Letters to the Editor: May 21, 2014 

Music future is bright

The first time that I encountered the genius of John Fullbright was via a radio program. The show is produced by the owner of The Blue Door, and it shares its name with the title of Joshua Boydston’s excellent cover story on the artist (“For the sake of the song”; May 7, 2014; Oklahoma Gazette). The song was “Fat Man,” and

I was awestruck by both the lyrics and the presentation. It reminded me of something that could have been in The Threepenny Opera by Brecht and Weill. I thought to myself, “This young man is destined for greatness.”

The other day, a few paces further down the road, I encountered him once again, this time on the cover of Gazette. It may not be the cover of Rolling Stone, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

I am not one who requires external validation of my taste in music. I simply know what I like. Among other things,

I like the fact that you saw fit to feature this brilliant writer and performer in your publication. Thank you.

— John D. Carlson

Oklahoma City

Appropriate cultural relations

In the May 7, 2014, edition of Oklahoma Gazette, on the bottom lefthand corner of page 46 was a University of Central Oklahoma Academy of Contemporary Music advertisement for a The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger concert.

It featured the portrait of the great Choctaw War Chief Pushmataha, who many believe was assassinated in Washington, D.C. while on a delegation arguing against our forced removal to Indian Territory (aka Oklahoma).

The image was not used in a desecrating way, but it was misused.

I was at a loss as for why it even came to be used and began a series of inquiries: firstly, to Gazette’s general manager David Rhea, and secondly to ACM Public Relations Director Liz Johnson. Ms. Johnson contacted Scott Marsh of Levelland Productions (responsible for the concert). He, in turn, contacted me.

What struck me immediately was their tone and sensibility. It was encouraging and reasonable. Each, in a most expeditious manner, developed a full history of how the image came to be used, and it could not have been simpler: an online stock photography site. Throughout the inquiries, there was no scapegoating. And let’s face it, that in itself these days is a miracle.

I understand that one of the fundamental tenets of our great union is the freedom of expression. I am equally reminded of one word literally carved into the base of the U.S. House of Representatives lectern: tolerance.

Our republic can only work with ever-increasing mutual respect. We have become a very complex composition of peoples and histories. Moreover, it has been my experience as an expat for a significant portion of my life that no one immigrates because it’s great and grand in his or her home country.

Quite the opposite.

How we treat each other’s past is the working out of our republic. With the recent debacles involving cultural misappropriation, ignorance is no longer an acceptable explanation but an immature excuse.

We are a great republic with the violent contradictions of history and ideals. And how we demonstrate mutual respect and compassion will only enrich our Oklahoma life.

I have been so encouraged by Liz Johnson, Scott Marsh and David Rhea’s response to a Choctaw concern. This is not a misplaced sentimentality but a genuine aha moment where we four recognized what our Oklahoma needs.

Yakoke/Thank you.

— D.G. Smalling

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma citizen

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