Thanks, Frank

Support Self Expression Why is art continually subjected to criticism or, in the case of Cincinnati, censorship? Should art be subjugated by "good taste?" Citizens about town ask, "Why are all th

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Support Self Expression
Why is art continually subjected to criticism or, in the case of Cincinnati, censorship? Should art be subjugated by "good taste?" Citizens about town ask, "Why are all the young people leaving? Why isn't there a continuously stable art community here?"

I wonder. Maybe the younger generation is getting tired of the way conservative elders blush every time they see a nude body. I mean, don't these people own mirrors?

Do couples in Cincinnati sleep in separate beds?

God forbid if you're a homosexual with a camera. What you photograph can be classified as "pornography." The subtle bigotry of that incident — the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the CAC — is appalling and certainly offensive.

Now I'm sure that Esquire Theatre operator Gary Goldman wasn't thinking to cut that scene in The Center of the World out of some notion of artistic merit (" Cutting Edge," issue of July 28-Aug. 3). The reprehensible stink of small-minded gossip can kill a business. Goldman was covering his own ass.

To me, however, the most irritating and offensive part of Steve Ramos' cover story was this quote from Frank Miller, a member of Clifton Theater Corporation LLC: "Probably the film was not one in good taste." Thanks, Frank. Thanks for validating Goldman's artistically reckless, not to mention illegal, decision. And in a widely read paper, no doubt. The article says you're a longstanding member of the theater organization. Ever think of giving it up?

What I'm getting at, in a longwinded way, is that good taste ruins art. Which is a shame. Art, in every medium, is the greatest forum for self-expression. And to express one's self is a basic human right. You know, like the First Amendment to the constitution of the United States of America.

And since it was the first priority back then, I guess the people of the 1780s thought it was pretty important. Maybe crazy liberals tired of folks telling them what they could and couldn't say. I guess they weren't concerned about risking "legal trouble." And maybe, just maybe, when everyone signed their names at the end it was a big "fuck you" to all the conservative opinions that had come before it.

— Nicholas Day, Cincinnati

Don't Come Cheap
The recent firing of Tom Kappas from Wild Oats ("Progress Against Unions," issue of July 28-Aug. 3) confirms my dislike of Wild Oats. It's apparent that he was fired for union organizing, as Wild Oats has a history of union busting.

Wild Oats touts itself as a health food store, but if they can't have a healthy relationship with their employees it's not healthy to me. Being anti-union tells me I don't want to do business there.

Wild Oats might have cheaper prices, yet cheaper often isn't a good thing. I value trust, integrity, fair treatment and caring, things that don't come cheap.

— Mark J Burwinkel, Northside

Wasteful Support
For better or worse, I've spent the last three years keeping my opinions about our government's "war against terror" pretty much to myself. This is still a free country, after all, and I'm not the type to go hunting for arguments. Something I saw on I-75 this week has finally pushed me out of my silence, however, and I'm writing to you in the hopes that this letter will cause at least a few more readers to wake up and take notice.

While stuck in morning traffic recently, I found myself at eye level with the rear bumper of a Ford Expedition. An array of yellow "Support our Troops" decals was arranged across this monstrosity's expansive tailgate. Thanks to the gridlock, I had a bit of time to reflect on the irony of this display and grow angry over the ignorance of a fellow commuter, whom I might add was the SUV's sole occupant.

Considering that the Expedition gets worse gas mileage than Ford's original Model T, the driver might as well have taken the $10 he spent on yellow ribbons and donated it to one of the Mujahideen groups killing our friends and family in the streets of Baghdad. I'm disgusted by the number of people I see every day flying flags and yellow bows while blatantly wasting gas and electricity as they funnel an endless stream of money into the purchase of excess items built in oppressive overseas sweatshops. I fear they truly believe a shallow show of "patriotism" somehow negates their refusal to change the recklessly consumptive habits that brought on this conflict and that, if changed, might help bring it to a less bloody conclusion.

During World War II, Americans supported the troops by rationing and planting "victory gardens." Has our nation become so deluded that we believe we're supporting our boys and girls overseas when we blow our money on pseudo-patriotic junk?

I don't support one minute of this war, but I care about my friends and want them to come home safe. Unfortunately, until we as a nation — myself included, as these aren't going to be easy changes — accept the responsibility to alter the wasteful aspects of our lifestyle that promote oppression in the Third World, I'm afraid the men and women stuck in the desert are on their own. Somebody should put that on a sticker.

— Matt Cunningham, West Chester

Trailer Trash
I have to laugh every time I think of Mayor Luken's proposal for a riverboat casino as the answer to bringing visitors and money to downtown Cincinnati. Try to think of how many major, world-class cities have a riverboat casino as their downtown focal points. Having trouble? That's because this is a small-scale solution.

Sure, we could "aspire" to Aurora, Lawrenceburg, Kansas City, etc. — terrific towns for their size and constituencies — but shouldn't our aspirations be in line with a major city like Chicago? Or Austin, a city that's done something terrific with their waterfront rather than just plunk down two stadia?

Only until the riverfront is developed according to some cohesive plan with venues and developments on land designed to grow in conjunction with downtown should we feel confident about attempts to develop beyond the shores. Can Luken not see Newport across the river?

Placing a riverboat casino on our long-overdue-to-be-developed riverfront would be like parking a mobile home on the most exclusive front yard in town. Why not build a house? Or, better yet, a neighborhood?

— Gregg Martini, Oakley

Where's the value?
George Bush is on track to become the first president since Herbert Hoover to lose more jobs than he created during his presidency, having lost, to date, 1.8 million American jobs. And according to the Economic Policy Institute, jobs that have been created pay an average of $9,000 less per year than the jobs they replaced. Mr. Bush promised that his big tax cut for America's wealthiest 2 percent would help create new jobs. Where are they?

The president spends a lot of time these days talking about how he shares Middle America's "values," and parades his religious beliefs shamelessly to convince us it's true. Meanwhile, though, his policies and programs do nothing but hurt the middle and working class families of America. He hasn't come through with the money he said he would for education; he hasn't done anything to help make health care or prescription drugs more affordable; he is working hard to eliminate overtime pay for workers; he has sat idly by while millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas and young men and women of primarily middle and working class backgrounds are dying in a war in Iraq that an increasing number of us aren't even sure we really needed to fight.

Could it be that Mr. Bush's constant references to values are just a way of distracting us from his policies and priorities, which have been anything but "valuable" to most of Middle America? When will we wake up and see that he doesn't really "value" us at all?


— Peter Lewis, Georgetown, Ohio

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