Rollback Smiley on Strike

Letters published November 6, 2002

Atmosphere, with Illogic The Phantasy Theatre, 11802 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood 9 p.m. Sunday, November 3, $15, 216-241-5555.
It's time for a Wal-Mart union:

Scene reporter Martin Kuz did an excellent job exposing the problems that Wal-Mart causes in our community ["The Wal-Mart Menace," September 4]. While Wal-Mart produces smiling faces on its constant television ads, all is not smiles behind the walls at Wal-Mart. When workers try to improve their standards by organizing a union, Wal-Mart management puts down the hammer -- forces meetings attacking unions, refuses to let the union have access to give its side of the story, threatens and even fires workers.

There are reasons for all of us to be concerned about Wal-Mart's anti-worker attacks. Our neighbors who work at unionized grocery stores are treated far better. Workers at Giant Eagle, Tops, Heinen's, Dave's Supermarkets, and other union groceries receive health-care benefits paid for by their employer, as well as pensions, job security, a grievance procedure, and seniority rights. This is not the case for Wal-Mart employees.

It's good that Scene exposed the problems that Wal-Mart creates in Northeast Ohio. Clevelanders can expect far more attention to the problems of Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart employees can expect to receive the full support of the UFCW Local 880 and unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO, as they improve their standard of living by organizing into a union.

John W. Ryan,
Executive Secretary
Cleveland AFL-CIO

Don't expect it to change:

I agree with Laura Putre's article "Welcome to the 1950s" [October 9]. Some things never change. The double standard lives on and on. A person can throw racial insults at white people, such as "hiring a white-as-Wonder Bread police candidate" and "White folks didn't lift their heads out of their mashed potatoes," and it's considered OK. But turn that around and say "the black-as-coal recruit" or "Black folks didn't lift their heads out of their chitlins," and you'd be tagged a racist. You'd probably never write another article for that publication.

Parma has spent a ton of cash publicizing job opportunities in black newspapers, and the feds have spent more, trying to attract minorities. Does anyone in this day and age believe one could orchestrate a discrimination plan so thorough that it would limit minority hires to less than 1 percent of an entire workforce? Could it possibly be because people don't want to work there?

Putre slams the people of the city by saying, "In Parma, being proactive means hanging plastic Easter eggs from the trees right after Valentine's Day." Proactive could also mean making sure you have consistently reliable police and fire protection (along with other city services).

Putre spends a couple of paragraphs bashing churches for not doing enough to convince everyone to fall into line with your idea of utopia. Has anyone ever been turned away on the doorstep of these churches?

I'm really tired of people telling me what I should think, how I should live, and what my ideals should be.

Keith Mercek
Granger Township

Lazy reporting doesn't help anyone:

I agree with much of your commentary on the demise of the Free Times ["Death Becomes Her," October 9], although I will miss Roldo. His investigative tenacity and work ethic provided a benchmark for local journalism.

For the most part, however, your comment regarding the Free Times was right on point: "Rarely did readers get a full accounting of the sins committed. That would take work, the onerous task of collecting viewpoints from both sides." Bravo.

Along the same lines, you may want to put your own house in order. Laura Putre's attempted body slam of Parma ["Welcome to the 1950s"] had all the ingredients of a Free Times-at-its-worst article. An insulting headline, an easy target, and a story bereft of any footwork, but laden with sophomoric sarcasm.

Northeast Ohio can use as much honest, clear, and well-researched journalism as you are willing to produce, especially as it may relate to difficult issues such as race, economic development, education, etc. What we don't need is a cheap, lazy, recycled sneer that takes less time to research than it does to read. Best of luck in holding your own paper to the standard you articulated for your fallen rival. We need a decent alternative newspaper in this town.

Max Dehn

There are no alternatives:

I have to give Pete Kotz a pat on the back for the most viciously cheerful coverage of the New Times and Village Voice trade I've seen yet. It gave me a few good laughs. The hard reality is that these so-called "alternative" publications have always done their editorial coverage on the cheap. Once you start selling millions of dollars a year in advertising, you lose the right to call yourself "alternative."

I wrote a long article over a decade ago for the old Los Angeles Reader. It was an investigative piece that took a lot of time and effort, and after all was said and done, I made considerably less than minimum wage for the time spent. To add insult to injury, I had trouble getting paid at all. The check was very late. The coverage of LA Weekly revealed that they, too, have labor problems -- at a publication whose coverage has always been militantly pro-labor.

I agree with David Shaw of The Los Angeles Times that we lost an important voice out here. Having never lived in Cleveland, I can't say if Kotz was right in his commentary or not. Probably. But I do think we should find another designation than "alternative." These days, "alternative" is some kid turning out his 'zine at the local copy shop. The papers published by Village Voice and New Times became part of the mainstream long ago.

Francis Hamit
Frazier Park, CA

Daze of swine and bigwigs:

Pete Kotz speaks about the folding of the Free Times like a man who sold his heart for crack years ago and recently pawned his soul for Oxycontin.

Nothing creates more drive for progression like competition, and now, with the Free Times out of commission, I suppose it is time for Scene to throw the gearshift in reverse and forget about proving anything to anyone. I was reading your rag years before it was bought up by a national print consortium. Need you be reminded that without that money, Scene would have gone the way of the Free Times long ago?

Give everyone a break and cut out the bravado, you swine. Scene should get back into the lifestyle swing of things, story-wise, because only a bloated, pale-skinned Clevelander would read any "investigative" journalism from your paper and imagine it was anything other than sensationalist tripe. Now take that chip off your shoulder, Scene, and print your magazine for Cleveland, not the national journalism awards or yellow-bellied New Times bigwigs.

Justin Eisinger
Greensboro, NC

Corporate fucks and mullet yuks:

I first started reading the Scene, well, I guess when it started. In some ways it may have been better, in some ways it was worse. That's not the point. It's also not the point if you guys were better or worse than the late Free Times. The point is that there is no Free Times.

I'm sure you couldn't care less if some chemically addled musician wants to complain about its demise. I might be some old guy, but at least I ain't some fanny-smooching dung wagon, venal sellout, morally compromised corporate fuck, like those punks at the Village fucking Voice. I hope I'm not drunk and holding a shovel if I ever meet one of those dickheads.

Did those bastards stop to think for one minute about the human toll of their capitalistic machinations? For example, what happens to Music Editor Jeff Niesel? Who but the Free Times, north of the Mason-Dixon Line, is gonna hire a guy with that world-class mullet to be a writer? Face it, unless he jettisons the coiffure, that poor sum'bitch is gonna wind up working in a sheet-metal factory in Eastlake, for sure. Now that's some cold shit.

Yours in righteous indignation,

Stutz Bearcat


Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology, which can be found each week on, was inadvertently omitted from the last two issues of Scene. We apologize for the error.

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