Letters for February 16, 2006
It's Mongo's Planet
The alien who cooked yummy ribs: As a kid growing up in Memphis, there was only one place for a teenager to go, and that was Prince Mongo's Planet ("The Alien Has Landed," Bob Norman, January 19). I played bass for several bands there (hell, I met my first girlfriend there), and escaped from many a police raid. Many of my friends were not so fortunate and would have to ride in the paddy wagon down to the Beale Street police station.
Its heyday was probably 1984 to 1990, until the Marines and Navy recruits started beating up on the patrons and police as well. I can remember graduating from high school, and that weekend, I was on the roof of the building next door to the Planet watching what almost grew into a full riot between drunken soldiers and cops. I knew that this could not last, and indeed it didn't. The last time I was in there was in 1991 and by that time felt so out of place I had no need to go back. In the fall of 1998, I found him at his steak house in downtown Memphis, and we spent a few hours talking about social problems and individual responsibility.
When I go home to Memphis, I stop at his house, and there is almost always something in the oven, as he is an excellent cook and loves to barbeque. I hope he stays there for many years to come and hopefully wins political office one day. Memphis certainly needs him.
That Doggy in the Window
Check the pound for your next teacup: Thank you for the article "Puppy Love?" by Julia Reischel (January 26) exposing the truth behind the pet store/puppy mill, Wizard of Claws, for what it is, no matter what their odious owner, Jim Anderson, likes to think of it as. Clearly, he cares nothing for these animals and is in it for the buck. Anyone who trafficks in exotic animals is, in my opinion, no friend to animals. I volunteered for five years at a local animal shelter, and the numbers of beautiful animals constantly available for adoption was astounding to me. Cats and dogs, large and small, including many purebreds and tiny teacup-like dogs, were there every day, and they could perhaps find homes more readily but for breeders bringing more animals into the world. However, breeders would not be in business if there were no demand. My appeal to folks is to please look first at the shelters for your next companion animal they're so grateful for another chance.
Karen B. Newman
Loving the Murderer
A softer side of Gil? I was fascinated by your story ("Muscles, Murder, & a Messiah," Trevor Aaronson, January 5), as I knew and loved Gil Fernandez as a brother and the best friend I have ever had. I wish you could have known the person I knew. We ran a karate studio together from 1973 to 1977, fought side by side in full-contact karate tournaments, and I was an uncle to his sons. I was with Fernandez six days a week and knew a much kinder and more loving person than most people ever knew.
Give the boy king a chance: Your writer must have seen a different exhibition from the one thousands including tens of thousands of South Florida students of all ages enjoy when they visit "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" ("Where's the Mummy?" Dave Amber, February 9). Or perhaps he set himself up for disappointment by expecting the exhibit to be "a journey to find its center Tut's mask or coffin, whose photo is seemingly posted all over town" or complaining that "what you're expecting to see, after you drop your $30, is the golden death mask, coffin, or other such booty from the first Tut tour in the 1970s." Had he focused on the journey itself, however, he might have come to appreciate that the artifacts are part of one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in history; that the majority of these items have never been to the United States and are not expected to return; and that the 130 objects are presented with a detailed cultural and historical context, unlike the 55 objects included in the much-vaunted 1970s "Treasures of Tutankhamun" exhibition. Thanks to the support of National Geographic and the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the participation of curator David Silverman, an Egyptologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, the scholarly content and educational value of the current exhibition are ultimately its driving force. We at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale are proud to be one of the four venues in the United States to be a part of this extraordinary event, which puts us in the company of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Field Museum in Chicago, and Philadelphia's Franklin Institute. It's not just about the "bling" or the missing mummy, which remains in its tomb; it's about a rare opportunity to explore the visual history of one of the most important cultures in the history of the world.
Irvin M. Lippman, Executive Director
Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale
Joe would have been touched: Wow. Touching story on Joe Arthur ("Valhalla Awaits," Jonathan Zwickel, February 2). What a shame, to die at 23.
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