Gov. Bush's `W' should stand for `wimp'Dubya, as in George...

Letters

October 24, 1999

Gov. Bush's `W' should stand for `wimp'

Dubya, as in George W. Bush, Jr., has been aptly nicknamed. The "W" stands for wimp. A real president doesn't call the recent multiple killings a "wave of evil" which can only be solved by "more love in society." A real president puts six new laws right in the face of the National Rifle Association:

1) A ban on all assault rifles and Saturday-night specials, the recommendation of Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks. In America every day, we lose 65 people to handguns.

2) A trigger lock on every gun, the Glendening bill. If a kid can't unlock it, he can't shoot it. There is a gun in every third American home.

3) A lock box or cabinet for all guns. The Jonesboro boys first went to a home where they found the guns locked up. So they went to another home where the guns were just lying around.

4) Revocation of license for all 389 dealers to whom half of 1998's crime guns were traced. This is only 3/8 of 1 percent of the nation's 100,000 licensed dealers. Yet only 42 were prosecuted and only 19 licenses were lifted. The NRA has a very long arm.

5) The Virginia plan: limit each buyer to one gun a month. East Coast cities used to trace crime guns back to Virginia where traffickers would buy cases at a time. Now these guns are traced back to Texas and certain other southern states. Are you listening, Dubya?

6) Gun show dealers held to the same laws as resident dealers. Dubya, right after Columbine, said he favored this in Texas but then caved in to the NRA. It's an old habit.

In 1995, he signed a law letting Texans carry concealed weapons. Early this year, he signed another stopping Texas cities from suing gun makers like 20 other cities around the nation. In a recent poll, 76 percent of Americans said they wanted handgun registration, 59 percent said they will vote for a pro-gun control candidate for president, 41 percent thought a Democrat is more likely than a Republican to control guns, and 32 percent thought the reverse.

Are you listening, Dubya?

J. A. Hoage, Severna Park

Remembering talents of Professor Higgins

Retirement years bring us time to enrich our lives, and if we're lucky, we may find someone to teach us how to appreciate more fully what we have always treasured.

We music-loving retirees found exactly this with Professor Richard Higgins, who had taught at the Peabody Conservatory of Music for 30 years before coming to Anne Arundel Community College to teach music appreciation in the Senior Program. He taught at AACC from 1988 until 1995. I discovered his class in 1989, and enjoyed six years with him.

To say he taught music appreciation is like saying Horowitz played the piano or Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello. Dick Higgins was our maestro orchestrating our full understanding of what happens when an orchestra plays the work of a great composer.

He taught us what to look for in the performance of the orchestra and soloists. And he told us how to judge all components of a symphony.

This man who had a doctorate in music and 30 years at Peabody taught us as much as we were capable of absorbing -- what constitutes a concerto and a symphony, how to listen for themes repeated and always to look for contrast, the single most important element in music.

He supplied diagrams of the orchestra and played recordings of solo instruments so we could recognize the oboe, the piccolo, the flute, the bassoon, and all the other instruments that combine to make that glorious full symphonic sound.

He gave us an appreciation based on his immense knowledge of the subject and an enormous passion for music that was both seductive and charming.

Once in class, Dick played a recording of tenor Jose Carreras singing Leonard Bernstein's "Maria" that was so lovely I had to fight back tears. After class when I mentioned this to Dick, he said, "I did, too."

His wife, Pamela, was aware that her husband was sometimes beyond reach when he returned home after teaching a class. What a testament to his spirit that after four decades of teaching music he retained his passion for it.

Once I commented that my enjoyment of music had not diminished over the years, as some other passions had, but in fact had grown. He smiled knowingly in agreement, causing me to suspect this might have been one reason why Dick was willing to teach our class.

Suffering from leukemia, Dick Higgins retired from AACC in 1995. He continued to enjoy music almost until the end of his life. When I sometimes saw him at Maryland Hall, I invariably learned something about the performance from him.

Professor Higgins died on Sept. 5. He has left a rich legacy, but I didn't know if music would offer as much without him.

Ambivalence replaced my usual enthusiasm as I contemplated Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's first casual concert Sept. 18, with guest conductor Gunther Herbig and pianist Peter Roesel in Wagner's Prelude to Der Meistersinger and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor.

A BSO subscriber for at least 20 years, I'd moved my seats from the orchestra to the balcony -- Grand Tier Center when Dr. Higgins' advised this as the best place to see every member of the orchestra.

A little choked up, I entered my section, where I was soon caught up in Maestro Herbig's explanation of the music.

Later, as I listened to the soaring melody, I recalled that Dick had overlooked Wagner's huge ego, concentrating instead on his ability to "do it all." And as I listened to Peter Roesel conquer Prokofiev's challenging piano concerto, I recalled Dick's advising us to concentrate on the soft passages as an indication of the pianist's skill.

The concert was not a sad experience after all, but a time to appreciate what Professor Higgins had taught.

I hope that those hundreds of us who enjoyed Dr. Higgins' classes will applaud a little extra for him whenever we express our appreciation at future concerts.

Mary P. Johnson, Severna Park

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