Letters to the Editor 

Mixed feelings

The 2005 Dubious Achievement Awards (Metro Times, Jan. 4, 2006) were hilarious, with an undertone of fierce indignation, in the best Swiftian tradition. Apparently, Metro Times has lots of terrific material to work with. But in less talented hands, the piece could easily have been a yawner.

Jack Lessenberry’s opinion piece, on the other hand, (“A very difficult year,” Metro Times, Jan. 4, 2006) included at least one terrifically strange moment. Lessenberry fiercely opposes the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, which he believes is being used by racist whites to scapegoat blacks. He sarcastically states that he could have scapegoated blacks himself, since he was prevented from playing basketball in the NBA because all the affirmative action scholarships were going to black athletes.

But everyone in the world knows that black athletes dominate the NBA because they are the best players. They don’t need and don’t receive affirmative action. An NBA affirmative action initiative for whites would force teams to accept underperforming athletes, like Lessenberry, and cheat qualified black athletes. Why is the injustice of these schemes so hard to understand, Jack? —Richard Shur, Ann Arbor

 

Debate won’t be civil

Mr. Lessenberry will surely ignite a firestorm of debate over the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative by implying that supporters of this initiative are bigots and racists. Undoubtedly, this is just the start of a war of words that will be replete with name-calling, threats, and out-and-out lies. Some will lie and say that the ban on affirmative action in California (where I lived from 1980 to 2004) has prevented thousands of minorities from going to college. Au contraire. In fact, since the passage of the California ban about 10 years ago, there has not been a single documented case in which a minority was unable to attend college.

Trust me. I’m not at all concerned that some coddled high schooler isn’t able to attend the university of his choice. I couldn’t care less. The tragedy of affirmative action is that it taints the achievements of all minorities. I want to be sure that my oral surgeon, my airplane pilot, my police officer, my teacher achieved the position on merit, not because of his skin color. Passing the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is a major step in the direction of true equal opportunity for all. —Tom Page, Detroit

 

The awful truth

Your column, “A very difficult year,” is so sad and so true and so very sobering. You really tell it the way it is, and your refusal to put “perfume on the pig” is, perversely, refreshing!

I am disheartened to learn that your talk show has been yanked. I actually timed my lunch hours so that I could catch at least part of it. I found it very informative and thought provoking. I do not like what is happening to public radio. I liked having the choice between intelligent dialogue (91.7) and kick-ass music (101.9), but the changes to WDET’s format eliminated all that.

I look forward to the upcoming elections with some optimism that prevailing “wisdom” will be refuted. —Irene Sheridan, Mount Clemens

 

Tattoo you

Jack Lessenberry is right to be concerned about the health and safety of people getting tattoos (“Power walking down the year,” Metro Times, Dec. 28, 2005). While it’s true that the state does not currently regulate tattoo establishments (though they should), your readers should also know that many county health departments do, including Oakland, Wayne, Genesee and Ingham, among others. Those seeking a tattoo would be smart to look for a licensed facility before getting inked. —Dave Coulter, Oakland County commissioner, Ferndale

 

Owens on the mark

I enjoyed reading Keith Owens’ article “‘Condi for pres’ is condescending” (Metro Times, Jan. 4, 2006). The mere thought of Condi running for president is a joke. With such a staunch alignment with the Bush-Rumsfeld-Cheney clan, I doubt if she could deliver enough black votes to help them. As for brother Colin, it’s too bad he lost his credibility by allowing himself to be used to justify the Iraq war. —Joe Maddox, Detroit

 

Hates Sleater-Kinney

When the most recent Sleater-Kinney album was first reviewed by your paper last spring, I remember wanting the reviewer’s copy of the album, as my copy sounded horrible! Poorly recorded by a producer who doesn’t like them, it is a dramatic and unvarying change of course of them into the realm of grunge, which I’ve never liked. Carrie Brownstein plays laughable, Mark Farner-ish guitar solos, Janet Weiss constantly plays as many beats as humanly possible and Corin Tucker has been quoted as saying that she wants to leave the band. It seems like her best career option at this point.

Imagine my surprise, then, when three of your reviewers included it in their year-end “best-of” lists! I fully realize that such things are utterly subjective, but it leads me to an understanding of how Shrub might possibly have been re-elected after all; one can fool most of the people some of the time.

I am also perplexed as to the inclusion on the list of at least two reissues, but not one for either of the never-before-released Bob Dylan CDs, the Gaslight Cafe Starbucks exclusive as well as the sound track to the No Direction Home documentary. Surely this stuff is more important and enjoyable than the Flaming Groovies’ “Shake Some Action!” —Don Handy, Mount Clemens

 

More WDET grief

Re: Glenn Reedus’ letter about WDET (Letters to the editor, Metro Times, Jan 4, 2006), I disagree. Many are angered by recent changes at WDET and would like the music format returned. Hence the recent meetings at the Magic Stick and the Web site savedetroitradio.com. There are many radio stations that offer news and information. But where does one go for progressive new music? WDET was that source that turned us on to such groups as Brazilian Girls, Sonic Youth, Calexico and Los Lobos. It kept us informed when the hot new acts were coming to town and even blessed us with live performances. There are no other stations that serve that purpose. Give General Manager Coleman a chance? I don’t think so — he has miscalculated this town’s passion for music. I have returned my pledge form and urged others to do the same. WDET is no longer my radio station and I will not contribute anymore. Caryn Mathes wasn’t perfect, but at least she didn’t gut the station. —Marc Terebelo, Farmington Hills

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