J. K. Garvey
Wichita, Kansas


Thank you for Rebecca Segall's coverage of Marie-Helene Parent and the Raelian movement in New York City ["The Rael World Comes to New York," September 4].

I have been a Raelian since 1996 but really have felt like a Raelian most of my life, and had no context within which to express my "knowing." Having studied and experienced a number of spiritual-religious traditions, I am excited that Rael's unique perspective is getting increased attention due to its more inclusive, tolerant, and happiness-oriented (rather than "sin"-oriented) philosophy and practice. The Raelian "sensual meditation" is exactly what New Yorkers need to combat the speedy, blindered push, push, push that so often dehumanizes us and alienates us from one another. Bravo for Segall's fair and accurate reportage.

Steven Hirsch, Systems Manager
Hachette Filipacchi Magazines


Reading Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson's "Find the Issues, Reach the People" [August 28], it wasn't clear to me what Elizabeth Horton Sheff, "the first African American Green elected to a U.S. city council," meant when she said that the Greens' 10 key values—"things like 'community-based economics and economic justice,' 'decentralization,' 'future focus and sustainability' "—speak to middle-and upper-class whites. Was Sheff saying that most blacks don't understand such phraseology? Or that blacks don't want progressive employers who pay a living wage in their neighborhoods? I beg to differ.

Take, for example, the people in Harlem protesting against the so-called Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, who even go so far as to use words like "gentrification" to describe what is happening on 125th Street and the surrounding area. These protesters are certainly sophisticated enough to grasp a concept like economic justice. Sheff argues that the 10 key values of the Green Party need to be rewritten in order to speak to the people. Quite frankly, I'd be leery of her rewriting my grocery list, let alone a list of key values.

Louis Bardel
Staten Island


Jane Dark ["How to Be Smug," September 4] should have taken a page from The New Yorker and employed more rigorous fact-checking. Nick Hornby is certainly not "the first-ever pop music critic" for that magazine. In fact, Ellen Willis was the first, writing a column about rock music in the late 1960s. In the late '80s, during the brief editorial reign of Robert Gottlieb, Mark Moses wrote a pop music column once a month until his untimely death in 1989 ended it. Elizabeth Wurtzel took over the column briefly after Mark's death, but was jettisoned along with most of Gottlieb's other changes upon the ascendancy of Tina Brown in the early 1990s. That said, I more or less agree with Dark's assessment of Hornby's music writing. He should stick to novels.

Norma Coates
Madison, Wisconsin


A friend recently forwarded me the column Kyle Gann did on Elodie Lauten earlier this summer ["East Village Buddha," June 12]. Having been the drummer in Flaming Youth, the band that lived and played with Allen Ginsberg, I enjoyed it—although time may have clouded Elodie's recollection of the Farfisa organ Allen bought her. It originally belonged to the Fugs, and the number of keys they broke had a lot to do with the songs we were able to write. I remember getting into a screaming argument with Elodie, whose English was not what it is now, because I couldn't understand at first that when she said she couldn't play the chord I'd asked her to, she meant she literally, physically couldn't!

Deborah Frost


Miles Marshall Lewis's tribute to Aaliyah ["The Highest, Most Exalted One," September 4] was the best article I read all week, because it wasn't summed up from the point of view of a writer but was from a fan who felt her loss just as much as the rest of us did. Aaliyah was so gifted, it's hard for us to accept the fact that she's dead.

Marcus Simmons


Re "Darn, I Forgot to Have Babies!" by Sharon Lerner [August 28]: Thanks for pointing out that we can't forget the advances that have been made for women who are over 40 and having babies. The spin that most articles and TV news programs, and now ad campaigns, are presenting just forces younger women who are not prepared for motherhood to go ahead and do it anyway, lest they risk not being able to get pregnant later on. That's a big mistake! I'm 41 and am trying for my first baby. I did get pregnant but miscarried and won't give up without a very long fight.

Lisa Fuhrman

Sharon Lerner's article about women having babies later in life is just the tip of the iceberg. After checking out the sales of self-help books, the ratings when Dr. Phil is on Oprah, the surge of magazines like Real Simple, and the sold-out 6 p.m. 12-step meetings, one thing is apparent: We are not just having babies later in life—we are growing up into mature adults later as well. The two go hand in hand, and it's fine, because at the end of the day, truth is transitory. If the new truth is that we are doing more in our late thirties and forties, so what! We are also living longer, choosing brown rice over white, and trying tai chi. Momma never did that.

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