Stoning David Martin

Letters published November 29, 2001

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Sidewalks of New York
What good's a writer without vices?

In response to David Martin's article "The War on the War on Drugs" [November 1]: I wish a more informed, less biased writer had written the article. He refers to users as "ex-cons, stoners, and freaks." Apparently, he was raised in the 1950s. I am surprised a forward-looking, liberal publication like Scene would risk insulting so many readers.

Mr. Martin, I am willing to guess that you do not smoke marijuana, yet you probably indulge in alcohol and possibly smoke tobacco. (If you don't, how dare Scene hire a writer with no vices?) I am an educated and moral person, and if I chose an intoxicant, I'd choose herb over alcohol any day. I won't deny there are inherent risks with marijuana -- one of the biggest ones being jail -- but I have found it to be far less detrimental than alcohol and tobacco to me and to society. I don't know of anyone who has killed someone with a vehicle or a weapon while under the influence of marijuana or who has died of lung cancer or heart disease due to marijuana use.

I no longer choose to use marijuana, but when I did, I was no more a freak or a stoner than someone at a wine tasting or someone having a cold one could be considered a drunk, loser, or potential killer. To each their own, with common sense and moderation. Besides, I don't think you would last a week in prison.

Karl Van Horn

The blind leading the Blind Lemon:

In Jason Bracelin's Soundbites [November 8], it seems that Blind Lemon booking agent Kalin Stipe has a distaste for anyone who "likes Christian metal and punk rock." I couldn't believe what I was reading. The only reason the Blind Lemon still exists is because of that particular kind of demographic. It's pretty sad, because this attitude is a good way to kill a growing Cleveland music scene. What would happen if kids went to shows to have a good time? People like Stipe are doing their best to eradicate a feeling of confidence in the local scene. It's this heartless and cutthroat mentality that is going to keep everyone away from the Blind Lemon -- which is sad, because the owners of the club are great people.

Blind Lemon has become a springboard for local bands and a popular stop for seminal national acts. Eventually, the club will stop booking local bands, because that is who the "kiddies" come to see, in favor of bands that cater to the older "rock and roll crowd." Basically, Mr. Stipe is trying to eliminate the very people who helped develop the Blind Lemon into a place where you could go on any given night to see a decent band play and hang out with your friends. Good luck, Mr. Stipe. The road to mediocrity awaits.

Brendan Moore

Don't blame this mess on the unions:

As a retired educator, I read with interest your article about the ever more rigorous requirements for licensing teachers ["Teaching Teachers," November 8]. Experience has taught me that a certain number of undergraduate education courses are helpful in preparing a person for the classroom. It is, however, ridiculous for the state to require a master's degree for continued licensing and employment. If a teacher with a college degree and teaching experience doesn't know more about teaching than a teenaged student, this person does not belong in a classroom. Teachers are ineffective not because they lack knowledge in their subject area, but because they cannot establish and maintain a working relationship with their students. A master's degree in history will not help a social studies teacher manage a classroom.

It is also extremely unfair to require a teacher to withstand the financial cost of these so-called "advanced studies." If the state requires this expenditure, it should provide reimbursement. Finally, it is unfair to blame the teachers' unions for the existence of these requirements. The unions will accept all professional employees in their systems, regardless of their respective routes to the classroom.

Bruce Taggert

For unbridled flattery, try the other paper:

I question Michael Azre's senses in his review of the Strokes [Nightwatch, November 15]. I read the review several times and still couldn't figure out how he could possibly justify comparing the Strokes to boy bands like Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. Azre dismisses their sound and credibility, as though they were contrived by the business suits posing as music executives that created those bands. If he really wants to understand what is behind the Strokes, he should turn to Volume 10, Issue 9, page 27 of the Free Times and read a review of the Strokes by someone who gets them.

Jason Milburn

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