copyright Bill Widener 2000

Can't get there from here

THANK YOU for making the distinction between "sprawl" and "growth" in your Horse's Mouth article [editorial, October 12]. It's about TIME.

Lexington is not growing, in spite of the way things look. It is sprawling, and worse yet, our city's leaders do not seem to understand the difference.

I am one of those many Ace readers who voted for a "real airport" in your What Lexington Needs polls.

I voted for it for many of the reasons your article mentions.

"Horse capitol of the world" my aunt fanny! This will never be a destination city to anyone, without an airline.

We can "sprawl" all the way from here to Danville, as you pointed out, but what real industry, high tech, or otherwise wants to locate to a city their employees and managers can't get in and out of on a reliable, efficient, convenient basis? The electronic age may have cut down on the necessity of daily travel but access is critical and no industry functions in isolation.

Nord Jackson

People who advocate sustained economic growth without qualifiers and pine for a place like Lexington to become "a real city" need to ask themselves a few basic questions [Horse's Mouth, October 12]: I basing my idea of a "real city" on examples of cities in industrial North America? "real airports" remind me of "garden spots" or sprawling urban grids full of resource consumption, noise pollution, traffic jams and dirty air? 3.are the flourescent-lit retail jobs we'd gain from a big airport worth the land and peace we'd pay these multinational corporations for them? 4.should I be basing decisions on the future of my town on justifications like "because we're lazy"?

Maybe growth is inevitable if we're lazy, but what makes it good or bad for a community is what direction we choose to grow in. San Francisco's art scene is dying because the dot-commies took over, squeezing out poor artists from their studio apartments with an increased cost of living that has retail store and restaraunt owners scrambling to find a high schooler who will work for $10/hr. My hometown in the North Carolina Triangle area isn't faring much better. The woods I grew up playing in have given way to slipshod prefab home "communities." Upon my last visit there, my cousin's relocated-from-New Jersey developer husband told me that "someday this whole area will be like Atlanta".

Have you ever been to Atlanta? Is that what we want, folks?

Perrin de Jong

via email

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: 486 West Second St , Lexington, Ky 40507


Coulda Been

We should've included a disclaimer with last week's review of The Contender, prominently identifying it as a comedy.

We didn't mislead anyone. We didn't say it was GOOD. We just didn't disclose the whole truth.

It turns out, it's a comedy masquerading as a political... thriller? Drama? Something other than a comedy, which is what it really is.

"Farce" might be a better term.

Of course, no one ever accuses Hollywood of accuracy. No one watches Die Hard movies to evaluate whether or not they might like to pursue a career in law enforcement. No one is checking out the new Robert Altman movie to get the inside story (so to speak) on life as a gynecologist. One would hope.

So there's no real point in trying to apply any highfalutin' political theory to The Contender, except that this movie is so absurd, so pompous, so self-important, so full of its own righteousness that you'd almost think it was penned by... well, the right wing lunatic fringe - as opposed to the liberals who really wrote it, presumably with the idea of making liberals look good.

They fail. Spectacularly.

And darn it all, Al Gore isn't even grateful for their attempt, he's so frightened of appearing to be aligned with Hollywood's den of iniquity. (In this week's debate, Gore said he'd sic the Federal Trade Commission on the entertainment industry if Hollywood continues to go "behind the backs of parents" and market violent and sexually explicit "garbage" to kids.)

There is some sex in The Contender, most of it on grainy tape, allegedly depicting the collegiate sexual antics of Sen. Laine Hanson (Joan Allen), who plays the president's (Jeff Bridges') pick for vice presidential nominee. She seemed like a fine middle-of-the-road choice, until these supposed college hijinks surface (described in our review last week as "frisky, Hustler-style frisky...")

Of course, that ISN'T why the conservatives don't want her - it's just the noose they plan to use for her lynching. They just like another guy better (the guy from To Live and Die in L.A., William Peterson).

All this alleged friskiness is just what they think will play well with the voters.

The film tries valiantly to make some good points: that women still have a rougher political road than men do; that progressive candidates who seek change and the good of the country don't stand a chance; that we've gone so far in invading candidates' (or nominees') lives that qualified people are steering clear of public service; and that extremist right wingers are rabid, frothing, sexually-frustrated baldies with bad hair plugs who only want to ruin everyone else's good time.

OK. Sounds good so far.

But it's actually in the movie's attempt to venerate the progressive that they torch themselves on the pyre of complete ludicrousness.

The things that would REALLY sink this nominee in real life are virtually ignored. For example, uh... the fact that she's a woman. (Sure, there have been other female vice presidents, like say, Glenn Close in Air Force One... but there again, just a movie.)

Lip service is given to a few desultory questions about her childbearing proclivities, but they are mostly shrugged aside and dispensed with.

Turns out, she also doesn't believe in God. She's quoted as describing the Bible as a "fairy tale." And she got elected? As a Senator? In OHIO? Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

(Has anybody noticed the Bubbas who lined up to protest Lieberman's candidacy as vice president based on their carefully articulated position that "them Jews killed Jesus.")

She defends her nomination in carefully articulated policy papers - advancing the idea that she should be considered on the merits of her knowledge and experience. Clearly, the screenwriter didn't know then that Gore would be excoriated, on three major networks, for appearing to be a "know-it-all" in the second presidential debate. Voters don't like know-it-alls, Miss Smarty Pants. Stupidity is a virtue, and it's to be embraced.

The film's also embarrassingly naive when it does play the gender issue. Hanson repeatedly asserts that a man wouldn't have to answer for this kind of past. Well, the behavior in question is (as it's described in the film), "a good old-fashioned gang bang." And while it's true that a male nominee might not be questioned about a multiplicity of partners, simultaneous multiple partners? You betcha. (Clinton was, arguably, impeached for less.) Voter prurience knows no bounds.

Worst of all, the film takes for granted issues of access to power in a year when Nader can't even get into the debates with a ticket.

The Contender is not a good movie, though it is moderately entertaining. What it really is, is a little bit sad. Sad that nobody even notices that a movie where a female, vegetarian, pro-choice, atheist in pants is confirmed as vice president of the United States still qualifies as complete and utter fantasy in this country.