Clearly, this is discrimination. The word will get out in the community regarding this practice, and it will hurt the business of FedEx. Simply put, a lot of us who use the service will not put our dollars where we cannot be free.

Franklin Madison
Jersey City, New Jersey

Locked Out

In response to Joel McQueen's article "Dread Locked," I would like to express my condemnation of Federal Express's totalitarian employee policies.

The dilemma faced by former FedEx senior service agent Kenneth Dickens is emblematic of a larger problem: corporate America has far too much influence on societal and cultural norms. A corporation should not have the right to discriminate on the basis of physical appearance.

I find FedEx's actions thoroughly appalling, and I applaud Mr. Dickens's decision to file with the city's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

We all ought to follow his lead and be quick to counter suppression of personal freedom wherever it rears its ugly head.

Mike Clement
Dix Hills, Long Island

She Got Gamed

I really appreciated Lev Grossman's article on Ultima Online ["Mayhem in Cyberspace," February 15]. I have been playing Ultima for about two years, and have even volunteered some of my time counseling players. I have been PKd [player-killed] numerous times, lost thousands of Britannian gold pieces [which players purchase to play the game], and even lost my Ultima home.

As frustrating as all of that has been, I have made contact with people from all over the world, and formed some very valuable friendships. Thank you for shedding a positive light on something that many people still don't understand.

Belinda Hasting
Knoxville, Tennessee

Seventh Heaven

Many thanks to Deborah Jowitt for her thoughtful, well-informed review of The Beethoven Seventh at New York City Ballet ["Tharp the Bold," February 8].

I've had more than my fill of critics who attack Twyla Tharp for being ambitious, visionary, and original in her work with George Balanchine's company—as if the founder had not been, well, ambitious, visionary, and original.

The best thing about the Voice reviews is that they toe no party line, but speak to artists' visions.

As for Ms. Jowitt, you go girl!

Harry Matthews

Lovin' Spoonful

I was surprised and touched by Camden Joy's article on Spoon and the fall of '90s white rock ["Total Systems Failure," January 25].

I met Britt Daniel and Jim Eno of Spoon just after they formed their band, and watched them record the "Agony of Laffitte" single in a friend's garage in central Austin. I think the album A Series of Sneaks is close to a classic, and I am surprised that someone else is listening to music (as opposed to listening to what people say about music). Though the music business is in sad shape, take heart. No real musician is ever in it for business reasons. And as long as America still has garages, bedrooms, six-packs, and guitars (or turntables, sitars, and Moogs), real rock and roll will never die.

Phillip Niemeyer
Austin, Texas

Wise Guise

What a shame you let Michael Atkinson interview Frederick Wiseman. Here you have one of the great documentary filmmakers of all time and Atkinson wants to get in a pissing contest about objectivity. He couldn't leave it alone when Wiseman eloquently responded to his film school whining by saying, "I'm an active participant, just not a very obvious participant." He needed to show us he went to college and learned about deconstruction. And then to snipe at the value of Titicut Follies, a film that helped change the treatment of inmates throughout this country.

It's hard to know what the hell was wrong with Atkinson—maybe Wiseman reminded him of his father and he needed to express his anger at daddy. The unfortunate thing is that he treated Wiseman shabbily, and he wasted a great opportunity for all of us to hear what he might have said.

Paul Quinn
Los Angeles, California

Michael Atkinson replies: That Wiseman was treated "shabbily" would surely be news to Wiseman, just as the involvement of deconstruction and my father is news to me. This was, rather, a discussion of formal issues that pertain to all documentaries, including Wiseman's Titicut Follies in particular.

Desolation Row

I am a neighbor of the former East 5th Street squatters who were profiled in J.A. Lobbia's February 8 Towers & Tenements column ["Does the City Owe Squat?"]. Although it was two years ago, I still feel empathy and sadness for the squatters, and the indignities they were forced to endure at the hands of the Department of Buildings and Adolf Giuliani's henchmen.

The fire that preceded their removal was a tragedy, but thankfully did not result in any injuries. But what then was done to the squatters was truly sadistic. From my next-door window, I watched horrified as they were restrained by NYPD barricades from retrieving their pets or personal belongings. I remember them begging for just a few minutes to reenter the building to reclaim their possessions.

I never felt as though my squatter neighbors were getting a free ride living as they did. Rather, I was glad that someone was utilizing two city-abandoned buildings that had lain fallow for so long. The city never took any interest in those structures before the fire, which, by the way, appeared to cause minimal damage—yet, within hours, they had mobilized a wrecking crew and had the cops in riot gear.

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