Compass Gone Hooey

"The Smokies have never drawn more than 150,000 in a season to their present location." ["Whether to Condemn," by Joe Sullivan, Vol. 8, No. 20]. What a pile of hooey!

The Smokies have also never drawn more than 150,000 in a season (A) with their present parking, (B) with their present restroom facilities, (C) with their present (nonexistent) playgrounds, (D) with their present management, (E) with their present lackluster marketing, (F) with their present...Need I go on? Admittedly, the current facility has problems, but location is not among them.

Each year, Chattanooga has drawn more than what the Smokies say they need to break even. And they have done it by spending only a couple million dollars to preserve and improve their historic center-city stadium. It sits alongside the railroad tracks with mobile homes across the street and two miles from the nearest interstate in a racially mixed part of the city.

Does Metro Pulse not have the political will to say what's really going on? Did you lose your moral compass? Or did you just borrow someone else's? Say it ain't so, Joe.

Keith Richardson
East Knoxville

Visions of Agee

Just a side-note to Jack Neely's very nice column about James Agee and his years at Phillips Exeter Academy in the late '20s ["Knoxton High," Vol. 8 No. 18]. If Agee felt discomfort as a Southern boy transplanted into a bastion of Yankee education, he would not have been entirely alone. One of his Exeter English teachers, my grandfather Frank Cushwa, was a Southern boy from Martinsburg, West Virginia, who took a special interest in young Agee. My mother remembers Agee as an angular, brooding, and certainly unusual teenager. In particular, she recalls a vision of Agee, after a visit with her father, walking through their backyard, hands in pockets, deep in thought.

Brooks Clark

How Did We Miss That?

The movie Happy Together is like a dream, the Metro Pulse review [Vol. 8, No. 16] describes that "dream" and its images as homoerotic, vibrant, tedious at times where it doesn't quite seem to cohere—as artsy, new wave. It was deemed an "enlightening" film.

Allow me to take the review up to "nirvana" via "dream" interpretation where all of the elements cohere. It is a political-historical and cultural "dream." The two male leads represent China (and its values) and Hong Kong (and its values). The relationship is "homo" in so far as they are both Chinese. The relationship is aggressive, close, distant, "erotic" in the tango scenes, ambivalent, and obsessional. And there is no resolution at film's end, rather passport anxiety—sovereign identity status anxiety, juxtaposed with the souvenir photograph.

The waterfall (mother) in bluish, black, and white misted like traditional Chinese landscape paintings contrasts with the skyscrape-like lighthouse (father) representing Hong Kong. These images are deliberately "worn" scratched on the film—these are not epiphanal moments—the reality of the Chinese take-over is too certain—ambivalence again. Likewise, the films Chinese values are B&W, Argentina, traditional music (tango), and slow-motion added frames. Hong Kong values are vibrant color, Buenos Aires, Western music, and fast-motion syncopation. That the homosexual metaphor is used is a subversion of communist rhetoric directed against the West/Hong Kong.

I didn't realize this interpretation until near the end of the film where Lai-Yiu-Fai remarks that Argentina is on the opposite side of the world as Hong Kong—"I wonder what Hong Kong looks like upside-down." From this view one gets a real human, visceral feel for the China/Hong Kong relationship.

David Spisak