Ramos Rehash

America on the Air? Now that cities like Pittsburgh, Madison, Minneapolis and Columbus have local radio stations that broadcast Air America, home of Al Franken (¨King of All Liberal Media,"

America on the Air?
Now that cities like Pittsburgh, Madison, Minneapolis and Columbus have local radio stations that broadcast Air America, home of Al Franken (¨King of All Liberal Media," issue of Sept. 1-7), it would certainly seem timely for there to be one in Cincinnati, where it's needed as in few other cities. Of course, it might be listened to via the Internet, which I do, but it would be much more effective as a local station.

My question is: Who or what in town with media savvy would be able to make this a reality? I wonder if anyone has already thought about this or is working on it.

— Donald Foster, Cincinnati

Arts Deserve Better
It seems all we need to do with Steve Ramos is put a pyramidal frizzy wig on his head, sit him next to a reasonable news anchor and smirk at his Roseanne Roseannadana raves. I first was tempted to write after his rehash last month of the Esquire's edit of the lolly scene (¨Cutting Edge," issue of July 28-Aug. 3). Please, have him grind his dull old axes on someone else's time. My family attends the films at the Esquire regularly and counts that place as one of our community's cultural God-sends.

But I really could not tolerate his rant ¨Wanted: Arts Protesters" (issue of Sept. 1-7), which taunts that, aside from Victoria Morgan and Nic Muni, no one in our arts community is actively raising questions about current events. Is it just time for you to assign more writers to the beat? Do you need to hire more art writers? Clearly, there have been missed opportunities.

Where was a thorough review from S.O.S. Art, which ran at The Mockbee for three weeks in June and filled weekends with performances and screenings, including Hijacking Catastrophy, a film that did not make his list of polit flicks showing in Manhattan? Because Ramos stubbornly continues his one-man boycott of the Esquire, he missed their timely screenings of Control Room, The Fog of War and Fahrenheit 9/11. Is he perhaps the most provincial of us all? How long will he hold his grudge?

S.O.S. Art is Saad Ghosn's annual open art forum that offers four galleries full of visual voices speaking from all corners of the issues. It merited coverage that CityBeat did not provide. It is sad but true that, like the proverbial tree falling in the woods without a spectator, exhibitions that receive no coverage can seem not to have happened at all. Luckily there will be a catalogue available for those who missed the show.

And where is CityBeat's review of the thought-provoking work in Visual Journey currently at the NKU galleries? This juried national exhibition deals with persisting issues of prejudice, limited freedom and our continuing struggles to know who we are collectively and how to arrive at some state of tolerance.

All Ramos could do was whine that the new Freedom Center didn't yet have any outdoor public art. And then he pronounced that Cincinnati has a poor record with new public art. Has he not seen the new David Nash Seven Vessels Ascending Descending, the new Castle of Air by Peter Haimerl and the new mosaic covered colonade at the Friendship Pavilion, all at the Berry International Friendship Park? All of these fine new works arrived within the space of 12 months to the Ohio River's banks. When the new public commons will be funded and built in the Freedom Center's front yard, certainly there will be more art. But somehow I don't think that will cure his perpetual sourness.

If Ramos doesn't know this kind of work is currently (and frequently) presented in our own neighborhood, who's to blame? Most of these shows are announced in your own calendar listings. Perhaps they should be required reading for your reporters.

We don't have a problem with artists being asleep at the wheel in this community. I'm ever amazed at the productivity and fertility of our residents. But we do have a problem with one self-righteous, cynical arts reporter.

Still, it's not too late. Ramos, too, can be a part of the solution. And we deserve better from him.

— Jan Brown Checco, Clifton

Editor's Note: Steve Ramos' absence from the Esquire Theatre is not his choice — since June 2001 he's been banned by the Esquire's owners from attending films there. FYI, CityBeat coverage of S.O.S. Art, Visual Journey, Control Room, The Fog of War and Fahrenheit 9/11 can be found at citybeat.com.

Will to Live
Former President Clinton's coronary bypass surgery should be a wake-up call for the millions of Americans whose chosen lifestyles elevate their risk of heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, more than 60 million Americans suffer from heart disease and nearly 500,000 die each year. Lifestyle risk factors are a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol, smoking and lack of exercise.

Scores of studies in the past three decades demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that replacing animal fat and meat in our diet with vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains lowers substantially the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases. These diseases account for 1.3 million American deaths annually. A plant-based diet contains no cholesterol or saturated fat but ample fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients for a long and healthy life.

Choosing a wholesome plant-based diet is a snap these days. All we need is the will to live.

— Harold Wardman, Cincinnati

Kerry Has Better Plan
Last week President Bush outlined his domestic policy agenda in his speech at the Republican National Convention. He stated that part of his solution for the current health care crisis was to let people invest in Health Care Savings Plans (HSPs).

In my view, this plan is not a feasible way to address the health care issue our country faces. According to the IRS' Publication 969, a similar pilot program, Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), was in place until December 2003. MSAs were designed so that idividuals could set up an account with a U.S. financial institution such as a bank and save money exclusively for future medical expenses.

The accounts had to be used in conjunction with a high-deductible health plan, a plan that has a higher annual deductible than typical health plans and a maximum limit on the annual out-of-pocket medical expenses. In 2003, the minimum annual deductable for an individual was $1,700. The minimum for a family was $3,350.

Under President Bush, we have seen a drop in the real median household income (Ð $1,535) and employment numbers that remain stagnant. The average household has difficult time saving money as it is, so it is difficult to see how we'd be able to take advantage of these ¨savings accounts."

Additionally, the deductibles on the insurance policies used in conjunction with the accounts are useful only in the most of dire of circumstances. If the president uses the MSAs as a model for his plan, people who actually need to use their health care insurance — people with asthma, heart conditions and diabetes, for instance — will have a difficult time paying toward these high deductibles. People with such conditions don't have ¨future medical expenses." They have expenses today. To tie them to some promise of savings to deal with costs down the road and a high deductible plan today is unacceptable.

President Bush's passing remark concerning the health care crisis didn't offer any real solution to this overwhelming problem. The only plan for the healthcare crisis that makes sense in this election is John Kerry's.

One of the many healthcare initiatives Kerry offers is allowing all Americans to join the health care plan government employees use. According to the Kerry campaign Web site, this would help stabilize insurance rates and keep coverage affordable by removing the burden of high cost cases from the insurance pool. It has the potential of saving Americans up to 10 percent (or $1,000 for a family) on their current health care costs.

We need drastic healthcare reform today, and from what I've seen of the two candidates only Kerry gives us a substantial, realistic plan for dealing with this crisis.

— Lora Arduser, Northside

Correction
An incorrect phone number appeared in last week's Fine Tuning column. The correct number for CSOEncore party reservations and information is 513-744-3590.

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