Going Postal 

Sad song
Jimmy Ginn's dilemma hinges on one simple fact which he fails — or refuses — to grasp: there is a difference between a copyright for a musical work (a song) and for a sound recording. He bought the sound recordings, not the songs. Yes, it's that simple.

It's a shame that Jimmy didn't do a little homework before he shelled out half a mil for those master tapes, but it's clear that he is not a man who thinks things through. I mean hell, his first foray into music publishing cost him ninety grand, down the drain. What he did was, unfortunately, not smart. But that is hardly sufficient grounds for the government to hand to him something that he never bought. He got what he paid for — the tapes. It's a shame that he thought otherwise, but that does not give him legitimate claim to Mike Thevis' other assets.

Jimmy Ginn is not a victim of injustice. This story has nothing to do with "the twisted world of the Atlanta music industry." This is just the story of one man's life-long obsession and his refusal to take responsibility for his own mistake. It's a terribly sad story, not an outrage. Unfortunately, I'll bet your article gave fuel to his fire, which is perhaps the real injustice.

Michael Kates, Atlanta

Columnist errs in 'Lip' service
Lang Whitaker ( "From the Lip," CL, April, 8) was quite correct in his choice of companions and his paean to free Scotch whisky at a recent party. He was quite wrong, however, in the quote he attributed to me about the Citymag columnist Matt Towery. Since the only words I've spoken to Mr. Whitaker are "Nice to meet ya," I couldn't have uttered the insult. In fact, the words in question [He's got a voice for print and a face for radio.] have been used for years by Frederick Allen, the brilliant author, to describe CL's own Tom Houck. And they were used that evening to describe that same force of nature. Your columnist, unfortunately, assumed the wrong target for those remarks when they were relayed to him second- or third-hand. For my money, Mr. Allen is correct about my irrepressible friend, Mr. Houck. As for Mr. Towery, he actually has a face for print and a voice for politics.

Mr. Whitaker is allowed the last laugh, though. I paid for my cocktails, unaware that the Scotch whisky was free.

Dick Williams of "The Georgia Gang"

Rotten Tom
Tom Houck asserts ("The Rotten Apple," CL, April 1) that New York's anti-crime policies of hiring more undercover police need not be imitated by Atlanta because Atlanta has reduced crime just as successfully with less police brutality. Houck's article is based on three incorrect assumptions.

1: "Atlanta's crime rate ... has been dramatically reduced in almost all categories, certainly paralleling what we have witnessed in NYC."

In fact, New York's murder rate declined by over 2/3 from 1991 and 1998 (from 29 per 100,000 residents to 9 per 100,000) while Atlanta's declined by only 30 percent (from 50 per 100,000 to 35), about the same rate as the national decline.

2: Atlantans' concerns over crime are "just small-time gripes". In fact, Atlanta's murder rate is, as noted above, more than three times as high as New York City. Even muggings are more frequent in Atlanta: 1170 per 100,000 people as opposed to 540. To put it another way, if Atlanta had a murder rate as low as New York's, 107 fewer Atlantans would be murdered every year. I don't consider that a "small-time gripe."

3: New York's police are "gestapo forces". In fact, from 1995 to 1998, fatal police shootings there have declined from 30 to 19—hardly evidence of an out of control police force.

Michael Lewyn, Atlanta

Criminals with badges
Your Ted Rall cartoon "Black Americans Get Hip to Cocooning" (April 1) was brilliant. Police have almost no credibility with us Africans in America because of racist and/or trigger-happy cops. Tom Houck also wrote a brilliant article, "The Rotten Apple."

Incidentally, have you noticed that no one attends the funerals of law enforcement officers except other law officers, their families and politicians? I've noticed this for years. It speaks volumes about how the public feels about them. They can only ignore it for so long before it affects their morale.

Lewis Charles, Atlanta

Public enemies
First, I have to commend you guys for the 11th Annual Golden Sleaze Awards (CL, March 25), giving us CL readers the "legislative lowdown" on our supposed representatives. May they get the hell out of Dodge and head back to their thatched huts as soon as possible.

However, I also read with amazement the comments that the founder of Public Enemy, Chuck D., made about the arrest of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, the accused shooter of two Fulton Co. Sheriff Deputies earlier this month (From the Lip, "Panther tracks: Public Enemy on the public enemy," CL, March 25). Everybody deserves their day in court and certainly Al-Amin, under our judicial system, does deserve to be considered innocent until proven guilty. However, the incendiary comments from Mr. D helps to worsen the racial divide that exists in this country, instead of helping those of us who struggle to try to understand the inequality that does exist in our urban areas. To wish that Al-Amin had fled to "Africa or somewhere" is not only insulting to the deputy who lost his life trying to serve a simple warrant to the alleged gunman, but Deputy Kinchen's family and rest of the law enforcement community in Metro Atlanta as well. Chuck D should have just said that he prefers lawlessness and anarchy in the streets rather than the rule of law that the rest of society expects on a daily basis. I also have to "congratulate" Lang Whitaker for taking the "gloves off" when he interviewed Chuck D. I guess you save your snide comments for "haughty" Canadian game show hosts who visit Atlanta. Rap stars who make Inflammatory, non-sensical musings get a free pass from good ol' Lang!

By the way, since Chuck D may have these noble, romantic images of Africa as a promised land, as the old saying goes, "Delta is ready" whenever he wants to go check it out. Then, Chuckie can find out first hand what its like to live in anarchy, chaos and lawlessness.

George R. Stenger, Carrollton

Bring it home
Thank you for the Billips column "Missing Atlanta" (CL, March 18)

I think the old, tired, well-paid, but very middle-aged staff of the Journal-Constitution gang just can't keep up with Atlanta. So they write about old sweet, memories — sweet homey Alabama and the great time in Old Mississippi. Now don't get me wrong, I like history but not in every other column. I tire of it. Hey, let's look at the all the new ethnic people coming into town. I think our fair city is number 12 in gateway immigration. Hispanics, Russians, Asians and a whole lot more. I see missed stories in a lot of areas, like why Atlanta is so popular with former white South Afferkans, former Serb Ph.D.s making $8 an hour working to rebuild their lives after the last war in Europe. Hispanic radio and businesses are booming in Atlanta.

The tired old AJC group has its pet projects. They love the Chattahoochee River but forget the South River or South DeKalb. So they run a story on New South cooking and ignore a bunch of great African-American restaurants. Then I read a story about goats in Boaz, Ala., — that's AJC news.

I know the price Billips will pay for penning his column, no lunch with the Geritol gang in downtown Atlanta. So Mike, call me up, I'll buy you a great bunch of tacos at a new Mexican joint and trade old Hinkelman columns. Now he could write Atlanta. Keep up the good work.

Scott Petersen, Atlanta

Kate Shuster's story about Coca-Cola implies that our streets and landfills will be clogged with plastic bottles because Coke doesn't use recycled plastic in its containers. But Shuster is confusing the terms "recycled" and "recyclable." A product may be capable of being recycled regardless of whether it contains virgin or recycled material. God knows I'm not defending Coke-certainly they should incorporate more post-consumer waste into their packaging-but if you're going to write a story slamming the company's policies, at least get your terms straight. The public has a tough enough time comprehending environmental issues as it is; don't confuse them further.

Debbie Gilbert, Cleveland

Cleveland, GA

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