POSTED ON JUNE 3, 2009:
Love Letters/Hate Mail
Happy to Help
Dear UTW Staff:
I can't tell you how much we loved and appreciated having Urban Tulsa Weekly's support for the 2009 CAN Film Festival! Again...thank you, thank you, thank you!
- Miranda Pautler, 2009 CAN Film Festival Director
Let me join Miranda in singing Urban Tulsa Weekly and [James Bengfort] praises. You have added so much to the success of the CAN Film Festival. Please extend our appreciation to John Kline for the article and everyone with UTW who helped with the ads. As we shared in our thank you letter, we raised $100,247, and our goal was $100,000.
Janice Edmiston, CFRE
Why on earth do you continue to run that profane, swinish, traitorous and disgusting "Ask a Mexican" column? That column is a serious detriment to your otherwise fine newspaper. How dare he make disparaging remarks about our reasonable laws regarding immigration. It is clear that he wants all his illegal friends left alone to invade and trash our country.
G.V. Mims, Tulsa
He's Had Enough
Perhaps you'd like to do some investigative research as to why a popular watering hole is ripping off their customers right in front of their eyes. I'm talking about McNellie's "home of the 14oz pint."
On a recent trip to your fair city--and a trip to this pub--I noticed the "pint" I was served was in one of those thick bottomed glasses that look similar to a standard pint glass, but only holds 14oz. This is a scam that is well-known to homebrewers and brew-pub enthusiasts like myself.
We brought it to the attention of our server who then relayed a convoluted reply from the bar keep--acknowledging that it indeed was a 14oz glass but nothing could be done about it. [Despite on their extensive beer list it states that beers are served in 16oz glasses unless otherwise noted.]
I don't know that I'll be going back anytime soon, but it might be something you and your readers might like to be aware of. Check it out.
Ed Schmid, Bellingham, WA
[Editor's Note: After receiving this Letter to the Editor, UTW contacted Elliot Nelson, owner of McNellie's, for a response to the reader's concern. His reply follows...]
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond to this letter.
All of the beer at McNellie's is priced on a per ounce basis. Anytime we get a new beer, we figure the cost per ounce, multiply that by 14 oz., and then invert that pour cost to get our menu price. We would be happy to use a 16 oz. glass -- hell, we'd serve you 60 oz. if you wanted - but we'd use the same math to determine the price. Given our keg costs, using a 14 oz. portion size gives us the most desirable price points for our beers. There's no conspiracy against our customers. We're simply trying to keep the retail prices at a reasonable level given our ever rising costs.
We use the word pint on our menu to refer to a style of glassware, not a unit of measure, because a pint is not always a pint. In Britain, for example, a pint is 20 ounces. I hope our customers come to McNellie's for a great experience, great food, great beer, and great fellowship. Not technical compliance with measurements promulgated by the National Institute of Standards or National Academy of Sciences.
Your reader might also want to consider that due to Oklahoma's liquor laws we pay anywhere from 20-30 percent more for our beer than the rest of the country. He might feel ripped off paying the same price for 14 oz. at McNellie's that he does for 16 oz. at his favorite pub back home, but in reality, the guy in Washington is making more money off of him than we are... maybe we aren't the ones he should be so angry with.
All the same, every customer matters at McNellie's. I would love to sit down with this reader, and anyone else who feels deceived, buy them a "pint," and discuss our glassware - although I'd rather just talk about the beer.
- Elliot Nelson
Owner, James E. McNellie's Public House
To Give and To Not Receive
I'd like to see Michael Bates do some investigation into how the BoK arena sells tickets. It's becoming apparent that they're selling the choice seats to brokers, making good tickets all but impossible to obtain unless you can fork over several hundred dollars per ticket.
It seems to me... that since the citizens of Tulsa and surrounding areas have given up SO MUCH to pay for the blasted arena, that we should be given the opportunity to enjoy it without having to mortgage the farm for a show.
This weekend, while looking on the arena's website to purchase tickets for an upcoming venue, I noticed that the tickets are all available through the broker websites (I did see mention of the local purveyors like Arby's). What inflamed me was that the 'cheap seats' were going for $70-80 dollars (base price is what it is. I'm not bitching about that), but the 'available' floor seats were $600-800 dollars each. There's no way I believe that the box office is charging that much for tickets. And if they are in fact selling blocks of seating to brokers instead of the people who sacrificed roads, schools, parks, and civil services to have the damn arena, then I have a major problem.
I'm not sure of the specifics of how the BoK box office sells the tickets, but it sure seems like they're favoring brokers. I've been given to understand that the box office sells tickets for a flat rate, based on seating section. If that's the case, then I have a real problem with them selling tickets to brokers in lots, who then turn around and offer them to the same Tulsa citizens who were deprived of them at a hyper-inflated rate.
I'm sure no one within the administration of the arena would be getting a kickback or anything to allow this...... Given the total lack of political cronyism in Tulsa.
Either way, I know Michael like to go for the soft spots, and I very much admire his style of reporting. I make it a point to read his column every week, usually while I'm waiting on Chinese take out on Friday nights. Can't say I see eye to eye with him on everything, but I generally do, and I respect his position when I don't.
Enemy of the Rant
Initially when Ted Rall started his rants, I thought he was a liberal I could respect and enjoy. However, as the months progressed, his words have become angrier, more cynical, and self-righteous. He also makes outlandish accusations without backing them up. A few weeks ago, I recall his claim that "real unemployment is at 20 percent." I am very skeptical of this statistic and would like to know where he got that number. Can this be verified independently with facts?
More to the heart of his latest rants is about the Bush administration's use of torture on Muslims accused of terrorism, and how they should face war crimes. I argue against this on two points. The first is that he fails to differentiate torture for the sake of torture, and torture done to get information. For example, the torture done against the Jews and Slavs under Nazi Germany was done for pure hate's sake. The same could be said for torture done during the Salem Witch Trials, the Inquisition, and more recently, Saddam Hussein's actions against the Kurds and Shia Muslims. Did Rall miss that last one?
On the other hand, CIA operatives used torture to gain information. For those who think torture does not work, see if you can keep a secret when being put under extreme duress. Such tactics did prevent another attack on Los Angeles.
Second, Ted Rall absolutely has no concept on dealing with enemies of the state. In this case, it is Muslim extremists. Rall would have us adhere to the rules in order to achieve victory. He naively thinks that if we take the moral high ground, so will our enemies. The terrorists will not play by the same rules and use every dirty trick in the book. I know it draws us to their level to a certain extent, but in this case we cannot take the moral high ground. Instead, we must take the lesser of two evils. Is it evil to torture someone? Yes. But it is a greater evil to allow innocent American lives to be killed by terrorism.
As General Sherman once said, "War is hell and you cannot refine it."
However, I guess Rall grew up on GI Joe cartoons when parachutes always deployed when a plane blew up. Or maybe he watched the A-Team where bullets would fly, but nobody got hurt. In either case, he needs a serious dose of reality without closing his eyes, plugging up his ears and ranting at the top of his lungs to avoid it.
Stephen Scott, Tulsa
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