To the Editor:
Thanks for your coverage of the effects of the city budget cuts on park-system employees ("Tightening the Belt," March 10th issue). It is sad that for such a small amount of money saved, the Mallory-Neely and Magevney houses are now closed to the public. The staff worked hard to build up educational programs, including walking tours of Victorian Village, downtown Memphis, and Elmwood Cemetery, as well as hosting mother-daughter teas, Victorian birthday parties, receptions, and weddings.
Kate Dixon, the historic properties manager at Victorian Village, was there the day after Christmas, a Sunday morning when Memphis was covered with ice, to bake scones and brownies and make sandwiches for a group of seniors arriving from Nashville for lunch and a tour.
It troubles me that after many years of dedicated service, city employees are being treated in such a callous manner. It is dismaying that our city cannot manage its finances in a more responsible way.
To the Editor:
Thank you for your story on the emergence of a progressive alternative to the sewage that is right-wing radio ("It's On!" March 10th issue). I think that Air America is a mixed blessing so far. When it works (e.g., the Al Franken show), it's great. But sometimes it threatens to become a mirror image of conservative talk radio -- the last thing that liberalism needs! Hopefully, the success of the Franken show will make it the model for future development of intelligent talk radio (conservative, liberal, or whatever). Franken succeeds because he is intelligent, informed, respectful of other views, and very, very funny. His on-air behavior (not just his politics) is the polar opposite of Savage, Hannity, Limbaugh, and Fleming.
The interview with Mike Fleming helps prove my point. As always, the most effective way to demonstrate Fleming's shortcomings is to simply ask him to open his mouth. He comes across as shrill, hateful, defensive, incoherent, ignorant of issues, and completely lacking in respect for anyone who disagrees with him. The only "humor" on the Fleming radio program results from his ability to mangle the English language.
B. Keith English
To the Editor:
I can't help being shocked at the news that Mike Fleming has a large listenership. The surprise is not at the acceptance of his neosegregationist views but the fact that his listeners ignore his hilariously illiterate syntax and mispronunciation of common words. His popularity unfortunately spotlights Memphis as a hillbilly town.
Jim D. to the Rescue
To the Editor:
Opinions are like a certain part of our lower anatomy -- everybody has one. But before making it public, one needs to show discretion. Whatever Black Oak Arkansas (Sound Advice, March 3rd issue) turned into, anybody who saw Knowbody Else [the band's earlier name] witnessed a brilliant entertainment phenomenon. I have produced rock and roll bands for 40 years, and my work with Knowbody Else remains among the most creative experiences of my life. Sadly, our collaboration never saw the light of day, and by the time the band recorded for Stax, genius drummer Keith McCallum was gone and equally incomparable lead guitarist J.R. Brewer was on his way out.
The whole Black Oak Arkansas story wasn't pretty. They inevitably "Spinal Tapped" and self-immolated, like their old stage show. But they did what they wanted. They became rock stars and they liberated a generation of kids. I still listen to: "White, Mix, and Smith," "It's Good That I Came," "Till I'm Like Uncle Hugh." Timeless masterpieces.
Jim Dandy could dance like James Brown on steroids and hit the double splits off the drum-riser with his arms shooting flames from asbestos bandages soaked in lighter fluid and kerosene and sing like a soul trapped in hell.
What can you do?
An artist's self-expression is a soul-searching attempt at communication, a striving for immortality, an opportunity to entertain, inform, and stimulate an audience. Uninformed criticism is negligent blasphemy.
The history of Memphis music is peopled with misfits who failed to conform -- artists who would not have had the opportunity to express themselves in other artistic communities. What once made us great is drying up and blowing away. If you're not on the edge, you are taking up too much room.