Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to WBAI. Across the nation, dissidents have systematically harassed and threatened Pacifica management and board members, and in several alarming cases resorted to violence to further their narrow agenda. The recent resignations of several board members after the relentless harassment of their families and the disruption of their professional lives have only emboldened the dissidents to continue their campaign of intimidation.

WBAI is as committed to our listeners as we have ever been. Our focus remains on our mission—independent community radio for the people. But the station also is committed to adapting to the challenges of radio in the 21st century to ensure the survival of this important public service. Change can be painful, but without it, Pacifica faces irrelevance.

In the era of corporate media consolidation, the need for WBAI and Pacifica has never been greater. WBAI is working hard to produce coherent and socially relevant programming that focuses on the unique information needs of our listeners. After all, community radio should be about serving the needs of those who listen to the programs, not those who produce them.

Bessie M. Wash, Executive Director
The Pacifica Foundation
Washington, D.C.


After reading Nick Mamatas's article "Everything's Fake but the Deaths" [August 14], I am disgusted not only as a WWF fan, but also as a person. Stating that "half a dozen active wrestlers and wrestling personalities died during [a] ratings war . . . as punishing road schedules, painkillers, and ever more fantastic stunts were offered to television audiences hungry for the spectacle of gladiators," and following it up with the article Mamatas wrote, is preposterous.

The facts are that, with the possible exception of Owen Hart, the deaths that Mamatas discussed were not due to professional wrestling. Two of them were due to addiction. One was due to heart failure. One was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Are we to blame rock music for the death of Kurt Cobain because he was an addict with a gun?

I don't think so.

Chris Sawyer
North Kingstown, Rhode Island

In "Everything's Fake but the Deaths," Nick Mamatas wrote that when Owen Hart fell to his death in Kansas City's Kemper Arena the lights were down and the audience didn't see him fall. That's false.

I was one of 17,000 people at that event, and I definitely saw this man fall and die in that ring. I can still hear the loud thud his body made as he hit the mat and lay there motionless. I saw emergency crews work on him with no success. Hart was dead as soon as he hit that mat. And even though they didn't tell the audience, we knew! Also, the lights weren't down. You could clearly see him plummet to the mat. He looked like a rag doll. At first, that's what most of us thought . . . another wrestling gimmick.

April Jackson
Kansas City, Missouri

Only one of the deaths mentioned in Nick Mamatas's article occurred during a wrestling event, and it didn't happen while Owen Hart was wrestling. The reason behind Hart's fall from the rafters of Kansas City's Kemper Arena was an improper hookup. The WWF had trained Hart to hook up the harness and do the maneuver; however, the carabiner reportedly was improperly closed. Also, I'd like to point out that Chyna was not released by the WWF. She asked for more money, and when she was told that the WWF didn't believe she was worth that much, she broke off negotiations.

Nathan Marshall
Brampton, Canada

Nick Mamatas replies: Wrestlers have no off-season and perform risky stunts. One can presume that painkiller and steroid abuse is independent of this, but since there is little time to recuperate from injuries or to hone physiques, the causal link between wrestling and drug abuse is clear. Concerning Hart's death, a reported $18 million in damages suggests that the WWF didn't take all necessary precautions. Reports from the scene contend that nobody witnessed Hart's fall.


Chris Nutter's article "Post-Straight: How Gay Men Are Remodeling Regular Guys" [August 14] struck a chord of disappointment in my heterosexual female heart. Although the piece provides hope that brutish male behavior could someday be molded into the dreamy Pottery Barn standard of life, it bothers me that once again the female perspective can only be validated by the male voice.

It seems that the trend to be "homo savvy" is a new form of patriarchy that merely echoes and pinpoints what women have been saying for years about "regular guy" behavior. When I am hollered at, catcalled, ogled in bars, jeered on the bus by men, my protests (and hope for reform) are less effective than when gay men instruct hetero males, "Hey, not cool, buddy."

Although I find it admirable that some heterosexual men can get over their qualms about gay men, and can talk and socialize without pretense, I believe that this so-called "post-straight" trend is disheartening to the female masses.

Tiffany Maleshefski
San Francisco, California


Re Chris Nutter's article: Hurray for these bright straight men. As a woman I have always found the meat-locker mentality boring and annoying. A few years ago I developed my first real friendship with a gay male and have surrounded myself with these intelligent, sensitive, and cultured individuals ever since. Straight men have a lot to learn from their gay counterparts, and it pleases me to read articles such as this one.

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