The Madison County Journal
October 8, 2003
County should adopt 'family-residential
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
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
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 www.mcga.net. His e-mail address
October 8, 2003
Music industry not
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
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
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
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
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
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.