Cover the local artists

I’ve been baffled for years now by certain Xpress covers, but one recent issue takes the cake: drawing parallels between the lyrics of British MySpace starlet Lily Allen and the writing of English novelist Jane Austen [Lily Allen: Reflections of Jane Austen?”, June 13].

At first, the cover didn’t shock me, as I assumed Allen was performing somewhere in Western North Carolina. And beyond that, at least it was sure to include some sort of intriguing interview, perhaps pushing Allen for input as to her lyrical inspirations and therefore putting some legitimacy to Melanie Bianchi’s focus in the article—right?

Shame on me! Wrong on both accounts.

Allen was one of a hundred or so artists performing at the Bonnaroo festival (five hours away, in middle Tennessee); and the singer had only “sent brief answers to a series of e-mailed interview questions.” Sounds like the perfect cover story to me!

Actually, and sadly, it’s just another in a long series of face-slaps to Asheville and its extremely diverse community: the musicians, poets, artists, street performers, writers, filmmakers, galleries, venues, record stores and promoters who continue to push boundaries in their own fields, and who actually pay (inflated) rent within these mountains.

Instead, Bianchi has used her position as A&E editor to waste our time with her own fluff of nothingness—a hardly relevant collection of personal observations, Alanis Morissette references and pitiful lyric quotes (“Now you’re calling me up on the phone/So you can have a little whine and moan/And it’s only because you’re feeling alone”—are you kidding me?). Lily Allen is a British pop star who was “raised rich” and “plays no instrument.” That seems pretty damn foreign to our musical culture right now in Western North Carolina.

It saddens me to think of thousands of current residents, newcomers and even tourists wandering Asheville, hoping desperately to get in tune with the incredible local culture they see everywhere around them, and as they pick up a copy of this Xpress, all they find are giant voids in the competency, accuracy and (most importantly) taste of our embarrassing “Arts & Entertainment” section.

— Henry Rawls
West Asheville

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