Routes To Ruin
The letter in last week's issue from the so-called drug "bus driver" who signed himself "Peter D.," in response to Frank Owen's article "Drug Cocktails: Mixing It Up in the Clubs" [July 27], was most amusing. Would the Voice print a letter from some clown giving a politically correct spiel about doing crack, PCP, and heroin in a "responsible, well-informed" manner?
If someone ODs at one of Mr. "D." 's "parties" at which he "regulates" drug use, will he pay for their medical expenses? I guess it's wrong for drugs to be rampant in underclass communities, but a good thing for drugs to be used by the middle and upper classes, as long as they are "expanding their minds."
Jeez, remember those thrilling "heroin chic" daze of the early and mid '90s?
I was stunned that Frank Owen's cover story "Drug Cocktails: Mixing It Up in the Clubs" did not include information about several of the deadliest drug combinations. Mixing downs is the most common cause of overdose death: e.g., heroin and alcohol, alcohol and barbiturates, alcohol and benzodiazepines, etc.
The AIDS drug ritonavir can be deadly if taken with MDMA. One death in Great Britain already has been linked to this combination, and it points to an explanation for some MDMA overdoses which were previously mysterious.
Both ritonavir and MDMA are metabolized by the same liver enzyme. About 3 to 10 percent of the Caucasian population have a natural deficiency of this enzyme. If either a drug combination or a natural deficit overwhelms the body's supply of it, death can occur, because it leads to blood levels of MDMA that are five to 10 times greater than normal. In addition, levels of this enzyme fluctuate naturally so that a person can take MDMA and be fine on a dose one day, and it can kill them the next. If someone insists upon taking MDMA with ritonavir, he or she should wait for at least two to three weeks after starting ritonavir since this can give the body time to adapt.
Other protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors may also be dangerous, although no deaths have yet been reported.
How could Owen have omitted this crucial information?
Maus: Round 3
I have read, with increasing fascination and disbelief, Ted Rall's original cover feature on Art Spiegelman ["King Maus: Art Spiegelman Rules the World of Comix With Favors and Fear," August 3] and the letters to the editor that followed it ["Rall Nerve," August 10].
Like most of us, Spiegelman has his faults, but I've known him for almost 20 years (i.e., pre-Pulitzer), and have had a ringside seat watching him push the aesthetic boundaries of comics both through his (and Françoise Mouly's) editorship of RAW (the comics equivalent of Eugene Jolas's transition) through the '80s, and with Maus. When all is said and done and the artistic and political columns are tallied, Spiegelman's contribution to comics will stand up and everything else, including Rall's article, will be seen as so much wind.
I am sorry to say that several letters from colleagues in the comics profession echoed the pettiness and small-mindedness of Ted Rall's original article, Harvey Pekar's being exemplary in this regard. Pekar has made a big nuisance of himself over the last decade pestering Spiegelman over his grievances with Maus. He is an embarrassment, and one wishes, for his own sake, that he would shut up.
Finally, I'd like to point out that my quotes in Rall's piece were severely truncated in such a way as to fit Rall's agenda, and that I find this editing objectionable.
Gary Groth, Editor
The Comics Journal
Ted Rall replies: Groth provided a lengthy written response to my request for comments on Spiegelman. In journalism, it is neither necessary nor desiriable to use an entire paragraph where a sentence or two will suffice, and there is nothing unethical about selecting comments that seem relevant. We ran what was relevant and edited out what was not.
I completely agree with Guy Trebay's disgust concerning the disparity of media coverage between the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Susan Fuchs, a homeless woman in Central Park ["Eyes Wide Shut," August 3].
As an undergraduate college student, I am beginning to question my chosen profession during media frenzies like the coverage following the deaths of Princess Di and of JFK Jr. To neglect an equally important death, such as that of Ms. Fuchs, at the expense of a celebrity swarm is shameful and unethical.
Missed The Point
Following his somewhat macabre "Search and Recovery: The Kennedy Dialogues" [July 27], Guy Trebay hit a new low with his article "Eyes Wide Shut," comparing news coverage of the plane crash that killed John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, and sister-in-law to the murder of Susan Fuchs.
While I basically agree with Trebay's point that the murder in the park went underreported in favor of frequently over-the-top coverage of the Kennedy-Bessette tragedy, his dismissal of the plane crash as a "negligible" event displayed a level of coldness and cynicism so far off the scale that it left me horrified.
Trebay downplayed the deaths of Kennedy and the Bessette sisters, who were, in his words, "fantastically well-connected young rich people." The capper was his calling the victims' burial at sea "a celebrity ash dump."
If Trebay cannot find it in his heart to mourn the loss of all who die violently and prematurely, regardless of their station in life, then he is no different from those whom he chastised in his article. By allowing his iconoclasm to stand in the way of his compassion, he managed to miss his own point.
Jay White Feather
J. Hoberman was 100 percent on the money in his insightful assessment of Eyes Wide Shut ["I Wake Up Dreaming," July 27]. No film has ever left me more disappointed and, as a result, angered.
The movie that I saw was an absolute travesty. And what was even more troubling is having to read Janet Maslin of the Times declare it a masterpiece. The film was un-Kubrickian from the clumsily anti-erotic orgy sequence to the laughably silly resolution at the store not to mention the abysmal score.
Studio interference with Kubrick's unfinished film seems to be at work here. As Hoberman suggested, an investigation is called for.
I was thrilled to read Lynn Yaeger's article "Big Deal: The State of Weight" [July 27]. Every so often, while sifting through the countless articles and pictures of/about thin people, being thin, becoming thin, I excitedly stumble upon an article about the rest of us, the 50 percent or so of Americans who are "overweight." It's such a relief to finally have proof that we exist, that we are worth writing about.
I just wish Ms. Yaeger's article had been longer, more in-depth. There is so much to say about this subject: new findings about the genetic influence on weight, the sham that is the diet industry, the proliferation of eating disorders and of negative body image. If Yaeger could do a comprehensive exposé about these and related issues, it would not only make for fascinating reading but would also would provide an invaluable service to those of us who have been convinced, by the very same medium, to hate our bodies.
Thank you for Amy Taubin's right-on essay about the Motion Picture Association of America's stricter censorship of female sexuality over male sexuality ["The Pleasure Police," August 3]. As a filmmaker, I hope that ground-breaking (or at least crust-breaking) films like American Pie and Happiness will contribute to less sex-related censorship for everybody, because it's sad that our pop culture can't reflect what's going on with real women everywhere. It's even more of a shame to hear of women filmmakers who've worked hard to present that reality, only to be held back by a ridiculously conservative and unfair standard.
Regarding Alisa Solomon's review of the play The Brave by Sharman Macdonald, currently in residence at the Atlantic Theater ["Scotch on the Rocks," August 3]: I found myself nodding in agreement with Ms. Solomon's trenchant critique of the text and production, but was appalled to see her place the blame for the (admittedly atrocious) casting of Kimberly Anne Ryan on the undeserving shoulders of director Dave Mowers. A quick glance at the program will reveal that Ms. Ryan is not only the lead, but also a co-producer. Little wonder, then, that she ended up with a major role.
Re J.A. Lobbia's "Your Landlord's Dick" [August 3]: It is scary that landlords have this much power. Do we really want Big Brother watching over us? It's so easy for them to evict, but when it comes to doing their jobs (maintaining safety, dealing with internal residential problems), they bitch. The government needs to come up with more innovative solutions. In the '70s we had tenant organizations that were not only respected, but got the job done. People have lost their ability to fight and landlords are fully aware of this!
Bodies of Thought
Regarding the Mad on the Street column ["Beach Blanket Surgery," August 3] about people's views of their own bodies: I couldn't help noticing, from the polling of three men and four women, that the views were diametrically opposed. To a person, the men were satisfied; the women were not.
What a pitiful reminder of a major sickness that pervades our society. Women have been brainwashed by businesses and by the media into believing that appearances count for everything, and they allow and abet it!
Although Mad on the Street sampling was too small to be definitive, I believe that the views expressed represent our society as a whole. If this is right, just how do women make it through each day? Their self-esteem must be zero. My heartfelt suggestion: Get a life!
Thank you for Ben Marcus's excellent review of Absinthe by Christophe Bataille ["The Drunken Book," August 10]. It was very nearly perfect, except for the fact that Mr. Bataille's translator, Richard Howard, was not mentioned once. That, however, is forgivable.
Northwestern University Press
Re "Do It My Way or Else: Reverend Al's Strategy for Hillary's Senate Race" [August 10]: Once again Peter Noel has shown why his voice is heard with respect throughout New York. Is it possibly because he treats Sharpton, Giuliani, Mrs. Clinton, and us, the public, with true respect?
In last week's issue, the captions for the photographs which accompanied Tristan Taormino's article "Thorns and Roses" were reversed. On page 47, Pam Meyer was wrongly identified as "New York Leatherwoman '99 Peggy a/k/a O"; on page 48, "Peggy a/k/a O" was identified as Meyer.
Sietsema to Host Veggie Grill
Voice restaurant critic Robert Sietsema will serve as grillmeister at a vegetarian barbeque on Friday, August 27, at 6 p.m. at the public gardens on Avenue B between 6th and 7th streets. Admission is free.
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