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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 5, 2008 at 3:10 PM

Seattle’s Tuba Man

Step up or step out

I awoke on Election Day with a sense of anticipation and hope. I felt we were about to enter a new era in our country, state and city.

My heart sank as I read of the brutal death of an icon of Seattle, Edward McMichael, the Tuba Man [“The Tuba Man, Seattle sporting events fixture, dies of injuries from beating,” News, Nov. 4]. He was a gentle man who was a delight to see and hear as we walked to different events in Seattle. He died as a result of a mugging on Fifth Avenue and Mercer Street. This is all too common in Seattle.

My wife and I live on the edge of Belltown, the city neighborhood becoming renowned for muggings, shooting, drug dealing and killing. We have been awakened more than once by the sound of gunshots followed by the shrill of sirens and police cars roaring down the streets.

As we all know, Belltown is not the only Seattle neighborhood with these problems. It has been repeated in Pioneer Square, White Center and many other neighborhoods.

Yet as our neighbors and visitors are being beaten and shot, our political leaders appear to be numb.

Community safety is one of the prime roles of government. However, Mayor Greg Nickels, the City Council and the police chief are silent. More importantly, they fail to act. They fail to admit that Seattle is a war zone.

Thugs and gangs brutalize our streets, and the elected officials do nothing.

It is past time for action.

But on the day when this country turned a leaf in the election of a new president, I call for action — for the elected officials to step up or step out. There has been a death of leadership. The Emerald City has lost its sheen. It is time to end the mouthing of simple words and the token patrols for a day or two.

If the mayors in New York City and New Jersey can provide the leadership to dramatically reduce crime, killing, mugging, rampant drug dealing and petty crime, we know it can be done.

This is a call and a challenge to the mayor, City Council and police chief to step up or step out. People are dying in our streets. If you are not up to the task, admit it and step aside.

— Gordon Enk, Seattle

Now he’s gone

Tragic news in the paper today: Seattle’s Tuba Man [Edward McMichael] is dead. On Oct. 25, the Tuba Man was near a bus stop in the 500 block of Mercer Street when he was attacked, beaten and robbed by a group of young thugs.

For those that may be a little foggy on who the Tuba Man was, think about all the Seahawk, Mariners or Husky games you’ve been to and you’ve probably seen the Tuba Man sitting somewhere near the stadium playing his tuba. Now he’s gone.

But hey, Mayor Greg Nickels has bigger things to worry about besides crime; he’s fighting the great war against “paper or plastic” at the grocery store.

In the words of those great cartoons of the past, “Help me Mr. Wizard!”

— Dennis Chandler, Seattle

Tears of sadness

Today feels like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and my birthday all rolled into one. I am elated over the election. For the first time in more than eight years, I feel hope and promise that our country will get better again.

However, when I read about the shocking death of the Tuba Man, my tears of joy, became tears of sadness. He always made me smile whenever my husband and I attended numerous Mariners, Seahawks, Storm and Sonics games. I thought it was extra fabulous hearing his tunes as we entered the opera house to attend a performance.

His spirit, style and music made him a Seattle icon that is extremely hard to find these days. I will miss him. I hope that the local sports and arts organizations will find a fitting way to pay tribute to him.

— Jen Kozel, Seattle

Sad day

I recently relocated to Boston and was saddened by the news of the loss of what I thought to be a Seattle icon. My friend at work used to give Ed [Edward McMichael] his extra ticket for the Sonics and marveled at the excitement Ed had when being able to see the game.

It is sad that a man with Ed’s love for people would exit this Earth on a violent note. We only seem to notice the finer things in life when they are gone.

My son and I will miss the sound of the tuba as we entered Seattle Center for a hockey game, or listening to that hardy laugh and tuba sounds after the Mariner’s game. My friend from work will truly miss the conversations he had with “Tuba Man” and he will never forget his real name, as his name is also Ed.

So long, Ed, yours sounds and good heart will be missed. Sorry, Seattle, for your loss.

— Marvin Blaylock, Needham, Mass.

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