"Jazz ain't nothin' but soul."
Forrest Cummings' thoughtful programming --- on WRUR and WGMC --- always was the one of best things about Rochester. Small gems always seem to shine the brightest, so my hat is off as we mourn the loss of Forrest. May your heart be always filled with the music you helped us all to love.
Tom Burke, Birch Crescent, Rochester
"Those cats came here to play" was a familiar cry at jazz events, from Rochester to New Orleans, from jazz's biggest fan and scholar, Forrest Cummings. Forrest's knowledge and wisdom of jazz were enormous, but for us and the rest of his Jazz 90.1 FM listening audience, these gifts were secondary to the fact that "Jazz ain'tnothing but soul," the title of Forrest's radio show, was the way he chose to live his life and support others: full of soul. He will be greatly missed.
Petra and Mel Henderson (Paradigm Shift), Andrews Street, Rochester
Regarding the Newspaper Guild's struggle with the Democrat and Chronicle ("Bargaining with Gannett," The Mail, September 14: How is it possible that bargaining has gone on for 14 years? Has anyone heard of "strike"?
Raymond Zahn, Sperry Drive, Henrietta
Your recent cover story presented readers with the good information that a native of Rochester, AmirSulaiman, is making a national name for himself as a Black Muslim activist and spoken-word artist and that he has come under fire from the federal government for his speech ("Taking the Mic," September 14).
Unfortunately, we didn't learn anything about Sulaiman's politics, very little about his religion, and nothing about how this native of Rochester feels about Rochester today or how growing up here may have influenced his current outlook on life.
Though Sulaiman has been part of commercial events like Def Poetry Jam that --- along with the whole hip-hop-major-media-newspaper bamboozle --- commodify and co-opt honest and impassioned dissent in this country, I don't think he is quite as market-driven and commercialized as the story makes him out to be. But then you didn't ask the tough questions, or if you did they were left out of the story.
If you were afraid to print some of his ideas and poetry, you could have at least listed his website address so people could hear just how powerful his spoken-word poem "Danger" really is. You can also buy his albums at his site, so listing the address would have served a commercial purpose, if that is in fact Sulaiman's and City'sraison d'etre.
His website address is: http://www.amirsulaiman.com.
Andrew Coyle, Brockport
Editor's note: The article did list Sulaiman's website address.
Thanks for giving due spotlight to our homegrown talent, AmirSulaiman. Sulaiman is an amazing artist, activist, and educator, and I was extremely happy to see that a local newspaper recognized him as such. The article was extremely well written and painted a reflective portrait of what Sulaiman is actually like. I was lucky enough to hear him live for the first time this past summer; his words are truly moving, and his performance absolutely amazing.
Shaza Khan, Pittsford
Mary Anna Towler did not overreact when comparing Rochester to New Orleans ("Our Own Storm," September 21). The problem is, she did not carry the analogy far enough.
Non-residents of Rochester who are promoting the Rochester "renaissance" are also promoting income-generating tourist attractions --- for example, a casino. City living and neighborhood enhancement are not a focus. Although the casino plan is unlikely, it is still being talked about.
These attractions are trickle-down economics. Tim Mains has a platform that is concrete and creative. He has plans to prevent the continued increase of poverty. He has proposals to address the lack of school readiness, limited educational achievement, and the prevalence of violence based on the uncontrolled anger of children growing up without hope.
The Rochester Children's Initiative aims to coordinate the delivery of existing services from infancy to age 5, and help to fill in identified gaps in existing programs. Children who are well fed, have proper health care, and are living with an adult who is able to provide them with necessary nurturing will be school ready, academically successful, and less likely to enter into criminal activities.
The Pioneer Tax Rate expedites business investment in Rochester, which enhances neighborhoods. In fact, if we look at downtown development, it is clear that new housing developments and places of business are making this space more of a geographic community than a tourist attraction. Mains acknowledges the economic importance of visitors to Rochester, but he argues that "projects" are not the only avenue to redevelopment. Visit the East End and see for yourself how some of Mains' thoughts have already come to fruition. Leaders recognize what people want. Residential property in desirable areas sells. All neighborhoods should be desirable.
These are two parts of a much larger platform. Leadership is not about "management by the numbers" or decision-making by committees. Mains argues for open government, which is not the same thing as setting up a task force of the favored few. Tim Mains supports a non-binding public referendum on major initiatives. There is someone running for office with data-driven and intelligent recommendations on how to address the issues of education, crime, and jobs.
Is anyone listening?
Ruth Danis, Mulberry Street, Rochester
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