Why an arts tax wouldn't work:
While I'm grateful to Pete Kotz for fighting the convention center boondoggle, I don't share his enthusiasm for the arts tax boondoggle ["Pointy-Head Welfare," March 5].
The same suits who want the convention center are also in charge of most area arts organizations. Those who have now will get; those who don't, won't, and said suits can cut down on their own contributions.
Those community-based start-up organizations aren't going to see a dime. After all, this is for art, not social service. This will be of no benefit economically to Cleveland, because the money taxed away from people would have gone to something they'd prefer to have (otherwise they would have spent it on the arts anyway) and created even more employment that way. Maybe workers will squeeze money for the Cleveland Opera out of their medical care budgets.
Cleveland is an arts-saturated town. I can't tell you how many wonderful concerts I've heard amid a sparse sprinkling of bodies, or how many I've missed because they were scheduled against each other. Are a few more theaters or galleries really going to help us? Are we going to draw more people from outside the area than we already do? Do we fantasize about being New York City without having seven million people in way too little space? It's not going to happen.
Let's not think of it as "kicking in a few bucks to the parish hall." Voluntary support of the arts is what made art in Cleveland great. Voting for a tax, on the other hand, is more like pulling out a gun and robbing some strangers on the street, giving the money to the parish hall, and not having the moral compass to go to confession afterward. Taking money from people without their consent is never "the right thing to do," regardless of apparent good consequences.
Why an arts tax would work:
Just read Pete Kotz's "Pointy-Head Welfare" and wanted to offer an additional thought. Kotz makes a compelling argument for arts investment based on what it can do for our neighborhoods. There's an equally compelling reason for the broader business and political community to get behind this, which has been articulated in Richard Florida's book The Rise of the Creative Class.
The Carnegie Mellon professor argues that investment in a creatively stimulating environment draws more intellectual capital to a city, improving its talent base for the businesses of the future. [Kotz wrote about Florida's book in "Calling All Queers," July 31, 2002.] Florida cites Carly Fiorino, CEO of Hewlett Packard, who told a gathering of state governors (and I may misquote here): "You can keep your tax abatements and incentive programs. We're going to go where the talent lives."
So arts investment not only leads the way in neighborhood revitalization, it leads the way in regional revitalization. And that should make it a compelling story for everybody -- even some of those you criticize in your story. Keep up the good work.
Life renders verdict on Hal Pollock:
Excellent article ["The Suing Machine," February 12]. Isn't it kind of funny how life takes care of people like Hal Pollock? It's too bad that the article didn't talk about Pollock's financial side, and how he's so hard up for cash that he stoops so low and creates fraudulent cases just to stay alive. Pollock, this is your life. Hide and smile.
A picture's worth 33 words:
Walter Novak's photo of Alex Boswell of the Brazen Rogues in the February 26 issue is phenomenal. The shot goes way beyond the realm of news photo into art. This one is truly great.
Donna S. Boswell
A playwright finds his audience:
Christine Howey's review of I Hate This is superb ["Hate Is Enough," March 5]. As a stillbirth father who formed the National Stillbirth Society, I can truly say that I know how playwright David Hansen feels. We lost Camille at 41 weeks. She died on the eve of her planned delivery as my wife slept.
"Stillbirth" truly is well named, as no one talks about it. We have set out to change that, and Christine's review is one more step in building a greater public awareness. Please visit us at www.stillnomore.org.
Richard K. Olsen
More love for Hate:
I am amazed by Christine Howey's article "Hate Is Enough," about the play I Hate This. My husband and I lost our baby in November 1999. It was a life-changing experience that I wish no one would have to walk through.
But it's amazing how much it changed my life after I could once again see outside the darkness. I have gone on to set up an infant loss program in our city. I commend David Hansen on his efforts. His show sounds fantastic. What a wonderful way of helping others heal. I hope that someday I have the opportunity to see David's one-man show in person. I will be thinking about it for a long time.
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Let suffering people die with a smile:
Okay, I'll bite. Are those latest ads from Partnership for a Drug-Free America for real? Is this a contest to see if anyone is paying attention to how ridiculous the Bush administration's rhetoric on marijuana has become?
I didn't think it could get any worse after the last election, when the Partnership countered Ohio's medical marijuana initiative with the TV ad that claimed using it will turn you into a pedophile/sex offender. Elderly people want help with the pain of death and dying, and the "Partnership" is suggesting that someone's 85-year-old grandparent who is dying from cancer is going to turn into a pedophile if he smokes marijuana to help with the vomiting from chemotherapy.
Or the TV ad where the two kids are smoking in Dad's study and find his handgun -- and suddenly, another senseless handgun death. Sounds like a good argument for gun control instead. Or how about the one where the teenage girl gets pregnant after smoking marijuana? Sounds like an argument for birth control to me.
So, with regard to the Stalin ad [First Punch, February 5], are we to assume this is what happened to George Bush? He smoked marijuana after a high school sports game and is now taking us to the brink of world war? Does the fisherman ad [February 19] imply that smoking marijuana back in the 1960s is now the cause of George's poor grammar? Hey, he talks like a stoner!
I have a brochure published by the U.S. Department of Justice. It says the effects of marijuana are only moderate, with possible effects of "euphoria, relaxed inhibitions, increased appetite and disorientation." There are no pedophilia, bad grammar, or mass-murderer tendencies, only the peace-loving, happy, and hungry, with an occasional bout of confusion. While its uses are listed as unknown, we now know it helps the process of dying. And this is punishable by prison because . . .?
As if Wahoo weren't enough:
I don't know you personally, but I assume that you are an intelligent and perceptive person, and probably were not personally involved in the construction of the purported ad featuring the American Indian holy man, Sitting Bull. But I also assume that you see its inherent insult to American Indians.
As editor of one of the saner publications in the city, I beg you to be more sensitive to the material published in your newspaper. Cleveland's American Indians have their patience strained by the disrespectful and omnipresent Wahoo logo. Please don't add to that insult.
I know Scene ignores the rubric of political correctness and takes aim indiscriminately at many groups, and in fact takes some pride in so doing. Having said that, I ask you to keep in mind that Cleveland's real Indians are way far outnumbered by members of the dominant society, as well as by members of almost any other racial or ethnic group, therefore having little economic clout and a voice that seems easy to ignore. Consequently, when American Indians are engaged in combat by the media, the fight just ain't fair.