The article on Robert Aubry Davis, “Around Town With Mr. Know-It-All” (11/15), began as a standard hatchet job by the hypercynical, nihilistic Eddie Dean, and ended instead as a ringing affirmation of just what a remarkable man Davis is. The effort completely backfired, with the typical muckraking, tear-everything-down expose instead showing that Davis is an individual truly in the Renaissance-man tradition. The article also showed what a profound and abiding lack of knowledge Eddie Dean has on practically every subject he encounters. I realize that attacking a writer or journalist because of his or her subject matter amounts to an ad hominem attack, but Dean, by centering the entire article around what he thinks (or doesn’t think), opens himself up to such an attack.

While it is true that the poor old District is suffering from all those woes Dean cites in the article, that certainly has nothing to do with the cultural banquet offered to those who make the Washington, D.C., area their home or who are just visiting. If anything, Davis’ eager cultural awareness and the positive ways in which he shares it with his viewers is a good thing, for it is more likely to make people, especially area residents, care about their city. I don’t see how Eddie Dean’s attraction to violent action-adventure flicks, or his boasting about how rarely he visits the Mall or Kennedy Center, is going to fill all those potholes or fix up the schools. On the other hand, Davis’ enthusiasm and energy are much more likely to make people realize just what a good place the nation’s capital city is, and how it can be made even better, how unacceptable its present condition is. This is something that people of all sorts of ideological stripes can appreciate. It is abnormal and unacceptable for so many area residents, whatever their length of time here in the Washington, D.C., area, to hold their city (the capital of the United States!) in such low regard.

It is because of people like Robert Aubry Davis and others who contribute their talent, time, and energy to the cultural life of the city that the ugliness, violence, and alienation that characterize so much of urban life is ameliorated, and the joy and beauty that exists quietly all around is brought out. And yes, this is for everyone, and not, as Dean might counter, only cushy, comfortable suburbanites. If you don’t believe this, ask the good people at Channel 32 if they feel that the bringing into people’s lives of something other than the pop TV culture represents so much suburban, middle-class fluff. So while Il Guarany may not move Eddie Dean and other self-absorbed, jaded erstwhile hippies, and while it may not fill a pothole or fix a leaky school roof tomorrow, it does add to the cultural life of the District, which in the long run contributes to the mental and spiritual well-being of the city. Let Eddie Dean have his violent movies and Mayor Barry have his spiritual retreats, and let Washington, D.C., keep Robert Aubry Davis.

College Park, Md.

via the Internet