Elixir of Love
I'm sorry to point out that Opera Memphis' recent production of Elixir of Love ("Elixir of Love is Tasty Snake Oil," memphisflyer.com) was not LGBTQ-friendly. I loved the gender-bending costume of the heroine in the first act and thought that she was about to flirt with the women in the chorus, as well as the men. That would have given a little juice to a book that is puerile and misogynist even by 19th-century-opera standards. But no. Maybe the director thought he had already reached the limits of Memphis edginess with his cowboy costumes. Or maybe it was just a failure of imagination rather than courage. Not so serious either way, but a disappointing missed opportunity.
In the second act, though, the director chose to dress one of his characters in crude and offensive drag for comic effect. He got a couple of cheap laughs out of it too, at the cost of exposing our friends in the trans and queer communities to shame and ridicule. What is the message here? That it's okay to make fun of trans and queer people? Now that blackface isn't acceptable on stage anymore, does elite culture need easier, more vulnerable targets for its humor? As we move forward to a world of dignity and respect for all God's creatures, it's shameful that Opera Memphis should be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
Teens and Helmets
I was disheartened to read Derek Kelly's statement, "It's definitely common sense to wear a helmet for those of us with common sense, but teenagers don't have that" (City Beat, January 31st issue). Not only is this statement disrespectful to teenagers, it is often untrue. I do not believe that demonstrating common sense in various situations has much to do with the age of a person. Further, common sense is not something that one either has or doesn't have. It's very subjective as to what one person considers sensible compared with another. Kelly should have focused his statement on why he believes there are health benefits to wearing helmets and left it at that.
I am from Belgium but regularly visit Memphis, because the headquarters of my company is located there. When I flew back to Europe last Saturday, after two weeks in Memphis, I noticed how empty the airport was. They tell me Saturdays are slow, but big parts of the terminal were totally empty. Anyhow, I had my camera with me and took some shots, added some thoughts to it, and I published "'Moonbase Delta' — The Abandoned Memphis International Airport" online (ulrik.be/moonbase-delta).
I hope it's not too depressing for Memphians.
Ulrik De Wachter
A few years ago, I heard people say there's no difference between the Democrats and Republicans. Some are still saying it. But after the past four years of Republican obstruction, gridlock, and holding the nation hostage to its regressive agenda, the difference between the two parties couldn't be more clear.
Abortion divides the nation, and almost all Republican politicians are carrying the anti-abortion banner. Democrats, on the other hand, are mostly intent on letting a woman make her own choice about abortion.
The gun debate also divides the nation. Republicans and their Tea Party allies are saying no to President Obama and America when it comes to new laws regarding lethal firearms. Republicans are mostly toeing the NRA line and trying to stop any new gun control legislation.
There are many other issues where the line is equally clear between the two parties: global climate change, gay rights, immigration reform, voter suppression laws, the right to union membership, public education, and religious tolerance, to name a few. Anyone who says there is no difference between the two parties either isn't paying attention or is being willfully ignorant.