Smoking Guns

Letters published January 8, 2003

Vivo 347 Euclid Avenue (in the Old Arcade) 216-621-4678. Lunch, Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner, Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. through 11 p.m.; later on Friday and Saturday.

Buckethead could kick Slash's ass:

Saw the new Guns N' Roses in Columbus and was blown away [Soundbites, November 20]. Axl really sounds better now than he did during GNR's supposed prime.

Is this the same band that played bars and sleazy clubs back in the late '80s? No. Does this band musically blow those guys out of the water? You're damn skippy they do. I think this tour is just an introduction to let the fans adjust to the new faces playing the old songs, and their next tour will feature the new material.

Granted, it would have been cool to see Slash out there, but Slash would piss his pants if he had to try to play with Buckethead and Robin Finck. Those guys would seriously blow him off the stage. And Richard Fortus has more personality on his worst day than Izzy did on his best.

Ray Miller

Hebrew Israelites: Better than gangbangers!

I don't understand Kevin Hoffman's obvious bias against the Hebrew Israelites in "The Cult on Coventry" [November 27]. Hoffman seems to have painstakingly sought out reasons to discredit and vilify this group. Although I don't really subscribe to their beliefs, I don't see why they should be the targets of such scrutiny. A few bad apples in other states have committed crimes. That says nothing of members here in Cleveland, with whom the Cleveland police have had no problems. If we're judging religions by the heinous acts of a few extremist members, then Christianity is in trouble. Do we all remember a little incident in Waco or a guy called Jim Jones?

Ultimately, I think the Hebrew Israelites are a people seeking cultural identity, connection, and purpose, as we all are. For the many African Americans who, due to historical events, may be lacking a sense of identity and hope, the Hebrew Israelites seem a reasonable alternative to gang life and crime.

The Hebrew Israelites here promote health, financial independence, and respect for the environment. So they follow different customs from those of most Americans when it comes to diet and marriage. To each his or her own.

Laura Essel
East Cleveland

Unfit to be cultists:

I was confused by the title of the article "The Cult on Coventry." After reading the article, I found it pertained more to other Hebrew Israelite sects that have broken the law. There was minimal information devoted to the local group, but the cover gives the impression that this is a group to fear. It's almost as if you're hoping to create mass hysteria. As Kevin Hoffman points out, the Hebrew Israelites haven't done anything, so there is a lack of evidence that they are worthy of the name "cult."

Rachel Speck
Richmond Heights

Creating a better world, one vegan at a time:

The article about the Hebrew Israelites was simply astounding. Many people have misconceptions about this religion. Not only did this article clarify the facts behind a controversial sect, but it presented these people accurately and in an unbiased manner.

From veganism to pacifism, these religious people are out to aid mankind in becoming pure individuals. Even if they do participate in a few black nationalist movements, the truth of what they do has been mapped out so well that I see no clear threat posed by this group.

I applaud your contacting the FBI and the Cleveland Heights police as a way of uncovering their general nature. Some people see this group as being up to bad activities, but local authorities are unaware of their existence and operations. The use of this information makes the group's ongoing activities seem plausible.

Timothy Gill
Middleburg Heights

Cleveland's gay politician is also modest:

Kudos to Scene and David Martin for the story on Patrick Shepherd ["Rainbow Warrior," December 4]. Martin is right: Patrick's leadership in rallying the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community as an effective political force has been extraordinary.

What didn't get mentioned, however, is Patrick's modesty: He's the first to give others the credit, the first to volunteer for all the menial tasks, and the first to focus the spotlight on gay-friendly candidates, rather than on his own role in educating and promoting those candidates. Northeast Ohio has a true treasure in Patrick.

Earl Pike
Cleveland Heights

Power options are killing motorists:

I read "Quality Is Job 753" [December 4] with great interest. I didn't realize that sudden acceleration was still a problem. The obvious reason for this phenomenon is our willingness to let the automakers automate our driving. Where I have worked for the past 21 years, OSHA requires all safety lockouts on our molding presses to be mechanical. This, in spite of the existence of photocells and magnetic switches.

Meanwhile, the National Highway Safety Administration continues to allow computers and electronics to operate our cars. The steering, braking, and speed-control functions are too important to be left to a computer. The human driver should be in full mechanical control. All a car should be capable of doing on its own is idling.

Ray Crim

A tragedy still in need of answers:

Thanks for Gregory Weinkauf's insightful review of Bloody Sunday [November 6]. It's important to note that this is a true story, one that the British have tried to cover up for the past 30 years.

Not only did the British government let its paratroopers murder unarmed civil rights marchers; it also compounded the tragedy by waging a propaganda war against the innocent victims. Most of the army rifles that fired the fatal rounds were scrapped "by mistake." Incriminating photographs, film footage, and documents are missing as well.

Even as evidence of their guilt is being emblazoned on movie screens, the generals and commanders portrayed in the film are still denying responsibility for the murders they committed in Britain's name. Only one soldier has broken ranks to say, "There was no threat posed to the army at the time they opened fire, and there was no justification for it."

The film has helped demonstrate to a wider public that the British government is less honorable than it pretends to be. Hopefully, international exposure will pressure Britain to tell the truth and clear the names of its victims. As that one honest soldier testified, "An acknowledgment of what happened is long overdue."

Pat Kempton,
Irish Northern Aid in Cleveland

More love for Denny Cornei:

What a pleasure it was to read your article on Denny Cornei ["The Best Man in Cleveland," December 4].

I am an American of Romanian descent; my father was born in Batania, Romania. I had the pleasure of meeting Denny and his family when they first arrived in the United States, and your story exactly captures the spirit of his family and their humility and gratitude for living in America. He and his family are amazing people. You give good writing. And by the way, he's a damn good soccer player.

Emily Lipovan Holan

Detroit is rock's true home:

One needn't be a rock scholar to realize the monumental significance Detroit has had on the rock scene ["Rating Season," December 11]. Cleveland is a good rock and roll town, but has contributed only in a small way. To be the rock capital, you must have two qualities: high energy and the ability to produce rock bands that have made a major impact on the music scene. The impact of Motown was monumental and has remained unchallenged by any city since the '60s.

The other Detroit sound relates to the garage bands that were developed in the mid-'60s. These often-overlooked groups were pioneers for what was to come. The Rationals, Human Beings, Tidal Waves, Unrelated Segments, Woolies, Underdogs, and early Bob Seger were tremendous. Before Kid Rock and Eminem were old enough to cruise down Eight Mile Road, Ryder was socking it there, Seger was rambling it there, Nugent was journeying there, Iggy and the Stooges were down on the street, and the MC5 were kicking out the jams. The only thing not there that should be there is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

John Bellas
North Canton

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