Erosia (Letters to the Editor)

LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to [email protected] We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.

Hanukkah Poem
’Twas some days before Christmas, and all through the earth,
Most people were marking a pivotal birth.
Their homes were all filled with Yule items galore,
Thanks to the stuff found at most every store.

The radio airwaves reflected the season,
While televised specials brought holiday reason.
On Crosby, on Autry, on hard-working elves,
On Rudolph, on Frosty, less Elmos on shelves.

When what to the non-Christian world should appear,
But another event full of holiday cheer!
Religious significance, Middle Eastern begun,
Plus lights, singing, gifts — but for eight days, not one.

A drunken Mel Gibson might scoff at the lore,
But Syrian-Greeks — not Jews — started that war.
A miracle really, how oil came to last,
Much longer when needed at Temple days past.

No “Hanukkah bush” to match with a tree,
Just a memorable military victory.
An occasion of freedom, thanks to Judah Maccabee.
But does the holiday word start with “H” or a “C”?

Though not Texas Hold ’Em, the dreidel game brings bettors,
Who see how the top lands on four Hebrew letters.
The song says the top is made out of clay.
But really, more likely, it’s metal today.

This minor event hasn’t led to many song pages.
Just “I Have a Little Dreidel” and “Rock of Ages.”
Adam Sandler has championed the days all along,
From “Eight Crazy Nights” film to his “Hanukkah Song.”

There’s Ross’ holiday armadillo from “Friends,”
Plus the new Latke Larry,
And especially “Saturday Night Live”’s “Hanukkah Harry.”

At least no prolonged store promotions to endure.
No displays have been up since post-Yom Kippur.

Commercialism hasn’t quite reached the event.
The “O.C.”’s “Chrismukkah” seems the most bent.
The humor of “The Hebrew Hammer” was a bit crude.
But there aren’t “Big Mac-abees” at a place for fast food.

The food should be oily — doughnuts or potato pancake.
They’re latkes, which gives a reason to fry and/or bake.

Hey, it just goes to show you that still on this soil.
Both now and back then, folks relied on some oil.
Brad Farb

Butchering the Bible
You reported that New York City Episcopal priest Timothy Holder has rendered Bible stories into modern street language (LEO, News of the Weird, Nov. 29). The 23rd Psalm, for example, he presents as beginning:
The Lord is all that
I need for nuthin’
He ’lows me to chill
Now, I am not a particularly religious man. But I know that the Psalms are some of the most beautiful poetry in the Bible. Along with the Song of Solomon (an erotic love idyll!), the Psalms represents the Bible’s supreme literary achievement, and it delights in an ecstasy of language that mirrors — nay, that guides — the reader toward the joy of spiritual union with God.
The New American Standard version of the above lines reads:
The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures …
To alter the language is to alter the meaning. To reduce this poetry to rap lingo (what exactly does “chill” mean?) is to bleed it of all original feeling. A bowdlerized Bible, even to this secular humanist, seems inelegant and undignified.
Frederick Smock

Smoke Notes
I was sad to read about Bennett Higgins’ struggle with cancer (LEO, Dec. 6). Though it’s true that those with Higgins’ esophagus and chronic acid reflux are at a higher risk for adenocarcinoma, African-American men, who have the highest overall esophageal cancer rates of any population in the United States, develop squamous cell tumors more often than adenocarcinomas. It is six times higher in this group! The major risk factors are smoking and alcohol consumption.
Though Higgins quit smoking years ago, he was exposed to very high levels of secondhand smoke in places like Joe’s Palm Room. I can name four popular musicians in this city who currently are suffering from respiratory type cancers and/or cardiovascular disease. There have been many who have died prematurely. (For sake of privacy, I will not name them.) In light of these tragedies, many in the hospitality industry are fighting the smoking ban to avoid inconveniencing some smokers. What a shame! They don’t care at all about the health of employees. Until the air improves in music venues, we will continue to hear about great voices being silenced by cancer. How wonderful that the very talented Higgins can enjoy playing in the smoke-free Jazz Factory. If only other musicians were that lucky.
Linda Sparrow

‘Angels’ on Defense
I strongly disagree with Sherry Deatrick’s review of Walden Theatre’s “Language of Angels” (LEO, Dec. 6). After seeing the play, I was very impressed by the talent and insight of the cast. It was the best youth-starring production I have ever seen.
Deatrick writes that two characters were “seated as far from the audience as possible,” but I happened to be seated right next to them. Likewise, I’m sure she was seated right next to some cast members at some point, since the staging was varied, with the actors covering just about every part of the stage at some point (and even when the actors were not standing next to me, I had no difficulty hearing them). In addition, I had no qualms about the play not having an intermission; it would have disrupted the carefully created suspense of the play.
Instead of dismissing a mature, thoughtful play as a “yawn-fest,” maybe Deatrick should have chosen to support a very popular, successful and overall outstanding student theater group in our community.
Laura Henry

A Real Senatorial Race
Mark Nickolas’ Dec. 6 column was all in good fun. A George Clooney candidacy for Mitch McConnell’s seat in the U.S. Senate would be exciting. No doubt about it.
But, McConnell’s actual re-election campaign will probably be completely different. It’ll be David vs. Goliath. Everyone knows that McConnell is practically our senator-for-life. His re-election campaign fund is wealthier than the Fort Knox gold vault. So, a “major” challenger seems highly unlikely to emerge; recent GOP reversals of fortune notwithstanding.
What do to? Here’s a radical idea that might be as much fun as a Clooney candidacy. Imagine a candidate who is willing to run on the issues. Someone who wants to tell us the truth even more than he or she wants to win. Someone knowledgeable enough on the issues to correct the distortions and lies spread by the attack ads on TV and radio. Someone who actually believes that honesty is the best public policy.
One name that comes immediately to mind is Phil Laemmle, the recently retired U of L political science professor, longtime commencement ritualist, and campus legend. Another is Dennis Bricking, the former executive director of the Legal Aid Society and board member of numerous charities.
I bet we’d hear some good debates. What’s an election for?
Tom Louderback