Letters to the editor

Look homeward, and save Battle Square

When we have no light anymore — when huge, monolithic cubic yards of concrete condos pop up like out-of-proportion mushrooms in a small, rich bog, and when we fill up all open space with ugly, gratuitous parking structures — Asheville will no longer be a city of light.

Our bright joy, angels looking homeward over green hills: This art deco capital of the South will be only another badly planned, dark, dense city destroyed by greed and the Freudian urge to put mass where it doesn’t belong and isn’t always welcome.

If we do not cap the height of the monoliths rising, we will allow our skyline to be obscured as buildings grow higher than the graceful flow of our mountains, which will be clear-cut for more condos sprawling toward Knoxville, Greenville and Charlotte. Then, I ask you, what tourist or home-seeker will want to come (in traffic snarled by cutesy roundabouts) to a ruined, once splendid Land of the Sky?

Save Battle Square. Sign the petition to stop the Haywood parking structure from obscuring the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the historic Battery Park Hotel building forever.

— Barbara Gravelle
Asheville

Go to the back of the class

Regarding the article “Art Class” by Alli Marshall in the Bele Chere ’05 Insider’s Guide, there were a number of errors. As an exhibiting artist in this year’s Bele Chere, I read this article with interest, then wondered if Ms. Marshall or the Mountain Xpress staff had fact-checked it before publication.

The article gives the impression that only the 60 artists in the Arts Park section were juried. According to Meghan Penny, events specialist for Asheville Parks and Recreation, there were over 700 applicants for 180 spaces. These 180 artists and craftspeople were selected after an extensive jurying process.

While it can be confusing to the Bele Chere attendees — who find the other 120 artists and craftspeople located amongst local merchant booths, nonprofits, sponsors and food vendors — all 180 juried arts and crafts vendors make the goods they sell by hand, not just the folks who display in the Arts Park.

I found this statement not only incorrect, but offensive: “And there’s no shame in enjoying the nonjuried displays. Vendors will hawk silks, baskets, beads, bonsai … and many more creations you never knew you needed.” [I] can’t imagine that any artist likes being characterized as a vendor who “hawks” his wares. This calls up the image of a “carny” at the fair trying to interest passersby in a game of chance. It is not a dignified characterization.

The sloppiest error was this: “Locals include jeweler Suzanne Evans … .” In the list of Arts Park artists posted on the left of the article, this artist’s name is spelled “Suzanne Evon.”

I greatly enjoy your publication, but found the need to write my first-ever letter to the editor regarding the above.

— Barbara Boles
Asheville

[Writer Alli Marshall replies: The text of our sidebar, which contained the incorrect spelling (Evons) of jeweler Suzanne Evans’ name, was drawn directly from the official Bele Chere Web site provided by Asheville Parks and Recreation. We’re sorry we didn’t catch the error.]

Stop the war between our ears

The Aug. 10 issue of Mountain Xpress included a photo and short text [“Oak Ridge or Bust”] about a group of Asheville area bicyclists who were riding to Knoxville, Tenn., to attend what turned out to be the largest peace rally in the history of eastern Tennessee. To their credit, they were attempting to take personal responsibility for the cause of peace.

However, it later struck me that our conventional approach to peace amounts to starting with the problem and working backwards. It reminds me of the saying: “The ultimate in stuckness is — waiting for someone else to change so that you can feel better.” In fact, as one refreshing speaker at the recent 60th anniversary celebration of the United Nations said very simply, “War begins in our minds before it begins on the battlefield.” Whether we’re talking about armed military conflict, power struggles at the office, rush-hour traffic or dealing with our teenagers when we get home, we have to stop the war between our ears first. That’s where it all begins.

Interestingly, later this month, Knoxville is also hosting another event completely unrelated to the Aug. 6 rally, addressing this idea that peace is possible one person at a time. It is called “Peace Is Possible,” and takes place at 4 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the Knoxville Convention Center. Let’s face it, we have to start using an approach that really works. Maybe Knoxville’s example will spread.

— Ian Booth
Asheville

Slither away from decadence

When I emerged from my cave this morning, my serpent bore a strange smile, so I beckoned him thus: Slither hither my connoisseur of craft, and whisper unto a delicate ear the gems of thy wisdom.

He moved closer with a hiss, and whispered: Our vantage point can cause dismay, for I see not only a steady increase among the people in the defilement of their bodies with tattoos and piercings, but more and more fish symbols on the backs of cars, and churches resembling mega-malls. I thought that all this corruption might finish you off, not to mention the assaultive noise which they call “music.”

Keep thy body clean and strong by the grace of Hygiaea, goddess of health, who — like me — once believed in the infinitude of man. And as decadence of every sort surrounds thee, remember that the light of reason can never be snuffed out, even if it ends up abiding in only one person.

I thanked him and went out to meet the day.

— Charles Mathis
Arden

Sheehan needs to change her target

Cindy Sheehan, that grieving mother who lost her son in Iraq, is protesting at the wrong place. President Bush didn’t kill her son, the insurgents did! She and her fellow war protestors should go to Iraq and stage their protest there. Bush wants to end the conflict, and their actions don’t help.

Her son volunteered for the military. What did she think the military does? They fight and risk being killed. In World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, 665,000 servicemen were killed. The majority of them weren’t volunteers — they were drafted. Their sacrifice has given the grieving mother the right and ability to protest. She shouldn’t use that right to undermine the efforts of President Bush and endanger the lives of the brave men and women involved in the conflict.

— Richard Rice
Asheville

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