Letters to the editor

"Metallica did the ultimate in uncool acts." Plus: Do Buchanan petitioners' ends justify their means? And: Life after an ileostomy.

Published May 11, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

Metallica, how could you?

Metallica has pissed fans off for two reasons. First, they didn't consult with them before launching the Napster suit. Rather than going to the fans and asking, "How do we deal with this and how can we make it work for us?" they resorted to the usual corporate solution: Get a $450-an-hour shark and sail him off toward the intended target.

The second, and perhaps most egregious, mistake that Metallica made was naming names. The heavy metal community has always had a rather, to put it nicely, tentative relationship with law enforcement, and by ratting on their fans Metallica did the ultimate in uncool acts. I hate to say this, but the band's career is pretty much over now. This upcoming tour will do well, but I doubt they will ever sell more than 500,000 copies ever again unless they admit they were wrong and cease their action against both Napster and the fans they accused of being criminals with no proof that the fans had such intent. This is a P.R. disaster of the first magnitude and will be studied for years as such.

-- Gary Garland

In the liner notes for one of Metallica's newer CDs, "Garage Inc.," lead singer James Hetfield explains that when he first met Lars Ulrich, he would "stay over at his house for days making tapes of his records and sleeping on the carpet."

What?! Isn't that the very copyright infringement that they are suing Napster for today? Wow, how times have changed for this band 

-- David Martin

What people are doing is pirating copyrighted music and not paying for it. The independent record companies are the ones that are hit the hardest, as they do not have huge budgets.

If people think the "spirit" of what they are doing is rebellious, they are mistaken. What, in reality, they are doing is driving the cutting-edge independent record labels, that work hard to bring new acts to the forefront when majors are "playing it safe," out of business.

What they are doing -- getting something for nothing -- is, in fact, stealing.

-- Marc S. Salina

president, Subculture Records Inc.

I believe that the whole mentality of Napster users would change if they actually knew how much money an average band makes in a year. I didn't even know that it's almost impossible to break even on tour until I did some research. A band usually has to pay for its recording and producing costs.

I would like to see a breakdown of where the money goes when you make and develop a record or album. If the general public knew this, I believe it would help the Napster users realize that they are stealing from somebody that needs the money.

-- Andrew Lynch

Come on, Eileen


As a singer, songwriter and musician, I find Richardson's disingenuousness nearly as revolting as Limp Bizkit's so-called "music." Napster is very different from radio or MTV. The music industry will never be the same, and its executives and superstars are correct to be frightened.

That being said, I downloaded the software two days ago and now consider myself one of Napster's biggest fans. I think the program promotes the outrageous violation of our current copyright laws, and I think many artists and business people will suffer financially as a result of it. But if that's the case, so be it. The genie, as has been said quite a bit lately, isn't going back in the bottle. And how many of us who have used Napster really want it to? For, despite what the CEO says, what Napster really offers is free, unlimited music on demand, delivered directly and almost instantly -- and what music lover wouldn't wish for that?

-- Marc Taurisano

Coeds for Pat Buchanan!

I live in Austin, Texas, and the Buchanan petitioners that I have encountered at the University of Texas have been even more evasive than the article describes. They refused to admit who the petition was for and claimed that it was simply to get third parties on the ballot. They stopped talking when Buchanan's name was pointed out in small print at the top of the petition.

The Green Party and the Natural Law Party have also been collecting signatures, but without the evasive techniques. I know that many people don't care one way or another, but Buchanan's tactics only irritate that creepy feeling that politicians often give me. I thought third parties were supposed to be a break from politics as usual.

-- Tina Avent

Your article completely missed the point. I am a grad student in Texas, and I signed the petition to put the Reform Party on the ballot. I signed because we voters need more choices on the ballot. There are few substantive differences between Gore and Bush, and while Buchanan may not be any better, those of us who take pride in not being in either party should be heard from. I like the fact that, in Bush's home state, we are all not just falling in line behind ol' Dubya.

On the same day that I read your condescending article on students in Texas, I also read on your Web site about how third-party candidates are banding together to be heard by attacking the FEC. Maybe y'all should take a look at the big picture.

-- Alex Kaplan

Congo needs help, not Western posturing

I am a journalist in Uganda and I've just read David Rieff's article on the Congo conflict.
His views may be aimed at "helping Africa" or pushing the international community (read: U.S.) into actually wanting to help solve the problem, but the man is out of his depth!
He does not at any point mention Uganda, a major player in the conflict, which weakens my respect for his piece.
But the statement that "it has little or no chance of working, and it also risks confirming the cynical impression -- already too common in America and Western Europe -- that no matter how hard people try, there is nothing that can be done for Africa" is pathetic. There can be no talk of "no matter how hard people try," because no one, not even we Africans, are trying hard at all to help! Rieff would know that if he was an Africa specialist (his specialty is the Balkans, just like Holbrooke's is East Asia).

-- Simon Kaheru

What exactly would Rieff have the West do? Consider even the simpler problem of how to reconcile democracy with Islamic fundamentalism: The West has no useful answer here for Egypt or Algeria.

Suppose the West were to arrive in the Congo, or Sierra Leone for that matter, with all guns blazing. Who are they supposed to kill? It's not like there is a consensus as to who are the bad guys and who are the good.

What the U.S. could do as its attempt to help these sort of situations is give Africa a break with respect to trade and remove the tariff barriers that penalize undeveloped nations; for example, those on fibers and fabrics, and those on agriculture. This may not be as sexy as dropping 5,000 soldiers in the Congo, but it's a hell of a lot more likely to improve African lives.

-- Maynard Handley

Ghost organ

Count on Salon to handle well (and delicately) a decidedly non-yup, stomach-churning subject such as being forced to walk around with a bagful of your guts and bodily waste hidden under your clothes.

OK, so a tale of leaking intestines is not the kind of thing any of us flip to for a quick, bright read to get the heart started in the morning. But sometimes a good editor has to say, 'The hell with prime-time ratings!' I admire your thoughtfulness in bringing this all-too-common tale to our attention.

Too often Web sites zero in on the jugular -- or is it the glandular? -- and forget there are some real stories of courage out there, like Jennifer Gilmore's, in the world of us ordinary people.

Your well-done piece proves that guts (in this case, literally) come in all shapes and sizes -- not just in John McCain-scale tales of heroism.

-- Warren Berry

I'm sorry that Jennifer Gilmore had such a humiliating experience with her ileostomy. As a registered nurse who is certified as a specialist in ostomy care, I must comment on some of her remarks. While I realize that each person's experience is unique, I have many patients who have ostomies who do indeed live a normal life, with sex, swimming and normal clothing. It is not necessary to find a flange that is an exact match since most flanges can be cut to fit the size and shape of the individual stoma. It is also not necessary to use powder, putty and pink tape in every incidence. Most of my patients can change their pouches in five minutes flat and not have to change again for another three to five days, emptying and cleaning their pouches in between. There is no shame in having an ileostomy. Perception is everything.

-- Glenna Altizer



How could O'Hehir not cite the old Anthony Mann flick "The Fall of the Roman Empire," that underrated spectacle from the '60s which has exactly the same plot as "Gladiator," but with a cast that includes Alec Guinness, Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd and Christopher Plummer and is ever so much more stylish and fun than this current incarnation?

-- Erin Matthiessen

In comparing "Gladiator" to "I, Claudius," Andrew O'Hehir misses what is most provocative about Ridley Scott's new film and betrays a dismissive attitude that borders on irrelevance. Unlike "I, Claudius," "Gladiator" did not originate as a novel, nor did it have as much time and as many episodes as necessary to tell its story. More importantly, it did not have a ready-made TV audience in the BBC/PBS mold, but had to deliver to a broad spectrum of moviegoers in a very different media environment. Parallels between an environment such as exists today that pits movies against each other in an attempt to win audience share, movies that do or die on opening weekend, critics that pass judgment with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and the huge productions and spectacles that movies have become  and gladiators themselves were not lost on Scott in his wonderful and very timely movie.

-- Mark Safan

By Salon Staff

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