BY JOYCE MILLMAN
Since Camryn Manheim seems so attuned to the way women who aren't
traditionally beautiful are denied sexual or romantic roles, I wonder
why she had no problem when her character on "The Practice" rejected a
man she had met on the Internet because in person he was slightly
built and wimpy-looking -- i.e., he didn't fit the traditional
concept of male attractiveness. (It now looks as if that same
character, after months of hedging by the show's writers, will finally
turn out to be a nutty serial killer -- furthering the stereotype that
if a guy is shy and slight, there must be something wrong with him.)
If Manheim really cared about conquering Hollywood typecasting,
she would look at how it affects both genders, not just her own.
-- B. Allen
Camryn Manheim is a thoroughly deluded person, and I'm surprised that Salon
climbed aboard what is so obviously a PR bandwagon. Manheim is quoted as saying she wants to "live in a world with tiramisu."
I have an even better idea for Manheim: How about living in a world
where buying clothes isn't an overpriced, embarrassing chore? Where how you
look isn't such an all-encompassing issue because you know that, at the very
least, you don't look bad? Where you can run and swim
and play games and dance as much as you want,
without exhaustion overtaking you in five minutes? That is living, and the loss of it all is one hell of a price to
pay for just another bite of tiramisu.
-- Rob Anderson
Please add to the list of easily avoidable offensive descriptions the
term "good Jewish liberals," which Joyce Millman applies to Camryn
Manheim's parents (it may be Manheim's own description). The phrase
calls to mind a master list sorting "good Jews" from "bad Jews." Let's
not go there.
-- Arthur Stock
BY ARTHUR ALLEN
I am a sailor stationed in Hawaii and was recently required to be
vaccinated against anthrax. I was totally opposed to the idea of having
that vaccine in my body, but I have taken two of the six shots so
far. I did this for my family, as I cannot afford to be reduced in rank
and did not want them to suffer for my beliefs. There have
been no studies, as far as I know, of the long-term effects on the body.
My command put out
minimal information on the vaccination prior to administering it to my
co-workers. It wasn't until I protested that more information was
provided to me. I have been given numerous documents provided by the government, which all state that anthrax is safe and effective, but I am still skeptical. I have been keeping track of the batch
numbers I have been given and am still following this story with much
-- Hale Comer
The Michigan lab that produced and still produces the Anthrax vaccine
was sold in 1998 to a very private company, BioPort, who is in turn is
held by another very private company, Intervact, whose majority stock
holder is none other than the former Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
Adm. William Crowe.
Now add to this the fact that BioPort was bought for a mere $25
million in cash and is currently the sole source of the
anthrax vaccine program now being forced upon our nation's men in women
in uniform, with a price tag somewhere between $130 million to $150 million.
This scam is so simple in concept and execution and had it not been for
the toxic nature of the vaccine itself, would have been the perfect and
harmless rip-off it was intended to be.
When the vaccine came into doubt, the few select stockhoders
interest exceeded that of the men in women of our armed services. Crowe has traded his years of service and naval career
for a politically mandated, privately profitable scam that puts all of
our service people at risk.
-- Kent C. Greenough
Barefoot on the shag
BY PAMELA GROSSMAN
Cartoonist Lynda Barry is one of today's unsung literary heroes.
Her work is brave and honest and searing. I am grateful for Marlys,
Maybonne and Freddie and how they speak for so many children who would
not otherwise have a voice. To Lynda I would say, never concern yourself with not making us laugh -- what you do goes so much deeper.
-- Janine Gastineau
"I'm a Stranger Here Myself"
REVIEWED BY JEFF STARK
While it is certainly the case that Lewis Lapham is an astounding synthesist of references both historical and contemporary, unless a reader understands at least half those references, he is also a powerful soporific. His snide coverage of the World Economic Forum as if he were a prole, while informative, was both long-winded and disingenuous. I've subscribed to Harper's for almost as long as I've read Bryson's work, and while I find neither author demonstrably more erudite or clever than the other, I would vastly prefer to read, sight unseen, a new Bryson piece over a new Lapham piece.
Is it really fair to review a book of columns without discussing the circumstances under which they came about? Bryson, as was discussed in several columns, was in the process of moving his family from Yorkshire to New Hampshire during the writing of the columns collected in this book. In the introduction, which may well have been removed from the painfully dumbed-down American edition (as indeed was the superior British title), he explains how he was roped into writing them.
Bryson is, actually, both fascinating and and expert. His take on modern American life offers the rare perspective of both a 20-year expatriate and a kid from Iowa. His style essentially consists of informal but carefully considered observations of daily life. You might have noticed, although apparently you didn't, that there are some fairly obvious themes in Bryson's columns: America is no longer the bright land of opportunity and promise, but has become the land of convenience and bureaucracy. It has become a place where everyone is looking to shift the blame to anyone else, where no one is willing to set foot outside their car for more than 20 feet, where everyone simply accepts the most appalling lapses of courtesy and aesthetics.
-- John W. E. Roy