Indy should criticize Wal-Mart, not Keith-Foust

Please tell me the Independent hasn’t completely bought in to the rhetoric of urban development which conveniently forgets that such “progress” is often built on the backs of under-resourced communities.

Matt Saldaña missed a great opportunity to highlight this issue with regard to the proposed development of Kentington Heights (“Durham neighborhood may sell to Wal-Mart at Southpoint for $20.5M,” April 1). This is a community that, in the shadow of the massive Southpoint area developments, struggled to gain basic city services but was given scant attention until its land caught the eye of Wal-Mart developers.

Instead, Saldaña chose to focus on the (often-irrelevent) business and political activities of one Kentington Heights landowner. Why was his microscope not trained instead on the devastation that the opening of a Wal-Mart store almost inevitably spells for small businesses, local ecologies and its own employees? In his story, these realities are entirely unexamined, and WRS Realty and its corporate partners are portrayed as accommodating, benevolent and even generous. From this big-business-friendly perspective, the desire of neighborhood property owners to protect their rightful interests is criticized as “political agitation” motivated by personal greed.

How can this be? Regarding an issue between local landowners on one hand and the developers of Wal-Mart (one of the most exploitative, profit-driven corporations in history) on the other hand, how can anyone argue that the citizens are the greedy speculators?

WRS Realty put on the same “good-guy” routine to secure the Wal-Mart anchoring Glenn View Station development in my own neighborhood, so I’m not surprised to see them try it again. But I am surprised, and disappointed, to see the local independent media line up beside them. Say it ain’t so.

Michael Clark

Real solutions to gun control

Hal Crowther’s latest scream into the cosmos about the availability of guns in the U.S.A. and south of the border made his strong passion for the subject very clear (“The real border crisis,” cover story, April 15). I surmise that only pure, raw rage could inspire one to suggest that cowardly congressmen (aren’t they all, isn’t this normal?) should come “face-to-barrel” with the results of their (in)actions. Not wishing to be judgmental, but it does seem somewhat undemocratic to imply that death is the appropriate remedy for those who we disagree with on a particular political topic.

What readers may also wish to understand is that same passion from others who see the gun issue exactly opposite from Crowther. Seen it, been there, done that, got the autographed book to prove it: John Ross, Unintended Consequences (1996).

But let us seek common ground by starting phenomenologically. We might all agree that gun control in America has failed to control crime, reduce violence, reduce killing sprees, reduce firearms accidents or do anything that we might all consider socially progressive and positive. And given Mexico’s more restrictive gun laws coincident with its current carnage, it appears that Latino gun control has failed as well. Crowther and others want to see us redouble this approach. In other words, if some is not working, then we need more, much more. More snake oil for what ails usdouble, triple or quadruple the dose.

I’m angry, too, but I’m not buying it. Wishing that more gun control laws could help us or Mexico is an act of anger, desperation and childishness. It certainly distracts us from seeking real solutions to real problems.

John B. Posthill
Chapel Hill

Review was short on reviewing

I generally admire Byron Woods’ critical writing about performance arts, but I have to say that his review of the play 1960 (“The Raleigh project,” April 15) was one of the strangest pieces I’ve ever read.

About half the review discussed the actual history of school desegregation in Raleigh, and the other half discussed Woods’ perceptions of the shortcomings in the playwright’s text. At no point did Woods mention that there were human performers on stage, nor did he mention any performer’s name, nor did the review even contain the word “actor.” This is bizarre.

As far as I know, theater is still a medium that involves actual human beings doing something in front of an audiencewhich implies that a “theater” review will also contain an appraisal of what those human beings did and how well they did it. In the case of community theater, those human beings are often performers who have day jobs but have given over a considerable amount of their private time to bring to life the project at hand. In the midst of all his explications of history and script construction, surely it must have been possible for Woods to actually include the performances themselves in this review, and to say something like “actors A and B are to be commended (or not) for struggling heroically (or not) within the limits of the playwright’s material, and I look forward (or don’t) to future work by these individuals.”

I hope this review doesn’t mean that we should expect future reviews from Woods about musical performances without mentioning musicians, ballet without mentioning dancers, and team sports without mentioning players. Something is missing from these picturesas should have been obvious to both Woods and the editor.

Marc Brandeis