Letters to the Editor 

Downtown Memphis parking meters, grammar police, and Overton Square..

No Parking Meters!
John Branston got it right in his column on the future of parking downtown (City Beat, July 11th issue). The first mistake was made years ago, when parking lots and garages opened all over the downtown area, discouraging people from continuing to make an effort to utilize the arts, entertainment, and shopping opportunities (such as they were) at that time. Why pass up free parking at a Midtown restaurant in order to pay to park near one downtown? The logic (greed) of this approach to marketing defies description. Only the merciless garage operators (who saw the potential to buy land and set up parking on it) and desperate city finance officers benefit from the system. Many of us stay "out east" and do not consider downtown options in large part due to parking issues. 

The consumer is always at the end of the line when it comes to being given any kind of break. This is just another example. I hope Branston's column gives pause to any open-minded, civic-thinking officials before parking options downtown get any worse.

Charlie Lambert

I applaud Miriam Rachels' politics (Letters, July 11th issue) — like mine, they are decidedly liberal. And though I am not privy to her ethics, I presume they are, like those of most of us, principle-based but situationally applied.

When it comes to some points of grammar, however, I split company with Rachels. To wit, her assertion that the words "politics" and "ethics" are singular nouns and therefore require singular verb agreement. I agree with Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language in its description of both words as being "construed as singular or plural." Thus, verb agreement would be based upon grammatical context, not the fiat of Rachels.

But, in truth, who cares? Grammar is nothing more than a description of how language is used, not of how it "should" be used. When it comes to language usage, there is only one rule: Is the statement understood by the listener? All else is a only a meaningless game of social status and classification.

Mike Geary

Overton Square
Bianca Phillips' cover story ("Hip To Be Square," June 27th issue) about the resurrection of Overton Square showed how much work the developers and others have done to get the square to this point in its redevelopment.

What I found disconcerting was the premise made by some that the new square will be a place for sophisticated, affluent theatergoers to dine and shop. No one knows how the square will turn out. It may just have been the times, but Overton Square back in the 1970s was a big egalitarian party where sophistication took a back seat to "sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll."

How an entertainment district is embraced is entirely unpredictable and organic. The people will eventually decide what Overton Square will become.

Randy Norwood

Two Things?
Two things have been gnawing at me for the past month. First, Chiwawa, the company occupying what used to be the Chicago Pizza Factory on Madison, has hot dogs on its menu but not Chicago-style hot dogs. Why doesn't a company residing in a building that for years sat empty but retained the name Chicago on the outside include a Chicago-style hot dog on its menu?

You nestle a Vienna beef hot dog in a steamed poppy-seed bun and cover it with yellow mustard, bright green relish, fresh chopped onions, juicy tomato wedges, a kosher-style pickle spear, a couple of spicy sport peppers, and, finally, a dash of celery salt. Never ketchup. This unique hot dog creation with a "salad on top" and its memorable interplay of hot and cold, crisp and soft, sharp and smooth became America's original fast food.

And second, where are the sunflowers that have always greeted passersby on the west side of Germantown Road south of the Butcher Shop in Shelby Farms? Plenty of corn stalks can be seen but no sunflowers. They followed the sun — lighting up the morning when they leaned to the east and shyly turning toward the river in the afternoon.

I hope someone can answer these questions.

Dee Billmeier

Editor's note: In last week's issue, a story about Blues City Thrift store inadvertently omitted the contact information: bluescitythrift.org, 6685 Quince, Suite 110, Memphis, 38119.

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