Cheshire's a Commie, Carr's a Boor, and a Letter from Jail

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:54

    By the way, the snotty tone of your reviewer is one reason why I left New York City. Why isn't Cheshire writing for the Village Voice?

    John England, MIAMI

    Everybody Errs, Ted Glad to hear that Godfrey Cheshire enjoyed Rules of Engagement. After his endless prattling, week after week, about the genius of various obscure Iranian directors, and his description of the botched-up Thin Red Line as a "masterpiece," I had him pegged as a pompous, logorrheic, politically correct egghead type who could never, ever find anything nice to say about a pro-military, unashamedly flag-waving film like Engagement (which actually dares to depict the U.S. Marines as something other than a collection of psychos, homophobes and fascists). I was sure a film like this would make someone like Cheshire choke on his own bile. Guess I was wrong. Ted Klein, Manhattan

    Soup Bones Speaking of the recent decision against Microsoft, John Ellis states that "It is in the national interest for Microsoft to spend money on [new technology] and not [litigation]" ("Convergence," 4/12). There are a couple of problems with that logic. First of all, there is the little matter of the law. If Microsoft is just going to get a free pass anyway, why should they obey the law? They might as well go out and kill people if it helps their business.

    By the same logic, you would vote against impeaching Clinton. The economy is good and it would upset one thing or another, so let's forget it. I would suggest that it's not in the national interest to let criminals go unpunished.

    The other problem is this very strange idea many people have, especially Republicans and guys like MUGGER, that Microsoft is an innovative company. That's a joke. Microsoft cannot even put out an operating system that doesn't crash every day. Forget about innovation?they haven't mastered basic competence yet. UNIX was a more reliable platform in 1970 than Windows is now.

    Microsoft doesn't have to innovate?they can wait for smaller competitors to do it and then just buy them out (which they have done repeatedly). Meanwhile, their huge user base is dependent on them for upgrades and bug fixes and already has too much invested in them to go elsewhere.

    The only reason they can be successful is the fact that the vast majority of PC users don't know their asses from their elbows. They've never used anything good, so they're very tolerant of Windows' misbehavior. Many, if not most, of them only need word processing, e-mail and Web access, so for them the choice of operating system is not critical.

    Luckily for Microsoft and for Apple, the Japanese do not develop software the way they make cars. Otherwise, can you imagine a Japanese competitor putting out an operating system that crashed with the frequency of Windows and the Macintosh? Impossible. Virtually everybody who has ever used Windows complains about it. Gates dismisses these complaints as being due to user mistakes. His arrogance would never be tolerated if consumers had an alternative. A good Japanese competitor would wipe the floor with them.

    I don't know what the most suitable penalty for Microsoft should be. Perhaps I'm a little dense, but I fail to see the connection between monopolistic strategies and the voidance of intellectual property rights. Nor do I see what's wrong with breaking up the company, so long as they are rendered unable to coerce their competition. It would probably be a blessing in disguise for them, in fact.

    You also said that "in the near future, PCs and the Windows operating software that makes them functional may well be irrelevant" because users would be pulling software off the Internet. That may be true of applications software, but not the operating system (unless you reboot the machine, which I doubt the average stupid user would want to do). If you are thinking of lightweight "network terminals" or whatever they're called, you may be right?if that idea takes off.

    In any case, I think it's very possible that Microsoft will be a minor player by 2010. They will be in serious trouble once Linux reaches the point where it becomes as easy to use as the Macintosh for ordinary (nontechnical) users, perhaps five years from now.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven

    Bi-Curious George While I like M. Doughty, and he is a good French-kisser, I do have a couple of comments about his 4/12 column, "I Like it Warm and Fuzzy": 1. While Doh-tea did mention the top three bands of all time?the Beatles, the Ramones and Nirvana?he neglected to mention the fourth?Furious George.

    2. He likes it warm and fuzzy because he's a pussy.

    George Tabb, Manhattan

    Brian's Road Led to Rome I am presently a guest in one of New York state's finer institutions. Be that as it may, I'm a born and bred Manhattanite, and I am insanely homesick. Your paper helps to cure this. The Village Voice gives me a headache. (It's available to me in the library.) It ain't the same.

    Here's the catch. Newspapers here are allowed only by subscription.

    So I want one.

    I want a lot of things. Your paper is a start.

    So please, kind ladies and gentlemen, if you could find it in your huge loving New York City hearts to send along the info and price, I'd be most beholden.

    Brian Netter, Mohawk Correctional Facility, Rome, NY

    Wait'll Cabal's Key West Story Ron Mwangaguhunga's article ("Opinion," 4/12) about the Great Books is simply the most magnificent piece I have ever read in New York Press. Howard Hirsch, Carson City, NV

    On Kings, From Queens It's always nice to see someone making the case for the Great Books, especially someone with a good East African education who can't be accused of simply rooting for the home team, but I'm puzzled by Ron Mwangaguhunga's use of Marcus Aurelius to bash Clinton. Okay, not puzzled?that's obviously what got the piece published in New York Press?but, let's say, annoyed. I'm no more a fan of Bill Clinton than is anyone with a brain and a moral sense, but a writer with all those Great Books under his belt should know better than to deploy illogical ad hominem arguments. "What Clinton has done with his great power boldly contradicts the writings of his favorite author." True beyond question, but what Marcus Aurelius did with his great power was equally contrary to his own writings. Or do you suppose that all those persecuted Christians and slaughtered Parthians, Marcomanni and Quadi would have been any happier about their fate knowing they had suffered at the orders of a great philosopher? As Eutropius says, "He slew several thousand men, and having delivered the Pannonians from bondage held a triumph at Rome." Substitute Kosovars for Pannonians and Washington for Rome, and you have a perfect modern successor. Let's face it, philosophy and real life make notoriously uncomfortable bedfellows?particularly for rulers, of course, but would Mr. Mwangaguhunga want to have every action of his life judged by the highest Aurelian standards? I thought not, and no more would I. Bash Clinton all you want, but fair is fair.

    And by the way, the Greek title is Ta eis heauton. Have whoever's responsible for the missing word fed to the lions at once, will you?

    Stephen Dodson, Queens

    Coloring Books Ron Mwangaguhunga: Gee, you sure don't write black. Seriously, I've never been lifted higher by such a short piece. It was great. How anyone could read it and not be charged to read the Great Books would baffle me. It's a shame America's universities don't feel the same way you do. If universities were involved in regular commerce, they'd all be serving time for fraud.

    Thanks to all you fellows who put out this fine newspaper.

    A.H. Watson, Holden Beach, NC

    Lothrop's Worth Lothrop Worth was a pretty interesting fellow and Michael Yockel's 4/12 "Obituary" for him was, too. It contains, however, the oft-repeated myth that 3-D glasses gave everyone a headache. The problem, really, was in the projection. Stereoscopic 3-D then, as now in the IMAX 3-D system, requires two strips of film kept in perfect sync frame-for-frame. Ill-trained projectionists in the 1950s often repaired a damaged print by cutting frames out of one of the prints, but not out of the other: They were supposed to put black leader where the frames were removed to keep the two strips of film in sync. Usually they didn't bother. The result, from the audience viewpoint, was that their left eye was seeing one movie, and their right eye was seeing the same movie two or three or four frames out of sync. The viewers' poor brain sat in the middle?unable to merge the two images?and screamed. That was the problem, not the glasses.

    One suspects that a simple poor understanding of how vision really works contributes to the perpetuation of the myth. IMAX 3-D, however, demonstrates that a properly projected 3-D film doesn't cause all that eye strain and annoyance. It's those heavy, LCD glasses that give people a stiff neck now just trying to hold their heads up.

    E. Summer, Manhattan

    J.T., Cash Loved your 4/5 cover excerpt from J.T. "Terminator" LeRoy's new novel, Sarah. I read New York Press regularly, and have read other articles and stories by Terminator. I didn't know the kid had such a great book in him. It makes real a world I'd never heard of. Now I have to go buy a copy of it. Rosie Potter, Brooklyn

    Correction: In last week's Op-Ed "Massachusetts' Pork-Barrel Politician," the call letters for the radio station that hosts Howie Carr's talk show were incorrect. Carr appears on Boston's WRKO.

    How Fat Is She? Howie Carr's 4/12 "Opinion" column mocking Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Jane Swift's weight was childish, meanspirited and unimaginative. He defends his "fatophobia" with tired anecdotes about the excesses of political correctness. Sure, we all have our favorite stories about the thought police run amok, but is that an excuse for political commentators to sling insults like playground bullies? Boorish behavior is not the only alternative to hypersensitivity. Carr seems to think that fat people are seeking special victim status when they assert their right to be spared cruel and irrelevant insults about their appearance. The issue is not victimhood but dignity. Why is it any of his business whether Jane Swift or Jerrold Nadler can "resist that second helping of mashed potatoes"? What does that have to do with their political qualifications? Carr feels that his superior self-control in this area entitles him to single fat people out for abuse. As far as deadly sins go, however, pride is a lot worse than gluttony.

    Political correctness is demeaning because it imposes prophylactic rules (words you can't say, groups you can't criticize) instead of trusting that mature adults will be able to express disagreement about controversial issues without resorting to humiliating ad hominem attacks. Carr doesn't do much to justify that trust. Someone who tries to pass off kindergarten-level taunts as outspoken political commentary shouldn't be surprised that the so-called "p.c. cops" treat him like a child in need of discipline.

    Jendi Reiter, Manhattan

    Coming Soon Crispin Sartwell's "Farm Report"? ¿Donde está "Farm Report"? Name Withheld, Los Angeles

    Old Fission Hole I am impressed with Andrey Slivka's piece on the Indian Point nuclear reactor ("Nuclear Fools," 4/12). He has demonstrated a heretofore unsuspected talent for scaremongering. Alas, the disaster scenario he depicts is not supported by the boring old facts. Slivka describes an incident in February in which a steam generator leaked and a small amount of radioactive steam was very briefly vented into the atmosphere. At that time, the plant operators measured the amount of radiation in the surrounding area, as they are required to do by law?indeed, all emissions from nuclear power plants must be monitored constantly, and any release of radiation that exceeds regulatory limits (themselves set conservatively low) could not possibly go unnoticed. As it turns out, the amount of radiation involved in the steam generator incident was so close to zero as to be below the range detectable by the plant's monitoring equipment.

    How does one use this minor incident to convince readers that we almost lost Manhattan? Here's where the creative writing comes in. Slivka asserts darkly that the amount of radiation released at Indian Point was "unquantified." He then quotes one of his fellow alarmists to the effect that "they" (the plant operators) don't know the amount of radiation involved. This is like saying that if you place a feather on a bathroom scale, and the dial does not move, you have no idea how much the feather weighs. What this ignores is that you do know how much it does not weigh.

    Oh well, we can always burn coal?and thus produce poisons like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which have been linked to real diseases, such as bronchitis and emphysema. Once the last nuclear reactor has been shut down, the mothers of America should confront the antinuclear activists, and ask them why they allowed acid rain to be dropped on their babies, when a much safer alternative was available.

    Brian Tvedt, Manhattan

    Yell Down the Hall Armond White: How can you claim that Black and White "doesn't leave any of us comfortable with the presumptions we hold about black license, white rapacity or vice versa"? Your review ("Film," 4/12) makes it clear that the film, as you saw it, said precisely what you've been presuming for years about those (and many other) topics! Adam Heimlich, Manhattan

    Green Bay Smacker Seeing that most of the letters published concerning Armond White's film critiques are negative ones, I would like to send out a public appreciation. Typical of his incisive criticisms, White writes of James Toback's extraordinary Black and White: "And though critics (and some viewers) resent the social, sexual and racial ideas Toback dredges up, this also means that he's onto something embarrassingly real." Like many of the filmmakers he admires?the French New Wave, Toback himself, Brian De Palma, Walter Hill?White not only zeros in on the nature of Toback's esthetic but describes his own critical politique.

    Agree with him or not, White remains the most morally consistent writer about what's perhaps the greatest popular art form the world has ever known.

    John Demetry, Madison, WI

    White Mythology The perfect litmus test for a shitty film or music writer: A given movie or album is released, receiving rave reviews from the major publications that give out those sort of things. Several weeks pass. A writer for a relatively small and usually free publication writes some sort of counterreview in which he or she reveals to the apparently ignorant masses what complete fucking morons these people are, and how much said movie or album sucked. Attempted deception of general populace avoided! Punk/independent spirit confirmed!

    This sort of snotty pretension, almost as pathetic as the critical bandwagon that has inspired it, is usually bad enough. But the fact that Armond White has the balls to suggest that Ready to Rumble, Brian Robbins' redneck-themed followup to his redneck-themed 1999 "effort" Varsity Blues, is more culturally relevant than High Fidelity seems like an attempt at some surreal form of parody, rather than a valid review of an irrelevant movie.

    White's inability to relate to High Fidelity's realm of music geekdom reveals his inability to view art with a somewhat unbiased perspective, not flaws within the film itself. Furthermore, High Fidelity isn't exactly encouraging its audience to join in the self-defeating acts that many of its characters perform throughout the movie; their obsessions usually turn against them and cause them further misery. It remains a great work because of what it expresses about modern relationships through the lens of a fairly unique individual. The specifics of his obsession aren't entirely important, although one would be hard-pressed to find a movie geek of the same caliber who still fully functions within society; its strengths lie in what it says about humanity in general, not some dumbass who owns a record store.

    Besides, White's probably just pissed because Kid Rock's "Bawitdaba" didn't make it onto the soundtrack. Perhaps another round of midget fighting will ease his pain.

    Tim Schaefer, Milwaukee

    The Greek, Way I have just one thing to say. Taki is awesome! Doug Myers, Miami

    Way Uptown Reading Taki's column and his gang is amusing, thought-provoking and sometimes infuriating. However, this time he hit the nail right on the head. I hate Hollywood and never go to the movies, but this Black and White movie is a typical presentation of stereotypes that could get all us black people a one-way ticket to a eugenics sterilization camp. Liberals love to portray blacks as victims in order to give themselves some kind of superiority fix and to have a raison d'etre in their pitiful trustfund existences. Being a part of the non-ghettocentric, maligned black working class, I find all this pimp-and-ho bullshit degrading. I am profoundly insulted by the media moguls of all persuasions who are destroying the culture. I guess Malcolm X died so Puff Daddy could shoot niggas in nightclubs. I must be getting old. Muata, Bronx

    Found-Out Krauts Alan Cabal: Deutschland ist schön ("New York City," 4/5)! And it needn't creep you out. All you have to do is remember that it's fundamentally no different from the good old U.S. of A. They just got caught. Chris Sorochin, Brooklyn

    Key West Gals Agree Alan Cabal is just so hip, Austin Powers better watch out. Why, he even smokes pot and everything. He has the highest hipness density ratio of any writer since Allen Ginsberg. He's so unimpeachably hip that he can repudiate political correctness and say nice things about Rudy Giuliani. No uptight commissar lefty here, just a loose dude in a loose mood, doing his own thing.

    For years now we've had Rush Limbaugh as the rock 'n' roll conservative, P.J. O'Rourke as the hippie conservative, Stanley Crouch as the black conservative?and now we have Alan Cabal as the bong-smoking hipster conservative. Mega dittoes, daddy-o.

    In best hipster fashion, he lets it all hang out and tells it like it is, copping to every drug crime he's ever committed. Dig it, man, Zimmy's inna basement mixin' up the medicine, and every narc better cop a sneak. Lenny Bruce would be proud.

    He combines pop culture savvy with an intimacy with criminals. We haven't seen this level of hipness since the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels at Altamont or the Beach Boys contemplated producing a Charles Manson record.

    Every truckling sweaty-lipped brownnose should scurry like a roach if my man Alan shines his hipness light their way.

    Alan Cabal whets my hipness appetite. After reading something by him, I have the impulse to read some William S. Burroughs while listening to "Radio Ethiopia." Piss, Patti, piss.

    Vincent Pipitone, Queens

    Communo-Fascism's Underrated I don't claim to have all the facts in the issue, but what is so bad about Cuba ("Opinion," 4/12)? Why shouldn't Elian be turned back to his father? I agree that he would be better off there. His family in Cuba doesn't appear impoverished and begging for food. Why are countless Haitian immigrants?who I'm sure include children just like Elian?turned away every year while America screams and argues over this one little boy? You talk about Iraq or Iran, but fail to mention another one of America's impoverished neighbors?Haiti. Is it the color of Elian's skin that draws America and its politicians to this cause? One has to wonder. Nayale LaFleur, Syracuse

    Pericles of Austin MUGGER: You know what's so funny about your column sometimes to people like me who know how little difference there is between the parties for 90 percent of the people? It's that you can so thoroughly and accurately see through the b.s. of one candidate?ol' Al?while being completely blind, and for completely naive partisan reasons, to the faults of another?young George, the callow, shallow, smug silver-spoon-fed son of privilege. I certainly don't have to remind you of his quotes. Contextual or not, they are revealing. In fact, George is in so many ways just like Al, particularly when it comes to his hypocrisy and his cringe-inducing attempts to show us what an in-touch-with-his-feelings, emotionally mature and evolved man he has become.

    I'm amazed that you have the energy to do this, and to spend so much time on politics itself, since it's not your job. I'm amazed, too, that you have suffered from this bizarre partisan myopia for so long. Must be cathartic in some deep, strange way.

    Bennett Charles, Queens

    Kathy-Bashing MUGGER: In your 4/12 column, you mentioned that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was "deeply religious." Calling someone "religious" usually denotes that they adhere to the teachings of a particular religion. Mrs. Townsend, like many if not all of her relatives, will call herself Catholic when it's to her advantage. But they all support the law of the land that permits and seems to encourage the killing of innocent babies in the womb. This is very much against one of the most important tenets of the Roman Catholic Church. Human life is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death. Townsend may talk the talk, but she does not walk the walk.

    I am a resident of Maryland, and I remain very unimpressed with her abilities as lieutenant governor or her qualifications to serve as an elected official at all, much less as vice president.

    Sharon Rusinovich, Chevy Chase, MD

    Toward Union Station MUGGER: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's an interesting choice for Al Gore's veep. She may not be as squeaky clean as you think, though. I'm aware that you know Baltimore well. Did you follow, a few months back, the blowup within the Maryland Dept. of Juvenile Justice? Parris Glendening?who's Clinton without the sex crimes?sacked the secretary of the Dept. of Juvenile Justice because of abuses that were found to have occurred in the juvenile boot camps. The interesting thing, though, was that I remember reading that Townsend was involved in implementing those camps.

    The Baltimore Sun mentioned that fact in passing, and then went on to agree heartily with the pounding of the secretary. If she'd been conservative, the Sun would've hung the abuses around her neck.

    Have you noticed that Maryland's slowly becoming a communist state? Water bans, built-in gun locks?and now the state is going to require the use of tokens to purchase cigarettes from vending machines.

    David Ferguson, Baltimore

    Covert AIDS A note tangential to your 3/8 "AIDS Heretics" story: Unwarranted mandatory HIV testing of pregnant women is closer to becoming a reality. The purported benefits of testing all pregnant women for HIV status were analyzed by researchers at the University of Illinois on a strictly financial basis.

    The researchers claimed that through this mandatory testing, thousands of dollars could be saved in future HIV treatment expenses in Chicago alone. The insanity of this argument is not valid morally, ethically or medically. This is one more indication that women's health and reproductive rights mean little in our society. This "research" further paves the way for new abuses of women by stripping them of their medical civil liberties and treating unborn children as guinea pigs in the name of good financial management.

    The International Coalition for Medical Justice (ICMJ) is horrified that so-called medical researchers would conduct a cost-savings analysis in order to push the mandating of medication. To take away the right of a woman to choose what is best for her body and her child perpetuates the increasing criminalization of HIV/AIDS. The University of Illinois and these researchers have created an unparalleled likeness to the testing of pregnant Jewish women by the Nazis. Can this possibly be done in America in the name of science? When did "First do no harm" and the Hippocratic Oath disappear from the practice of medicine?

    Deane Collie, executive director of the International Coalition for Medical Justice, asks the University of Illinois for full disclosure of the funding source for this research: "Was it the makers of the HIV tests or was it the pharmaceutical companies who want their drugs pushed into people who may or may not be fully informed as to the consequences of the test and the toxicity of the medications? This is a Kafkaesque nightmare that hides human ethics behind a veil of holocaust-like propaganda."

    Furthermore, the results of the study are based on assumptions that the children born to these mothers will be HIV positive, but there is no concrete scientific data to support these assumptions, especially when the tests during pregnancy are faulty. There is, however, data available pointing to the surety of deformities, disfigurement and illnesses caused by the use of HIV drugs during pregnancy. As for the researchers' financial concerns, the costs of treating these children for a lifetime of side effects from these drugs were not factored into the study at all.

    ICMJ receives calls every day from women?high-risk, lesbian, straight, HIV-positive, HIV-negative, HIV-indeterminate?all of whom have their own personal horror stories. Some physicians, following HMO/PPO protocol, admit in courts of law that they have not read the latest JAMA or other journal findings on the side effects of anti-HIV drugs, but they are just "following orders" and treating their patients according to protocol. ICMJ contends that these physicians are hiding behind the guise of recommendations and have no business treating people.

    There have been several cases of unwarranted removal of children from mothers who test positive and refuse "the recommended treatment" for their children.

    ICMJ suspects that child custody will become a battle for HIV-positive women while their children are still in utero if they fail to comply with medical protocol. If this madness continues, pregnancy, choice and motherhood will become a legislated act with a daily dose of chemicals.

    Moreover, the makers of the ELISA and Western Blot HIV tests are aware that there are no fewer than 69 conditions that can skew the results of the test, one of which is pregnancy. Since initiating mandatory testing in New York, 24 percent of all tests on pregnant women returned a false positive. These false-positive HIV tests resulted in mothers and children being unnecessarily and dangerously medicated with AZT. AZT was originally designed as a chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients in the 1960s. It was shelved and never used for its intended manufacture because of its highly toxic side effects. These include neuropathy, liver cancer, kidney and spleen damage, tumor formations, excessive diarrhea and vomiting and many other AIDS-defining illnesses. The crippling side effects from toxic HIV antiretrovirus drugs and protease inhibitors make the issue of whether or not to swallow the prescribed cocktail a personal one, not a criminal one.

    New studies indicate the use of Nevarapine in HIV-positive pregnant women, a less costly alternative to AZT. However, as published in an AP story on 4/5, at least five deaths of pregnant women in South Africa were attributed to the effects of this drug during ongoing clinical trials held there. The effects on the fetus are still unknown. As estimates from the CDC point to African and African-American women as growing "high-risk" groups for AIDS, this attempted mandate for testing presents an even greater risk?the loss of a woman's constitutional right to human dignity and choice.

    ICMJ asks women to educate themselves about the impending unlawful search and seizure with regard to mandatory testing and to write their congressional representatives to condemn mandatory testing in their home states.

    We hope that this University of Illinois research will be a wake-up call to every citizen who cares about civil liberties and the right not to be persecuted for medical reasons. Furthermore, parents have a basic human right not to be forced to poison their children in the name of questionable efficacy and horrendous side effects. I only hope that our government will be wise enough to suspend further financial research under the guise of science, and that the threat of this draconian legislation will be lifted from the shoulders of the mothers in our country.

    Jennifer DeLuca, communications director, International Coalition for Medical Justice, Arlington, VA

    And Whitey's on the Moon I just got through reading the following in New York Press' 4/5 mail section, courtesy of C.J. Gelfand of Manhattan: "Complacent upper-middle-class whites, liberal or conservative, are indeed babies, or at the most, children, when it comes to this issue, because they've never had to deal hands-on with it. Their survival has never been threatened. If you want to make children face up to their flaws and correct their neglectful-to-downright-bad behavior, and to pull them out of their denial, you can present a strong argument, show them the error of their ways and their thinking and administer careful, well-thought-out, well-planned discipline when they misbehave. But if you just verbally smack them around and bash them, you will never get them to listen to you. Such an approach, far from teaching the lesson you want them to learn, will turn them into monsters. Is this what [Andrey] Slivka wants to accomplish?"

    The "issue", of course, is whatever problem Gelfand is trying to say is a "black" problem?and his letter isn't very clear on that. But there's only one answer to this sort of stupidity. If "Complacent upper middle-class whites, liberal or conservative, are indeed babies," why do they have the safe neighborhoods, the good jobs, the better educations and in general the upper societal hand? Is it because the more mature black community lets them have it?

    I suggest that the reason is that the white community takes care of its own. It rewards its contributors and kicks the shit out of the bad apples. Sure, most subdivisions are somewhere between The Brady Bunch and American Beauty, but the truth is that only in trailer parks are there problems that parallel inner-city "black" problems.

    And there are no whitey homeboys cutting rap tracks that make Cletus' Mobile Park into a postmodern Shakespearean tragedy of hate.

    Frank Turk, Pittsburgh

    Wiener World In his 4/5 "Human Follies" column, Lionel Tiger created a very dramatic and frightening picture of what he called, somewhat obscurely, "the enormity of the looming atmospherics in Austria," describing the "military suits carrying machine guns" outside the synagogue in the city of Vienna. However, these guards (as well as those in front of every synagogue and Jewish school in Vienna) were introduced nearly 20 years ago, as a protection not, as Mr. Tiger's article suggests, from Austrian attacks, but from PLO terrorism, after Mr. Knittel, president of the Austrian-Jewish Society, was shot by a terrorist belonging to the Abu-Nidal group in the early 1980s. You will excuse me for not being quite accurate in the details; I was only about six or seven years old at the time. Also, I find you might do a little research yourself, as certainly Mr. Tiger should have done instead of giving such a gross misrepresentation of the political climate in Austria. Or did he just like this dramatic ending too well to give it up for the facts? Eva Kernbauer, Manhattan

    Dick Brief, Tweaked Nut By chance I read Dennis Poller's fascinating journey ("First Person," 3/29) through the pain of twisted testicles. It was very well-written, and I loved the subtle humor. Poller should be encouraged to prepare other manuscripts. Richard Brief, Monroe Township, NJ

    New York Blunt So, William Monahan: What's your idea of a "good tobacconist" ("Scouting Report," 4/5)? I went to five in midtown and none had heard of the amazin' Texas Cigarette Machine. Nat Sherman's expert sniffed and suggested a head shop, as did a customer at J.R. Cigar on 5th Ave. So?are you smoking something funny, or is there really a TCM? If so, how about sharing your apparently secret source? R. Kasparian, Manhattan

    No, Our Observer Comes Free You deserve full praise For your exposés Your knowledge and depth Takes away my breath. Your analysis and Ability to assess Gives clarity to The confusion And mess. May you reign Long and Never the less As New York's one And only free press!

    Sheila Burke, Manhattan

    Ben Over Why has Ben Katchor's cartoon-column stopped appearing in New York Press? His strip made your paper better?ahead of the competition. Why cancel him? We need our weekly Katchor! Marc Sawyer, Bronx