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Mail Fraught

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that the current regime at Metroland is more interested in spreading false information than telling the truth. That’s why I am taking this opportunity to set the record straight regarding an utterly inaccurate and untrue “Editor’s note” contained in your coverage of the race for Albany’s Third Ward council seat [“The Candidates on the Record,” Trail Mix, May 19].

Frankly, I have never been a rubber stamp politician who just does what he’s told. Instead, I am a strong advocate for the people who live north of Washington Avenue. Over the years, I’ve kept my community informed about actions being taken by the Common Council and the administration down at City Hall by using old-fashioned mailings.

In November and December of last year, I sent out two mailings to the people of the Arbor Hill, West Hill, Sheridan Hollow and Washington Square neighborhoods. One supported the rights of inner-city parents to choose where their kids go to school. The other supported protecting the health insurance benefits of hardworking city retirees and senior citizens.

Both of my letters were written because of legislation pending before the Common Council that would have hurt families throughout my community. They were mailed out more than seven months after the council’s leadership changed hands not “shortly after,” as Miriam Axel-Lute incorrectly stated. And, regardless of when they were sent out, the people I represent will always have a right to know when the political bosses running the council are trying to undercut our kids, our families and our seniors.

If Ms. Axel-Lute had checked her facts, she would have learned that while those letters were being mailed, I was leading efforts to protect our seniors from harsh budget cuts that would have threatened everyone from retired crossing guards and maintenance workers to firefighters who risk their lives every day.

We won that battle and it’s a lot more important than some cheap shot about mailings that isn’t even true.

Michael L. Brown

Third Ward Councilman, Albany


Miriam Axel-Lute replies:

Councilman Brown appears to be drawing far more out of my editor’s note than is actually there. An editor’s note was necessary for context because Brown’s comments on their own implied that the council restricted only his own mailing rights, not the whole council’s, and that they gave no rationale for it other than what he believes to be their motives. He does not dispute the cost. If he thinks that calling his colleagues “heartless political bosses” is not bad-mouthing, that speaks for itself. I did not say that there was no other content to the letters, nor did I say anything about what other activities he was involved in at that time. He is, however, correct that the phrase “shortly after” is not a fair description of the time frame involved in the letters.


Gotta Be In It to Win It

To the Editor:

My name is Ronald Bailey. I am a committeeman for Third Ward, 7th District, within the city of Albany. There are 26 committee people in the Third Ward. Mr. Corey Ellis has never come to a committee meeting to address any issue that he has to the Third Ward. Mr. Ellis has only showed up for one meeting that is the vote for the commissioner for the Board of Election for the Democratic party, and to nominate and second himself as a candidate for a Common Council seat [“The Candidates on the Record,” Trail Mix, May 19]. We, the committee, have not had a chance to talk to Mr. Ellis. He does not interact with the committee at any time. You must represent your district and be involved with the people, not be a ghost, and as committee people of the Third Ward, we stand by. Let us not wait until someone does something about it, let us be the someone that does something about it!

Ronald Bailey

Third Ward Committeeman, Albany

Copy Wrongs

To the Editor:

In his article “Naughty Bits” [Rapp on This, May 19], Paul C. Rapp says that under the law that existed even before the passage of FECA—the Family Entertainment Copyright Act—it was legal to make any changes you want in something you have purchased: “Once you have bought a legitimate copy of a copyrighted work, the law allows you to do pretty much anything you want with your copy.” He then gives as examples “mixing tapes, crossing out passages in a book, or tearing out pages of a magazine . . .”

All that is perfectly reasonable, but somehow he forgot to point out the practical distinction between changing your copy of a copyrighted work and then (1) watching it in the privacy of your home, and (2) charging money for others to see it. Apparently, FECA makes (2) legal. Presumably, one can now buy a copy of a copyrighted work, make whatever changes one wants, and then present it to the public—even for a fee—without informing anyone that what they are about to see is not what the creators of the work intended for them to see. One should at least have to say, “This is not what the author (director, etc.) wanted you to see. It’s what I think he should have wanted you to see, if only he had been as moral as I am.” Presenting modified versions of copyrighted works without such a disclosure may be legal, but it is hardly ethical. It’s too bad the law wasn’t entitled the “Family Entertainment Copyright Act of Law.” Then it could be referred to as FECAL, which it certainly is.

Rabbi Josef G. Solomon

Saratoga Springs

Circus of Pain

To the Editor:

Chain of fools, my ass. I was saddened and dismayed by the tone of Shawn Stone’s “Chain of Fools” [Art Murmur, April 28] report on PeTA and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Glib statements like “. . . if nothing else, made a great photo spot for this paper” is endemic of the problem with the readers he is pandering to: those who know that their participation is part of the problem, but until the rest of the herd makes a discernible shift—until it is no longer cool—they will distance themselves from the “chain of fools” who highlight their poor behavior (i.e., PeTA), and they will continue to support disgusting enterprises such as Yum® fast food (KFC) and animal torture disguised as the circus.

I hope you know, that due to their independent natures, in order to “break” them and make chimps perform stupid circus tricks, circus trainers beat the hell out of them. Circus “trainers” treat other animals no more kindly.

To close his smug little snippet, as if to justify the circus, Mr. Stone incorrectly implied that the baby elephant (in bold print, no less) looked very cute. That’s all you need to focus on here, folks, no issues here that cut uncomfortable close to home. I wonder if Mr. Stone has every closely observed circus elephants in person, particularly the young ones. I have; in them the symptoms of great distress, trauma and unhappiness are obvious, especially in and around the animals’ eyes. That is not cute. To see a young mammal obviously upset, confused, eyes wet and swollen from crying; crying from distress, crying from pain, crying from loneliness and confusion. Fact is, Shawn, there is nothing cute about a baby elephant working in the circus for the entertainment of self-important readers like you.

And I’m wondering if Mr. Stone took the opportunity to see the rail cars in which the RBB&B Circus animals were stored and transported—their “homes” if you will. The large gray cargo cars were discernible as living quarters only by the presence of entry ramps and passive overhead “vents,” parked there amid the lifeless paved wasteland at the Port of Albany. Talk about objectifying and enslaving living creatures. There is nothing redemptive here.

I guess he doesn’t get it; Shawn, the things we pursue, including our forms of entertainment, define us as [adult] people. When Western civilization moves beyond Roman coliseum-style lizard brain entertainment, we will progress as a culture. Until that time, we will remain stuck; stuck with the rodeo, the circus, professional wrestling, football, ice hockey, boxing, et al., as the way in which many of us spend our leisure time. What we celebrate is what we are. And you wonder why moral standards and the value of human life are so low.

It is sad to see that Metroland is no longer the proactive and progressive voice of the Capital Region. How sad, mainstream, stuck, defensive, and reactionary you have become. Defending the circus, even indirectly and smugly, is not OK. To do so is to defend all that the circus represents: abuse. Perhaps the time is getting closer, the time when Americans pull themselves from the pit of denial in which they are immersed. But that’s OK, Shawn, you can stay right there where you are with all your fellow Romans, there at the circus, there watching the monkeys ride on tigers riding on elephants, there with your Big Mac in one hand and your certified Angus beef fat ass in the other. Now that’s entertainment.

David Schachne



Shawn Stone replies:

Three eyewitnesses assured me that the baby elephant was indeed cute.

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

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