Routes To Ruin

The letter in last week's issue from the so-called drug "bus driver" who signed himself "Peter D.," in response to Frank Owen's article "Drug Cocktails: Mixing It Up in the Clubs" [July 27], was most amusing. Would the Voice print a letter from some clown giving a politically correct spiel about doing crack, PCP, and heroin in a "responsible, well-informed" manner?

If someone ODs at one of Mr. "D." 's "parties" at which he "regulates" drug use, will he pay for their medical expenses? I guess it's wrong for drugs to be rampant in underclass communities, but a good thing for drugs to be used by the middle and upper classes, as long as they are "expanding their minds."

Jeez, remember those thrilling "heroin chic" daze of the early and mid '90s?

Mark Keresman

Downs Syndrome

I was stunned that Frank Owen's cover story "Drug Cocktails: Mixing It Up in the Clubs" did not include information about several of the deadliest drug combinations. Mixing downs is the most common cause of overdose death: e.g., heroin and alcohol, alcohol and barbiturates, alcohol and benzodiazepines, etc.

The AIDS drug ritonavir can be deadly if taken with MDMA. One death in Great Britain already has been linked to this combination, and it points to an explanation for some MDMA overdoses which were previously mysterious.

Both ritonavir and MDMA are metabolized by the same liver enzyme. About 3 to 10 percent of the Caucasian population have a natural deficiency of this enzyme. If either a drug combination or a natural deficit overwhelms the body's supply of it, death can occur, because it leads to blood levels of MDMA that are five to 10 times greater than normal. In addition, levels of this enzyme fluctuate naturally so that a person can take MDMA and be fine on a dose one day, and it can kill them the next. If someone insists upon taking MDMA with ritonavir, he or she should wait for at least two to three weeks after starting ritonavir since this can give the body time to adapt.

Other protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors may also be dangerous, although no deaths have yet been reported.

How could Owen have omitted this crucial information?

Maia Szalavitz

Maus: Round 3

I have read, with increasing fascination and disbelief, Ted Rall's original cover feature on Art Spiegelman ["King Maus: Art Spiegelman Rules the World of Comix With Favors and Fear," August 3] and the letters to the editor that followed it ["Rall Nerve," August 10].

Like most of us, Spiegelman has his faults, but I've known him for almost 20 years (i.e., pre-Pulitzer), and have had a ringside seat watching him push the aesthetic boundaries of comics both through his (and Françoise Mouly's) editorship of RAW (the comics equivalent of Eugene Jolas's transition) through the '80s, and with Maus. When all is said and done and the artistic and political columns are tallied, Spiegelman's contribution to comics will stand up and everything else, including Rall's article, will be seen as so much wind.

I am sorry to say that several letters from colleagues in the comics profession echoed the pettiness and small-mindedness of Ted Rall's original article, Harvey Pekar's being exemplary in this regard. Pekar has made a big nuisance of himself over the last decade pestering Spiegelman over his grievances with Maus. He is an embarrassment, and one wishes, for his own sake, that he would shut up.

Finally, I'd like to point out that my quotes in Rall's piece were severely truncated in such a way as to fit Rall's agenda, and that I find this editing objectionable.

Gary Groth, Editor
The Comics Journal
Seattle, Washington

Ted Rall replies: Groth provided a lengthy written response to my request for comments on Spiegelman. In journalism, it is neither necessary nor desiriable to use an entire paragraph where a sentence or two will suffice, and there is nothing unethical about selecting comments that seem relevant. We ran what was relevant and edited out what was not.

Missing Persons

I completely agree with Guy Trebay's disgust concerning the disparity of media coverage between the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Susan Fuchs, a homeless woman in Central Park ["Eyes Wide Shut," August 3].

As an undergraduate college student, I am beginning to question my chosen profession during media frenzies like the coverage following the deaths of Princess Di and of JFK Jr. To neglect an equally important death, such as that of Ms. Fuchs, at the expense of a celebrity swarm is shameful and unethical.

Nicholas Bender
Preston, Connecticut

Missed The Point

Following his somewhat macabre "Search and Recovery: The Kennedy Dialogues" [July 27], Guy Trebay hit a new low with his article "Eyes Wide Shut," comparing news coverage of the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law to the murder of Susan Fuchs.

While I basically agree with Trebay's point that the murder in the park went underreported in favor of frequently over-the-top coverage of the Kennedy-Bessette tragedy, his dismissal of the plane crash as a "negligible" event displayed a level of coldness and cynicism so far off the scale that it left me horrified.

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