The 800 Club

I was fascinated by Robert Davey's article, "Scattered Clues: New Shadows Darken the TWA Flight 800 Probe" [March 2].

I've worked in the aerospace industry for 20 years, designing radar and other airborne equipment. I know that, due to consumer demand, the development of software programs is often rushed. Inexperienced grads are assigned to quickly throw software systems together. These aren't the high-tech systems portrayed in those Top Gun­type movies. Mistakes happen.

Considering other sightings of missiles by pilots, the proximity of military test areas to commercial airline traffic, and the fact that electronic and software systems don't always function properly, it's pretty clear to me that the U.S. Navy could have fired a missile that brought Flight 800 down.

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Darrell Hambley
Monroe, Washington

I appreciated Robert Davey's article about TWA Flight 800. No other news organization has had the courage to suggest that all is not well with the FBI and NTSB investigations. I have a copy of retired navy commander William Donaldson's preliminary report. As a physics professor, I find it makes a very convincing case that the plane was shot down by a missile.

Mark Semon
Bates College Lewiston, Maine

Thank you for keeping the public aware of the government cover-up of the Flight 800 explosion.

I am a former TWA flight engineer. I flew the 747 for 10 years, until I retired in 1985. I have operated the 747 in all kinds of climates, and at very high ambient temperatures (above 100 degrees), both on the ground and in the air. I never had a problem.

Now the investigators are suggesting that a 747, which took off from John F. Kennedy International Airport with outside temperatures in the mid 70s, overheated to such a degree that a mid-air explosion resulted. Male cattle manure!

Lewis B. Judd
Murphy, North Carolina

As a retired senior chief petty officer with 21 years of service, I am highly skeptical of the supposition that the U.S. Navy mistakenly shot down Flight 800.

The reason is rather mundane: classified information is notoriously hard to contain. Someone would have talked by now. If a small weapon-testing craft had screwed up and caused the crash, it might have been successfully hushed up, but on a large navy ship, some sailor would have spilled the beans.

I suspect terrorists.

Randy Gill
San Diego, California

Regarding your coverage of Flight 800: Has anyone considered the possibility of a celestial object downing the plane?

A small, superheated meteor, traveling at high velocity and at the right angle, could easily have penetrated the aircraft and ignited the fuel in the center tank. It's conceivable that one of nature's missiles, not man's, caused this tragedy.

Hey, anything can happen!

Karl Laschet
El Cerrito, California

Courting Criticism

Only in the backlash of postfeminist angst can people like Pat Allen be construed as dating experts [Sharon Lerner, "Dating Guru Advises Husband-Hunters," March 2].

I have a piece of advice for the four-times-married Ms. Allen:

Rule #18 says the fifth time is the charm!

There are no rules to attracting a man, unless it involves adhering to the ancient art of seduction. I've always found that men respond better to passion than manipulation.

Please let me know when Allen will be holding her follow-up seminar: "Why I Married the Wrong Man."

Heidi Herman

Hillary Pillory

Re James Ridgeway's skeptical observations about Hillary Clinton's potential bid for the Senate [Mondo Washington, February 23].

Even if Hillary decides not to run, she has already done New York a great public service. Next to her, Giuliani doesn't look so unbeatable— in fact, he looks downright vulnerable.

New York needs a senator who cares about bread-and-butter issues that affect average New Yorkers— health care, affordable housing, social security, the elderly, and child care.

In short, any senator but Giuliani.

Paul Feiner
Town Supervisor
Greenburgh, New York

Dumb Moses

Leighton Kerner was off base in his review of the Metropolitan Opera's production of Moses und Aron ["Mo' Better Moses," March 2].Indeed, one would have to look hard for a more grossly misconceived interpretation of Schoenberg's philosophical monument.

Not only were the minimalist sets and mod outfits visually off-putting, the stage direction and choreography were motivationally half-baked at best!

More grievous, however, was the musical misinterpretation of Moses. In Schoenberg's score, Moses's lines are specified to be performed Sprechstimme, which puts Sprech (speech) before Stimme (song). The fact that Moses was undeniably more sung than spoken annihilates the intended dialectic between Moses (the inarticulate disciple) and Aron (the man of the people).

In the world of opera, communication takes place between those who sing. Thus, within the paradigm of the sung language of opera, Moses can be perceived as inarticulate only if he speaks. If Moses sings too much, the gap in communication— the essential conflict of the opera— is nullified.  

Rebekah Brilliant Gimbel

Gospel Truth

Jonathan Bowles's excellent article, "Uneasy Exits: Nasty Discharges May Put Manhattan Psychiatric Center Patients at Risk" [March 2], exposed a tragic policy that is affecting the lives of many defenseless individuals.

In the Pataki administration's wild rush to cut costs, it is disregarding the unfortunate souls who depend upon these institutions.

As Christ said (Matthew 25:40), ". . . insofar as you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did it to Me."

Robert H. Verbeke
Alexandria, Virginia

Off, Off Grotowski

Stephen Nunns's "After the Guru: Young Artists Confront Grotowski's Legacy" [March 2] didn't do much to prove Jerzy Grotowski's theatrical teachings irrelevant. However, it did go a long way toward explaining why New York theater, by and large, is.

Nunns writes that "[Grotowski's] sentiments may have had resonance in the '60s, but in our high-tech, image-driven, short-attention-span world they sound, well, a little quaint." Grotowski wasn't unaware of the short-attention-span world— he was fighting it, something that many artists, and critics, no longer have the nerve to do.

Is it any wonder that the audience, especially the young audience, for avant-garde theater grows smaller every year?

Daniel Kleinfeld
Year One Productions

Hats Off to Hentoff

Thanks to Nat Hentoff for his probing and insightful column about the Clinton administration's shameful disregard of the genocide in Rwanda ["A Holocaust We Could Have Stopped: I Saw My Father Cut to Pieces," March 2].

Glenda Findley
Sedalia, Missouri

Pazzt Time

The Number 1 Album in the 1998 Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll [March 2], Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, is a fine collection of songs, but it could've been written and produced 25 years ago. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, however, sounds fresh out of the fire and ready for the new millennium.

Let's face it, this year the sentimentalists won.

Joseph Belfatti

Shrink To Fit

Sharon Lerner's HMO Watch column "Shrink Rap: Middlemen Eviscerate Mental Health Benefits" [January 26] accurately describes the situation of managed care as it relates to mental health. HMOs have removed the cornerstone of good psychotherapy by compromising confidentiality, choice, individualized treatment plans, and professional objectivity. They have seized on problems of a flawed but comparatively excellent health-care system to make huge profits. Moreover, although HMOs claim to have stabilized soaring health costs, even this is inaccurate, as health premiums are currently rising sharply.

There are alternatives. One is the American Mental Health Alliance. We are a group of licensed psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners who are organized nationally as well as locally. Mental health professionals must act to retake the field. Managed care can only operate if we cooperate; together we have power.

Dr. Carol Sanjour
AMHA-NY Board Member

Park Vendetta

Andrew Hsiao's article about vendors in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park ["Chinatown Take Out," February 23] provided us with yet another example of Mayor Rudy Giuliani abusing his power.

Outdoor markets make for diverse, inexpensive, and convenient ways of shopping for life's necessities and luxuries. The vendors have every right to vend— and Giuliani does not do nearly as much as these people to create a reasonable "quality of life."

Kristin Cassidy

Stage Of Life

Thank you for Liz Diamond's beautiful remembrance of American poet-actor Paul Schmidt in your March 2 issue. I was a student and friend of Paul's in the mid '70s while I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin.

He was one of the biggest influences on my life. He brought out the artist in me. It's so shocking to know he's gone.

Gary Porter
Dallas, Texas

Chiru Cheers

Excellent article by Guy Trebay in the February 16 issue ["The Bloody Trail of This Year's Fashion Must"]. We thank you, and the chiru thank you. Keep up the good work.

Brett Whipple
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Virginia

Mighty Whitey

I agree with Allen St. John's article, "The FAQs About the Yankees' Big Deal" [March 2], with the exception of his Roger Clemens­Whitey Ford comparison. Ford is a guy who has been consistently undervalued for three reasons:  

First, he missed at least two full seasons due to the Korean War, costing him at least 20­30 wins.

Second, Casey Stengel's idiosyncratic pitching rotation required Whitey to pitch only against the good teams. During Stengel's tenure, Ford almost never faced the dregs of the league, yet still managed to pile up outstanding records.

Finally, Ford's reputation is damaged because he played for the greatest dynasty in sports history during its most dominant period. People see his seemingly modest records, and naturally conclude that almost any above average major league pitcher could've done the same thing.

Josh Davlin
Baltimore, Maryland

Greenwich Village: The Way It Was

The past of Greenwich Village will be the subject of New York the Way It Was on WLIW, Channel 21, at 8 p.m. on March 13. The program will feature interviews with musicians, actors, writers, and longtime residents, and will explore the Village's cultural and artistic legacies from the 1940s through the 1960s.


  • Evadine Bailey, mother of police shooting victim Patrick Bailey, was not identified on the cover of last week's Voice.

  • In the March 2 letters section, Michael Meyers was wrongly identified as the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Mr. Meyers is a board member of the NYCLU, and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition.

  • In Robert Christgau's review of the Harry Smiths at the Bottom Line in last week's issue, banjo player Larry Saltzman's first name was printed incorrectly.

  • In Dan Allred's March 2 article, "Uprostred," the Web site for ordering Czech rock CDs was printed incorrectly. It is www.tamizdat.org.

    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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