I was impressed by Richard Goldstein's article on the outing of MPs in Britain ["Drool Britannia," November 24]. It was better than many articles in the liberal British press.
Like most people, I was horrified by the headlines, but enjoyed the spectacle of editors squirming when their readers turned a deaf ear to the whole affair. Effectively, it was, "We don't care what our MPs get up to in their private life."
The winds of change have been blowing for some time now, and when one of the most prominent Tory MPs, Michael Portillo, lost his "safe" seat in a Conservative heartland in the last election to an openly gay young man, there was a definite feeling of change.
Richard Goldstein's article on the outing of three members of Tony Blair's cabinet was brilliant. It's nice to hear about other sexually challenged countries.
Sue Ellen Kroll
Reading Karen Houppert's article "Nannypacks" [November 24], I found it surprising that some "educated" parents who are role models to their children don't provide the same benefits to their nannies that they receive from their employers.
A woman whom Houppert refers to as "Meg" ought to be ashamed for saying to her nanny who had just got her green card, allowing her to plan a long-awaited trip to see her children: "Look, when I hired you, I said you're going to take vacation when we do. I understand you haven't seen your kids for seven years, but in the future, please tell me when you're going away. And I want it to be when we go away."
Surely, if the situation were reversed, this woman would expect her own employer to have some compassion even if it was not a part of their original agreement.
Conversely, Houppert writes about a woman who is the epitome of responsibility. She treats her nanny as she would have done unto herself: annual raises, paid holidays and vacation, and a Christmas bonus.
Perhaps "Meg" should consider some advice that she might tell her children do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Thanks to Karen Houppert for her article "Nannypacks." As the mother of a two-year-old, I have had difficulty finding affordable child care. Unlike the Park Slope residents in Houppert's article, I cannot afford a nanny or day care.
The city does not help with any subsidizing, and this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Luckily, my family is there for me on a constant basis. But some are not so lucky.
In response to Andrew Hsiao's lead item in the November 3 Press Clips column ["The GLAAD Hand of Coors"]:
Imagine a queer activist who had left the country a few years ago and only recently returned. Talk about culture shock! She or he would witness a brave new queer world, one in which the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has accepted $110,000 from the Coors Brewing Company a firm that the gay and lesbian community has long boycotted.
As the former executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area affiliate of GLAAD, I would like to emphasize my dismay that GLAAD would accept money from such a source. When I was with GLAAD, a large tobacco company that was a key backer of the homophobic senator Jesse Helms was considering offering the community money and some were considering taking it. However, we "did the math" and realized that taking money from people who are trying to kill you doesn't add up.
Tom Di Maria
San Francisco, California
Gary Dauphin writes in his review of The Siege [November 17] that "its portrayals of Muslims, Arabs, and Arab Americans are a bit of a mess despite stabs at balance and nuance."
What I saw was another Hollywood blockbuster perpetuating the stereotype of Arabs as terrorists. Although the characters are fictional, repeated exposure to these images will promote intolerance toward the Arab community, of whom the vast majority are hardworking, law-abiding citizens who contribute to this country professionally, economically, and culturally. Isn't it time this hateful image was put to rest?
Thanks to Guy Trebay for his article about s/m photographers Barbara Nitke and Mark Chester ["Slap Happy," November 24]. These two photographers capture the ordinariness and love present in s/m play.
As a member of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, as well as Black Rose, an s/m organization located in Washington, D.C., I thought that Mr. Trebay did an excellent job of reporting on sexual minorities without reinforcing negative stereotypes.
All Rapped Up
Peter Noel's Revenge of the Mad Rappers" [December 1] was excellent. The street mentality a rapper possesses is hard to let go of, especially when that mentality brought you success. Hip hop must grow up. If you want the money, accept the criticism.
Re Alisa Solomon's "Ready, Willing, and ABL" [November 24]: The American Basketball League has showcased the best women's basketball in the world better than their rivals in the WNBA for the past three years. Yet the big-buck barons of sports media choose to ignore the ABL. It makes a sports fan wonder, but not for long. Moguls care more about the razzle-dazzle of the packaging than the quality of the game.
Those lucky enough to have found the ABL know that it's like discovering a five-star restaurant in your neighborhood with diner prices and no reservations required. Now ABL fans must pray that this refreshing alternative to hyped hoops doesn't close for lack of customers.
Bring Da Noise
Thanks to Alisa Solomon for her great story on the ABL. I am a Nashville Noise fan, and believe the lack of TV exposure on ESPN and NBC is an example of gutlessness and capitulation to the megabucks of David Stern and the NBA.
Additionally, ABL players do a lot for their communities. Stories about these players wouldn't necessarily come from police reports.
Soul To Spare
Peter Noel's article about our brother Kwame Ture ["Soul on Ice," November 24] was very interesting, although not totally accurate.
The reason K.T. (as many of us affectionately called him) was one of the most respected revolutionaries in the world was because he never tired of fighting for all of the oppressed people of the world. His commitment was probably unmatched; his organizing skills the best; his critical thinking razor sharp; his laughter warm and touching.
The greatness of any leader can be measured by the organizations that the man or woman is affiliated with. Kwame Ture aligned himself with two of the strongest, most revolutionary pan-Africanist political parties: the Democratic Party of Guinea and the All-African Peoples' Revolutionary Party. He was the only activist to have the distinction of sitting on the central committees of both of these political parties.
What distinguished K.T. from other activists of his generation was that he continued to grow and change, personally and politically. Some from the '60s fought the system to join it or to reform it; our dear brother K.T., on the other hand, fought the system until his last precious breath to destroy it! He did not seek money, political office, or an honorary chair. He just loved our people, especially young people, and he gave himself, encouraging others to do the same.
Thanks to Robert Christgau for his fine article on Willie Nelson ["The Unflashiest," November 17].
I was lucky enough to see Nelson in Providence, Rhode Island, earlier this year. Like Christgau, it was my first live Nelson show, having taken him for granted for way too many years. I couldn't believe how great the show was! Even four versions of "Whiskey River" only added to its beauty.
I hope the piece inspired readers to buy Nelson's latest CD, Teatro, as well as treasures from the past.
Peter Braunstein, in his article on Adam Sandler ["Everybody Pays the Fool," November 24], writes: "Many people tend to approach Adam Sandler's success and the crisis in American education as two sides of the same issue."
I consider myself pretty well- educated: some grad school, a tech job, and I read 150 to 200 books a year. Yet I like Sandler's movies.
Why? Because they are an enjoyable 90 minutes of idiocy. Sometimes, after a long week, a belly laugh is just what the doctor ordered.
Try enjoying these films for what they are: big cream-filled puff pastries of vapid sweetness. Not necessarily a good steady diet, but if you just watched Paul Schrader movies, you'd die from intellectual constipation.
Princeton, New Jersey
RJ Smith, in his review of Beck's new CD, Mutations ["Beck to the Base," November 24], writes that the album is light on Beck's signature sampling and shows a "new focus on emotion."
As a Brazilian who is a student in the U.S., I can tell you that what Smith fails to mention is that the new sound borrows heavily from bossa nova, specifically, the '60s Brazilian rock group Os Mutantes, or Mutations, the very title of Beck's album.
Tropicalia is the name that was given long ago to this musical movement, which blends electric guitars with traditional Brazilian instruments.
Wayne Barrett's fictional conversation between Senator D'Amato, Governor Pataki, and Ed Koch as they were stuck in an elevator on election night ["The 1998 Wacko Awards," November 24] was brilliant satire and an original piece of journalism.
Guilderland, New York
Kiss & Fell
Although William Bastone bestowed a 1998 Wacko Award on the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest lesbian and gay rights group, for its endorsement of Al D'Amato, it seems possible that the organization knew its endorsement would be the kiss of death for D'Amato. It didn't win D'Amato any lesbian or gay votes, as Bastone's Wacko item pointed out. Perhaps the Human Rights Campaign thought it would cost him right-wing votes.
Re Edmund Lee's "Cracking the Code of Ethics" [November 17]: So-called hacker Kevin Mitnick broke the law when he stole 20,000 credit card numbers and should be punished for his crime, but I agree with "old guard" hackers that it's unfair that he has been held in jail since 1995 without a trial.
I run a small nationwide group of hackers and phreaks. Our core values are practically identical to the majority of "old guard" hackers out there. Like Hosaka, founder of the hacker crew ROOt, said, "All we're about is hanging out, exchanging information, and teaching each other new things."
I turn away people every day who ask how they can become a hacker or ask if the hacks in the movie Hackers can be done. Most of them are young, intelligent individuals who want instant fame by learning how to hack or phreak immediately. They want to do it for the publicity or to impress their peers, giving real "hackers" a bad name.
I agree with Nat Hentoff's arguments in his column "The War Against Gays and Lesbians" [November 24]. Those who oppose hate-crime legislation often ignore the fact that we punish criminals in accordance with their criminal intentions. There are different degrees of murder and manslaughter. Adding bias or hate as a sentencing factor, as we do with premeditation, is perfectly justifiable.
How the hell can James Hannaham say that "Jewel is the Devil" ["Hell's Angel," November 24]? All Hannaham did was make fun of Jewel's music and call her names.
I am here to support Jewel. I love her music, and I have every right to. Hannaham has no right to tell me that when I listen to her beautiful music, I am listening to the demonic melodies of Satan!
Jewel's music is inspirational, and you know what? It brings me great joy to hear her music.
Hannaham says she is possessed. If she's possessed, then I'm possessed as well, because I am one of her biggest fans! Have your opinions, but don't tell me that Jewel is possessed by the Devil!
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Church Of Jewel
I'm one of those brainwashed people the Jewel "fancult," as James Hannaham describes us who call themselves Everyday Angels and believe that Jewel is the Messiah. Hannaham has made an absolutely ludicrous assessment of our Lord Goddess Jewel Kilcher.
It's time to accept the fact that Jewel is God. She has always been against us idolizing her, preaching inspiration instead, but that is just her humble nature.
You cannot challenge Jewel, so join her. Join us in the Church of Kilchianity. Embrace it. Live it. Or else it will devour you.
In response to Guy Trebay's obituary for community gardens ["Uprooted: The City Yanks More Gardens Out of Harlem," November 17]: There is a movement to create and preserve gardens, but don't look to professional advocacy groups for the true story.
When a contingent of citywide gardeners and supporters asked one paid advocate how they could support gardens in Harlem, they were told, "We don't need your help, we have advocacy jurisdiction."
This is the crux of it: Such ilk require gardens to be bulldozed to justify their positions. Indeed, the Cherry Tree Association had been working for years to create and maintain community gardens in the downtown Bronx, looking for support in every direction, when, all of a sudden, major green organizations turn up at the Community Board meetings, and ceased to have contact with us!
Instead of cultivating relationships with grassroots organizations, many environmentalists are arranging workshops tailored to grant funding, or are in the back rooms breakfasting, and conveniently blaming the mayor for everything. What we need is help, not excuses.
Chief of Environmental Defense
Cherry Tree Association
Saltz & Paper
Jerry Saltz didn't shy away from Kara Walker's confrontational cut-out silhouettes in his gutsy review of her work ["Making the Cut," November 24].
Saltz's direct language and courageous analysis was a refreshing change from the homogenized drivel that generally predominates in current art criticism. The review was a perfect response to Walker's work, which also refuses to mince words on its potentially divisive subjects.
St. Louis, Missouri
Gary Giddins's article on cabaret vocalists Paula West and Daryl Sherman was welcome ["Night Work," November 17]. Sherman is a true-blue worker bee in the arena of cabaret. At a time when one can easily become jaded about the rigors and struggles of succeeding in the form, Sherman shines with her perennial, sincere smile that makes any room radiate.
Competition from other music markets and forms of entertainment keeps cabaret at bay, outside the mainstream. Yet it remains an intimate secret for those who appreciate a craft requiring absolute honesty and melodic expression.
I was freaked by Lynn Yaeger's writing in her article about the spring '99 collections ["In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," November 17]. It was so non-drab! I hope to read more of her alt-word-filled pennings about fashion in the future.
Michael Musto's weekly column, La Dolce Musto, is excellent. When I lived in New York, I never quite grasped his gossip. Maybe I took New York City too seriously at the time. Now, as an outsider, I can see Mr. Musto's clever wit in exposing much that is silly and pretentious in New York.
Re Lisa Jones's article on The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer ["Slave TV," November 10]: As an African American woman, I too was insulted by the show's racist content.
(no relation to Lisa) Brooklyn
I am fascinated by the outrage that Jennifer Gonnerman directs at antiabortion activists who are turning violent against abortion doctors ["The Terrorist Campaign Against Abortion," November 10].
Prochoice activists defend their right to kill by making a distinction between undeveloped life and developed life. There is an absurdity and cruelty inherent in this distinction. Any stage of development is as precious and valuable as any other. My grandmother as a fetus is no less important than my grandmother at age 82.
I am not a conservative or a religiously inspired fanatic, but the obvious inconsistencies of prochoice activists, together with their astonishing lack of care for the living unborn, are becoming increasingly intolerable.
Sandra Van Hoecke
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