A musical family
Larry Gabriel: Regarding your piece, "How I learned to second line" (Metro Times, Aug. 30), this is a note of appreciation from your cousin Tamara Davis. I am grateful that our family history is being shared and carried on. I am fortunate to have grown up during a time when I was able to hear a lot of the beautiful music our family has contributed. I am living in Europe, where the jazz scene is still very vibrant and alive. And thankfully, I have kept the spirit of jazz alive in my heart all of my life. It is especially joyous when I can share a CD of my uncle's with some of the artists here, so thank you for your words. The legacy of our family is encouraging and inspiring. Tamara Davis, Lakenheath, England, United Kingdom
The shabby treatment of three professional journalists at The Oakland Press, as outlined in Jack Lessenberry's recent column, "Rags and ruin" (Metro Times, Aug. 30), is nothing less than despicable. Neil Munro, Susan Hood and Dolly Moiseeff are three of the reasons the newspaper was one of the best suburban dailies in the country in recent years. They and other members of the staff were dedicated to their communities, to the paper and to our profession. I know. I was privileged to be their colleague for more than 16 years. Their dismissal, along with the demotion of award-winning sports columnist Keith Langlois and the internal management disparagement of recently resigned executive editor Garry Gilbert, should serve as notice to Oakland County readers that their newspaper is now in the hands of ruthless moneygrubbers masquerading as a publicly held news organization. Subscribers should return the treatment of these fine people in kind. Bill Thomas, Traverse City
Almost all fluff
I enjoyed reading Jack Lessenberry's recent columns about what is going on at our local newspapers. He is so right! I am a journalist at heart (trained at the late, lamented Philadelphia Bulletin) though I have spent most of my career in nonprofit public relations. I can't believe how quickly the Free Press has become so awful. Almost all the "hard news" is from the wires. The local content is almost all fluff an ongoing series about an engaged couple (after wasting our time with three or four profiles of other couples, so readers could "vote" on the best one to follow), stories about how couples met, family photos, silly quizzes. It now takes about 10 minutes to go through the entire paper. The best thing remaining is the comics. It is so depressing! We still need good newspapers. People are not going to get the in-depth news analysis they need from television or the Internet. Unfortunately, they're not going to get this from our local press anymore either. I'm glad you provided the facts and details behind what had been just a nagging sense of unease for me, a loyal Freep reader for the 30 years I've lived in metro Detroit. Barbara Lewis, Oak Park
Don't look back
Your article is the invitation I have been waiting for. We old news folks have a lot of unsaid things on our hearts. After 18 years of very hard work, I chose to walk out their door and never look back. This was 10 years ago, after we managers and nonunion folk rode to the front doors in bulletproof wagons with guards and shotguns. All this, to be called scabs from colleagues on the outside and to be ranked by "level of incompetence" on the inside by "Friends of Vega." The conference room was reserved for troop-snitching and kicking ass and you were either a holy anointed FOV or you were not. I was not.
The fact is, this is a one newspaper town. The Detroit JOA is the newspaper industry's biggest tragedy. There's not enough ad revenue or readers to keep them both alive. G.D. Crain once said something like, "A $100 salesperson cannot make up for a $5 editor." Gannett's finance-driven culture and small-town successes have not proven to be the right ingredients to overcome this gigantic newspaper boondoggle. Gannett had Knight Ridder in the back seat with them, but their notorious arrogance did not respect how much brighter they were at this level of play. Gannett transformed these venerable newspapers into an insert delivery system for Meijer, Wal-Mart, Farmer Jack, etc., while driving time-deprived readers further away with uninteresting, uninspired news content.
The advertising staff has innocently suffered serious sales declines as a result of all this and more, yet they epidemically and systematically face damaging career blows and demotions without consideration. Forget listening to and encouraging good, strong, street thinkers who know how to fight a fire on their own woods. Judy Campbell, Harrison Township
Not just the papers
To the Editor: Jack Lessenberry is right about the Detroit papers. The Free Press feeds us op-eds by conservative lightweight idealogues like Jonah Goldberg, and only rarely do we see a Krugman piece. The Oakland Press and other suburban papers are just as bad. But the decline of the newspapers is nothing compared to the destruction of once great WJR which has replaced Mike Whorf, J.P. McCarthy and Karl Haas with Limbaugh, Hannity, Dr. Laura and nitwit Frank Beckmann. The only current ones worth listening to are Bob Brinker and Mitch Albom. Ralph Deeds, Birmingham
W is for whiny
It is clear that Rebecca Mazzei and Christina Hill have a low opinion of W magazine and the current article featuring Kate Moss in Detroit ("Rag on the mag," Metro Times, Aug. 30). Rebecca's use of the terms "fake" and "outrageously oversized" in her introduction set the stage for Christina's whiny screed excoriating the "vapid and superficial" editors of W for trying to put one over on "wider-ranging intellects" like her. Rebecca seems to object to W magazine's size and glossiness; Christina a subscriber seems offended by its use of black people to help sell clothing and fashion accessories.
As the location scout for the Kate Moss Shoot and the photographer for Model D weekly magazine, I feel that I have a larger understanding of the W magazine photo shoot. Unlike Christina, I grew up in Detroit, lived through the riots, lived through white flight and stayed in the city limits most of my life.
The W magazine article was warmly received by all of the Detroiters who participated in creating it. Many of the young people who participated were selected for their talents and looks from an after-school program. The reason that they were highlighted was out of respect for their dreams and achievements.
The environments for the photo shoot illustrate the need for all Detroiters to stand up and recognize the importance of some of the old, core businesses in Detroit's almost-invisible black culture. Red's Shoes, where Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Coleman Young got their shoes shined; Henry the Hatter; Shaw's Barber Shop on Randolph; and the Raven are much more a part of the "authentic" Detroit than Eminem or the White Stripes. The W article illustrated a side of Detroit which should be recognized, but apparently isn't, by the suburban bourgeois likes of Christina. Dave Krieger, Detroit
In response to Christina Hill's letter: "Doooooooood, put the gun down. It's a fashion magazine." Jonathan Mahalak, Detroit
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