Mass Appeal

Thank you, Michael Feingold, for your sensitive, intelligent review of Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi ["Texas Nativity," October 20], which has inspired so much narrow-minded sentiment from religious groups offended by the portrayal of a gay Jesus.

Like McNally, I was raised Catholic, and I appreciate his efforts to examine his faith. This was encouraged by my parents and priests, and I think that's why I still go to mass.

Roman Catholicism has a rich and deep history, worthy of critical study. I am not so naive as to ignore the many blemishes in the Church's history, which must be admitted and considered. Don't those who are opposed to the play realize that asking questions is necessary to keep the church alive?

Charlotte Nicklas
Boston, Massachusetts

Right to Li(F)E

Wouldn't You Folks at the Voice, just once, like to try being journalists instead of propagandists? Wayne Barrett's article on Senator Al D'Amato and abortion ["Secret Agent Man," October 13] was filled with distortions and half-truths. Clearly, your paper loathes D'Amato, but aren't you obligated to at least try telling the truth?

Barrett quoted Helen Westover, a Right to Life Party leader, who claimed to be quoting me quoting Al D'Amato. Your reporter called and asked if the quote was accurate. My response: "absolutely not." But instead of publishing my clear denial, your manipulative writer said, "Lisante did not directly confirm the conversation" with D'Amato.

Hey guys, that's a bold-faced lie. Because Al D'Amato didn't promise me anything but an open ear and an open mind about legislation concerning the rights of preborn children. And I told that to your duplicitous reporter. I guess the truth didn't match his preset agenda to get Al D'Amato.

Papers and coverage like yours are precisely why a majority of Americans can't and don't believe the media anymore. You lie and you do it badly.

Monsignor Jim Lisante
West Hempstead, New York

Wayne Barrett replies: When interviewed, Monsignor Lisante amended the Westover quote without flatly refuting it. Westover said Lisante claimed D'Amato had promised to do "anything" the Right to Life Party "wants in the future." Lisante said D'Amato had promised to be "more sensitive to the party's point of view" on international abortion funding and the naming of proabortion judges--precisely what the party "wants in the future." The statements are virtually equivalent, and the monsignor does not deny the quote I attributed to him.

Puff Daddy

Re The letter from Gary Indiana in last week's issue:

So I'm a failed artist, am I?

As long as we're telling truths here, let me add a few more! Gary Indiana is a Hollywood hack! He used to be radical but now he's a sell-out! Everyone hates him, especially his old pals! And here's the best one of all: when he wrote on art for the Voice, he only puffed his friends, whose work he collected! That's why he stopped being a Voice art critic!

And I've got more news for you! Your paper stinks!

Walter Robinson, Editor
ArtNet Magazine

Far-Out Tortuga

In Deborah Jowitt's review of Chance O ["Dream On," October 20], she writes: "Chance O's knock-me-down music, written and played live by the band Tortuga (the songs have lines like 'I want to dissect your face'), makes dancers stick--vibrating--to the back wall, swim in a dreadful sea, and silently mouth off at one another."

While Tortuga is quite appreciative of Ms. Jowitt's assessment of our work as "knock-me-down music," as the singer, guitarist, and lyricist for the band, I should clarify that the music performed was a 20-minute instrumental. Not only were there no lyrics in the piece (or even a single microphone on stage), I have never sung the words, "I want to dissect your face."

If we're all going to play loosey-goosey with our quotations, perhaps in the future Tortuga's press materials should include the quote:

"Tortuga is the greatest rock band of all time--Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice."

Jude Bond

Deborah Jowitt replies: Perhaps the sound waves, passing through the distortion and wah-wah pedals, generated an illusion of growly words, which I, fascinated, wrote down. I could have misheard musicians counting. Or maybe, Tortuga channeled Kurt Cobain's ghost. Apologies.

Freudian Slip

Your cover artwork for Mark Schoofs's "Freud in the Age of Prozac" [October 20] showing Prozac capsules stamped "10 mm" was clearly done by someone who has never seen a Prozac tablet. Drugs, as any dealer or pharmaceutical company can tell you, are measured in milligrams, not millimeters!

Maia Szalavitz


Pate 'N' Place

In Douglas Wolk's review of Chris Knox's show at Tonic ["Clowning Achievement," October 20], he notes

Knox's tendency to leap into the crowd and "molest" fans during songs, pointing out that "one unlucky bald gentleman got his head licked."

As the man in question, I must object.

First, to the adjective "unlucky." Fact is, I've had a tremendous run of good fortune since the show, and have refused to wash the top of my head because of it.

Second, I am no gentleman.

Chris Belden

Yul Spirit

What's with all the bald guys on the cover lately ["Larry Kramer's Big Bet," August 25; "Angel With a Dirty Mind: Talking 'Filth' With Irvine Welsh," September 15; "Freud in the Age of Prozac," October 20]?

Its not that I have a thing against baldness, but more that this seems like a trend on your cover, and not necessarily an attractive one given the extreme right-wing predisposition to skinheads, the noted drug addiction of Dr. Freud, and Mr. Welsh's novels, which explore drug culture.

Regarding Mr. Kramer's Internet-based AIDS activism project, potential participants beware. Public discussion of one's personal medical history for use in selecting medication regimes is at best of questionable value and at worst dangerous, and may lead to insurance discrimination or harmful treatments. While gathering information on an electronic database may provide some useful anecdotal evidence, in no way will it replace a properly executed clinical trial. AIDS activists are right to involve themselves in the medical process, but unmonitored dissemination of Internet hearsay is no substitute for a controlled, scientific study when it comes to making informed medical decisions.

Kevin O'driscoll, Ph.D.
Columbia University

Mark Schoofs replies: Driscoll sounds valid caveats about the HIV treatment database project, all of which were covered in my story. Nobody thinks the project will replace controlled trials, but with proper design and enough patient participation, many scientists believe the database could yield important information. To quote veteran AIDS researcher Anthony Fauci, "It's worth a try."

Quantum Leap

I enjoyed Mark Schoofs's "Freud in the Age of Prozac." Like the wave/particle duality in quantum mechanics, where light can be considered both a wave and a particle, there are seemingly contradictory and complementary points of view on the mechanism of consciousness.

The brain is certainly full of myriad chemicals, but so are ordinary cells. Yet we have never created a cell from scratch--restarting the flame of life that was sparked over one billion years ago. It is our arrogance that believes we can so easily understand, philosophically or scientifically, the mysteries of our existence.

We abuse the medical miracles that give us deeper insights into--and some relief from--psychological problems with our "pill" mentality. We risk upsetting the delicate chemical balance of the brain irreversibly. Neither psychotherapy nor drug remedies can solve all of our psychological problems; they can only offer the potential to help people cope with their problems.

Michael Pravica


In Tom Carson's review of my documentary The Farmer's Wife ["Soap of the Earth," September 22], he writes of me: "...he's out to swell their story to the stature of myth--a glowing echt-Americana epic, with editing that lingers importantly over every gorgeous sunset that Darrel drives his tractor through and lardings of fake Copland soaring away on the soundtrack. While the director may believe that he's honoring the Buschkoetters, these embellishments falsify their experience as much as sticking them in The Real World's swank digs would."

And speaking of digs, for the record, the "lardings of fake Copland" Carson writes about are on the promos, commercials, and wrap-arounds for The Farmer's Wife, all of which were done for Frontline--it's not music from The Farmer's Wife .

The Farmer's Wife has about six hours of original music, written and performed by the legendary guitar hero Reeves Gabrels, who was recently asked to render his "lardings" on the Rolling Stones single, "Out of Control."

David Sutherland
Boston, Massachusetts

Handle With Care

Sharon Lerner's HMO Watch column, documenting the inequities in managed care, is long overdue. As a former utilization-management nurse, I believe that national health insurance is the only fair solution to America's health care dilemma. Unfortunately, Lerner doesn't seem to have done her homework.

In the article Damaged Care" [October 13], which accompanied her first column, Lerner wrote that the "infamous gatekeepers" are not physicians. This is false. Managed-care gatekeepers are the subscribers' primary-care physicians. Lerner was referring to utilization-management nurses who process authorization requests from primary-care physicians for follow-up and specialist care, and who evaluate requests by applying criteria developed by participating physicians.  

In Lerner's HMO Watch column headlined "Numbers Game" [October 20], she focused on a couple's attempt to get Oxford Health Plans to pay for home health care, which was not covered in their plan. Finding fault with Oxford for not covering the couple's request for in-home care is like someone who bought a car without air-conditioning for a midsummer drive through Death Valley blaming Ford for heat stroke.

Health care is too important to leave to the vagaries of the marketplace, but badly needed critiques of the status quo fail when driven by ignorance. Neither utilization- management personnel nor their employers are the problem as much as the public's fear of change.

Andrew Katz

Sharon Lerner replies: In legal language, gatekeeper usually does mean the primary-care physician. However, in common parlance the term is widely used to refer to any managed-care employee who makes decisions about patient care. As for the comparison with heat stroke, the couple's dispute with Oxford is about the terms of their policy. Oxford told the Voice that their policy didn't include at-home care. However, in the past, the company has acknowledged that their coverage included at-home nursing care--then questioned the medical necessity of that care. Even so, you raise a good point: choice of policy is crucial. Unfortunately for the couple discussed in the column, that choice was made by an employer.


I found J. A. Lobbia's article about billboard signs in Noho and Soho of particular interest ["Sign of the Times," October 20], as I am writing a book about early advertising in New York City.

The outcry over signs in those neighborhoods has been going on for over a hundred years.

While I certainly sympathize with those in the adjacent buildings over their loss of light and air, there is an even more insidious problem developing with gigantic vinyl signs--i.e., they are not biodegradable. When no longer useful, they're dumped in landfill.

Linda Cooper Bowen

Letters should be brief, and phone numbers must be included. All letters are subject to editing for clarity, legal, and space considerations. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, The Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003. Or fax to 212-475-8944 or e-mail to editor@villagevoice.com. E-mail letters must include phone numbers.

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