Letter of the Week

Don't mess with Texas

Thank you for Erik Baard's "George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy" [September 29–October 5].

Some of us Texans have been trying to get Baard's points across to folks for a long time. Dubya has impugned the noble-cowboy persona and the integrity that justly generated it. Can it ever be fixed? I don't know. If my daddy were still alive, he'd call him and the rest of his reprobates just what they were known as back then: a bunch of damned yahoos. In today's lingo, that phrase generally equates with the notion of a gang of drunken frat boys.

As many of us say, George Bush is all hat and no cattle. A cowboy he ain't.

Ken Molberg
Dallas, Texas

Again with the cattle

Re Erik Baard's "George W. Bush Ain't No Cowboy" [September 29–October 5]: Besides the very well-made points about Bush's lack of "cowboy" values, there is another thing one must have to be a real cowboy. That is, the ability to ride a horse. George Bush does not. He apparently is afraid of them. Some cowboy. As they say in Texas, "All hat and no cattle." Or maybe it should be, in Bush's case, "All hat and no horsey!"

Robin Douglas
Beverly, Massachusetts

Again with the horses

I grew up in the panhandle of Oklahoma in oil, gas, and cattle country. I went to an A&M college. I worked custom harvest, in the oil patch, and on the largest ranch in the panhandle. I know a cowboy when I see one.

The truth, as told in Texas, where I have resided for 17 years, is that Dubya is not a cowboy. He is a "drugstore cowboy" or what we derisively called a "cat daddy"—wimps that wear dogger heels on their boots but don't own a saddle. (Dogger heels are hell to walk in but great for spurs.)

George W. is scared to death of horses. You will not see him in the Reagan pose, white hatted, riding the range at daybreak. He rides mountain bikes. Yee-haw!

Rod Talley
San Antonio, Texas

Student aid

Thanks for Cristi Hegranes's "Walking the Edge" [September 22–28].

NYU has it right, for the most part. I'm an adviser at another private college in Manhattan—one without a thorough health survey for students. I've seen too many students flounder, stumble, or worse, as they try to ignore or hide their own previously diagnosed but untreated mental health issues. These students waste so much of their own time, health, and money, thanks to self-sabotage. I'm no advocate of antidepressants, but there are alternatives to medication, and they're often free or discounted to students. A student who discloses mental health issues in a "mandatory" survey does not need to be confronted about it without warrant (major gray area, I know).

However, for those of us who are here to help students to succeed, information like that which NYU is collecting could only be constructive in helping students to reach their goals. The number one reason that students provide for leaving the school I work at is lack of finances. The number two reason: mental health/health problems.

Name withheld

Too late, Tovar

Good lord, even the Fashion Week article ["A Dry White Season," by Lynn Yaeger, September 22–28] has to be somehow turned into anti-Republican propaganda. I'm so sick of the whiny anti-Republican agenda being shoved down my throat by hysterical liberals in New York City. Please don't start turning the arts and fashion sections into soapboxes too.

Tovar Beaulieu

She's a sensation

Donna Gaines's article about Johnny Ramone [The Sound of the City, September 22–28] was the best obit I read anywhere about my old friend. Donna is a great person and wonderful writer. Thank you for publishing something that was so heartfelt.

George Tabb
Phoenix, Arizona

Hope for hippie headbanger

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Donna Gaines's tribute to Johnny Ramone. I am old enough to have been a true hippie. Even though the Ramones ragged on us mercilessly, many of us who were and are headbangers really loved their music. I saw them three or four times in Jersey, and never danced as energetically and happily as I did at those shows. I can't believe Joey, Dee Dee, and Johnny are all gone. Gaines is right: They gave so many young people hope, and now they and their music will live forever in our bloody little hearts. Gabba gabba hey!

Dave "the Rave" Bass
Montclair, New Jersey

Swift justice

Your September 22–28 cover claims that Nicholas Turse's "Swift Boat Swill" vindicates John Kerry's 1971 testimony, but that is only half true. The investigations Turse has uncovered in U.S. military archives demonstrate conclusively that atrocities such as those described by Kerry occurred. However, we already knew that. The new examples do not prove Kerry's most important claim, indeed the point of his testimony: that war crimes were "not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command."

If we are truly interested in that question, we have to ask whether the incidence of atrocities committed in Vietnam was notably greater than other wars. Turse only refers to the hundreds of files and notes: "The exact number of investigated allegations of atrocities is unknown, as is the number of such barbaric incidents that occurred but weren't investigated." Nor, it should be added, is the relationship between the number of investigations and the number of actual atrocities.

The veracity of the Winter Soldier Investigation is secondary, but Turse does no better there when he attempts to refute the claim that few of the veterans who testified were willing to cooperate with military investigators. Of the 36 witnesses contacted by military investigators, 31 agreed to interviews, he points out. But they would not provide the kind of information that could be used to verify their claims, particularly names. Supposedly, "they would not allow their testimony to be used to, as they put it, scapegoat individual G.I.'s and low-ranking officers when, they said, it was the war's managers—America's political and military leadership—who were ultimately to blame for the atrocities." Reasoning such as this cannot possibly lead to the truth when it borrows so heavily from the Eichmann defense, which exists only to deny responsibility.

Clay Boswell
Fort Greene

No one's calling you a moron

If reading Ward Harkavy's Bush Beat blog [villagevoice.com] and picking up links to sources of real news instead of listening to the vomit of the mass media makes me a moron, then so be it, I'm a moron.

Thanks, and keep up the good work.

Vince Lawrence
Wintersville, Ohio

Tant pissed

As an opinion columnist for The Athens (Georgia) Banner-Herald who was arrested in New York during an August 31 protest that I was covering, I must give a shout of appreciation to The Village Voice for your reportage before, during, and after the convention. The city's infamous "Gitmo by the Hudson" holding pens and Orwellian jail cells were no picnic. But such is the occupational hazard of journalism and activism as war abroad and police state tactics at home are the norm in a Bush administration that talks compassion while consolidating its power.

Ed Tant
Athens, Georgia

Smile for Bush

I read Tom Smucker's review of Brian Wilson's SMiLE ["Wilsonian Democracy," September 29–October 5] with mixed emotions. For one thing, I can remember the Beach Boys' late-'60s–early-'70s music quite clearly. I have been listening in particular to The Beach Boys Greatest Hits Volume Three: Best of the Brother Years lately, and the best of Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks's collaborations still sound fresh and vital to me. It is clear to anyone with a soul that the Beach Boys were a choir group—they met and sang at church. Brian Wilson is a very spiritual guy. I'd go further than Smucker and state that Brian was and still is searching for the voice of God speaking to man in the wilderness of the 20th (now the 21st) century.

Brian was way beyond politics, and Smucker's final comments reveal where he is stuck right now—I don't think they reveal anything about Brian Wilson or "Wilsonian democracy." Brian's music is about the search for true freedom, and in that sense it is also about the loss of innocence and the desire to get back to something true and innocent and pure. The Beach Boys are real American music, and so is Brian Wilson. I look forward to listening to SMiLE, even though I'm probably going to vote for George Bush.

Paul Rosenbaum
Laurel, Maryland

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