Count online readers too
Dear Mr. Lessenberry: I always enjoy reading your column and I agree with everything you say in this week’s column, "One cheer for the Free Press" (Metro Times, May 25). Your take on the newspaper readership in the metro Detroit area, however, is a bit off. The number of print subscriptions to the two Detroit papers may have dropped drastically, but please realize that many, many people today read their newspapers online (freep.com and detnews.com). In addition to that, many more people read the newspaper at their local library. I’m a librarian who worked 10 years at the Southfield Public Library and eight years (so far) at Oakland Community College, and, believe me, people are reading newspapers in the library. Thanks! —Carol Benson, Beverly Hills
Enjoy what’s close
Jack Lessenberry did not disappoint as moderator of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council’s annual meeting ("Sprawling across the generations," Metro Times, May 18). And he’s right that environmentalists haven’t been able to make the sale to a critical mass, even though we have science and history on our side.
The film that we showed, The End of Suburbia(endofsuburbia.com), explores what could happen after worldwide production of oil and natural gas peaks and permanently declines, which is inevitable with the extraction of natural resources. Surely, prices will rise as supplies fall. We may already be past the peak. How much did you pay for gas last month? How much did it cost to heat your home last winter? Remember the blackout of 2003?
But what can we do to lessen the impact and buy time to find alternative energy sources? One proposed solution is to live more locally. It’s so simple — and it already worked for generations. In metro Detroit, live in the city or its first ring of walkable suburbs, instead of in new developments that destroy nearby farmland. Support your local grocers and restaurants that buy produce from the Eastern Market, instead of the chain that trucks lettuce from California. If you must buy an SUV, make it a compact one.
In other words, relearn how to enjoy what is close, rather than envy what is afar. You’ll probably be happier too. The only thing you’ll give up is a long commute. I’m sold. —Steve Gotler, Dearborn, vice-president, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, emeac.org
Don’t bet on it
Re: "House of cards," (News Hits, Metro Times, May 25), the matter occurred to me some time ago when permanent casinos were discussed: What to do with the temporaries?
The Greektown Casino, I feel, could be ideally used for a new Police Headquarters. As a people mover stop, it’s easily accessible by a lot more people than the current location, and it’s still within the "criminal justice district." As much as I would love to see Michigan Central Station redeveloped, it scares me to see the city do it. I think for a lot of us, the train station should have been a casino site.
The MGM temporary site I can picture as a Dave & Busters-type entertainment venue, maybe even with a "plex" of movie theaters. It has plenty of parking and easy access to expressways. You are right, though: It should be planned now. —Raymond F. Parker, Southfield, email@example.com
Dry wit says review all wet
I’ve just finished reading Lisa M.Collins’ one-and-a-half-star review of the "British" film Layer Cake (Metro Times, May 25). Boy, does she have a stick up her arse … um, sorry, make that, up her "ass" about "British" cinematic imports.
I do feel some sympathy for Ms. Collins, inasmuch as she missed out on the dialogue of the film due to her not … being … as … smart … as … the … "English" … actors … and … taking … things … in … very … very … slowly.
A probable reason for Ms. Collins’ dilemma was because the "English" actors were actually speaking "English" — as they have a tendency to do in "England" where the film was shot. Maybe a letter from Ms. Collins to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), informing them that they should teach their "English" actors to speak more clearly for the world masses, would ease Ms. Collins’ lack of understanding. She could even suggest BAFTA use the dialogue technique of such notables as Sylvester Stallone or Matt Damon — solid "comprehendible" actors who habitually star in remakes of "British" film classics such as Get Carter and The Italian Job.
Of course the other alternative is that Ms. Collins should not try to broaden her cinematic or geographical horizons. Maybe she should stick to simplified "American" remakes that don’t challenge her sense of humor or intellect at all.
As for Colm Meaney, one of the "British" actors in Layer Cake, he is, in fact, Irish, born in Dublin, and not "British" at all.
Whatever Ms. Collins undertakes for employment in the future, it should definitely not include reviews of "imported" films. —Lawrence Greaves, Oakland Township, firstname.lastname@example.org
Back in the U.S.S.R.Re: "Glossing over Wellman" (Metro Times, May 25), Peter Werbe’s letter to the editor about Saul Wellman is generally excellent. I had the misfortune of working in a law office where Wellman was a hanger-on. I found him an arrogant peacock.
That Wellman fought with the Lincoln Brigade in Spain was laudable. That the Lincoln Brigade fought not only against Franco’s fascists but also helped crush the anarchists and semi-Trotskyist POUM in Catalonia was unconscionable.
My reservation is with Peter’s characterization of the Soviet Union in undifferentiated Reaganesque "evil empire" terms. Most of what he wrote is correct — purges, torture, murder, gulags. (I don’t think that Wellman was "willfully ignorant," as were many CP rank-and-file, but a knowing participant.) Isaac Deutscher, biographer and follower of Leon Trotsky, in Stalin disagrees that the "mass starvation" was "planned." I would add that after 4 years of futile efforts at collective security by Soviet foreign minister Litvinov, the rebuffs by England and France, culminating in the Munich capitulation and in the insulting sending of low-ranking military functionaries by slow boat to Russia without any authority to conclude a joint pact against Nazi Germany, clearly hoping to sic the Nazis against the USSR, the Hitler-Stalin pact was justified. —Larry Hochman, Livonia, email@example.com
Googler not a reader
The letters regarding the Israeli divestment article ("Bucking for change" Metro Times, May 11), included a letter from a Miriam Reik from New York ("Listen to Tutu," Metro Times, May 18). I am curious why you would have printed her letter when she is clearly not a "reader" of yours and does not represent metro Detroit. She is a person who must scan the Internet for pro-Palestinian articles like last week’s and write letters to the editor of whatever paper it was in. After Googling her name, I found at least two letters to various newspapers bashing Israel.
And for her to insult a local leader of the Jewish community here in Detroit was terrible. Of course I don’t agree with her views — and after calling her at home in New York she now knows it too — but she does not belong in my local paper and I think it was a mistake to print it — especially since the printed letters were 2-to-1 against Israel. I don’t know how many other local letters you had, but after Reik’s, you could have at least squeezed my letter in to show local support for Israel. —Mike Kahan, Bloomfield Hills
A second opinion
Thank you for publishing Miriam Reik’s excellent letter "Listen to Tutu," concerning how extreme and cruel modern Israeli segregation policies are in comparison to the well-known racist atrocities of apartheid South Africa.
I am horrified that so many misguided fools, including our own Congress, are so eager and willing to propagate dangerous Israeli propaganda, empowering terrible crimes against humanity. We should know better, but most Americans don’t, despite the fact we all know that racism is wrong.
Thankfully, concerned citizens like Reik dare speak out. —Anne Selden Annab, Mechanicsburg, Pa., firstname.lastname@example.org
Kudos for Comix
Kudos to Sean Bieri, who had a last-page comic, "An incomplete mostly alphabetical list of things to avoid if you can help it," in your May 18 issue. I have followed Bieri’s work for some time now and it is sheer comic relief. I worked in a coffeehouse in Greektown above the Hellas Restaurant, and Sean and his cartoonist hooligans and thugs used to come in and tear the place up with their ink pens.
Yet, I take issue with two of his avoidance items: licorice-flavored alcohol (are you referring to Ouzo??) and Zagnut bars (I only find them in Cleveland).
We need to see more of this young man’s work in your paper. —Elayne Sikelianos, Detroit, email@example.com