News & Views » Going Postal

Down under

I'm not sure Councilman H. Lamar Willis' open-container legislation is the answer to Underground Atlanta's problems, but a revitalization of the site is sorely needed (News & Views, "Underground rebound?" May 14). As a downtown worker, I often lament the fact that Underground doesn't have what its physical space is naturally built for: restaurants, bars, music and a quality movie theater. These types of entertainment-focused businesses, coupled with the cleanup of MARTA, could anchor the "progress" that organizations such as Central Atlanta Progress are looking for in the downtown. It remains to be seen, however, whether this will happen.

-- Erik Berkule, Decatur

Creative solutions needed
I would like to see Underground Atlanta become a fun place again, like it was in the early to mid-'70s (News & Views, "Underground rebound?" May 14). However, it is going to take more than permitting patrons to walk around with drinks to help get that place breathing again.

The people who try and revive Underground continue to do the same tried-and-failed type venues. Someone said that casinos might be the way to go. Why not? Every type of bar, hat shop and candy store known to mankind has gone in there and failed.

Invite the folks who know the business and let them bid on Underground and let them make it profitable. I know the next question. What would happen to the lottery? The lottery would have to compete. Maybe the lottery would have to change the odds on the scratch-off tickets so people who want to spend their money on the scratch-offs might win something besides another ticket.

Treating Underground like a lame horse hoping it can win one more time is not going work. Get creative. If not a casino, what then? Not another dismal bar scene, hat shops and candy stores.

-- Dennis K. Dunn, Atlanta

Follow the leader
Ken Edelstein: You said it yourself in the second sentence of your article (Rant, "A principled vision for progress," May 7). Like James Oglethorpe, what we need is radical Christian beliefs. We need to be followers of Jesus Christ. We need to be led by Jesus Christ himself. Where do you stand?

-- Wheat Williams, Atlanta

Crystal clear
(In response to Rant, "A principled vision for progress," May 7): As I see it, here's the main problem: Since the time of the Reagan administration, the GOP has had a very clear idea of exactly what they want. They practically carry around a laundry list of their plans and goals. Remember the Contract with (on) America? They've whittled down most of their hopes and goals into an extremely concrete set of objectives, and outlets such as talk radio and Fox News pipe those objectives repeatedly out to the masses.

In the South, Republicans have played shamelessly to regional prejudices and concerns, carefully masking their true intent with a nod and a wink and a few carefully chosen "code words." Voters in the South understand that their own list of goals and objectives are mirrored very nicely in the Republicans' code, and will be supported by that GOP laundry list. They also see the Republicans as unified and strong.

Their message is easy to understand, and it feels good to them to support it. As a result, we see a South that was always conservative becoming overwhelmingly Republican as well.

Too often, Republicans have portrayed themselves as "going somewhere," while Democrats have merely allowed themselves to be perceived as "standing in the way of the decisive and active GOP."

Democrats therefore must formulate and articulate a clear, concise and unified message to voters. A message of strength and unity and purpose. They must change their image to one of dynamic action and decisiveness, along clear and concrete lines.

Efforts in this direction in the recent past have not been successful. If the Democrats are to return to at least a state of parity with the GOP in the South, they must find a coherent, comprehensive and comprehensible set of goals and objectives that state clearly what they are for and what they are against, and they must communicate this to the voters.

If they can do this, they have a chance. If not, I fear they are lost.

-- Van Plexico, Lawrenceville

Dangerous situation
Ken Edelstein: It is heartening and bracing to read your ideas about Georgia, its history and its modern failings (Rant, "A principled vision for progress," May 7). I agree with you wholeheartedly and will help in any way I can. I live in Chattanooga, but I am a native of Cedartown, where I was raised by people of liberal intent and never knew the narrowness of most of the South while growing up.

I think our country is in a dangerous predicament with the administration that we have in Washington, and most of the Southern states kowtowing and supporting un-Christian views and unbelievable behavior.

-- Mildred Perry Miller, Chattanooga, Tenn.

Squeaky clean
I thank God every week for John Sugg and everyone at Creative Loafing.

It's interesting how conservative columnists insist that Bush won the election because he is "plain spoken" or people can relate to him (Rant, "A principled vision for progress," May 7). Yet any non-prepared remarks he makes are unintelligible, and he has lived a privileged yet morally and ethically challenged life. He won because Gore appeared pompous in debates and Bush's team managed to conceal the fact that he is ultra-conservative.

The one thing almost everyone agrees on is that Clinton would have slaughtered Bush. Why? Because, with all his cheese, Clinton spoke in a way that pleased both regular folk and the media. Gore would say, "I'll answer that question, but first let me talk about ... ." Clinton would say, "No. And let me tell you why."

Not that we need more Clintons. We need real progressive individuals to take a page from the Clinton book and learn how to communicate ideas that are traditionally labeled as liberal or radical. How radical is protecting the environment? It actually is the very definition of conservative.

Regardless of political beliefs, people will respect and vote for candidates that stand for something. Unfortunately for liberals, there is a double standard when it comes to character issues. Republicans have no qualms about attacking people on a personal level and digging up all the dirt they can. So liberals have to be squeaky clean to make it where conservative candidates can be elected with a history of cocaine abuse and military desertion.

-- Roger Walker, Atlanta

Not hellacious at all
Although we are thrilled to see a hellbender on the cover of Creative Loafing, and our salamander surveys in the accompanying article, we feel that the intent and tone of the trip were mischaracterized ("To hellbender and back," May 7). We were not looking for hellbenders; the intent of our surveys was not to locate something endangered, and the hellbender description was a bit overstated.

The surveys that Mr. Wall witnessed and described took place in cove hardwood stands and small streams and were intended to assess overall salamander diversity and abundance. Hellbenders live in much larger streams and require different survey methods. Since many of the large streams they prefer may be found on private lands, they are more threatened by the rampant development sweeping across North Georgia than by Forest Service activities.

The article's focus on the hellbender, while exciting, was unfortunate. These coves are a treasure-trove of interesting and important salamander species. Whenever an argument for protecting important habitat is reduced to a single, charismatic species, the real complexities of the situation are lost.

As for the hellbender descriptions -- the HELL part may have gotten a bit out of hand. These are docile creatures that DON'T eat kittens or maim fishermen. They hang around in streams more in the manner of aquatic golden retrievers than B-movie killers.

-- Matt Elliott and Stacy Smith, Athens

Keeping a lid on
You ask: "Do you think Bush will let me print a newspaper when they send the journalists to the camps at Guantanamo?" (Fishwrapper, "Big media doesn't want you to know," May 7).

I doubt it. You speak too much of the hidden truth. Bush, and those who share his views, would more likely attempt to stifle your career and life in an effort to craft your doom. I'm sure you are already aware of this though, as I can feel you smiling that cynical smile of understanding.

-- James Manning, Atlanta

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