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Letters to the Editor - May 03 2006

The Devil and Daniel Johnston, MARTA and Iran

Devil's advocate

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Thanks for the mostly astute review of The Devil and Daniel Johnston ("The devil's music," April 27). You are the first reviewer to recognize Daniel's channeling of Bob Dylan and Jonathan Richman during the MTV clip. I could not agree more, and producer Henry S. Rosenthal and I have said just that over 1,000 times.

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My only contention is your line: "The Devil and Daniel Johnston lacks the intimacy of such troubled-artist documentaries as Crumb ... ."

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As a huge fan of the film Crumb, I would just like to point out that the one thing Devil did achieve was true intimacy through the use of "internal monologue" from Daniel Johnston's own personal audio diaries layered throughout the film. The idea that "intimacy" can only be achieved through a contemporary interview of the subject "hosting his/her own film" like Crumb and every other documentary that has relied on this old and tired technique ad nauseum is just ludicrous. We have seen that film before and it is boring.

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The Devil takes you inside the protagonist's head when Daniel is at his most lucid — and nothing is more intimate than that.

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-- Jeff Feuerzeig, Los Angeles,director of The Devil and Daniel Johnston

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More MARTA musings

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Talk about an agenda looking for a cause ("Waiting for a ride," April 20) — Clark Atlanta University professor Robert Bullard has got this MARTA thing all figured out. And the culprit is ... the envelope, please ... racism!

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Never mind that from its inception, MARTA has never provided a viable mass-transit choice for anyone since it doesn't actually go anywhere most people need to go. Never mind that its original layout specifically placed stations in the poorer parts of town. Never mind that comparing the transit needs and preferences of a suburban city like Atlanta to dense urban cores like New York and Boston is foolish. And, most of all, never mind that gentrification is a natural social phenomenon, not something secretly engineered by a cabal of segregationists.

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Bullard's notion, what I would characterize as the "Civil Rights Industry," seems to be that poor blacks are a permanent constituency rather than a population with the potential to move up and out. If he has an alternative that doesn't involve maintaining centrally located slums throughout the city in the name of "justice," I'd like to hear it. But his statement that the Beltline project will have the "unintended consequence" of attracting more suburbanites (read "white people") is exactly the sort of racist attitude that he condemns to begin with.

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It exposes the real agenda at work here, which is politics, not equality; the fear of a 50/50 or white-majority Atlanta is what motivates these self-appointed crusaders, and creating a racial issue out of public transit is just another way of playing to the fears of their audience.

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-- James Wiley, Decatur

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As a 75-year-old who has finished 50 marathons and 10 50K ultra-marathons in the last 11 years, I just can't relate to a young, able-bodied person who is willing to wait hours for a MARTA bus rather than walking a mile-and-a-half. Is this the sort of dependent attitude that keeps people poor?

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So prove me wrong! Instead of just standing around waiting for the government to move you, why not just stride out and move yourself? It gets easier as you keep doing it. (It was a big deal for me to walk a mile when I first started race-walking 16 years ago.) Besides, it will save you a lot of money on fares and will improve your health.

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-- Charles Cohn, Austell

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FORGET ME NOT

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Using the premise that it is unacceptable for Islamic terrorists to possess or control fissionable materials (Headcase, "The amnesia's back," April 20), I wonder if Cliff Bostock can put political polemics aside to opine on how the United States should tactically and strategically deal with the "Iran problem"?

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-- Jonathan Yaeger, Atlanta

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Thanks for the article "The amnesia's back." I find it tragic that the average American is too stupid to see what is going on. Just like other great and powerful civilizations of the past, we will surely fall if some drastic changes aren't made! Thank you!

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-- Dewayne Williams, Chamblee