What is Ted Rall doing in Afghanistan ["Gimme Danger: Drearily Awaiting Death on the Front Line," December 4]? It sounds like a Lonely Planet guy wandered in and tried to be a reporter. He could get killed, and for what? He isn't really adding to what we know. It seems almost like a kind of extreme tourism. The title was an accurate appraisal of that sophomoric article—and your paying him for "articles" is not unlike some reality TV show encouraging people to do stupid tricks in hopes of getting on the air.

Are we inadvertently glamorizing war? War is a tragedy, not an adventure. Don't tempt Mr. Rall into getting hurt for nothing. Believe me, I'm not fond of Rall; his articles have all the depth of his cartoons. But he's a human being—don't encourage this "Gimme Danger" trip he's on.

George J. Leonard
Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities
San Francisco State University

I've always been a fan of Ted Rall's Search and Destroy cartoons, but after reading his report from Afghanistan in your December 4 issue, he's my new hero. We need more journalists who aren't afraid to critically examine our country's foreign actions regardless of the domestic political climate, so get him home safe, OK?

Phil Henken

Ted Rall's article "Gimme Danger" begins with what looks like an important story: that U.S. bombs killed civilians in Kunduz, destroying an entire residential neighborhood. Rall makes a snide remark about how American TV isn't reporting these civilian bomb deaths (he could add the U.S. and European print media as well), and then, instead of supporting his charge by getting solid sourcing or viewing the damage himself, he changes the subject to the introspection of a war correspondent. If Rall really has this story, which his evasiveness makes me doubt, he should report it. I don't want to know about the life of a war correspondent. I want to know about the war.

Joe Ardy
Indianapolis, Indiana

Ted Rall replies: Hey Joe, European media outlets have in fact reported on the extensive civilian casualties in civilian neighborhoods in Afghan cities in and around Kunduz. My "scoop" isn't a scoop, and I didn't say it was. Come on, Joe . . . surely you didn't think bombs could smash into cities without killing a bunch of civilians?

Editor's Note: The following letters were received in response to the death of J.A. Lobbia, who wrote the Voice's Towers & Tenement column. Some letters were printed in last week's issue, and more will appear in future issues.


Julie Lobbia and I were exactly the same age. In 1990, when Julie was interviewing for her job at The Village Voice, I had recently joined the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart at Mother Cabrini High School in Washington Heights, named after a woman who trod the streets in New York City on behalf of immigrants a century ago. Julie came to the convent to visit her cousin, Sister Diane Dalle Molle, who was my superior and mentor in making practical applications of Catholic social teaching, a role she also had with Julie. Immediately we found common ground in conversation and the hopes and dreams that surrounded our shared belief in helping to improve the quality of the lives experienced by the disempowered and the poor and marginalized.

In Wayne Barrett's obituary [December 4], he spoke of Julie's complexities—the statue of Jesus and the gyrating redhead both on her desk. Our casual friendship symbolized that! I was going in one radical direction with my life choice at the same time that Julie was. She was a sophisticated city girl; I was from a rural community. She was joining what was perceived as an ultra-liberal newspaper; I was joining an organization that was perceived as very conservative. Yet those differences did not separate us.

I had been at Covenant House for many years prior to the Bruce Ritter sex scandal covered by the Voice in 1990 and we discussed the paradoxes and complexities of this situation. Throughout the years I kept in touch with Julie, driving her family members around New York when they visited for the reception following her wedding in Chicago to Joseph Jesselli, and seeing Julie at her family reunion here in Chicago.

Julie always extended herself to me and brought me into a closer circle. I admired her zeal and energy for humanity and recognized a kindred heart.

Sister Barbara Staley
Chicago, Illinois

Thank you for Wayne Barrett's article honoring Julie Lobbia, whom I knew when I worked in display advertising at The Village Voice. Julie touched the life paths of everyone she came in contact with in a most positive way. She was one gutsy, beautiful soul, and we will miss her immensely.

Rossi Bright
Gallup, New Mexico


I knew Julie Lobbia since 1999. She started weekend riding with various bike clubs, but she would do morning laps in Central Park during the week before heading to work. From the park, she would ride on the Broadway bike lane. I have witnessed her fearless cycling in the haphazard Herald Square intersection. The bike lane between 59th and 23rd streets should be named after her. She was one courageous individual.

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