Dharma bummed

Thanks to Lynn Yaeger for condemning the commercialization of Beat culture [ 'Off the Road,' August 22–28]. I am happy for your efforts to fulfill that responsibility as a media writer, but don't blame Jack! He's been dead since 1969 and has no idea what is going on with his legacy. It's not his fault, but his estate's that's led us off the road. His only daughter, Jan, is dead; his wife, Stella, is dead; and his mother is dead. Now, the Kerouac Archives are under the control of [Stella's brother] John Sampas. In order to have these fake-Beat-bourgeois items manufactured and displayed, as you saw in the window, a legal contract is necessary. Who gave it to the high-capitalist-item store? Jack in the grave? No.

The legacy of a dead artist always depends on the mercy of luck—whether that artist will have a sincere and intelligent estate that understands the genuine value (not just the monetary value, but the artistic and spiritual value) of the legacy the artist left behind.

Yuko Otomo


Obama: The no-win situation

Re Tom Robbins's 'Obama Time' [August 29–September 4]: Contrary to what Bob Healy said to Robbins about Obama, this is not Obama's time.Democrats would be foolish to nominate Obama, who is a sure loser. Obama supporters like Healy look at Obama through rose-colored glasses. He does not have the charisma or personal appeal to overcome being inexperienced, black, and with a Muslim name and heritage. If Obama is the Democratic nominee, the Democrats would lose all 50 states. And as someone who lived in Brooklyn for 58 years, I can assure you that he is not going to win Brooklyn either. Brooklyn is Clinton country, whether Robbins likes it or not.

Reba Shimansky


Axed and answered

Re Tom Robbins's 'Rudy's Brain' [August 22–28]: I look forward to the same hatchet job, er, investigative journalism on the other candidates. I wonder if Robbins took such a high moral tone of indignation with President Clinton, or is using interns for sex in the White House not as morally repugnant as bad debts? I thought the lesson we were supposed to learn was that it doesn't matter what your personal behavior was like, so long as you did your job well? I guess it depends on how liberal the leader is.

K. Waheri
Via e-mail


Attack of the infidels

Re 'History Will Not Absolve Us' [August 29–September 4]: Interesting that Nat Hentoff's headline was a play on the title of Fidel Castro's "History Will Absolve Me" speech. Being that Hentoff is about the only leftist I know of who writes against the abuses of the Castro regime, maybe the piece should have had another title. "History" will not absolve Castro when the old goat finally dies and the whole truth about Cuba is known to the civilized world, and "history" may well absolve the Bush regime. I don't trust Hentoff's sources—Europeans who are all leftist and anti-American, the whole bunch of ingrates. The Red Cross? Who knows? People who are not supposed to enter politics do. In any event, let Congress act and maybe we will find the truth about alleged CIA abuses. The killers who are Islamic extremists/terrorists deserve what they get coming to them.

Ana Martinez
Flushing, New York


You durn liberals

Re Nat Hentoff's 'Bush to CIA: "Leave No Marks" ' [August 22-–28]: Hentoff made a case in the final paragraph why his article falls on deaf ears. You should realize by now that the average citizen could give a rip what you write about. They want security, and they don't care what has to be done to get it. Write all you want about how some poor slob who got caught supporting a terrorist cause is being abused in some black hole, and the majority of your readers will look the other way as long as they are safe. Abu Ghraib was another case in which the liberal press wanted to make a big deal out of a bad situation in another country, but the majority of Americans remember beheadings and IEDs blowing up our volunteer men and women in the Army. Your readers only pick up your paper and read columns like Hentoff's just to see how sane they are compared to writers like him.

Dwight Dial
Lake City, Iowa

Thank you for another great column by Nat. I believe we are in one of the darkest periods in American journalism; only a few voices are raised against and about the criminal failings of this country's government. When this dark period ends, Nat will be listed among the great journalists who stood for and spoke out on behalf of ethics in government and international law. Thank you, Nat, and thank you, Voice. Keep up the great work.

Frances Lynch
Duxbury, Massachusetts


Lack of cred

I came across the following snippet from Rob Harvilla's 'Cred Sheet' from May 2–8: "Hey, thanks for your detailed Coachella reports, everybody. God dammit, I wasn't there, so who gives a crap, garrrrhrhrhhhh." That may speak volumes about why a paper that used to feature the likes of Greg Tate, Ann Powers, Kyle Gann, and, yes, Robert Christgau would run drunken non-reviews—and personal blogs, masquerading under the "Music" heading, by Annie Fischer.

MTV aimed for the text-messaging, short(er)-attention-span market too, although in your case it reads more like Springtime for Hitler than honestly mistaking one's audience.

Still, I thank you for Francis Davis and J. Hoberman—the Manhattan piece [July 4–10] by itself was worth a few months of that subscription fee—and I hope that doesn't damn them to unemployment.

David Sanford
South Hadley, Massachusetts



In Nat Hentoff's 'History Will Not Absolve Us' [August 29–September 4], one of the organizations that produced the report Leave No Marks: Enhanced Interrogation Techniques and the Risk of Criminality was misidentified. The report was produced by Human Rights First and Physicians for Human Rights.

In Chris Thompson's 'NIMBY Love' [August 22--28], the name of Daniel Goldstein's fiancee is Shabnam Merchant, not Shabmam Merchant. The name of Ron Shiffman, co-leader of a new effort to reimagine the Atlantic Yards site, was misspelled as Ron Schiffman.

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