Letter of the Week
I was very disappointed in the recent Best of NYC [October 1824] issue. I have been a Voice reader since I moved to the city, and I had a great respect for your journalists and their courage in covering stories. However, the reporters writing for the Best of NYC didn't show any of this great tradition. I refer in particular to the "Best Dance/Martial Arts Class." The writer clearly relied on some friend's advice and didn't bother to do any independent research on the subject. Indeed, in NYC there is a full-time capoeira studio: the Arte Capoeira Center, which is the only studio of this type. With all the respect to Cotonete's work, sense of community, parties, weddings, and events are what all capoeira is known for.
I just wanted to say that Sean Gardiner's "That Darned Khat" [November 2228] was great. I loved reading it. I grew up seeing people using khat (I'm Somalian) and never really knew what it did to them. This is probably the most information I've ever gotten. My cousin's husband had something strange growing in his stomach that the doctors attributed to too much khat usage.
Girlz N the hood
Mara Altman's article on the girls of Automotive High ["Body Beautiful," November 2228] was great. I've been receiving the Voice e-newsletter for a few months, and this article was some- thing that I'd expect to see from The New York Times. It's very topical, well reported and in-depth. Let's see a few more like that.
It really sounds like these girls are being represented in a negative light. I have heard of Automotive High School, and I can attest that it isn't like that at all. It's sad that Altman could take the lives of these girls and write such terrible things. I would really like an explanation.
Re "Bush Revives Espionage Act" [Nat Hentoff, November 1521]: Defense Department analyst Lawrence Franklin was rightly convicted and sentenced for illegally distributing classified information. By tying the possible convictions of Israeli lobbyists for espionage, Hentoff creates a perceived First Amendment threat that is fear-mongering at best. Nefarious (and yes, dangerous) lobbyists, whether Israelis or Jack Abramoff, deserve the same fate for undermining national security and/or gross malfeasance. Only the Israeli lobbyists are on trial; neither the journalists nor the Israeli diplomat who received the classified information face the wrath of the Justice Department. Would Hentoff make the same argument if Franklin had shared our defense secrets with Iranian or Palestinian lobbyists? Daniel Ellsberg was ultimately vindicated for (illegally) releasing the Pentagon Papers; smears and even jail are the consequences all journalists accept when doing real investigationssomething the Voice abandoned long ago. Leave the fear-mongering to the politicians, Nat.
Nat Hentoff replies: Judge T.S. Ellis, who is presiding over this case, has already made it clear that under the Espionage Act, unauthorized possession of classified information can be punished, and he adds, that includes journalists. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales agrees, as does the FBI.
Talking all that jazz
Re "Keeping Jazz Musicians Alive" [Nat Hentoff, November 2228]: If people (musicians or not) invested 10 percent of everything they earned in an IRA-type (preferably stock purchase) program, they would end up with a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, the Social Security donation that comes out of their paychecks is woefully inadequate, and the government just spends it anyway, instead of investing it. Unless and until this ridiculous program is revised, many people who have been hoodwinked by the government since the '30s will continue to starve in their old age or have to work until they drop dead.
Nat, be for real. Like there is nothing else a thousand times more worthy in this world to spend our money on. These burnout clowns got more notoriety than they should have, compared to other more deserving professionals and humanitarians. They party hearty and enjoy a life better than millions around the world do. They get noticed more than people who have suffered and sacrificed for human rights do. They got all that they deserve.
St. Louis, Missouri
How could you publish a letter from the sexual Neanderthal who dumps on Rachel Kramer Bussel ["Sexual depreciation," Letters, November 1521] and compares a woman, a relationship, and sex to a car? No wonder Babeland owners are now millionaires. When women are bored to death by arrogant, pedantic men, we turn to machines that vibrate. The divorce rate is close to 50 percent, so smart people go the conventional-car-ride route just to settle for awesome sizzling hot sexwhich can also be deeply meaningfulthat won't involve economics and litigious breakups.
Suzannah B. Troy
Leader of the pack
It was only through Karen Durbin's moving obit "Ellen Willis, 19412006" [November 1521] that I learned of Ellen's death. I knew her when I worked at the Voice, and I adored her. I was also in awe of her and would ask her question after question just to keep the conversation going. She could talk well about anything. She also loved to play; she was both an intellectual and a sensualist, and that tended to make people uncomfortable. She taught me a lot, and she made me laugh, and I am forever in her debt. Vaya con whatever, Ellen.
Re Sarah Ferguson's "An Inconvenient Death" [November 1521]: I couldn't help but notice the striking similarities between the images of Brad Will after he was shot and those of Che Guevara, who was executed in Bolivia some 39 years to the month earlier. Like Guevara, Will was bearded, barefoot, and shirtless in the photographs. Both men had what has been called a "thousand-yard stare." The only difference between the two is that Guevara's body was surrounded by those who killed him, while Will was pictured with those who tried in vain to save his life.
Re Ben Westhoff's "Private Enemy" [November 814]: What an amazing article. It's the best thing I've read in quite a while. It takes guts to write this story, considering the popularity of Doom and the Mouse these days. I don't feel the need to take a side, nor do I feel your representation of Carey promotes the reader to do so. Like Joe Frazier when Ali beefed with him, Grimm really doesn't seem to need anyone's sympathy.
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