Letters: Voices of the Year

Excerpts from 2007 editorials, columns and letters

This might seem trivial in light of the serious problems facing this city, but with the passing of James Brown — who recorded his most famous music here in the Queen City at King Records, not to mention giving local icon Bootsy Collins his start — I think it's long overdue to erect a monument honoring Brown and the legacy of King Records, preferably at former site of King Records in Evanston. … Rock & Roll might have been born in Memphis, but it was conceived in Cincinnati. It's about time we acknowledged it. (Letter from Bob Cushing, issue of Jan. 10)

Larry Gross' "Dying Alone" column hit home, as I haven't seen my father in years. I got to thinking of Mr. Gillis dying alone in his bed and, no, it's not right for someone you love to die alone. I love him but don't know how to talk to him. We're meeting for dinner this week. I think I have Larry to thank for that. (Letter from Leslie Corb, Jan. 17)

As I waded into the Enquirer editorial, however, I was immediately struck with the editorial board's tone that discussions about this transit proposal were something new. "So it's time for us to get the conversation started, especially before the 'experts' all weigh in," the third paragraph began.

"We invite you to consider the following observations, then talk to us — and each other — about the streetcar issue."

Dudes, where have you been? We've been talking to each other about public transit, light rail, streetcars and a lot other things for many years now. ... Pardon the pun, but we're totally on board. (Editorial by John Fox, Jan. 24)

As far back as 10 years ago, I told my good friend and mentor, Lonnie Wheeler, now Post sports columnist, that E.W. Scripps should make The Cincinnati Post the nation's first full-time online newspaper. The thought of eliminating the print editions is already in the minds of many, many companies, editors and staff, but it's also a taboo subject. And even though I'm neither a Post employee nor former employee, my suggestion still stands: The Post should spend the final 10 months positioning the paper to flip over to a 24/7 Cincinnati online news operation on Jan. 1, 2008. What does Scripps have to lose? (Letter from Dennis Tuttle, Feb. 28)

It comes down to what we know about race and what we know about each other, the intimate details of personal and national history. Allow me to admit my own personal bias, but I believe there are more black folks with dual majors in race relations — and I'm talking about more that just having a basic cultural pass to cross between the 'hood and the 'burbs.

White kids riding the main line buy into Hip Hop as a cultural phenomenon, but what do they know about the history of black folks? To be fair, we need to ask what black kids today know about the history of black folks. (The Alternative column by tt stern-enzi, March 21)

What Don Imus said is neither surprising nor very newsworthy, in my estimation. But the fact that he and his supporters can swiftly turn the tables on a multi-billion dollar music industry that's guilty of the same thing is both ironic and unsettling.

The media focus shift to Hip Hop is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to redirect attention away from the housecleaning that needs to take place within the jocular, good-old-boy network that comprises the quasi-news/talk/shock jock format. (Guest Editorial by Kevin Britton, April 18)

I was pleased to read Gregory Flannery's cover story "Why We Smoke." I too am part of a persecuted minority of Ohioans. I like to invade people's personal space, whether they like it or not, and smack them across the face. I'm a smacker.

If God didn't want us to smack, he wouldn't have given us big hands that make noise when we hit shit. So I urge smackers and smokers to unite and repeal the smacking ban in Ohio. (Letter from Steve Degas, May 2)

The Hold Steady guitarist climbs up on the speakers on the front of the stage, and someone hands up his guitar, which he plays a good 10 or 12 feet up in the air. You think it's a pretty cool sight on a Monday night.

You decide right then and there to scrap the editorial you were going to write about downtown development or public transportation or neighborhood business districts or some other pertinent topic and maybe write about a dude playing guitar on top of some speakers in front of a bunch of sweaty guys. Because too often you forget that really good live music played in a small club is as important, if not more important, than just about anything else. (Editorial by John Fox, May 16)

As a sophomore in high school, I was on the track team, forced to go out for it by my father, who ironically I would've told to kiss my ass if I thought there was the slightest chance I could outrun him. But I was a large, bulky youth on the verge of emigrating from Chubbylovakia to Tubbólardistan and therefore not especially speedy. How the coach put it was "You're fast for your size," which I knew even then was the running equivalent of "Your new haircut makes you look more hetero" or "Your cat's really smart for a cat." (Estrangement column by Bob Woodiwiss, May 30)

Kudos to Margo Pierce and CityBeat for another excellent piece of investigative reporting. You exposed the seamy side of working in Cincinnati: day laborers treated like rubbish because their employers can get away with it. Where else would people have to arrive at 4 a.m. for work that might start at 10, pay $6 for a ride to get there, do back-breaking labor for a minimum wage and still not earn enough to afford both food and a roof overhead? (Letter from Kathy Helmbock, July 4)

Perhaps there's still hope for a Syringe Exchange Program in Cincinnati. But we can't have such a program if I'm a lone ranger. The success of such a program can occur only if you help me and if our medical community, public officials and our HIV/AIDS medical specialists join their voices. (Letter from Tyrone K. Yates, Ohio House of Representatives, July 25)

I don't like change. I can see no virtue in it. The unavoidable changes, like growing old and dying, make me wonder why everyone isn't suspicious of words like "development" and "progress."

The cheap little businessmen in Sinclair Lewis' novels are anethma to me, with their talk of "onward and upward" at their boosters' clubs. Yet, once again, I am faced with my old nemesis: moving. My beloved apartment building on Main Street is "going condo," as they say, and I must move so that the building can be gutted, rehabbed and readied for the YPs, "young professionals" hoping to get a foothold in Over-the-Rhine. (Editorial by Katie Laur, Aug. 1)

This is beginning to feel surreal. I fake looking at my watch. I don't want the girl to think I'm watching her — but I am. She crosses the street and walks over to me again. "Come on, baby," she says, getting a little too close, "Sunday morning special. Ten dollars gets you off behind those bushes."

I look at the bushes behind the bench, then at the girl. "I'm really not interested," I say looking into those crazy eyes of hers. "I'd like to be left alone." (Living Out Loud column by Larry Gross, Aug. 22)

Wouldn't it be a relief if we could all bust out with the truth? For example, "I'm scratching my nose because you're beautiful." How about this: "If I don't piss my pants first, let's make out." Probably would sufficiently freak out the other half.

I guess there's a place for acting reserved, but I'm shit-tired of mystique. Overly dreamy, maybe, but while I'm going, what if we skipped introductions and instead said, "How 'bout I kiss your right eyelid now?" (Living Out Loud column by C.A. MacConnell, Sept. 12)

The Cincinnati I enjoy has been fertile ground for musicians. The ability to affect their surrounding suits them just fine. And while most of us weren't listening, our local musicians have slowly been changing how this city is perceived by the nation. Cincinnati has become a music town. (Editorial by Dan McCabe, Nov. 7)

Speaker Joanna Macy shone with hope that I don't feel. But I think my withdrawal from direct activism and political involvement has led me to cultivate deeper relationships. I now work on building something small, safe and healthy in the middle of these systems that I've given up trying — for now — to change.

Some of my friends agree. They count disappearing bees, wait for the Mayan calendar to end in 2012 and hope that our calamities, instead of abating, will just snowball and bring on the apocalypse already. (There But For Grace column by Stephanie Dunlap, Dec. 12)

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