Letters for December 23-29, 2004
That dirty rat: I just finished reading Trevor Aaronson's December 9 article "Suffering Together." I myself was in an organization in North Jersey called Kids in 1985 with Dr. Miller Newton. I was constantly abused, and it has damaged me for life. I was 15 years old at the time and only used marijuana and alcohol back then. I was physically beaten and restrained. My arms are permanently damaged, and I suffered 15 more years of drug abuse until 2001, when I got clean in Narcotics Anonymous. NA is the only thing that works.
This article brought back so many painful memories, and I was amazed by the stories. My question to you: Have you heard where Dr. Newton is now? My parents went through hell as well, and my grandma almost died having to go to those meetings. I remember sitting across the room from my family and one night darting across to get to them and being thrown on the floor by staff and other parents. I was there for 13 months and never went past being a newcomer. I hope these programs are all shut down!
Phillipsburg, New Jersey
He's seen life from both sides now: I just read Trevor Aaronson's December 9 article on Growing Together. I spent 15 months there in 1998, completed the program, then worked there for three years. A good majority of the story was right on, but also a good majority was exaggerated lies.
Being on both sides, I really saw how everything worked. Personally, I hate the place and always have. Yet oddly enough, there is a strong place for it in my heart. Some of these kids exaggerated the stories. I still keep in contact with a handful of kids I was locked up with, and quite a few of us are doing well. Some are in jail, some dead, some still out there, and some never needed to be there.
As much as I despise the place and don't want to attribute to it my triumph over alcoholism and drug abuse, I must admit it really did have a positive impact on my life. I do agree that it was brainwashing, but my brain needed to be washed. I have broken free of gangs and crimes and have remained sober from all chemicals for six and a half years.
There was a lot of love from almost everyone. And I still have friendships with my former case kids and "inmates." Those bonds are still the strongest ones I've ever had and will ever have.
Via the Internet
Austin Slimed Me
And we ain't talkin' Texas: I need to respond to a segment that appeared in the cover story about Death Metal Douglas by Courtney Hambright ("The je ne sais quoi of DMD," November 11). Austin Carl took some uncalled-for shots at my band, Radar O'Reilly. It's one thing to say we suck (always consider the source); it's quite another to impugn our reputation and effectively tell every club owner in town we're not worth booking. We play our hearts out and put everything we've got into shows. We have a great working relationship with a lot of local bands and clubs (all due to Death Metal Doug's tireless support for the South Florida music scene). We thought we had a good relationship with Austin until he mysteriously blew us off.
I guess having Radar provide sound, work the door, book three to five great local acts (such as Trapped by Mormons, Pandabite, Creepy T's, Vibradunct, Backlash, Mr. Entertainment, and the Numb Ones) while stuffing his cash register full of money was just too great a burden for Austin to bear.
As the songwriter in Radar O'Reilly, I have to have to take issue with the line about "there's no continuity." This is the mother of all throwaway terms, used by twits to cover up the fact that they know nothing about music. To fault a band for wanting to work in a couple of different styles, rather than one blanket sound, is one of the most serious problems with music today. Call me a classic-rock head, but did people complain when Led Zeppelin or the Who would go from a balls-out rocker into blues number into a trippy psychedelic tune? The temptation here, of course, is to say that Radar O'Reilly is no Led Zep or the Who! I agree, but we do try to follow some of the time-tested formulas of quality rather than worry about "continuity." DMD RULES!
Austin wrote a little missive himself: This letter is in response to Death Metal Douglas' December 2 letter to the editor. Douglas, it has come to my attention that you have been trying to reach me in the hopes of playing a show at the Billabong Pub. I really must apologize for not getting back to you in a more timely fashion, as I have been more then a little involved booking my, er, um, "cronies," or rather amazingly talented local original bands, for Saturday-night shows at the Billabong.
At this juncture, we are not booking many cover bands to the pub, although in the future, I may be able to find a suitable venue for you and yours to play your fiery brand of AC/DC cover rawk.
So hang in there and practice, practice, practice, and no more phone calls, please. Thank you very much for the wonderful rage rap example you recorded on my voice-mail. I've been giving a listen to my industry "cronies" and have been getting only positive feedback.
I will not use the term "escalating behavior" just as I would usually never say "-------'s band sucks." Regardless, I must commend you as a pure Dostoyevskyian genius. What a wonderful, misguided attempt at self-promotion. Very reminiscent of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the '80s -- you know, when we were in middle school. A really huge thanks for making my panties oh so wet.
He's with Austin: Personally having witnessed all three of Radar O'Reilly's shows at the Billabong, I believe they should screw live chickens on stage. It would sound better than the music they play and would be a bit more interesting to watch.
I do, however, agree with one of Doug's points. He is correct when he states that the Billabong was "packed" when his band played there. What he fails to mention is that halfway through Radar O'Reilly's set, the Billabong was almost empty. I've never seen a band clear a room so fast. For someone who claims to have such knowledge of music and rock bands, one would think he must realize how horrible his band actually is!
To make matters worse, Doug's band seems to have the "longest" set on the local scene. It goes on and on and on until it just becomes painful. Or maybe it just seems that way. Doug, I would suggest much shorter sets. Perhaps five or six songs at the most. This band... the last time I saw them, they did a cover of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" that probably had Bon Scott spinning in his grave and begging for some aspirin. Had any of the members of AC/DC been at the Billabong that night, they would have stopped the show.
I've seen hundreds of professional and local rock bands, and Radar O'Reilly is quite possibly the worst excuse for a rock band I have ever seen. I commend Austin Carl for his stand against mediocre talent. Maybe I will give the Billabong another look, now that I do not have to worry about my ears bleeding for two or three days.
Who you really shootin' at? For all the value that alt-weeklies bring to a market, it's sad to see them embarrass themselves by faking a scrappy attitude and mindlessly attacking other papers. I picked up a copy of the November 25 New Times and turned to a story ("Enslaved," Chuck Strouse) that was teased on the front cover, claiming the "local fish wrap" -- I assume that means the Sun-Sentinel -- is trying "to muscle a couple of Joe Blows." The piece should have made everyone in that office cringe.
Essentially, the writer finds two employees -- oh yeah, two employees of New Times! -- who previously worked for the Tribune Company (which owns the SS), signed some kind of anticompetition forms and now are being hassled by the Tribune for selling ads for New Times. The author ties that together with the circulation scandal at the Tribune-owned Newsday, then declares that the Tribune is "one of the most dishonest and rapacious employers in America." But wait! Is this an attack on the large daily, or is it a thinly veiled swipe at the Tribune-owned City Link, the New Times' alt-weekly competition, which the author describes as "a faux alternative publication that has recently taken particular aim at young readers -- a market that New Times dominates."
There's too much of this junk in these publications. To all alt-weeklies guilty of this trite squabbling, heed this message: Grow up! You don't serve your readers with this garbage, and you certainly don't gain points by taking meaningless sucker punches at other publications. Why not focus on putting out a good product and let your readers decide who's better?
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