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Hal Crowther's "Alone on the Cliff" [Oct. 18] is yet another attempt at high-brow censorship from the intellectual elite. I'm tired of bow-tied professors and talking heads predicting the "end of civilization" because of the success of a few television shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and Survivor. I assume Crowther has a remote control, as I do, and he could happily watch something else. If he had taken the time to flip channels, rather than staring in horror at some bad TV, he could take in an episode or two of Law and Order or The Simpsons, which frequently make the same points Crowther does, only with humor rather than unrelenting cynicism and bitterness.

Let us unwashed masses have our fun. It's just crappy TV, not an indication of the real character of the average American. Only a true elitist would assume that people can't tell the difference.
--IAIN LEVISON, RALEIGH

I wish to applaud Hal Crowther's column [Oct. 18] and tell him that he isn't alone on that cliff. I grew up without a TV and decided several years ago that I would not watch it after it became available. When I got married, my husband decided to stop watching TV except to catch coverage of disasters like Fran and Floyd. What little TV I see at friends' houses or at restaurants is insipid and trite, very rarely intellectually stimulating or even interesting (and this includes the "news" programs).

I have been teased, insulted and called "snobbish" for my decision not to watch. People have even asked me how I get my news, as if the news on TV were the only option available. When people ask me if I saw such-and-such and I respond that I don't watch TV, I always get a strange look, as if I had sprouted a tail.

It has been more than 10 years since I have had a regular TV viewing habit, and while I find that not only do I have more time for my family and hobbies, I also see that I don't live in the same frenetic, fast-paced world that almost everyone else seems to inhabit. I know full well that I can't blame TV for all of the world's ills, as much as I'd like to do so, but it does seem that the overabundance of sensory input is damaging our sense of the flow of life, or at least warping it somehow.
--BRYN SMITH, CHAPEL HILL

This is in response to Patrick O'Neill's article about the recent Mt. Olive pickle boycott debate at Pullen Church ["Front Porch," Oct. 18]. O'Neill missed the mark on one point when he wrote that the boycott "will have to extend throughout the South Atlantic states for its effort to have a chance of success."

The boycott effort is already established, not only in the South Atlantic states, but also throughout other parts of the country. This is a national boycott and actions in support of it are taking place in many of these areas as well. Additional endorsements and support will be forthcoming, but a lot of progress has been made in the 19 months since the boycott was launched.
--JOAN PAPERT PREISS, DURHAM

I appreciated Kate Dobbs Ariail's article on the "In Praise of Nature" exhibition at the N.C. Museum of Art ["An Irony-Free Zone," Oct. 18] and found that her enthusiasm and analytic meandering provided a meaningful context to this exhibition. Nonetheless, I take issue with two comments of hers. First, "[Adams'] pictures ... have influenced the way we (white people, at least, and maybe this is true across the board) think about what it means to be an American." I must have missed her point here, because I want to assume she is not saying that non-whites or certain ethnic minorities are not acquainted with Adams' work. Certainly plenty of Americans, regardless of background or race, are. Furthermore, when non-whites are familiar with Adams' work, I'm confident that his seminal depictions of the American landscape have influenced the way these individuals think about what it means to be an American. Assuming that Ariail is not suggesting that non-whites are not exposed to or interested in Adams' work or, in general, are unconcerned with self-reflective thoughts on "being an American," I'd encourage her to tighten up her writing or more fully explain her thoughts in this regard.

Second, "Unless you've seen the original photographic prints made by Adams, you don't know his work." I would ask Ariail to spare her readers such hyperbolic, elitest pronouncements that unnecessarily denigrate Adams' fans' appreciation of museum-quality prints, photographic reproductions, and the occasional calendar or holiday card of this man's work. Yes, there are subtleties to the original prints that go beyond what most reproductions can show. Seeing the rich tones and textures of his originals enhanced my appreciation of his work. Yet Adams himself frequently made repetitive prints of the same image at various contrasts, brightness, etc., as a review of the Museum's exhibition or any number of printed retrospectives show. When can one truly "know" Adams' work?
--DOUG REED, CARY

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