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It is ever more evident that the City Hater is part of Creative Loafing, which is a part of corporate America with the specific mission of enslaving even those who seek unpopular culture and unfettered creativity by scorning elements of subculture in order to create insecurity among the bold and rebellious, thus creating demand for “goods” to alleviate this insecurity so all will feed their lives to the machine.

The “journalist” who devoted over 1/2 of the mere column inch the City Paper devoted to Best Venue (“Best Music Venue: Velvet Lounge,” 4/18) to hating, rather than celebrating, the best venue is as much a victim of that culture of insecure hating as its perpetrator, and I pity him for the fool that he his. I congratulate the Pharmacy for Best Jukebox and ridicule the Hater for devoting six times as much ink to jukebox as venue.

Despite Aaron Leitko’s efforts to tear something down to embiggen himself, I know the vast majority of the 4,000+ bands who played at Velvet Lounge and the tens of thousands of fans who attended shows appreciated what Rob Curtis and I did over the last 10 years. We would have won Best Venue Under 600 Capacity easily in any of the last seven years. Metro Cafe was the only serious competition we ever had. It’s not an easy task; for three years we would have been running entirely unopposed.

For those of you just arriving in D.C., the editorial scorn of the Hater does not reflect the widespread historic love of Velvet felt by the music-seeking public.

The real story is: Velvet Lounge hosted the first Emergent Music Forum eight years ago featuring Drums and Tuba.

Many of you reading this were not born yesterday and will remember it’s been a place for top national acts for years, with bands including Brian Jonestown Massacre, Rebirth, Exene, and High on Fire in the decade I built up Velvet, and contrary to the claims of Mr. Leitko, they were not paying dues. Exene was paying her dues when Aaron Leitko was first discovering his tiny critic’s penis. Go tell Exene she is “small-scale” when she packs 9:30 Club next month, Aaron.

Drive by Truckers and Flogging Molly, on the other hand, were paying dues when they played here (on the old “stage” no less!), and Flogging Molly loved it so much they put a picture of it on their latest release. Deleted Scenes, the very next Best-of pick written by the same waste of skin, has been playing Velvet since they formed. Scott Verrastro used to compete with Velvet for acts that he and I and Rob all liked and then he came to book at Velvet so he could be at the best sounding venue in town. Rob has now moved on to tune up the sound at Rock and Roll Hotel.

As far as low drink prices, that is not a new development, but it is barstool-worthy journalism. Velvet has always had $2 beers, and I also gave away liquor and beer for free with no cover for two hours at a time on over 50 occasions in the 10 years I owned Velvet. Velvet also offered a telephone soundclip line in the days before bandwith and sold 3,000 copies of compilation CDs at a loss to get the music out there, and as a City Paper article from seven years ago reveals, music would not even be legal without a large parking lot were it not for my hundreds of hours of lobbying on behalf of other venues even after getting myself an exemption. What did you contribute, Aaron?

I shudder to think a band was playing Pearl Jam covers, but I don’t listen to music I don’t like just so I can feel superior, I go do something more fun than struggling to inflate my tiny ego by hating, like maybe go downstairs and mock myself for hosting a band that sucks. (OK, maybe I enjoy hating a little.) Still, I stayed in business for the full 10 years, unlike every other venue under 800 capacity in that 10-year period that tried to provide this marginally grateful town a place to hear great national bands. Again, I would ask, what did you contribute, Aaron? An unjustifiable attitude of smug superiority? Fear-monger! Crypto-neoconservative pawn! Hater!

I have an idea for a City Hater story. You could all choose your most embarrassing guilty pleasure and then have a Secret Santa thing where another staffer hates on it. If you don’t make that a cover story, you are some pretty sorry haters with no sense of humor to go with your no ballvaries. Creative Loafing should do it nationwide with all their sorry hater rags. And send me a check. I am kind of regretting passing along $100,000 of our patrons’ money to you over the years. Sure you aren’t advertorial, but would Aaron be taking a piss on our proud 10-year tradition if I were still paying the ad bills today?

Congratulations to Scott Verrastro and the new owners, and thanks to all the bands and fans that supported Velvet and thanks especially to the bands that sucked but brought all their friends, allowing us to stay open to bring you the best unknown bands, famous nationals, and rising local stars over the last decade.

Chris Connelly
Nosara, Costa Rica

Things Are Locking Up

Recently, the City Paper published two articles about three tragic deaths at the D.C. Jail (“Failure to Report,” cover story by Brendan Smith, and “Dept. of Corrections Apologizes,” by Jason Cherkis). Devon Brown, Director of the Department of Corrections since late 2005, was a key focus of both articles. The “Failure to Report” story implied that Mr. Brown had covered up DOC misconduct in two suicides at the D.C. Jail (12/06 and 3/07). I read the DOC internal affairs reports that accompanied the story, however, a bit differently. They show that Mr. Brown, rather than ignoring employee misconduct, ordered his chief of internal affairs, Wanda Patten, to investigate both incidents. And after Ms. Patten’s detailed investigation documented neglect and lies by DOC employees, Director Brown ordered disciplinary action and corrective measures.

In the second article, which appeared in the City Desk section, Jason Cherkis followed up on his “Man Down” cover story (June 27, 2007), about the death of Thomas Jones in January 2005. Although Jones’ death occurred well before Devon Brown became the DOC Director, Mr. Brown did not pass the buck. Instead, Mr. Brown apologized to Jones’ mother, Ms. Durham, for the poor training that led to her son’s death. More important, he made sure the entire correctional workforce was retrained regarding prison medical emergencies and assured Ms. Durham that he would not tolerate neglect by DOC employees in such matters.

Having filed hundreds of lawsuits against the DOC, I am intimately familiar with its troubled history. Recent problems at the D.C. Jail stem not from Mr. Brown’s lack of leadership—he appears to be doing excellent work under difficult circumstances. I fully believe he should be more accessible to the press, though, so the public would be better informed of conditions (both good and bad) at the jail.

Douglas R. Sparks
Sparks & Silber, LLP

Parity Line

More to the point than whether Fenty reneged on his pledge not to raise taxes (“Read His Lips!” Loose Lips, 4/4) is the fact that his proposed budget doesn’t even keep up with inflation as we plunge into a recession. And a recession combined with rising fuel and food prices is a depression for low income folk and indeed much of the working-class majority of D.C. So not only is a tax cut for the majority imperative, but so is a tax hike on the top 5 percent of District’s income bracket, who average over $200K a year, to generate badly needed revenue in our budget. The Maryland legislature just passed a tax increase for their millionaires; we should do likewise, especially since according to the latest ITEP study, the top 1 percent of D.C.’s families now average $3 million a year and have a lower D.C. tax rate than the bottom 99 percent, even compared to families living in poverty. The top 5 percent had a taxable income of $6.7 billion in 2005 (the most recent data from the IRS) and the top 1 percent about $2 billion. And to those who rather blame Congress: We are not only under their boot as a neo-colony, we are also under the boot of the regional corporate elite and its political instruments that hide behind the smokescreen of Congressional power to pretend they cannot better meet essential needs of D.C. residents. We need to stop subsidizing the most affluent in our community with our regressive tax structure, while they simultaneously enjoy the benefits of much lower commuting costs by living in the District.

David Schwartzman
Tax & Budget Coordinator
DC Statehood Green Party


In the April 9 “What’s Your Problem?” Amanda Hess misidentified Jim Tretick’s wife. Her name is Nancy.