Wrenching experiences
Re Mara Altman's "The Body Beautiful" [November 22–28]: Kudos big-time to the Voice, Mara Altman, Ms. Silberman, the staff, and especially the girls of Automotive High. Mara apparently did her homework, getting up close and personal, the way a good reporter should.The idea that a woman who can fix a transmission can't be hot is ludicrous (the same goes for boys ministering to the sick—maybe you should do a sequel about the boys at Clara Barton). Moreover, the attitude that college and white-collar employ should be the goal of high school students is wrongheaded. It takes smarts and skills to be a mechanic, electrician, plumber, etc. The pay can be higher, and if you're good, you can go anywhere and find work. You also don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans to repay. The simple fact is, we spend the majority of our waking life at work, and to succeed and be happy you must like what you do. And that is an important component of self-esteem. So enough with the dirty-hands stigma. In fact, it's harmful to our youth and society.
Bill Roberson

The article says the girls of the automotive school "shatter stereotypes" but then goes on to tell how they flirt back with boys who do things that should be considered sexual harassment. Even the title of the article is contradictory. As a female who has gone through several nontraditional job-training programs for women, I can tell you that the sad fact is that gender/ sexual stereotypes are not shattered in these places but even encouraged.
New York City

Sorry. What was the question?
Re Sean Gardiner's "That Darned Khat" [November 22–28]: Just wanted to know when the New York pot party is. Can't tell by the column you wrote. Need to know dates. Thanks.
Melanie Bramlett
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Beyond the pale
Re Miles Marshall Lewis's "Hova's Slight Return" [November 29–December 5]: Let me make sure that I heard you correctly: Whether or not Jay's album is successful depends upon whether the 16-year-old white male can relate? Are you kidding me? Can that 16-year-old relate to 50 Cent or the Game or any other black rapper, for that matter? Since when is that the only indicator for success? I am a 35-year-old black, divorced mother of three, and I love Jay-Z and I love his latest album. I work in a corporate environment and I'm an exec at an insurance company. I relate to the music, and I love that Jay is 37 and still the most lyrically sound rapper alive—hands down. How the 16-year-old white kid feels about it is irrelevant to me. (Also, if reported estimates are correct, the white kids are feeling Jay, regardless of age.)
Joi Tillman
Raytown, Missouri

Auteur! Auteur!
Re "The Greats" and "The Patriot" [November 22–28] by Nathan Lee: Just when I was despairing for the future of film criticism at the Voice, along comes Lee with reviews of three essential directorial retrospectives for hardcore cinephiles: Jacques Rivette at MMI, Roberto Rossellini at MOMA and the mini John Ford series at BAM. He does full justice to these great directors with both wit and wisdom. This is the type of informed criticism I expect from the Voice.
Jim Gerow
Rosedale, New York

Letter of the weak
Reading the Nat Hentoff article on torture ["What the Democrats Must Do," November 29–December 5] is as much a torture as any waterboarding session. He makes it sound as if regular, everyday Americans are being swept up and tortured at will by the evil and corrupt Bush/Cheney/Rove machine! That the poor fellow who fell behind on his house, car, boat, or credit card payment is going to be flown to Egypt and tortured endlessly until he agrees to pay within a week or so. My question is, since when does the Bill of Rights extend to any enemy combatant!?

If you think that an Arab losing sleep for a few nights or set on a waterboard for a few minutes isn't worth even one American life, then you are weak. As far as I am concerned they could smash his toes, feet, and legs until they were roast beef to get him to talk, then sew him up and have him tell his story to all those who might think about taking his path.

You fight wars to win, and in every struggle since the dawn of this great nation we have lost some of our rights during these epic battles—yet somehow we always get them back. You people on the left know nothing of winning a war, know nothing of fighting a battle.

If we left this country under your guard we would certainly be in a worse position than we would be by giving up our rights permanently! I'd rather die in an American gulag than die in a world run by you people.
John Smada
Rochester, New York

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