I get lots of letters and e-mail each week. For the most part, I think it's only fair that the letter writers get to have their say, since I got to have mine. I respond to some of the e-mail. I even tried to strike up a cordial correspondence with this one person who initially wrote to tell me that I was an ignorant, fat, bald, disgusting, un-American, racist so-and-so. But Mom hasn't written back yet. Most of the time, however, it's fair to say that the cordial correspondence thing has proven elusive.
Last week someone wrote this incredibly bizarre letter taking me to task for attacking rap music and questioning the ridiculous assertion that America is somehow becoming a "hip-hop nation." America didn't become a disco nation or a punk nation or even a grunge nation. Why would it succumb, en masse, to the vulgar siren song of rap music?
Anyway, this writer says, "If people listen to Hiphop (sic) and dress up in Hiphop clothing and commit crimes, are they really Hiphop?" Well, no, I don't see why anybody who likes hip-hop, listens to hip-hop and dresses in a hip-hop manner would be associated with hip-hop.
So, he goes on and on about how great hip-hop is and even takes the time to explain to poor, dumb, white me that one of the best things about hip-hop is all the graffiti we see around town. Now see, I always thought that graffiti was vandalism, a destructive act against public and/or private property that should be treated as a crime. Now I find out that it's just Jay-Z's way of trying to beautify our neighborhoods.
I wish I could print the letter for you because it's a classic. Six hundred sixty-four words (I counted 'em.) IN ONE PARAGRAPH! Dude, if they added up your work and that of the columnist for the Star and then divided by eight, they'd have a bunch of normal-sized paragraphs. Plus, don't they have punctuation on your planet?
Seriously, I appreciate the letter. You obviously took the time to pour a lot of passion into it. Next time, throw in some semi-colons.
Several people jumped all over me for my views on marijuana and the thinly veiled attempts by the backers of Prop 203 (which got bitch-slapped by voters) to open the door for pot legalization somewhere down the road. One guy, who committed intellectual suicide by referring to himself as "Leaf," wrote to me, "You're an idiot! Where is it written down that smoking pot makes you dumber?"
Well, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for one. Actually, it's been in lots of publications, but that would require one to use both hands to hold up the magazine and then they'd have to focus and everything.
In the November 4, 2002, issue, Time magazine, referring to a JAMA article about a Harvard study, wrote, "Potheads are dumber than non-users." (Their italics.) Long-time pot smokers did "significantly worse" than non-users on more than a third of 40 cognitive tests that were conducted on each test subject. The tests also indicated that these cognitive skills eroded further as a function of the time and amount of pot consumed.
However, to be fair, it must be noted that while there is unanimity in the belief in the assertion that pot smokers are dumber than non-users, there is a smattering of disagreement in the scientific community as to whether it is the marijuana that is making them dumber or if it simply a matter of it being dumber-than-average people who take up pot-smoking in the first place.
I vote for both.
Then there was a letter that began, "You're a stupid white guy. You've always been a stupid white guy. In fact, I bought Michael Moore's book, 'Stupid White Men' because I thought there might be a chapter in there about you."
I looked down at the bottom of the letter and realized it was from a guy named Tyrone, with whom I had played football in college. He continued, "You were always passionate about soul music and R&B. You even turned me on to the blues. How is it that you can't appreciate or at least accept this newest form of urban expression?"
Tyrone, I like '65 Chevys, but if somebody from Hezbollah fills one with explosives and detonates it in front of an Israeli school, I don't like that particular '65 Chevy.
I recently received a CD in the mail from a seriously twisted friend of mine. It contained some "music" he had downloaded from a white supremacist website. Most of the stuff was from a skinhead band whose name will not appear herein. It was that speed-metal crap that's the choice of those who wish to divert attention away from their complete lack of musicianship. The first cut was entitled "Rape The Jews and Kill All The Niggers."
Do I have to appreciate or even accept that stuff, too? It could even be argued that it, too, is a form of urban expression.
Finally, I got one that read, "I hear you on with Emil Franzi sometimes. You should get your own TV show."
Are you kiddin' me? I'm too ugly for radio! And for those who might think that that was my Mom finally getting back to me, think again. When I was a teen-ager, my Mom told me, "There are two ways to get girls to like you. You either have to be good looking or have a nice personality, so you'd better get to work on that personality."
Thanks, Mom. And the rest of you, keep those letters coming.