Armond, calm down, dude! Theyre just movies, fer chrissakes! I dont see why you have to get all insane every time some kid makes a movie you dont agree with. I mean, you dont even have the balls to make movies. You just watch them! (For free, I might add!) So lighten up.
Dont give that Armond guy my phone number. He seems touchy.
Tom Patterson, Brooklyn
Brooklyns Down I like your paper, but some of it stinks. What kind of jerk writes a letter to a newspaper to lecture people about their calendars ("The Mail," 1/12)? Joe Rodrigue, youre a jerk!
Tell that writer William Monahan ("Stoned In Amherst," 1/12) that hes a blowhard. Who cares what pens he likes to use?
A. Munoz, Brooklyn
Soup Bones I like John Ellis, but he went off the deep end last week with his column about expanding the borders of the U.S. ("Convergence," 1/19). There is something wrong with real estate, past a certain point. For starters, you have to defend it, and you have to control and administer it. I dont know where the threshold is exactly, but at some point I think youll find that a country just becomes too big. Presidential candidates here already spend a sizable chunk of time campaigning. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were roaming all over Canada and Mexico as well? The bastards have to do some work occasionally, too.
In particular, having the U.S. absorb Mexico is the dumbest idea I have heard in a long time. Mexico, as you point out, has serious problems with corruption. It is also, at least in parts, an extremely dangerous, lawless place, with terrible poverty. The conflict with the Indians in southern Mexico is not going to disappear overnight if Mexico joins the U.S., so that would sound to me like an argument against statehood. Their economy sucks, they have terrible pollution problems, the cops are totally corrupt and so is much of the government. (I was listing all the Clinton scandals one day for a Mexican friend. His reaction? "He could run for office in Mexico.") We should probably sooner admit Puerto Rico. Let Mexico remain a quaint travel destination for criminals on the lam and hippies looking for drugs. Theres no reason why the U.S. should get any more mixed up in their massive social problems than we are already.
There is also the language problem. Since its completely unreasonable to expect Mexicans to adopt English, and since Americans are not about to learn Spanish, that would leave us with a bilingual country–an absolutely terrible idea. This by itself is enough to scotch the whole proposition. Puerto Rico might be small enough to get away with it, or even possibly Cuba–but Mexico would be a nightmare.
That is, assuming the Mexicans would even consider the idea in the first place–which they wouldnt, I assure you. People are proud; they want to keep their identity. They dont want their country overrun with McDonalds.
Canada or some parts thereof would be less of a stretch, but whats in it for them? Anyway, if we absorbed provinces near Quebec, then the Quebecois would become our problem instead of Canadas. The Quebecois are lunatics–who needs that? We already have California. One bunch of fruitcakes is enough.
Joe Rodrigue, New Haven
Trading Up While I sympathize with John Ellis basic idea about adding states ("Convergence," 1/19), one point must be made: Alaska and Hawaii both voted to become states with margins of something like 85 to 90 percent. To invite Puerto Rico in when it doesnt even have a majority in favor–letting alone the fact that theres a militant pro-independence movement–is just inviting trouble. Whats to be done when that 1 percent or so swings the other way? Add to that the fact that Puerto Rico–like most of the other nations in Ellis vision–has a different language and a vastly different culture from the U.S.s, and suddenly his sweeping plan has more problems than its worth.
A note to Michael Tomasky ("Opinion," 1/19), who dreams of being a journalist in times when he could be brave and stand against the crowds, as in, say, condemning McCarthy in the 1950s: Want to be brave? Try defending McCarthy today, or taking any other conservative stance, and see what happens to your media position.
Nathan Lamm, Queens
A Musical Joke Props to John Strausbaugh for his consistently incisive diatribes against fakery in all its forms. I especially enjoyed his 1/19 beatdown, this time of mediocre rock critics.
If I might offer up an iota of individual thought: The cause for mediocre rock criticism is closely related to the vapidity of the Hilfiger "Rock Fashion" show at the Met. It seems that the all-powerful market forces have finally worked out the kinks, and can now speedily and effectively commodify dissent, rebellion, etc. See Rage Against the Machine, for example–Marxists signed to a multimillion-dollar recording contract.
Once all things that register "dissent" come from the corporate big daddy, its hard (or rather impossible) to maintain any sense of "indie cool" or whatever it is that rock critics are supposed to exude.
Enough babbling. Id like to see more rock criticism New York Press-style. If John Strausbaugh does the editing, its bound to be at least decent.
Josh Koenig, Manhattan
Option Keyes Dear MUGGER (Can someone called "MUGGER" be dear?): As a 60-year-old Southern white conservative, I wish to thank you for your 1/19 piece on Alan Keyes. George W. Bush would be very wise to enlist Mr. Keyes at a high level in his campaign and in his administration. Perhaps in a new honorary post–such as secretary of morality and common sense.
Maybe honorary is wrong. Maybe it should be something like the Surgeon General post. Fact is a secretary of morality and common sense might do a lot more good than the Surgeon General.
Of course, expecting good from "good old Bill" is a pretty far fetch anyway. Any rate, thanks for the article. Mr. Keyes deserves a great deal of praise, attention and, in particular, help.
George Graham, Hinton, OK
A Frighteningly Presumptuous Cabernet Andrey Slivka ("Clinton St. Musings," 1/19) is at his best when he is being expansive. His personal tour, from the Carpathian frontier to the Lower East Side, takes us down many paths on the way to Clinton St.
Ive seen Ave. B look like a demilitarized zone. Ive seen Ave. A looking like the Upper West Side of the yuppie 1980s. Ive resisted and embraced these transformations. I used to like the seediness of Tompkins Square. Now I enjoy how many people use it in the summer. Change is almost always good, as long as it is happening in a lot of directions at once. I wouldnt mind being intimidated by a wine list on the Lower East Side, as long as everyone is invited.
Rob Jones, Manhattan
Grating Expectorations Taki, in making his case that manners are deteriorating ("Top Drawer," 1/19), mentions ballplayers who spit in public. This is a new phenomenon? Dizzy Dean never let loose with a piece of chewing tobacco on the field?
The lack of spittoons in public drinking houses seems to point to a decline in public spitting, no? What we have seen is a reduction in public smoking, enforced by societal and in some cases legal pressures. Many people, including smokers, dont like the smell of the stuff while dining. Theres been grumbling by some, but there seems to be a general acceptance that smoking around others without their okay is rude. Given the tendrils of smoke in Takis logo, Im curious as to why he feels that this is different from picturing a big gob of spit.
Adam Groden, Brooklyn
Half-Buried, Then Mowed Jessica Willis: Although Im sure youll get many letters saying how superficial, unoriginal and stupid your arguments are in your fur article, Ive got to tell you how important your work is to our society. Just because some people think that minks (and Jews, and women and African-Americans, etc.) have the right to lead peaceful lives doesnt mean we cant benefit from a little barbarism, right? Some people say that violence is interrelated. That is, if you can justify the torture and death of the innocent–or guilty for that matter–you can justify rape and ghettoization. But as you know, Ms. Willis, everything occurs in a vacuum. What does one thing have to do with another? Its not like the next time some kid shoots another in school you have to think about your role in society and what kind of world youre creating.
So thank you Ms. Willis for promoting violence. Keep up the good work and rest easy.
Lisa Arnold, Minneapolis
Smell Gas? After reading the insensitive, callous article by Jessica Willis, may I suggest that she and another smug, self-absorbed fur wearer, Starr Jones of The View, join each other back at the mink farm? Willis writes: "...if the mink was given a chance, he would...fasten his incisors to her jugular..." Please give the mink a chance to do so to Willis and Jones!
Carole LaRocca, Las Vegas