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One Orr in the Water 

Letters published November 9, 2000

Random reflections on hockey's golden age: I don't know how you can spend five pages on the life and times of an "enforcer" in professional hockey ["Tough Guy," October 19]. Your sophomoric essay on the trials and tribulations of Garrett Burnett show that you don't know squat about hockey.

I grew up in Boston when the NHL was only six teams. In the '70s, there were less than 1 percent American players. Ninety players. The best Canada had to offer. There were no mandatory helmets, goalies didn't wear masks until Jacques Plante perfected his model, and the game was dominated by small, fast, slick forwards; big, bruising defensemen; and fearless goalies. And there was "the policeman." The policeman's job was to make sure the little guys didn't take too much shit. If so, some "frontier justice" was applied. In American football, a lineman can spend 10 years hitting someone with his head, and that is sport. In the NHL, there is 2 minutes for roughing, 5 minutes for fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct and a suspension for intent to injure.

As a young man, I watched Gordie Howe and the Red Wings play the Bruins in Bobby Orr's rookie season. Howe was a nasty sahmbitch with a roomful of awards and trophies. He tried to coax the young Orr into a fight the whole game. Orr told him, "When I'm up a goal with two minutes left, we are gonna go!" True to his word, in the waning minutes of the third period, with the Bruins up a goal, the rook -- Orr -- put the "Murphy" on the great Howe. After the game, they went out for many beers. The recent Marty McSorley incident is not the first high-profile stick-swinging incident in the NHL. Teddy Green, policeman for the Bruins in the '70s, was hit over the head by Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues. He almost died and now has a steel plate in his head.

I remember Orland Kirtenback of the Rangers always getting into it with Derek Sanderson, the best third-line center ever in the game. Johnny McKenzie would drop the gloves in a minute. Wayne Cashman had the best left hand in the league. Orr kicked Pat Quinn's ass too many times to remember. The Mahovolich brothers -- Frank and Peter, the Big M and the Little M -- patrolled the Montreal Forum and put fear in all eyes.

With six teams, if you took a whupping, you would see the guy in a week or so. I don't know how much hockey you have seen live, but I suggest you go see a Heights High, Ignatius, or Padua game to see the game on a local level, with emerging kids trying to play in college and the pros. If not, I suggest you go get a doughnut!

Gary Wells
Cleveland

What becomes of "Draw Tippy" winners: In reference to the article on Gaudy Paintings ["Over the Top," October 5] and numerous other "art reviews": Why do you have Charles Yannopoulos writing as an art critic? Am I missing something here? What is it exactly that he knows about art?

Lobelia
Cleveland

We've lost another teenybopper: Scene's harsh review of Orgy's Vapor Transmission [Playback, October 12] is the final straw for this dedicated fan! I am writing this driven by the disbelief that even my favorite paper has let me down in not giving this album the accolades it deserves. Reviewers across America, stop complaining about this album! Now!

I will start with the David Bowie remarks. Of course they sound reminiscent of Bowie -- I think one would be hard-pressed to find an artist that doesn't have traces of the bands that inspired it. The name Orgy is partly homage to the concept that their sound is a collaboration of their influences. Frontman Jay Gordon was quoted as saying, "I write the songs for people to put their own imaginations to work."

Another criticism is Orgy's penchant for cryptic lyrics. Part of Orgy's beauty is that they are malleable enough to have many shades of meaning! The probable meanings and references emerge after one attains a bit of background.

Finally, I would like to know why achieving metaphors through sci-fi references is a bad thing. Claiming that aspects such as these are clichéd amuses me; I have found that nearly all concepts in music are overdone. Maybe I'm the only one who hasn't heard anything close to Orgy's sound in recent years -- oh, and the thousands of other devoted fans, too, that is.

I admit that I am a teenybopper, and I also realize that I haven't analyzed thousands of music pieces, the way a reviewer has. Yet I do know that Orgy has made something special, and I don't want bad commentaries (The PD's was also unenthusiastic, but they aren't worth going after) to prevent listeners from giving Orgy a chance.

Violet Pretty
Fairview Park

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