Copout Land

Why Is It OK for Greg Tate ["Copland," May 25] to refer to Justin Volpe and Charles Schwarz, two of the cops accused in the Abner Louima case, using the "Nation of Islam term 'Cave Boy' "? Or write that Volpe and Schwarz seem "the sort whose descent from the apes was interrupted before such human values as compassion, remorse, shame, or an innate inhibition against sadism could kick in"? Or describe Schwarz as a "Big Crazy White Boy"?

Yeah, yeah, he was just relating how the "community" perceives Volpe, and not necessarily endorsing those views. But the point of the Louima case is that racism led to an unspeakable act of police violence. Race baiting is evil— no matter the race.

Andrew Silow-Carroll

Obie Won Can No Be

Having just won a special citation at the 1999 Obie awards for directing Sakina's Restaurant, I must say how disappointed I was with Alisa Solomon's article "Steal This Stage" [May 25]. That piece could kill the ambition of any small girl wanting to make the leap into artistic distinction.

We are in an exciting time when women can be who they want. There is no line in the sand except for unfortunate statistics that create an illusion that someone's success is largely based on gender. Winning the Obie citation was one of the greatest achievements of my life. Pieces like Solomon's discourage young women by making theater seem like a profession where gender politics always take precedence over talent.

Kim Hughes

Wisdom of Solomon

Thanks to Alisa Solomon for her concise summation of the position of women in theater. And what a goddamn relief to know that it hasn't been my imagination, as an award-winning playwright, that it's tough to get work, get paid, and get on with it!

Sharyn Abramhoff Shipley
International Center for Women Playwrights
Issaquah, Washington

The Fandom Menace

Re J. Hoberman's article "The Force Will Always Be With Us" [May 18]: It's not surprising that a bunch of kids back in 1977 greatly enjoyed a film about space cowboys and cool lightsabers. What is disconcerting is that these dreamy-eyed techno freaks are turning once again to grumpy billionaire George Lucas to help them revisit their idealized youth. The excitement about The Phantom Menace involves nothing more than a fantasy that Lucas's new film will transport fans to their childhood.

Tim Fogle
Louisville, Kentucky

Star Bucks

As a devotee of Star Wars, I enjoyed J. Hoberman's insights into the new movie. Star Wars is about a boy from the middle of nowhere who ends up saving the universe. When I left my dust-bowl town of Pocatello, Idaho, to tackle L.A., it was, in my mind, the equivalent of Luke's leaving his home planet of Tatooine to tackle the Death Star. My motto was, If Luke can do it, so can I.

Gary Gunter
Los Angeles, California


Richard Goldstein, in "The 'Faggot' Factor" [May 25], brilliantly brought to light the enculturated homophobia revealed by the Littleton murders. While some members of the press rushed to suggest that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's psychopathology was a direct outgrowth of their alleged homosexuality, or at least to titillate their audience with that old chestnut, Goldstein probed the more cogent, albeit less popular, argument: that rage of Harris's and Klebold's intensity is cultivated by years of exposure to a very specific brand of humiliation. Considering this social dynamic is hardly isolated to Littleton, one can't help but feel a horrible sense of dread. If ever a bomb were in need of dismantling, it's this one, and Goldstein's piece brought us one small step closer to achieving that end.

Thomas O'neil
Monitor & Response Team Member
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)

Mad Max

Major props to Jennifer Gonnerman for her article "The Supermax Solution" [May 25]. Most telling is Gonnerman's statement, in regard to the new "supermax" prisons, that "rehabilitation is beside the point."

Law enforcement is in utter denial about the financial impossibility of jailing what is fast approaching 1 percent of the population. Many legislators now agree about the urgent need to stop jailing people for nonviolent crimes. This step alone would halve the present jail population, and the need for supermax facilities would be eliminated.

Stephen Heath
Largo, Florida

Bringing Up Andy

Re C.Carr's "The Urge To Purge" [May 25]: Tracey Emin's work has more to do with vomiting up her feelings and experiences than it has with art. Using advertising-like titles is a Warholian-derived gimmick to sensationalize her experiences. At the root of this public display of emptiness is profound narcissism. Emin is quite elegant in using that most American of devices to gain attention.

Tom Thomas


Luc Sante, in "Sewers of Budapest" [May 18], described Tom Waits's 1980s albums Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs, and Franks Wild Years in a way that captured their true beauty.

But how does somebody who still loves to crank up "Heartattack and Vine" and "Nighthawks at the Diner" make the transition to Waits's new sound on Mule Variations?

Turntables have been an artistic presence in non-hiphop music for a while now, but I find the idea of Tom Waits crooning to a scratch rather eerie.

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