Letters to the editor

Don’t forget Be Here Now

[Editor’s note: Talk about raising a ruckus: No less than five Xpress readers objected to Mary Winchester‘s Oct. 7 letter bemoaning the closing of Black Mountain music establishment Grey Eagle. Readers were particularly riled by Winchester’s statement that “there is nowhere else locally for [musicians like Arlo Guthrie, David LaMotte and Beth Wood] to play. … The venue at Be Here Now has changed so radically with the new ownership. Acoustic music isn’t really welcomed there anymore, except for the big names like David Wilcox and Leo Kottke.”

Here are excerpts from what our readers had to say in response:]

[Arlo Guthrie, Beth Wood, Christine Kane, David LaMotte, Billy Jonas, Chuck Brodsky, etc., … have played at Be Here Now and have a great number of local supporters. In fact, Beth Wood [played] at [BHN] on Saturday, Oct. 10! … So, Mary, before you start slamming the Asheville music scene, maybe you should look in your own backyard: Asheville loves Be Here Now and the variety of music and people that frequent [it]. So — stop your whining.

— Allison Hart Asheville

Concerning the Asheville music scene, I am a musician and also attend shows at Be Here Now, and I must say I enjoy all the different variety that [it] has to offer. It seems clear that Mary Winchester does not know her facts, nor does she appreciate variety, for that matter. Asheville doesn’t need Grey Eagle. Be Here Now stands alone.

–Joe Seabe Asheville

:For [Winchester] to suggest that Be Here Now does not offer acoustic music is an outright lie. And to assume that Asheville wants the Grey Eagle to move here is absurd. Maybe Mary should check out Be Here Now, because she is missing out!

— Carol King Asheville

The last thing this town needs is another music venue. They come and they go, and the best survive — namely, Be Here Now. The acts [Winchester] listed play that room continuously. Another room playing the same music will simply not work. … When I tell people I’m from Asheville, the first thing they ask is, ‘Have you been to Be Here Now’? [It’s] a part of Asheville, just like the Biltmore House and Thomas Wolfe.

— Christopher Knight Asheville<*R>

I found Mary Winchester’s letter about losing the Grey Eagle extremely hilarious. How could she ask Mountain Xpress to fabricate a story to support her claim that there are no venues for acoustic music in Asheville? What hole is she living in?

Be Here Now supports more local talent than any other club in this area. David Wilcox had to start somewhere! If Mary wants Grey Eagle to open, maybe she [should] offer her living room — because, apparently, she doesn’t get out much. …

… The Asheville music scene is alive and well … thanks to Be Here Now.

— Reid Thompson Asheville

Sexual Congress…

At the time of the 1994 midterms, a lot of people, including many Democrats, became concerned about the too-liberal policies being proposed by the White House and rubber-stamped by the Democratic Congress. America chose to do the wise thing and divide the branches between parties. Most of us thought we might at least keep the lot of them in line.

The minute they grabbed power, the Republicans attacked. Their oft-expressed hatred of Bill Clinton was out of all reasonable proportion to the fact that we fairly elected him twice (the second time, specifically to keep the Congress in line). Bill wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t evil, either.

The louder and more shrill the attacks from the right became, the wiser America thought it was for dividing the branches. Most of us simply refused to believe our representatives in Congress were bent on destroying the government they were elected to serve, and replacing it with their own brand of “moral” dictatorship. We have thus far been exposed to the complete degradation of not only a man, a family and an office, but to the spectacle of our own Congress disseminating pornography to our children.

We know about the affair. They lied, then they told the truth. The truth in no way required that we be exposed to the kind of information that Starr gleefully elicited from his victims. “Yes” or “no” was all we needed to know. “Yes” or “no” is the only thing relevant to the matter under investigation, which was …

What was it, again? Some land deal in Arkansas when he was governor? A cattle-futures killing in the stock market? Can’t seem to remember … oh, yeah. The Supreme Court said a sitting president could be sued for making a pass at a bimbo in a motel room back in Arkansas, so the Mighty Office of Independent Counsel decided to act as a P.I. for the plaintiff. Just a sideline witch hunt — nothing to do with his mandate.

The hatred is here — in black, white and living color — for all the world to see. Out of all proportion to the man, the crime and the will of the people. They make fools of us all. They mock our vote, our Constitution, our rules of law, our tolerance and our way of life. Our respect for individual privacy in matters of sex, as well as religion, speech, property, papers and family life. They are so blinded by their zeal, they do not even see what fools they make of themselves.

They will soon be confronted with a mirror. The tactics will backfire badly on Nov. 3. This vote of the Congress, taken less than a month away from a national election may prove the American people wiser than our Congress thinks we are. We see, and we do not like what we see.

— Marian Thompson
Old Fort

A garden cover-up

I am glad to see the gardening column in the Xpress. I especially liked the cover-crop entry, as it is a near obsession of mine. I find improving the soil as satisfying as growing and eating crops. I have used most of the cover crops mentioned and would make a couple of additional observations.

I have planted crimson clover in the fall and had it work out well. It grows some in the fall, hangs out in the winter, and then takes off early in the spring. It seems to have an added advantage of being a food of choice for rabbits. They seem to even prefer it to the early young vegetable sets we put out. Also, when it flowers, it makes a beautiful carpet of red that attracts and feeds bees, though I understand it is somewhat diminished as a soil additive once it has flowered. The Austrian winter peas also have a beautiful flower stage, if you let them get that far.

One problem I have had here is finding the inoculant. Often a supply store will not have the right inoculant to go with the seeds. I have heard that, once the soil has had the inoculant one year, it will still be there for subsequent crops. I hope so.

Another use I have found for clover is to grow it in the pathways between raised beds. It holds up to walking, holds moisture, protects the sides of the beds and does not seem so invasive as to be a weed problem. I have used the Dutch white clover for this, as it grows throughout the year.

Enriching the soil is about as basic as it gets. If you want to stay grounded, what better way than compost and cover crops?

— Boone Guyton

The Grey Eagle responds

I’m Bert Ivey, the music-lover true, blue and tested. My partner, Tyler Richardson, and I own The Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall in Black Mountain. Our music business is our passion.

What we do not own is a village. We rent in it, just like all the other renters. Our lease ends on Oct. 31 (song over).

I hope, wish, pray and cross my fingers that something will show up really soon for Tyler and me to move our business into.

I’ve written at least 100 novels in my head over this heart-breaking “he said … they said” crap. Bottom line, John Mellencamp already wrote it for me: “Calling it your job, old hoss, sure don’t make it right. But if you want, I’ll say a prayer for your soul tonight”.

I wake and sleep in my Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall, 24-7. I enjoy the grind of this masterful song. I just rent! I do the best that I can with what I rent. Come see and judge for yourself. It’s not much, it’s just for everybody!

The few shows we have left will be the last of what we have booked for our rented car-garage space! So, load up the love for music, come see what you want, listen to the walls sing their song, support live music, and most of all — please let your children listen to music!

— Bert Ivey
Black Mountain

“What are you going to do?” That’s the question everyone’s been asking us. Our answer has been, “Well, we’re looking for a new place to move to. We don’t want to just give up. We’re probably going to move into Asheville — that’s where most of our audience comes from, anyway.”

“Why are they (the landlords) doing this?” is the other question. Well, I can sit here and tell you all the lies they told us and tell you how this is all wrapped up in small-town politics and how the “been-heres” don’t want us “come-heres” doing what we do.

But, nothing is going to change our current situation. As of Nov. 1, The Grey Eagle Tavern and Music Hall (owned solely by Tyler Richardson and Bert Ivey) will be homeless — and, worse than that, so will the music (owned by no one ).

This has been a hard row to plow, and anyone who knows us knows that we have been out in the fields every day, and we haven’t seen a harvest yet. In other words, we don’t have any money, we don’t have any trust funds waiting on us, and we can’t just go buy a building to play in.

But, we do have some equipment, a lot of heart, and some great ideas, if anyone wants to help.

Venues like the Grey Eagle are important to our culture and to the future of music. If we can’t provide the venue, I hope one of you will. From now on, my answer to “What are you going to do?” is: “What are you going to do?”

— Tyler Richardson
Black Mountain

Let there be music — but keep it clean

Grey Eagle property owners are now, and have always been, interested in keeping a music venue in Black Mountain. Several people have contacted us about this possibility, but due to the hue and cry created by the present lessee, we are unable to wait until the current lease expires, on Oct. 31, [to explain the situation] to the public. The only prerequisites that the owners would require of the music hall lessees is that they pay their rent in full and on time, that they keep [the premises] clean, and that they not destroy the owners’ property.

These requirements may seem [like] “givens,” to most, but we have found that several different renters see cleanliness and [the] destruction of the owners’ property in very self-serving ways. When the Grey Eagle was started — [with] the owners’ own savings — a great deal of care was taken to find the best sound equipment, beverage equipment and antiques for a “down home” atmosphere. It was started with an attempt to create a McDibbs type of ambiance for the customers — both old and young. The first lessees, Ed and Lee Ann Knopka, ran a clean place with a friendly, receptive atmostphere, [hosting] a number of charitable events for the community, as we had requested of them.

The music business, as David Peele (former owner of McDibbs) has said, is very difficult to maintain. That is why we’ve made the rent and lease of equipment very reasonable and fair, as has been stated. [But] the rent issue is actually only an indicator of how seriously any lessee takes [his or her] responsibility. … An individual’s ability to care for anything — especially music — [is indicated by] the reverence [with which they approach] the care of the musical setting. Any person or persons interested in leasing the Grey Eagle will be interviewed, with their love and care of music and all that supports a music venue — setting, equipment, etc. — being paramount.

Music, and all that surrounds it, is sacred and should be cared for by the people who agree to take it over.

— Bob McMurray and Bill Rafter
property owners, Grey Eagle
Black Mountain

Block scheduling — the Titanic of the Buncombe County schools

[If] you are not a high-school or middle-school parent, you may not be aware of what block scheduling is. I would suggest that you investigate and question it closely.

Block scheduling forces students to learn a subject in one semester that should be taught in two semesters. Teachers are under enormous pressure to cover things as quickly as they can, knowing they just have one semester to teach a subject.

Blocked classes are 90 minutes long. You may think that a teacher can accomplish more in 90 minutes, but in many classes, 30 of the 90 minutes is used to do homework for the following day.

Block scheduling is practiced in Buncombe County high schools and at Asheville High School. Modified block is practiced in our middle schools, as well.

Block scheduling requires a smaller number of teachers and classrooms, therefore giving students less choices in their curriculum for each semester.

Many talented students drop out of band, drama, art and foreign languages in order to take required courses to graduate. The arts are suffering. In the North Buncombe school district, the number of high-school band students has decreased every year since the inception of block scheduling.

Many students choose to take only two academic courses per semester. I do not think that is going to prepare our future generations in Buncombe County to compete against their peers throughout the U.S.A. and the world at large.

Why did Buncombe County choose such a system, that basically puts our students at a disadvantage? Most high-ranking middle and high schools across the country are using the seven- or eight-period day. That gives the students and teachers a better opportunity to cover the subject in a less stressful way.

Cramming language arts, science and math into one semester is cheating our kids out of a better education. Block scheduling was tried and thrown out of California, Colorado and many other states. What are we waiting for?

Currently, Buncombe County students get one semester of ninth-grade English, one semester of geometry, one semester of economic law, and the list goes on. High-school students are just not ready for the rigors of college. Every subject offered should be taught over two semesters, not one. Buncombe County students are victims of a poor [administrative] choice. We are supposed to be preparing our children to compete in a global economy. You will never find block scheduling in a public school in England, Sweden, Germany or Japan. It only exists in areas of our country that continually experiment on children, to prove that a new idea is worth a try. This idea is bad.

Parents, make your voice known, and demand removal of the block, before we find ourselves sinking.

— L. Olsson

Dam the immigrant flood

“Send me your tired, your poor, your fantastically fecund masses yearning to make more babies.” In these overpopulated, dynamite-demography days, that’s partly what the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty says to me . Nowhere else in U.S. lore do we beg for more and more people. Yet we act as if that “send me your tired” poem, written by some virtually unknown writer on Ms. Liberty, is holy. The French, who gave us that giant broad, now laugh at our gall — from behind their own extremely tall anti-immigrant laws. After reading Marsha Barber’s interesting article on immigration [Sept. 2 Mountain Xpress], I was even more convinced that we should inhibit Lady Liberty’s promiscuous hospitality.

For instance, Ms. Barber spotlighted the Patinos, a Latin immigrant family (probably Catholic), who had already imported four of their children to North Carolina and hoped to bring three others. Are we supposed to welcome every couple trying to maximize family size, victims of intimidation by some sexually celibate pope? Unite the Patino family — but then shut, bar and barricade that type of immigrant door. Let the Catholic countries deal with their pontifical population problems. They, Hindus and others are becoming an unstoppable glacier made of hot meat, which eats everything in sight and then doubles in size. America’s setting a rigorous example for birth and population control is more important than our acting as a safety valve for others’ bingeing baby booms. For if we don’t strongly resist Malthusian mayhem, civilization is surely doomed.

Of course, some Democrats will call me racist. I say America is already the most myriad of melting pots in the world. Let’s affirm the polyglot we’ve already got. Some Republicans will fault me for interfering with their supply of cheap labor. I believe American labor has enough troubles with businesses outsourcing outside the U.S. Now they also have to compete with alien, ballistic baby bombs whose billions will be willing to work anywhere, anytime, for anything, in order to escape their country’s human avalanche.

It’s true that the depredations of America and the rest of the West are main reasons the Third World is pulverized by poverty. But like drug addicts and drugs, the crowded Third World’s worst enemy is its addiction to overpopulation. Until that cycle is broken, we can’t help them much. We should share America’s abundance with them, but only after they stop letting asexual fanatics and overpopulation pushers lay down their family planning.

Regardless, it’s time to take a grinder to Lady Liberty’s base and remove her blank-check poem signed over to the world’s “wretched refuse.” For the small percent of immigrants “yearning to breathe free,” let them be. But for the billions too mired in mysticism to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg, beg them to stop inseminating and send them barriers that stop impregnating — and then aid that discourages immigrating.

— Will Weylan

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