Letters to the editor

Help for RAD

Thank you for giving voice to a brave parent willing to share about her, her son’s and her family’s experience with Reactive Attachment Disorder [Commentary, “Without conscience,” June 2]. I honor her story, and appreciate Mountain Xpress‘ interest in educating parents and the public about the issue.

However, it would provide help and hope to also share local resources regarding trained professionals who assist with prevention and intervention services. Two of these are The Well Baby Program, which offers free services at local pediatric offices, and Gentle Touch(R).

Using a prenatal and infant/child mental-health perspective, Gentle Touch offers touch, prenatal bonding and counseling during pregnancy. After birth, the program nurtures bonding and attachment processes using respectful touch and communication, emotional release, and stress management for infants, young children and adults.

We know what the predisposing factors and behaviors of RAD are, so let us think in terms of promoting healing and health — and doing it early.

— Emma Miller, D. Div.
N.C. infant/toddler/family specialist

Cooperative biking

After reading your article about the mass bicycle ride in downtown Asheville [“Traffic hell,” May 12], I felt compelled to respond. I am the advocacy chair of the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club and feel it is very important that our view be represented.

The Blue Ridge Bicycle Club has about 200 members. We have worked hard over the past 25 years to gain respect and to project a positive [image] of bicycling. Our purpose is to promote and encourage bicycling in a safe manner. We encourage our members to obey all traffic laws and to ride in a predictable manner. We work with law-enforcement agencies and government agencies, in an effort to make changes that will improve cyclists’ conditions and that protect our right to use the roadways. We encourage cooperation and respect for everyone who uses the roadway.

Your article projected a negative attitude toward the police officers who were involved in the arrest of the mass riders. Since I was not present, I cannot determine who was at fault in the situation. However, I know enough about crowd behavior to understand how an event such as this can get out of hand.

The Blue Ridge Bike Club was invited to participate in the mass ride — however, we declined the invitation, because we feared the behavior of a few cyclists who might be participating.

Mass rides do not promote cooperation. In other areas of the country, this type of event has caused antagonizing feelings and negative behaviors. We have no desire to be involved in this type of negative situation.

With the situation we live in today, it is very important that we promote positive relationships and show examples of cooperation. In most contests between a bicyclist and a motorist, the weight factor and size only heighten the fact that the cyclist is vulnerable. The cyclist will lose, and injuries can be deadly. Sharing the roadway and giving each other the space needed will encourage others to use alternative means of travel, and give more room on the roadway for those who choose to continue to use cars.

Cyclists and pedestrians need to be applauded, because they are doing their part to reduce emissions and make more room on the road. But they do not need to take advantage of this and flaunt an attitude of self-righteousness.

We feel that cyclists can gain respect by obeying the laws of the road, wearing helmets, riding in a predictable manner, and being respectful of everyone else. We encourage all users of the roads to be respectful of each other and encourage [officers of the] law to enforce the rules fairly to all.

— Claudia Nix,
road-advocacy chair, Blue Ridge Bicycle Club

In defense of nude art

I want to thank those who offered kind comments of encouragement about my exhibit at Zone one contemporary gallery entitled “Lounging at the Louvre” [June 2 Xpress cover story]. Your delight in the exhibit has warmed me beyond description.

I have heard that a few were offended by the nudity, and I’d like to address this issue head-on. It is impossible to [visit] Europe’s and America’s great museums without seeing the human body in its natural form. It is impossible to study art without it. Christian art gave us one of our first male nudes in John Sebastian — indeed, in Christ himself. The vulnerability, innocence and honesty of a naked human animal can only be matched by the technical challenges the form offers to artists. We contain the universal geometric forms, the concave and the convex lines, the undulating surfaces and their shadows, the spectrum of color in its neutralized subtleties.

The figures I’ve chosen (and they are figures, not nudes) represent the finest artists in history. How can someone be offended by a great master and tolerate the ad for Fantasy Video next to my article?

Connie Bostic, Zone one proprietor, has allowed me to share myself with you. Asheville has given me great press. Perhaps it is my lack of eloquence in the interview, on the news, or in person that has given this exhibit the wrong twist. Please don’t take it out on Matisse, Modigliani or Corinth.

The right spin on the show was exemplified by an elderly woman who turned to me in the gallery, gestured with her arms, as if embracing the figures lounging about her, and in a rapturous, quaking Kate Hepburn voice said, “I am in such great company!”

Looking at her (and at Connie in her temporary wheelchair mode), I felt the same way.

— Gayle Wurthner

Don’t sanitize the crawl

I cannot understand the statements that Wefel and Squier made in Melanie McGee’s article “Wide-open spaces” [June 2]. In what way was the gallery crawl not inclusive? I’ve made a point to attend all the crawls since they started, and I was always amazed at the wildly diverse group of crawlers. Everyone, from our most notorious street people to investment bankers … and kids, lots of kids. Everybody brings their kids.

The crawl is a party! I’m not sure who was doing “some exclusive, epicurean thing,” but I must admit that the crawl when Laura at the Mystic Eye served an entire, three-foot smoked salmon does stand out in my memory as one of the finer crawls.

Art was always the point of the crawl. Is it now? Sounds sorta political to me.

I’ve lived in Asheville since 1990, and the changes have been very interesting to me. At first, downtown was dead. Nothing was going on at all, except Bele Chere. Slowly, some critical mass was achieved (probably the result of so many artists, actors, poets, musicians, writers, dancers living so close together) and downtown started to come alive. Not because Downtown Development was doing its job, but because the people who lived and worked downtown started to feel a sense of community and wanted to play together. Time after time, I’ve seen festivals/fairs/celebrations either get stopped in their tracks by the city’s bureaucracies or, when that isn’t possible, the event gets co-opted and sanitized for “public consumption.”

The gallery crawl was created by the public, not for them. I don’t think I’ll be bothering to crawl this year, even though “refreshments are, of course, available at nearby bars and restaurants.”

— Amy Mozingo

Get off the cans

I peeked lately at the budget for the city of Asheville — God-awful stuff, you know — until I saw two little items: garbage trucks next to [a reference to] residential traffic “calming.”

The city will spend $300,000 on a new, automated garbage truck that uses one driver — get rid of those two nice guys you sing “Hello!” to on the back as they swing down to grab your cans in the morning. Such a nice ritual. They wave at the kids as they swing back on.

They’ll be replaced by a mechanical arm that requires special cans, which the city — or us? — will have to buy. Hydraulics will whine our hello in the morning. Will we see the driver? Should I offer the arm a pinch of grease, rather than a cup of water? And what of our favorite trash men?

So I sit on my porch, sipping coffee, waiting for my now-more-valued trash men. I watch teenagers and soccer moms screaming down our little street (late for whatever profound event they’re attending).

[The city] caught one guy doing 46 mph uphill without a license one day. I recall my property taxes went up 20 percent this year. So I figured I’d get some action and call our new traffic engineer. Even though two children and a dog have been hit — and there’s a playground at one end of our street and an elementary school at the other — the traffic engineer tells me there’s nothing he can do now. They’ll have to get “public input” to put in speed bumps.

But they’re just a bit of asphalt, you know. People are breaking the law, I say.

But we’ll need months of studies, he says (10 so far), and more money. You see, north Asheville needs traffic stuff.

What’s the traffic budget for residential streets?


Yet we’ll pay $300,000 for those mechanical trash arms. Maybe we can get the unemployed trash men to carry placards up and down nearby residential streets where our children play. Instead of “Eat at Joe’s,” they might say “Watch Out for Slow-Moving Children.”

And we’ll watch out for a fast-moving city government — one that thinks it must catch up to Detroit, Atlanta and Miami, when all it really needs to do is look after its people.

Signed, Trashed, Irked and Trashed Again,

— Hamish Ziegler
West Asheville

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