D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e      february 2005

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Dances with Wolves

Thank you for a very good article ("Getting Wolfed," January). I've given interviews to many publications in my life. I got so tired of being misquoted I wrote the articles myself, trusting the publications only to do the photos. Not so with Desert Exposure. You accurately reported every point I wished to make. Well done and thank you!

I didn't know you would be including mention of my confrontation with Alex Thal. However, I'm very grateful you ferreted out the truth about the one bullet I fired being dug out from the dirt behind my house under the watchful eyes of a TV camera. No one else ever saw fit to report that. Again, thank you for real expert journalism.

There is one thing I want the public to know: The United States Forest Service and Grant County both determined my driveway was not a road and gave up any claim to easement through my property.

Again, thank you for a very fair and truthful article. The response has been terrific.

Deirdre Wolf
Silver City

In the article "Getting Wolfed," the reporter imagines some of Deirdre Wolf's neighbors referring to her wolves as "howling monsters" destroying their "rural paradise."

I am one of Deirdre's immediate neighbors, and I am of the opinion that the ethereal sound of howling wolves only enhances the atmosphere of this "rural paradise." The wolves rarely howl for more than a minute at a time, and I am often disappointed when Deirdre hushes them during a particularly splendid session of harmonizing.

What DOES destroy rural paradises is the insanity-inducing, nerve-fraying noise of chain saws, weed whackers, wood chippers, construction equipment and all of the other culprits responsible for the tyranny of noise that modern society accepts as normal. Machine noise is the very thing people like me move to the country to AVOID.

Wolfsong? Now THAT'S beautiful!

Joanne Cockerill
Silver City

Perhaps some educational info would help on hybrids. A single-source article without checking with the Humane Society, legitimate sanctuaries and others concerned about these animals leads to biased reporting. Check the Animal Ordinance for Grant County and see if Wolf complies with that. An individual's recall of events certainly is not always the truth. A Google search provides more info both on the person and the animals.

One thing is correct: the use of the term "controversial." In particular the disputatious and litigious nature is well documented. "con-tro-ver-sial: adj. Of, producing, or marked by controversy: 'a controversial movie'; 'a controversial stand on human rights.' Fond of controversy; disputatious." "dis-pu-ta-tious: adj. inclined or showing an inclination to dispute or disagree, even to engage in lawsuits; 'a style described as abrasive and contentious'; 'a disputatious lawyer'; 'a litigious and acrimonious spirit' [syn: contentious, disputative, litigious]."

Doug Neher
Silver City

Editor's note: The article in question cites 11 primary and secondary sources; background research involved many more.

When I last sat in one of the pens at Wolfsong Sanctuary, I was anointed by Spirit, the alpha male. Since wolves give the same treatment to their blankets and food dishes, I figure this makes me a treasured possession of the tribe.

David Fryxell has written a perceptive portrayal of Wolfsong's Deirdre Wolf. I am one of those who has been privileged to share Dee Dee's tribulations of the past several years, and also privileged to experience her talents and uniqueness. She is one of our county's great human resources.

I am unhappy, however, by statements made in the article by Alex Thal. The question of the road on Wolf's property was first raised by one of her neighbors. At the time [of the incident involving Thal], no determination had been made by the county on the legitimacy of the road claim. In keeping her gate locked (she let anyone who wished pass through), Dee Dee was doing nothing illegal, but this is not made clear in the article. The road was eventually determined by the county to be no road. The actual road exists some distance away, well outside Wolf's property.

Deirdre Wolf is not the first woman environmentalist to be persecuted in Grant County, but I hope she will be the last. There is so much here for which we can be thankful, but the county's "dark side," so evident in its treatment of Dee Dee and handling of the offenses to her, undermines Grant County's legal system, Grant County's future, and the efforts of the many who are working to build our community and preserve and restore our environment. We need to be far more careful of those we elect/appoint to public office.

Helen I. Francis
Silver City


Music Rights and Wrongs

After reading your recent story, "The Sound of Silence" (January 2005), I am compelled to submit my opinions regarding the performance rights organizations and their presence in Silver City.

ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC register songwriters for whom they collect and distribute copyright royalties. It is the collective power of their registrants that gives strength to these groups, and rightfully so. Songwriters, as individuals, could never track the use of their intellectual property without these organizations.

Here is a case in point: The single, "Worry Too Much," by Mark Heard, showed up on Buddy Miller's "Universal United House Of Prayer" (Angel Band Music 2004). Album sales will be moderate by industry standards, but there was a video of the single in rotation on Country Music Television. Heard, at 52, died in 1992. Survived by a wife and three children, he was a brilliant, yet obscure and underpaid, songwriter and record producer. Because of Buddy Miller's record and video, ASCAP, the clearinghouse for Heard's song catalog, will send his widow a check each month as long as the music is current. I think she deserves the royalties, all of which will be paid by businesses that try to profit using ASCAP songs, including such in Silver City.

The story might be the same for other widows, and possibly destitute songwriters. There are no other pensions for songwriters.

As for the "only original music" angle, if you were to read most obscure songwriter bios, most likely you would discover ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC artists listed as influences. If consumers see those influences and choose to frequent clubs, based on the bios, they will expect to see the influences personified. The artists then "owe" their influences. How many times have we heard that someone is "the next Bob Dylan"? You can't deny the ethical considerations.

Also, beyond increased sales, nightclubs benefit from live music in another way. Almost all newspapers have free listings for live music, as well features on musicians and the clubs they frequent. To pay for that much space in a publication would cost the venues an amount similar to the license fees.

For nightclubs with live music, paying for a music license is just another cost of doing business. True, Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow probably don't need the money, but they should be paid for their work like anyone else.

Finally, asking local musicians, none of whom can support themselves beyond the poverty level in Silver City, to help pay overhead costs by donating their services at a benefit concert, is a slap in the face masquerading as a good time.

You've got to pay the piper. And pay his agent, too. Higher drink prices or cover charges might help to offset the expense of licensing.

Bob Einweck
via email

I am so sorry to read "The Sound of Silence." As a freelance fiddler in Silver City, this news makes me sad to know that yet again music is silenced, as it was in the El Grito School system due to lack of funding this year! I will play laments on the streets of Silver at every occasion.

Sophia Brugman
Silver City

I'm an unpublished singer-songwriter, and I have the rejections in a neat little pile to prove it, but I've only been writing a few years (since retirement) and enjoy mild success in Deming. I'm asked to sing my gospel originals at the Presbyterian Church, and my four-chord country songs at a local jam.

I read and re-read your article "The Sound of Silence" in the January issue—great job. This has happened in Deming once that I know of; I'm not going to mention any names because of the "spies" for ASCAP and BMI.

Jim Kolb's idea of a benefit concert to raise money is a good one. I would rather see a local singer, singer/songwriter, club owner, etc. association with dues-paying members unite to raise legal fees, and confront these people in a Grant County court, which would hopefully be sympathetic to local business people. I'm not noted as an organizer, but I would be a dues-paying member, and comb the Deming area for members. It would be better than paying for "protection."

Cal West


Fact vs. Fiction

The scientific method of inquiry is quite ancient and simple (Editor's Note, "Matters of Fact," January). A person makes an observation and formulates a theory to explain the observation. Then a test is devised which will test the theory. The test can be applied most anywhere and the results should be the same. If the results repeatedly prove the theory true under a wide variety of settings, then we call the observation a law. The law can then be used to govern behavior and the results are quite predictable. For instance, the laws of physics are used to build sound structures.

It seems to me that neither "creation" nor "evolution" science have met the criteria to be called scientific. Since they are both largely speculation, they ought to be excluded from science curriculum in schools. This would eliminate a lot of useless quarreling about a subject that really is of no use in daily living.

Charles Clements
Las Cruces

I just read your Editor's Note. You are right on the button. You have a great mind. Thank you and keep writing.

David L. Strain

Putting Drugs to the Test

The "Body, Mind & Spirit" article in the January 2005 issue of Desert Exposure ("A Growing Alternative") needs additional exposure. No doubt Dr. Conchita Paz is a fine physician, but she overstates her case when she insists that pharmaceutical drugs are put through rigorous scientific testing. The foundation of basic biomedical research is animal experimentation. The president of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine in the United Kingdom, Andre Menache, has stated, "Conclusions drawn from animal research, when applied to human disease, are likely to delay progress, mislead and do harm to patients." Charles Mayo, MD, a founder of the Mayo Clinic, said, "I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such cruelty."

Bob Young
Las Cruces


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