we don't demand them. If you grew up here, you have virtually no chance to develop your palate, and so we can't move forward as a market; even if our affluence increases, we, as a group, don't know what to ask for. The food journalists are at least one place to start, and I would like to exhort them to flex their pens a little stronger. If the marginal suffer, so be it; isn't the United States about the free market? We need to start saving more anyway.
That said, I found Mr. Small's review well-informed, well-written and fair, something that I hope we can see more of in the near future. —Roy Wang, Ferndale
Losing all hope
I am writing regarding Jack Lessenberry's recent column, "Reason for hope" (Metro Times, May 28). I don't have any "reason to hope" when there's 97 million Americans who voted in the last round of "American Idol" but I doubt if there are 97 million registered voters in the United States. And if there are that many voters in the United States, will they all vote Nov. 4? And if so, do you think a black or female Democratic president-elect will make it to inauguration without having a "bullet blow away (his or her) jaw and life" as you said in your paragraphs about Martin Luther King Jr.? Then you're more naive than I thought.
Time to move to Canada!
—Philip Brzezinski, Ypsilanti
Great piece on the trial ("Fieger vs. Meijer," Metro Times, May 21), but I think you let the District Court off without a good reason. The case should have been dismissed. I was surprised to see the court limit the defense and I am not sure why he did not allow them to argue "selective prosecution."
First of all, Fieger is right; Hitler did come after the lawyers. But first, Hitler removed the judiciary that was sitting and installed the "People's court." Hitler, as did John Engler, recognized the need to control the judiciary. John Engler did it, and now we have courts telling blind people to watch where they are going and telling folks hit and crippled by drunk drivers that their injuries are not serious enough to deserve compensation.
Hillary was right; it is a vast right-wing conspiracy, but Karl Rove was smart enough to recognize that Joe Lunchbucket cares more about queers marrying than permanent one-party rule. Fieger's trial is part of an effort to take money from the bad "trial lawyers" and ensure that corporate America is free of this burden of lawsuits. Engler was installed as a henchman for the National Association of Manufacturers at $1 million per year not for his good looks, but because he is an apologist for corporate America and the resulting destruction of the middle class.
—Michael G. Heilmann, Milford
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