I appreciated the story about Elvis Presley, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton and their competing recordings of “Hound Dog.” Elvis’s version copied Big Mama’s style and arrangement totally. This was not his only offense. Many of his early pop-chart hits that were originally R&B hits for Black artists are nearly indistinguishable from the originals. White radio stations in the 1950s refused to play the music of Black artists. When Elvis made his first recording, he visited a Memphis radio station where the disc jockey specifically asked Elvis what high school he went to so listeners could be assured Elvis was White. But not everything is black and white in this story. “Hound Dog,” as the article related, was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952 for Big Mama. Not said is that Leiber and Stoller were Jewish.
Bruce James, Silver Spring
Missing out on the full story
Online readers of The Post no longer have the insight that comes from the juxtaposition of articles on the printed page. One such dramatic example occurred in the Feb. 22 edition with the placement of two articles regarding the devastation caused by the Texas blackout and the home fires that resulted from fireplace use.
The story at the top of the page, “Tex. family devastated by deadly fire during blackout,” told the tragic story of the Nguyen family fire that killed three children and their 75-year-old grandmother. Meanwhile, the article below [“Abbott has faced other crises, but can he survive this one?,” continued from front page], told us Republican strategists are confident Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will win reelection next year thanks to his “economic record,” despite doing nothing to prevent the blackouts and waiting several days to address the issue. The two articles read together tell us more than either one alone.
Alan Miller, Rockville
Sharp language wasn't meant to needle anyone
Regarding the Feb. 25 editorial, “We need a pro-vaccination campaign”:
If you hope to promote greater vaccination acceptance, may I suggest that you not refer to the procedure as being “jabbed”? My husband and I each have had two Pfizer vaccinations, and there was no such drama. They were very gently administered and were not painful in the least. We barely noticed them. We were certainly not “jabbed.”
Kathleen Buffon, Chevy Chase
An enduring name
Courtland Milloy’s Feb. 24 Metro column, “Commerce nominee has deep family roots in D.C.,” detailing the bond between Don Graves Jr., the nominee to be deputy commerce secretary, and his Wormley family ancestors — some of whom, after being freed from enslavement, operated a horse-and-buggy taxi service on flatlands now occupied by the Commerce Department — was very insightful.
D.C.’s history is rich with the contributions of the Wormley family, and I appreciate Milloy’s bringing it to the fore. One footnote, left unmentioned as to James Wormley Sr., is that one year after his death, Wormley School was built and named in his honor in 1885, at 3331 Prospect St. NW in Georgetown, to educate Black students. The school remained in operation as an elementary school until the early 1950s, prior to integration. Much later, the facility was used for special education students, before the city sold the building to Georgetown University which, in turn, sold it to developers. It has now been converted into a private condominium complex which, I believe, still bears the Wormley name.
George Margolies, Rockville
The writer was legal counsel to D.C. Public Schools from 1976 to 1989.
A winter wonder
Salwan Georges took a great winter photo to accompany the Feb. 25 Metro article “A near-record number of days with snow, with little accumulation to show.”
Oddly, the caption, “A man shovels a sidewalk as pedestrians cross Wilson Boulevard in Arlington . . . ,” didn’t mention what likely spurred Georges to take the photo in the first place! A bundled-up man shovels snow, a bundled-up woman walks a dog (which is also wearing a coat) while a man in a thin shirt and short shorts strides bare-legged across the frozen intersection.
Mike Creveling, La Plata
An inaccurate act
The Feb. 21 Metro article “150-year-old Ku Klux Klan Act cited in lawsuit vs. those in Capitol attack” said, “In 1883, a U.S. Supreme Court hostile to Reconstruction-era laws ruled the act’s criminal provisions unconstitutional.” That’s not entirely accurate.
United States v. Harris concerned only the validity of a particular criminal enforcement provision of the Klan Act (Section 5519). And one year later, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of another criminal enforcement provision of the Klan Act (Section 5520) in Ex Parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651 (1884). Section 5520 met its demise at the hands of Congress in 1894.
The reason this matters is that the constitutionality of the criminal enforcement provisions of the Klan Act is relevant to the question of when you can bring civil actions under the Klan Act against private parties today. It’s why, for example, you can bring a Klan Act suit against private parties under the Ku Klux Klan Act’s support-or-advocacy clauses without demonstrating a violation of an underlying constitutional right but not the Klan Act’s equal protection clauses.
Cameron Kistler, Washington
The writer is counsel at Protect Democracy, which has litigated cases under the Klan Act.
An unfortunate first
Regarding the headline of the Feb. 23 Metro article “Va. set to be first state in South to abolish death penalty”:
I always thought that Maryland, being below the Mason-Dixon Line, was part of the South, even if it is a little less Southern in culture than the Deep South and some parts of Virginia. The article acknowledges that Maryland and also D.C. have already done away with the penalty. How is Virginia the first in the South?
Harise Poland-Wright, Silver Spring
Advice that bears repeating
In the Feb. 23 “Beetle Bailey” comic strip [Style], Sarge has fed a hamburger to a bear, which now refuses to leave their camp. This accurately portrays bear behavior. Bears fed by humans will continue to look for food from humans. This leads to a saying in the Park Service: “A fed bear is a dead bear.”
Bears that frequent campgrounds and trails looking for handouts are captured and moved elsewhere, but are smart and persistent enough that they might return and menace people. Regrettably, such returning bears must eventually be put down.
Post readers should heed the lesson of the comic. When camping or hiking in the wild, never, ever feed bears and always secure food away from them by following local instructions.
Marc Hoffman, Silver Spring
A basketball scout's honor
John Feinstein’s poignant and excellent remembrance of Tom Konchalski, “ The game won’t be the same without longtime scout Konchalski ” [Sports, Feb. 10 ] , resonated with me. I shared Feinstein’s loss of Konchalski, who was a close and longtime friend. I agreed with Feinstein’s expressions about Konchalski as an adroit basketball scout but more importantly as a person.
I met Konchalski in 1989 when Gonzaga College High School began its Gonzaga DC Classic Basketball Tournament. He took an immediate interest in it and used the games for incorporation in his coveted and legendary scouting reports. During halftime of one of the tournament’s games, Konchalski and I would meet in his preferred top bleacher row as he shared with me his recommendations for teams to include in the next year’s tournament. As I attempted to write it all down, he shared names and phone numbers of teams, coaches and top players, all from his keen memory. After Christmas, he would call me and provide additional information along with his personal seasonal greetings to me and my family, all of whom he knew by name.
As a Jesuit-educated graduate of Fordham, Konchalski loved our tournament because he strongly believed in its purpose: raising funds to support Gonzaga Student Service Programs, local, national and international. He believed in and followed the Jesuit philosophy of being “A Man for Others” throughout his life. Eschewing some modern conveniences (computer, cellphone, driving), he lived his life authentically and with sincere dedication to his gifts. He was one of the kindest, most sincere and most honest people I have ever known.
They “broke the mold” when Konchalski was born; he was truly one of a kind. I and the Gonzaga Tournament Committee shall miss Konchalski and his unforgettable legacy more than words can express.
John J. McLaughlin, McLean
The writer is chairman emeritus of the Gonzaga DC Classic
With this DNA, we'd be backward
I hope that Amazon does not make a colossal mistake with its proposed Arlington County headquarters building called “the Helix.” Philip Kennicott’s review of the architect’s design provided a pithy commentary on how the building will fit into the Crystal City neighborhood [“The glitzy Helix is a distraction,” Arts & Style, Feb. 21]. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Post.) However, one subtle but important facet needs to be called out.
The building is designed as a double helix and therefore meant to represent DNA, the molecular stuff that carries genetic information for humans and all living creatures. In the rendering of the Helix that accompanied the article, the building does look somewhat like a double helix. However, the design as shown is a left-handed helix, while the DNA of all life forms on this planet is right-handed. Most screws are right-handed, and we turn them clockwise to tighten.
If the Helix gets built as shown, this will be an unnatural monstrosity, the mirror image of what it’s meant to represent. Perhaps in that case it will be known by what it most resembles, and instead of the Helix it will be known as the Screw.
Milton J. Axley, Rockville
Just a man and his will to survive
Thomas Boswell’s Feb. 24 Sports column, “We finally got to know the man, so now we feel his pain more deeply,” touched the nerve of why we love Tiger Woods. We have all shuddered at one calamity after another with this man over the past 40 years. Was his being pushed onto the stage by an ambitious father at age 2 a calamity? I think yes, though it resulted in a talent and dedication rarely seen. Were all his physical injuries and surgeries a calamity? Yes, though the numerous repairs on this torn and broken body only accelerated his extraordinary success. Were his emotional and psychological downfalls calamities? Yes, but here is the answer to why we love Tiger.
Boswell wrote, “But the enormous outpouring of empathy — of affection and of hope for everything that is best for him, which appeared after his crash — may be the most remarkable commentary on a person who has been so many things, driven himself so hard and survived so much.” We love him because he has owned up to his human frailties. In front of all of us, despite the shame and humiliation, despite his singular fame, this man has admitted that he is more human than otherwise. That kind of genuineness takes extraordinary courage.
Harmon Biddle, Chevy Chase
With clarity, we write headlines
I do not wish to make light of a shooting, but regarding the Feb. 20 Metro headline “Police shoot man with gun, chief says,” I have to say that it must have seemed to the police to have been, at the time, the most appropriate thing with which to do the deed. “With the gun” here is what’s known as a misplaced or “squinting” modifier. It’s unclear to the reader whether the man who was shot was in possession of a gun (the clear intent of the headline, as readers could see, with unsquinted eyes, after reading the whole story) or whether the police used a gun, and not some other object, to do the shooting. The first sentence of the story didn’t clarify the matter much: “D.C. police who went to [a crime scene] in Northeast on Friday shot and wounded a man with a gun.”
In high school English classes I taught, I used a couple of models of similarly erroneous sentence. The sentences read, “Police shoot woman with baby” and “Teens beat man with mustache.” The kids had fun correcting the sentences, but they found the confusion in the originals to be a lot funnier.
Allan L’Etoile, Vienna
But we shouldn't ignore cruel intent
The Feb. 27 Style column by Monica Hesse, “Seeing monsters everywhere but the mirror,” about Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Rachel Levine was excellent. What wasn’t excellent, though, was the headline accompanying the online version: “Rand Paul’s ignorant questioning of Rachel Levine showed why we need her in government.”
Paul’s questioning wasn’t ignorant. The Kentucky Republican is a highly educated man with plenty of access to information. Instead, his questioning was hateful, intentionally misleading, truth-twisting and monstrous — all of which Hesse makes clear in the column but none of which is reflected in the headline. Because, in many cases, people read only headlines, it is simply irresponsible of The Post to allow headlines that don’t reflect content and, even worse, continue to give a pass to this kind of behavior, couching it in forgiving terms such as “ignorant” that imply simply not knowing, rather than calling it what it is: cruel purpose.
Diana Roll, Seattle
No free rides
An electric vehicle subsidy not mentioned in the Feb. 17 editorial “A more honest approach” is their “free ride.” Gas taxes, in part, help to build and maintain highways that electric vehicles use for free. Yes, the country should encourage the switch to electric vehicles as long as those vehicles are paying their fair share.
Carol Carroll, Atascadero, Calif.
Focusing on a great visual
Regarding the Feb. 21 Arts & Style article “His first still life was perfect. So it was his last”:
“Like having someone gently thwack the back of your knees with a baseball bat: You fall to your knees. It’s involuntary.” Sebastian Smee’s Great Works, In Focus has become one of my favorites of the week. Lovely art, lovely writing.
Ginger Hankins, Shepherdstown, W.Va.