Our family has also made a tradition of enjoying oysters around the holidays ("The Holidays Are Your Oyster," Holiday Guide, Nov. 23)—velvety oyster stuffing for Thanksgiving; shucking and slurping a few hinged gems on Christmas Eve. I thought it worth mentioning that conscious consumers can do their part to restore our bay's oyster population by saving and recycling used shells so future oysters can be planted. The Oyster Recovery Partnership Shell Recycling Alliance makes it easy for individuals and businesses to participate. Visit oysterrecovery.org for information about participating restaurants, shell collection, and dropoff locations. Here's to months with "r"s in them!

Meredith Wehrle



Use your instrument

Kudos to Michael Byrne for his analysis of the vanishing tradition of folk-singing-as-historical-documentation vehicle (“Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,”

, Nov. 23). A genre he omitted that fits precisely into his “folk-song culture” definition is  the should-be-better-known tradition of barbershop harmony. Love it or hate it (and there are very few between those extremes), barbershop, one of only two entirely native American musical art forms (jazz being the other), strives with incredible dedication in its quest to preserve its distinctive sound and style. As a singing lot, barbershoppers (most of whom have no formal musical training) work harder than any other vocal performers I can think of to produce pure harmonic ear candy, telling through song sincere, believable stories that help us escape back to a less complicated time, free from the interference and distraction of instrumentation. You like to sing? Find a barbershop group near you; it’s so easy and you already know how. Ladies welcome too! Need more encouragement? Barbershopping legend Danny Cuthbert was known to constantly remark that, “The time you spend singing is not counted toward your lifespan,” which apparently worked for him for 92 years, so live it up!

John Grant


In Our Debt

In the recent

City Paper

article entitled “Maryland is Changing the Rules for Debt Collectors” (

, Nov. 23), Maryland Assistant Attorney General W. Thomas Lawrie is quoted as saying that “it wasn’t DBA International that did anything” in regard to new rules for collectors.

DBA International, the trade association for the debt-buying industry, was invited by the state to provide input about the debt purchasing and collection process. We believe that our insights were extremely important in determining the final rules. We are pleased that we could contribute to the new rules which are fair to consumers and business alike. In addition to continuing its dialogue with the state of Maryland, DBA also looks forward to continuing our efforts to help educate the American public on the important role that debt buying and collections play in the overall health of the American credit economy.

David Rubinger

Atlanta, Ga.

Right reading

If Rosalind Ellis Heid would have more closely read Ayn Rand’s masterpiece novel

Atlas Shrugged


(“Occupy Shrug,”

, Nov. 23), which she surprisingly picked up at the book swap table at Occupy Baltimore, she would realize that all the ills she blames on capitalism are the result not of decreased regulation but of the elements of statism that exist in our mongrel mixed economy. That statism is responsible for the fascist government bailouts—emphatically incompatible with laissez-faire capitalism—that Ms. Heid appropriately criticizes.

Amesh Adalja

Butler, Pa.