Readers respond to recent articles about hip-hop trio Northern State. Plus: Why women love to pick their men's zits.

Published August 15, 2003 6:08PM (EDT)

[Read "In Grossness and in Health," by Anna Holmes.]

Finally! How liberating to read about girls picking their boyfriends' zits. But it's not only a female/male dynamic.

We gay men are "guilty" as well. I had an elaborate ritual at bedtime with my former Ukrainian (and extremely handsome) boyfriend who nonetheless had a pesky acne problem on his back and shoulders. I would carefully wash my hands, and then swab down his skin with witch hazel or alcohol. Then the popping would start! It was AWESOME to squeeze out that nasty white wormy mass. At times drops of thick clear oil or even some blood might spurt out! It was inexplicably exciting for me and I would enthusiastically wave the results and burble in delight to my partner. At first he thought I was totally demented and would give me these funny looks but he soon got into it. It felt good for him! There could be pain involved with a particularly stubborn zit, but Vlad bravely surrendered to the masochistic imperative in true Slavic spirit. And sex afterwards was often ferocious. We eventually had a nasty breakup (though we do remain in touch) but this ritual was the most intimate and moving bonding experience for both of us.

We cherish the memories.

-- Peter Bejger

The author should have put a warning at the beginning of the article, i.e.: Warning: "reading of this article while consuming food may cause vomiting, nausea and extreme repulsion for as much as an hour afterwards -- proceed with caution".

I was married for 12 years, as well as being in other intimate relationships, and have NEVER felt the compulsion to do the sort of things that were described in this article. And I consider myself to be quite a naturally demonstrative, affectionate partner!

*Only* motherhood has brought out the desire for "nitpicking" at my son, which of course is an entirely natural, and as the author describes, mammalian tendency. Any proud mother won't let her child leave the house a crusty mess.

Salon, PLEASE consider using a modicum of discretion in the future. These are just not things we need to read about. I don't want to log into Salon some morning and see the title, "You can pick your friends, *and* you can pick their nose!" EEEEWWWWWWW!

--RCC, Storrs, Conn.

I imagine that you will get quite a few letters denouncing Salon for publishing "trash" like "In grossness and in health," but I thought it was quite funny. Of course, I am a closet picker myself. I never (well, almost never) pick at my husband, but I definitely pick at myself. Truthfully, the only reason I refrain (and sometimes it is hard) from picking at my honey is because my mother used to pick at my skin and it drove me nuts (of course, now I am compulsive about it). What a surprise to learn that there are others out there like me!

I love Salon for its intellect, but I am in love with Salon because of its quirks!

-- Sara Middlemist

Wow. I thought I was a freak until I read this article. My fiancé has finally given up and lets me "pick" on him. Last night, he actually asked me to pick his ears. The author exposed all the "pickers"!

-- Marcy W.

[Read "No Bitches, no Hos," by Lynn Harris.]

Thanks for not putting the 8/12 article on Northern State in the Arts/Entertainment section. While NS may be blurring boundaries and smashing stereotypes and attaining other postmodern heights, their music is some of the most horrible I've ever heard in almost 13 years of listening to hip-hop. Ladies, leave the "grad-hop" to people who can actually rap and lend your other talents to causes where they're needed.

-- Aaron Szopinski

When educated, suburban white girls co-opt the voice of the ghetto ("We're not comin' to yo' cornah), you have a group that will be loved by all the people who hate hip-hop. WOPs (Wiggers of Privilege) should raise all the right flags, but the white media will give them a pass (thus, they skip right to Rolling Stone and Salon). Sickening. This is why black people hate us.

-- Jeffrey Abelson

I must admit that I'm a bit disappointed in your decision to jump on the Northern State bandwagon. A year ago, maybe it would make some sense; at least they still had a little bit of novelty then. But now? Why feed the hype of what is ultimately just a terrible music act?

All the posturing and feminist leanings in the world can't cover up what this group really is: a third-rate Beastie Girls. Nobody besides a few NYC critics actually believes that they can rap or even make decent music. In fact, the group's name barely even comes up in hip-hop circles. This is not because of their politics or their message or their whiteness or their femininity or their economic class; this is because of their tremendous lack of skill when it comes to making music.

There are other female rappers out there, many of whom have great skill to match their content. If you truly want to forward the hip-hop feminist movement, it would be better to focus on artists who not only have the insight, but the chops to back it up.

-- Pete Babb

By Salon Staff

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