"Opera made to look easy" (March 31) was a great article with great personality analysis, inspiring as well as instructive. (One overlooks such journalistic pianissimi as "with a toothy smile and steady eye contact.") Although not schooled in any of the arts and only a fair hand, I am fascinated by the creative process and those in its grip. It is not necessary to bang on about Doner's "disadvantaged" background, to use the politically correct, and, as only one over 50 observes anymore, there was no — what were they called? — husbands or father in the picture. Nota bene the driving force in her early life, and, I believe, a precondition for the very young: one adult willing to get behind and push, in this case mother LaTonya.
My mother is an old chanteuse, now in her 90s and mostly blind: "Last of the Red Hot Mamas" at all of 16. I will read your article to her. —G.M. Ross, Lowell
No trash talk
I enjoyed Jack Lessenberry's piece on the recently passed health care legislation ("Victory for all," March 24). I do have one small comment on the column, though. I agree that yelling, "Baby killer" at Democrat Bart Stupak was pretty reprehensible. It was almost as bad as using the phrase "trailer park trash" to describe a certain lower economic class of, I'm assuming, white people.
Racism is racism. White people of a certain income level shouldn't be considered fair game for ridicule and stereotyping just because they're white. Other than that — great column! —M F Chwalebny, St. Clair Shores
'Bar band' brouhaha
RE: "Motor City's greatest 'bar band' ever" (March 17), has Brett Callwood ever seen the Hell Drivers? The band I saw at Freedom Hill listed as special guest for Alice Cooper was not a bar band. The first time I saw them at the Stars and Stripes Festival, they didn't sound like a bar band. I'm lucky enough to have one of their CDs and it doesn't sound like a bar band. I was amazed when I researched Jim McCarty and Johnny Bee Badanjek and can't believe we can see them in these small clubs. I don't get where Mr. Callwood was coming from. Why would you take shots at their age? Why would the jury still be out on these guys? They've already done it all. They are not journeymen. They are masters at what they do. Brett Callwood is the one with a lot to learn. —Dave Hartman, Columbiaville
Hats off to Brett Callwood for highlighting Detroit's best bar band: the Hell Drivers! I haven't had the opportunity to check 'em out, but I've got many fond memories of seeing Jimmy Mac and Johnny Bee back in their early Rockets days around 1977 at the 24 Carat Lounge, which is freakin' priceless now that I've come to reflect on it. They were then and still are gifted homegrown talent — always at their musical best whenever they're performing. And by the way, Johnny Bee absolutely nailed it when he did the Romantics gig at the Palace Y2K show, as did Peter Wolf and J. Geils.
And the most humbling fact is that these incomparable talents always have had the time for their fans, whether it's chit-chatting before attending a Frankie Miller concert, taking the kids out to the Guardian Angels fair or at a bar-room get-together after one of their sold-out gigs at Pine Knob in the early '80s. No doubt, they're one-of-a-kind, cut from the same cloth that formed my hero and their luminary: Lee Michaels. Detroit's a damn better place because of these homeboys! —Ken Hreha, Dryden
Send letters (250 words or less, please) to 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226; faxes to 313-961-6598; e-mail to email@example.com. Please include your telephone number. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.