Pulling answers from a hat

Hello Larry Gabriel! Regarding your column, "Can it work here?" (Metro Times, June 4) — bingo! Thanks for the short paragraph about electing city council members by district. You are so right, and I have been banging that issue for too many years! Why don't Detroit City Council members each have an area in Detroit that they're responsible to and for? This way, the citizens of Detroit can then see if this councilmember is doing anything at all. Yes, we know there are some beautiful and some horrible areas in Detroit. But that would be the luck of the draw, of sorts: Whatever area or district a council member would draw would be assigned, that's it!

As it is now, Detroit City Council members get to pretend they are doing something, but there are no checks and balances. So, therefore, if the Detroit City Council members want to prove to the people of Detroit that they are serious about working for all the neighborhoods and its people, then they can get down to business and make a motion, draw up districts of the city of Detroit, fill a hat, and each member draws! Thank god for Metro Times, and thanks, Larry! —Michael R. Neil, Canton

The real Detroit story

I read with interest the comments from Kent Anderson (Letters to the Editor, "It can't happen here," Metro Times, June 11) regarding Larry Gabriel's article of June 4 contrasting Detroit's situation with that of Minneapolis.

Mr. Anderson blames Detroit's problems on the actions and attitudes of "two mayors who drove the divisions between city and suburbs even further into the point of no return." This is in contrast to Minneapolis, described as a"much more racially diverse city than Detroit" that "accepted suburban generosity and money."

The truth is a that Minneapolis is a city with a much higher per capita income than Detroit's ($22,685 to $14,000), and with a population much different racially than Detroit's (Minneapolis is more than 65 percent white) Minneapolis has also benefited from a much more progressive state government in the past two decades, with much more enlightened tax and investment policies.

I think describing Detroit as a great city that lost almost 250,000 good jobs in the past 30 years goes a long way to explaining the current reality. The same process of job loss and population loss, which has brought Detroit to this position, is now affecting the ring of older suburbs surrounding Detroit, cities struggling to "make ends meet" ... and losing the struggle.

Add to that a political environment in which the "race card" has played as well in the suburbs (including Sterling Heights) as it does in Detroit. After all, Brooks Patterson's rise to power was based on exactly that.

We all have a long way to go, and difficult decisions to make, but the movement has to come from both within and outside the "313." —Phil Clark, Detroit

Snug snub

Re: "One of a kind" (Metro Times, May 28), the review of Traffic Jam & Snug. Did Todd Abrams actually eat at this restaurant? I'm floored by the rave review of this mediocre, overrated establishment. I've been there several times, each time with the hopes that it will be as good as its reputation only to be sorely disappointed. The service is disinterested, the food uninspired, the atmosphere dull. —Valerie Oster, St. Clair Shores

Mantovani country

In the article titled "The air apparents" (Metro Times, June 4) by Serene Dominic, Dominic writes:

Arguably, air guitarists inhabit the music that they don't make with more authority and downright chutzpah than the millions of professional knob twiddlers and shoegazers actually processing sound from their very real guitars. People unsure of what world famous orchestra conductors like Mantovani and Arthur Fiedler actually did to draw a paycheck may be shocked to find that they were little more than air guitarists with a baton, a channeler of music, music that could have just as easily taken place without their visual input.

I'd like to know what fantasy world Dominic lived in to draw such a conclusion about conductor, arranger and composer Mantovani — it's obviously not the real world. I don't know much about Fiedler, but I do know about Mantovani, who is still selling thousands of CDs daily more than 28 years after his death, who's had more than 40 CD releases within the last 10 years and more to come from a variety of profit-oriented producers. I dare say many, many more than the air or genuine guitarist. Let's examine some accomplishments from Mantovani's biography:

Mantovani had 76 published compositions. From the advent of his large string orchestra (he was in the music business for 30 years before then) in 1950, his discography includes many LPs that made it to the Billboard charts in the United States and sold more than 1 million copies. In the 1950s, he released 34 albums that include on the average of 12 selections per album or 304 selections. In the 1960s, he released 34 albums or 304 selections. In the 1970s, he released 18 albums or 216 selections based upon a 12-selection-per-album average.

How many air or genuine guitarists have such a history? I'd say none.

He was the first conductor around which a television series was produced for international distribution.

He was the first artist that sold a million stereo recordings anywhere.

His concerts were consistently "sold out" and standing room only. He outsold a Canadian ice hockey team in their own arena — 10,000 seats and 11,500 tickets sold.

Wouldn't this make a reader suspicious of claims or conclusions drawn by Dominic in the rest of his article? It would, in my opinion, and if I were his editor in the future, I'd assign him to such things as recipes or articles that require very little in the way of factual support. Dominic, in my opinion, simply cannot handle any more than that level of credibility. —Wes Stillwagon, webmaster, Mantovani Fan Website (, Lillington, N.C.

Boiling over

I am writing regarding the "Boiling Point" cartoon for June 4. I am very ashamed for Mikhaela Reid and a formal apology should be written. When I read "Lesser-Known McCain Campaign Slogans," it made me disgusted, not amused. We are known for demanding nondiscrimination based on gender, religion, race, sexual orientation and age! Do we only pretend to believe in these things when it suits our purpose? In one very stupid and insensitive cartoon, we absolutely have shown that we do not really mean it when we claim to have principles.

When she writes: "Vote for the wacky old white dude!" I am left to wonder if McCain is being described as wacky because he is white, or because he is not the youthful ideal of what everyone should be to fit in. When she writes "Jowls of Freedom 2008!" I wonder, do jowls make someone less of a person? If Reid does not realize what the aging process does, all I can recommend is that she start saving for plastic surgery now. It is very expensive.

This is the first time I have ever been so disappointed in Metro Times. I have always been a liberal. Please do not print anything like this again so I can respect liberals and myself for being one. —Elaine Shapiro, Royal Oak

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