Gutter Ball

On behalf of the Rohde family, owners of Family Bowl Inc., I want to take this opportunity as Promotions Coordinator to respond to your "Bowl-O-Rama" article [by Zak Weisfeld] in the Metro Pulse dated 2/5/98.

When a concerned patron of our establishment brought the article to my attention, I found myself reading and rereading the article so that I could attempt to comprehend your underlying meaning. Before I cast judgment on you personally, I let the owner read the words to see if possibly I was misinterpreting your meaning. Though both of us are college educated, it was difficult to determine if you were attempting humor through sarcasm or if you were libeling us by your gross misinformation. As a family-owned small business that has invested more than $1 million to bring our bowling center into the 21st century, we found in the first place absolutely no humor in your remarks and secondly anger in your uneducated opinion of our beautiful facility.

We would like to take this opportunity to educate you. I think if you had asked Mr. Miller from the American Bowling Congress, assuming that you actually spoke with him, he could have told you a little more about the "plastic" lanes you seem to loathe. As of today, approximately 80 percent of all Bowling Centers across the country are equipped with some type of synthetic lane. The lanes you bowled on are manufactured by Brunswick Corporation and are the top of the line in synthetic coverings. The ANVILANE, contrary to your opinion, is not plastic but instead actual compressed wood with a laminate over it. The surface is less than one-half-inch thick, not five inches, as you stated. It is the flattest surface available which makes it aesthetically pleasing to the eye and also allows increased scoring. If I remember your article correctly you said you bowled your best game ever at Family Bowl...obviously the lanes worked. The owners take great offense to your offhand comment regarding curling maple and rotting wood under the synthetic finish. This statement is simply not true and is damaging to our business. The $1 million upgrade was to prevent that from ever happening. Wood lanes age and splinter and often times become uneven. In order for them to be properly maintained and to remain level, they must be sanded more often than is financially possible, therefore most wooden lanes wear out and look like they do.

As for the 5" step you spoke of: It is not because of the plastic lane but instead because we are a one-level bowling center. This is a good quality. If you had noticed when you came into Family Bowl you did not have to step down into the bowling area. The lane has to be raised to accommodate the ball return. As for the incredibly difficult time you had reaching the hand dryers, please feel free to join us one Saturday morning when our children's league bowls and I am confident that they can give you some pointers on how to use the dryers more effectively.

As the Promotions Coordinator, I take great pride in the fact that we offer an environment that welcomes people of all ages, race, and gender. I found your comments about our location and building structure offensive. If you are so familiar with this end of the city you should already know that the dark, narrow road you referred to as Truckers Lane is called Parkside and has been so for more than one year. Within a very short time, Parkside will support traffic flow nearly equal to Kingston Pike. What Family Bowl offers to the public is a clean, safe, and fun establishment. Bowling is one of the few recreational sports where multigenerational families can participate together. As a mother of three pre-teens at a time when the family structure and future of our young children is in jeopardy, I am thankful that establishments such as Family Bowl still exist and I applaud the foresight of the owners to keep up with changing trends in this industry in order to continue drawing young people into a great sport.

We feel, Mr. Weisfeld, that you owe Family Bowl an apology for your article. If you would check your records, Family Bowl has been named the #1 Bowling Center in Knoxville by your very own Metro Pulse. If in the future you would like to know more about the details of our establishment, we would be more than willing to answer your questions so you can write a more informed article. Thank you for your time.

Karen Canter, Promotions
Rich Rohde, Owner
Family Bowl

Ed. Note: Metro Pulse apologizes for any factual inaccuracies regarding the construction of Family Bowl's lanes; however, we stand by our writer's estimation of their aesthetic qualities.

The Beckoning

In regard to Betty Bean's excellent article "Hoop Dreams" [Vol. 8, No. 4]:

At the women's SEC tournament two years ago, I had the privilege of sitting with Jerry Henderson, at the time coach of the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs. His team had been eliminated earlier and he felt his days were numbered (they were). We were discussing the Lady Vols, and Jerry said, "You know, Pat Summit doesn't recruit; she 'beckons,' and they come running."

Well, that may be, but your article demonstrates that a lot of work takes place before the "beckoning."

Bill Willard

Not At Any Cost

Hooray!! Metro Pulse finally decided to cover the story of health, safety, environment, and illness in Oak Ridge ["Victims of the Past?" Vol. 7, No. 46]. There have only been 100 articles in the Nashville Tennessean since February 1997. The Knoxville scene is very different with one article in Tennessee Green, several in The Oak Ridger (but, who in Knoxville reads it?), and in the News-Sentinel (although not in much depth). Channel 8 and Dick Broadcasting (WIVK and News Talk 990) have also done some coverage. We feel that this news black-out in our area is the result of the erroneous notion that we can't let it be known that there are problems here because of potential negative economic impacts. Oak Ridgers and Knoxvillians still haven't figured out that people want jobs, but not at any cost!

I need to set the record straight on a couple of items in the November 20, 1997 Metro Pulse article. I don't believe my nickel poisoning is a result of the incinerator at K-25. I believe it came from breathing nickel dust in an office where I worked as a manager, not at a job where I might expect to be exposed to hazards. There may very well be nickel in the incinerator emissions, but I KNOW there was nickel all over my office. The air ducts and my computer were vacuumed to remove it; I was not.

My organization, Coalition for a Healthy Environment, is not trying "to build a sick health and safety (H&S) system." We want people to understand there is a real the link between a flawed H&S program and illnesses and deaths. [Ed. Note: The actual quote from Ms. Michel that we used in the story was: "What we're trying to build here is that there is this sick system of health and safety within DOE, and it has dramatic effects on people in terms of their health."]

Pollution is ubiquitous in an industrialized society, but the pollution from Oak Ridge is unique to DOE sites, with its combination of radioactive and hazardous materials and wastes. Oak Ridge does not have the largest quantity of hazardous materials, only the largest diversity.

Mark Musolf was probably reciting a carefully crafted phrase when he stated that Lockheed Martin "does not foster or condone a lax safety atmosphere."

Management may say they are not aware of problems because they either ignore questions and concerns or never hear about them because employees are afraid to come forward and staff safety professionals have their safety reports discarded before publication. This fear is very real.

"We want to hear their thoughts." Yes, this will help identify those they can then harass and/or fire. What about the employee who submitted a complaint about metal poisoning to plant health services 65 weeks ago and has heard NOTHING to date! I personally and publicly handed a copy of her medical incident report to the chief of H&S in DOE in October 1997. Additionally, she alleges she had her security clearance revoked due to her outspokenness. Without it, she is very limited in carrying out her profession: health physics technician. Hmmmm, good excuse to "downsize" her! Maybe she should have kept quiet.

"We just finished the clean up of East Fork Poplar Creek." The catch: it was "cleaned up" to relaxed standards AND pollution still flows out of the Y-12 plant into the creek every time there is a 100-year flood —which has happened four times in the past seven years!

And you'll be relieved to know that our own state senior health policy advisor to the Governor, Dr. Frieda Whadley, said she didn't believe there was enough evidence of a serious health problem to call in the CDC. She suggested the ill people go to the local health department. But Senator Fred Thompson requested the CDC's "assistance in evaluating a pattern of unexplained illnesses afflicting residents of the communities surrounding the Department of Energy's facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee."

Many people I know literally don't have time for another study. They need help now! The medical profession in Oak Ridge and even some in Knoxville have been slow or, in some cases, refused to help us. Insurance payments for evaluation and treatment have been a nightmare. The three occupational physicians hired by Lockheed Martin have been "evaluating" us since October 1996 with no conclusions yet! They appear to have been prohibited by Lockheed Martin from taking any biological samples; and we still have no conclusions or assistance. This seemingly intentional delay muddies the waters in attempting to identify illnesses and causes. We had to wait for the Governor's Panel to tell us about a Lockheed Martin fund set aside to pay for evaluation.

The report from the Governor's panel was a bust as expected. In general, the report ignored much and was extremely biased in its presentation, not to mention being inaccurate in places. It was not unexpected given the background, experience, and connections of the members, but was still very disappointing. I think the Panel should refund the money to the taxpayers.

The only good things it said were to study people, not poisons; no more money should be spent on studies like theirs; and the sick people needed help.

Living in Knoxville, you may think you are far enough away from Oak Ridge, but pollution knows no political or geographic boundaries. The Oak Ridge Reservation is a 29,000 acre Superfund site and one of the most polluted sites in the country.

Coalition for a Healthy Environment holds bi-weekly meetings and has held two community meetings last fall at UT and Pellissippi State. The next one will be in Oak Ridge. Please look for announcements and join us in helping each other, finding answers, and holding those responsible accountable.

Janet R. Michel

Better Government Through Fishless Sandwiches

Brilliant! Phil A. O'Fish's investigative reporting detailing his stress-test of fast-food drive-thrus by way of unusual orders was the most entertaining thing I've read all week ["Hold Everything," Vol. 8, No. 3]. The audacity of ordering a Big Mac without meat! Several years ago, I held a student job taking orders for pizzas. The pizza selection was small because the snack shop was a university-run affair, but an occasional weirdo would order a pizza without cheese, or without tomato sauce. I realized that such orders, although shocking at first, were perfectly legitimate.

In order to function more competently, I begin soliciting detailed information about the order if none had been volunteered. I would always say, "would you like crust, sauce, and cheese with that pizza?" Customers were at times nonplused by the implication that a pizza might not have cheese or crust, but I felt like I was doing a more thorough job at taking orders. After my consciousness-expanding realization of all the possible combinations and permutations of even a simple order, I begin to really enjoy those times when a customer would request a pie with "no sauce or cheese and extra green peppers." After reading O'Fish's piece, I feel there are kindred spirits out there seeking alternatives to everyday, humdrum orders casually tossed off at drive-thrus without a second thought. Thanks for increasing my feeling of belonging.

I was also thinking that the experience of ordering a mysterious combination at a drive-thru is a good lesson in give and take and working together. Ordering something like a fish sandwich with no fish and no bun is essentially like saying, "I'm different, but we can work together to incorporate my differences into the community and make everyone more tolerant while increasing diversity." So I believe that requiring elected officials (such as the city council, county commissioners, and maybe even the mayor) to try to make bizarre orders at a drive through at the beginning of their respective terms might make them more receptive to ordinary citizens and more appreciative of differences among members of the community. Ultimately, their increased sensitivity and commitment to diversity would make Knoxville and Knox County a more pleasant and livable place.

Jesse Butler