Letters from the week of November 13

Feature: “A Picture of Hope,” November 6

Badass, Good Words

Jason Harper is a pretty badass dude.

I don’t know if it’s acceptable — if you’re technically not supposed to e-mail the folks who write nice things about you and say thank you — but I have very little time for worrying about the technicalities of anything anymore. My darling Mr. Harper, thank you! You have written about Kansas City’s music community with respect, attention and appreciation since you got to town. Don’t think we haven’t noticed how you actually show up at shows. Or how you actually listen to the records you review. You care about music and realize it isn’t some commodity but an expression created by human beings with human faults and limitations. It is as good as the community that bears it, fosters it, criticizes it, incubates it. You hold up a mirror, let us see ourselves more clearly, and maybe help us take it all a little more seriously because someone else gives a shit. Thank you for that. You make music better.

And thank you for the kind way you handled the article. Cancer is a pretty bullshit thing the whole way round. A bunch of no fun. You wrote about this like I think about this: a means to an end, a thing to get through, a door to blow off. The tone was spot-on. (You writerly folks love achieving correct tone, yes?) No sentimental gobbledygook. No “hang in there” kitten affirmations. Beautifully written. Thank you.

Abigail Henderson, Kansas City, Missouri

Relief on the Way?

I’m an anesthesiologist practicing in Kansas City. I read with interest Jason Harper’s excellent story about the health-care challenges that musicians face.

Harper mentioned Sweet Relief and questioned its status, so I thought I should bring you up-to-date on what is happening with the organization. Through chance circumstances, I met Victoria Williams earlier this year. We talked about Sweet Relief and the challenges that “niche” charities are facing in these difficult economic times. In 14 years of existence, Sweet Relief never had a physician involved with the organization. Further, the administrative staff had taken a passive approach to fundraising.

Before my medical career, I was briefly a professional musician. The life proved too difficult for me. Purchasing food was challenging enough; forget about health insurance.

I decided to get active with Sweet Relief to see what assistance I could provide. In August, I met with Victoria and the new executive staff of Sweet Relief in Los Angeles. We decided to completely repackage the organization from the ground up. All new staff members were put in place. I agreed to serve on the board of directors.

The new executive director is working with marketing consultants in L.A. to roll out a new logo, Web site and overall marketing strategy. Financial assistance to musicians was temporarily suspended in July so that full attention could be directed to reorganization.

Benefit concerts are being planned for this winter and early next year.

The next logical step is to explore the possibility of partnering with the efforts of Abigail Henderson and other like-minded musicians. Sweet Relief would be interested in talking with interested parties to explore the challenges that musicians face and possible solutions. Until universal health care is a reality, these challenges will continue; by working together, we have a better chance of bridging that gap until such a day becomes a reality.

Mark Matthews, Kansas City, Missouri

Best Of Kansas City: October 2, 2008

Aw, Shucks

I have to say I was a little surprised and very honored when I found out that you named me Best Activist — Missouri along with Richard Mabion on the Kansas side. It was a good feeling to know that someone at The Pitch thinks that highly of me. I do have to say that much of the credit for that title is due to my friends and fellow activists who have worked with me and been motivated to continue this work that, especially in Kansas City, can seem like an uphill battle. I will try my hardest to live up to the reputation you have given me and appreciate the challenge.

Wick Thomas, Kansas City, Missouri

Correction: Jinni Pike took the photo accompanying last week’s Stage photo.

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