"For instance, as independent contractors, they are able to get group health insurance through many associations ..." Yeah, ever tried that? I cannot presume to speak for all the area artists and musicians, but in ten years of playing all over North America with and without record labels, I have yet to find group coverage that is less than cost-prohibitive. Insurance is so pricey that almost anyone short of a platinum-record-winner would have to play fewer gigs and wait more tables to keep their payments current.
"Who knows -- you might get picked up by a label. (Note: They pay health insurance.)" No they don't. Google it. They will pay your first set of dues to the musicians union, which can in turn provide you with a PPO plan that completely sucks unless you live in New York City or Los Angeles and that you will have to assume payments on immediately thereafter. Beyond that, the union dues you will be required to pay yearly are out-fucking-rageous.
As a Kansas City musician, I "take a hard look at the business side" of my life every day -- and I don't come off as half the asshole Brad Hansen does.
Kansas City, Missouri
Gay Right Hook
Imagine the wedding bills: Your article "Behind the Veil" showed me that I was not alone ( Janovy, November 18 ). You wrote what I had been expressing all along. I am the youngest of four, all of whom have been married (all less than two years) and divorced, and two of whom are on their second marriages (now separated). One bright light: Our parents just celebrated 50 years of marriage -- go figure. By the way: I'm the "funny one" (lesbian), so I guess that marriage thing really is a bust ... no pun intended.
Tracy A. Bowens
How dare Janovy! C.J., I am very disappointed in you. I thought you were smarter than to slam gay and lesbian people for wanting the same 1,049 rights that straight people get whenever they get married in this society. Sure, some relationships don't last. So what? Some do. I'm sorry you don't happen to know anyone in that category. You should have been at the NGLTF Creating Change conference in St. Louis last weekend to see Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, activist leaders in the LGBT movement, together this year for 50 years and the first couple to be married in San Francisco.
Do the words unequal treatment mean anything to you, C.J.? As a public figure and out lesbian in the Kansas City community, you should know better. I expect to have to educate my straight family, friends and co-workers about marriage equality, but not my gay brothers and sisters about why I want to be married. C.J., does your partner have health insurance? Would you want the right to decide life and death questions if something were to happen to her? How about making funeral arrangements? Do you think it's OK that the government taxes you on your house when your partner dies, as if the two of you were living together as strangers? That's only 4 of 1,049. Want me to go on?
Marriage is about government recognition of our relationships, C.J.! That recognition gives us rights, no matter how long the relationship lasts.
Kansas City, Missouri
Brit backing: I'm glad to see someone with some common sense regarding this whole drama. I'm sure there are plenty more out there who feel the same (and some are just too timid to say it).
While I understand the legal premise behind the drive, the insistence on calling it marriage might just break the camel's back. But then again, I write from a country where civil partnerships have just gained royal assent. But I still can't see myself running off to church or the major's office with the boyfriend du jour to get married.
Anyway, it was a real pleasure to read the article.
Restraining ardor: Interesting if uninformed take on marriage. BGLT marriages and relationships probably fail at no greater a rate than do any other relationship; as Janovy points out, 50 percent ain't a good rate. I would urge an examination into how marriage as we know it today came about. Marriage was (and still is) about property rights, such as the right of inheritance, blah, blah, blah. You know the drill.
Another equal-opportunity topic is that of domestic abuse. When I came out (way back in 1976), I firmly believed that gays and lesbians didn't batter, that we were "better" than that. So sad how wrong I was. Having obtained a permanent restraining order against the woman I married in a religious ceremony only three years ago brought home how a relationship is a relationship is a relationship, whether between same-sex couples, heterosexual couples or polyamorous families. Turns out torture (i.e., abuse) knows no boundaries, and marriage protects no one. On the other hand, it means I can seek no civil damages for my having to pay her debts, nor do I have to pay her alimony because she refuses to get a job. Upside, downside, same as for any unmarried couple of whatever orientation. The Kansas City Anti-Violence Project at the BGLTI Center is a great resource, and I can tell you from far too personal experience that the anti-domestic-violence community is very supportive, and the courts take it seriously.
So I strongly urge you to use a little knowledge that doesn't come from horror stories -- you don't want to wear a veil, don't; you don't like women in tuxedos, well, I don't like men in dresses. So get over it.
Jane C. Wilman
Kansas City, Missouri
Off the Tracks
Blame the Mexicans: I write in response to Allie Johnson's article " Crazy Train " (November 4, 2004). You refer to Kansas City Southern as the "railroad operator." However, TFM, S.A. de C.V., a Mexican corporation, owned the tracks where the accident occurred, owned the locomotive involved in the collision and employed the train crew that operated the TFM train involved in the collision. The fact that TFM, rather than Kansas City Southern, was the operator is even acknowledged later in the article. But in the headline and the lead sentence, you create the false impression that Kansas City Southern was the operator of the train involved in this accident and that it is legally responsible for the damages.
Although Kansas City Southern indirectly held a minority interest in TFM at the time of the accident, it did not control any aspect of TFM, much less its day-to-day operations. To this day, Kansas City Southern remains a minority shareholder in TFM, an independent Mexican corporation, and it does not have the ability to exercise control over it.
I would also like to point out that the $13 million settlement that you reference in the penultimate paragraph was entered into by the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad, a separate corporation unrelated to Kansas City Southern. Your article was unbalanced and does not reflect the facts that are clearly reflected in the file concerning this case.
Paul O. Wickes
Hunton & Williams
Editor's note: The Pitch regrets that it confused two court settlements involving the same law firm at around the same time. It was an error to cite the Iowa, Chicago and Eastern Railroad case. The article should have referenced a $12 million jury verdict awarded to the parents of a 20-year-old man whose car was hit by a Kansas City Southern train as he drove across tracks near Cleveland, Missouri, where there was no gate at the crossing. Both the man and his 19-year-old girlfriend were killed.
Food, Not Bombast
Eyes on the plate, Charles: That's it. I've had it. I can't read one more "food review" from Charles Ferruzza. I appreciate the direction in which the Pitch has been moving, and I would like to see the same effort applied to the restaurant reviews. As for the recent Café Sebastienne article, Ferruzza devoted maybe two paragraphs to the food. The rest of the review was consumed with gossip -- who was there, what they were wearing, what celebs he was eating with. I could care less about that crap. There was no mention of a wine list or the daily changing of the lunch menu. I'm not asking for William Grimes or Ruth Reichl, but how about someone with a clear understanding and knowledge of food. An up-and-coming restaurant scene like ours deserves at least that much.
Kansas City, Kansas
Gathering No Moss
Closer reading, please: I was surprised this morning to receive an e-mail asking why I had "battered" the Dixie Chicks for their comments about the president ( Read Now, November 11 ). So I grabbed my New Rolling Stone Album Guide and found the quote in question, in reference to "Travelin' Soldier": "a hit even after Natalie foolishly exercised her right to free speech and criticized President George W. Bush." The "foolishly" is sarcastic here -- how silly of her to jeopardize her career by exercising her constitutional rights. Even overlooking the ironic tone, however, the sentence at worst questions Natalie Maines' prudence -- hardly a battering. Sorry for the subtlety.
Getting the Chills: I wholeheartedly agree with this review. Rob Sheffield's pieces made me want to puke. Read the Smiths review for the most objectionable writing. I actually crossed out the stupidest parts. Since when is it considered good criticism to paraphrase the lyrics of an artist to make a point in the review without any attribution? The repulsive line you pull from the Dylan review is a prime example of this. And where are the Chills? Nice to know that there's someone else out there who can see through this crap. Thanks.