Dirty Dancing

Lina Katz's piece on cabaret laws ["No Dancing Allowed," August 29] was blatantly one-sided. Cabaret laws are an essential protection for the residents of New York City. There is no such thing as a "legal nightclub" that lacks a cabaret license. In order to offer music or any other entertainment, collect cover charges, or have dancing, you need a cabaret license—which is synonymous with a nightclub license.

New York City needs nightclubs, but it also needs places where people can live. When a popular nightclub moves in on your block you can expect your building to shake with pounding music until 3 or 4 a.m. and large crowds of intoxicated people (most of whom don't live in the area) shouting and screaming until almost dawn. Lines of limos and taxis will block access to your street, horns blaring all night. When you leave for work (exhausted) in the morning, urine and vomit will coat your front steps. Occasionally, there will be fistfights, or worse.

For many weary residents, cabaret laws are their only line of defense. New York City is for people who work and live here, not just those who party here.

Maggie Parent

Faith and the City

Chisun Lee's "Oh God: Why Religion Doesn't Have a Prayer in New York Politics" [August 29] was graphically arresting and an interesting read. Just because no one has figured out how to politically mobilize the religious boom going on in this city doesn't mean religion is not affecting our social dynamics.

In an interview for an upcoming book that I co-edited, New York Glory: Religions in the City (NYU Press, November 2000), Mayor Giuliani observed that "the evangelicals and Pentecostals are playing an increasing role in city politics." The religious boom is not just to be pigeonholed as part of "immigrants, minorities, and poor New Yorkers," as Lee wrote, but includes the surprising growth of B'nai Jeshurun, Beth Simchat Torah, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church, all of which service mainly Manhattan professionals. The new role of religion in politics is coming, but whether it will strengthen or weaken our common values is still open for debate.

Tony Carnes
Research Institute for New Americans

Grass Warfare

Kudos to Adamma Ince for her article "Greener Pastures" [Back to School Supplement, August 29]. It highlighted the greatest failure of the United States' War on Drugs: Kids have an easier time buying illegal drugs than beer. Unless I'm mistaken, New York's drug delivery services do not ID students for age. Let's not kid ourselves—marijuana laws protect law enforcement jobs and political careers, not children. Marijuana prohibition is no more effective at preventing use than alcohol prohibition was at preventing drinking.

There is nothing inherent in marijuana that compels users to try harder drugs. But its black-market status puts users in contact with criminals who push stronger substances. Current drug policy is the gateway to other drugs—not marijuana use.

Critics say legalizing marijuana for adults will send the wrong message to children, but I think that the children are more important than the message.

Robert Sharpe
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.

Mad Match

By comparing George W. Bush to Mad's Alfred E. Neuman, This Modern World [Tom Tomorrow, August 15] has really hit the mark: Both have the same smirk and same jug ears. The only thing missing has been a Dubya equivalent to Neuman's "What, me worry?"

But the search has ended. In response to a hypothetical question about his future, Dubya is quoted in the July 29 New York Times as saying, "I just don't worry about those things." A perfect match, if you ask me.

Richard Lowenstein
Westport, Connecticut

Lesson Learned

I'd like to compliment Mark Schoofs on his well-written "Learning From HIV" [August 22]. I recently spent four months in South Africa and found the HIV/AIDS epidemic to be very hard to explain to my friends in the States. The article did a great job of contextualizing the issue. This disease did not appear on its own; it is intricately connected to the political and social history of South Africa. Thanks for a great article.

Tene Adero Howard

Go Phish

Who likes to see their favorite band reduced to a simple cultural phenomenon, like in Michael Atkinson's review of Bittersweet Motel ["Missionary Positions," August 29]. I don't.

I swear, God really does have a sense of humor. Phish has played its heart out for 17 years, demonstrates musical athleticism, tightness, and boundless creativity, and yet for the most part has been ignored by the mass media. I had expected the Voice to have a different outlook.

Dan Sage

Lofty Tales

I really enjoyed Toni Schlesinger's piece on P. Michael Keane's East Williamsburg loft [Shelter, August 29]. I saw the space where the loft is now before P. Michael built it out. It looked like ground zero after a nuclear blast. I've also seen the little piece of surburbia that P. Michael created on the roof adjacent to the loft—it even has a white picket fence!

What Schlesinger and her readers may not know is that all the stories that P. Michael recounted in the article are true, and he didn't even begin to relate half the bizarre things that happened to him on his way to that Williamsburg loft. I should know—we've been friends since he was 14 years old.

Thanks for discovering one of the city's most interesting shelters and residents.

Jeffrey Lee Costell
Los Angeles, California

All About Musto

My friend in Connecticut e-mails the La Dolce Musto column to me every week. Please don't ever let Michael Musto go; he's the funniest columnist around! He zings people with such style and he never seems to come off mean-hearted. He writes the way people talk in those great old Hollywood movies—Nöel Coward comes to mind.

Helen Katopodis
Los Angeles, California

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