To the editors:

Under separate cover I am returning the Quincy award for saying stupid things about rock ‘n’ roll bestowed upon me by Bill Wyman (Hitsville, July 9). First of all, the trophy is of cheapest plastic and not, as I learned to my embarrassment at the pawn shop, gold or even fine brass. Second, Wyman deserves it more than I. He took issue with a passage in a recent column of mine in which I pointed out that “Born in the USA” is a “weird, thematically discordant choice” for music to accompany the July 3 fireworks display in Grant Park. Wyman accused me of “playing to the cheap seats . . . and in the process trashing anything that might induce people to think.” The criticism would be valid if, in fact, it was the city’s purpose to leaven their silly taped music accompaniment to the fireworks with an ironic and bitter lament about this nation’s treatment of its Vietnam veterans, but no one (except Bill Wyman) can possibly believe this. Those who program the medley and probably 90 percent of the people who hear it listen only to the chorus and believe the song to be just as patriotic as “American Pride,” “God Bless the U.S.A.,” “(Comin’ to) America” and the other contemporary anthems the city has offered during the fireworks. What Wyman sees as a profound and thoughtful inclusion in the program is, obviously, a choice based on a very shallow understanding of “Born in the USA,” a choice that insults the song by encouraging the belief (by those idiots in the cheap seats) that it says the opposite of what it does.

You’ll notice that for shipping I have packed the Quincy in popcorn instead of the foam peanuts you used. Shame!

Eric Zorn

Chicago Tribune