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Letters for April 13, 2000

In Search of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs

In response to "Slack Is Back," by Jeff Niesel, in the April 6 issue of Scene:
This wouldn't be the first article on "Bob" I've seen in which the writer doesn't really have a handle on the material. Perhaps it might have helped if the writer had listened to more than one episode of Stang's radio show.

Any religion worth attention is concerned not with the control of groups, but with the advancement of the individual. Consequently, the faiths that genuinely help mankind will allow for and require individual exploration, instead of simply laying down a set of rules to be followed without careful scrutiny. This means reassessing most of the precepts that one has taken on faith all his life, and even those of the religion in question.

There is a reason why SubGenial writings are intentionally contradictory: to inspire conscious investigation. There is a reason why Stang admits that his religion is bogus: because to do otherwise would be a disservice to his readers. And there is a reason why many people stay with "Bob," even after they find that he's really not The Answer: because "Bob" was honest about that from the beginning.

And it's kind of sad that I have to spell this out. Exactly how obvious does the humor have to get before it jiggles the wires in people's heads?

Yes, it's a "funny" religion. But if religion is a bridge between man and the Divine, I have to believe that any viable religion needs to at least recognize the principle of humor in man. This doesn't make the Church of the SubGenius "right," but it puts it a lot closer than some other religions out there, as they are generally practiced.

Lest anyone conclude that I am a devotee of "Bob" or of Stang . . . I am not. But I hate for cluelessness to rule the day.

Robert McMahon
via the Internet

They're Aces With Us
Just wanted to commend you on your article on Reverend Ivan Stang and the Church of the SubGenius. It was nice to see the timeline on Ivan's development of the Church and his move to Cleveland. And it was nice to see our organization called the Association for Consiousness Exploration, not "cosmic exploration" or "consciousness expansion."

Ad Astra and Jeff Rosenbaum
via the Internet

Clubbing at the Basement
I read your article in Scene about the Basement ["Punch Palace," March 30]. Unfortunately, some of your facts about the Basement were incorrect. I was originally charged in Cleveland Municipal Court with assaulting one of the waitresses at the Basement. During my pending charges and during my attorney's investigation, it was determined that, in fact, I was the victim of a vicious assault. The charges against me in Municipal Court were dismissed, because it appeared clear from the facts and evidence that I was wrongfully charged and that I was indeed the victim of a blatant assault. That is why the charges were dismissed against me. The charges against me were not dismissed because [Michelle] Hace and her witness did not appear -- believe me, they were there every opportunity they could be. Just setting the facts straight. Thank you for your exposé of the worst bar in Cleveland. Keep up the good work!

Karen Jamieson
via the Internet

No Dinner for Dick
Thank you for printing the parts of George Forbes's letter to The Plain Dealer that were edited out [The Edge, March 23]. At least you were honest and let him express himself accurately. I simply must say that, given the choice of Mr. Forbes, president of the NAACP, who reduces himself to the level of calling people "twerps" and encouraging people to have a "good stiff drink" if they don't agree with him, or Dick Feagler, the Norman Rockwell of Cleveland, who does not illuminate with his writing, prattles on about history that is no longer applicable to basically anyone, and simply bores the entire city with his writing (as it rarely changes in the least -- and he could save himself a good amount of time by simply printing the same column every day, because they are all the same, and we have all heard about what life was like in 1958), I personally would not be thrilled to have either as a dinner companion. One has the mental stability of a toddler on crack, and the other still "fondly remembers those gray flannel pants he wore when Eisenhower was President." Table for one, please . . .

Name withheld upon request
Cleveland

Associate Editor
Scene is looking for an associate editor who has a deft touch with copy and a firm grasp of magazine journalism. The ideal candidate will have a strong news background and solid writing and editing skills. If you work well with writers, can craft a compelling narrative, and are committed to the highest literary standards, send a snappy cover letter, résumé, and representative set of writing and editing clips to:

Christine Brennan
New Times Inc.
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
Please, no phone calls.

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