One Bad Hyphen

J. David Buckwalter, concerned citizen and author of the June 11, 2009 letter to the editor re: Henley street connection to downtown ["Fixing a Monstrous Mistake"], underwent emergency open heart surgery on June 12. As of this writing, following a harrowing week in CVICU, David is slowly recovering.

When David saw his letter was published with an erroneous hyphen in the e-mail contact address, he immediately tried to correct the error by establishing an e-mail account based on the incorrectly published address—to no avail. His blood pressure soared. Within hours, I was driving him to the ER. As news of his condition became graver, David admonished his quick temper and lamented the high cost of a hyphen. I joked that I would send the hospital bill to Metro Pulse.

Direct correlation? As a writer of numerous negative letters to Metro Pulse over the years, I now find myself thankful for the erroneous hyphen that pushed David, an uninsured artist, to seek emergency medical treatment. While any stress could have triggered his cardiac problems, at least it did not happen while he was bicycling in the wilderness or hiking to Mount LeConte. A proofreading error occurring in an urban environment can be a blessing.

Ironically, the hyphen serves to connect—something David strives for in life and envisions for downtown Knoxville and beyond. In this case, however, a hyphen severed communication and connection. In terms of urban design, Knoxville often feels like a severed city. What purpose does separation and sprawl serve? I dislike the answers that immediately come to mind: oil companies, the automotive industry, and classist values.

Some of us attempt to invoke change by falling to our knees. Some of us raise our fists and our voices. Ultimately, however, all of our activist hearts are bursting—literally or metaphorically—with love for our community.

If you share David's vision of connecting the heart of downtown to World's Fair Park, e-mail him at:

henleymonster(at) or


Surely, one of those e-mail addresses will be printed correctly.

Donna Doyle, Knoxville

Latest Blog Posts