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Going Postal

Civic duty
Michael Wall's article in the Sept. 16 Creative Loafing, "Will Va-Hi's Summerfest Go Bye Bye", would have been far more appropriate on your editorial page.

Mr. Gross was never dismissed as chairperson of Summerfest. He only officially resigned from the Summerfest committee last week. We wish to thank him for his years of service.

Summerfest has long been the [Virginia-Highland Civic Association's] only fundraiser. While critically acclaimed (winning CL's Best Neighborhood Festival award in 1999) and a lot of fun, Summerfest is at its essence a fundraiser for our neighborhood, and the fact is that for the last few years there has been a trend toward a lower net profit as a percentage of the gross income. This year, for example, Summerfest raised $128,000 in revenues, but $85,000 was spent in organizing costs, netting the neighborhood $20,000 less than the year before. Many of our Board members have been concerned about the festival's bottom line.

Through changes we began to implement last winter and this summer, we hope to reverse the negative financial trend, better contain our costs, improve the quality of the festival, increase the attractiveness of the festival to sponsors, continue to minimize the impact of the festival on our neighborhood, and stay true to our goal of putting on the best neighborhood festival in Atlanta!

Again, we wish to thank Mr. Gross for his seven years of service to our neighborhood.

We are already lining up interested neighbors with experience with similar events to chair the festival and other critical committee functions next year. We are excited about the prospects for a terrific Summerfest 2001 and have a lot of work ahead of us. Planning for Summerfest 2001 is just getting started, and anyone interested in being a part of the organizing committee is invited to contact the Virginia-Highland Civic Association at 404-222-VAHI(8244).

-- Ben Barkley Vice-President,
Virginia-Highland Civic Association

Ruthie Penn-David President,
Virginia-Highland Civic Association

Gross resignation
I'd like to thank you for the story you wrote regarding the recent events surrounding the 2000 Virginia-Highland Summerfest ("Will Va-Hi's Summerfest Go Bye Bye," CL, Sept. 16). I think it's important that both sides of the story, of the events that led up to my resignation and the resignations of other committee members, be made public. The people who selflessly gave so much to make Summerfest such a success deserve nothing less.

I believe these conflicts could have been avoided, as in the past, if all parties had taken the time to talk with each other. And if the board of directors had decided that it no longer wanted my services, there were certainly other methods available for that to occur. Had the Board handled it differently, many of the committee members would not have resigned.

I have lived in this neighborhood for 22 years and remain committed to it.

I hope the civic association will be able to redevelop the sense of teamwork and commitment to Summerfest that I've been privileged to be a part of for the past 8 years. I wish them all the best success.

-- Aaron Gross, Atlanta

'Crush' on you:
As a licensed psychotherapist with a specialty in sexual paraphilia, I am writing to correct Jeff Berry who spouted off recently ("Barr Defends 'Crush' Videos," CL, Sept. 9) about "crush" videos, fetish films made for those who enjoy identifying with a small rodent which is crushed by a woman in sexually stimulating garb. Mr. Berry is dead wrong when he calls the audience for these films "mentally disturbed."

There are individuals who simply enjoy films of domination and submission. These audience members are sexually stimulated by scenes form these films just as others may be stimulated by scenes from a man and a woman having vaginal sex. Ironically, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book which book which mental health professionals use to diagnose pathologies, defines a fetish as "involving the use of nonliving object." So, you see, a man or woman who is sexually stimulated by a "crush" video is no more mentally disturbed than a man or woman who is stimulated by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in the movies Eyes Wide Shut. Fetishes are not mental illnesses but are crimes when they involve men or women having sex with individuals under the age of consent, or when they involve an individual masturbating in front of a non-consenting individual, and in other cases of someone harming another for sexual pleasure.

I'm afraid if Jeff Berry had his way, we would all be open to searches by the "sex police." Fetish films would be illegal. No, "Chuck and Buck." No magazines for men and women who crave female breasts. And the Chamber would have to close. As a citizen of a free society which tolerates sexual fetishes, I say let's get the government and Jeff Berry out of our bedrooms! We should all be free to "get off" to whatever stimuli we like as long as we don't harm another person. As far as caring about the small rodents such as mice and rats which are killed in these "crush" films, it's not great, but Mr. Berry's hardly defending these animals. He's attacking free speech and freedom of expression, and we should be outraged about that. (Thank you Bob Barr for defending our freedom to be sexually stimulated.)

-- Jack Franco Handmacher, Norcross

Whitewashing history
I remember when lily-white Buckhead still had some dirt roads. I also remember when racist whites forced blacks out of Johnsontown, a small community of shotgun houses owned by poor black people (1982). As long as I live, these vivid memories cannot be denied by the Klansmen up in Buckhead. Just another chapter in the Black Holocaust here in the racist United States of Amerika!

Buckhead's lily-white racists have short memories. I remember Mary Shotwell Little's disappearance at Lenox Square (1965). Since no innocent black men were available for a lynching, the case remains unsolved. No wonder, given the Atlanta Police record from Richard Jewell to Ray Lewis, they couldn't catch a cold in Nome, Ala.

Buckhead was dragged into the City of Atlanta for what purpose? As a roadblock to the political aspirations of a growing African-American community who were a threat to certain white people after World War II.

The Atlanta power structure (rich white people) had to protect its turf from these black men and their families. That meant incorporating Buckhead, East Atlanta, Kirkwood and other areas on the west side of Atlanta. That is why those racist beggars in Cobb County incorporated a city that stretches all along its border with Fulton County.

Buckhead and north Fulton County will always be linked to the African-American community on the Southside. And one day we'll see my children, or maybe grandchildren, and their comrades burst out and take Pershing Point like the Germans took Paris in 1940. God is on our side.

-- Thomas Anthony Jones, Stone Mountain

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