Appropriate Appropriation | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week
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Appropriate Appropriation 

We begin with a comment on music editor Allison Hussey's essay on her childhood obsession with Elvis Presley ["Elvis! Elvis! Let Me Be!" January 4].

"The word 'appropriation' in this article is used in a negative sense, leading one to think that singers such as Elvis Presley were stealing music they performed," writes M.R. Wilcoxen. "This reminded me of a YouTube video playing Big Mama Thornton's 'Hound Dog' back to back with Elvis's version and stating that 'Elvis stole the song.' Actually, the songwriters made much more money from Elvis's version than they did from Big Mama's. 

"If anything, Elvis's versions of songs from earlier records made many more music buyers aware of artists like Big Mama—and, for example, Arthur Crudup, Roy Brown, and Junior Parker. I bought records by all of these great artists because Elvis's recordings brought those artists to my attention. Otherwise, it's likely that I would never have heard of them.

"I'm sure that it wasn't intentional, but if there's any stealing going on, it's by Hussey, who didn't think about the implications of her indicating that her 'guitar teacher Max Drake' gave her 'a CD-R of Thornton's Hound Dog: The Peacock Recordings.' Burning a CD-R actually eliminates any chance a recording artist has of collecting any artist royalties from their work.

"When introduced to other artists like 'Memphis Minnie and other lesser-sung heroes,' hopefully that wasn't via artist-royalty-free CD-Rs as well."

Commenter Educate1 responds to Paul Blest's story last week on an incident at Rolesville High School in which a school resource officer threw a teenage girl to the ground ["Deletable Resources," January 11]—and, specifically, a wish by Jon Powell, the director of Campbell Law School's Juvenile Justice Project and Restorative Justice Clinic, that Wake County would pull SROs out of its schools. "I think we might see a reduction in arrests and out-of-school suspensions," Powell was quoted as saying.

"Yep, and there would be an increase in 911 calls," Educate1 counters. "It's very easy to say remove this, take this out, and don't do this when you are not walking the halls with up to three thousand kids a day. And having one SRO on a campus the size of the high schools in Wake is a blessing. There's a lot of stuff these advocates and supporters don't see but want to rule on."

Finally, on Byron Woods's recent story about the closing of Common Ground Theatre and the future of independent theater companies ["Fade to Black," December 21], ShellByars writes: "I wholeheartedly agree with the position that there should be more structured, civic support for the thriving arts community in Durham. Imagine the growth for our community if there was stable, affordable, available space for this talented, creative group of resilient artists to thrive.

"Common Ground Theatre was created with the mission of helping make that happen. For over a decade, it succeeded. It was a space where companies, artists, directors, writers, and musicians could share their talents and hone their crafts. The work that was produced within those four walls was often great, sometimes brilliant. Keeping the space affordable was always the mission. So it wasn't the most beautiful building, and it was run with a small staff. But we all knew it was the spark of magic that happens when the lights go down, the world that was created through the relationship between the players and the audience that mattered the most."

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