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Letters to the Editor

ACORN, Kerouac memories and more

 

Published 2/17/2010

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Where were you then?

I'd like to applaud Curt Guyette on his well-researched article, "Smashing ACORN" (Feb. 3). It's not often I read an accurate story about ACORN.

The criticism I have is that Guyette attempts to paint a picture that portrays the unjust attacks on ACORN as successful due to inadequate journalism on part of the mainstream media. The truth is their reaction was quite predictable.

I worked for ACORN as a community organizer in Detroit and Grand Rapids from 2007 through the presidential election in 2008. In the summer of 2008, ACORN held its biannual national conference at Cobo. The weekend concluded with a keynote speech from John Edwards, followed by a 2,000-plus-person march on National City's downtown Detroit branch in Campus Martius to demand it enter negotiations to refinance the extraordinary amount of adjustable rate mortgages it currently held. As expected, we received no coverage on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. What's troubling is that it didn't appear in local or indie media, including Metro Times, which I know for a fact was contacted before the event.

You can justly lay blame at the feet of corporate interests, D.C. and the mainstream media, which again, are expected by most to overlook such stories. The biggest failure occurred in local and indie media with their failure to report on the situations as they unfolded.

Great article, but we could have used it back in 2008, during the voter registration "scandal," and before the state of Michigan, but more importantly the city of Detroit, lost its loudest and most powerful voice in the social justice movement. —Matthew Dzieciolowski, Warren


H.L. on TV

There's not much to quibble with in Jack Lessenberry's latest ("Cable TV vs. America," Jan. 27), but his journalistic muse, H.L. Mencken (if memory serves right) said it shorter, and better, in this sardonic definition of democracy: "The theory that the common man is smart enough to know what he wants, and deserves to get it good and hard." —Todd Steven Kindred, Livonia


Get back, Jack

Thanks for the article on Jack Kerouac. ("Winter of his discontent," Jan. 20). I learned even more about the man from it.

In my youth I lived about six blocks away from the house on Somerset and, thanks to an article in the Detroit Free Press Sunday Magazine, I knew which one it was. I sometimes walked there in the evening and smoked pot on the porch, then hung out briefly between the houses, beneath the bathroom window, trying to catch his vibe. In those days I felt proud of the fact that Kerouac had once lived nearby; it made me feel somehow connected. In later years, however, I realized that Kerouac had lived in a great many locations in America, which kind of dulled the luster of it. I also realized that perhaps I should've drank some cheap wine on the porch, in order to feel the way that Kerouac had while staying there.

One aspect of the article that I take issue with is the author's claim "that Kerouac championed" the "working class." In the novel that Kerouac wrote with William S. Burroughs, And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, he displays a rather callous attitude toward the longshoreman's union, the dues of which he didn't even bother to pay. I've long thought that Woody Guthrie's "autobiography," Bound For Glory, was an archetype for the Beats, so I was intrigued to see it mentioned by Kerouac in that novel. However, the dismissive manner in which he mentioned it bothered me.

Edie Kerouac Parker once gave a lecture, as well as a question-and-answer session, at a bookstore a block over from the Rustic Cabins Bar, on Kercheval, in Grosse Pointe Park. At it, as I remember, she identified the Fox Theatre as the place where her former husband and Neal Cassady spent a night in the balcony. The author might find this of as much interest, as I found the bit about Kerouac and Cassady spending time at a hotel on Lenox and Jefferson, as two friends of mine lived in a hotel on that corner in the '70s. Like much of Detroit, it has been torn down, and so I feel that such documentation is culturally important. Thanks! —Don Handy, Mount Clemens

Erratum: In last week's Side Dish, we misidentified the business intending to move into the space formerly occupied by Zaccaro's Market. Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe intends to move into the space within the next few months.

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