Letters to the editor

Portrait of young author "makes it dang hard to miss him" Plus: Are concerts worth $200? Implications of Holocaust denier's court loss.

Published April 17, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)



Samantha Gillison's fascination with money and privilege is obscene. Her piece would have made Rob Bingham's skin crawl. Had he known what Gillison was really thinking while she lapped up his hospitality in Nantucket at his "beautiful wide-gabled house" (it's Mom's and is not "gabled"), he would have thrown a drink in her face.

-- Henry Davis

About two years ago I happened across a profile of writer Robert Bingham in New York magazine, which hyped the poor fellow to high heaven as the next Great Young Writer (no better sign you're going to be forgotten shortly -- other than doing a stint as an MTV VJ); accompanying the piece was a black-and-white, Vogue-ready photo of a dissolute bathrobed preppy (to use a term Bingham apparently hated) in some gazillion dollar New York apartment that your ordinary, unpublished novelist would never set foot in, yet alone rent or own. My reaction at the time, to be honest, was, "here's a jackass who used his connections to get published." Unfortunately, even after reading Gillison's eulogy to Bingham, my opinion hasn't been changed in the slightest.

Gillison's attempt to paint a sympathetic portrait of Bingham is undermined from all sides by admissions about his character. Rich and snobby? Oh, no, he wasn't one of those blue-blazered Republican types (as if that is the only classification of elitist), even as he "summers" in Nantucket, drinking and recklessly shooting at Heineken bottles. Effete and perhaps a wee bit taken with himself (as a writer observed to Gillison at a book party)? Oh pish -- he was just "painfully insightful," although he apparently lacked sufficient insight to recognize the dangers of heroin use. Limited in his writing to dealing with stories relating to rich people? Nah, he's actually a Marxist who observes how money defines us (Does that mean Ivana Trump is really an ermine-clad Emma Goldman?)

It's too bad that a poor soul like Bingham died so early in life, but Gillison's portrait makes it dang hard to miss him.

-- Brian H. Corcoran

In the end, Bingham found exactly what he was looking for: not some revelatory answer about the nature of man, politics, etc., but an escape from his misinformed self-hatred. You give anybody such a life of privilege and leisure and they will occasionally spew out some seemingly brilliant insight. The real genius is someone who can take that great opportunity and do something positive with it. I see no positives to recognize here!

I wish Salon would save some space for those who deserve praise and can actually get some mileage out of it.

-- Matt Baker

Fleece your children

Well, Wyman's article about so-called "golden ring" ticket prices for Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and other concerts nudged me into an early morning, pre-coffee nostalgia for the days when I saw groups like CSNY, and Dylan and the Band, Springsteen and others for a mere $6 or $8. (Of course, pot was $15 an ounce then, too.) These days I am content to listen to those performers on LP and CD and recall my perfect memories of concerts from days gone by. If I had any inclination toward attending today's concerts, a mere look at the ticket prices reminds me that my memories are enough.

-- Pam Farrell

I didn't get to spend $200 a piece for tix to the Denver show. I was 10th in line and they were already gone by then. Go figure. Must've been a lot of brokers orders getting filled before we "Joe Publics" got to them. But that's OK. My $75 seat had an unobstructed view, the video screens were big, the sound was crystalline and the show was fabulous! There were no "post-road downs" for this Neil freak.

-- Mark Cunningham

Excuse me, but one minute it's Napster promoters saying artists should make their money by touring. The next minute it's wrong for concert tickets to cost $200. Maybe the acts that can pull in $200 for a ticket are building a fund for those artists who are looking at a bleak future because of modern technology.

-- Teresa Neal

Your goose is cooked

Marjorie Leet Ford was kind enough to raise the specter of cruelty to animals in her essay on foie gras, but like many selfish people who put the temporary pleasure of their taste buds above compassion for suffering animals, she ended up eating the damned swollen goose livers despite knowing that the geese are tortured through force-feeding in order to produce the diseased livers that Ford and her fellow reprobates merrily shovel into their maws.

It would be poetic justice if the cold-blooded creeps who eat foie gras, like Ford, ended up choking to death on their pain-on-a-platter; failing that, cardiac disease from high cholesterol will at least shorten their time on this planet and hence, their support of the indefensible foie gras industry.

After their deservedly untimely deaths, if there's any justice, there will then be hell to pay.

-- Michael Gurwitz

Setting the record straight

The problem for me with this court result and the devastating personal cost to Irving is that it will drive other Holocaust deniers to quickly hunt down their holes to hide in. Surely this is not what we want. Misinformation thrives in ignorance and silence, so let's not deny them a forum.

Must say though, I'm very happy with the verdict. Justice was done proud in Britain today.

-- Jaan Torv

Justice Charles Gray's job was not to assess whether the Holocaust did or did not happen as according to record, he was set to find whether Lipstadt had libeled Irving. His findings come as no surprise when you see what pressure exists to make sure that no even talks about the Holocaust as an open issue. Surely the judge would have been blackballed as Irving has, even in a case where the libel and the effects of it on Irving are as plain as day.

-- George Balgobin

David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt to prove that he really is a serious historian and not a neo-Nazi ideologue. He lost the case, the judge called him a racist and a liar, and he owes a couple of million pounds in legal fees and court costs. In hindsight, Irving's decision to sue seems unbelievably silly and self-destructive. His behavior reminds me of the actions of a well-known German racist liar who also went much too far and was destroyed. It does matter whom you choose to be your hero.

-- John Mize

Minds wide shut

Robert S. Boynton's interesting review of "The Cultural Cold War" reminds me of a current treason of the intellectuals -- i.e., the elite writers who frequent the Don Imus show pretending they don't know that he is a rabid racist, homophobe and xenophobe. I'm talking about David Remnick, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Michael Bechloss and lesser lights like Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Tim Russert, etc. You may not be surprised to hear how difficult it is to find outlets for Imus criticism. Remnick has refused comment on his association with Imus.

-- Philip Nobile


I guess I have always preferred the apple tree before the initials were carved. My opposition/ambivalence to Christo's art is the intrusion on natural spaces and the garment district windstorm palette effect in settled areas. What can we wrap next? is my inescapable impression. Confinement symbolizes control, not freedom. I am sure this will place me among the people who just don't get it, but I really don't.

-- Wayne Anderson

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------