Letters to the Editor

Readers bust a gut on fat guy story; it's time to give up on baseball; sick of hearing about Harmony Korine's shockfest.

Published October 22, 1999 4:00PM (EDT)

"Fat guys kick ass"


Thanks for nothing, Shaw. Could you have written that article
about 20 years ago?

I'm a 35-year-old very fit man who was a
fat-ass kid. As the fat Jewish kid from a fat
Jewish family, I used to revel in my food: potato latkes, kishke, chocolate chip cake, even the common Suzy Q used to fuel my tank.

Now, I watch every fucking fat gram and work
out daily. I'm already married, and sure, theoretically, I
could just let myself go -- but when I joke around with my equally fit wife
about devolving into a fat bastard, she invariably says "OK, seeya."

Great. "Pass the fat-free ranch, hon."

-- Aron Solomon

Mercersburg, Pa.

I'm so glad Steven Shaw is fat. But I'm so sad he's straight!

I'm a dyed-in-the-wool chubby-chaser, thin as a rail, and have always been
dismayed by the large gay men who do not share Shaw's views about the virtues
of size. Do you think being fat among straight men is stigmatized? Honey,
just multiply that stigma by the vanity of gay men, and you'll describe
this mostly reviled, somewhat community-less, much-misunderstood
subgroup within a subgroup -- so many members of which I've fallen over
myself to chase down, and few of which are as satisfied as Shaw is with their rare beauty.

Welcome to fringe sexuality. It's always been scandalous when other queers
find out someone like me (in my 20s and considered cute) prefers chubby boys, but I've
discovered hundreds of other chasers via the Web. Without enough
examples like Shaw in place it's no wonder people (both queer and non)
don't understand -- yet. Tell Shaw thanks for writing, and for shakin' his sexy stuff!

-- Andrew Glines

Cute piece, but I don't know what gay world the author's friend, David, is
living in. Most of the gay guys I've encountered would clamor over the
last thin guy with a sore on his lip before they'd go for any of the healthy
fat guys standing alone against the far wall of the dance club. That's
assuming that any fat guys would even have enough emotional strength left to
brave the certain rejection of a gay dance club in the first place. Take it
from a very single gay fat guy.

-- Darren Sage


Shaw is right -- people who develop obsessions with exercise and dieting are
generally unhealthy and unhappy. But what about us normal people in the middle? I love
exercising; it releases endorphins and gives me
pleasure. The fact that I do not live inertly allows me to pretty much eat
whatever I want, whenever I want, and still look good. I am healthy
but not skinny, tall and voluptuous and feminine. I love food, and I am
a fantastic cook.

And as for sex -- yes, sometimes I like being on top, but other times I
don't. I cannot even fathom being turned on by a guy that is going to
lie there like a lump. The best thing about sex is variety and options.
Flexibility is highly desired (in attitude as well as body).

While I do enjoy a healthy appetite in others, there is a
difference between enjoying food and eating away one's self-esteem
problems. Maybe it is better to be fat and happy than thin and fretful, but I
don't see those as the only options. I am "normal" and happy now, and I'll
probably be happier than you 30 years from now. Shaw will probably
not enjoy life because of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and other
problems, while I will probably be like my grandparents were -- healthy
and mobile well into their 80s.

Shaw enjoys eating, and what else? I must have missed that part. I enjoy
just about everything life has to offer.

-- Tsipi Erann

Baseball must die


As a longtime Pirates fan, I can bear witness to the economic havoc that a few stupid,
arrogant, deep-pocketed owners have wrought. By continuing to bid up salaries paid to "superstars" or even marginal role players, they have created an environment wherein smaller-market teams cannot compete either on the field or off. Their fans have to endure "minor league" ball,
as the typical roster consists largely of 20-something rookies who,
for the most part, should still be learning their trade at the "AAA" or
even "AA" level. But it is more fiscally expedient to field
these guys than to be outbid in the free-agent market.

Of course, once these players attain major league viability or, in some cases, stardom,
their next move is usually out of town -- logically following the money
trail to George Steinbrenner, Ted Turner, et al. Then the
cycle starts over again and we face yet another "rebuilding" year.

The argument in justifying salaries has always been that they are
merely "reflecting the marketplace." But baseball remains one
of the lowest-rated televised events. No one watches anymore, other than the cities involved in the
playoffs and World Series. Attendance at the games themselves isn't
anything to write home about either.

So, maybe it is best that baseball does die out, or just disappear for a
while. Go ahead, go out on strike again. Maybe this time we'll finally show the players just how sadly irrelevant the game has really become.

-- George A. Fuller

Warren, Ohio

Nowhere in an article reviewing a book on baseball should I read the phrase "cheap
Latino talent from the Caribbean." What exactly is cheap about Orlando
Hernandez, Ramon and Pedro Martinez, Mariano Rivera, Ramiro Mendoza,
Bernie Williams, Rey Ordonez, Sammy Sosa or countless others? How is
recruiting these men stopping little boys in Oakland from pursuing baseball?

The history and legacy of Latino baseball stars in the Major Leagues is
rich and deep and deserves to be honored. The Latinos who are playing in the Major Leagues are doing so because they have the talent to be there. They are not, in any way,
cheap labor stealing jobs. Bernie Williams' talent doesn't come cheap.

I can understand and appreciate Morgan's and O'Hehir's dismay that less
and less talent is coming from America's inner cities. But they needn't
make their point by denigrating a group that has more than earned its
place in the sport. If more talent is coming from the Caribbean, it may
just be because the Caribbean nations revere the sport more than America's inner cities.

-- Dina del Valle

Desperately seeking angry white females



Your article said that a Nazi site even featured a dancing white-power baby. My site is not a Nazi site. I am a proud member of the WCOTC and a White Racialist Separatist.

-- Corinne Schell

I don't like hate groups, but as a feminist, I find that when even
racists are looking to put women in leadership roles, it's difficult to
say feminism is dead. It's disheartening to see racists step up recruitment drive. But it's good for women to be controlling their own destiny and taking responsibility for their own movements.

We'll have equality between men and women when men and women are free to
equally participate in all spheres, even ones that many of us find distasteful.

-- Adrienne York-Minor


Have you ever noticed that many "liberal" doctrines and practices are dangerously compatible with the doctrines of white supremacists? We used to be told that the ideal America would ignore race and eliminate racial classifications. Instead, we have government and private bureaucracies at every level devoted to dividing the population into ridiculous, mutually exclusive racial categories -- all in the name of supposedly fighting "racism." Why shouldn't the child of two Harvard grads believe white supremacist doctrines? She's been exposed to it all her life!

Do you want to disarm the white supremacist groups? Stop promoting the myth of race. No one can seriously endorse a doctrine of white racial purity if the mixed racial ancestry of whites is freely acknowledged (the black as well as the American Indian).

-- A.D. Powell

Madison, Wis.

The kid's alright


Daniel Kraus' piece on Harmony Korine and his latest phantasmagoria must have been the sixth or seventh piece in the last month that I've read on this obnoxious kid and his pointless cinematic prank. As soon as I read articles describing the events (I dare not be so reactionary as to say "plot") of "Gummo," his first film, I saw Korine for what he really is: a wise-ass who, unlike the
majority of high school jokers whose fantasies of animal cruelty, amputee mockery and
desultory incest are usually confined to whispered jokes to friends, has the
benefit of a coterie of high-powered, connected individuals in the indie-film biz who
allow him to commit them to celluloid and display them in art houses around the world.

The pattern continues with his latest magnum opus, where blind ice
skaters and armless drummers cavort with Korine's invented psychotics, all in a bid
to make urban hipsters sit up and say, "Hey, man, we're shocked!" Korine may want
us to believe that he's a cross between Andre Breton and Andy Kaufman, leaving
us wondering, "Is there anything he won't do?" But his desire to document the ugly and misbegotten in life is evidence not of a desire to provide society's overlooked with a fair hearing, but a juvenile
need to mock everything in sight yet escape real consequence -- and, in fact,
reap many rewards.

Surely, people won't keep buying this cinematic snake oil for
very much longer. I don't blame Korine for making the kinds of films he does -- hell, what 25-year-old wouldn't take this career ride, brief though it may be? -- but
critics and audiences possessed of some intellect must make it clear that while shock is
a legitimate response to art, it is much more significant and lasting when it
happens in response to awe-inspiring storytelling, not glorified carnival side shows.

-- Ken Munch

New York

Doctors' group wins Nobel Peace Prize


So -- in response to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Medecins sans
Frontieres, Jacques Chirac calls it "an honor for France." Somehow, I
think he missed the point.

-- Trevor Green

The treaty that ended in war



What is truly bizarre about the so-called commentary on the test-ban
treaty is that it is all in terms of whether Clinton or the Republicans
"won." Signing and confirming treaties should not be about winning and losing
political points. A treaty to ban nuclear testing will (or will not)
make the world a safer place to live. Commentary should be about what
effect the rejection of the treaty will have on the testing and
proliferation of nuclear weapons. That it is about which venal,
self-interested politicians "won" is more a commentary on the state of
media thinking than anything else.

-- Bill Michtom

Portland, Ore.

I grew up during the tail end of the Cold War. The world I lived in was
full of terms that are now unknown to my much younger cousins: doomsday clock, cruise
missile, nuclear winter, "The Day After." My school friends and I were absolutely
convinced that we were destined to die in a nuclear war. When I was 8 or
9, my entire elementary school became terrified upon spotting what looked
like a cruise missile dangling from a low-flying helicopter. My mother later
explained that the "missile" was really a set of scientific instruments for
examining mineral deposits in the surrounding mountains. I'll never forget the
raw anger on her face, nor what she said to my father: "They're doing a damn
good job of terrifying our children." When the Berlin Wall came down during my high school years, the euphoria I felt had less to do with the triumph of global capitalism than with relief that I might
actually get a chance to die of old age.

Since then, I've recovered pretty well from my childhood paranoia. Now, however, I see that Republican senators want to take us all back to those
fear-choked years. It seems that not only may I not get a crack at dying
peacefully in bed, but I may even get to be the parent seething over political
scare-mongering -- and all because they couldn't impeach Clinton when his pants
were down. Why do Americans put up with this shit?

-- Julianne Bowman


Sharps & flats: "In the Life of Chris Gaines"


I found David Cantwell's review of the new "Chris Gaines"
(Garth Brooks) release to be unkind, to say the least.
I don't see why some people are getting so down on Brooks for wanting to do
something that is decidedly "outside the lines" for most country musicians.
Even if this project does fall on its face, I think Garth should feel proud
of himself for taking a chance and making people realize that music is about
expression and adventure.

I've had it up to my ears now for a long time with the music industry. So many people sound so alike, it's hard to tell them all apart. At least with the whole "Chris Gaines" idea, I feel like I've
fallen into a whole new world that's fun, exciting and, above all else, different.

-- Kimberly M. Allen

By Letters to the Editor

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Baseball Nobel Peace Prize