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NEEDED: AN ALL-AGES CLUB
I really enjoyed your piece "Re-Solutions to 'Springfield Sucks' " [Tom Irwin, "Now Playing," Dec. 30]. I actually nodded and chuckled while reading it. You were right on the mark on all points. I miss Mr. Ted's, too -- Denny's just doesn't cut it. And I want you to know that I appreciate your questioning our town's lack of an all-ages venue. This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart.
It frustrates me to no end every time an all-ages club shuts its doors. I can't tell you how many times I have had discussions with folks (adults and kids alike) wishing they had the money or connections to get an all-ages club going. Lord knows there are enough empty properties around town that would be perfect for such a place.
Maybe 2005 will see a renaissance for our little town. We can only hope, right?
NEEDED: PUBLICITY FOR OPEN MICS
As a former member of the "Springfield sucks" club, I must say that I have come to eat those words. You are right -- the Springfield music scene isn't what it could be, but why, really? It certainly isn't for lack of talent in the area. I have lived away from the city for many years but return three or four times each year for family business, and, each time, I am blown away by the talent I come across at the open mics.
The most recent I experienced was on Dec. 16 at Julie Kluge's Sun's Up Koffee Kafe. Jill Manning was the host, and the talent was incredible. I live in the San Francisco Bay area, and I couldn't believe that I was listening to it all for free! The level of talent I heard at this small coffeehouse on this cold December night surpassed most of what I hear on the West Coast.
The very fact that there are so many smaller venues such as Sun's Up willing to host an evening of musical experimentation with little if any profit for their own establishments shows me that the music scene in Springfield is not only alive and breathing but also on the edge of being quite significant.
So where is the "appreciative and adventurous audience" that can help promote Springfield talent and make these out-of-the-way open-mic nights a success? My guess is that the majority of Springfield folks outside the immediate music community are unaware of the opportunities missed. Although Illinois Times has come a long way in its local-music coverage, what about a series of articles focusing on the open-mic venues in the city? If the venues are also promoted, the audiences will come.
TREATED WORSE THAN TERRORISTS
Take the story last month of 25-year-old Weldon Angelos, who was sentenced by a Utah federal judge to 55 years for selling marijuana to an undercover agent. He will be 80 when he gets out, if he lives that long. One receives 25 years for hijacking an airplane.
Jonathan Magbie, who died just three months ago, was serving a 10-day sentence for first-offense marijuana possession. Magbie, a 27-year-old quadriplegic, used marijuana for his chronic pain. Magbie, who was unable to breathe on his own at times, was locked in a jail unequipped for his medical needs. [District of Columbia Superior Court] Judge Judith Retchin handed Mr. Magbie a death sentence. You can get 13 years if you beat someone to death. Jonathan died at the hands of Judge Retchin. Saddam Hussein is being treated better than Jonathan Magbie was.
Two years ago, 20-year-old Jose Colon of Bellport, N.Y., was just months away from being the first one in his family to receive a college degree. He was shot and killed in a raid that netted 8 ounces of marijuana. He wasn't even a suspect, just at the house when the raid went down.
[The courts]are locking up 700,000 marijuana consumers a year -- 80 percent are nonviolent criminals -- while handing down mandatory minimums on drug offenses, filling the prisons with nonviolent criminals. A child rapist will walk out in 11 years to make room for marijuana consumers.
Richard J. Rawlings
FREE ENTERPRISE IN ACTION
I'll be interested to see the repercussions visited on the U.S. economy by reaction in the rest of the world to this administration's actions and insensitivity. The Washington Post recently ran an article quoting not only trade groups but also people on the street, saying that purchases and use of brands uniquely or predominantly identified as American are being dramatically curtailed.
The article went on to say that European countries seem to be taking the lead in this "don't buy U.S." movement, but many other countries are moving in that direction. Listed in the article were brands such as Coca-Cola, American Express, McDonalds, and General Electric. Brands not as intimately associated with the United States are being affected as well, but not to the same degree.
President George W. Bush's policies, actions, and attitudes have telegraphed such feelings of arrogance, narrow-mindedness, and empire-building that individuals, groups, and whole countries now seem to be using this avenue to express their disagreement and displeasure. The results of this growing boycott will show up as reduced sales and diminished profits, which is both ironic and functional; in so many cases, those large corporations and multinationals have contributed substantially to this administration's coffers and visibly benefited from the president's policies and programs.
Maybe there is something positive about the free-market system after all, if it can visit such logical retribution on the economic base of the offending administration.
STICKING IT TO POOR AND MIDDLE CLASS
Behind the proposals for tax and Social Security reform in the George W. Bush administration lies a hidden agenda: a massive transfer of wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich. Take, for example, the huge deficit (which doesn't even include expenditures for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq) brought about, in large part, by tax cuts for the wealthy. Conservatives used to be known for their fiscal responsibility. But the "Bushies" have never cared about the deficit. Instead, they will be using the huge deficit as an excuse to cut entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid (called "entitlement reform") -- a burden that will fall mainly on the poor and middle classes (Bush's phrase for it is "fiscal discipline").
WHERE IS OUR RESPECT FOR LIFE?
Janet Roth-Shaw asked women to think for a moment about their unborn children's rights, stating, "Real women give life, not take it" ["Letters," Dec. 30]. She also stressed that women have the opportunity to choose birth control and abstinence. Throughout her letter she uses the term "women."Reproductive rights involve a wide range of individuals, some of whom are not women. There are also children who become pregnant. Ms. Roth-Shaw is expecting children to make responsible choices. The very people who are not ready to be parents are often the ones who often fail to choose contraception and become pregnant.
I would ask Ms. Roth-Shaw to consider that abortion is not a simple "choose life or choose abortion" matter. We have many populations and factors to consider, such as females who are raped or sexually abused and especially that very special population called teens, who are easily swayed by current trends and peers. Women in their twenties can be also lousy in their choices. It is a long road to when women and young girls can be in a position to truly make the day-in, day-out choice for life.
Even our country can't seem to get it together for life. In the last three years, our actions as a nation have played out very badly. Where was our respect for life when we instigated a war that didn't need to happen and bombed innocent women and children in Iraq? Where were the voters to oppose this atrocity? Where was our respect for children when we cut taxes and gutted our budget for education, Head Start, the very programs that could instill the strength and intelligence to make those choices Ms. Roth-Shaw was encouraging women to make?
I am all for life. I just wish our country were.