Pots and kettles

Letters to the Boston editor: May 11, 2007

Matt Taibbi wonders (rhetorically, of course) “why black athletes hate playing in this town,” in his most recent “Sports Blotter” column. Here’s something to chew on: even the alternative newspaper in this town runs a column whose reason for being is hard to fathom unless it is to display, week after week, photos of young black males (many wearing do-rags) under the word “Blotter” and above a text filled with criminal charges. The leader board at the bottom of the column is a line-up with lots of identifiable black names followed by lists of criminal charges. What, exactly, is the point of this column?

If you wanted to spread racist suspicion and do your best to keep under the radar, this would appear to be a pretty good scam. Every week your audience can associate, consciously or unconsciously, young black males with violent crimes (charges, not convictions) and, as a consequence, fan the fear.

Why not a “Wall Street Blotter”? Or how about a “Journalists Blotter”? I know lots of stories, rumors, and charges involving intoxicated journalists and the stupid things they do.

Mike Gefers

Everyone’s a critic
I am taken aback at the ignorance of your “Nine-inch Nailed” article and the lack of time and research that went into it. Besides the comparison of this album with previous NIN releases (which shouldn’t be done), the article has nothing but a few scarce findings that were probably posted in Teen Beat or a news site dated February 2007. So much has brought this album to life, and so much can be said for what it means and stands for. It’s too bad you missed it all, and it’s even sadder that readers have nothing more to go on than this pitiful review.

Brian Fabiano
Coventry, Rhode Island

Two-wheel terror
I was initially thrilled to see the 2007 Bicycle Bible in last week’s Phoenix. After reading through the very informative Advocacy 101 section, the other articles and images left me unsure whether the Bicycle Bible was trying to encourage cycling or scare people away. Rather than offering simple and useful tips on urban cycling, “Biking on the Defensive” and “Soft Pedaling” leave many readers to wonder why we should bother bicycling at all, if what’s needed are loud air horns, smog masks, and GPS systems to face psychotic drivers just waiting to swing their car doors in your face, and clueless pedestrians darting out in front of you left and right. One article even suggested that cyclists not bother with bike lanes! Outside of Cambridge, they don’t even exist! Within Cambridge, the lanes are not perfect but at least one city in the metro region cares enough to provide a separate space for cyclists. Not including chaotic Central Square, rarely are bike lanes blocked by taxis, delivery trucks, and wildly opening car doors.

Bicycling in the Boston area is certainly not a picnic, but Phoenix readers should not feel intimidated. Most streets throughout the region are relatively comfortable to bike on and quite safe; compared with New York and other big cities, there are very few cyclist fatalities here. Yes, wear a helmet; yes, watch out for car doors and left-turning vehicles; yes, get yourself some good light, but just relax. Start off making some shorter trips around your neighborhood and work up to longer trips. And whatever you do, don’t bother with a high-tech smog mask. This isn’t Bangkok.

Phil Goff

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