By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In his review of Trace Adkins's new album, Songs About Me [Consumer Guide, June 22-28], why does Robert Christgau focus so much on Adkins's physical appearance? He all but calls him a caveman in referring to his physique and voice, when in actuality, Adkins is college educated and a savvy businessman, a gentleman. He chooses music that fits his style and the life he's led.
Southwest Ranches, Florida
I take issue with Robert Christgau's comments. I saw Trace Adkins last week at the Atlanta Midtown Music Festival. While he looks quite fit, he certainly doesn't look like the Hulk with a cowboy hat and a ponytail. Indeed, the man tours all the time and works his butt off.
Christgau's characterization of Adkins as a "calculated corporate creation" is so much bunk. The rationale appears to be that because Adkins didn't write the songs on the CD, he is a figment of marketing magic. Adkins is not a prolific songwriter; he is a pretty fair guitar player. However, his gift is a baritone voice with an incredible range that can vibrate floorboards and turn cream into butter. His voice is his instrument. Historically, there have been many talented singers who mastered their instrument and moved their audiences. Would Christgau conclude that Luciano Pavarotti is a "calculated corporate creation" because he never wrote an opera? Surely, a great voice is equal to a great song.
I actually took offense at one of Christgau's points. Songs About Me contains a song called "Arlington" about Patrick Nixon, who was the first soldier from Tennessee lost in Iraq. It is a deeply moving track, which Adkins nails. However, Christgau insinuates that because Adkins had a DUI several years ago, he shouldn't have been trusted with this song. That logic fails me.
Wrangling about Rangel
I tore through theVoice anxious to read Nat Hentoff's article "Castro's Black Prisoner" [June 15-21]. Castro targeting blacks?, I thought. I had no idea that racism ran so deep in Cuba. I was quite upset to find it was in fact a profile of a black dissident, written to take a jab at Charles Rangel. Either Hentoff thinks Rangel is so stupid that it would take a black prisoner to awaken him to the realities of the Castro regime or he thinks Rangel would care more for a black Cuban. Of course it's just rhetoric, but I expected more.
Hentoff then chastises Charles Barron for calling Castro a champion of human rights. I don't disagree with Hentoff, but why mention that he "feted Zimbabwe's brutal dictator, Robert Mugabe"? Is this to establish the character of the man? Should I have to mention that Hentoff supported the Iraq war on humanitarian grounds?
Nat Hentoff replies: Racism is a daily fact of life in Cuba, but my other reason was that Dr. Biscet, a disciple of Martin Luther King and Gandhi, was clearly not intending to effect regime change in Cuba by violence. As for Charles Barron and the ruthless Mugabe, my point was to illuminate Barron's expertise on human rights. With regard to my own character, the mass graves and torture chambersnot weapons of mass destructioncaused my support of the war, since hardly any other country but us gave a damn, as is also now again the case in Darfur, Zimbabwe, and the United States.
Not Eno' explanation
Chuck Eddy replies: Metal for Airports.