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Wrong about rites

Re: "Hard Bodies and Hard Questions" (Metro Times, Jan. 17), I feel that Thomas Lynch's remarks about changing funeral rituals were incorrect.

African-Americans, in reclaiming their African culture, include in Kwanzaa, funerals, memorials and other programs, the pouring of libations. These libations welcome our ancestors (that is, those that are deceased) and the unborn into the services of the living, completing the circle of life.

Who are the plastinized people displayed in the exhibit? They are our relatives. We are all part of the same human family that migrated out of Africa. In deference to them, we should pour a mental libation to the 20 on display, inviting them to join each of us on our personal journey through the exhibit. Thanking them for their contribution of knowledge that will improve the quality of living of who are living today and those yet unborn. —Helen H. Gentry, Detroit

 

Focus on the art

In response to Christina Hill's article "Lowering The Barre" (Metro Times, Jan. 10) and Peter van Dyke's rebuttal (Letters to the Editor, Metro Times Jan. 17) concerning the Detroit Institute of Arts; as we all know, the DIA has been under construction for two and a half years and the opening of the new exhibition space is nearly a year away. During renovation the collection has been reduced to a fraction of its pre-construction viewing. In all that time the museum has continued to exhibit the same old pieces. I've read the museum has thousands of items in storage. How about rotating some of the paintings, sculptures and antiquities to give any who visit the museum with any regularity something new to view? In the Asian room are 30-foot scrolls that have the same 5-foot section on exhibit. How about every now and then scrolling the paper as to let us see a different scene? In the Islamic room the same page of a thick Koran is on display. How about turning the page once in a while? It's pretty inconsiderate of the DIA to ask for $8 admission for a reduced collection of the same old things. —Allen Salyer, Troy

 

Teaching, not overreaching

I enjoyed Christina Hill's piece, "Lowering the barre" (Metro Times, Jan. 10), which questioned some of the strategies of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

We're glad when they can have programs we love in this transitional "under construction" time. My favorites are the Detroit Film Theatre and the Friday night music.

She didn't mention that some of us were a bit unsettled by the recent Annie Leibovitz "music photography" exhibit. What does it say about the state of art when our major art institution uses "popular entertainment" to ensure success? It's as if our favorite 500-pound gorilla temporarily needed to go on steroids! It's OK, but I hope it's a long time before they do something similar.

As for the "sideshows," well, I was once part of one. They had a large exhibition of puppets back in 2000. They hired puppeteers to show the public how to manipulate the marionettes. I had kids (first-time puppeteers) have their puppets kick boxing each other.

I think that, in this case, it made sense to have an audience participation section. It was good to go beyond seeing puppets on display and seeing performances to actually trying to make them move yourself.

I agree with her, though, that not every exhibit needs these interactive gimmicks. Sometimes they can be a plus and, at other times, a minus. —Maurice Greenia Jr., Detroit

 

Don't pardon Ford

Jack Lessenberry's column, "How Gerald Ford held the road" (Metro Times, Jan. 3) ignores an important fact: Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, was indicted in Maryland and resigned from the vice presidency in October 1973. Both the president and vice president resigned for corruption, an unprecedented event in the history of our nation.

The idea that Ford did the pardon for the good of the nation is not only incorrect, but dangerous to believe. First, Nixon never admitted guilt; Ford did not require him to.

Second, the nation was quite aware that having a president and vice-president resign for corruption meant something was deeply wrong with our government — starting with the Republican White House.

I don't know about Jack, but I don't remember Ford as ever being popular — he was generally perceived as a tool of the party and few felt the pardon was about "healing the nation," a rather self-indulgent piece of propaganda: It was his own party that was corrupt. —Ed Sarkis, Troy

 

Jew pun not funny

Re: "Jew jitsu" (Metro Times, Jan. 17). Jew jitsu? You have got to be kidding me. This is some of the worst writing I've seen in some time, and I'm a semi-regular reader of your intern-laden columns. While I appreciate that many of us still don't know where we comfortably sit in the PC spectrum, this awful pun is not only offensive, it's lazy.

I practice martial arts myself and so I lack the wonder of otherness that the article attempts to convey, but, even so, it comes off as a rather childish celebration of our pent up ass-kicking delusions. I'm not going to say anything bad about Krav Maga; I've never attended a class, but there's a difference between training to be maximally effective with minimum training and training to be an ass-kicker that will make you sing soprano if you make a wrong move outside the club. I hope that the gentlemen who instruct know the difference, but clearly they didn't get through to the writer.

Detroit is not the safest city in the world, and so the last thing we need are a bunch of wannabe tough guys waiting for the right time to tear someone's ears off just in case someone bumps into them at the bar or grinds up against their dressed-like-a-streetwalker girlfriend dancing by herself. The city is crippled by too much fear already; aggression as you portray it is not the way to deal with it. —Roy Wang, Ferndale

 

Dream interpretation

I agree with Geoffrey Himes that, overall, Dreamgirls was disappointing (Cinema, Metro Times, Dec. 27, 2006). But I am also disappointed that Himes mixed up some of the facts of the movie. It was Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) not Michelle (Sharon Leal) who was one the original members of the Dreamettes alongside Deena (Beyonce) and Effie (Jennifer Hudson). Thus Lorrell had an affair with Jimmy (Eddie Murphy) and Michelle replaced Effie. Curtis throws some lingering looks at Deena but the movie does not show them having an affair. And Effie does fall on hard times after she is booted out of the group, but she is not an alcoholic in the movie. I guess that slip was a result of Himes confusing Effie with the real ousted lead singer, Florence Ballard. —Ashley Bell, Ferndale

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