The BEAST - Buffalo's Best Fiend........www.buffalobeast.com.............Issue 58 9/15/04--9/30/04
[sic] - your letters
Id like to intraduce maself first befour I git started here. My name is Jacob Crankshaw and I'm from upstate Pennsilvania, an the pleashurs all mind. The intenshun of this here peas of commintary is to rightly inform you that I'll be in the Bufflo area sometime next week with ma little famly. a shotgun and a beat up but dern sterdy Ford pick up truk.. Im looking fers a righting posishun, nothun fancy mindyou, but somethun to git me and ma famly on our feet agin. I stopt drinking neerly 5 weeks ago give er take a day or too and Ma is dam prod of me. I havnt slapt litle Johnny in over a week and his brokun arm is doin jus fine. I thoght maybe I can write, ya know, fer yer classfied sekshun. I cum from a famly of well edgukated peeple an Ma saz that ma righting skils can git me far in the big city. I rekkon yoil need somethun what they calls CV. I nebver met the man, but as soon as I find him I'll bring him along too. Pleese escuse the windniss of this here corrispondints but undrstand that Im a bit eksited sins this is ma ferst trip eest of the Potomuck. Ma und I figgur that weal all be in New Yerk real soon if the motor dont freez up agin. Pleez keep the lites on and the bed werm. We'll find hour own food jus fine,
Mr. J.T. Crankshaw
I saw your Kunz piece courtesy of the Buffalo Report. I might be able to flesh some things out. When Mary Kunz was first doing classical music reviews for the paper, she did do a good job on a rather esoteric subject. I contacted her to compliment her, and, over a period of time, my wife and I made friends with her.
Therefore I know some things about her background and her world view. She is a devout Roman Catholic, proud of her German heritage (including its myths) and loves German culture in general. She has written about her father, George Kunz. From what I knew about him, he felt the same way and would periodically subject his family to table pounding lectures about the greatness of German culture - the old "bulwark of culture against the bolsheviks" argument from the WW II years. I don't feel he was pro - Nazi, just incredibly pro - Teuton, and probably a social arch conservative and a religious pre Vatican II Catholic. When we knew Mary, he was still alive. Mary told us once that her relationship with him was so acrimonious that her mother suggested she get an apartment and move out...which she did. Later, when she got her job at the paper that was publishing his fluffy nostalgia pieces, they started to reconcile. Then as you may remember, he was killed in a snow plow accident. I think now, according to a familiar psychological quirk, he has achieved sainthood in her mind and a great deal of unexpressed love and guilt is making her channel his views.
In person, Mary is hard to dislike, let alone hate, and she does live in the city. Her naivete and childlike way make her warm, open and very charming. Maybe this is why I can't think of an individual within recent memory who has disappointed me more. I chided her via e mail a few times for things she wrote, but found out later, from her, that if she sees or hears anything that might be critical or upsetting, she simply trashes ignores it.
When she got around to Stephen Kurtz, I saw all the colors of the rainbow, sent a sharp note and cc'd it Margaret Sullivan. I had had a slight acquaintence with Sullivan, off and on for years. I thought she was one of the paper's most graceful writers and one of its better minds. Well, Margaret sent me a brass knuckle punch in the mouth via e mail and told me not to write to her again. For your possible interest, here is the correspondence:
You would have made an excellent journalist in Vienna. Even their best critics have been philistines - always wrong about the present in life, the future in art and in love with a non - existent past.
Cutting edge art is not a cancer on American society. Our current governance by religious belief is, as is our bloated military.
I wish you'd stop evoking your father. I remember his writing and it was the devastation of the Great Depression and the slaughter of WW II that provided his "good old days." I once knew slightly the former News librarian Harvey Elsaesser. He was also a history junkie who described Mr. Kunz to me as someone who never encountered a fact that he liked.
As for protest in general, I prefer Molly Ivin's motto: "Raise more Hell!"
David (cc to Margaret Sullivan)
(reply from Margaret Sullivan)
It's fine to voice disagreement but your criticism of Mary Kunz's column is a gratuitous personal attack and your harsh reference to her deceased father is offensive.
There is no need to respond. I do not intend to further this correspondence.
Margaret Sullivan, editor
(I sent the following by regular mail to the News.)
June 25, 2004
Dear Ms. Sullivan,
Your e mail to hand.
Not so fast!!
Perhaps my note to Mary Kunz is a gratuitous personal attack. However, Stephen Kurtz has had his home invaded, his life upended and, I have little doubt, many more problems and expenses, some of them legal, in his future. He also has not been charged or indicted for anything, as far as I know...yet.
What I wrote to Mary was contained within a semi - personal e mail and is no more of a personal attack than a signed column prominently displayed in the paper telling him in effect to shut up while at the same time sophomorically mocking his abilities and his work. I may have bad manners, but they're not published in the News.
As for my reference to her late father, Kurtz has just lost his wife - the tragedy that has created his current situation.
Maybe the slap I sent her and cc'd to you will help her to think about how it feels for someone to receive one like that in the public prints.
There are many kinds of journalism, but I don't see how printing the type that afflicts the afflicted is a credit to the Buffalo News, or anyone connected with it.
PS: By the way, I don't know Stephen Kurtz personally and I've never seen any of his work.
There was no reply.
In retrospect, I can do without Mary...she's lost as any kind of a thinker. I imagine that she would have done ok some 60 years ago as a society writer. Possibly today, she could be a writer for the Western New York Catholic.
But it pained me to alienate Margaret Sullivan...someone I respected. I don't have a clue what her thinking is anymore, but I may have gotten her back up about all the layoffs in the press room. I did write to ask what was to become of the remaindered humanity. She ignored the inquiry. A staffer at the paper, who likes her very much once warned me to never cross her...went on to say she has "warrior blood on both sides; Irish and Lebanese."
Anway, thanks for the piece you did, harsh as it is. It was a comfort to me.
Sorry this is so long.
Your first mistake was respecting Margaret Sullivan.
while reading matt higgins recent story on the protests at the rnc, i was shocked to read his tale of a "pale, meek, kid from Utica" who was bullied by his college roommate and eventually driven to alcoholism. first of all, anyone from utica is already predispositioned towards alcoholism or drug abuse so it is sloppy journalism to report that his deteriation was a result of the bully roommate. secondly, i find the whole notion of a pale, meek kid from utica slightly absurd. the brutal streets of utica tend to make the meekest and most cowardly specimens hardened thugs before the age where one tends to ship off to institutions of higher learning. perhaps this kid was from a suburb of utica like clinton or new hartford and just said he was from utica to impress people. in utica, we dont really raise them "pale and meek" - we exclusively export barrel-chested punks with attitude problems. i would like to see a follow up story on this kid from utica. a full page interview would be nice. if he is truly what higgins claims him to be, perhaps i will take him under my wing. i shaved my head over the summer and have a sort of montel williams "MOUNTAIN OUT OF MY WAY" mentality about things nowadays. i will feed this kid eggs and cheese until the word meek is simply a sound people will make while he pummels them with his big, meaty paws. if this was the old west, i would be an outlaw with a shiney silver gun and higgins would be the cowardly barber who dives through the swinging saloon doors when the shooting starts. i would follow him in and then shoot at the floorboards beneath his feet while yelling, "DANCE! DANCE HIGGINS! DANCE!"
sincerly, chris riordan
Congratulations. Your name is in the paper.
THE BLACK THING!!!!
Once again, over exaggeration or should I say sheer ignorance has reared it's head in our African American community. First let's be frank, I am African American and very proud to be one. Why not? I am made in God's image just like my Caucasian, Latino Hispanics, Native American brothers and sisters. However to demand an apology for a humorous not racist ad in that was published in the Beast newspaper V 01.#54 is sheer stupidity. I for one would never stand for a depiction of any race in a racist manner.
We do know that racism not only encompasses an attitude based on skin color but that it can also be political and economic. I am truly embarrassed that our African American leaders in good old boy network Buffalo, New York would make a fussy messy stink about a humorous picture instead of asking the Beast editorial staff to enlighten the community about the more important issues that are prevailing in the community. Let's talk about it-- the dismantling of our public schools by the creation of charter schools, only the "creme de la creme" of our African American population will attend these so called new schools. Too many shootings, why do you only see the African American leaders when death occurs? Why not post up and form an outline for our alleged "gang bangers". Create jobs, start your own businesses, encourage voter registration. Why are jobs leaving Buffalo, New York and not being replaced. Give me a break. I could go on and on about the real issues that need immediate attention.
Let's get real. That humorous outrageously funny ad for Spot Coffee was not racist. Do your homework. The publisher Paul Fallon has done more for the cause of civil rights in this area than some our our African American leaders. Give me a break. Work with the Beast publication and not against it. You will find an ally. Let's face it. Everybody wants to be a superstar and savior of the community. But let's do the right thing. Instead of complaining about a picture for an ad in an alternative publication, GO VOTE. DO THE BLACK THING, correct ills that are wrong for people.
I understand that this action of boycotting, demanding apologies, accusations of racism is so typical when one doesn't have a voice in the political process, is not heard by anyone, underrepresentation, and poverty is so prevalent. So it is predictable to let a picture upset your world. As Marvin Gaye sang, "makes me wanna holler" But let's holla about something really worth hollering about. DO THE BLACK THING!!!!!
Oh yeah, I really wish that I could sign my name, but I'm afraid that I will be accused of being a racist and biased.
We can see it now: "Despite the shameful history of destructiive racist oppression, Anonymous has chosen to join the slave-masters by refusing to agree with us." Guess you'll have to buy space in their papers to apologize.
p. 29. The starving emaciated child in an ad is so offensive. it is a heartbreaking situation and they are using it to appeal to the sick, american consumer society. i will be so happy to be part of a boycott of their advertisers till they stop exploitative, racist appeals.
Oh, man. Do you actually think that's a real ad? Or is it just that you don't get that the ad is a commentary on our "sick American consumer society," and our indifference to the plight of others? This is just what we're talking about; it's not our responsibility to ensure that our work is dumbed down to a state where no misinterpretation is possible. Of course the picture is offensive-what's happening in the Sudan is an offense to human decency. We don't see enough of these pictures; maybe if we did we'd do something about it. Try thinking harder before you launch into attack mode next time. It's not our fault if you don't have a sense of humor and can't understand irony.
© 2004 The Beast