To the Editor:
I was thoroughly disgusted by your favorable cover story about Hickman Ewing Jr. ("Me and Bill and Hillary," May 10th issue) and the Whitewater investigation. His assertion that "the whole matter would have ended if Susan McDougal had provided required testimony" is equine scatology. Ken Starr blatantly extended his legislated authority, anointing himself as some sort of latter-day Cato the Elder, and wasted more than $50 million in a calculated witch hunt to find something, anything, with which to bring down the president, a Democrat.
Sure, Bill lied, but what was he lying about? A tryst that bore no relation to his capacity to govern the nation and that really wasn't our business. And that's why he was acquitted by the Senate. The most revealing event of the impeachment process was when that Dimsdale, Robert Livingston, stepped up to the podium and ceremoniously fell on his sword. I regret that this was the result of evidence that Larry Flynt paid to obtain; albeit no slimier than the slush-fund that kept Paula Jones, and therefore Starr, in the news.
Your portrayal of Ewing as a charming gentleman lawyer conceals the fact that he, as Starr's minion, tried to usurp the Constitution. Atticus Finch he is not.
Ben King, Cordova
To the Editor:
I just picked myself up off the floor from laughing so damn hard at Rebekah Gleaves' piece on Nashville ("Why I Left Nashville," May 10th issue). Absolutely hysterical.
I grew up in Middle Tennessee and went to school in East Tennessee before moving to Memphis in 1993. I'll be the first to admit that it was indeed a culture shock -- not a negative one, just a different one. Memphis is a great city with an unmatched history (both good and bad) but an unfortunate self-esteem problem.
Nonetheless, I have never read an article about the two cities from someone who has actually tasted a little of both and enjoyed the realism of Memphis as opposed to the wannabe urban chic that Nashville believes it has.
Jeffrey Phelps, Memphis
To the Editor:
The silicone vs. real thing analogy in Rebekah Gleaves' piece was particularly apropos. Misconceptions abound with residents of both cities and it's a shame that there can't be better understanding, considering that both cities' distinctive flavors are derived from their contributions to our musical heritage. Having lived in both for extended periods of time, I'd like to offer the following observations:
1) Most Memphians' visions of Nashville as a soulless, money-driven, status-seeking, rhinestone cowboy of a town, though not entirely inaccurate, are over simplified. There are an incredible number of talented and artistic people living there and the selection of quality music of all kinds on the local level is quite amazing. The ratio of bands/artists to clubs is much higher than in Memphis, which, of course, makes it almost impossible to make a living working in clubs (hence the preponderance of "singer-songwaiters"). The 300-pound gorilla of "country" music (as well as the 200-pound gorilla of "Contemporary Christian" music) sucks a lot of these talented people in, stifling creativity and nuance in the name of corporate profit.
2) Most Nashvillians' visions of Memphis as a simmering armpit of racial division, crime, and slow-cooked pig meat are way over simplified. It used to grate on my nerves to hear white Nashvillians (most of whom had never set foot in Shelby County) prattle on about how everything in Memphis was "racial." Easy words from people in a city whose white to black ratio is 80/20, where black people have virtually no say in local affairs. Memphis has a long way to go in race relations, but we've come a lot farther up that mountain than Nashville has even bothered to attempt. The Nashville media feed into this not-so-subtle racism by reporting mostly unfavorable news about Memphis, playing up the supposed "jealousy" Memphis has toward Nashville, and wishing that we'd be annexed by Mississippi.
Memphis has nothing to be jealous of and Nashville has no cause to feel superior to us, except that they have more money, a pretty shallow reason. Sports teams don't make cities better places to live; educated, culturally aware, civic-minded people do. And my Rev. Al Green greatest hits CD sounds pretty good back-to-back with my O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack CD.
Ross Rice, Memphis
To the Editor:
The current "system" for open enrollment for the Memphis City Schools is ridiculous. What are single parents supposed to do? What about poorer families that cannot afford for either parent to take a day (or days) off work to stand in line or answer the roll-call.
When you have a process like the one in place, it will inevitably break down. Why not use a simple lottery system? If you want your child to go to a certain school under the open-enrollment plan, you put your name in the pot and hope it is called. This is the only method that is fair to all parents of children in the school system.
Nancy S. Pearson, Memphis
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