The Soul of a Cook County Commissioner

Re: “Soul Survivor: Jerry ‘Iceman’ Butler was an A-list soul singer and creative collaborator with Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding. These days, he spends his time contemplating budget amendments and sales tax increases as the longest-serving member of the Cook County Board of Commissioners,” by Ted Cox, April 7

Thank you for another great story on Chicago Soul, the magnificent vocalist and songwriter Jerry Butler in particular. He’s not overlooked in my family! I think there was a Chicago soul sound, heavily influenced by gospel and therefore highly valuing vocal excellence in solos and harmonies. I think it is not more famous because it did not have the prominent rhythm section of other towns and, as Mr. Butler says, we had so many labels.

Mr. Butler also once said of the Chicago soul scene that “we had the best music, the best parties, we had the best time ever.” THAT is a book I hope someone will write.

There’s room for another great book about Chicago Soul.

Thanks for all the great music, Jerry Butler. —CatherineL

Being a survivor of many cold, tough, and brutal times here in the Windy City myself, I find your feature story on one of Chicago’s legendary soul singers and political men of steel, Jerry Butler, inspirational. It takes a life reared, educated, and hard lived here in the big city to know success when it’s achieved. It is not until then that one—like Mr. Butler—realizes that “Only the strong survive!” —Gevinn Banks

Here Comes the Neighborhood

Re: “Racial Migration in the Strangest Locations: U.S. Census data show historically black wards growing increasingly white,” by Ben Joravsky, April 7

Born and raised in Chicago, I grew up in the “old ranch triangle” area when Paddy Bauer held Christmas parties at the old brewery (either I am over 40 or have a vivid imagination). There were always blacks in the area, then came the “poor whites” followed by the “Hispanics.” The mostly white Irish and Germans fled in a northwesterly direction and the area changed. But having a widowed mother raising three children by herself (I’m the youngest) we could not afford to move.

The area was dramatically changed in the 60s and 70s.

Then little by little, it was changing again. The home my mother sold for $24,000 was resold three years later for $109,600. Now that neighborhood is filled with fancy stores, and Shinnick Pharmacy, the old five-and-ten-cent store, the A&P, and Certified on the corner of Sheffield and Armitage is gone too. It is now an area of the young and upwardly mobile.

My, how times can change a neighborhood. —anncata

Ivory Tower

Re: “White? All Right! More tenure troubles for DePaul,” by Deanna Isaacs, April 7

Scholarship is not something to be evaluated by just anybody, including the members of a person’s own department, in certain very important ways. I’m not making an elitist claim; I’m making a contextual one. There are so many different kinds of scholarship, with so many different vocabularies and contextual concerns, that even someone in your own department might know jack all about what you do.

This is why academia has external and peer review procedures. They may be flawed, they may need overhauling, but it is a violation of academic freedom and procedure to decide that publications don’t count and that someone’s peer and external reviewers are discredited because you don’t like the work they do, because you are threatened by it, because no one who already had tenure in the department has as many publications as the candidate in question. Look at the CVs and bios of the faculty in DePaul philosophy on the website. —just sayin 2012

Gossip Wolf vs. DeRogatis

Re: “DeRo’s Sour Note: WBEZ’s music man has a case of the grumpies,” in Gossip Wolf by Jessica Hopper and J.R. Nelson, April 7

The Wolf was kind enough not to mention DeRo’s ill-considered defense of Ben Weasel’s punch, something he redacted only after getting called out by his own readers. —Statesman

Christ. DeRo isn’t that bad. As you note, he does actual reporting, which is rare for a music critic. If I want to read something that’s going to ruin the fun of the local music scene, I’ll read your column first every time.

The ukulele thing was weird, though. I’ll grant you that. —rabbit

Are we reading the same column? Are y’all a bunch of lightweights? Pretty accurate, fair description; not to mention not even in the league of offensive DeRo travels in. He’s a smart, sharp writer who does indeed report, but his attacks are mean-spirited and very often inaccurate. —Fanila

A good critic, unlike a pair of mediocre gossip peddlers, knows that, as Sturgeon observed, 95 percent of everything is crap. The good critic then tries to guide the readers to the 5 percent, unlike the gossip peddlers, whose jobs are to pander to the 95. Critic is a better job, to be sure. Jealous any, JR and Jess? —Davey