Down With Mushroomhead

Letters published April 25, 2002

The Cat's Meow
The masked metalheads have more to prove:

I really enjoyed your article "The Most Powerful People in Cleveland Music" [March 14]. It was very informative. I am very familiar with some of the people on the list and totally unfamiliar with others, but I was glad to see who is who. I hope you will make this an annual issue.

There is an adjustment that should be made, because there is no way in hell Mushroomhead should be ahead of Kermit Henderson. There is no comparison between a local group that has sold out a venue (Blossom) and the biggest record retailer in Cleveland, with a 30-year track record. At best, Mushroomhead should have been number 9 or 10, until it proves that it is more than a band that can sell out a venue.

Jay Kool

No matter the color, it's all bad:

The fair and well-written piece "White Power Outage" [March 7] lived up to its name and showed us that the watchdog's list consisted mainly of the "lone wolf" with an Internet connection. What I didn't think was fair, though, was the implication that whites are still the only ones who have racist attitudes.

The majority of whites aren't racist, and when they hear about racism, it's usually when they're being accused of it. The majority of blacks only hear about how much whites are (or used to be) racist, and they grow up looking at every white person as though they're out to get them. Because of this distrust, many blacks begin to harbor what they think is a justified anger and hatred toward whites, with an increase of violent, racially motivated attacks against whites by black youths. Whites respond by moving farther away from the crime culture of black-occupied territories. With that, the circle of racism begins.

During the WTO demonstrations in Seattle, black thugs randomly attacked white demonstrators. During Seattle's Mardi Gras, black youths were again involved in the same type of injurious behavior toward whites. There has been a decrease in white racism and racist groups precisely because of increased attention to the issue, and I think it's time to bring the same scrutiny to the issue of black attitudes and actions.

Ultimately, if it's the young people who are going to change these attitudes, we have to make sure we give them the right information. If we're going to speak out against racism and racist ideas, we need to speak out against all of it.

David Stevens

A black man's love for a woefully white sport:

Very interesting article by Pete Kotz on Eric LaPlante, "the black guy" playing hockey for the Cleveland Barons ["Soul on Ice," March 21]. I, too, have been "the black guy" on several roller hockey teams and have been a hardcore hockey fan for about 25 years.

While playing in leagues, I have been in minor shoving matches and sticking incidents, but none have resulted in name-calling that even came close to racial. My experiences at games have been almost all positive, and once you show folks that you know the game, you are part of their club. Many folks are always asking me technical questions about the game and picking my brain for historical issues. I always chuckle at being commended on my son's playing skills. (I have no son, but they assume that a black parent and a black kid playing hockey must be related.)

The only racial incident I have seen in more than 23 years of hockey was when Shaker Heights played Bethel Park High (from Pennsylvania). The Bethel Park players had to be reminded that the N-word is not allowed on the ice in Ohio, and four or five players were given penalties for their repeated violations. Some Garfield High hockey fans made some smart comments at Shaker Heights players during the National Anthem and promptly found themselves with a five-goal deficit.

Last year, over 30 minorities played professional hockey. The NHL has poured a million dollars into a program to attract minorities. Unfortunately, we (black folks) have a mental block that prevents us from participating more in this exceptional sport. You rarely see any of the black media show interest in black players. I have never heard Willy O'Rea's name mentioned for breaking the race barrier in the 1950s in any black publications. When whites find out that I am a hockey fan or player, we chat about hockey. When blacks hear it, I hear comments ranging from positive all the way to very self-limiting and bigoted.

More of us are playing, have been named captains of teams, and are constantly recruited high in the drafts. So just keep your eyes open for us. Sad to say that I have had to face the fact that at age 43, I have only a few more shifts left in this body. But what the heck. My skates and blades are always in the car. Game on.

Dave Grier

Striking profile:

Your irresponsible racial profiling of hockey fans and their ideas and beliefs is foul ["Soul on Ice," March 21]. Follow the money. Owners and coaches ultimately decide who plays the game, not fans. Tainting the truth and knowing what the truth is is even more foul than racism. But then again, most journalists subscribe to irresponsible and biased manipulation for ratings.

So, along with lawyers and politicians, I can now add journalists like yourself to the list of things that I feel are screwed about this country and only getting worse. I would normally put "respectfully yours" here, but your irresponsible stereotyping fills me with animosity and disgust -- anything but respect.

Michael D. Jaszkewicz

Black skaters have a friend in Texas:

I am a black female. As nice as it was to see an article on a black minor league hockey player ["Soul on Ice," March 21], it took a bit of patience to wade through the first two paragraphs. Why did Pete Kotz choose to take such an approach to the article? I feel that Kotz could have done a much greater service if he had chosen a more positive lead-in for the story.

I found myself defending LaPlante when the Barons were in Houston this season. I had the displeasure of hearing the racial slurs and insults firsthand. Narrow-minded, insecure fans even had to insult his hair. There are plenty of negative stereotypes about Texans, but these insults were raining down from the season ticketholders in the expensive seats -- the people who are supposed to be "educated." I was utterly embarrassed. I questioned them as to how they might feel if they were put in his position. It quieted the insults.

I hope Kotz takes a more positive approach in future articles. I think that perhaps you need to give blacks the benefit of the doubt and not assume so much. I've introduced eight people to hockey (five of whom are black), and no one made negative inferences. Does Kotz actually know any black people?

Rene F. Simien
Baytown, Texas

Dan Savage is back in the closet:

After reading your new issue and thinking about the quality of your writing staff, I thought maybe you should offer jobs to Mike Trivisonno and John Lanigan. Then you'd have the brightest minds in Cleveland all in one place. They could even do a three-way with Dan Savage. Just a thought.

Terrance Shaw

We live for death metal:

I just want to applaud you guys for your surprisingly positive coverage of real heavy metal lately. Usually, it had to be indie rock for any positive praise to be thrown its way, and now metal is starting to be covered more. Good job, and keep up the good work.

Dan Coates

She fires old secretaries!

Congratulations to Sarah Fenske on a well-written story ["Goliath, Meet David," March 21]. I worked for the National Benevolent Association (NBA) for about 15 years. Following Cindy Dougherty's affiliation with NBA, I retired as soon as I possibly could.

Prior to the NBA, I put in over 20 years of active duty in the Navy, retiring as a captain. Thankfully, the Navy has very few Cindy Doughertys, and they are usually weeded out by at least the lieutenant level. You might wish to examine more closely her excessive salary, annual bonus and expense account, and why she terminated several longtime, very popular individuals within Disciples ranks and their near-retirement-age secretaries.

Jim White
St. Charles, Missouri

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