Letters to the Editor

Letters for July 19, 2001

I accepted the fact that blacks lived in a semi-Stone Age culture with thatched mud huts, naked boys tending cattle instead of attending school, and adults trudging miles and miles to the "local" trading store for food and supplies usually wearing nothing more than blankets dyed red. Women were more often than not topless, their faces covered in cosmetic white or red clay; long, beaded tobacco pipes protruded from their mouths. They were following centuries-old traditions, in conditions that would strike outsiders as being poverty-stricken. But to my young eyes, somehow it seemed simple and pure. Their personal hygiene was very different from our city-raised sensibilities, and it seemed perfectly natural to me that there should be separate toilet facilities, transportation, and places to live. "We" lived in modern suburbia; "they" lived in ghettos called "locations" and "townships" (SOWETO = SOuthWEstern TOwnships). I didn't fancy traveling in a bus or train with unwashed hordes of illiterate itinerant workers.

My epiphany came in Greece, I believe. I was traveling to the suburbs of Athens via public transportation. The bus was crowded to bursting, and I was standing next to a rather malodorous old woman dressed in widow's black who clutched a chicken under her arm. It struck me that there I was, in modern Europe, in a situation I would have dreaded in South Africa, and yet it was all perfectly normal. Every one of us had an equal right to transportation and an equal right to be exactly where we were, all together in that same bus. What right had one segment of the populace, which by the grace of God had the modern convenience of a shower or bathtub, to force the exclusion of less-fortunate people from public services and facilities?

I love South Africa, and I always vowed that someday, once apartheid was abolished, I'd return. Unfortunately the economy and crime rate don't make that feasible at this time. But who knows? Perhaps some day...

Graeme Strickland
via the Internet

Hate us tender:John Stacey's response (Letters,June 14) to the jealous ravings of Jeff Stratton, an obviously insecure novice, in the May 10 Bandwidthwas perfect. Elvis unknowingly affected us at a basic level. His image, young or old, spoke of individuality and self-expression. He has transcended death. Isn't everybody afraid of his or her own mortality? Elvis started out dirt poor and ended up the king of rock 'n' roll. The same things that made him what he was were also his undoing. He even said himself, "The image is one thing; the human being is another." Let's just say it's hard to live up to an image.

I do an Elvis tribute for a living. I know who I am, and I know there will only be one Elvis. I choose to represent the earlier stages of Elvis's career. Along with my performance, I give some historical references and my personal memories of Elvis. I was in elementary school when he died. My memories are from watching movies on TV with my mom on Saturday afternoons. Elvis looked like he was having fun. I thought he was cool. Later there were videos and books. Even after all that information, I still came back to that same simple childlike statement, "He was cool."

No one does Elvis better than Elvis, so when I do my tribute, I just try to deliver the music naturally with good vocals and have fun with the audience. That's what Elvis did best. I'm grateful to Elvis and for his effect on our culture. I'm able to have a great time performing music that I love for people all over the country. I get paid to have fun. It seems to be well received. It's been about nine years full-time. And this is the third year I have been hired by Elvis Presley Enterprises to sing at Graceland during Elvis Week in Memphis in August.

By the way, if anybody would like to see my tribute to Elvis, I perform at Brazil, Brazil in Fort Lauderdale. Or check out my Website at www.chrismacdonaldselvis.com. I would very much like the writer of Bandwidth and John Stacey to check out the show. What was the Bandwidth writer's name? I wonder if anybody will remember it in 100 years.

Chris MacDonald
Margate

But sorry:I'm in China stringing for USA Today and other U.S. publications and I saw a letter you ran February 8 ("The Truth from Chi-town") by "Malachite" claiming I was "apparently forced" to leave the Sun-Sentinel. Allow me to clear the record. I was never pushed out. My mate started medical school in Nevada in the fall of 2000, so I decided it was a good time for me to go abroad and pursue some journalism and life goals that I normally couldn't do because of his prior work and life situation. I tendered my resignation in October and agreed to stay on through election week because the paper had trained me in computer-assisted data analysis and I felt it my obligation to give them a return on that investment. I was assigned to cover voting problems and turnout because normally that story is short and uninteresting. We figured, as we planned ahead, that this assignment would leave me time to crunch precinct data later in the evening.

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