Letters to the editor

Music to mine eyes

Kudos to your publication, and particularly to staff writer Tracy Rose, for her nicely written article on Southern-gospel music and its strong ties to this area [“The Secret Landscape of Southern Gospel” cover story, Dec. 10].

Ms. Rose did her homework, and rendered an interesting, informative, intelligently constructed piece on a subject many of your readers may have previously known little or nothing about. Perhaps her writing will be the catalyst that brings some new converts into the fold!

We commend you for a job well done.

— Jim Stover
Director of Radio Promotion, Crossroads Music Group

Crack a new nut next year

After reading the Mountain Xpress last week, I would like the opportunity to respond to Ms. Elizabeth Roebling’s opinion on myself and the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker [“This Nut Seriously Cracked” letter, Dec. 10].

Since 1996, I have been the artistic director of the Asheville City Ballet, and co-director, with Tracey Raper, of the Asheville Center of Performing Arts. I have never been the director of the Moscow Ballet.

I was asked in May 2003 to be the local children’s coordinator of the Moscow performance. My responsibilities included teaching 50 area dancers the Moscow choreography, and [being] present on performance day to assist the local children. And though I was already deep into hours of rehearsal for ACPA’s fall production, I volunteered, because I do enjoy community activities and getting to know other dance studios and dancers. I received no monetary compensation for my time involved. After 60-plus hours of rehearsal, I was thrilled with the children’s performance on Saturday, Nov. 29. They performed beautifully.

I would also like to assure everyone that the music played [during the production] was, in fact, the “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikovsky. Prior to my years at ACPA, I performed in or directed more than 20 years of Nutcracker ballets in various cities across North Carolina (as well as in Asheville), and I know the score absolutely inside out, note for note.

There is a popular saying in the dance world that, like snowflakes, there are no two Nutcrackers alike. And it is quite true. All across the country, companies strive to have their Nutcracker stand out from the others.

In response to Ms. Roebling’s Great Nutcracker Disappointment, I have a solution: Try something new next year! For five years, ACPA has produced Dorothy’s Adventure in Oz, an original dance adaptation of the The Wizard of Oz performed every November at Diana Wortham Theatre to capacity crowds and rave reviews. The production has more than 80 wonderfully trained local dancers, [plus] beautiful sets, and exciting choreography and music. Next year’s dates have not yet been set at [Diana Wortham], but I encourage Ms. Roebling and everyone to crack a new nut and experience this new Asheville tradition.

— Nicole Kmecza-Hattler
Co-director, Asheville Center of Performing Arts

[Ed. Note: For a quick history of the Nutcracker ballet, see the book section of the Dec. 16 Christian Science Monitor.]

Make Sayles site a monument to America’s job exodus

We can only hope the developers and backers of the new Super Wal-Mart recognize the unique opportunity that awaits visionaries like them to put into action.

Before the grand old Sayles mill smokestack is removed, another far-better option should be considered: We should let this proud brick tower stand. It can be a monument (a headstone, if you will) to the vanished idea of America in the old economy, and to the new, more forward-looking world economy — a marker of what we do to ourselves in the name of profit.

The entire chimney should be elegantly adorned with a powerful message that says to everyone who passes by: This is what America is all about. The surface should be painted with a bold pattern of our flag — red, white and blue; stars, stripes and all. The words “Asheville, N.C.” and “Wal-Mart” should dominate the design, so that anyone passing by [would] know that not only are [they] in Asheville, but that Asheville stands for America at its best. Just think: Passersby for miles around could be continually reminded of the jobs that went to the Pacific Rim, where the work is now devoted to creating cheap junk sold in the very Wal-Mart that will stand on the site.

There’s something about the idea of recycling the site this way that has to appeal to even the most sluggish visionary.

— Allen Thomas

If GPI decides to build, boycott ’em!

The Grove Park Inn is moving ahead with plans to buy our park downtown and put a luxury condo on it. Some of us have repeatedly tried to get their attention to tell them that our park is not for sale, and is not appropriate for a high-rise. If the Grove wants to build a luxury condo, they should do it on a vacant lot, like everyone else.

The Grove say it’s all about the math.

In fact, there should be other things that enter into a decision like this than whether a $10 billion Texas corporation [the Sammons Corporation, owners of GPI] can make money. We think it is common courtesy to not go into a town and build a high-rise on somebody’s park. We think the trees and grass are important. We also think that the opinions of the people who live here, use the park, and enjoy the view, are important.

But the Grove thinks it’s all about the math, and if the numbers add up, they will build there. So we intend to make sure that their numbers do not add up. We are urging everyone to boycott the Grove Park Inn.

After all, if the Grove ignores the wishes of the citizens of Asheville, why should we patronize them? Why should we eat at their restaurants? Why should we go to their spa, or make reservations there for our out-of-town guests? Perhaps they will reconsider, if everyone makes it more expensive for them to build on our park.

Perhaps they will build elsewhere, when yard signs supporting the boycott start popping up on property leading to the Grove, and tourists on Grove buses are given literature telling them the reasons for the boycott.

— Laura Thomas

Bear meat for the cause

The animal-rights philosophy is supported, in part, by a dreamy mythology in which wild animals are seen to be harmless, benevolent creatures with whom humans should seek a “rapport”: — rather than seeking protection and dominion. One recent event shows the tragic reality behind this view — and the ultimate end to which the animal-rights philosophy is taking us.

On Oct. 6, a pilot flying to pick up Timothy Treadwell (co-author of the book Amazing Grizzlies: Living With Wild Bears in Alaska) and his girlfriend in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve “found the campsite damaged and a brown bear atop what appeared to be a human body, eating the remains,” according to an article in Intellectual Activist. Treadwell’s practice was to travel to bear country without weapons … getting within inches of the animals. He achieved the ultimate end of the philosophy of nature-worship: “communion” with the grizzly bear — from the inside of its stomach.

— Charles Mathis

[Ed. Note: The couple’s deaths are the first known bear killings in the 4.7-million-acre park on the Alaska Peninsula. Grizzly and brown bears are the same species, though “brown” is customarily used to describe those animals in coastal areas, with “grizzly” reserved for those living inland.]


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