Re '50 Years of Pissing People Off' [January 9–15]: Nat Hentoff has earned his recognition as a journalist and First Amendment–ist.
This far overshadows his stance in later life as a gadfly who delights in pissing off the left. Sometimes the left needs to be called out. The problem that persists in his work, however, is the notion that somehow there is a level playing field as far as speech is concerned. Those who stand opposite the business end of class relations and power hierarchies in capitalist America still wield little or no power over those who own the joint.

Hentoff likes to write and crusade as if everyone with a mouth is heard equally, and everyone who says "shut up" is equally dangerous. He never seems to notice that one group can back up the challenge with force of arms while another can only clench fists.

This wishful thinking moves from contrary to reactionary when Hentoff claims that a woman's right to abort a fetus is trumped by the assigned right of a fetus to be carried to term regardless of a woman's needs or life goals. He once observed that liberals were more concerned with the lives of baby seals than of fetuses. One reader intelligent- ly suggested that Hentoff shove a baby seal up his ass and carry it for nine months before pontificating on the irrelevance of women's rights.

Ethan Young

My hat is off to Nat. He is the one who got me reading the Voice in the '80s. He has a predictable, biased approach to journalism: His bias is one that values honesty and our basic rights as individuals. Tell him to keep it up (as if he wouldn't have anyway).

Mark DeMarta
via e-mail

Mr. Hentoff, I applaud you equally for your writing on music, my first introduction to your work, and your political comment and analysis. If you ever retire, I'd come back up there from north Alabama and raise hell with you and the Voice before I'd accept that. You are the voice of the people as far as I'm concerned. There are not enough voices defending the Constitution now.

You are always welcome in my household for a cup of coffee, tea, or a shot of Knob Creek or Booker's. If you ever dare to depart this realm, I charge your spirit to continue the quest. Nothing but love from me, and from many others who love the Constitution, for you.

via e-mail


Re Rob Harvilla's 'The Pillow Fight of Her Life' [January 16–22]: Oh my God. Rob Harvilla, you crushed it so hard with this piece that I blew a load in my pants. This is about the first thing I've read in a lord's age that made me think the Voice wasn't 100 percent defunct.

Leslie Lapidus
via e-mail


Tom Robbins really captures the human side of the Obama campaign in his latest article ['Shout Obamalama!', January 16–22]. I appreciate his insight into the gains Hillary made among women voters in New Hampshire. But what none of the media pundits have discussed is that Iowa is a more liberal state than New Hampshire, and that may have more to do with her victory than showing her "human" side.

Lewis Grupper

Re Michael Feingold's 'A Year Is Born' [January 2–8]: So, in other words, same old s**t. The American theater is the only shark that survives by swimming backwards. Is there really, hopefully, someday baby maybe, a truly new idea, a more ruthless truth, an artistic passionate impulse that has the honesty, honor, and sense of wonder to experience fully a prospicient feeling more clearly than the mind alone can understand?

via e-mail

Re LD Beghtol's 'A Day in the Afterlife' [January 16–22]: I love seeing all of this activity around Klaus Nomi's work. Don't let it fade; it's too beautiful to fade.

via e-mail

Great article! This CD is simply brilliant! It's totally fresh and different while still capturing the true essence that was/is Klaus.

via e-mail

Re Tom Robbins's 'Shout Obamalama!' [January 16–22]: Yes, Barack Obama is half-black and talks about change, but he does not want to change Roe v. Wade, a ruling that eliminates more black people than any other cause of death.

Joseph Carducci
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Since the departure of Jerry Saltz last March, the Voice has been assigning art reviews to several critics, all of whom work for us on a part-time, freelance basis. Each of them makes a living outside the Voice, and we discuss with them the nature of their non-Voice activities to ensure that they don't conflict with their reviewing duties. One of our reviewers is former art gallery owner Christian Viveros-Fauné. It has been brought to our attention that Christian has been named managing director of two upcoming commercial art fairs, one in New York (Volta) and one in Chicago (Next). Christian assures us that the consulting work he is doing for those fairs does not conflict with anything he has written for us or would write in the future, and he has demonstrated to us that besides being an excellent and highly readable critic, he's also a man of integrity. But we're concerned that his work outside the Voice at least creates an appearance of conflict. While Christian says that the art at the New York galleries he critiques is in a separate sphere from the type of art that would appear in the fairs, we don't want to put a reviewer in a situation that calls for an ethical juggling act. Since Christian has made it clear that he will continue to fill out the terms of his art-fair contract, we wish him great success, thank him for the excellent work he has done, and feel disappointment that he will cease writing for us. — Tony Ortega

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