Letters to the Editor 

Rebound pointers

It was heartening to read Keith Schneider's article, "Across the Great Divide" (Metro Times, July 5). As a frequent visitor to Detroit, I am consistently awed by the quality of the city's architecture. Keith's comparison to Chicago is particularly apt — before the 1950s, Chicago and Detroit were without question the two greatest American cities. Today, Detroit would look like a tremendously exciting place to live if it weren't for the city's lack of transit, deteriorating facilities and the ugly, formless sprawl radiating for hours outside of the city center.

It's clearly time to put that history in the rearview mirror and take a look at the potential of Woodward Avenue. Catalyzed by Heather Carmona and others, Detroit is now a city on the tipping point. If done correctly, the proposed corridor project could set an example for the entire country. I truly hope that it happens. Here are a few suggestions to make it better:

1) Use light rail, not buses. Even after considering all of the long-term economic advantages, the psychological impact of a well-functioning light rail system is worth thousands of buses. As with other cities that are adopting "smart growth" strategies, development would spring up along the corridor in a way not seen since the automobile was invented.

2) Add a bike path. For distances of a few miles or less, bicycles are the fastest way to commute. There are many examples of separate bicycle paths that are built right along main thoroughfares, and can be maintained along with the roadway.

3) Realize that all things are connected. Rather than focusing only on transit, incorporate a plan for revitalizing public school quality along the corridor. Without great schools for everyone, the project is pointless because disinvestment in the region's core will continue.

4) Start the project. Regionalism is the wave of the future but Detroit needs to catch it now. —Mark Abraham, Director of Marketing, at Svigals + Partners Architects, New Haven, Conn.


Privatizing the vote

Mr. Lessenberry, I read with interest your response to recent publications documenting the challenges to the election outcome in 2004 ("Did they steal the last election?" Metro Times, June 28). The outcome of that election, especially in Ohio, remains a controversy; and as such is a disgrace for our democracy. More broadly, there are many scientific, credible studies that document the crisis to our election system, arising from the shift to electronic voting, beginning with the General Accounting Office report of last fall.

Instead of moving to modern systems that guarantee the integrity of our elections, we are moving to privatize the election process: placing the recording, counting, and preservation of data of our elections in the hands of (mainly three) private companies. Scandals have arisen over the partisan politics of the heads of these companies. To paraphrase Stalin: Who votes is not important; who counts the votes is. How many voters can say with confidence that they know what happened to their vote, and whether it was counted? —Mary Howe Kiraly, Bethesda, Md.


Cross words?

In a June 5 review, Clare Ramsey describes Wordplay as boring and "gooey," a documentary too in love with its subject to succeed.

My judgment could be clouded by knowing the people in the movie, but I think director Patrick Creadon was fair. He found a light topic with broad appeal and didn't overreach. With pretty graphics and tight explanations, he answered two questions that people ask me a lot — how crosswords are made, and who makes them. And it's true: They're nice people who like each other. Cynics may disagree, but verity is not the exclusive domain of the grim. —Ben Tausig, New York, N.Y.


Wright thinking

It is, first, sophomoric humor and disrespectful to modify, on your cover, the name of a singular creative genius to "Frank Lloyd Wrong." Too, for Michael Jackman to submit that the decrepit condition of Wright's Palmer Woods home is an "only-in-Detroit experience" is ignorant. Having read the newsletters of the Wright Conservancy concerning the condition of all his work in the United States, I know that his homes not protected by grants are often in fragile condition and in need of hundreds of thousands of dollars for restoration. The condition of this Wright home in Detroit is in no way out of the ordinary, nor should its decay be lumped in with the condition of Detroit in general.

Too, to say that Wright is best known for "ambitious, creative, technically challenging designs sited on magnificent parcels of land" is not wholly correct. The master was known for telling his prospective clients to find a piece of land that was considered by others to be "unbuildable" since he loved the challenge of building magnificently on parcels of land others had dismissed out of hand. He was also infamous for disregarding the needs and desires of his clients in order to impose his own strict ideology — not only in Detroit! That said, I wish only the best to Norm Silk and Dale Morgan for their courage in taking on this project. —Christina Hill, Bloomfield Hills


Monster house

The reason why the Turkel house has been vacant and neglected for years is obvious: It has extremely limited appeal.

Having viewed it while traveling on Seven Mile Road numerous times, this monstrosity is one of the ugliest houses I've ever seen. Based on Michael Jackman's description, the interior, with its tiny rooms, narrow doorways and concrete walls, sounds barely livable. We have here an impractical design, more suitable for a mausoleum.

If Frank Lloyd Wright hadn't designed this house, it would probably be considered just another old eyesore. Wright may have been a genius, but sometimes a genius can screw up badly, as happened here.

Restoring the house will be very expensive for the new owners. They have their work cut out for them. —Dave Hornstein, Southfield


Erratum: In Glen Mannisto's article, "Precious mettle" (Metro Times, June 21), we misspelled the name of the curator of the show. His name is Ben Wearley.

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