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Jay walkin' 

As a pedestrian (I don't own a car) and a driver (I do use my boyfriend's car at times), I was quite interested in the story about the Va-Hi police sting operation (News & Views, "Watch out!" Jan. 1). I use both North Highland and Virginia avenues to get to work and I yield with pleasure to the pedestrians in the crosswalk. I yield with gritted teeth to the pedestrians who dart into the street willy-nilly, especially considering the abundance of crosswalks in the Va-Hi area. While I applaud the various associations' attempts at driver education (through ticketing), I hope one of those undercover coppers will be able to (ahem) educate a few jaywalkers.

-- Shalewa N. Sharpe, Atlanta

Feet vs. wheels
Great story about the crosswalk crackdown in the Highlands (News & Views, "Watch out!" Jan. 1). When I tell friends that I "walk to work," they sigh and mutter, "I wish I could do that." But my commute on foot is essentially "walking the gauntlet" between Peachtree-Dunwoody and Piedmont in Buckhead. I consider it a game of brinkmanship. Me against the Ford Expeditions. As a longtime former resident of Chicago and San Francisco, I secretly wish that the throngs of pedestrians in those cities would descend upon Peachtree and Lenox to help me even the playing field. At least in the Highlands motorists are used to seeing pedestrians. But in Buckhead, they look at me as if I'm from another planet. I'd like to see a little "Targeted Pedestrian Enforcement" to wake up the motorists of Buckhead.

-- Tom McEvilly, Atlanta

The goal of universal health care called for in Tom Tomorrow's cartoon could be met without creating yet another failed government program ("This Modern World," Jan. 1). A dollar-for-dollar federal tax credit for medical expenditures would do the trick. What about those whose federal tax liability would not cover these expenses? Others could "adopt" their expenses to further reduce their federal taxes. This would save the massive expense of first sending these dollars to D.C. -- minus the enormous handling expense of the new federal bureaucracy -- and back to the individual in need of medical care.

Besides, isn't Congress already overwhelmed in overseeing the literally thousands of tasks it has no constitutional authority to do -- education, retirement, state drinking age, highways, the war on drugs, welfare, housing, etc. -- as well as the war on terror? At least be practical, if you don't care to abide by the country's Constitution. Tom might also consider raising his ethical standards by refraining from calling for drafting people into a program that they might not care to join voluntarily.

-- Jim Cox, Lawrenceville

Compromise on all sides
Cliff Bostock: I keep musing over your article on the Lott debacle (Talk of the Town, "A whole Lott of hate," Dec. 25). You know, this discussion has forced me to unearth feelings and thoughts that I have neatly stowed away for years. I thought that my years in Western Kentucky, at West Point, in the Army, and in corporate America prepared me to keep on "a good face"; somehow they couldn't smother the smoldering resentment in me.

Your last two sentences were on the money -- "If we cannot actively recant our racist past and quit exploiting ongoing, covert racism, can we possibly expect to free ourselves of it? Do we want to?" I have experienced the stares in mixed company, the condescension. I have listened to and felt the pain of my elder relatives' stories as they relived their early years of humiliation and danger.

Please let me bring balance to my comments. I have benefited from the benevolence of compassionate "white folks" who believed in my family and me.

I have argued with "black folks" who hide behind unresolved hatred and bitterness as an excuse to get over, victimize anyone, and rail at the evil establishment. I simply think that there are a lot of decent hard-working minorities who tire of being marginalized, stereotyped and humiliated with subtlety. I think that there are many sincere whites who would like to see this drama resolved. I certainly offer no profound solutions but think the first step is honesty -- about our cultural differences that play a role, about the horrific past that has contributed to this tension, and about the need to compromise on all sides for the sake of the future of this nation.

-- Brad Johnson, Atlanta

Right on
Bryan Powell: Great article on Derek Trucks-- thanks so much for writing about music that counts (Vibes, "Out of the monotony," Dec. 25). I also love what you're writing about Donna Hopkins.

-- Ron Currens, Atlanta

Fill our heads
John Sugg: I just finished reading "Buy, you unpatriotic scum" (Fishwrapper, Dec. 25) and I think it was one of the best articles that I have read all year.

Short, to the point and full of little-known information. I am an African-American who wishes more of my people could get this information. The thing is most of us think that just because a person is white that they go along with our government but that is so very wrong.

-- Eric Perry, Snellville

Swing hard, to the right
John Sugg: I enjoyed your article immensely (Fishwrapper, "Buy, you unpatriotic scum," Dec. 25). As a recent transplant of five years to Atlanta from the "Left" Coast, I'm amazed how dramatically the South and especially Georgia has swung hard to the right. Your article expounding on the Bush administration's philosophy on spending to make the state of the economy better was unfortunately exactingly correct. The Southern "bubbas" have lined up in lockstep behind this misguided attempt that will soon turn and bite them on their rednecked butts.

-- Ken Mullens, Decatur

Making a difference
John Sugg: I would like to thank you for your insights that you provided in "Buy, you unpatriotic scum" (Fishwrapper, Dec. 25). It is nice to see that people out there are finally getting concerned enough to make statements that are anti-governmental. I have for too long held my tongue and not taken steps to right the wrongs that our government has committed against the common man.

In the wake of Sept. 11, we have seen our government take steps that in any other time in our history would have infuriated the American people to revolt. But in the name of protecting Americans, the government has moved us ever closer to such ludicrous ideas like the Thought Police that George Orwell proposed in his vision of the future.

The government is getting out of hand, and it is high time that we attempt to reel them in. This government was proposed to be "for the people and by the people," not "for the rich and by the rich."

-- Peter Wiggin, Kennesaw

Spellbound by her
Felicia Feaster: Thank you for writing in such an accurate way about Gretchen Hupfel (Arts, "Airborne: Gretchen Hupfel 1963-2002," Dec. 18). She did indeed have incredible perception of energy forces most humans completely tune out.

If you were to have known her before her illness had become so acute, you would have also been spellbound by her laughter and smile, which, since you recall, her voice was so distinct. These were sounds, which would never exit your mind.

Gretchen was very dear to me, and reading your article is comforting because you got her so right. Indeed every conversation with Gretchen was touching. She always was generous with her insight. I always felt a sense of relief, that this world wasn't so insane, because in talking with her, so much of it came to make sense.

She was very memorable before her death. I never went anywhere with her where I was not witness to people just falling in love with her immediately, yet this never got through to her. She preserved a childlike innocence, in spite of her brilliance and her charisma. So unassuming.

I consider myself extremely fortunate to have known her and to have shared some time on earth while she was here. Grateful as well, that she produced artwork that really meant something to me.

-- Toni Vandegrift, Wilmington, Del.

Different strokes
I truly enjoyed Kelvin Sims' creative style in the article "Black 'Relics' as vital as ever" (News & Views, Dec. 18).

Barbershop would have been considered blasphemy in the '70s and '80s. It took decades for black people, and the NAACP to realize that a film is just a film -- it doesn't represent all black people. Although, others races can laugh at themselves, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc. are still having problems recognizing that black films represent different slices of black life. They don't represent all black people.

Nor does Kelvin Sims' article represent all black viewpoints. Only history can judge history. Man cannot judge what's vital or not, especially in the midst of making history.

-- Carol Speed, East Point

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