Kenneth Blake, Mars Hill, NC
Curious Orange MUGGER: I spend many hours reading on the Web, and I can honestly say I enjoy your column the most. The longer the better in my unhumble opinion.
M. Hayes, Syracuse, NY
Louisville Slugging Re: Christopher Caldwell's 12/1 "Hill of Beans" column:
Kentucky seems to be a popular target these days for New York Press, eh? First the Louisville crack in the Best of Manhattan piece about the novel Ahab's Wife ("Best Way to Blow $500,000," 9/22), and now Caldwell talking trash about the Bluegrass State: "...these people from Louisville and Lexington and Paducah are just petrified of New York." Yes. Well. Hmmm.
Point one: Oh, come on. Caldwell lives in Washington, DC, for God's sake: a lifeless, boring, one-industry town. Geographical elitism coming from him is practically laughable.
Point two: You can't group Kentucky cities together under the umbrella heading of "podunk." Okay, I give you Paducah. Half of my family lives there. It is a podunk town. And Lexington: well, it's way too conservative?and not in the trendy neocon libertarian way?for my tastes, even though it does have the most successful college basketball team in history.
But Louisville...there's a town. We've got real bourbon, cheap cigarettes, a huge theater festival, well-known restaurants, a low cost of living and more parkland per capita than any other city in the country. Louisville has a blues scene, a hipster emo hardcore scene, and a bunch of working-class bars where no one rattles on endlessly about their agent.
Point three: I moved from New York this summer?after a long stint as an intern at New York Press?back to Louisville. Petrified of New York City? Not exactly. In fact, I am less scared of crime in New York than anywhere else.
But I know how much New Yorkers and other über-urban types love to pick on the less cultured of us, we who choose to have a backyard (with trees) instead of using our high rent to feel superior. And for all their talk about the "podunk"-ness of Louisville or Nashville or Minneapolis, I think these statements originate from a fear that if they moved from the city, they'd actually like it.
Whitney Joiner, Louisville
We Say "Buttercup" Rollinson MUGGER: I was reading your family's picks for Time's Man of the Century (12/1) and I was surprised that they missed one of the most obvious choices and, in my opinion, the single most influential man of the century. Now, I'm going to preface this by saying that this man was wrong about just about everything. I picked him because his political and economic system and rhetorical defense of it established the standard for the most widely copied form of government in the world. Remember, it's not just about being good or accomplished, but being influential. Many of the others cited by your family were influenced by him.
Time's Man of the Century should have been Lenin.
Lenin created the modern totalitarian state. He was the first to organize a centralized, one-party government kept in power by hordes of domestic informers and secret police. His gulags were the prototypes for Hitler's concentration camps, Mao's Laogai, the Khmer Rouge's "re-education camps" and Castro's unnamed prisons. His purges of the opposition and the subsequent use of mass media to spread the justifications for them and indoctrinate the masses were all the tutelage that Stalin needed for his purges and Mao for his Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution. They provided inspiration for the assorted mass murders of Pol Pot, Hitler (Goebbels must have studied communist propaganda techniques when he formulated his own) and the rest of the world's ideologically motivated tyrants, both petty and grand. Ultimately, the final body count is Lenin's.
His economic model of communism was copied and imposed throughout the world and kept in place despite mountains of evidence (often corpses) that proved its repeated failure, but so many otherwise intelligent people were seduced that they refused to believe the evidence of their own eyes. That's influence.
Hitler was a piker by comparison. Roosevelt's New Deal was a pale imitation of Lenin's economic policies. Churchill was defined by his opposition to totalitarianism. He was able to stand alone against the Nazis, but he couldn't stop the communist occupation of Eastern Europe. Babe Ruth was the prototype of the superstar athlete, but celebrity like his was a minor accomplishment compared to the subjugation of one third of the world. Caesar and Alexander would have been envious. The most influential man of our century, and its greatest monster, should have graced Time's cover.
Also: Something had been nagging me about Hillary's non-campaign, and that's the house expenditure. Both Clintons are obsessed with money, and she's the greedier of the two. The woman whose deducted two dollars per for donating Bill's skivvies to Goodwill and who let herself be the conduit for $100,000 in bribes laundered through the cattle futures market is not going to casually toss away $1.7 million on a house that has no value to her except as campaign prop. Unless...
First, assuming that they've closed on the property, which I don't recall seeing anywhere in the news, they can always resell it with only a minimal loss, as long as they do it quickly, if that's her intent. Meanwhile, Hillary's fundraising continues unabated, and she gets to keep the money if she doesn't run. If, as you guessed, it's about $10 million, then here's how it plays out: She makes enough to cover the purchase, making it her house free and clear. After she dumps Bill, it gives her a nice place to live while she passes her resume around to the various New York City megafirms and does the lecture circuit of colleges and foundations in the Northeast corridor. Since Bill's most likely post-2000 plan involves taking a job as legal counsel to one of the major studios in Hollywood, this puts them on opposite coasts, which just might be enough distance for the two of them, especially after the nasty, Jerry Springeresque spectacle of their impending divorce.
Ultimately, Hillary's goal is twofold in this non-campaign. She's going to milk the Democratic faithful to the tune of the $10 million or so that she's raised thus far and however much more she can get between now and her tearful announcement that she cannot run because of her duties as First Lady. (Of course, if there's a massive shift in her poll numbers, or if Giuliani is caught screwing a goat on the steps of City Hall, she might go for it after all, but only if she thinks that it's a lock, as a Senate seat would perpetuate the payday.) But she'll make that decision when the last polls are taken prior to the filing deadline. If she tosses a couple of million at the DNC as a soft-money contribution (to assuage the people who thought that they were contributing to a Senate campaign and not her retirement fund) and pays off the house outright, she walks away with a minimum of $6 million.
Not a bad take for not running for Senate.
Mike Harris, Los Angeles
Whussup, Whitey MUGGER: Thanks for the article on Jesse Jackson (11/24). It is enlightening to find that he's having such a positive impact, as indicated when fascist assholes like you continue to slam him.
Leo Carr, Chelmsford, MA
A Beagle's Good For Both Brian O'Hara has nothing to do with immortalizing Gus the Gerbil ("The Mail," 9/15). A greater power is responsible for the immortality of all life.
O'Hara doesn't seem to be aware that there is a difference between companionship and sex acts.
E. Albertine, Queens
Tell Tomasky Joan Collins has joined the ever-growing list of celebrities and pretty people to gush over President Clinton by declaring in Britain's Spectator: "He has beautiful and expressive hands...and enormous feet. I must admit I was spellbound. The man has palpable sex appeal, and is much taller and slimmer than I'd expected. He also has wonderful breath!"
He's also a rapist, a serial harasser of woman, a pathological liar and one of the most vile and despicable self-serving bastards that ever lived.
Joan, enter at your own risk.
James Green, Manhattan
Gordon Lish Is Our Hero The redesign looks great. Balls to all these people who complain about how difficult it is to read your paper. The words are what are important after all, right?
I'm happy to see the paper gain weight by riffing off of more of an old-school model of the "literary magazine." Most of the popular glossies remind me more of television than anything else. Or publicity packets. And I just read that interview with Tina Brown in Salon. What a weenie. She's such a pretentious, condescending little prig, I just want to smash her in the face.
Grabbing Caldwell and Cockburn was an incredibly smart move, and very fortunate for you guys. New York Press is consistently the liveliest political read in the city.
Chris DeFrancesco, Manhattan
The Dispossessed Adam Heimlich ("Seven Days in Israel," 11/24) obviously visited only the bright side of Israel, seeing only European and American Jews. He did not see the Jews of Arab countries who live in the border towns. They are the targets of Arab persecution. He talks about squatters, meaning the Palestinian Arab refugees, but he should know that there is an equal number of Jewish refugees who were forced to leave their homes in the Arab countries, for no reason other than their being Jews.
Between 1948 and 1956, one million Jews were forced to go to Israel as penniless refugees. Their rights are just as important as the rights of the Palestinian Arabs. While Israel granted these Jewish refugees Israeli citizenship immediately, the Arab League resolved that no Arab government may grant citizenship to the Palestinian Arab refugees. The Jewish refugees from Arab countries had nothing to do with the war. They were persecuted even before there was an Israel. Between 1941 and 1947, 21 major pogroms were perpetrated in the various Arab countries against the Jews in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. The next time Mr. Heimlich visits in Israel he should visit Dimona, Diryat Shmonah and various other towns and quarters where the majority of the Jews from Arab countries live. The Jews from Arab countries are poor because all their assets and properties in the Arab countries were confiscated. The Arab countries and especially the Arab League should compensate these Jews for all the billions of dollars of assets and property they confiscated from them.
Heskel M. Haddad MD, Manhattan