Letters to the Editor


Brusque buskers

Headline of Article: ‘“Calling all street performers’”, March 29, 2006

There is a line in this article, ‘“Every city worth its salt has got these deadbeats taking up the nooks and crannies of their pedestrian byways. Why not us?’” I find this very offensive.

I am a busker, a street entertainer that works for tips. I go out and set up and entertain passersby every day. I pay my bills, and even when I was in the hospital for a four-way bypass operation and could not work for six weeks, I never missed a payment on my car or my rent or anything else.

I make my living in a unique way, not the 9-to-5 existence of most of you, where you can screw up and not worry, if I have a bad show I don’t get paid, I get insulted by my audience when they walk away. If my show is up to its usual standard, I get tipped by my audience.

Sorry we are not ‘“deadbeats;’” we are entertainers and I demand an apology from this uninformed writer.

Peter Lansing


Deadbeats? No wonder you don’t have any street performers there. People who perform want respect, not yuppie bullsh*t. I’m a street performer who makes a living on the street and makes a rather nice living at it. I live in a three-bedroom house thank you very much, and have never collected welfare or any other kind of public assistance in my life. I’m a former software developer of medical software to assist in organ transplants, and I love my work as a performer much more than I did coding software for a ‘“real’” boss who was as dimwitted as the boss in Dilbert.

So pardon me if I tell my performer friends to avoid Greensboro as they trek across the country this summer.

David Kaye

San Francisco

While I appreciate this writer’s ‘“support’” for the arts, I strongly object to his characterization of street performers as ‘“deadbeats’”. Is the 35 years of four hours plus a day of practicing music that makes me a deadbeat, or the many and countless jobs I’ve held to support myself while working this second, and sometimes third, job while this writer sat on his butt? Deadbeats are drunks or junkies panhandling spare change, like I must compete with on the streets of Seattle. I’m hoping that bums from all over the country hear about your clement weather and madding crowds and make it their personal mission to infest your city. In fact, I am re-printing this article and handing it out on the street to every panhandler I see.

William Cruz


Ed. note: Tell them they need to get a license for that here.

We have your tree, DG

Good news. While it is true and tragic that the new owners of 302 Country Club Road did indeed cut down what was then the only Mattamuskeet apple tree west of Lake Mattamuskeet, all is not lost [‘“DG is losing a tree and a tradition’”; April 5, 2006; by DG Martin]. Anticipating my move, last year I asked Lee Calhoun, author of the book Old Southern Apples, to take a cutting from the tree. He did so, grafted it onto a new rootstock, and in December it was planted outside my window at Galloway Ridge.

I checked yesterday, and the buds are beginning push out from the slender stalk. So I have incentive to watch my weeping Mattamuskeet apple tree (weeping over the loss of its mother) grow, flower and bear delicious apples. And, like the fellow in one of O. Henry’s short stories, I expect to live until the new trunk dies of old age and its last leaf drops.

Incidentally, 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of Memory Mitchell’s and my association with the Department of Archives and History (it will always be a ‘“department’” to us).

HG Jones


Ray Burnett benefit

Sunday, April ninth dawned slowly as I was making my way back from La Grange, GA, seven hours away from my destination. Crisp, starlit skies faded into sunrise, then to a perfect sunshine-filled spring morning as the miles rolled by. I finally arrived in High Point to pitch in with the first of three shows scheduled to assist Ray Burnett, a fellow musician with medical and financial problems most of us would rather believe only happen to someone else. As I pulled into my destination, the Red Lion, I was greeted by a small group of smiling people, standing by the warmth of a cooker on wheels and I inhaled the savory aroma of smoking hickory chips, hot coffee and fresh doughnuts… after all the planning and hard work, it was really ‘—finally ‘— ON!

The bands, ten in all through midnight, began to rock the house around two in the afternoon. I began to see the effects of our work with the Triad’s newest magazine, YES! Weekly, as the afternoon moved into the early evening with an ever increasing crowd (the word really did get out!), jamming the house to the sounds of such notables as Logie Meacham, Kings and Peaches, Matt Hill and Shiela Klinefelter, to name but a few, their outstanding efforts also donated to the benefit. Ray’s own band, Sophisticated Blues, added even more ultra-refined spice to the entertainment mix; meanwhile, Red Lion owners Gary and Cheree (Mamma) Redd were going the extra mile by providing a host of services too numerous to mention here. Suffice to say that their collective efforts and attitudes made the day.

At the end of the evening, we took a load off our feet as we listened to the sensationally raucous, high-spirited sounds of the Mother Tucker Bluegrass Band. I found myself tired but elated. I was proud to have had the opportunity of witnessing and participating in a truly collaborative, worthwhile and fun effort. We pulled it off! Yeah, we made some money for Ray, and in the making, had one of the most memorable events of the year right here in the Triad. For those who were unable to attend, well, look at the bright side… you’ll have two more chances to jump into one of the most fun things you could possibly do on a lazy Sunday afternoon!

On the horizon are two more family-oriented fund-raisers on Ray’s behalf; the next to take place at Greensboro’s bastion of rock, the Blind Tiger, on Sunday, April 23rd and the final show with a special silent auction on Sunday, May 21 at the Club House, Greensboro’s home of alternative rock. Both of these most excellent and accommodating venues will host these events from 2 p.m. through midnight with all the attendant sensory input (read that tasty food, beverages, items of every conceivable sort, sights and sounds) you could possibly imagine. There’ll be 10 bands per show, each with an amazing degree of diversity, energy and showmanship; some of the best the Piedmont has to offer!

In closing, there are many I need to thank; the performers, those on the RBBSC and their families, our friends who volunteered and, most importantly and emphatically, those individuals and families who decided to give their Sunday afternoon and evening to Ray in helping make this inaugural benefit a success. I feel it appropriate as well to acknowledge publicly that without YES! Weekly’s help in broadcasting these events to their readership, our efforts would have been far less meaningful. OOH RAH! Thank You, Triad-area people, for all your help!

Charlie Atwell


The writer is writing on behalf of the Ray Burnett Benefit Steering Committee.

Sausage is in the family!


I just read the article you wrote on Neese Sausage [‘“The ancient art of sausage making’”; April 5; by Brian Clarey] and wanted to take a minute to thank you for it. I appreciate the historical backdrop (interesting!) and the bright photo of the Neeses ‘— both great ways to invite people to read about something even if they don’t eat it.

The story is significant to me because Neese has been a long-time piece of my family’s own story. My grandfather, Audrey Coble, was a farmer on his father’s land for years ‘— until he reached his fifties. He then left the farm when his father died, and went to ‘“public work,’” as he called it, for the next thirty-plus years. He was driver for Neese’s ‘— he woke every week day at 1 a.m. to drive a load of product to Goldsboro to be delivered by 3 a.m., then back to the plant on Alamance Church Road at 6 or 7 a.m. He did this until he retired at 83 years old. He didn’t want to retire, but the time came, and the Neeses held a big party to honor him. Andrea, though she is not a blood relative, always called him ‘“Dad.’”’ A couple of years after he retired, my brother went to work for Neese’s and took over the same route, which he continues to drive.

My grandmother, Dessie Coble, went to work for Neese’s in the office around the same time my grandfather did. She was’ a strong part of their public outreach ‘— doing cooking demonstrations for years in home economics classes around Greensboro. Last year, at 87 years old, she appeared in a commercial for Neeses.

My family is close (these are my maternal grandparents), and with the help of Thomas Rowan at the Sound Lab recording studio, I produced an audio documentary of their lives together. In their youth, my grandparents were two of the most attractive people you have ever seen. And although she won’t give up any secrets, Grandma was apparently quite the hellion back in the day.

All of this ‘— the article and the audio interview ‘— is very timely, because this past’ Dec. 26, my grandfather died of liver cancer. My gradmother misses him terribly, and when I showed her the article she was incredibly pleased.

So thank you very much for an article that is special to my whole family. I think we cleaned out a rack or two in downtown for keepsakes!


Sarah Troxler


YES!, yes; Coulter, no

Dear Brian,

YES! Weekly is a fine publication with many excellent journalistic qualities. Your decision to carry Ann Coulter’s column, unfortunately, is not one of them; in fact, it is by a wide margin the worst aspect of my weekly foray into your rag. She does not provide balance to anyone on the left, least of all Ogi Overman, whose liberalism is thoughtful and self-effacing; so if you feel you have to put her in the paper to avoid accusations of liberal bias, you are swatting a gnat by dropping a refrigerator on it ‘— a foul, post-Katrina refrigerator full of rotting food.

Consider her opening sentence from this week (Vol. 2, No. 15): ‘“If only liberals were half as angry at the people who flew planes into our skyscrapers as they are with Tom DeLay, we might have two patriotic parties in this country.’” Leaving aside the damage in perpetuity that DeLay’s slimy politics will wreak on our entire nation, such language is nothing more than intentionally inflammatory libel. Okay, I’ve heard your rationalizations ‘— that she’s playing a role, she figured out a slick gig, it’s really entertainment ‘— but those are lame, if you’ll pardon my opining. Coulter is a harpy and a virago, and the beauty that sucks you in is egg-shell deep.

As a businessman, I have to decide where to spend scarce advertising dollars. I don’t want my business associated in any way with the vile and deleterious words she spews. I know Charles Womack has to consider a large market when he selects what he spends syndication money on, so I have this question for him: What is the type of person you are trying to attract with this venomous column, and how many of them do you think there are in the Triad market?

You have many fine writers on your staff who try to look at a larger picture. Throwing Ann Coulter into the mix pollutes the otherwise genial ‘— yet hard-hitting when necessary ‘— atmosphere of the paper. You have the recipe for a delicious cake, yet you insist on adding raw chitlins to the batter. Give us thoughtful types a break.

I would like to add that YES! Weekly has been very good to Mack and Mack, including carrying a press release of ours in the same issue where Ann got my juices stewing. Please accept our gratitude for such coverage, especially the big story you did on us in the early days of your paper. We understand that you must walk a careful line in operating as a business, perhaps more so than anyone but the minister of a large church.

Nonetheless, I still say that the Coulter column is a big zit on YES! Weekly’s complexion.

Yours very truly,

John Davis


Ed. note: The author is an owner of Mack and Mack clothing designers in Greensboro.

No trees left to hug!

Hi Ogi,

I do not know if you remember me or not. I knew you and crazy Robert years ago when you both ran a local newspaper. I have followed your articles in YES! Weekly about the rezoning and really can appreciate how you feel. The same thing happened my neighborhood (Natchez Trace and the Willoughby End hummer condos that they erected behind us) when they rezoned all the woods from single family to multi family and then proceeded to build these hummer condos in our back yard. And the number of old hardwoods being destroyed to build these monsters was unreal. And the attorney at the time was Henry ( I can get it rezoned, don’t worry) Isaccson. Now his son is doing the same thing to you. Be warned: the city council will not listen to the local planning boards or zoning commissions. They will overturn their rulings and you will lose. It happened to us and to many others.

Be sure to read the News & Record on Tuesday regarding the rezoning of your neighborhood. I am glad to know, by the comments made by Isaacson, that the spirit of Marie Antoinette is alive and well in Greensboro. Marc has a lovely home off Princess Ann Drive and when I drove by there today, I did not see any banks or drugstores in his back yard, side yard, or any yard. He can proclaim how wonderful all this rezoning is and how the people of this city really support it, but he lives mightily secluded from those wonderful buildings. Funny how those who tout the joys of rezoning never have to deal with the actual day-to-day fallout from such travesties. I have heard the sounds of trees being ripped up, Caterpillars backing up with the incessant beeping and all the associated noise from this rezoning for over six years and it is not even close to being finished. During the rezoning meeting with the city council, our mayor, whom I know and like, made the following comment about the then-proposed condos: ‘“I would not mind them in my back yard.’” I bet you dollars to donuts he had not lived through six years of constant noise and pollution and other fun things that my neighbors and I have.

I wish you luck but don’t hold your breath. But at least Robbie Perkins is not a council member and that works in your favor. Heck, the only member to vote against the rezoning in my back yard was Don Vaughn and he is no longer on the council.

And I am truly sorry for the situation with your wife. That just adds insult to injury.


Kent Tager


Yeah from Mackay

Dear Charles,

Thanks for the coverage of our beer tasting at the Loft at Natty Greene’s!’  YES! Weekly was listed as one of our sponsors!’ Thanks to the event, SunTrust, who sponsored, learned more about the MacKay Foundation for Cancer Research and have decided to sponsor our golf tournament in June! Todd loved the photo wearing my huge sunglasses from the ’80s!’ 

Thanks for all your support and encouragement!’ 

Barbara MacKay Vinson

The writer is the president of the Mackay Foundation for Cancer Research.

Article comments from

Headline of Article: ‘“The strange history of the Black Panthers in the Triad’”; April 12, 2006; by Jordan Green

It was frustrating to see your lead article on the Black Panther Party and find that it had no date. Then I went to your home page and there was no date there either. Finally I checked out your blogs and found out that it was a fairly recent issue.

Over 40 years ago, as a young radical in Berkeley, Calif. I got some advice from an old-timer ‘— years younger than I am now. He stressed the importance of not only putting the day and month on a leaflet, but also the year. Five, ten, fifteen and more years later, you may want to know not only what happened but when and in what relationship. That’s the situation that I am in now as I try to recreate what happened during those times.

Unfortunately, there is neither the day of the week, the day of the month, the month, nor the year on your front page.

Back to the BPP article, which is excellent. I hope that it gets wide distribution, for it provides a model of what local journalists and historians can do to recapture our history. Perhaps it and similar articles will stimulate a movement to open up the blacked out and still hidden files about the role of the FBI and other government agencies in the repression and diversion of the social movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I played an accidental role in bringing BPP founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale together. It was my idea to hold a rally at the Merritt campus of the Oakland Community College to build support for the coming weekend demonstration concerning the Cuban missile crisis. According to Bobby Seale, the two met as participants in an informal street gathering after the departure of our group from the UC Berkeley campus.

Brian Shannon

Williamstown, Mass.