Izzy Grinspan's article on the iPod phenomenon is brilliant ["Pod People," February 11-17]. This article is the first I've seen to mention what a revelation the "Recently Played" and "Top 25 Most Played" lists are regarding the way people look at their music collections. These features have deconstructed my own claims to musical hipness and revealed that I truly love bad country music from the 1980s and soft rock. I used to consider myself quite hip, musically speaking, but my Most Played list is a weird mix of Kelis, Barbara Mandrell, and The Carpenters Christmas. One caveat: With its ADD-prone listening habits, the twentysomething generation rarely finishes a song before skipping to the next one.
Since iTunes only logs complete plays, is the "Most Played" feature really accurate? For the sake of my musical hip factor, let's hope not.
PARIS IS LEARNING
While I guess I am a rascally right-wing wacko sexist bigoted homophobe (I voted for Bush), I have to commend Nat Hentoff for being an excellent columnist. He is articulate and thoughtful, and though I disagree with some of his points on Ashcroft, he presents his views without the vitriol of most of the left-wing writers. I hope that something comes of his crusade in the cause of the Cuban librarians.
Nat Hentoff has his facts wrong in "Supreme Court's Gag Rule on Us" [January 28-February 3]. Hentoff claims that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, bans independent organizations from running TV or radio political campaign ads, thinly disguised as discussions of issues, near election time.
The law bans no ads. It simply says that voters have the right to know who's paying for them and requires that this information be disclosed.
Hentoff frets that this amounts to silencing Americans. Common Cause, as well as a bipartisan majority of Congress, President Bush, and the U.S. Supreme Court, believe it amounts to much needed reform for the vast majority of Americans who can't purchase an ad campaign, buy an election, or bankroll a political party.
President, Common Cause
Nat Hentoff replies: As the American Civil Liberties Union emphasized, and my columns reported, under this new "reform" law, independent organizationsto run broadcast ads at the times they most count, before a federal primary or electionmust form a political action committee and disclose the names of all contributors. This subverts the constitutional protection of anonymous speech that goes back before the Revolution. McCain-Feingold is a gag rule on free speech.
THE TRUMAN SHOW
Sydney H. Schanberg's excellent article on Wesley Clark's campaign ["Clark's Run Still Clouded," January 28-February 3] analyzes the former general's selective memory and dubious image-making. Schanberg himself makes one historical error, though. He writes that Eisenhower was "virtually handed his nomination by the Republican Party in 1952."
Actually, Eisenhower had to fight Senator Robert A. Taft tooth and nail for the nomination. It would have been Taft's were it not for Eisenhower's "people" speciously contesting the Taft delegates from Texas, first, and then the rest of the Southern states. Many "Old Guard" Republicans were vehemently against Eisenhower as a nominee (along with Douglas MacArthur) because he had not come up in the cigar-smoke world of establishment politics and was seen as more of a celebrity. In fact, Eisenhower was so unpolitical that Truman had tried to hand him the Democratic nomination in 1948. As for "image making," the 1952 presidential race forever changed national politics when the blandly appealing Madison Avenue slogan "I Like Ike" trumped the "egghead" Adlai Stevenson.
Wayne Barrett was absolutely right when he wrote at the end of his outstanding "A Dirty Cop at the Top" [January 28-February 3] that, had Dan Wiese and Tom Curitore not penetrated the probe into pardon-selling in the Pataki administration at the outset, "there is no telling how high it might have reached." But that's exactly the reason these two penetrated and frustrated the probe, risking much to prevent it from reaching any higherpresumably as high as their boss. And that is exactly why they were both so richly rewarded. Pataki has a good shot at becoming president in 2008. Look at all he has in common with President Bush: (1) They both spend like drunken sailors, (2) they both received a political windfall from the September 11 terrorist attacks, and (3) both their administrations have gotten away withand will continue to get away withscandals that are unprecedented and staggering in their scope and level of corruption.
Battery Park City
THE OTHER UTA
Your tribute to Uta Hagen [January 28-February 3] left out her very fine performance in the very creepy The Other (1972). Set in the 1930s, it centered around twin boys, one good, one evil; Hagen played their grandmother. The movie was dark and introspective, and Hagen's German accent only added to the creepiness. Worth seeing.
Nathan F. Weiner
Morris Heights, Bronx
A MEMORY OF CITY CENTER
As a native-born New Yorker, I am privileged and honored to remember that the first play I ever sawwhich also required me to cut class for the first time (at my mother's insistence)was the City Center performance of Othello, starring Paul Robeson and Uta Hagen. I will never forget it, and I will never forget the courage of Hagen, Robeson, and the City Center, who provided affordable and excellent theater for the "underprivileged" New Yorkers (that was me!) during the Depression.
I loved and adored them both, and supported and followed their careers, despite the horrible times they endured in future days, under McCarthyism.
Willingboro, New Jersey
\Kareem Fahim's "The Great Arab Voter Revolt" (February 4-10) identified President Bush's energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, as a former Michigan governor. He was a Michigan senator.
The photo of the Neta Dance Company that corresponded with Eva Yaa Asantewaa's "Ongoing" (February 11-17) should have been credited to Steven Schreiber.
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