Madison County Opinion...

OCTOBER 8, 2003

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
October 8, 2003

Frankly Speaking

County should adopt 'family-residential zone'

Madison County's Planning and Zoning Board is frequently confronted with a request for a variance to the residential zoning rules to allow a family to place a temporary mobile home on their lot for the use of a relative.
This could be a young couple saving money to build their first home, or an elderly family member with health problems.
The problem is that current rules allow only one residence per lot, regardless of the size of the lot. Even if your land consists of 100 acres, you are allowed only one residence unless you subdivide the land into separate lots.
I think we should add a new zone to our ordinance. I would call it the "family-residential zone." A family would be allowed to rezone a suitable-sized tract of land into this classification and create a family compound. A minimum space per dwelling would be required and all residents of the compound would have to establish family relationships.
This zone would have several effects. First, if a family has inherited a tract of land that they want to keep intact, but several family members want to live there, they would be able to do so. Secondly, families who want to take care of their own elderly, rather than ship them off to a retirement home, would be able to provide them with a private residence that is close enough to allow easy access and any needed assistance.
A family compound would re-introduce the concept of an extended family. Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews would be part of a single large family. Each member would have as much privacy as they desire, yet will have access to all other family members for assistance, passing along of family history and values, and a heightened self identity.
Among my favorite memories are the times I spent with my grandfather on his farm in Jackson County. I have told the story of my childhood trip with grandpa and several cousins from his home near New Harmony Church to Seagraves Mill to grind corn into meal. We made the trip over dirt roads in a two-horse wagon. I learned those tall tales in my book from him and other older family members. I have a clear understanding of my family, its history, its relationship to God and the church, and the essential values that held us together.
There are many things we can do to return our families to the center of our lives. Providing a family home site with access to all members would be a good first step.
Making it possible to depend on family members for help rather than government bureaucrats would be a major step.
Teaching our children about their family ties will give them greater self confidence and a firm base on which to build their lives. All this starts with the "family homestead," a place where we can always return
Laws that stand in the way of family unity, including zoning laws, need to be changed. I urge our county officials to give this idea full consideration.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
October 8, 2003

In the Meantime

Music industry not so 'Ginuwine'

If the music industry can sue a 12-year-old girl for downloading Ginuwine's "In those Jeans," can I sue the record businesses for peddling utter garbage in the first place?
Of course not, there's nothing unlawful in creating musical waste, but wouldn't it be nice to put a hurt on the promoters of such bad taste, file some legal brief in support of a minimum artistic merit clause?
I raise the issue because labels are now complaining that rampant music downloading is cutting into their profits. They're right.
But in addressing the problem, record labels have paddled into the precarious river of moral rightness, trying to fix the label of "thieves" on those who cut into their profit margin.
But big-wig record guys will have a hard time staying afloat as "the victimized." The labels have for too long sold us on sophomoric sexuality dressed up in mundane music where computers correct the pitch of off-key vocals, where a girl's stomach matters more than her voice, where what sells is whatever gets the sex drive going.
Most major music labels don't have a foot to stand on when it comes to claiming a spot on the moral high ground.
Think about it. These days you can tell your kid to forget learning guitar. If he or she really wants to make it in popular music, they have a better chance if they develop rock-hard abs or a bad-boy persona. Such things are more important in the popular music world these days than learning musical scales.
Turn on the radio, or worse the TV, and there is virtually no originality to be found, no musicianship to laud. And ultimately - nothing soulful.
Here's where my sister, seven years younger than me, would step in with a verbal slap in the face: "Snap out of it, brother. Your crankiness is consuming you, you grouchy old man."
She's got that right. I'm getting crankier by the day. But I guess us old folks can agree: it ain't like it used to be.
Think of Johnny Cash and how so many lamented his passing recently. Part of the sadness many feel is the cold fact, there's nobody else like him. That old soulfulness so abundant in earlier years of radio is more and more scarce. It's as if poetic sincerity that keeps a touch of subtlety is relegated to what used to be. It's not a part of popular music anymore. Neither is the great guitar playing of days gone by - Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Stevie Ray Vaughn.
We know that in coming years the greats of yesteryear will eventually pass on, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, the two remaining Beatles, etc.
Then what? Will 50 Cent, Eminem or Ginuwine be considered classic in 2020? Will the country stars of today, who seem to stray farther and farther from the heart-breaking old country sounds in favor of a modern, country pop - where "country" simply means you wear a glossy cowboy suit and speak with a twang - will they be the music legends of tomorrow?
Here's a challenge: find an Otis Redding caliber artist on today's pop charts.
The true frustration for me is that, despite all the junk we see, there is so much good stuff out there.
There are musicians who will never get noticed, who don't look good, but who can play with real feeling and can bring chill bumps to those who care to listen. There are numerous songwriters who write with real poetic skill. I have seen such musicians and been amazed that no label takes an interest in their talent.
But this is not the criteria for which they are judged.
It is not the skill, nor is it the merit of the music that lands a deal.
It's potential profit margin.
The record industry filed suit last month against 261 individual file sharers who they said stole their copyrighted songs. This included pre-teens and even a 71-year-old grandfather who didn't know his grandkids had downloaded songs on his computer.
The record companies are behind the technological curve. They can't figure out how to make downloading work for them. So they want to hurt those who download.
They want parents to actually pay the $15.99 to buy an album so their 10 year old can hear how the girl "In those Jeans" sure "makes a thug wanna' cry something terrible."
I'd actually support the record industry's efforts to go after freeloaders if they'd move from "Ginuwine" to genuine, if they'd give the abundant good music that's really out there the attention it deserves, if they'd care about music as an art, not just a commodity.
But where's the profit incentive in that?
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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