Letters to the Editor - No safer September 18 2003

Your excellent cover story, “The Truth Seekers” (Sept. 11), outlined an appalling and complete dereliction of duty on the part of the FBI, the CIA and others who are charged with protecting the United States from terror attacks. I am a staunch Republican, and I feel like this administration and these agencies have some explaining to do. Cover-ups, omissions and devious diversionary tactics should not be tolerated from any administration, regardless of party. I cannot imagine the anger and sorrow that Kristin Breitweiser and others who lost loved ones must feel.

Having said this, I must also say that we Americans cannot have it both ways. Liberals want to open our borders because their bleeding hearts overrule their common sense. Republicans want to open the borders because Big Business wants the cheap labor. Both parties want the votes.

This is absurd! To think that people can cross a border into this country with virtually no ramifications or threat of deportation sends the wrong message. For the Department of Homeland Security to ignore the open and obvious threat of porous borders is a travesty. How many Saudis, Yemenis and others from militant Islamic countries are sneaking across our Mexican border every day? I’m sure the answer would be shocking. We are no safer today than we were on Sept. 11, 2001.

-- Chris Watford, Roswell

br>?Spoiler warning!
Felicia Feaster: You gave away a major plot point in your review of Once Upon a Time in Mexico without any warning (Flicks, “Blood sport,” Sept. 11). Those of us who have seen and enjoyed the previous two films in this series would like to discover that Salma Hayek’s character dies by watching the film, not by reading a review. Next time, at least try to be professional and warn the unsuspecting reader that you’re about to give away a plot point.

-- Jason DeMarco, Scottdale

br>?New insight
Thank you for such a great — and touching — story on Neutral Milk Hotel (“Have you seen Jeff Mangum?” Sept. 4). This is one of the best music-related things I have read in a long, long while.

Your story has given me a completely new insight into what I already considered to be one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. I am glad that it helped you find some measure of peace through your own personal tragedy.

-- Bernard Miller, Dallas, Ga.

br>?Off track
I have been a big fan and weekly reader of the Loaf for over 20 years. I’m glad you continue to be a powerful voice of offbeat integrity in a city overwhelmed by media conglomerates. With that in mind, I was very surprised to read such a non-journalistic and, frankly, disturbing cover article as Kevin Griffis’ print-media stalking of Jeff Mangum (“Have you seen Jeff Mangum?” Sept. 4).

It’s a valid purpose to speculate why someone would discontinue pursuing an artistic path at a moment when they had just achieved the recognition and success that many people crave. It’s an interesting question and a worthy subject for an article. Griffis may have started out with that intention, but he went way off track in a most unsettling manner. It’s obvious (because Griffis goes into great detail about it) that the album meant a great deal to him on a personal level. It’s also obvious that Griffis feels Mangum owes him something for this.

It’s good that Mangum restricted his response to e-mail. One suspects that had he consented to an interview, he would find himself being hobbled in a Maine cabin until he cuts a follow-up album.

Mangum actually pleads with Griffis to leave him alone. He asks that his wishes be respected, and Griffis dismisses him completely and goes on to talk about Mangum’s lack of understanding of his own work.

Gee, why wouldn’t Jeff Mangum want to be a public figure and be surrounded by that kind of hubris and obsession on a daily basis? I take it back. I guess Griffis did answer the question after all.

This writer could have used some editing and a very short leash, guys.

-- Mike Katinsky, Atlanta

br>?Healing music
That was a beautiful article on Neutral Milk Hotel and all concerned (“Have you seen Jeff Mangum?” Sept. 4). I’m glad people are still talking about it/them. More people need it in their lives, even though most don’t know it and most will never know it. Thanks for sharing your personal story. Isn’t it wonderful that music like this is out there to soothe us, talk to us, make us face down uncomfortable things, and even scare us?

-- Rick Hartig, Orlando, Fla.

br>?Be happy with what you have
I was introduced to Neutral Milk Hotel by a friend not more than two months ago (“Have you seen Jeff Mangum?” Sept. 4). He touted it as an epiphany. After listening to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, I have to agree. Listening to the album is more like looking through a scrapbook with each bit of memorabilia telling you the story behind the story.

Whether he’s eclectic, eccentric or just plain shot out, it’s immaterial. Jeff Magnum’s curse is that he created something so perfect in Aeroplane that it cannot, and should not, be repeated.

It could be Jeff’s or Anne’s or anyone’s story for that matter, but the point is when it’s over, it’s over. If it inspires and propels you to do great things, then all the better. However, if you lament that the best is yet to come, you miss the point. You can wish that Neutral Milk Hotel will one day reunite — but then what? Be critical and disappointed when it doesn’t carry you to the same heights or depths of personal fulfillment?

It seems that the greatest lament people have with Magnum’s work is that there is nothing to tear down yet. No seemingly sophomoric pop sellout to hate.

Admire what he’s given us, but please stop stalking him. It would appear that he has made his contribution to music. And if after listening to his work over and over again, you still have questions about this line or that phrase ... stop. Look inside yourself and pen your own sequel.

-- Andrew Kehn, Stockbridge

br>?Where’d he go?
Thanks for a great article on Neutral Milk Hotel and Jeff (“Have you seen Jeff Mangum?” Sept. 4). I’ve wondered what happened to him time and time again. NMH’s music filled a part of me and will not fade away. Too bad Jeff has chosen to disappear.

-- Mark Britt, Stone Mountain

br>?Indies unite!
As the distributor of The Gatekeeper, which opened recently at the Madstone Theater in your area, I am writing to express my profound disappointment that Creative Loafing, Atlanta’s alternative newspaper, did not cover the release of an alternative film. Rather, you chose to cover studio films whose marketing budgets can accommodate large ads and which, frankly, do not need the advantage of editorial space.

Independent films, idiosyncratic films, personal films of the type that your readers no doubt seek out, desperately need coverage in publications like Creative Loafing if they are to achieve a level of exposure sufficient to rise above the mass of more ordinary commercial entertainments and attract enough attention to generate audiences large enough to sustain them. In simple terms, if you don’t pay attention to them, no one will.

I have been distributing independent films for more than 20 years and, in the past, remember Creative Loafing as being quite responsive to films outside the mainstream. This shift in priorities is damaging to a fragile but essential element of the movie business. Our response will have to be to reduce our ad buys. After all, if you don’t believe that your readers are interested in these films, why should we?

I hope that you will reconsider your position regarding the treatment of these films in your paper. I am certain that the film-loving community in Atlanta would appreciate it.

-- Richard Abramowitz, Armonk, N.Y.

?Sarcasm galore
Regarding Richard Shumate’s “compassionate” article on “downtown begging” (News & Views, Ruffled Feathers, Sept. 4), I’d like to propose the following solutions to those problems mentioned in the article: 1) Round up all apparent “vagrants” and sterilize them so they cannot reproduce more “vagrants” to plague the city; 2) haul them all away to a public gas chamber and exterminate them. This is probably the most cost effective of the two options. Of course, we all know that vermin multiply exponentially, and for each one spotted and killed, there are likely many more hiding in the walls. Since neither solution is likely to prove permanently effective, I suggest applying one or both methods to Richard Shumate.

-- Jen Schaefer, Atlanta

br>?Thorny issue
Thank you for printing Andisheh Nouraee’s analysis of the very thorny Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Don’t Panic!, Sept. 4). I found it very forthright and refreshing as compared to the tiptoeing around the subject by the AJC and New York Times.

-- Alice Bliss, Lake Claire??