Letters for the week of June 28-July 4, 2006 

Time for a week of bashing David Downs over his recent column bashing Neil Young. And, come to think of it, we got enough letters on this topic alone to last a month.

"The War Profiteer," Press Play, 5/17

Wasted space
Mr. Downs: Your article on Neil Young is a journalistic disgrace. You called a man who suffered an aneurysm "brain damaged." Your lack of class and tact is galling. While it's true that Neil's new album isn't much, what have YOU done for anybody? At least the man is trying. And as for your cries of profiteering, did you not know that this album was downloadable for free from his Web site? It seems your big problem here is that Mr. Young did not do an interview with you. The Express is no place for your sour grapes, and it behooves me that I had to read it. You have indicated just why Neil Young would not want to be interviewed by you — you're an obvious hack. Hopefully, in the future, you'll have something useful to say, but I have my doubts about it. What a waste of good journalistic space.
Glen Baker, Oakland

Who's hurting America?
When finally given the chance to review something important, David Downs blew it. His review of Neil Young's new CD, Living with War, is one of the most cynical, depressing things I've ever read. Young's show of spirit should be celebrated. Yet, in Downs' world, sixtysomething rockers and antiwar songs are forbidden. What an awful place to be. Who's hurting America? Look in the mirror, Mr. Downs.
Pat Moreira, Oakland

Wet piece of shit
Your new music editor is off to a pathetic start with his hatchet job on Neil Young, or more importantly, on the very notion of music (art) as a form of protest. Based on the quote provided, I don't think Mr. Young believes for a moment that his mediocre new CD is going to knock George W. Bush out of office, but he was frustrated enough with the fact that that no young popular singer had released a direct reaction to the current government that he felt compelled to make one himself.

More to the point, you're picking a rather poor target, since Young has been putting his money where his mouth is for decades with his annual Bridge School benefits. And he's also made it clear through his eccentric career that he doesn't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut what critics think, nor has he positioned himself on any sort of "pop success track." But oh, yes, Neil Young is "hurting America" with his album and tour and his "exchanging [of] ideas."

I should ask, Mr. Downs, what exactly you are doing with your implied indignation over the current administration? Oh! I forgot: New Times' stated editorial policy is that they don't publish editorials at all. Uh huh.

We can't all be Stephen Colberts, who manage through their fame to get an invite to a Washington Press Corps dinner and verbally destroy President Bush (and the entire press elite along with him), literally right to his face. But Neil Young and many, many more of us do use art as a tool, and it IS all about "ideas." Your paper has become a soulless, centrist rag which is totally out of touch with its readership — a wet piece of shit flopping in the wind, to quote Charles Bukowski — and is the living example of "inaction."
Peter Conheim, Richmond

Critics sit alone
Pretty scathing, Mr. Downs. I wonder if you could sit down and break bread with Neil and tell this to his face. Oh, he won't give you an interview. Maybe that's why your review is so scathing. Really, it's not a review. You said little about the content. Well I suppose you did. There isn't any according to you. I'm sure Neil needs the cash.

All you critics sit alone/you're no better than me for what you've shown.— Neil Young, "Ambulance Blues."
Forrest Whitlow, Kansas City, Missouri

I guess I'm insane
"No sane person believes music has much effect on politics, except for a few mush-brained burnouts and their contemporary wannabes." !? I chuckled to the tune of our national anthem until I realized he was serious. Can the Bay Area really have become numb to the power of music? Here in the Midwest it still stirs our souls. We all know you can go deaf from too many loud concerts, but who would have thought it could deaden your spirit? Or is David's political agenda affecting his judgment? Stay tuned. Time will tell.
Lee Baldwin, Spring Park, Minnesota

It hurts to think
David Downs has really hit the nail on the head. Who wants to hear any singers sing about the Iraq War? There should be a law that singers can only sing about either being in love, or a breakup. Also, all music should have a great beat, perfect singer, and have as little of a message as possible. Tommy Roe paved the path to this back in the day when Neil Young was writing songs that had all these deeper metaphors. When I listen to Tommy, the songs are meaningless, just like real music should be. Listening to Neil Young would make me start to think. Then wonder what he is really saying. Then think some more. It hurts to use my brain too much. Who wants to think when listening to music?

Now Neil Young is old. And old people shouldn't write, sing, or play instruments. (Actually they should ban guitars, too; just drum machines, that's all music needs.) Old people are all either stupid or brain dead. I'm with you 100 percent, David. I'm not brain dead; I simply choose not to use my brain. There is a big difference. We have the potential to be smart; we just choose not to be. Why do we need Neil Young when we have American Idol? That's real music.
Ron Wilhelm, Lubbock, Texas

You should be fired
David Downs: On music and its place in culture, you are lost in a world of complete stupidity. Your stupidity is not just harming America, but the world. You should be fired for writing crap. You're like, "Hey everybody! Listen to me. I'll be the alternative alternative, and say really dumb shit so people will think I have some kind of credibility." Instead you offer up pundit spewing garbage that belongs on The O'Reilly Factor. You suck.

PS — Someone at the Express needs to review the new Pearl Jam album. That is, if the publication wants to stay relevant.
James Marvel, Concord

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