copyright Bill Widener 2000

Where's Our Check?

So I see the city hired some fancy consultant to tell us "What Lexington Needs." I think the answers she came up with were an airport, a downtown and a downtown grocery store.

Now if memory serves, I think I've been reading those suggestions in Ace Magazine for at least the last five years, and I know I read them again a month or two ago in the big birthday issue where you changed your name [May 11, ACE, Then & Now].

I myself mentioned those same things when I filled out your best of lex ballot, under the "What Lexington Needs" categories.

I think the city should cut you guys a check and lay off the pricey consultants who are completely capable of pointing out the pink elephant in the room.

Leonard Holtz

The May 11 issue included an updated list of "What Lexington Needs" (an ACE feature dating back to the early 90s). The list mentioned: a grocery store downtown; a Bogart's size venue; a real airport; a Bardstown-Road style restaurant corridor; an art museum; and effective mass transit. The readers' version of "What Lexington Needs" will be printed in the annual Best of Lexington issue, on stands July 27.

Jagged Little Pill

Rhonda Reeves gave a very onesided opinion of RU486, and had no intention of empowering women with the truth. Were it up to her, every med. student with a conscience, would be forced to suck out a babies brains, or flunk out of school. The fact that med. students want no part of such an unethical job, is too much for some people to understand.

Does Ms Reeves understand that some women who use RU487 must still undergo surgical abortions, or that the "doctor" that administers RU487 may indeed need to perform an emergency abortion? Fetal age is commonly misjudged and leads to complications. I suppose Ms Reeves is willing to martyr those women with complications, so that she herself may have the cozy feeling of security, that if ever she needs to end the life of her offspring, it will be an option to her to simply pop a pill & flush it down the toilet.

Ms Reeves also uses a Planned Parenthood "doctor" @ one of her main sources, however she fails to mention that Planned Parenthood was founded by a selfadmitted racist/Nazi sympathizer, bent on exterminating Jews, Catholics, welfare recipients, and people of color. Mr Edger try s to offer a reason for his choice in professions but he convinetly left out much information on who provided abortions both before and after Roe V. Wade. Nor did the good doctor explain that it was the invention of penicillin that saved women from dying of infection NOT doctors like him.

It is true that abortion is in fact the safest of all medical procedures. Why then are the few abortion providers that are still around, systematically being sued and thrown out of the medical field altogether, for unthinkable crimes and malpractice? Growing proof of what kind of a person it takes to destroy innocent life.

Susan Hoerauf

via email

"Dr." Edger's "choice of profession" was obstetrics and gynecology. He had a private ob-gyn practice in Lexington from 1961-1996 -making him eminently qualified to offer a medical/surgical opinion.

Numerous ob-gyns, internists, and family practice doctors were contacted for the article, and most declined to speak on the record. Some stated fear of demonstrations if they offered their actual opinions on the drug, others said they would be happy to be quoted on any other non-controversial women's health issues (presumably they'd feel safe in offering an opinion about say, the heartbreak of psoriasis).

For the record, the anti-mifepristone view is that the drug is a "human pesticide." That opinion was duly reported.

RU-486 (as opposed to RU-487) now goes by the clinical name mifepristone as Roussel-Uclaf has nothing to do with the United States distribution.

And while complications are possible with any drug, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that ultrasounds will precede the administering of mifepristone, so that the stage of pregnancy may be gauged as accurately as possible.

Dear Editor,

I find it revolting that you have printed an article about justifiable murder on the cover of magazine. You presume that the abortion pill RU-486 should be apart of a woman's choice. This is not about a choice. It is far more complex than what you have assumed. This is nothing more than genocide, meaning we are killing babies simply because they in the way off us having fun. It is sad to say you have no clue where the woman's choice is do you? I know that when it comes down to it you know it as well as every woman knows when their actual choice is. When a man and a woman begin to have sex that is when the actual "choice" comes into play. After that there is no other choice to be made. No one has the right to kill someone else.

Your magazine can make a difference. You have readers that are struggling with these very facts. Write articles that show both the pros and cons of abortion. You should show what leads a woman to this kind of crisis and show her options. But don't end the story there. Tell your readers the facts of what has actually happened after people have made those decisions. Tell them about life about after: adoption, abortion, keeping the baby, ect. As your precious cover indicates you do not want hear of political bias. Then don't write articles that are politically bias. Thank you for your time.


Scott Swift

via email

I was relieved to see Ace take on the unpopular issue of RU486 this week.

The idea of an abortion pill is morally distasteful to many, for many reasons. And it's certainly no substitute for the birth control pill.

And given the abortion drug's possible side effects, surgery might even be the less traumatic medical option.

But what choice do women have when doctors impose their religious and political views on women and refuse to perform a legal procedure? Or when a woman faced with that choice has to walk through a line of demonstrators that pose an emotional, and possibly physical threat?

I hope the availability of this pill gets the religious right and the politicians they have in their pocket out of the business of practicing medicine, and puts these decisions back where they belong.

W.O. Todd

I am writing because I am one of the women Rhonda Reeves interviewed on the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade [Inside Stories, January 21, 1998].

I had an abortion prior to Roe v. Wade and my story was part of your article.

Women have been terminating pregnancies since time began, and it's critical that we keep them safe and legal.

We should also do a better job of educating everyone about birth control, so that abortion becomes a last resort, not the result of ignorance or irresponsibility.

The campaign against the abortion drug is just another campaign against reproductive choice.

Whatever your political and religious beliefs, abortion is (for the moment) a legal procedure in this country. As such, women deserve access to it (medical or surgical), and the FDA's actions are just further evidence of this country's willingness to cave in to the whims of the religious right.

I looked up my copy of the Roe article, so I could mail you this quote from a woman named "Roxanne," whom you interviewed back then. I think she summed up how many of us felt: "Fecundity is not an adequate qualification for the responsibilities of parenthood. The true moral tragedy of our modern age is not the number of 'missing' children who are never born because of the availability of safe and legal abortions, but rather the number of 'lost' children who suffer - either through malice or indifference - at the hands of one or more parents who are unsuited for the responsibility."

"Nancy M."

The women interviewed for the Roe story in 1998 spoke with ACE on the condition of anonymity.

Next time: the non-uppity Bob Evans!

I just read the Fripperies of Fayette County or whatever [Fridges of Fayette County, Jun 8]. Climb down. I lived in Europe for a lot of years and ate in a lot of real Greek restaurants (and some Turkish ones down the alley that you didn't get into without an invite) and Applebee's, faulty and plastic as the places are, has got a hell of a lot more in common with a taverna than Helios. I've been there too. The stressed out, overly staged food we were served didn't have anything recognizably Mediterranean about it (Okay, I've not eaten on an Aegean shipping mogul's yacht) nor did the décor. Now I only studied design back in the 60s under graduates of the Bauhaus, so I may be a little rusty, but I'm pretty sure the décor when we were there would have gotten you in serious trouble in the Med.

But this isn't a rant about a disappointing dinner - I'd kill for a real Greek restaurant - but more about the author's condescending, uppity, pointlessly cute, we're so damn smart and we can afford these restaurants and you can't article. It wasn't edgy, it was wimpy (now there's a truly scary burger for you, at least the English ones) I'm gonna' go find a beer.

David Arnold, Ed.D

The opinions in this cranky letter are my own and have nothing to do with my employer or employment (which is not in restaurants.)

A New Home

Hi, I have lived in Richmond since 78 and love reading ACE, but until now I was only able to pick up a free copy when in Lexington and happen to be some place that had not run out. Currently I work at EKU and yesterday I was thrilled, I mean really thrilled! to see your news rack in my building. Thank you so much for adding Eastern KY Univ. to your list.

Virginia King

Only his analyst knows for sure

Apparently Rob Bricken intends for his "Screen Scene" to be cool, hip, witty, provocative, trenchant, or something similar. Unfortunately it comes across to me as cutesy, filled with cliches and in-jokes, uninformative, and in some cases so obscure that only his analyst might be able to tell whether the comments were favorable or unfavorable. I have nothing against unconventional movie reviews, but it might be nice if they were even slightly informative. Sorry, I normally love most of ACE, but the June 8th column just hit me wrong.

Lew Bowling

via email

What about Henry Klee?

While reading Mr. Webb's article about Paul Quenon in your June 8 issue (I'm a slow reader), I noticed his referring to " the German bauhaus painter, Paul Clay." I suspect Mr. Webb took his notes for the article from a tape (anyway I hope so), thus explaining the comical misspelling of Paul Klee's name. Also Bauhaus should be capitalized. Also, I think of Klee as a German Expressionist, as well as a Bauhaus teacher.

In order to be taken seriously as an Arts & Entertainment writer, Chris Webb needs to have a friend proofread his work.

Ebba Jo Sexton

Congratulations!! Klee's name was misspelled as a special homage to Lexington's now-defunct zine, "Free." Their frequent references to "Paul Clay" represented their least felonious foray into the art world. There are (at least) four more errors in that issue! If you find them, we'll send you a nice prize!! (Hint: we didn't count capitalization.)

Blax to the Future

I must pick the tiniest bone of contention with DeGrand's blaxploitation article [Jun 15]. Phil Collins actually brought a "soul/ motown" feel to the prog-rock he masterfully played in the 70s. If you needed a whitey reference, Karen Carpenter or the guy from Styx would have been a better choice.

Rob Hulsman

PS Scream Blackula, Scream! was my favorite movie from the period.

Southern Voices

Recently I read a profound essay in ACE by poet Wendell Berry [May 25, Life is a Miracle]. I wanted to pass this piece along to my son, but I lost my copy of that particular issue. I looked on your site for it, but can't seem to locate it.


Dennie Kirtley

A few Southern Voices essays have been inadvertently left off the ACE website, but will be archived soon. The May 25 essay is also available in Berry's new book, Life is a Miracle (June 2000, Counterpoint).

Letters Policy: Ace LOVES to publish our mail (250 words or less please); please include name and daytime phone. No photocopies. No bulk mail. First come, first served. We may edit for space and grammar; we will limit frequency; and, on popular issues, we may print one or two letters to represent a segment of public opinion. Private correspondence should be labeled “NOT FOR PUBLICATION.”

Mail: 263 N. Limestone, Lexington, Ky 40507


Fear & Loathing & Love

The word phobic has its place when properly used, but lately it's been declawed by the pompous insistence that most animosity is based upon fear rather than loathing. No credit is given for distinguishing between these two very different emotions. I fear snakes. I hate computers.

-David Sedaris

Them's mean streets when you're growing up a gay non-basketball fan with a lisp in North Carolina - a background that David Sedaris has mined into pure comedy acid in Me Talk Pretty One Day.

Sedaris, a regular contributor to "This American Life" on public radio, does some of his best work recounting his various nightmarish jobs (notably in "Santaland Diaries," included in 1997's Holidays on Ice), and this book is no exception.

For example, "Like branding steers or embalming the dead," he writes of one brief stint, "teaching was a profession I had never seriously considered. I was clearly unqualified, yet I accepted the job without hesitation."

He shows up on the first day of class, armed only with "name tags in the shape of maple leaves" cut from orange construction paper, and a box of straight pins. Beyond that, he has no real plan.

At a loss, he finally assigns "a brief essay related to the theme of profound disappointment."

Other choice assignments include instructing the students to write a letter to their mothers in prison. "They were free to determine both the crime, and the sentence, and references to cellmates were strongly encouraged."

After an unfortunate incident (one of the students already has a parent in prison), he soon organizes his class periods around Celebrity Corner ("an opportunity for students to share information [about] ... a rock band's impending breakup or movie star's dark sexual secret"); Feedbag Forum ("a shameless call for easy, one-pot dinner recipes...When asked what Boiled Beef Arkansas had to do with the craft of writing, I did not mention my recent purchase of a Crock-Pot"); followed by Pillow Talk ("an opportunity to discuss your private sex lives in a safe intellectual environment") soon replaced by airings of One Life to Live (an experiment which went so poorly after the students ratted him out, he was left to conclude "Obviously, certain people didn't deserve to watch TV in the middle of the afternoon.").

His adventures as a mover are also included, and his account of his career as a performance artist rivals anything he's ever written.

The book only takes an unfortunate turn about halfway through in "Deux" ("two"), which is mostly a chronicle of Sedaris's move to France.

It's not the relocation itself that's problematic (there are a few mildly amusing anecdotes about his struggle with the language, hence the title of the book), it's the motivation behind it, namely Sedaris has fallen in love: "I wound up in Normandy the same way my mother wound up in North Carolina: you meet a guy, relinquish a tiny bit of control, and the next thing you know, you're eating a different part of the pig."

And Sedaris in love is... well, Sedaris neutered.

It's hard to begrudge him domestic bliss - but reading about it isn't especially entertaining. This is a guy whose chief literary tool has always been venom, cut with equal parts misanthropy, bile, vitriol, and pure meanness.

After Hugh, he becomes almost tolerant at times.

Bring back the Sedaris who thought he'd spend the rest of his life alone: "Part of the problem was that, according to several reliable sources, I tended to exhaust people. Another part of the problem had to do with my long list of standards. Potential boyfriends could not smoke Merit cigarettes, own or wear a pair of cowboy boots, or eat anything labeled lite or heart smart. Speech was important, and disqualifying phrases included 'I can't find my nipple ring.' They couldn't drink more than I did, couldn't write poetry in notebooks and read it out loud to an audience of strangers, and couldn't use the words flick, freebie, cyberspace, progressive, or zeitgeist... Age, race, and weight were unimportant. In terms of mutual interests, I figured we could spend the rest of our lives discussing how much we hated the aforementioned characteristics."

Of course, Sedaris on his weakest day can still write circles around some of the hacks who regularly turn up in the likes of The New Yorker and Esquire (speaking of neutered). And the first half of the book alone is still savage comedy gold. (Holidays on Ice was only the size of a small coaster, after all.)

There are readers who will disagree of course (Danielle Steele readers, for example), but much as in real life, falling in love really isn't all that fascinating to anyone except the couple in question, and happiness doesn't offer much as a spectator sport.

Savvy writers will often take a little hiatus and wait for the fiery emotional holocaust that's sure to accompany the breakup.

Embittered readers can only hope.

ACE's book page resumes this week in the A&E section.