Letters to the Editor

Tell Cintra an underground culture still exists -- but she won't find it at a Details party! Plus: Amazon.com vs. Amazon; don't obsess over tot's penis grabbing.


Letters to the Editor
November 4, 1999 10:00PM (UTC)

Bring me the fat head of Elton John
BY CINTRA WILSON
(10/28/99)

Cintra Wilson is shocked and dismayed to find the crowd at a party for a
vapid men's magazine to be sterile and passionless. Based on these
hangers-on of celebrity culture, Wilson laments the apathy of
"youth culture." Note to the writer: There are twentysomethings who still
get excited about art, literature and music. They just don't read Details
magazine, and wouldn't be caught dead at a function for said publication. I
would imagine the same could be said for Lester Bangs, were he still
alive. Even I, whose birthdate hovers around the late '70s like those models at the party, know that Lester Bangs was
writing for and from the underground. The same kinds of impassioned voices
still exist down there.

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-- Erik A. Kraft

Madison, Wis.

Dying young is definitely an antidote to age-induced lameness; however, Cintra, you
must know in your rock 'n' roll heart that McCartney and Elton were always fey, prissy
wannabes. Age ravages, no doubt, but the edge is not necessarily blunted: see Van
Morrison, Dylan or Mick and Keith. If you must go to these
kinds of parties, try getting as drunk as possible, maintaining only enough composure to
pass muster at the velvet ropes, and then immediately upon entry let all those assholes
know exactly what you think of them. No doubt you'll be 86'd for a few
trend-years, but you'll feel a whole lot better knowing that you've acted in the best
tradition and interests of rock 'n' roll.

-- Tony Brown

While the rock artifacts mentioned in this piece have certainly outlived their
collective usefulness, I've got to tell you that I saw the Stones this
last time around and it almost felt like 1972 again! So don't throw out all the aging rock icons with the bath water!
Sure, it cost me nearly $200 (it would have been more, but at the
last minute we decided to ignore my 8-year-old daughter's pleas and
leave her home) vs. the $6.50 it did back in the old days -- but at any
rate, the boys tightly pounded out a lineup of hits and relative obscurities
in such a loud, raucous and delightfully edgy fashion that I could swear that we had all been transported back in
time.

Today, elevator music passes for contemporary rock, while TV truly has become that vast
wasteland we were warned about way back when.
As one who has always prided himself on being fairly contemporary and
intuitive on trends, I find it truly pathetic that, if I want to
listen to something with an edge to it, I have to dust off "Exile on
Main Street." If I want to view a complex film I have to dig up my old
copy of "The Wild Bunch." And, God forbid, if I want a good
old-fashioned yet incisive laugh I have to search out old "Andy
Griffith" reruns.

The very fact that about half of the people digging the Stones that
night probably weren't born the first time I saw them live tells me
that, sadly, we still need them. I don't know how much longer Mick,
Keith and Charlie can stave off what on their planet must pass for old
age but my daughter has informed me, in no uncertain terms, that the
next time they come around she's going -- with or without me!

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-- George A. Fuller

Warren, Ohio


Nothing Personal: Jack the vote

BY AMY REITER

(10/28/99)

Amy Reiter wrote: "Helms to several congresswomen, before having them removed from
a Senate hearing by Capitol police as they tried to present him a letter in
favor of an international treaty against sexual discrimination."
But wording it that way is a little disingenuous. They
"presented" the letter by disrupting a Senate hearing with shouts and signs.
They're members of Congress, for heaven's sake!

You think discourse is uncivil now? Keep nodding approval of juvenile demonstrations such as theirs
and you ain't seen nothing yet.

-- Mike Long

Washington

Overruled
BY DAVE CULLEN
(10/28/99)

The so-called gay panic defense has no place in any civilized society.
Its premise is that an otherwise secure man is so outraged by a
"homosexual advance" that his only recourse is violence, or even murder. On
its own merits it is so feeble an excuse that no reasonable person could
grant it any credulity. A "man" who must resort to murder rather than offer a
simple "no thanks" is no man, but a beast who deserves the full condemnation
of the law.

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-- David Simpson

I keep waiting to see someone write about the obvious conclusion that
could be drawn from an acceptance of the "gay panic defense": that anyone could have a similar reaction to an
unwanted sexual advance. Many more women than men have far worse
episodes in their past than the described "homosexual experiences" in
this article. Is it then OK for a woman to kill a man who makes
unwanted advances toward her in a bar? Thelma and Louise might
not be the only ones who would like to use the "heterosexual panic defense."

-- Victoria Watts

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The "abuse excuse" defense is controversial when it is used in any criminal
matter, but it is regularly successful and rarely overturned. The myriad reasons usually boil
down to a single salient point: The true and total effect of severe
emotional trauma can be clinically shown to manifest itself long after the
traumatic events have ceased. What a "gay panic" defense will consist of,
then, is a simple statement that the accused was prevented from dealing with
his own homosexuality by an overriding social consequence: the demonization
of homosexuals and homosexuality in Laramie, and, by extension, America at
large. Who can doubt that this is a true condition? Who can deny the
accused the right to this defense, or even question his right to present it?

At the conclusion of this trial, should the accused avoid the ultimate
penalty, it will signal two things: 1) that our system worked again, and
2) that we will continue to pay for our cultural ignorance and hatred
unless and until we make Laramie a safe place to be gay.

-- Gregory Dale

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Battle of the Amazons
BY KATHARINE MIESZKOWSKI

(10/28/99)

It would be nice to believe that as a new
century fast approaches we could get past the idea that a person's sexual
orientation can be the source of shame, intimidation and control. It would
be even nicer to ask the Amazon.com managers why my sexual orientation (I'm
as queer as can be) was never an issue when they were taking my money.
Guess what, folks? It is now -- and I'll be shopping elsewhere.

-- Tim Sosbe

Chicago

That's an interesting, if dubious, tactic that Amazon.com is using to try to take the trademark name
original to the feminist book store in Minneapolis. However, the final line in your article regarding this legal tactic surprised me: "sexual McCarthyism isn't very flattering."

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I lived in Minneapolis for a few years and lived a few blocks away from the Amazon bookstore there. The one time I tried to shop there was an unnerving experience. The moment I walked in, the clerks (all women) turned to me and scowled. I had barely walked up to the first shelf when one of them hurried over and asked if she could "help me." I told her I just wanted to look around, which seemed to make her even madder.

As I browsed the shelves, it became clear this was a lesbian and feminist bookstore. One of the clerks was still trailing about 10 steps behind me, and the rest were still scowling in my direction.
Finally, I asked the clerk behind me if she wanted me to leave. She said that if I didn't intend to buy
anything, I should leave. They considered the store a "safe place" from men, and unless I was buying a gift (her word -- it was assumed I wouldn't be buying anything for myself), I should respect their
boundaries. Needless to say I never darkened their door again.

If you are a man, you haven't experienced sexual McCarthyism until you've tried to shop at the Amazon bookstore in Minneapolis. Not that that should have any bearing on a case regarding trademark and business name, but the folks at Amazon.com weren't the
originators of the sexual McCarthyism stain in this case, I suspect.

-- Tim Hanson

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It came as no surprise to me that Amazon.com would use a despicable gay-baiting tactic in it's attempt to win the trademark infringement suit brought against them by the Amazon Book Store in Minnesota. A few months ago, Amazon.com started advertising on Rush Limbaugh's radio
program. I wrote to Amazon.com to complain because they were advertising on
the radio program of one of the most rabid and vicious bigots on the air.

Amazon.com responded by accusing me of censorship. (Perhaps someone could
explain the logic of that one?) They also stated that the sole determinant
of where they will advertise is whether they can cost-effectively reach
people who read books. Perhaps they would feel completely comfortable
advertising in a white supremacist magazine or on Fred Phelps'
Web site if they could acquire customers on the cheap.

-- Geoff Staples

Dallas


Please, God, don't let him be a penis grabber

BY JONATHAN KRONSTADT

(10/28/99)

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I loved all the humor in Jonathan Kronstadt's article, but I was disturbed that
Kronstadt stopped his son from getting a good look at his daddy's wanker.
By letting him look the exploration will become a passing fancy rather
than an obsession that roots itself sneakily in the subconscious
throughout his life. The more communication around sex, including the
sexual parts, the better.

-- Nancy Peterson

San Francisco

Jonathan Kronstadt's chronicle of his son Max's exciting new discovery left me wiping my eyes, and put me in mind of my own childhood adventures. Of course, being female, my awakening involved a vagina, corn starch (don't ask), and a clothesline pole in the backyard -- clearly visible, much to mother's chagrin, to neighbors on three sides.

Congratulations on fulfilling every woman's fantasy -- finding a man who understands the true joys (and horrors) of motherhood.

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-- Angela Terryll

Birchwood, Minn.

Jonathan Kronstadt's article, while cleverly written, was none the less
appalling. In the United States, any depiction of a frontally nude child is considered
child pornography, yet it's completely legal to perform plastic surgery on it so
that it suits his parent's social or religious whims, then make the
child's ordeal the humorous centerpiece of a tasteless article. What kind
of a society is fixated on altering their infant son's genitals for no
medical reason?

-- Christiaan Hobijn

"I want a dream when I go to a film"
BY MICHAEL SRAGOW

(10/28/99)

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One of the more endearing images to emerge from David Lynch's "The Straight
Story" is when Alvin invites people he meets along the way to sit a while
with him, by the fire, near his makeshift home of a trailer. It's nice to
think that a rusty old folding chair is all we need sometimes.

-- Thomas Nochera

Silver Spring, Md.


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