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Reader Feedback 11.09.05

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MT.HOPE'S ALIVE

I read with dismay about The Record Archive closing its Mt.Hope location (Metro Ink, October 19). I was disappointed in Dick Storms' reason for leaving our neighborhood. He claimed: "With Wegmans closing, that area of Mt.Hope ceased to be a shopping destination. There's still fast food, but that's about it."

Mr. Storms, as an active member of the Mt. Hope Business Association for years, you know that is not true. Within just a few blocks, I can get wine to go with my dinner, my hair styled, spa treatments, and my nails done; do my banking; buy a futon, a bicycle, video games, hardware, food from ethnic groceries, clothing, baked goods, and great coffee! (Sorry if I missed anyone.)

Only fast food? Hardly. We have take-out and eat-in restaurants of varied ethnicities and caliber. And one of the most prestigious photography shops in Western New York is in that area of Mt.Hope.

Please do not minimize the importance of the small businesses in a neighborhood; they help support the community. Leave if you must, but do not blame the neighborhood or Wegmans. More likely, you are another victim of CD's being made from music downloaded from the internet.

Nancy Edwards, Harvard Street, Rochester


MAD, MAD WORLD

Re the October 12 !Fiz: those who hang onto their idols long past childhood may enjoy MAD Magazine at any age. The wordless Sergio Aragonés cartoon strips are great, and the clever fold-over page is worth the effort. The December 2002 issue had a pull-out "politically incorrect" poster for a movieGulf Wars Episode II: Clone of the Attack, which must surely be a collectible.

As for the old-time radio shows, those unwilling to spend $7.50 for a collection may check out audio tapes at the Rochester Public Library for free. Its collection is astounding in quantity and scope.

Byrna Weir, Brighton


A different Halloween

Halloween was not the same this year.

Most of the houses on my block were dark. Last year, the couple across the street was dressed in overalls and straw hats and sat on their front lawn playing country music and handing out candy. The woman next door was dressed in a clown suit and kept running up and down the street hugging people. Up and down the street, the lights were on, the jack-o'-lanterns were lit, and people were answering their doors.

Not this year. My wife and I were angry at first, mostly because our kids were excruciatingly cute --- our 3-year-old daughter was Little Bo Peep and her 6-month-old brother was a sheep --- and we had been dying to show them off to the neighbors and hear about what beautiful children we have. As my wife and kids headed off up the darkened street, however, and I sat with a big bowl of candy and watched groups of kids travel those long distances between lighted houses, I began to feel badly for my daughter. I remembered those long nights of going from house to house to house through neighborhoods that seemed endless, with only an odd curmudgeon here and there with his lights out. Like any parent, I wanted the same thing for her.

My daughter came home 20 minutes later with a handful of candy in her little bucket. My wife had taken her all the way down to the end of the next block, but most of the houses there had been dark, too.

Maybe everyone just had someplace else to be. Maybe there were other streets in the village that were filled with lights and laughter and tiny ghosts and goblins. The church up the block was having some sort of harvest festival, so maybe everyone was there. But I doubt it.

Halloween is about flirting with the things that repel and frighten us. It is about playacting our darker fantasies, about expressing our violent and destructive tendencies in harmless, socially acceptable ways. This disturbs some people, but I've always found it to be healthy and fun.

Maybe there has been enough darkness this year. Two months ago, we watched a hurricane drown a city. We saw bodies sprawled in the street, fathers clutching their motherless infants, and desperate people clinging to rooftops waiting to be rescued. We saw the charred hulk of a bus where 24 senior citizens burned to death as they tried to flee another hurricane. We saw the number of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq top 2,000, saw numberless Iraqis bombed and executed and beaten by their own people. An earthquake buried 80,000 people in Pakistan, and a flood in Guatemala buried entire villages in mud.

In Rochester, we have seen one killing after another. A 15-year-old boy was gunned down in front of a youth recreation center. A man is on trial for stabbing his wife and daughter to death. Another man was just sentenced for raping a 13-year-old girl in her own bedroom and taking pictures of the crime on his cell phone.

It is only fun to flirt with the shadows when they are at a safe distance. When you sense them closing in, it feels better to lock the door and ignore both the little ghosts and goblins and the real darkness that has gotten so frighteningly close. Maybe that is why the lights were off this year.

Halloween is descended from a number of pagan and early Christian traditions, most of which involved hiding inside and barring the door to the evil spirits that people believed were on the move outside. On Samhain, the spirits of a vanished race were said to pour from the hillsides and prey on anyone who was unlucky enough to be outside. On Walpurgis Night, witches were abroad, and were said to do the same sorts of things. How telling that we have returned to the practices of those distant times, that instead of masquerading as those evil spirits for a night, we are again hiding from them.

Only one thing is different. Today, those evil spirits are all too real.

Matt Fox, West Elm Street, EastRochester

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