Letters to the editor 

Underground going down, U.S. truly helps Middle East

Underground is underwhelming

Underground Atlanta is a big disappointment to say the least (Fallout, "Redefining Underground," Dec. 28). When I first moved out here six years ago I heard so many good things about Underground Atlanta; how the land was historically significant to this city and how fun it was to go visit. However, in my experience I haven't seen the Underground offer much but bad gold teeth clip-ons and panhandlers. I think the open space could be used and turned into a profitable location, but it's going to take a large effort on many fronts to make it a place worth thinking about, let alone visiting. Sure, it could use better bars and clubs, but what about businesses that would make it worth something in the daytime as well?

-- Brandon Rust, Atlanta

A matter of perspective

What we've accomplished in the Middle East should not be completely obscured by reaction to James Baker's Iraq Study Group's report (Don't Panic!, "Why are Iraq's Kurds upset with the Iraq Study Group report?," Dec. 14).

Most importantly, our overpowering military response to terrorism has painted in bold strokes the clear consequences for foreign leaders who would provide refuge to terrorists, and has proved us anything but the paper tigers or passive victims some would have us be.

And because of us, those news photos of enfranchised grandmothers standing before ballot boxes with proudly purpled thumbs are now forever part of Muslim consciousness, and will rise to confront any who seek a return to the past in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Neither Islam's anti-democratic elements nor others elsewhere who rail reflexively against America will ever efface such images.

Minority Sunni dominance in Iraq is gone forever. That Iraqis now struggle to put an "Iraqi face" on the democracy our resolve has birthed perhaps isn't as incongruous as it presently appears: Isn't accompanying factional strife the norm for emerging democracies rather than the exception? And doesn't Kurdistan already stand out as a success?

All this has registered powerfully on the Arab streets, even as policy critics choose but to despair.

-- Ron Goodden, Smyrna

Stealing the music

There was a major heist in Atlanta concerning the ballet (cover story, "2006 Holiday Guide," Nov. 30). The heart, soul and passion has been stolen from the Atlanta Ballet. Some rocket scientists at the Atlanta Ballet decided to fire their orchestra and use recorded music from now on. This saves them about $360,000 per year (their annual budget is $6 million). So now the historic and renowned Atlanta Ballet Orchestra is history. They've been replaced by a tape deck.

There are things in life that naturally go together: cookies and milk, cake and ice cream, dance and music. Last Sunday I went to see The Nutcracker, expecting to see the inspiring holiday tradition of dance and music. Was there dance? Yes. Music? Nope. On the marginal P.A. system at the Fox Theatre, there were some faint squeaks that bore some slight resemblance to the music of Tchaikovsky. But no actual music.

I guess to fix this we could spend a couple of millions and install a good sound system for the Fox Theatre. But even a multimillion-dollar sound system cannot produce the passion and excitement of a live orchestra. Wouldn't it be much cheaper to hire some musicians? Heck, I bet you could hire a whole orchestra for about $360,000 per year. You could save some extra money for musician salaries by firing the brainiacs who made these inspired decisions.

We need to teach our children to know the difference between real and fake, between truth and lies, between earning versus stealing. They can never learn to appreciate the finer things in life if they don't experience them. They sure as heck won't learn to appreciate good music at the Fox Theatre anytime soon.

Taped music playback is good for school plays, aerobics classes and department store holiday music. It is an insult to the fine performers of the Atlanta Ballet to have to suffer through this nonsense, and an embarrassment to everyone who calls Atlanta home.

So there it is; the crime has been reported. Let's do something about it.

-- Robert Morella, Roswell


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