Letters to the editor

Cosmo-girl dreams

While standing in the check-out line at Ingles last week, a model on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine caught my eye. She was the ideal 38-20-24, and the dress she wore showed off her perfect figure exquisitely. Since that moment, my mind has been teeming with ideas as to how I might mold and shape my own body to look just like hers. After hours of deliberating, I have worked out a program that will allow me to completely overhaul my body in just under a year.

This is my plan. I will begin with my diet. I’ll start out with five grapes for breakfast each morning. For lunch, I’ll have four ounces of yogurt with a teaspoon of wheat germ. Finally, dinner will consist of three crackers with plain tuna and one 99.9 percent fat-free Snack-Well cookie for dessert. Add 64 ounces of water to this daily diet, and I think I could slim down to the ideal weight of 85 pounds in a little less than six months.

As soon as I start the diet, I’ll also start the exercise program. That program will consist of the following practices: After breakfast every day of the week, except Sunday, I’ll head over to the gym where I’ll do a step-aerobics class for an hour. Then I will work with my personal trainer on toning my muscles for two hours. After lunch, I’ll cover myself in black plastic bags followed by a black sweat suit and jog on the Parkway for a good 12 miles or more. Of course, I won’t be able to jog every day because of my job, so I’ll only do it four days a week. Finally, after dinner I’ll strap my ankles into the supports that I will build in the rafters of my attic and hang upside down for two hours. The purpose of the hanging exercise is to stretch my body to its ideal model height of 6-foot-5. Oh, don’t let me forget to mention the laxative that I’ll take every night before bed, so that in the morning I will be sure to purge out all of the extra calories that I missed during the exercise the day before.

The next, and most dramatic, leg of this program will be the surgery. The first and most important thing I’ll need to have done is a breast implant. I estimate that this surgery will cost me about $5,000 each, so I’ll have to get another job or two right away in order to start saving. I’d like to try and have the money by the eighth month of the schedule, so that by the time the year is up I’ll be healed and ready for that beautiful dress and all that attention! Now, I must be sure to factor in the additional weight of my beautiful new implants. I certainly wouldn’t want them to send me over my ideal weight.

By month number three of this program, I should be able to see some inches added to my height from the hanging. If I’m not seeing results by this time I’ll definitely need to get another job and save for the shin-and-femur-elongation surgery. I’ve heard that this surgery can cost up to $15,000 dollars, so I may even need to take out a loan. I would definitely try to get that surgery at the same time as the breast job so I could just heal all at once.

There are also just a few minor surgeries I’d like to have done to my face — like a lip implant, an eyebrow bone raise, and I’d love to get some bone grafted into my cheeks so that I could have a better shape to my face. I never did have any cheekbones. Then, of course, little touch ups like removing the scars from my knuckles and knees.

By the time this year is up, I should be slimmed, tucked and ready to go! I’m afraid that I’ll be ruined financially by this time, but I have a plan for that too. Since I’ll have this perfect body, I shouldn’t have any trouble finding myself a boyfriend. The ideal boyfriend would be of the elderly and very wealthy persuasion, if you catch my drift — the kind of man who would love to take care of all my little wants and desires. He’ll bail me out of my financial problems and equip me with the wardrobe of my dreams. Then I’ll marry him just before he dies and leaves everything to me.

After that, I’ll be on my way. I’ll be beautiful, have a great body, magnificent wardrobe, and the perfect cleavage. I wouldn’t think it would take any time at all to get a call from Cosmopolitan asking for a photo op! Then maybe I could be an inspiration to another young lady to become a beautiful model like me!

— Amber Church

Buy locally to uphold our unique culture

I’ve never experienced such a succinct, tactful consciousness reflecting the state of affairs of retail-driven America today as I did in reading Bill Walz’s [commentary in the Aug. 2 Xpress],”Asheville (and America) at the crossroads.”

The American Dream — and, indeed, the principles of capitalism — are the embodiment of competition, success and “progress.” But, like Mr. Walz, if we look more closely, examine more profoundly, and question more intelligently our system, we also find that this competition produces a loser — OUR culture, friends and neighbors — when the soldiers (e.g., chain stores) invade. We’d find that the keystone of OUR success lies not in procuring the cheapest good; if we knew the “real” costs of some of these products, we’d choose differently! We’d find that “progress” is not a tendency towards quantitative measures (cheaper/faster/etc.) but towards qualitative ones that support OUR interests, OUR culture, and OUR environment (mom-and-pop shops, young entrepreneurs, locally produced goods).

We’re all very wealthy: We’re Americans and we have choices. Buying is a vote — a vote for today’s Asheville or for tomorrow’s cheaper, faster Asheville! I urge everyone to use it wisely, and consider paying that extra $.42 for bread from the local bakery instead of from the one three time zones away. Are you really going to miss it?

— Damon Rouse

“Little” George W. Bush no visionary

Although some conservatives would be happy to return to the past and make our nation a monarchy, that idea has never set well with me. But if Texas Gov. George W. Bush is elected president, we will be conducting ourselves just like a monarchy where sons inherit the throne from their fathers.

Unless his father had been president, I don’t believe the Lone Star State Bush would ever have the popularity to be elected anything. It is questionable if he would have been able to make it to the Texas governor’s office without running on his dad’s coattails.

Little George certainly isn’t the visionary that his father was. In fact, I don’t know that little George has ever had an original idea. His slamming of Vice President Al Gore with respect to him not being a visionary certainly isn’t original, nor does it hold up to close scrutiny.

Little George has such tiny ideas that, if he’s elected, we’ll all have to get out our magnifying glasses to find them. Our only salvation will be if T.G. (Tiny George) surrounds himself with more of his father’s cabinet members. However that will only Cheney-chain-chain him ever more to the past.

We need a president like Al Gore, who isn’t afraid to remake himself anew every day! We can only survive as a superpower if we are able to adapt, to change, to improvise. That may seem like a distressing concept to those set in their ways, who wish we were still living under the yoke of King George III. But it is that ever-refreshing pioneering spirit Al Gore radiates that made our nation great!

Perhaps nothing more validates this fact than Gore’s selection of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as a running mate. Never before has an Orthodox Jewish man received this honor, and there is perhaps no more moral a candidate on either party’s ticket. Clearly, with Al Gore as president, we will certainly move forward toward a new tomorrow and [an] ever greater America.

— Terry Lynch
Montgomery, Ala.

Consider blight on Swannanoa River Road before complaining about Wal-Mart Supercenter

As a resident of East Asheville who lives near the old Sayles Bleachery, I can certainly understand the concern that many people have expressed about a new Wal-Mart Supercenter destroying the “beauty” of the scenic vista known as Swannanoa River Road.

If lines of traffic are pouring out of a giant Wal-Mart, how will we have time to enjoy such architectural wonders as the abandoned, dilapidated building on the corner of Governor’s View Road; the cluttered grounds of Smokey Mountain Petroleum and D.O. Creasman; the large, empty warehouse of the former Paty’s; the crumbling, abandoned produce market; and the retro-chic Riverside Diner. And let’s not forget the centerpiece of class in this area, the Trophy Club. You would not want a huge Wal-Mart store to suddenly undermine the reputation or property values of your neighborhood, when for years you’ve been able to brag about a landmark like the Trophy Club. And speaking of shameful, lots of people seem to enjoy floating plastic bottles and other garbage down the Swannanoa River.

I agree that a new Wal-Mart would create traffic problems, but let’s get serious. Just about the entire stretch of Swannanoa River Road from the Recreation Park to Biltmore Avenue is an eyesore, except for the golf course and a few of the newer buildings. Before the residents of this area complain too much about the impact of Wal-Mart, we need to get rid of the trash that has been blighting this area for years.

— Reams O’Neal

Help stop SIDS, a silent killer

I am calling upon you to ask for your support in helping to get awareness out to the public about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). We have had so many new deaths, and there needs to be support for these parents. Here’s what you can do to help:

1. SIDS is the leading cause of death for infants in the United States. And North Carolina/South Carolina exceed the national rate by Double. So there is a need for awareness, education and support in this area. I had a new mother contact me today who is very concerned about having enough support. I would like to provide education to groups and parents as needed.

2. You can call your local papers, [T.V.] stations and elected officials to state your opinions. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated!

By your support, you will be aiding many in their journey of healing. Thank you in advance! Any additional questions, please call me at (704) 563-4657.

Also, if you would pass this on so that others may help! Please make these calls!

It is very important to provide support from the community, and from those who become involved when an infant dies in your home. My husband and I had an experience that was a nightmare. We were treated rudely by the EMTs, the hospital and the police, and really got taken advantage of by the burial services. We were treated guilty until proven innocent, and never apologized to. Please help to stop this from happening to future parents until we can find a cause for this silent killer. I want to let it be known that I am available to talk to groups of people about reducing the risk of SIDS, and know how to be grief conscious when dealing with newly bereaved parents. I can also be contacted for support through a toll-free number, 1-888-671-7437. … Thank you!

— Louise McCall
SIDS mother

Speak out before growth devours us

I would like to praise Bill Walz’s commentary, “Asheville (and America) at the Crossroads” [Aug. 2]. His commentary on progress and growth stated what many of us feel. I think it is time to decide what kind of growth we want before it devours us. We can’t wait and let the megacorporations decide what kind of growth we are going to get.

The way the [Asheville Motor] Speedway was sold, for the benefit of the Biltmore Estate, was the first time I started to question what and who is driving the growth. I am not a big race fan. Nevertheless, I didn’t like how the sale of the Speedway land was done, all for the peace and quiet of a new luxury hotel on the Biltmore property. Living just west of the city, I am now watching a Home Depot being built, right into a neighborhood. Go look at this intersection; go see where this low-paying employer is building another store. The intersection is dangerous now. If they want to compete with Lowe’s, go at it head to head: There is graded property sitting unused right next to the new west-side Lowe’s. Wouldn’t that be a novel idea, to have competitors on the same piece of property? That is true competition, without destroying another peaceful area. It seemed as if the minute we heard about the new Home Depot, the groundbreaking started. The entrance to the Home Depot appears to be off a two-lane road. It will destroy the only way one can cross over Patton Avenue/Smokey Park Highway using a bridge, without the annoyance of using Highway 19/23. I had nothing against the Home Depot, and when I wanted to go there, I would drive to the one on Fairview Road. Now I will only use Lowe’s.

Then I hear about the Wal-Mart [Supercenter]. Is it planned for the Sayles Bleachery land or the recently departed Gerber land? Or both? I have kept an article from the Asheville Citizen-Times (June 25, 2000), written by Tim Reid. His article listed all the decent-paying companies that have left this area in recent years. It is the most maddening thing to read about the higher-paying jobs that have left and the multinational, low-paying jobs moving in. I am not against having a Wal-Mart or a K-Mart. However, I do question how many we need. Must we have one in every neighborhood? It certainly can’t lower prices, when they are constantly building.

I am disabled and can’t work. I need lower prices on goods, but at what cost? Being disabled doesn’t change how I feel about the labor market and growth in Asheville. Maybe it makes me feel differently, because I would give anything to be able to work. However, minimum wage is almost tougher than my situation. I must look at things from a quality of life vs. cost perspective. I practice the concept of minimal consumerism, for $6,000 a year from Social Security demands it. (That’s another letter.) Living on this kind of money, with my type of disability, precludes me from high-priced fun or high-priced stores. Finding amusement usually consists of a little gas and a drive. Now it is taking a lot more gas to take a much less pleasant ride.

Recently, I exited I-26 on the east side of the Long Shoals exit. I didn’t even recognize it. I thought there were more trees there. In front of all the new condos/apartments is a sign. It is advertising land for a grocery store and a drugstore, etc. This is just what Asheville needs, another grocery store. No offense to the people who live behind the soon-to-be-built grocery store, but we need good jobs to support the housing boom in Asheville. We should be focusing on affordable housing for the people who have to work at these low-paying jobs. There soon won’t be any land left for affordable housing and higher-paying jobs without destroying the natural beauty that has drawn many to this area.

Bill Walz wrote what I wish I could have written and what I think about all the time. He says there must be a better way. I hope his [commentary] wasn’t the exercise in futility that he feared it might be. He is not alone in his thinking. We need to take a careful look at the growth and “progress” going on in this area. We can’t let the big corporations take over, leaving this area crowded, ugly and just like anywhere else. Our voices need to be heard, or the county commissioners and the City Council need to be told that it is time to go.

— Melinda Haigh

No matter how you dress it up, I-26 Connector a monster

Trying to make I-26 look pretty and be demure is like trying to dress Godzilla in a tux and tails. It’s a huge superhighway plowing through a small city, for heaven’s sake. A large slice of Asheville’s beautiful life will be destroyed, no matter what routes we choose or how many lanes we make.

Even arrayed in diamonds and a Versace gown, our Godzilla will still be stomping thousands of West Asheville lives around. It’ll belch toxics from tens of thousands of vehicles into our already-challenged, Tupperware air. The cool, fresh summers of the land of the sky may slouch closer to long months of hot, internal-combustion smog.

A wave of development will almost certainly accompany the highway, eclipsing many environmental gains we’ve fought for. More super Wal-Marts and strip malls, a greater rate of population growth requiring power plants to pump more poisons, and fewer and fewer green spaces may begin the final push to change our natural paradise into pure urban spice.

[The] I-26 [Connector project] could be one of the biggest environmental disasters ever to hit Asheville. We all know this, but we’re willing to risk it. There’s no stopping the DOT, they say. At the recent planning conference, environmentalists, developers and the DOT formed a startling alliance to support [the Connector]. … The Asheville Citizen-Times prominently applauded their alliance and twice quoted a DOT employee [as saying] that “it was a breath of fresh air.” On the contrary, the meeting reeked of one of those cocktail parties where the host is quietly passing gas, but the guests are too polite to howl in protest. Everyone I spoke to thought the I-26 Connector was a disaster, but sighed, “It’s a done deal.”

The irony became surreal six days later when the state held a clean-air forum. Hundreds of local environmentalists demanded [that] North Carolina make power plants cleaner. Yet the thousands of extra vehicles from I-26 may more than neutralize any breathing gains Asheville might sustain from reductions in power-plant poisons. No one mentioned it.

I still believe that if the route for the I-26 Connector was going to roar by Beaver Lake, ravage Kimberly Avenue’s genteel homes, and ruin Charlotte Street, Ashevilleans would heroically rise up and stop the monster. We’d quickly discover that an expensive toll booth well north of Asheville could prevent Johnson City’s I-26 traffic from stacking up in our city. And with that supposed threat gone, the major purpose of this asphalt juggernaut would emerge from its smoggy hype. The road is being built to make extra cash for people who already have more than enough dough, and to humor a voracious U.S. economy that’s only healthy while it vigorously grows. But the main brunt of the disaster will land on West Asheville, so we’re just letting it go.

Is there anything left to do? After all, it’s still only a done deal on paper. We could start by calling the new air-quality agency or other environmental organizations. They know the sordid details of I-26 better than anyone, but need to hear that people will work with them. And they’re fully capable. Local environmentalists stopped the United States when it tried to site a high-level nuclear-waste dump near here. They taught the U.S. Forest Service to see the whole forest, not just the wood trees. If North Carolina finds they have to pave over the shouts of thousands of powerful Asheville citizens, they won’t do it. They’d be terrified of the political consequences. …

We could at least organize a community wake for the death of a large chunk of our magnificent climate and graceful way of life. Even if we can’t arouse an ounce of protest, people who love nature should not assist the DOT in ruining our ecology. If they have to massacre our mountains, let them butcher alone.

Hopefully this gloomy doom is silly and exaggerated. Maybe the best we can do is to give King Kong a bouffant. Perhaps we’ll establish nonpolluting transportation to compensate for tons of extra fumes, and strict zoning to prevent the waves of wasteful development. But what it seems is that either we stop I-26 or we should drop most pretense of environmental defense. Ecologists may have to find another cause, for developers will only laugh at us — if we can see them through the smog. A city first known for its beauty and health may become a paradise lost for gratuitous wealth.

— Bill Branyon

A vote for Bush a blow to “freedom addicts”

I’m hooked on freedom. It is definitely an addictive substance; once tasted, you cannot kick this intoxicant. There is no antidote, no cure.

People in Russia and Eastern Europe are being seduced by this heady drug. I think, in the near future, many other countries will succumb. Even in China, it is taking hold. Drastic measures had to be employed in Tiananmen Square to stamp out this scourge, but suppressing this narcotic isn’t working.

The problem is, once you’re hooked you’ll never give it up. In Russia and Eastern Europe, it’s too late. Attempts to return to the old repressions continue to fail. There is no going back; the genie is out of the bottle.

Now, we Americans have been hooked a long time. We crave more and more of this drug. Some think we are overdosing. A few years ago, women could not vote. In some cases they couldn’t own property. Social dictates told pregnant women to stay “in confinement” and hide themselves during pregnancy. They were treated as property, chattel.

In many theocracies today, women have almost no freedoms. In fundamentalist Muslim countries, they cannot work … are denied an education, and must cover their bodies and faces outside their houses. The resurgence of these repressions against women is not confined to the Muslim religion. Right here in the cradle of democracy, some religious zealots want to go back to the “good old days” when a woman who was raped — even by a family member — was required to have that man’s child. If she was single, poor, retarded, 12 years old, or unable or unwilling to care for the child — tough luck. She had to have it anyway. There was No Choice.

Now the Republican Convention just reaffirmed this policy. No abortions under any circumstances, period! Bush and Cheney, if elected, will probably appoint three or four Supreme Court justices. These judges will serve to repay the radical Republican right wing and ensure a rollback of Roe vs. Wade.

Now, as I said, freedom is addictive. Once tasted, it will never be surrendered. What will American women and the men that love and respect them do? Well, for a while, the airlines will do a brisk business flying our women to Canada, Mexico and wherever necessary. Girls too young or poor to travel will go back to the “coat-hanger” method or visit their local abortion cellar. Many of these girls will die, as they did when I was young.

A little later on, when newborn babies start showing up in dumpsters and young, butchered women disappear, all hell will break loose. The over 80 percent of Americans who approve [of allowing] at least some abortions will rise up in every state capitol, and millions will march on the Supreme Court. Bush, Mr. Law & Order, will call out the troops to contain these freedom-addicted American patriots, but they are hard-core addicts. They will not surrender their freedoms.

Those who are intent on turning back the clock to the darkest ages in our history, beware: You may get your way with George W. Bush, but you will be planting the seeds of a second bloody American Revolution. We freedom addicts will never surrender our rights to religious extremists. This is not Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iran. This is not a theocracy; there are no Taliban enforcers [here to ensure that] the largest church rules all, majorities and minorities alike.

— Robert Bonadonna

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