Letters to the Editor

Letters published March 12, 2003

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America needs compassionate leadership:

In "A Commitment to Ignorance" [February 19], Andrew Putz assails Ohio's eight Presidents for being weak and incompetent, calling one a "wuss" and another a "geek." May God bless us with similar wusses and geeks in the Oval Office. They are our only hope.

A weak executive and a powerful legislature is not only closer to our nation's constitutional precepts, but also guarantees our civil liberties and avoidance of wars. The modern-day strong presidency is the result of unconstitutional powers given to the chief executive during wartime exigency.

Lincoln threw the Constitution out the window, running wartime Washington like a police state by incarcerating citizens without due process. Hopefully, this will not be modern-day Americans' fate under the offices of Homeland Security and Information Awareness. The weak, incompetent Presidents from Ohio would never have dreamed of using executive orders or fast-track trade negotiations, or of sending U.S. troops to foreign war zones without full congressional approval.

"Wuss" William Howard Taft preferred "Dollar Diplomacy" in Latin America, as opposed to his activist predecessor, Teddy Roosevelt, who "carried a big stick" and sought a good scrap now and then by sending in a gunboat. And a President like Taft, who cried in public, is better than one on some self-serving macho trip who would send someone else's kid off to war.

So allow me to nominate the one I hope will become the next President from Ohio: Dennis Kucinich. They will call him a lot of names, too, but he would be a President of integrity, compassion, and conscience, as well as one who would honor the Constitution.

Stanley Niemiec

Who's watching City Hall?

Despite fine feature articles, your magazine is not watching city and county shenanigans. Bring back Roldo. We need him now more than ever.

Robert J. Roth

Vol. 1 -- Harsh words from the organizer:

After reading Jason Bracelin's article [Soundbites, February 19], I can't help but wonder about his logic or agenda. He says last year's Cleveland Music Festival "didn't yield a good fest," and he goes on to complain about late starts, changing lineups, and the ticket-sale policy. He misquoted one of our organizers and loaded the article with a negative bias. It's amazing that he even works in the music industry, let alone as a music editor for a publication that used to be a leader in the Cleveland music scene.

The Cleveland Music Festival was founded only two years ago as a means of helping bands gain exposure and learn from industry executives during informative panel discussions. It is well on its way to becoming a major national festival. Although Scene is supposedly a sponsor of the festival, we have not gained one ounce of positive support from you editorially. After our first festival in 2001, The Plain Dealer wrote that "the festival largely succeeded on all counts." Is it against your journalistic integrity to write a positive article about an event that aims to help musicians achieve commercial success?

It is very common for bands to start late. It's usually caused by bands not arriving or setting up on time.

The biggest beef, as you put it, is that bands are rewarded for their efforts to sell tickets with better performance times. How would you do it? We initiated our policy to reward bands that work hard. In the past, we had organized a few events that allowed bands to sell tickets, but we determined lineups randomly. The problem with a random draw is when a band works hard to promote an event but gets a bad draw. How fair is that? Our goal is to give bands an opportunity, while other bands sit at home reading Scene and complaining about our ticket policy.

We organize this event each year over the course of five months. Because we are committed to keeping the ticket price low, we cannot afford to work full-time all year on the CMF. If you like, we can hire a full-time staff and raise the ticket prices to $145, as other festivals have done. We would rather keep our tickets priced at $10 for a three-day pass, which includes access to concerts at 16 venues as well as the panel discussions. Participating musicians can attend everything for free. If you have a better suggestion, we are all ears.

The CMF is very well organized. We had over 280 bands and 50 DJs this year. Scene is a sponsor of the Cleveland Music Festival, and as a sponsor, you are welcome to contribute to making the 2004 CMF a better event. Assigning a writer who "gets it" would probably be a step in the right direction. In the meantime, we are doing our best to help promote and enhance Cleveland's music community. What have you done?

Dan Cull
Cleveland Music Festival

Vol. 2 --Harsh words from a band guy:

The Cleveland Music Festival is just another example of greedy local promoters trying to exploit Cleveland bands. First off, some local bands were suckered into paying a $25 application fee. But when the CMF did not get enough bands to bite, it waived the fee for bands it solicited to play.

Next, every band participating (with the exception of certain headliners) was given presale tickets to sell. The more you sell, the better your time slot. For young Cleveland bands just starting to build a fan base, that amounts to having to hit up friends and family for money to essentially pay the club for a decent time slot -- which means before 1 a.m. -- and the chance to play outside the club's closetlike corner stage. How can a young local band showcase itself in that situation?

Third, CMF makes it sound as though all bands have a chance to be seen by "important label reps." But read the fine print, and you see that only special showcase bands at the Odeon show see the reps.

This whole festival is just a scam. Do the math: 200 bands and 100 presale tickets apiece at $10 a pop -- not counting underage ticket fees at the door. That's a lot of money, all generated by local bands for the promoter's benefit.

Bob Carpenter

Vol. 3 -- Man, this fest sucks:

I read the article in which Jason Bracelin talked about last year's problems at the Cleveland Music Festival, and how Dan Cull and his trusty sidekicks had eradicated all the problems for this year's event. Let me tell you that all of last year's problems that Bracelin described also occurred at the 2003 festival.

My band, One Day We Die, sent in our demo with a $20 fee and, a few weeks later, we were accepted to play. We were told that we were playing at the Grog Shop. When we went to pick up tickets, one kid asked what would happen if someone only sold five tickets. The lady said it wouldn't matter; it would only change your time slot. She told us we were guaranteed the spot that night.

So we posted fliers and posted it on our website, etc. Then we set out to sell tickets. Now, these tickets were $10, which, for three days, isn't bad. When we arrived to drop off our tickets -- we sold 15 -- we were asked to fill out this form numbering from least to best what time slot we wanted. Then we found out the next day that we'd be playing at the Rhythm Room. So we promoted a show at a place where we wouldn't be playing.

The people we sold tickets to were mad, because they thought they were going to the Grog Shop. They want their $10 back. Misleading people is a big problem with this festival.

It's sad to see it run this way. Maybe the way to fix it is to have someone else run it.

Eddie Fleisher

Wassup with Wilma Smith?

It has been difficult watching Wilma and Co. hawking stories like "Elvis is alive" and other "news" about Survivor and American Idol ["Fox 8 Goes to War," February 19]. At least Wilma hasn't resorted to mirroring Fox's hip-hop image with salutations like "Wassup" and "Peaceout." But maybe she hasn't been asked to yet.

Bob Erb

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