Letter of the Week
Hard to be a hard girl

Lynn Yaeger's Elements of Style column of September 26 ["Did Kate Moss Stash Her Stuff in a Balenciaga Bag?," villagevoice.com] helped me open a door to my own unconscious. Embarrassing as it is to admit, I never got it about Balenciaga bags. I am a fiftysomething gay man who was a teenager during the late '60s. I must have internalized the Hard Girl costume of the time—probably because I secretly wanted to be a Hard Girl too. Yaeger's discussion of the genre and juxtaposition of the image of the iconic bag with the white lipstick, ratted hair, and neon-green eye shadow of the time awoke the Hard Girl archetype in my unconscious. I used to date a wonderful example: Her father was a psychiatrist and she would arrive at 8 a.m. in the high school parking lot with her (what would be now) trash-yellow "Balenciaga" stuffed with an array of delicious and exciting physician's samples of the stimulants, anxiolytics, and psychotropics of the day. We would be glowing until sixth period, and sometimes be blitzed for days. Thanks, Lynn! Now I get it.

An old queen in Salt Lake City

Soldier's side

Re Sydney H. Schanberg's "How Many More Must Die?" [September 28–October 4]:I agree that the limited contact the general population has with the military, as well as our own lawmakers, has made it very easy to accept war under less than acceptable conditions. Additionally, the elder-Bush-and-Clinton-era war activities with no casualties have made armed conflict an even more viable option for our elected officials. Both reasons to wage war are dangerous to our foreign policy—and our very existence.

But I would ask: What would have been a reason to go to war? If Bush came out and said "I am trying to democratize the Middle East to ensure the OPEC nations support Western ideas and at the same time reduce the states that support terrorists," would that be enough? Would the proposed "domino effect," which alighted briefly in Syria and Lebanon, help to stabilize the world? Would the goodwill of Israel to assuage the "Palestinian Problem" by giving up Gaza additionally help arrest the fears of Arab nations that the Zionist West is raping their land for cheap resources?

The real question is: Do I want to pay $6 a gallon at the pump, sell my SUV, move into a home more commensurate with my family size (i.e., one bedroom per occupant), carpool, take public transportation, ride my bike, walk, or crawl to work? We have become accustomed to a way of life and feel that it is our right as Americans to enjoy it. As long as that attitude prevails, and as long as we are the only remaining superpower (or empire, if you will), then wars will need to be fought.

I write this after serving almost 31 months in combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq. I am currently serving my third tour, second in Iraq, and my second year-long tour. I am not a victim of this administration. I joined the army to do the bidding of the nation, not just the elected officials, but the people as well. I've lost men and lost friends over here, but on the larger scale, it's been four years and two theaters of battle, and that we're just crowning 2,000 killed in action speaks volumes about the tenacity and skill of the American fighting forces. Talk to a WW II or Vietnam veteran about numbers of killed and wounded and you will have met a tougher breed of person. In my mind, the Greatest Generation is still those men and women who slogged it out in the trenches for three straight years, losing thousands upon thousands of loved ones, and still toughed it out in order to ultimately share in the struggle for world dominance. They are what made this country great. We cannot begin to compare to their resolve. Next time you see a serviceman just returned from overseas, don't thank him. Look into your life and ask yourself, "Do I truly think my life should change, or do I deserve this because I'm an American?" If the answer is "Yes, it should change," then change it. Be quiet about it, like the hundreds of thousands of fighting men and women, and slowly bring about change in this country.

Marc Cloutier
Marlborough, Connecticut

A big pit bull

Like Schanberg, I am ashamed of the way our military is being misused in this "one handcuff on" campaign in Iraq. How do you pull out of Iraq and abandon those Iraqis who welcome the presence of our troops? Has anybody taken a survey of all the people in Iraq and asked: Would you mind if we left now and went home to watch your nation revert to sadistic dictatorship? Or would you like us to remain underforced and perpetuate the bloodshed without a clear outcome? When I say "one handcuff on" I am referring to the lack of a massive and decisive force. You don't bring a Jack Russell terrier to a pit bull fight. Our president made a decision, and now he should make a move or move out.

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