King Khallid's New Clothes

Peter Noel rises to new heights with his latest piece of agitprop, "The Hunt for Khallid Abdul Muhammad" [October 13], concerning Muhammad's purported actions in the wake of the Million Youth March.

With barely concealed admiration, Noel reports every self-serving claim Muhammad makes. There's Khallid, leaping into the fray to save a beaten man from the police, and being wrestled away by his adoring followers. We see our hero imploring the police " . . . to allow the crowd to disperse peacefully," apparently forgetting his earlier admonition to the crowd to seize the officers' guns. And who can forget the touching scene where he actually shakes the hand of a Jew, Norman Siegel [head of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which was instrumental in obtaining a permit for the march]?

One wonders what Noel's reaction might be if a public figure displayed similar prejudice against blacks or Latinos, and then was given a portrait worthy of Prince Valiant. How would he respond to a bedazzled description of David Duke actually shaking the hand of a black man?

Muhammad doesn't use code words or subtexts; he simply rants against whites in general and Jews in particular. Noel venerates a guy who could barely muster a few thousand souls to hear him speak after weeks of headlines, had nothing of any substance to say to his listeners, and ran when the episode was finished.

And this is the man who, in the words of Malik Shabazz quoted in the article, "makes the enemy quiver at night"? After reading Noel's breathless repetition of Muhammad's fantasies, I could barely restrain my urge to laugh.

David Weinstein

Parry Indiana

In Daniel Pinchbeck's profile of me ["Culture Shocker," October 13], Voice critic Gary Indiana is quoted saying that I am "a mean-spirited individual who likes to make nice people unhappy."

Indiana was a guest on my WBAI radio show three times promoting his books.

He was on a panel I organized at Matthew Marks Gallery last year.

When Gary's mother was sick and dying, I was one of the first people to comfort him and listen to his problems.

So when Gary calls me "a mean-spirited individual," he's really describing himself.

Charlie Finch

Fin De Finch

I was surprised that Daniel Pinchbeck let the porcine, malignant Charlie Finch off the hook so easily. Where on earth did he get the impression that David Bowie's Modern Painters magazine was "esteemed" by anyone besides David Bowie? Or that the endorsement of Walter Robinson, a failed and occasionally curdled East Village painter of yore, was a credible counterweight to the impression that Finch is basically the bilious grease an ungifted WASP's dissolving sense of entitlement becomes in an art world where gays and women--Mr. Finch's primary targets--have a little power?

There is nothing redeeming in Mr. Finch's cretinous preoccupation with other people's personal lives and nothing in his magazine, Coagula, that a 10-year-old couldn't recognize as the embittered effusions of the terminally envious. What is intimidating about Mr. Finch, however, is his physical enormity, which Mr. Pinchbeck failed to fully convey, and Finch's habit of fixating on people he barely knows, imagining them to be enemies or, worse, friends--and, since I have occasionally been hallucinated by Mr. Finch as one of the latter, and have witnessed the rage he goes into when he gets back a fraction of the animus he dishes out, I explicitly told Mr. Pinchbeck, repeatedly, that all but one of my remarks to him was off the record. Alas, not the one he quoted.

A C-plus for Mr. Pinchbeck. Next time he wants to throw someone in front of a runaway train, let him throw himself.

Gary Indiana

Proz Acts

In Mark Schoofs's article "Freud vs. Prozac" [October 20], NYU sociology professor Dorothy Nelkin argues that if we locate psychological troubles solely in the individual's biology, we absolve the individual of blame. Significantly, society and culture are "let off the hook completely."

I share Ms. Nelkin's concern. Having been diagnosed with a depressive illness, I've experimented with many drug therapies, including Prozac. Euphoric one moment, pitched into utter darkness the next, I've rolled along from one of any possible dispositions to the next.

And side effects? One of my faves was billed as "agitation"--an elegant euphemism for looking crazed and shaking too much to operate a car. Most of my male antidepressant-using friends have experienced some form of dick-hard-can't-come syndrome or a sudden disinterest in sex.

The side effect that most concerned me was my indifferent demeanor--just when my drug treatment was deemed most successful. Stepping over a homeless guy en route to a good dinner was still intellectually jarring, but it wasn't gonna ruin my night anymore. I was reassured that this new outlook was not the objective of my treatment, and that much of life is, indeed, sad.

I'm profoundly aware that my depression needs treatment, but wonder if that treatment must preclude a critical eye. Doesn't matter much what I think now; I no longer have health insurance, so I'll have to hope that certain more disturbing aspects of my condition simply ebb.

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