Tempest in the T

Letters to the Boston editor:  May 16, 2008

I enjoyed your article on acceptable MBTA riding conduct. However, you did not include some of the most infuriating behavior on the T. I encounter these problems daily, and they are all easily avoidable.

Escalators: right side is for standing, left side is for those boldly charging upwards.

Doors: don’t stand right in front of them, let people off the train before attempting to board. This also applies to elevators. Stand to the side and let ’em off.

Packed cars: don’t hold up a train during rush hour by attempting to squeeze yourself onto one that’s already packed, instead of waiting for the next one.

Bags on the seat: I shouldn’t have to ask you to move it.

Fat people: don’t attempt to squeeze yourself into a seat into which you clearly will not fit.

Francis L. Baird III

Impressively dorky
Interesting article on Time Machine. They are an undeniably talented threesome. The first thing long-standing TM fans will notice on Life Is Expensive is their transition from underground hip-hop to what you refer to as “neon rap.” You fail, however, to distinguish them from the likes of Yo Majesty, the Cool Kids, and Roxy Cottontail.

TM have paid their hip-hop dues. You can recognize it in their well-thought-out rhymes, seamless arrangements, and Mek-style quality. The new package may seem less personal, but there is no less science, intellect, lyrical dexterity, or skill on display. The fact that they made this evolution and stayed smart and original while doing so is simply brilliant. Slow Your Roll earned them a name, but a reproduction of this dated style would have boxed them in. So while you presume in so many words that TM has sold out on their old dork friends, I, for one, am still listening, even more impressed, and dorkier than ever.

Melanie Demartinis
Austin, Texas

Foul play
As a Mainer, I’m only an occasional reader of the Boston edition of the Phoenix. However, every time I pick up your paper, I am dismayed by “Sports Blotter.” Why single out the professional athlete for this treatment? Why not, say, architects or engineers? I assume the reasoning is that pro athletes are well paid and also in the public eye as role models for youth, and thus should be held to a higher standard of behavior. This explanation doesn’t hold up so well for college athletes, of course, but even if one were to grant this logic as a sufficient reason for the publication of “Sports Blotter,” one would still be left wondering, “Why athletes?” and not, for example, members of Congress or corporate executives, who are also well-paid and high-profile professionals?

Yes, the Phoenix is entertainment-oriented, and athletes are essentially entertainers. But this justification falls short as well, since I have yet to see a “Blotter” for movie and TV stars who run afoul of the law. Coincidentally, a disproportionately high percentage of pro athletes are African American, whereas a disproportionately low percentage of professional actors, US senators, and Fortune 500 executives, et al., are African-American. Of the 17 athletes discussed in the May 2 column, three are white and 14 are black. The decision to dedicate a column to covering the minority element of small-time (accused) criminals among a largely law-abiding profession dominated by African-Americans in recent years, and the focus on accused criminals who are not white, smacks of racism. It doesn’t help that the author is white.

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