Letters to the Editor

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Independent voices needed

Congrats on your first quarter-century of leading-edge alternative newspapering from a former managing editor of an upstate New York free weekly also born as a progressive voice in a city with two chain-owned dailies. The Syracuse New Times now is in its 36th year.

The alternative press, initially a fringe representative of what was called the counterculture, now fills a vital role and earns a wider audience because readers of diverse ages and backgrounds are reminded regularly that “so much of the media now shines [the] shoes” of the powerful, as Ric Bohy put it vividly (“Why we do it,” Metro Times, Oct. 19).

In fact, the latest reminder came just three days before your snazzy anniversary issue, when The New York Times sketched fresh details of how its reporter Judith Miller doubled as a boot-licking White House mouthpiece.

Good thing we can rely on Metro Times to continue invigorating public discourse for another 25 years ... and beyond. —Alan Stamm, communication consultant, Birmingham, [email protected]


Booster brawl

Re: Kelli B. Kavanaugh’s tirade in the letters section (“Mich. Ave. ‘Slaughtered,’” Metro Times, Oct. 19) against Jane Slaughter’s opening sentence from her Slow’s Bar-BQ review (“Heat of the moment,” Metro Times, Oct. 12).

First, I would suggest that Ms. Kavanaugh relax. The city of New Orleans is in its physical state due to an elemental battering. Nobody said “Michigan Avenue is as blighted as the souls of the victims of hurricane Katrina.” (Gasp!) It hardly seemed like “heartless” flippancy on the author’s part to compare resemblances between two locales.

Second, if you really are interested in revitalizing the Corktown community, try not alienating and discounting people because they are from the suburbs. I bet if you did a nominal amount of investigation, you’d find that most of the money for the “new kids’” Michigan Avenue projects, that are improving your neighborhood, didn’t come from Detroit.

I know you feel special about your little exclusive lot called Corktown, but take a look around you — past that outdated billboard. There you go, there it is: Michigan Avenue in all its glory! Let’s see. An abandoned Tiger Stadium, LJ’s (does this really count as an “entertainment option?”), Sam’s Loans pawn shop, a hobo, a vacant lot, scores of unoccupied buildings, the Warsaw-chic Michigan Central Depot and a brick road that is in disrepair (nothing some new light poles wouldn’t fix, right?). Want to do a fun compare-and-contrast? Michigan Avenue in Detroit and Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Get back to me. The bottom line is Michigan Avenue is currently in a state of disrepair.

As Detroiters (suburbs included), we all want the corridor and the city to thrive and develop. However, you’re fooling yourself if you think Ms. Slaughter is “grossly” exaggerating when she states, “There’s hardly a more blighted strip of street north of New Orleans.” —Greg Siemasz, Detroit


Shock and awwww

Great article on Detroit musicians from the past (“Where the hell are they now?Metro Times, Oct. 19). I found it striking, and somewhat sad in that pissed-off sour-grapey frustrated artiste way, that Keith Jackson from Shock Therapy chooses to diss my former band Figures on a Beach as “mainstream” when Chris Ewen from FOAB produced Shock Therapy’s “cult classic” “Hate Is Just A Four-Letter Word.” I also found it very sad, and sadly predictable, that Itchy is in prison; we shared a bill at a completely deranged gig in 1985 at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland that I think I am still recovering from, if only I could remember anything about it. Those were indeed the days —Anthony Kaczynski, Boston, Mass.


Fine memory

Serene Dominic may poke fun at Bob Seger in “Detroit Rock Futures” (Metro Times, Oct. 19), but Seger was gracious enough to come all the way to Detroit to accept his Detroit Music Award unlike the White Stripes and Eminem. —Allen Salyer, Royal Oak


Man with a plan

Re: Jack Lessenberry’s recent column, “Farewell to all that” (Metro Times, Oct. 19).

In the long run, the United States simply cannot surrender its manufacturing base to the Orient. If we undertake a “huge crash program,” it ought to be a program to reverse outsourcing. And that should take the form of a New Deal for the New Millennium.

1) Remove the burden, in the form of fringe benefits, of providing social safety nets from our domestic firms to the federal government. Specifically, replace Medicare and Medicaid with a universal national health care system, by expanding the federal employee health care program to all Americans. Also, replace private sector pensions with an enhanced Social Security program.

2) Pay for the New Deal for the New Millennium by replacing the regressive Medicare and Social Security taxes with a Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed on the sale of all goods and services (with exceptions for such necessaries as rent, drugs, and basic foodstocks). Let me stress that the VAT does not replace the income tax (which is high on the conservative wish list).

The beauty of the VAT is that industry would no longer be able to escape their responsibilities for the social safety net by outsourcing. Whether they manufacture in Detroit or a forced labor camp in China, industry through the VAT would still contribute to the pensions of our senior citizens and the health care of all our citizens.

3) Provide a 50 percent refund of the VAT to any company whose global supply chain meets standards for occupational health and safety, environmental protection, and fair wages. This would be a powerful incentive both to keep jobs in this country and to do right by the entire planet. —Michael Miller, Lorton, Va.

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