What's a Brother to Do? 

Letters published October 30, 2002

Real men don't run with gangs:

It was with extreme eagerness that I read your article on East Cleveland's Tribe Gang ["Game Over," September 18]. Being that I grew up in East Cleveland, dated a member of the gang, and have a best friend who has children by another member, I felt compelled to comment on your story. I am sickened by the violence that goes on in East Cleveland. As a beautiful, well-educated, and independent black female, it hurts me to my soul to read story after story of my men, leaders of my bloodline, destroying each other. Every black man named in that article has been in jail, in prison, or on probation at one time or another. It shouldn't be that way.

Mr. Gibson comments that "From day one . . . it was over for us." Why can't black men learn to stand on their own and not succumb to the wrongdoings in their environment? Why can't they make a choice to do right?

Jermelle Thomas claims the Tribe is not a gang, just a group of brothers who hang out together. Bullshit! A man can stand on his own. A man doesn't need a gang of "brothers" to symbolize his strength. A man doesn't run, he stands tall. A man doesn't shoot another brother. If there is a beef, he fights like a man. And when it's all over, they return to being brothers.

A man doesn't sell drugs across the street from a school, to his own kind, and watch them take money out of their babies' mouths to feed a habit that destroys them.

A real brother would urge another to get an education. A brother would encourage and support another as he tried to make it out of the 'hood, not discourage and mock him for selling out. A group of brothers would be at home educating and spending quality time with their children, instead of sitting outside on the block.

Felicia Adams

Bemoaning Parma's racial bias:

I am sorry to say that the story about Parma ["Welcome to the 1950s," October 9] is remarkably accurate. I went to Parma schools, and I'm embarrassed about telling people I went to a segregated school. I was just a dumb teenager then and believed the Parma party line that African American people did not want to live there. What shocked me, in retrospect, is how much bullshit we picked up at school. I remember how our phys-ed teacher told us that Parma should be ashamed to lose to Shaw High.

When I was in law school, I was astounded when I read in the case books what had gone on. And the irony is that it's still going on. One of my friends (who's Asian) went to Parmatown in 1996. People stared at her like she was from Mars. Henceforth, she always referred to it as the Whitest Place on Earth.

On the other hand, when my daughter attended the Parma schools in the late 1980s, she actually learned about civil rights in a positive sense. Not like the teacher who, in 1968, referred to Martin Luther King as a "damned Commie."

Richard J. Koloda
Seven Hills

Putre hits below the white pleather belt:

I have always admired Laura Putre and thought she was an intelligent and qualified journalist, but "Welcome to the 1950s" was derogatory and mean-spirited. It was against Parma's working-class ethics, which always provide a convenient target. The city's hiring practices may be discriminatory, but that's not my point. Mention of a bar on every corner and 99-cent Denny's breakfasts shows Laura hitting below the belt. If there is no synagogue or Unitarian church in Parma, perhaps Jews and Unitarians elect to live in communities they like more than Parma. The inference, of course, is that Parma people are bigoted. Sadly, Putre, once my favorite writer, proves herself to be another liberal elitist.

Stanley J. Niemiec

Cleveland's tattoo parlors need a hand:

I am absolutely outraged by the way the City of Cleveland is treating tattoo shops ["Tattoo Snafu," October 9]. There's a lot of difference between a tattoo shop and a porn shop or strip club. This is the City of Cleveland saying, "You can open a shop, but there isn't anywhere you can do it!" It's crap. I hope the ACLU comes in and kicks the shit out of the city for being a bunch of dicks.

Shana Gyure

What good's a dance without a partner?

In a market that is so poorly served by the dominant daily paper, there was a need for alternative viewpoints. How did the competition between Scene and the Free Times get so personal and vicious ["Death Becomes Her," October 9]? "Moron"? "Washed-out"? "Dope dealer"? Did David Eden call your momma a bad name?

No amount of frat-boy sniping at the Free Times' perceived failings can eliminate the circumstances of your "triumph." Your corporate parent made a deal with their corporate parent. Your victory dance is unseemly. Hopefully, once you get this gloating out of your system, you'll be able to concentrate on journalism.

Mike Robeson

Your top source for ass-biting news:

I must give credit to Editor Pete Kotz. He's a straight shooter and a real company man. His behind-the-Scenes explanation of what actually happened to the Free Times was certainly an eye-opener. I guess I never recognized how bad that paper truly was. And mismanaged to boot. I am definitely looking forward to his page next week. After all, what choice do I have? I'm hoping for an in-depth glance into the guts of the Scene, detailing and exposing all of the reasons why his rag also bites ass.

Chris Shimp

Everybody loves a dead paper:

Well, I'm sure you've heard this a million times: The end of the Free Times is a very unfortunate event; two opinions are always better than one. I am not against Scene. I did prefer Free Times, because of its more in-depth music coverage and because of its willingness to explore subjects that others didn't. Their publication had more articles and more editorials.

I was actually a fan of Scene years ago, before it got bought out and became all corporate. When I had to decide which corporate -- I mean "alternative" -- mag to read, I chose Free Times. Now I will have to go back to reading Scene. This is because there is no other weekly mag. Basically, I will only pick up your paper for concert announcements. I would hope that maybe you will learn a little from the Free Times. I bet it will feel nice knowing that people only read your publication because they have no choice.

Pete Kotz's article "Death Becomes Her" was really well done. Such good taste. That's sarcasm, in case you didn't know.

Eddie Fleisher

Who shot the dog?

Concerning "Death Becomes Her," your recent editorial on the folding of the Free Times: How sad it is to greet the death of an outlet of free speech like you're shooting an already dead dog, while providing no words of hope.

Lee E. Batdorff
Cleveland Heights

Where's Roldo?

One of the major reasons why I, a former Cleveland resident, enjoyed the Cleveland Free Times was the column by Roldo Bartimole. Bartimole has many key contacts in Cleveland politics. He was able to provide analysis that others can't. He also enjoyed the willingness of his former editors to allow him to speak his mind, regardless of whether the expressions were controversial. I trust Scene will make contact with Mr. Bartimole and endeavor to work out a relationship with him, so that former readers of Cleveland Free Times can continue to enjoy his stimulating analysis.

Kimber A. Wald
Gaithersburg, MD

The Backdoor Men give thanks:

Hey, thanks for mentioning the Backdoor Men [Best Local Website, September 25]. You should check out our website: handsomeproductions.com. It has the most comprehensive information available on Peter Laughner, Cleveland's greatest musician ever.

Paul Nickels


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