This letter’s purpose is ostensibly to praise Milton Ready’s Oct. 14 opinion piece, “Anywhere But Asheville,” but bear with me. At age 70, I ramble some.
I loved Professor Ready’s witty, astute put-downs of Asheville’s detractors. Yet I confess my bias: 1973 saw UNCA , in a fit of despair, give me a diploma summa cum laude. I thus hold a soft spot in my heart — and head — for professor Ready’s former workplace. He’s wise to select Mars Hill, site of a … college … for retirement, where he may dwell serenely among academic inferiors, I suppose; “anywhere but Asheville.”
Oh, yes, I remind myself, the Poo-pooers of The Paris of the South — well! The nerve of some folks! Notre Dame? St. Lawerence’s. The Louvre? Pack Place! Montmartre and the Left Bank? The French Broad River between Amboy Road and the Smoky Park bridges! The Palace of Versailles? The Cecils’ cozy chateau! Rude waiters in Le Place Pigalle? I’ll put those holders of master’s degrees in Asheville who snarl, “I’ll be your server” against those Froggie tyros anytime! … The City of Lights wants to take on The Land of the Sky? Sacre bleu! Hey, suck it up, Gay Paree! Even us rural heteros know you’re losers here!
P.S. At least we’ve progressed a little from H.L. Mencken’s descriptions of the 1920s South as “The Sahara of the Bozart” (spoonerism: “Beaux Arts.”)
— Tom Graham