Letters

PLAIN OLD EM-BARRA-SING

Please, do not let Allen Barra write about football again—ever. His article 'New York's Fumble Recovery: Why Rutgers Deserves More New York Love, and Notre Dame Less' [September 19–26] is probably the most outlandish sports articles I have ever read. Barra appears to be a big Rutgers fan, but he is with- out a doubt a Notre Dame hater. He discredits himself by saying: "You can summarize nearly all the changes that have evolved in college football in the last 14 decades by the turnaround in the fortunes of these two schools." I am a huge Notre Dame fan, but RU is my state's university, so I absolutely support it. However, the past 14 decades? Rutgers has only been a legit national contender for a year—four games! As for Barra's comments on the Irish, to say that the program may never recover is absurd. I know it's been 19 years since their last national championship, but they have gone long periods of time without rings before. They won a championship in 1949 and didn't do so again until 17 years later. Barra comments on the fact that Rutgers sent a formal apology to the U.S. Naval Academy for the actions of Rutgers students: "How satisfying that must have secretly been to the Rutgers administration: Not since the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant have Rutgers football fans been in a position to taunt anybody." Secretly satisfying? They should be utterly ashamed of themselves! That's embarrassing, not satisfying. They've had one good season, and this author is happy that they can taunt our country's Naval Academy?

Merritt Carr (a proud fan of the Irish)
Glen Ridge, New Jersey


WASTED TRIP

Re Robert Sietsema's 'The Frying Game' [September 19–25]: It was impressive to read Sietsema's exhaustive tracking of fried foods' glorious journey to Asia. It's just unfortunate that he gets it so wrong at his final destination, Japanese tempura. Panko has nothing to do with the much more delicate touch of tempura, which involves only a simple batter, kept chilled at all times, egg yolk sometimes included and somewhat controversial itself. Shrimp and veggies dipped in egg and then coated with panko go by the generic term of fu-rai (their adoption of the English word "fry"), as in ebi furai (fried shrimp), etc. It's great, don't get me wrong—but it's more of a baseball-stadium snack compared to tempura's classy fine-sushi-bar-style presentation.

Rowan Brooke
Ridgewood, New York


SHOCK DEVALUED

Louisa Tucker's'You Don't Know Jack: The Stunning Comeback of Electroshock and Other Harrowing Treatments for the Mentally Ill' [September 19-25] offers a biased view of treatments for people with mental disorders. I am one of the "guinea pigs" currently volunteering for transmagnetic stimulation (TMS) for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) at New York Presbyterian, and I can't describe the treatment as "painful." The worst part of my nearly eight weeks in the study has been the difficulty of having to stay awake during the procedures. There is hardly much, if any, pain involved in TMS—at least in my experience. I don't see, however, that there have been any major improvements in my symptoms so far, and this story tells of how some patients may feel discouraged if the treatment doesn't work, leading to a worsening of their condition. While they are referring to depression, not OCD, I see no mention of how these treatments may help people with mental illness indirectly—not by any change in brain circuitry, but by simply providing a place to go, a supportive environment. To me, it appears that the researchers at Columbia try to take every precaution possible to guard patients from harm. I feel that this article was written in a way that overdramatized the experience of undergoing these types of treatments in order to attract the reader's interest—or, in other words, to make the subject more "stimulating."

"The stunning comeback of electroshock and other harrowing treatments for mental illnesses" is what you meant to write, is it not? I am not sure how we got to "the" mentally ill, the precise corollary of "the" Jews and "the" blacks, but it is but a short step from there to the atrocities that people with mental illnesses have experienced. Once reduced to a "the," anything is possible. I would like to have read the article; your headline frightened me away. On the letters pages in the same issue is an announcement for an "editorial internship." Not sure what that is, but if it means examining your language for its prejudices, call me.

Harold A. Mai
Fort Myers, Florida

Thanks for putting out the truth about psychiatry's exploitation of sad cases. Dr. Lisanby's comment on the failure of VNS ("It's a mystery—we simply don't know") and Dr. deLotbiniere's comment on DBS ("It is not understood how DBS works") sum it up: It is a failure in the proper understanding of mental phenomena that has led to a continual and varied attack on the brain. I feel sorry for Colleen's suffering, but it doesn't justify exploiting her lack of judgment.

Gloria Gervais
Unity, Maine


GET OFF YOUR KRISTAL-METH

Michael Clancy's 'Probate Slam Pit' [September 19–25] gave the impression that Hilly Kristal had $3.7 million in his bank account. This is an anticipated sum based on the sale of CBGB's name. This was a comfortable sum that Hilly could have had in his pocket before CBGB even shut its doors. But he was unwilling to give up control of the name, and how that name would be merchandised. "CBGB, the Hard Rock Café of punk" was not his dream. The value of the name was only realized in the last few years with the expansion of the clothing line.

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