I want to say goodbye. The Free Times was an excellent source for news, arts, and entertainment. I am sad to see it go. Last week, I spent two nights at the Grog Shop, celebrating the 10th anniversary. A couple of days later, I picked up the Free Times, also celebrating a 10th anniversary. Over the years, I have seen too many things in Cleveland go away -- the Empire, Booksellers, and even Citybooks. It's a travesty to call this a merger, as it has been hinted. I do not blame Scene or hate it, though it's not on my list of favorites. Cleveland has always been a one-mouth town, but at least for a while we had two. Now it's back to one paper, The PD, which could use a little competition, and Scene, which, without competition, can finally surrender. I guess that I can only hope to see some of the names of the Free Times reporters working for Scene.
Free Times: A nicely stapled publication:
It shoulda been you, Scene, it shoulda been you. I don't care how long you've been around. Alas, we are once again stuck with Scene as the only "alternative newsweekly" in town. With that in mind, here is some advice for you:
The Free Times was held together with staples, while Scene still prefers the oft-misplaced and useless fold. I'm hoping that you guys'll snatch up the Free Times' stapling machine at their going-out-of-business yard sale. While you're there, would you pick up the syndication rights to "Life in Hell," too?
And another thing. I'm hoping that you guys can also start using a system of stars in your movie and music review section. It's a pain to have to read to find out if a movie is good or not. I prefer to just look quickly. Reading is too hard.
Where's your interview with Barbara Byrd-Bennett? No, you were too busy interviewing that guy with the whores, weren't you? Finally, everyone I know loves a confusing and unfocused letter to the editor. Publish more of these; they keep your readers on their toes! And how! Be good.
Dead comics go to hell:
Please don't gloat over this. The Free Times had the better comics, other than Derf. Perhaps "Red Meat" is not supposed to be the least bit funny?
Where to turn for global politics?
I am writing this letter in a state of utter disbelief. Only moments ago, I was informed of the untimely demise of the Free Times. My first thoughts go out sympathetically to all those who have suddenly lost their jobs. The feeling that has hit me deepest, however, is the realization of what this city has lost.
For 10 years, the Free Times has been at the pulse of this city. We have had real journalism and honest editorialism only because of the Free Times, and nothing else. We have had a populist point of view in the local media, an outlet concerned with the public and the people, only because of the Free Times. Definitely not because of The PD. And not because of Scene, which runs fluff cover stories (on such vital issues as how much certain people like drinking alcohol and having sex at Put-in-Bay, for instance, or talking trash about its competitors), while the Free Times takes real stands (most recently taking on the President's hijacking of our civil institutions for the furthering of corporate greed and his proposed illegal war on Iraq). Where has Scene been while this country completely disregards the pleas of the entire rest of the world? Where is Scene while our civil liberties are under attack? And what can I find in this magazine that I won't find in The PD or The Sun Press or any of the other mainstream publications? Scene has consistently given us cynical sensationalism, while the Free Times has shown us courage and given us hope.
Of course, I was not always thrilled with the Free Times' performance. Like any publication, sometimes they hit, sometimes they missed. But at times, it has seemed that the only thing standing between this city of ours and post-industrial oblivion was this now-defunct paper. For a time, the people of Cleveland had a voice in the local media. A voice in the dark -- obscured, no doubt, by the screaming and goings-on of the dominant, crass consumer culture. But it was a voice no less, something to be proud of, something to give hope. Now that voice is gone. The Cleveland Scene has a huge responsibility to live up to now. I personally doubt that you can or will.
The contender chimes in on Tubbs Jones:
First, let me congratulate you on a thorough and well-written article ["Stumbling Toward Greatness," September 11]. What I got out of the article was that Stephanie Tubbs Jones is not very effective, but will make a cakewalk to victory anyway. And who is Patrick Pappano? Does it really matter?
Your article has really energized me, because I see Cleveland sliding downhill, and nobody is even noticing. Industry leaves, the brain-drain continues, we churn out inmates for the jails, we move farther away from the blight, plugging up the roads, and telling each other how wonderful Cleveland is.
The majority of those who vote will express their approval of Stephanie Tubbs Jones, apathy, inner-city Democratic politics as usual, the evil of Republican industriousness, and any other dimension that accelerates our destiny with double-dipping, more government handouts, organizations that don't work, and plain old irrelevance on the national scene.
11th District candidate for Congress
The Beulah Park battle continues:
Sorry to prolong this Beulah Park controversy, but Nancy Scarcella wrote that Laura Putre quoted me four times just because she is my friend and I happened to have been her boss for a short period of time when I served as editor of the Free Times [Letters, September 11, in response to "Split Decision," August 21]. That's really unfair to Laura. Putre did not call me because she's my friend; someone told her to contact me.
It also seems that Scarcella did not reveal that she is married to developer Mike McBride. Scarcella is right that her husband did lay out the plans in 2001, where he got a lot of questions and concerns, but then he never spoke to anyone again. We had heard the project was dead, and then suddenly it was announced that ground was about to be broken for 17 houses, which were already being offered for sale, without addressing any of the community's concerns. Thankfully, our local nonprofit development corporation, Northeast Shores, has slowed down long enough to agree to develop a master plan for Beulah Park.
WKNR beats the Big One:
Andrew Putz's article "Battle of the Blowhards" [September 11] was overdue. I am a WKNR listener and will continue to be, as long as Mike Trivisonno continues to be the "Big One" on WTAM. He spews absolute drivel when talking about most subjects and is rarely knowledgeable because of his lack of preparation. He has no business bringing up non-sports subjects he can't relate to, which is most everything. He continually does his soft-toss interviews.
At WKNR, you at least get to talk when you call in. They accurately report on the sports teams, and they do not do any bootlicking when they interview the players or managers. Recently, the WKNR producers were very generous in letting us promote, through an on-air interview with Kenny Roda, our fund-raising event to raise scholarship funds with a three-on-three basketball tournament. When I contacted WTAM, I talked only to voicemail and never heard back from any producer.
As a huge sports fan, it would be nice to get a fresh voice with a different perspective, but if I or any of my friends had to choose just one, we'd go with WKNR, hands down.
Employees come last at Wal-Mart:
I enjoyed your recent article "Wal-Mart Menace" [September 4]. I am currently employed by my second Wal-Mart in the area, and I am beginning to see certain practices that I feel may be common to many of these stores all over the country: low pay for associates, high employee turnover, and managers who preach but do not practice.
Surfside Beach, SC