copyright Bill Widener 2000

God Fearin' Options

This email is in response to the column "There Should Be a Law Against This" in your March 1, 2001 paper. The person who wrote this needs get a life.

First, I think everybody's just a little tired of dumbass people like this writer who keep fighting for "non-religion based" schools. Get over it and move onto something else. As far as House Bill 26, I am for it. But, I only agree with this bill because it makes the class an ELECTIVE.

Apparently, the author needs to learn what an ELECTIVE class is. It is a class where the student CHOOSES to take to class. Note the word CHOOSES!

So, maybe if the writer would read what he wrote, he would notice that he could send his bratty kids to school and he wouldn't have to worry about the class being a requirement for them...unless, of course his brats CHOSE to take the class. I think your columnist needs a dictionary so he won't confuse the word 'ELECTIVE' with 'REQUIREMENT' anymore.

Paula Donnielle

OK Computer

In Rob Bricken's review of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (ACE/vol.13,#9) the initial paragragh ends with this phrase:"...and proceeds to unleash upon the world a brilliant, self-examining novels published." Clearly a typo/printing error but since the statement could be reconstructed various ways-especially depending on much was ellipsed-could you print the intended wording?

Nell Clipper

In the tradition of all great authors, I blame the computer for the mistake and deny all responsibility, and am closing my eyes, sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loudly to myself. The sentence actually goes as follows: "...and proceeds to unleash upon the world a brilliant, chaotic self-examination that's more wicked, more canny and loads more fun than virtually all novels published in recent memory." -RB

More Controversy Please

Hmm -

It's not that Jeff Zurcher can't's just that, if he is the best that you could find after holding off on carrying a sports column until you could have the very best, I don't know why it is you bothered. The only thing that he has written that I could read all the way through without being bored to death was his personal recollection of the transitional period between UK football coaches Curry and Mumme. Otherwise, it seems that he is doing little more than trying to pad his portfolio - so determined does he seem not to write anything that might be the least bit controversial. You just expect something more from the "alternative" media -people that actually have something to say beyond the bland and predictable. Is this asking too much?

His column on Dale Ernhardt is a perfect example of Zurcher trying to have it both ways. He wants to make sure right off the bat that no NASCAR fans are going to have any reason to threaten HIM; and then he gives us that same tired old lecture about all the other poor people who were killed in automobiles that day.

C'mon, aren't we done having this conversation yet? Someone explain the nature of celebrity and fandom to Jeff before he embarrasses himself again.

Nah, let's not explain it. Let me just ask him this: What did you personally feel the worst about, Jeff, the fact that your college football coach was dismissed or that over fifteen thousand people in India were killed by an earthquake? And what does that, using your own standards, have to say about you? C'mon, fess up....then please spare us your deep insights on our collective lack of perspective.

Jeff Deaton

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Having our Cake,and Eating it Too

As I write this, I'm sitting here - in the wake of Mardi Gras - fantasizing about the trip the staff and I will be taking to New Orleans this summer.

New Orleans has many attractions: the music, the water, the architecture, and a vibrant underground culture of seedy, illicit, and/or illegal acts (about which I know nothing).

But when I think of the Crescent City, I can only think of the food. To the exclusion of all else.

For most of my childhood, we had family there, and visited several times a year - and we always returned with the back of the ole wood-paneled Ford Country Squire sagging and groaning under the weight of all those coolers full of food. You'd have thought we were never going to have another meal as long as we lived.

Every time somebody comes in my office, I'm rhapsodizing aloud about something else I've remembered that we have to eat while we're there: the oyster po'boys at Mother's... the (obvious, but delicious) muffeletta at the Central Grocery... the mandatory beignets at Café du Monde... the potatoes Lyonnaise at Cuvée. I fall asleep at night with visions of tomato remoulade and crawfish and softshell crab dancing in my head.

I bring this up at such length to illustrate the envy I feel for people who live in a city that's virtually defined by its cuisine.

Of course, I wouldn't want to live in Memphis for the ribs, or Philadelphia for its disgusting cheese steak - but for me, it's impossible to think of a city like New Orleans without thinking of the incredibly culinary culture that exists there.

And it makes me wish we could all do more to foster that kind of culture here - a culture where fine chefs are celebrated for their vision and artistry, a culture that rewards (and does not punish) innovation and imagination.

I thought about that a great deal as I accompanied Eloise Campbell on an eating tour of the Bluegrass for this week's cover story. There was no compelling editorial reason for me to go along - I just like to eat, and I love to talk about food with people who care about it - which is why I never miss an opportunity to meet the chefs who are the stars of the local food scene.

I admire them, and I think they have a very difficult job.

Because this is a college town where chains are the rule, not the exception. Where the hegemony has dictated a surfeit of riblets and chicken wings and tater skins to the point that our city's collective tastebuds have been numbed into complacency - where we rarely miss an opportunity to champion mediocrity.

There are exceptions, and they are truly remarkable - but they are too few and far between, and many times, they don't last. (Who remembers The Bistro? Acajou? or hell, even Amato's - back when it was on Jefferson?)

We are blessed with some truly inventive chefs in this town, but I worry about them.

I worry that their adventuresome spirits will be quelled or crushed by batter-obsessed diners. I worry that their art will be confined by conservative or panicky restaurant owners who'll cave in to the hegemony as their faithful clientele keeps clamoring "but we liked the OLD way BETTER."

I've watched some tremendous culinary talent come and go in this town.

Everybody likes the IDEA of a big name chef that everyone will buzz about for a few weeks, but too few proprietors have the nerves of steel it takes to allow that chef the room to try (and to occasionally fail) and to grow and develop a real following.

Those who do have what it takes deserve to be encouraged and supported.

It's easy to understand how the blue-haired crowd - mired in their traditions and understandably set in their Hot Brown ways - might not appreciate a complete menu change. But the thing is.... they'll be dead soon anyway.

And the rest of us still have tastebuds that are young and alive and yearning for something memorable. If you build it, we will come. (And we tip a lot better than most senior citizens.) -RR