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Letters to the Editor

Hidden Agenda at Shelby Farms?

To the Editor:

It’s so nice that Support Shelby Farms Inc. is willing to spend big wads of cash to enlighten our ignorant souls.

A cutesy map in this group’s September 17th full-page Memphis Flyer advertisement showed a simple yet elegant option for the extension of Kirby Parkway. But when you draw that map to scale and add a few tiny details, like wetlands and buildings and hiking trails, this option doesn’t look so good anymore.

Leaders of this group want to push a highway through the green haven of the Lucius Burch Natural Area. They say we should spend more taxpayer money to revisit a road option that has already been studied, and rejected, by TDOT engineers. They insist that splitting a 600-acre forest down the middle will help that forest, not hurt it. They claim the natural area contains nothing that’s really worth saving anyway. They are wrong.

Yes, a route along the utility right-of-way might work – if we demolished a few prisons, a few office complexes, a few warehouses, built a half-mile bridge across the Wolf River’s wetlands, and mowed down a mountain of trees.

Yes, that route might work – if we ignored the wildlife that depends on those wetlands and woods, as well as the field habitat of the utility right-of-way, for food and shelter.

Yes, that route might work – if we could get rid of the fools, like me, who think those quiet woods are the best place in our city to hike and birdwatch.

That group’s billboards and bumper stickers sure do look pretty, but their road doesn’t.

Naomi Van Tol
e-mail (Memphis)

Memphis 500

To the Editor:

Congratulations on 500 issues. I enjoyed your list of “500 Good Things About Memphis” and was glad to see Rhodes at #2 (and #290). One problem with the list was Overton Park was doubly represented (#11 and #61). While it is a nice park, its extra appearance brings the number of “Good Things About Memphis” to 499. Perhaps you could add the Flying Saucer to complete your list.

Grant Gandy
Rhodes College ’99
e-mail (Memphis)

To the Editor:

You had better change that 500 to 499. You listed Overton Park twice! You could add Cornelia Crenshaw – Memphis City Council’s nemesis. Gone but not forgotten.

And on number #213 (the street of Belvedere between Central and Peabody), why stop Belvedere at Peabody? What is wrong with the section between Peabody and Union Avenue (or maybe just a few feet before Union Avenue)?

Also, add Central Gardens to the list.

Michael Harrington
e-mail (Memphis)

To the Editor:

Your “500 Good Things” list should have included Crime Stoppers.

Our program here is the envy of most of the 1,000+ others all over the world. We have ranked in the top-five since we started here in 1981 – tops for number of calls, number of arrests, number of cases solved, and number of dollars donated for reward funds from individuals, civic groups, companies, and churches.

We are catching an average of 35 to 40 felons per month, including 4 to 5 murderers. And recovering stolen property worth about 10 times the total rewards we’re paying. And saving taxpayers about $50,000 each time a telephone tip solves a major crime – the cost of a full-scale police investigation. And giving extra thanks to the 20 percent of our informants who turn down the rewards in order to help our program.

Chuck Branch
Executive Director,
Crime Stoppers of Memphis

To the Editor:

No coincidence that two pictures in your 500 good things about Memphis piece were of Memphis wrestling legends – Jerry Lawler and Dave Brown. That’s because the one definitive Memphis experience (was) is watching Saturday morning wrestling!

But where was Lance Russell? “Look out Davie, I think he’s got a chain! Eddie! (Marlin), can we get some help out here!!??”

Bruce Miller
e-mail (Little Rock)

Defending McGwire & Sosa

To the Editor:

I just finished reading Devil’s Advocate (September 17th issue) titled “All Hyped Out,” and I must say that, as a fan of baseball and the Cubs for more than 30 years now, I think you’ve completely missed the point.

How do I break it down? Let’s start with the fans. Does the game exist without them? Theoretically, yes. In reality, no. We, those same fans who show up at whatever time and leave when we are darn good and ready, are the game of baseball, at least at the major-league level. In that respect, the home-run chase has brought enormous benefits to the game. Yes, the Yankees’ run at the wins record is remarkable. And if Maddux can do it again, more power to him. But, from a fan’s point of view, these two accomplishments warrant no reason to pay special attention to the game. Someone wins the Cy Young every year. One team has the best overall record every year. Someone does not come close to (or break) Maris’ record every year.

Should the Cubs team congratulate McGwire on his accomplishment? Have you ever tried hitting a baseball? Notice how difficult it is? To homer 62 times in a season is an accomplishment that all major-leaguers can appreciate, especially Sosa. And, why on earth would Sosa joining McGwire in the record chase diminish the record? Do you think that all players colluded for 37 years to not break it so that these two could have a shot? That’s a ridiculous argument coming from anyone.

As for the Cardinals being out of contention, you need to understand the mechanics of the game a little better. A player who has better than average teammates surrounding him has a much better chance of breaking the record. Two facts bear this out: 1) McGwire has walked an enormous amount of times this season, and still has a share of the record. By not having a supporting cast around him in the lineup that can hit for power as well, he is forced to work that much harder. 2) Sosa is leading the league in game-winning hits and RBIs that give the lead to his team. That means either that pitchers must come to him or he is quite talented enough to earn a share of the record.

Is this the hardest record in baseball to break? Probably not. Dimaggio’s 56-game hitting streak will stand for quite a while, Rose’s total hits might never fall, and certainly Ripken’s streak will last. But the bottom line is, McGwire and Sosa have had to do the same basic thing that every other hitter, from Foxx to Mays, Mantle, Aaron, and Jackson, has had to do. That is, hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. It’s the hardest thing in sports, and at least for one year, they’ve done it better than anyone else ever has.

Ron Gerlach

Nobody’s Business

To the Editor:

So it has finally come down to this: Respected political commentator Jackson Baker is now offering his views on the particulars of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. There is no doubt that this country’s public discourse has truly deteriorated.

Let me say this: What two consenting adults do in the bedroom (or office, or bathroom, wherever) is their own personal business. Whatever became of the concept of privacy in this Peeping Tom country? Making comments on others’ sexual proclivities says more about the commentator (voyeuristic, prudish, judgmental) than the people being observed.

There is no “normal” sexual desire or practice. Everyone has their own unique sexuality. President Clinton’s sex life is none of Baker’s or anybody else’s damn business.

Randy Norwood

High Crimes and Misdemeanors

To the Editor:

I would like to commend Jackson Baker and the entire editorial staff at the Flyer for being the only media outlet in the Western Hemisphere to provide an accurate analysis of the Starr Report and matters regarding the president. Your courage and decency gives solace to an ever-growing cynical public. Future generations will look back at this Neo-McCarthyism with incredulity. But alas, nobody ever went broke underestimating the memory of most Americans for even recent political history.

Did not Reagan’s and Bush’s lies to Congress cost tens of thousands of lives in Central America? And what were the consequences to them, or to Oliver North? We have witnessed a parade of high treason in the form of lies: perjury and lies about the bombing of Cambodia, about missiles for hostages, and about weapons and drugs for Contra money.

I truly wish someone could satisfactorily explain how lying about adultery compares to the crimes and the lies of the right. There are no terms for discourse. That is because the matter has nothing to do with lying about adultery. It does have to do with hidden agenda masquerading in robes of righteousness. When viewed as cynical political strategy, then and only then does it make perfect sense.

The plain fact is, the right wing cannot now and never has been able to win any election on the issues. They will scream about communists or Willie Horton or the hostages or fake moral decency. They will whip up crime waves that don’t exist and squawk about welfare mothers and inflated federal government while doling out corporate welfare in the billions to their fat cat corporate contributors. …

Cheri L. DelBrocco
e-mail (Memphis)

That Sinking Feeling

To the Editor:

The city and county advanced $8 million toward the downtown triple-A baseball park with the clear understanding that the rest would be privately financed. The bonds ($62 million) are to be paid off with revenue from the ballpark, and if there is a shortfall, money from the financing banks would be used to make good on the obligation.

Why do I get the feeling that sometime in the next 90 days the bankers are going to announce that they won’t assume that risk, and that the taxpayers are going to have to do it?

Richard Massey


A story in last week’s Flyer on the PBS documentary series River of Song mistakenly implied that the Memphis kick-off party for the film was Thursday, Sepember 17th. In fact the River of Song party is Thursday, September 24th. We regret any confusion this may have caused.

The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 687, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.

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