Smackers Unite!

I was pleased to read Gregory Flannery's cover story "Why We Smoke" (issue of April 18). I too am part of a persecuted minority of Ohioans: I like to invade people's personal space, whether they lik

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I was pleased to read Gregory Flannery's cover story "Why We Smoke" (issue of April 18). 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.

Why do I smack? In short, it feels good. What a rush, man. I might get smacked back. I might risk personal injury. Scientists have shown that the effects of a smack in the face are instantaneous. It's like an extreme sport or a runner's high.

I'm an adult, and if I want to smack someone across the face I should be able to.

I should be able to smack myself in public without someone calling the cops. I know people say it's harmful for the health of both smacker and smacked, but so what? It feels good.

If I can't smack in Ohio, I'm going to take my business elsewhere. I'm going to build a time machine and travel back to the Wild West circa 1880 and smack all I like.

Did you know that Hitler, Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt had an aggressive anti-smacking policy? They called it "assault."

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.

— Steve Degas,

East End

Got Joy from Movie
I went to see the movie Old Joy recently with my lady friend/partner after seeing that your reviewer, Steven Rosen, had given it an "A" rating and written your film section's feature article about it ("The Seekers," issue of April 11). I didn't actually read his article until after seeing the movie, and frankly after reading it I did have a somewhat greater appreciation for the movie than I did in the time just after viewing it.

I'm a Cincinnati native who graduated from the University of Oregon in Eugene and stayed on in Oregon (moving to Portland) for three more years and then 15 more in Seattle before returning to Cincinnati in 1995. I have had a personal relationship with many of the scenes in this movie, including having soaked in Bagby Hot Springs, often visited my older brother who lived with his family in Colton, Ore. (where the diner scene took place) for many years and traveled through Estacada in my medical sales career in the mid-1980s. I also have had many close male friendships and camping experiences both here in Ohio and in Oregon and spent more than 20 years involved in what is called the "men's movement" or "men's work" — currently "sitting in circle" once a week in a men's group organized through the international Mankind Project (

My initial response to Old Joy was that it was interesting and memory-renewing in the sense of capturing aspects of many of my own "outdoors in nature" experiences with both the personally enriching Oregon environment and with other men in my life. In contrast, my lady friend experienced the movie as incredibly boring and couldn't wait to leave.

The more I thought, examined, reflected on it and discussed it with her, the more I found the movie to be a subtle but shabby depiction of two things that I've dearly loved and found frankly sacred, beautiful and uplifting — the exquisite natural beauty of Oregon and the true "gold" within the hearts of many ordinary men of my generation. I experienced the movie as a subtle disparagement of mine and many men's relationships with each other and with nature.

The movie also graphically demonstrates how mass media communication (movies as well as the "news") conveys and persuades as much through what it chooses to focus on as through what it has to say about what it focuses on. This subtle and powerfully persuasive tactic has been a favorite of the NeoCon talk shows and the mass media's distortionist onslaught on our collective consciousness for a decade or more.

Just by choosing to focus the film's lens on the scruffier aspects of some men's bonding experience and by the mostly natty aspects of the setting, I found Old Joy to be a subtle but cunning form of much of the media's ongoing modern male bashing. In addition, while the film clearly showed the spectacular natural beauty of the "old growth cathedral forests" of the Pacific Northwest, most of it focused on the devastated "clear cut" forests and "wasted" urban areas there. Old Joy is an appropriate name in that the movie clearly depicts a ragged, tattered, semi-rotting form of a joy once previously found by many in nature and in male relationship but has now frequently been lost.

— Randall T. Ball,

Pleasant Ridge

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