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Letters to the Editor

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Squashed and Squinty

To the Editor:

You imply nefarious motives behind Editor Angus McEachran's non-disclosure of the potential cost savings of the change in size of The Commercial Appeal's pages (City Reporter, February 22nd issue). I imagine most CA readers, unlike perhaps Memphis Flyer readers, are sophisticated enough to read between the lines. Cost savings go to the bottom line in any business. Far better for the CA to redesign its format and cut its newsprint usage than to resort to the traditional slash-and-burn methods of other industries. Sure I now have less paper to throw out, but I also get some new features, like the color comics. I haven't noticed a reduction in news content, as you imply.

When I get out my ruler and lay a copy of the reformatted CA alongside the Flyer I find that the "smaller" typeface of the new CA packs 16 characters per inch while the Flyer stuffs a whopping 17 characters into an inch. The CA looks far more readable to me than the squashed, squinty type of the Flyer.

Adam F. Carr, Olive Branch

Perfect Timing?

To the Editor:

Regarding last week's Viewpoint ("Lottery Yes!" March 1st issue): I hope Senator Cohen and his compadres in the state House and Senate will do a better job of educating the public about the lottery and the need for it in this state than they did with the state income tax, which we need even more. Unless House Bill 273 is passed and enacted before the lottery bill comes up for vote in 2002, their job lobbying for the lottery will be made harder by the fact that our education tax dollars still support multiple school systems in even the smallest of our state's counties. Jackson Baker may be mistaken when he thinks HB 273 appeared out of nowhere. I think it was a remarkable case of perfect timing in the legislature.

Anne R. Galloway, Knoxville

A Broken System

To the Editor:

Thank you for publishing such an important article ("Nobody's Children," March 1st issue) that reveals a broken system that produces damaged lives. Now, please, for those of us who care, tell us what we can do about it.

Lisa Trenthem, Memphis

A True Hero

To the Editor:

Your article about activist pastor Brooks Ramsey ("The Lion in Autumn," February 22nd issue) was a fitting tribute to a true hero in our midst. Dr. Ramsey's courageous faith should inspire us all to challenge the comfortable assumptions of the society in which we live, assumptions which can and often do mask injustice. We at Prescott are proud that Brooks and Rebecca Ramsey years ago cast their lot with our congregation. They remain two of our most esteemed members.

Tom Walsh, Council Chair

Prescott Memorial Baptist Church, Memphis

To the Editor:

Many thanks for the fine article on Brooks Ramsey, a treasured citizen of this city. Brooks is both a gentle soul and a man who has never turned away from life's difficult battles. On a personal note, Brooks was with my family and me the day my father died. His presence and words brought us comfort at a time of great sadness. Brooks, thanks for all you do!

John Marshall Jones, Memphis

Preserving Choice

To the Editor:

Consolidation will reverse the small attempt to have choice in education realized by those who choose to move to the suburbs. However, when Republicans demonstrate that the only voters they care about live in suburban havens, they and we lose. Unless the opposition offers something for all those who vote and who care about the future, the result will be a Democratic majority for the speaker's bid to become governor and the election of a Democratic administration in Shelby County.

If Republicans responded by proposing choice in education for all Shelby County citizens, their counterattack would win the day. All citizens, especially poor Democratic-voting Memphians, want to send their children to the school of their choice. All parents want the power to be taken seriously as market-makers in education, not just those who have the money to move outside the city. If the suburbs supported choice for everyone, as in charter schools or voucher programs, then the rest of us might care about preserving choice for them.

William W. (Bill) Wood, Memphis

Art Critic Criticized

To the Editor:

I just finished David Hall's interview with Dave Hickey ("Arousing Dissent," February 21st issue). Let me see if I've got it: 1) Art is not art or isn't "validated" until someone, preferably someone with money, "likes" it. What if one rich person likes a piece and another dislikes it? Is it art then? Maybe the galleries in Memphis could start handing out ballots for their wealthy visitors to record their opinions. At the end of the evening they could tally up the totals and let everyone know which pieces are the works of art and which are not.

2) The point is moot in Memphis (and all other cities that are "not L.A., New York, and maybe Houston") because art can never be "a serious, contentious, visual practice" there. I don't know whether people in Memphis look at art and talk about it seriously or buy it, but I do know quite a number of artists living and working there who are serious about creating it. Some of them even (believe it or not) make certain sacrifices in order to do so. I'm sure other artists do the same in small cities and towns all over the world.

It's probably true that any artist has a better chance of making a living from their art in a large city where patrons tend to have more adventurous tastes. But most artists realize that their chances of being rich and famous are slim no matter where they live, and most have other motivations, besides money, for producing art. If becoming rich were the primary goal, there are much easier and surer ways of achieving it than becoming an artist.

Finally, as I've recently come to realize after making the big move from Memphis to New York, there is good and bad art everywhere, as well as serious and lazy artists. Art doesn't become "valid" just because the artist lives that much closer to the publishing offices of Artforum. We apply standards to the visual arts that we apply to no other creative field. Can you imagine some hip critic for The Village Voice writing that the Back Street Boys are the world's most valid musical artists because they happen to have the number-one selling CD and that anyone not selling as many CDs is incapable of making music that matters?

Paul Behnke, Brooklyn, NY

State Money for the NBA?

To the Editor:

I know that most Memphians are excited about the prospect of bringing an NBA franchise to the Memphis area. While there is plenty of local support for bringing the NBA Grizzlies to Memphis, I wonder if the state of Tennessee will do for Memphis what they did for Nashville.

When Nashville made its bids for the NFL Oilers and the NHL Predators, Governor Sundquist and the General Assembly readily opened up the state treasury to fund the construction of Adelphia Stadium and Gaylord Entertainment Center. If our governor and state lawmakers want to convince us that they don't show perpetual favoritism toward Nashville, they'll be willing to do the same for us.

Write your state representatives, state senators, and Governor Sundquist today and make sure they support Memphis' bid for the NBA the same way they supported Nashville's bids for the NFL and NHL -- with cash.

Joseph L. Keene, Colllierville

Likes the Fly

To the Editor:

I find Chris Davis' "Fly on the Wall" column to be witty, as well as informative. Regarding his recent story ("Shootout at the Circle-K," March 1st issue), I would ask that you research the statistics of people with legal handgun permits who commit crimes. You'll find that extremely few legal handgun permit holders perpetrate crimes of any kind. Those who feel it necessary to carry a handgun and go to the trouble of obtaining state certification and licensing tend to be quite law-abiding. I have no fear of a licensed handgun-carrying citizen holding up a liquor store. I do fear the criminals who obtain and carry handguns illegally. We need to focus on stopping the availability of illegal handguns and punishing those who use them in the commission of crimes. I do not buy into many of the NRA arguments regarding gun ownership, but I do support enforcing the many laws that are currently on the books.

Senator Steve Cohen's argument that a customer with a gun could help prevent a robbery is ridiculous. A weapon should only be used as the last defense of one's life, never in the defense of property. No one wants a vigilante state, least of all handgun permit-holders (atleast those I know).

D. Jeff Lord, Collierville

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at letters@memphisflyer.com. All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

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