Letters to the editor

Small companion leaves big heartache behind

My mini-Pomeranian, Mr. Bojangles, has been missing several weeks from the place I work, Ragtime Vintage Clothing Store, on Walnut Street in downtown Asheville. I went to eat dinner, and my friend who worked after me was watching him. Mr. Bojangles snuck out when she wasn’t looking.

I have been told by several people that two women in their 20s or 30s picked him up at Glovers and walked across the street behind the Mellow Mushroom. They spoke with a few workers on break there, and showed them my dog. They reportedly said, “Look at this cute dog we found. He doesn’t have a collar on so we are going to take him home until we find his owner.” I’m told they then drove off with him in a black Mitsubishi Eclipse. They didn’t leave their names.

When I got back to Ragtime (which is across the street from the parking lot behind the Mushroom), Bo was gone. In the following week I put up 200 fliers, called all the vets and shelters, and went door to door downtown. Nobody called to report a found dog. I put an ad in the Xpress and Citizen-Times. Then I finally reported him stolen to the police, since no one had done anything to give him back.

I am very heartbroken. I have had Mr. Bojangles for four years. He turned 12, three days after he was taken. I don’t know what else to do. I know he is a very special dog. I didn’t have a collar on him because he just walked right beside me. He dances for food and he sings to the harmonica and flute. He is the best dog and not a yipper. He has a heart murmur and very stinky breath. He is apricot and orange, and I trimmed his hair. He hates cameras and vacuums, and he suckles on things, especially when he’s nervous. I will do anything to have him back in my life. We moved here from Iowa, and I miss him so much.

I’m very grateful that the women have been taking care of him and giving him love, as I am sure they have. But I know he must miss me very much. There are plenty other dogs that need homes. I’m so sad; this is the worst thing that has happened to me.

— Heidi Kouri

[Editor’s note: To contact Bo’s owner with information, call 713-5339 or 225-8889. Bo may be returned to Ragtime Vintage Clothing Store, 20 E. Walnut St., no questions asked.]

Bring back the trolley

Lately, there has been considerable discussion about erecting a new parking garage in the downtown area. I’ve heard the pros and cons and find merit in both sides. I understand the need for more parking spaces and the equal need to preserve the landscape of the downtown area. What I do not understand is why our City Council does not seem able to think outside the proverbial box to come up with a solution.

Why can’t we look into ways to get more people into Asheville, but fewer cars? Isn’t it obvious? Once upon a time, Asheville had a downtown trolley route. Perhaps, somewhere beneath 50 years of macadam, the tracks still exist. Isn’t it time to dig them up? When you consider that the funky ambiance of Asheville is what brings tourists into the town, wouldn’t a downtown trolley service only add to the ambiance?

If the system was carefully planned out, and properly priced, I’d venture a guess that locals and tourists alike would make full use of that old-fashioned, forward-thinking conveyance. For $1 a day, $5 a week and $20 a month, you could have unlimited access to the trolley anywhere along the route. Circle the downtown, making sure to stop at Pack Place, City Hall and the Civic Center. Continue out Route 25, with a stop at UNCA, and then continue back down to somewhere south of Biltmore Village where a parking lot could easily be located.

Asheville is a fairly compact city, and the entire downtown is certainly within walking distance of the entire route. With a trolley, we’d have fewer cars, less pollution and easier access to the city for everyone. Additionally, Asheville could be leading the nation in embracing a small, nonpolluting, electric mass-transit system that disdains fossil fuels, pollution and ugly steel-and-concrete structures that pay homage to gas-guzzling excess and outright laziness. Is it that far fetched an idea that we can’t ask someone in city government to consider the possibilities?

— Pat Berk

Spell review needs dispelling

Having read many glowing Arts & Entertainment reviews about every garage band that hits Asheville, I was surprised to read Alli Marshall’s inexplicably snide one about The Goodly Spellbook [“Practical Magic,” Oct. 26]. What should’ve been a simple review based on the book’s merits was a self-absorbed piece rife with inaccuracies and thinly veiled ridicule.

First, contrary to the caption beneath the writers’ picture, no one has to believe in spells for them to work. In fact, the book makes clear that the universal laws by which spells operate are independent of belief — every spell will work if done properly. Of course, as with any art, one won’t achieve goodly results from the Art Magical if you perform it haphazardly.

As a case in point, Alli claimed that the book’s To Conjure Abundance spell required “a special kind of” green food coloring — wrong; pages 337 and 338 specify ordinary “green food coloring.” Further, the book warns against arbitrarily substituting spell ingredients in both its “Spellwork Rules of Thumb” and “How To Know You’re Doing Spells Properly” sections, so her result was partially due to her having purchased green frosting gel instead. The abundance spell clearly worked — but in reverse, because she approached it with a lackadaisical, disdainful attitude.

Alli called her experience of rocking while chanting “autistic,” but failed to cite the Magical Theory for it that the authors provide following each spell (in this case, rocking aids memory and sets up a magical flow that helps activate the spell).

Ultimately, Alli never explained why the book is “best-selling.” Instead, she eschewed the book’s scholastic substance in favor of twice griping about its “heft” (even suggesting that the authors write a “pocketbook-sized guide to spellcraft,” although its preface makes clear that the book was written to counter the plethora of shallow Craft material).

— Dixie Deerman (Lady Passion)
Coauthor, The Goodly Spellbook

[Reviewer Alli Marshall responds: It’s unfortunate that the book’s coauthor didn’t enjoy the review, which was intended to be lighthearted and reflect my enjoyment of reading the book and attempting the spells. As I think I made clear in the article, I’m no expert in the magical arts — a shortcoming I suspect I share with much of the reading audience. Still, as the saying goes, any press is good press.]

Our diets affect fuel costs

Like millions of other Americans victimized by outrageous home heating costs this winter, I will be lowering my thermostat, covering my windows with plastic sheeting, and using electric space heaters to keep my personal space temperature tolerable.

The fossil fuel crisis is only likely to get worse, as an exploding global demand confronts the reality of a limited supply and the vagaries of Middle East politics. We can blame the Bush administration and the oil companies for the current crisis. But, for the long run, we must drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption in our cars, our homes and our diets.

Yes, our diets. According to Cornell University Professor David Pimentel, production of meat and dairy products accounts for approximately 15 percent of our national fossil-fuel consumption. Most of that goes to manufacture fertilizers, operate farm machinery and run irrigation equipment for growing animal feed. The rest is used to operate factory farms and slaughterhouses and to process, transport, refrigerate and prepare meat and dairy products.

Anyone who cares about the cost of fuel this winter should consider these impacts of meat and dairy production on their next trip to the supermarket.

— Albert Bowers

Will swift boats prowl again?

I want to express my profound gratitude to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for focusing the entire nation on a long-term pattern of lies, obfuscation, cover-up and demonization of anyone daring to question the Bush political machine, headed by Cheney and Rove.

Red-state America has had its head in the sand since the election was stolen from Al Gore in 2000. Lies, half-truths and character assassination have been by-words of the Bush administration. Hopefully, this grand jury will hold up this pattern of behavior to right-wing Americans so they cannot deny it has been happening. It is clear that 2,000 dead American soldiers in the Iraqi quagmire was not enough to waken the red-staters. I wonder if this investigation will do any better.

The evidence of pro-war shenanigans (lies, half-truths and misinformation) is so vast, colorful and terrible, yet red-state Americans still act like lambs to the slaughter. I marvel at the clearly obvious fact (at least to me) that no one in the administration — not Bush, Cheney, anyone — has a son or daughter fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. The people arriving back home in flag-draped coffins are kids from largely red states, with the exception of California.

I wonder if the Texas swift-boat folks will now demonize the special prosecutor, a man appointed by George W. Bush.

— Jon Michael Riley

Looking for truth

Whatever happened to Bush [restoring] honor and dignity to the White House? Bush has repeatedly lied to us. He put us into a debt that we may never recover from (not what conservatism is all about).

There is no doubt in my mind that Cheney also knew what was going [on]. He and Libby are famous for being joined at the hip. If Libby makes a plea bargain, we may never find out the truth.

Whatever happened to democracy? When Clinton lied, no one died.

— Arvin Kaufman

Speak out against lies

I am outraged that, once again, we have reason to think that our leaders are misleading us! I have questioned again and again the need for this assault in Iraq. Again the evidence might show that we have wasted innocent lives and devastated a land over oil.

The convenient lies about WMD have permeated our information sources since the beginning. It seems clear that we have been fed these lies over and over. It was clear that nuclear weapons were not being manufactured in Iraq in 2002, yet Bush still claimed in 2003 that they were. Libby was in charge of selling this war to the people and, as might seem obvious to anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention, he was making things up to “get our war” — because war is obviously good for everyone.

We must not stand for this injustice any longer. Speak out against these lies. Any race, religion, color, creed or political orientation should not want leaders lying to the people. I don’t have a solution, [other than] to get informed and be responsible.

— Brandon Greenstein
Black Mountain

False information has cost many lives

It gives me great sorrow that our involvement in Iraq was presented to the American people and the Congress [based] on false information. It is outrageous that this false information was entirely known by our government at the time it was put forth. Over 2,000 of our soldiers and goodness knows how many Iraqis have lost their lives [because of] what appears now to be a personal vendetta.

It is of small comfort that an indictment has come out of this. It is high time to restore accountability and integrity to our government.

— Gail Ensinger

Redefining organized crime

I recently read an interesting article in USA Today entitled “Denver Weighs Proposal to Ease Marijuana Laws.” I personally hope the proposal passes. However, the article ended by the opponents of the proposal saying, ” … all that money (used to buy medical marijuana) goes to organized crime.” That just ain’t so.

Having a legal prescription for medical marijuana from a licensed, practicing doctor in my home state for many years, I can say without hesitation that the little money I spend for it doesn’t go to organized crime. It goes to a 61-year-old, 100-percent disabled Vietnam veteran who lives on a little 40-acre farm in Arkansas, and whose only other income is from a veterans’ (VA) disability pension. This individual is a church-going, God-fearing gentleman whom I have known for years. He uses the money I spend to feed his family, buy medicine and gas. It is spent locally in his community; it doesn’t go to some terrorist or drug lord.

It’s always organized-crime this or terrorist that, when you see something about marijuana. My thoughts are if you want to support organized crime, just pay taxes! There is organized crime if there ever was any! Your government, from grassroots to federal — organized crime! And God bless ’em, sometimes not all that organized.

What about the oil company that can make $10 billion in 90 days, and the government and the news just sweep it under the rug like it means nothing? However, the government is after the poor ol’ vet who sells me $50 bucks worth of cannabis. What is wrong with this picture?

— B. Niewoehner

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