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A cut above

Thank you for the fascinating article on foreskin restoration (“Recovering from the unkindest cut,” Metro Times, Jan. 26). It was refreshing to see a positive slant given to this topic. It is important for people, men and women, to know that there are options for those who are dissatisfied with their circumcised status, a status they did not choose for themselves. Thank you again. —Kristin Hoye, Santa Cruz, Calif., kehbear@berkeley.edu

 

Back in the garage

Eve Doster’s “Return of the Snake” (Metro Times, Feb. 2) was so enjoyable to read. She was right when she wrote the “story should have been written forever ago.”

I first met Snake Out’s Len Puch at St. Andrew’s Hall 20 years ago. After watching Snake Out rip it up and give live birth on stage (how’d they do that?), I quickly became one of their biggest fans. When I told Len I wanted to start my own band, the Mydols, at age 42, he couldn’t have been more supportive. I guess it’s part of that “absurdity” thing he has such a flair for. He came to our first open mic shows, booked us our first paying gig at the Lager House, taught me how to play The Cramps’ “What’s Inside a Girl,” wrote a song for us and produced our first album. How’s that for paying back one of your biggest fans? Everyone should be so lucky.

Three cheers for Len, Anthony and Damien — the greatest garage band of all time. —Judy Davids, Royal Oak, judydavids@yahoo.com

 

Outside looking in

I’d like to thank Rebecca Mazzei for the thought-provoking and long-overdue column, “Detroit Deserves Better” (Metro Times, Jan. 26).

Being an artist in the Detroit area is tough, especially being an unknown, outsider or an artist struggling to emerge and be even remotely recognized. Venues for local artists attempting to break through are a scattered few, ill-supported or outright ignored by many.

As an artist “re-transplanted” to the metro area, I’ve discovered a thriving progressive arts community that is mostly off the main drag and mostly struggling daily to survive.

That said, once found and embraced, the local outsider art community is as warm and passionate and supportive a family as one could hope for. All the mainstream press has to do is take a left off the artistic-cultural superhighway to find it.

Thanks for taking the time to say something many haven’t dared to say. —Sterling, the buZz! Studio Garage Gallery, Royal Oak, buzzgallery@aol.com

 

Culture coordinated

Re: “Outside the box” (Metro Times, Jan. 26), while I don’t agree with all of the ideas presented (who does with out-of-the-box thinking?) it was an excellent article. As a longtime supporter of Detroit, I wanted to address Idea 5: “Artists save the day.” Specifically, “That’s a problem in Detroit. Artists aren’t involved in politics,” and “The idea of artists flooding Detroit is a beautiful one that seems far off.”

Artists have always been a part of Detroit and many are also now joining in the rebirth of Detroit. Examples include Brian Heath and Ric Geyer’s 4731 Gallery, which is filled with up-and-coming local artists, Severance gallery, Camilo Pardo and Rich Rice at the Bankle Building, Arts Extended Gallery and the College for Creative Studies.

We also have our strong music history as the home of Motown and electronica and many great musicians spanning jazz, blues, rock, funk and classical music.

We have organizations based in Detroit such as Habitat for Humanity-Detroit, FOCUS: Hope, Detroit Synergy, Woodward Heritage and the Woodward Avenue Association. They are also doing their part to help build Detroit into something new.

And the core of Detroit’s culture, our churches, continue to do their vital part in holding our community together and rebuild our city.

With all of these folks from Detroit and the suburbs trying to make Detroit into a better place, what’s missing? Coordination and focus. Great ideas abound and money is available. We simply need a team of dedicated folks representing art, music, churches, community organizations and politicians to meet regularly with the goal of putting together a regular series of events. —Thomas Libertiny, Farmington Hills, libertinyt@asme.org

 

Come on down!

Re: to the constant dialogue about what’s wrong with Detroit and how to fix it, particularly on the part of those who live past Eight Mile Road: “Move into the city!” Take pride in this community and make improvements on your property. Respect your neighbors — no matter what their race, religion, political bias or sexual orientation may be. Be vocal: Hold city government responsible for the services that they have a contract with the people to provide. Open a business in the city and patronize local merchants. Respect and replenish the soul of this city. It’s time to heal; time for us as individuals to lead the way to a new Detroit. It’s something each and every one of us has the power to do. —Melissa Mecca, Detroit, vivalasmecca@yahoo.com.

 

But where did the poor go?

Here’s a plan that you can do now, and it’s not pie in the sky.

Have a civic booster group charter a plane and take, say, 75 top suburban real estate agents to New York City. Take them on a bus tour of Harlem in Manhattan, and Bedford-Stuyvesant and, perhaps, Williamsburg in Brooklyn, neighborhoods that as little as a decade ago were nightmares of urban poverty. Arrange meetings with people who became silly-rich just from buying a building in a neighborhood they could afford.

At the end of the day, take them to a performance of Avenue Q, a musical about distressed real estate.

They know what to do. They know the buyers that don’t depend on a school system. Nobody wants to be a bigot, but no one wants to throw away their life savings either. Show them the path, and appeal to their native greed. You’ll be surprised what can happen, and in an amazingly short length of time. —David M. Munro, Cranford, N.J.

 

He could have a Pointe

Re: the letter “Let ’em have it” (Letters to the editor, Metro Times, Feb. 9) suggesting that Detroit return the land it has annexed over the years: At one time Hamtramck extended from the Detroit River (including Belle Isle) to Eight Mile Road and from Woodward through the Grosse Pointes. I won’t speak for all Hamtramckans today, but I would venture that we really don’t want all that back.

Well, the Grosse Pointes, maybe. —Greg Kowalski, Hamtramck Historical Commisison, gkowalski@ameritech.net

 

Consumer retorts

So News Hits has assembled a team of unnamed budget gurus to make instant judgments regarding Detroit’s budget (“1 + 1 = 3 in Detroit,” Metro Times, Jan. 26). Who are these “experts” and what standards are they using to make these judgments? I was particularly interested in the $420,000 consumer advocacy item that “they” and News Hits dismissed as unnecessary.

I served on the staff of the Consumer Affairs Department for 27 years doing this “unnecessary” work. I will bet that none of you have any real idea of how this department has assisted the citizens of Detroit. To believe that consumer advocacy is unnecessary is to believe that insurance redlining doesn’t exist, predatory lending is a thing of the past, all unscrupulous contractors have been put out of business, all used-car salesmen are honest and no get-rich-quick schemes plague Detroiters. On the contrary, a high percentage of Detroit citizens are the most vulnerable, are the victims of serious economic crime and need one-on-one consumer advocacy.

If News Hits were to investigate the ability of either the State of Michigan or Wayne County to provide hands-on individual complaint handling and counseling you would find it to be virtually nonexistent.

As for the $420,000, where did that figure come from? Since Mayor Kilpatrick dismantled the Consumer Affairs Department several years ago, there is only one staff person providing consumer advocacy services. Who knows where the rest of that money is going? —Jack Chase, Detroit, jackaudreyc@yahoo.com

 

Puzzle praise

My compliments on your first crossword in Metro Times (Jan. 19). As an avid solver and creator of crosswords over the last decade and a half, I must admit I was, at first, skeptical of Mr. Bohy’s claim of “quality.” So many U.S.-based daily papers publish the most sophomoric of puzzles, one begins to expect simplicity from crosswords intended for the general public. So common, in fact, are these overly easy puzzles, that I would bet Metro Times receives at least a handful of letters and e-mails complaining of your first puzzle’s difficulty. Well, let me be the first to beg you: Please don’t dumb it down to the level of The Detroit News’ puzzle. Please keep it smart and tough, so that it remains a fitting complement to your editorial and political stances. —Dale A. Carlson, Ferndale, technobeats71@yahoo.com

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