I continue to be amused and amazed at readers' responses to the Flyer's redesign. It's almost like the fable of the blind men and the elephant, as famously recounted in a poem by John Godfrey Saxe that began thusly: Six men of Indostan went to see an elephant/(Though all of them were blind.)/That each by observation/Might satisfy his mind.
The first man felt the elephant's side and thought the elephant must be "very like a wall." The second man, who felt the elephant's tusk, thought the elephant was "very like a spear." And so forth. The point being, I suppose, that we each see things from our own perspective and are often blind to things that seem obvious to others.
Those of you who've written or left voice-mails about the "new" Flyer have been similarly divided in your opinions. Some of you apparently think we are "very like idiots" for messing with your "good old Flyer." And yes, we've even been accused of the quintessential colloquialism: "fixing what ain't broken." Others of you have expressed delight and admiration at our good taste and splendid judgment. (You folks are "very, like, cool.")
One rumor that apparently spread through the art community like fertilized kudzu was that due to the redesign we had reduced our coverage of the visual arts. I received numerous letters about this "decision" from gallery owners and painters. Let me shine a light on that part of the elephant. Such a thing was never even considered. We love artists and art and we'll continue to cover the Memphis art community as we always have -- maybe even a little better than we always have.
And that's not elephant doo.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor
Oh would some power the giftie gie us, to see ourselves as others see us. — Robert Burns
Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote the line above in response to seeing a louse on a high-born lady's bonnet at church. The point being, of course, that while we might think we're looking pretty good, someone else might be noticing a flaw we've overlooked.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...
I'm writing this from the restroom facility at Big Hill Pond State Park in southern McNairy County. On Monday, I commandeered the building, which contains the men's and women's restrooms, some racks of pamphlets, and two vending machines. There's no one here right now, but I plan to stay as long as necessary to protest the fact that the state of Tennessee is run by oppressive know-nothings who wouldn't know small government — or freedom, for that matter — if it bit them on their considerable backsides ...