50 Cent for your thoughts: I happened to pick up Scene the other day, mostly because it had Bingo Smith on the front. However, I couldn't resist the article on 50 Cent by Dan LeRoy ["Bloody Shame," March 9]. After I read this article, it became apparent why writers come a penny a dozen.
Not only does Dan not understand the music business; he tends to criticize the one artist who has taken over the industry with a debut album. Curtis Jackson, also known as 50 Cent, has to his credit the most successful solo debut album in history. This in itself is enough to legitimize him alongside any other MC who has put out a record. Dan and Scene have no place to criticize 50 Cent.
Scene prides itself on its circulation; this is how you come up with those overpriced ad spaces, and today the climate of music is such that MCs don't have to be the best -- just the best marketed. If Interscope hadn't spent over $3.5 million in marketing Eminem on his debut album, you wouldn't have seen Eminem's second LP.
50 Cent has mastered the art of name-branding, which enabled him to sell over 1 million copies of The Massacre in just 72 hours. So, although Dan may not be happy, the powers that be are very happy. Before you lift that bloody ink pen again to stab yet another undeserving artist, you can e-mail me, and I can give you some valuable insight and knowledge into the business of music -- something you have never had.
Sherman Oaks, California
Free the speech and lower the tuition: I must say, Pete Kotz's article on Larry Mumper's attempted McCarthyism upset me ["Educating Larry," March 9]. The university is probably the last bastion of freethinking and secular humanism left in this great country of ours. College students are exposed to cultures and ideologies far removed from their own, and with more understanding than any high school would permit.
I am a college student, and I will admit some of my professors veer from their syllabi with occasional potshots at targets ranging from President Bush to their divorced spouses. Still, I prefer a professor of flesh and blood, rather than a tool of the machine! Does that make me a full-fledged pinko? No, it makes me a tolerant human being.
Between monstrous tuition hikes and Big Brother's attempts to muzzle faculty, the workforce is looking pretty damn good right now.
Kelley Gaines-El the II
Can't hold a candle to flint and tinder: Awesome article -- pointed and funny. Thanks for writing it. Nobody gets excited about indoor plumbing here in Cincinnati anymore, but we hear this new "electricity" thing could be big.
From Our Fan
Praise worth a lifetime of free issues: "Speed Demons" [March 2] by reporter James Renner was a wonderful, incredible story of adversity, determination, and finally redemption. To me, this story was an absolutely amazing testimonial to the human spirit and American ingenuity, all highlighted by the fantastic photography of Walter Novak. Somebody call Hollywood; this has all the ingredients of a blockbuster.
Votes vs. Vetos
Shrinking funds will cost at the polls: While most people living with HIV are understandably terrified whenever policymakers talk about quarantine, it deserves to be said that both Mayor Campbell and Council President Jackson have done positive things for people with AIDS [First Punch, March 9].
What matters most to people with HIV/ AIDS is whether elected officials ensure that there are enough resources to provide minimum services. Lately, this does not seem to be the case. HIV-prevention funding from the Cleveland City Council has declined 42 percent in the last five years -- while the number of cases continues to increase. We have written letters urging council to allocate adequate resources and to make them more responsive to local needs, but so far have not received a response.
What someone said or proposed in 1992 may or may not be relevant to people with HIV/AIDS, and everyone is allowed to repudiate a past position -- as Frank Jackson has done. Voters, including the thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in our region, will make up their own minds about whom to support. And they are likely to decide based on what policymakers do now.
Earl Pike, Executive Director
AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland
A prayer for a good man: I used to baby-sit for Bingo Smith and his children, when his family lived in Shaker Heights ["Waking Up Bingo," March 9]. They were such a nice family, and Bingo was a very nice gentleman. His children were a delight to baby-sit.
I am very saddened to hear about his tragedy and the tragedy of his family and son. I am glad you portrayed Bingo as the gentleman he truly is. I hope and pray that his health will get better and that his son will be found innocent. My heart and prayers go out to him and his family.
We'll drink to that: Thank you for the review ["Johnny on the Spot," March 9]! It is a pleasure when someone really understands Johnny Mango's personality. I thank you from the bottom of my margarita!
Shelley Underwood, Owner
Johnny Mango World Café and Bar