Your February 14th cover guy, Benjamin "IQ" Sanders, is indeed a Memphis hottie! Thank you for bringing attention to one of this city's most passionate and eloquent voices! I recently spent three inspirational hours interviewing IQ — a rock star among poetry slammers and an artist-in-residence at Memphis Theological Seminary — for a feature story. Weeks later, I'm still on fire!
IQ wasn't kidding when he told the Flyer, "I think I live a life of intense passion and intense compassion." This Memphis-born poet and educator is not simply a romantic; he's a spiritually enlightened realist. He talks and walks love, every day of his life. If ever there was a mentor who could unify this city, it would be IQ.
I must add, however, that I'm a little hot and bothered that the Flyer didn't feature any hotties age 40 or over. Memphis is full of older pretty faces and souls. Can we acknowledge them?
Republicans: Civil Rights Champions
In regard to Jackson Baker's Politics column (February 14th issue), there is a long history of support of civil rights by the Republican Party (and, in glaring contrast, an even longer history of strong hostility toward civil rights by the Democratic Party).
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 with an antislavery platform. When the Republican candidate won the 1860 presidential election, northern and southern Democratic Party candidates could not unite their votes, and the Southern states seceded from the Union.
After the Republican administration defeated the seceding states, the Republicans initiated the first civil rights bill in 1866, the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in 1865 (to abolish slavery), the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (to give blacks citizenship and protect black freedmen from Black Codes and other repressive legislation passed by the Democratic Party in the South), the First Reconstruction Act of 1867, the Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 (to give the right to vote to every citizen, including black freedmen), the KKK Act of 1871, and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to protect all citizens in civil and legal rights and to prohibit racial discrimination in places of public accommodations.
The 1957 Civil Rights Act and the 1960 Civil Rights Act were signed into law by President Eisenhower, who also established the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in 1958, which was firmly rejected by Democratic Party presidents Roosevelt and Truman. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was sponsored by key Republicans, while key Democratic Party members like Al Gore Sr. debated against its passage.
The Democratic Party was established by slaveholders. The Democratic Party also continues in 2008 to reward Senator Robert Byrd, a former KKK member, with a leadership position in the Senate, putting a former Klan member third in line for the presidency.
It was John Paul Jones, Led Zeppelin's bass and keyboard player, who directed the Foo Fighters orchestra at the 2008 Grammys (Editor's Note, February 14th issue), not Zep's drummer, as Bruce VanWyngarden wrote. Led Zeppelin's drummer, Jon Bonham, died in 1980, and his son Jason was the drummer for the recent reunion.
I do agree with VanWyngarden's assessment of the Grammys, though it was the first one I've watched in years, because I seldom agree with who the awards should be given to. I watched this show primarily for the John Fogerty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard performance, and Little Richard was definitely better than Jerry Lee, but that's been the case for at least the last 20 years.
The biggest surprise for me was Amy Winehouse, who was great. I saw her on a European awards show a few months back, and she was terrible — off-key and appearing disoriented. If you check out Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, the band that influenced Winehouse to change to a more soulful sound from her former jazzier sound, you will see that Sharon Jones is the real deal. She may not have Amy Winehouse's mystique, but she's got a much better voice, and I think the best modern soul/funk band around.
Correction: In "Gateway Gone" (The Fly-by, February 14th issue), it was incorrectly reported that Latricia Wilson dropped her lawsuit against the state regarding the Gateway exam. The suit was dismissed due to a statute of limitations.