Save the children

I hope I never bump into Patrick Lang from Warren. The anger expressed in his letter to the editor (Metro Times, Feb. 5-11) was as disturbing to me as the thought of war in Iraq or anyplace else. Anger is anger. Hatred is hatred. Fear is fear. Nothing will change for the better as long as those are the governing emotions that reside in people. He speaks of Lessenberry’s words as brainwashing the idiot masses? Has he picked up a “Free” Press lately, or watched CNN? If you have children, Patrick Lang, I can only hope that you are not passing your anger on to them. —Shannon O’Brien, [email protected], Royal Oak

Think like him — or else

As usual Jack Lessenberry understands our president (“President Bush’s big lie,” Metro Times, Feb. 5-11). Like all good conservatives, Bush is not happy with finding solace in his own beliefs; he thinks you must share his beliefs also. If you don’t go along with his views you must be un-American and quite possibly an atheistic, terrorist-friendly commie. He speaks to the guy watching “Fear Factor” and “Celebrity Survivor” who buys into the testosterone-loving notion of muscling our way of life onto the rest of the world, because any good American knows that God loves us the most. We must give Dubya credit. Start the war in the spring, take control of Iraq and the oil fields, then implement the deals I am sure he made with Shell, Exxon, etc. Next, give us rock-bottom gas prices and get the economy going just in time for, you guessed it, the next election. Go get ’em, George. —Jeff Wilmoth, [email protected], Detroit

In it together

Hey, Jack — how about giving Granholm a chance? The State of the State address is intended to set tone and overall policy (“State of the state, indeed,” Metro Times, Feb. 12-18). Have you ever heard one be budget-specific? I recall Engler being specific with respect to his continued diatribe against lawyers.

I felt she should have been specific. She should have pointed to the leaders of the Republican House and Senate and said we are here (in this mess) specifically because they and Engler made it happen. Why don’t you ask where John is now? He’s the great genius who ran the state right into the ground. And with respect to Mark Brewer whom you now have called shopworn and moth-eaten (a bit personal, don’t you think?), even your hero Geoffrey Fieger weighed in on his behalf.

Would you feel better if the former lieutenant governor were at the helm? Not me. —Jules Olsman, [email protected], Berkley

Nothing for something

In 1998, when Hudson’s was demolished, there were historic tax credits available that totaled 25 percent of the cost of redevelopment. Today, Michigan has come up with additional incentive programs that can reimburse a developer as much as 65 percent of the cost of restoring an old, functionally obsolete building like the Madison Lenox (“Whither Madison Lenox,” Metro Times, Feb. 5-11).

Casey, the economic equation that balances the pros and cons of renovation versus demolition has been recalculated to favor renovation. But getting a loan for $700,000 from the Downtown Development Authority sure takes the initiative away from any kind of entrepreneurial activity.

Instead of using the Madison Lenox as a model to demonstrate these new Michigan incentives to rebuild Detroit, the DDA is guilty of giving away scarce community resources and getting nothing in return.

This loan has provisions to “forgive” 100 percent of the debt owed by the Ilitches. Neither the DDA nor the Ilitches have responded in any serious way to explain the business rationale or the legitimacy of this so-called “loan.” This indefensible transaction should be examined by our attorney general. He is not beholden to the cronies of the DDA. —Blair J. McGowan, Grosse Ile

Take the long view

Casey Coston, I was very impressed with your article regarding the possible demolition of the Madison Lenox. I completely agree with your opinion on the present status of this building. I am curious if you have brought this to the attention of the mayor’s office or even the local news services, which always seem to clamor for a story such as yours. Our city seems to continuously take one step forward and then two steps back. Demolishing the building and then replacing with a parking structure is total lunacy. It benefits no one; if the City Council was to actually take a longer look, they would realize that the long-term benefits and tax revenue that could derive from a multifunctional building versus a parking structure would greatly override any short-term renovation cost. I hope our city can make a decision to save the few remaining historical structures still standing, rather than replacing them with concrete edifices which are nothing but an eyesore. —Thomas R. Enders, Grosse Pointe

Demolished by neglect

Casey Coston’s piece on the Madison Lenox was far too lenient in its criticism of both the Olympia organization and the city. I have worked in the Harmonie Park district for eight years and have sadly observed the “demolition by neglect” strategy at work on this once-salvagable structure.

The windows, which are now almost completely missing, were largely intact eight years ago and keeping the weather at bay. One by one they magically disappeared and nothing was done to secure the openings. Likewise, a fire in the one-story portion of the building left a hole in the roof which has never been repaired or even secured temporarily.

Now we are told the building is beyond salvaging and, sadly, that is probably correct. The so-called preservationists and the city itself should be very pleased that the strategy of benign neglect has once again yielded the desired effect. A building will come down, the city can sell us the dream of a better future based on the potential of some distant new project, and Ilitch can reap the benefits of overcharging patrons of his ersatz “old-timey” ballpark for parking their SUVs in a landscaped, paved, parking lot … and all on the taxpayers dime. —Roger Gienapp, Birmingham

What can be done?

I’m originally from Pittsburgh, where everything was saved. I grew up mainly in Toledo, where everything was razed to make way for parking lots. It made me very angry but I did nothing. When I moved up to Detroit recently, I was amazed at the number of abandoned yet salvageable buildings there were in the downtown area. I vowed to get involved this time. I took particular interest in the Madison Lenox and was thrilled when told it was going to be restored. I just recently found out that was not the case. Your article has spurred me to get involved. Is there anything we can do at this point? Has anyone checked into the possibility of qualifying the structure through the Historic Register to block its demolition? I want to help, but I’m afraid I may be too late. —Beth Schneider, Lathrup Village

Wrong prescription

It was as though a new sheriff had come to town. One year ago, Brian Smith knocked the Detroit music community on its ass with an abrasive yet surprisingly accurate review of the opening reception of the Hamtramck Blowout. Finally, I thought, someone with the intestinal fortitude to forgo the “Say nice things about Detroit music” code and actually critique a band. That Smith continued his unbridled style even after being accosted by a local musician only served to elevate him to icon status. But heavy is the head that wears the crown, for Smith only seems to have bitter pills for us to swallow (“Suckerpunch,” Metro Times, Feb. 5-11).

As a 10-year veteran of the music scene, it is standard practice that 90 percent of all musical encounters will be mediocre at best. Sifting through the silt looking for gems can make anyone jaded. But, Smith, you are far too talented a writer to resort to the least-common-denominator reviews of another failed musician-turned-critic. Keep the scathing reviews coming, just make them interesting enough to keep our attention. —Jamie Hall, [email protected], Detroit

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