The Agony and the Ecstasy
I’m 21 years old and grew up in Plattsburg, Missouri, where I lived until I went off to college. I’m currently studying abroad in Maastricht, Netherlands, for five months. Because I’m heading back to KC for the summer, I figured I ought to catch up a bit with what was going down at home so I wouldn’t be completely out of it when I get back, so I headed to www.pitch.com.

First, I found out that the Pitch was bought out by the New Times; saw that the page had a new look since I’d been there last; and then was happily surprised that the cover story (Andrew Miller’s “Spin City,” June 22) was about the Kansas City dance scene. After reading the article, however, I don’t know what to think about coming home. I feel good, I guess, that KC got off one good party, but since I can go clubbing three nights a week to some of the best trance/techno DJs around — even in this town of just 150,000 — I’m more than a little discouraged by the state of KC’s electronic scene. As some of the guys mentioned in Andrew Miller’s article, Europe is well past the sort of repressive techniques that the officials use in the U.S. Here in Holland, there was a rave held the first of July for 30,000 people in a soccer stadium.

I’m a huge fan of Kansas City and hope that for me, and all the kids in the area, this summer will be full of great events, electronic or otherwise, that are about not “E” or anything else but having a good time. (Don’t let) KC’s scene go to shit because the people at the lame-ass Top 40 clubs can lean on the cops every time something decent goes down. I used to have a great time at ska/punk shows at the Daily Grind, but that was last summer, and KC seemed to lack that energy. We don’t even get the Warped Tour anymore, which I thought went off really well all three times I went. We’re certainly not helped by the fact that there is no single radio station anywhere near KC even worth turning on besides NPR. I still look at my Lazer/31l keychain, sigh, and remember the good ol’ days.— Rick Herron

Plattsburg, Missouri

I’m writing to offer my opinion on the rave scene and parts of “Spin City.” It’s difficult to put into words my strong feelings about this, but the quote he used from Karla Kerlin is absolutely true in my mind: “Raves have nothing to do with music; it’s all about the drugs. The music is a facilitated sort of mind control. Under the influence of drugs, the music will affect you.” Of course, she immediately loses her credibility with the next sentence: “Kerlin also admitted to the reporter that she had never attended a rave.” Okay, well, I have, and that’s why I’m writing.

I attended my first rave, titled Fuel, at a place near Swope Park called The Red Barn (or something of that nature). Raves ARE about drugs. At that party, I was tripping on acid for the first time. I went to the party after smoking some pot and thought maybe I’d try Ecstasy if it were cheap enough and available. On that night, it wasn’t. But other drugs were. Everyone I met was on something, mostly acid. And most of these people, including myself, were hooked up with these drugs AT THE PARTY by drug dealers, despite the numerous patdowns and “No drugs or alcohol” signs clearly posted everywhere.

People take drugs for different reasons. For me, I had a fascination with these people who do what THEY want and don’t care too much what other people think about them. I envied that. In the past, I have been a person who worried too much what other people think. And here’s the good thing for me about drugs: Trying acid once helped me learn to be myself, and now I have no desire to use drugs again. The problem is that these people feel so good during a party that they do it over and over because it makes them feel better about themselves than they do in real life. That’s how I felt. I’ve never felt so free to do what I want. Luckily for me, I am now able to carry that feeling to my real life, the one that doesn’t need drugs.

Miller brought up a lot of issues that could only adequately be described in several books of writing. I think I know what he saw at the party he attended: He saw so many people just dancing and being friendly to each other and not being violent. That is the best part of raves because that’s not what you see at your typical binge-drinking bar. However, I don’t believe that the people who do that every weekend are truly happy with their lives. But drugs make them feel that way. — Name withheld on request

Buckner, Missouri

A Vine Solution
Thank you for the article on 18th & Vine (“Is the Jazz District Dead?” June 1). Although Shawn Edwards touched on reasons for its present state, please allow me to elaborate.

1. Mayor Kay Waldo Barnes does not have the same commitment and dedication to 18th & Vine that Emanuel Cleaver had. The Summer Jazz Camp was not included in this year’s budget. The Jazz Camp is an invaluable enrichment to students who depend on and look forward to it. I cannot tell you how disappointed these students are that they will not be attending jazz camp this year. The future of Kansas City jazz is in encouraging these young people to continue the tradition.

2. Whose bright idea was it to change the name from Kansas City Jazz Museum to the American Jazz Museum? Jazz has a regional flavor, and the local heritage must be given the respect it is due. There is Kansas City jazz and New Orleans jazz. If Rowena Stewart feels she is branded as an outsider, it is because she IS an outsider. The action to make the name change reflects this. Rowena Stewart, I’m from Missouri — you gotta SHOW ME!

3. Let us not forget what really made 18th & Vine a viable area. During the era when Kansas City jazz was in its heyday, the district was known as a thriving business community. Segregation ensured that black doctors, dentists, real estate agents, and lawyers and black-owned pharmacies, restaurants, hotels, and grocery and clothing stores had no choice but to remain here. This provided a social and business climate conducive to supporting the jazz scene. A few years ago, there was to be an incubator program to encourage entrepreneurs to establish businesses in the Lincoln building. What happened to this program and its funding?

4. Personally, if I were an employee of the 18th & Vine Authority I would donate part of my salary to repair the caved-in ceiling of the Jackson building adjacent to the Lincoln building. It is a disgrace and makes a mockery of the whole district. Maybe reorganization and salary cuts at the top are in order since administrators in this virtual ghost town obviously are not compensated based on merit.

5. Rowena Stewart seems to be the only person who thinks the district is not fragmented. Club Mardi Gras owner Alex Thomas says there has not been a working relationship. Whatever outstanding issues contributing to this estrangement need to be resolved to unify the district.

Maybe those presently administrating 18th & Vine are too close to the situation to be objective. Maybe some have their own agendas that conflict with the interests of the community. I recommend the establishment of an oversight committee composed of area residents and grassroots leaders to call an audit and check into the above issues. Community representation is necessary since public funds are being used.— Imani Malaika

Kansas City, Missouri

X Files
I just wanted to give a quick thanks for Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell’s coverage of the local BMX industry (“BMX-ing the Metro,” May 18). We are a small but growing population littered with the images of the X-Games in our sport. I also wanted to point out that I am an Overland Park taxpayer and I am outlawed from riding at the new “free, public” skate park by a large sign. Does this make sense to you?

Thanks anyway for the coverage on all of these “extreme” sports, even though I hate the use of the term.— Chris Rieke

Overland Park

The Victim Mentality
I want to commend Allie Johnson for her article, “On Dangerous Grounds” (May 4). It must have taken incredible courage for her and Dr. Turnbull to step forward and expose the dangerous environment that doctors and staff members of psychiatric hospitals must contend with daily.

I am appalled at Stephen Feinstein’s attitude concerning self-defense classes for employees of mental health hospitals. For him to contend that “the objective is not to get in combat” with a patient is ludicrous. Of course the objective is not that, and I am sure mental health staff members would agree. The reality, however, is this: Many of these patients suffer from disorders that involve violent outbursts of a physical nature, and the staff should have the right to practice and use self-defense methods as a last resort — not for combat but for self-protection. Feinstein also discusses patient vulnerability as a concern. What about staff vulnerability? Are they simply expected to risk being raped, murdered, and beaten as a condition of their job, as they go about trying to help these people find a way out of their nightmarish lives and into a new life of happiness, security, and productivity?

As for Randy Proctor, that man is the epitome of what is wrong with the mental health system in this state! I gathered from his quotes that he would rather cover up the problems and look presentable to those he must answer to, even at the risk of murder, as in the murder of therapist Stephanie Uhlrig. And this man is in the top position now at Osawatomie State Hospital? I am more than appalled; I am frightened.

In closing, I must ask the question: Attorney General Carla Stovall, where are you? You are always out and about, promoting and fighting for victims’ rights. The doctors and staff at mental health hospitals are left virtually helpless in the wards of these places on a daily basis — or do they not fit your criteria for “victims”? These hospitals need self-defense training for staff. They also need adequate security systems in place and professionals patrolling the grounds. Above all, patient charts should never be “edited” for any reason, and penalties for such actions on the part of administrative personnel, doctors, or anybody else should include termination. Omitting critical information from a patient chart is not only reprehensible; in the end, it not only poses risk to staff, but it also brings harm to the very ones that Feinstein and Proctor, among others, seem so concerned about: the patient.— Ginny Pierson

Harveyville, Kansas

The Rate Stuff
I am very disappointed that the film-review section no longer has numerical ratings for films. Formerly, when I was in a hurry, I could always look at the reviews very quickly and see which films I needed to see (besides the movies I have been looking forward to) or at least which extra reviews I should read. (A high rating does not always guarantee that I must read the review, and a really low rating would ensure that I would read the review also.) Please bring the numerical ratings back or some other sort of ordination (A-F, stars, percentages, or happy faces). I need quantification to decide which movies to see and which not to see. Or even which are so bad that I would have to see it to believe how bad it is.— Chuck Whittington

Kansas City, Missouri