I was astounded by your comment regarding Uncle Plum not being an "original" band ("The Best of Rochester," November 10). You should have done some research.

            Are you aware that Uncle Plum released an all-original professional CD in June of this year? Are you aware that all but one of the songs on the CD was written by the members of Uncle Plum? If not, maybe you should pick up a copy and take a listen. You might be surprised at the talent that comes from these four guys.

            I would also encourage you to stop by an Uncle Plum performance and witness for yourself the energy that they put into each and every show. They are extremely committed to their fans and give 100 percent of themselves every time they perform --- the sheer talent of Mike Gladstone on lead guitar and Elvio Fernandez doing lead vocals and keyboard.

            They have years of experience that makes them a favorite in Rochester. As an Uncle Plum fan, I was insulted by the comment, and I think you owe them a public apology. Maybe you should actually do some background checking before making such an outrageous comment.

            Jeanne Blodgett, Quaker Meetinghouse Road, Honeoye Falls

            From the editors: We have indeed seen Uncle Plum perform, and it's a very talented, very popular band. In our Best of Rochester issue, we called Uncle Plum a cover band based on our definitions for this poll: In our past experience, the band played some original material, but it most often played covers of Top 40 songs.

            Maybe our categories for this poll are too specific; next year we'll work on a ballot that allows for much moreof Rochester's musical talent in many more genres. And we weren't making a negative statement about cover bands. As City music writer Frank De Blase points out: "We have one of the biggest and best cover bands here in Rochester. It's the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra."


Without revisiting a stadium that is now nearly entirely paid for by the taxpayers when the original deal did not call for that, A-League soccer recently announced that franchises in Syracuse, Calgary, and Edmonton would not play the 2005 season. In any rational market discussion, this would seem to be a negative, but the owners of the Rochester Rhinos see it differently. How, I have no idea.

            The stark reality is that America's second-division soccer league now has 13 teams, down from 30 at the league's peak in 1999 --- a 56.7 percent decline six years.

            Then there is the promise of Major League Soccer for the Rhinos. The highest attendance numbers, in terms of overall average and median attendance, were in the initial year of 1996: 17,406 and 15,093 respectively. There were no year-over increases until 2001 and in 2002, a trend that reversed in 2003, when the respective averages were 14,898 and 13,719. That is a 14.41 percent decrease in average attendance since 1996 and a 9.1 percent decrease in the median. Yet we are to believe that this is a growing sport with increasing demand.

            As for the financial health of MLS: The Associated Press reported that in a 2002 lawsuit by the players, it was stated that the MLS lost $250 million in its first five years. And as for TV ratings, the 2004 average was a rating of 0.18, which is near death. On top of this, franchise growth is basically flat for the history of the league.

            So what makes this the panacea for the Rhinos or the taxpayer's investment in Pae Tec Park? Or is this the same business planning that brought us the Fast Ferry? High Falls?

            Where is the similar analysis from the local media? Perhaps they should spend less time being blind cheerleaders for certain projects (namely the Fast Ferry) and do some tough reporting on the issue.

            Bernard LoVerde, Webster


City spent a good deal of the November 10 issue scrutinizing (pretty big word for one of the "hicks" who voted for Bush) the election results ("Alienated Nation"). First off, City should not be upset at all. This just gives you more material for the next four years. There's nothing you like more than bashing Republicans and, as a member of the liberal media, I'm sure you will print plenty of it during the next four years. Don't seem so disappointed.

            I take great offense to the text: "[Democrats] still don't get it. They can't understand how they were scorned by a bunch of hicks in the center of the country." As a member of the blue-collar workforce, I would like to remind all of the "civilized" Democrats out there that without us "hicks," this country would not be what it is. If it weren't for us, you would not have the chair you are sitting in, the oversized, gas-guzzling car you drive, the house you're living in, or the food you're eating.

            Face it: The redneck, "hick" population in America provides for this country more than any other population. If you would take off your designer suit, put on some blue jeans and a blue-collar shirt, and get a blister or two on your hands, you might understand. Until that day, "hicks" and Democrats will never see eye to eye.

            Never forget: It's not always the people at the top of the ladder that matter. What it comes down to are the people at the bottom holding it up.

            Bill Vaughn, Wilson Road, Macedon

            Blue-jean-attired editor Mary Anna Towler's response: Thanks for your comments. I do want to note that the "hicks" quote came from one of the Bush supporters we interviewed, night security guard Dave Bogdan. It was said, obviously facetiously, to make a point: that many Democrats are out of touch with heartland voters, who they consider hicks. Bogdan certainly doesn't agree with those Democrats.


Chad Oliveiri's interviews with three Bush voters drives home the extent to which truth has been the first victim of this administration ("Alienated Nation," November 10). It is frightening that voters would give among their reasons for voting for Bush "a strong defense," "the Taliban regime has been taken out," and "..."[Osama's] regime has been basically disassembled."

            Reality check: Contrary to the rosy Rove message, large parts of Afghanistan are not controlled by the Karzai government. The "taken out" Taliban has resurged with sufficient power to drive out Doctors Without Borders this summer. There are numerous Taliban sympathizers in high places in the Pakistani government; it is dangerously naive to believe the Taliban has been taken out.

            It is similarly dangerous to believe that Al Qaeda has been "disassembled." The organization's response to loss of a central home in Afghanistan has been to branch out into every corner of the world in more independent cells and forge alliances with other terrorist groups like a multi-headed hydra. The Spanish and Chechen bombings bear the signature of their influence.

            Al Qaeda is far more dangerous today, not less so.

            Strong defense? A truly strong defense would have secured its ports and borders. A strong defense would have secured alliances with the strongest of its friends and neighbors. A strong defense would have not allowed nuclear threats to fester unattended in Iran and North Korea while we invaded a country whose threat level was logarithmically less acute.

            A strong defense would be at the table with the EU, having a say in the negotiations with Iran and in the six-nation talks with North Korea. We tipped our hand to play the shock-and-awe card pre-emptively in Iraq, and it was trumped by a relatively small number of Davids who have managed to divert Goliath's resources from catastrophic neighboring threats.

            We would do better to heed what recent history writes about the fate of superpowers with mighty war machines who invade other countries at will and alienate their neighbors (think Germany, Japan, USSR).

            Georgianne Arnold, Elmwood Avenue, Rochester


Thank you profoundly for the report on Ohio voters and for the three enlightening interviews with the local Bush supporters, particularly the interview with Mr. Bogdan.

            I read them all, longing to understand why they voted as they did. The reasons given were startling to me: passion for guns and trying any way possible to ban same-sex marriage --- including a constitutional amendment.

            How to deal with these strongly embedded attitudes is a puzzle. If younger people are more tolerant of gays, maybe time will solve that one, but the gun-loving is tough. All I can think of is to show, one by one, the frightening reversal of environmental and social standards that have been levied on us stealthily.

            The subject of the war against Iraq seems to be impossible for Republicans to understand. We think it should never have happened; they think it must be fought until it is won. Since it is endless, as it would be if we had been invaded, it will be a constant drain on our country --- both of people and finances --- with no end even being planned, and the conquered countries seething with revolt.

            Secure one section of Iraq, and another erupts. What a future Bush has inflicted on us. And for what purpose?

            Nancy Watson Dean, Rochester


My condolences on the election results --- no gloating, either. It was a tough election and could have gone either way, although all summer, Kerry was never ahead in the polls.

            One thing you should consider: Even the Viet Nam anti-war movement took time to grow. If things in Iraq get worse, four years hence the Dem candidate may do better.

            And I hope the Democrats don't turn on the homosexual community the way they turned on Nader when they blamed him for 2000. I don't think gay marriage was the camel-breaking straw, but there should be a little reflection on whether "civil unions" was a good first step.

            Similarly, if the ACLU had waited a bit before challenging the latest partial-birth abortion legislation, the Democrats and the left in general may have presented, for a while anyway, a less extreme face. Partial-birth abortion is, in my pro-choice opinion, a bit much. Remember Howard Dean's "day before delivery" remark? That doesn't sit well with most people.

            Joseph St. Martin, Penfield


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