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Our big three-ohhh
You may have noticed a recent addition to the cover of Metro Times: our 30th anniversary logo. That's an occasion for thanks to you, the readers, as much as an occasion for pride on our part. Thanks to a community that's taken to heart an upstart, scrappy little paper that launched in the rocky economy of the early '80s and (like every other publication in the country) is fighting its way through the most challenging economic climate in many decades.
"As you can see, we are not just another entertainment booster," began the debut issue editorial in the issue that hit the street Oct. 16, 1980. "We take our arts seriously. But no more seriously than we take our news. The arts are only one facet of the multi-dimensional lives that Detroiters lead."
The editorial by the founders went on to talk about the naysayers: "People have told us that Deroit cannot, or will not, support an attempt at serious independent journalism. We think they're wrong." And they pointed out something else that remains true week after week: that the content of the issue is the real editorial, an expression of purpose.
Through this year we'll spend some time looking back as well as looking forward, both in print and on the Web. There'll be some special events (details on these in the weeks to come) and a 30th anniversary special issue this summer. And every week, we'll continue to provide you with news, commentary, arts and cultural coverage you've embraced and come to expect. There's no higher calling for us than to strive to live up to that. —W. Kim Heron, editor
All this and free parking too?
Having invested countless dollars in Detroit, most of it in Midtown, we were surprised with Mel Small's comment about Traffic Jam Restaurant's parking lot in his recent review of Motor City Brewing Works ("Pour taste," Jan. 6). He implied that Traffic Jam should be providing free parking to customers of MCBW, and that because we don't provide that free parking, we are not part of the community. To the contrary, we have worked hard to improve this community for all for more than 15 years.
Some of those improvements include renovating the Blackstone Hotel and Beethoven, two notorious drug buildings in the neighborhood. (Remember the drug and prostitution traffic rolling slowly up Second Avenue? That will scare away a customer faster than a charge for safe, well-lit and guarded parking.) With partners, we purchased the fire-ravaged Forest Arms just in front of the wrecking ball, and are now renovating it. Yes, that is our crew working outside right now, restoring, not demolishing, a historic and architecturally significant building in Detroit. We pay into a private security patrol that benefits all business owners and residents in Midtown. We plow most of the public alleys in the neighborhood, and have our maintenance crew pick up trash throughout the neighborhood. We leave all of our parking lot and outside lights on all night, every night. We provide employment for over 100 people, mostly local Detroit residents. And yes, most of those paychecks get spent locally.
Just about the only thing we aren't willing to do in Midtown, just like Motor City Brewing Works, Mario's, the Whitney, Union Street and the Majestic, is to provide free parking to patrons going to other restaurants. So a little fairness would be appreciated when commenting on our role in this community. —Carolyn Howard, co-owner, Traffic Jam Restaurant, Detroit
Jack Lessenberry's use of the "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," in defense of the current health reform bill ("Farewell to 2009," Dec. 30) would make sense if enough good outweighed the bad. It doesn't. The bill only gives the veneer of legitimacy to the notion that the insurance industry should dictate health care policy in this country. The bill is insulting, probably unconstitutional and lulls the rabble back into nonthreatening complacency. —Todd Steven Kindred, Livonia
Send letters (250 words or less, please) to 733 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 48226; faxes to 313-961-6598; e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your telephone number. We reserve the right to edit for length, clarity and libel.