MUGGER's Miami Vacation; Defending the Rock Hall of Fame from Strausbaugh; Other Vituperation

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:56

    What can I say after reading New York Press (on the Web) for about eight months except wow? You've slowly crept up my list from "amusing diversion" to "interesting commentary" to "must read." Let me count the ways:

    Caldwell: I hate the guy. He manages to piss me off at least every other week but has one redeeming quality: He's almost always right. So I'm riveted.

    MUGGER: Pompous and anti-Christian (honestly, M, have you ever even listened to Dr. Dobson?) but his constant needling of our sycophantic press is just what the doctor called for.

    Slivka: Pretentious and too leftist but still a great read.

    Ellis: That's some serious deepthink for a relative of Dubya (or a relative of anyone else, for that matter).

    Strausbaugh: Love how he writes about things that nobody else will touch for lack of respectability (AIDS heretics, conspiracy theories).

    Movie reviews: For my money, you have some of the most on-target movie reviews anywhere. I went to see The Patriot after reading Godfrey Cheshire's glowing 6/28 review and freaking loved it.

    Okay, enough. My nose is starting to turn colors.

    Jeremy Lott assistant managing editor, WorldNet magazine, Lynden, WA Go Ahead, Squeeze 'Em

    MUGGER: I like Miami in July ("MUGGER," 6/28). One time I was on the beach, and this gorgeous Latina was sunbathing topless next to my blanket. I didn't notice she was topless when I found my spot. You get used to it and don't look around as a rule. But, I'm telling you the truth, she walked over to ask me the time, just like it was nothing. Let me tell you, she had some big, beautiful boobs. Then she ran into the surf, jumping around in the waves. It was beautiful. I will never forget it. I can't wait to go back.

    When are you gonna start a Miami edition? It would be a hit.

    Brian R. Higgins, Manhattan

    Florida Maulin'

    MUGGER: I really missed you during your sojourn to Miami, but damned if you didn't roar back last week with a barn-burner!

    Mark Stoffel, Arlington, VA

    Life with Father

    Is there no drug, humanely administered, that could spare the weary reader MUGGER's inane volubility? Slip it into his Pimm's Cup or his Cuban coffee.

    But Jesus H. Christ! His wifey...those teeny-weeny MUGGERs...his glen plaid suit and those fucking snapshots!

    Such a sublime vacuity cries out to be smothered or somehow choked off. Don Imus is a spellbinder next to this blabbering gink. Has no one the guts to tell him? Imagine yet more of this shit as the fool grows old and dotty. Somebody! Please!

    Name Withheld, Manhattan

    Hate Kids, Marty?

    MUGGER: Perhaps it's because I almost always agree with you that I think yours is the go-to column for politics. But enough with the kids already! I'm sure they're great, but the overweening attention to the minutiae of your family life is not interesting (sorry, you're no Bill Cosby) and takes up space better devoted to politics. I stopped reading Ben Stein for the same reason. Be all you can be!

    Martin Kahan, Manhattan

    Tell It to Marty

    The old MUGGER's back! Thanks for kicking off with the highly entertaining tale of the Miami vacation and subsequent weekend back in New York City, and for burying the boring political stuff in the back, where it could easily be skipped (at least until, say, September, when it'll finally be at least somewhat relevant).

    Mark Spiegel, Manhattan

    Russ Stays in Cabin; Pigs Fly

    MUGGER: Just a suggestion to make you a hero to your sons (and wife).

    Some years back my husband and I took a vacation in Montana with my youngest son. We went to the 63 Ranch outside of Livingston, MT. It was the absolute best place to take our boy and we all (we took my parents too, they loved it) remember it fondly. We had our own cabin (very comfortable), went down to the main lodge for three delicious meals every day and had our very own horse assigned to us for the week. The horses were assigned according to the rider's age and ability, and were really sweet and patient. The cookouts, fishing and trailrides were great. The owners were originally from New York, but made sure that everything ran according to Western hospitality.

    It's a beautiful place, just north of Yellowstone. My son, now 25 and working for a tech company in Denver, still remembers it as the best vacation we ever had. Even my parents, retired in Florida, have fond memories. I guarantee your boys will love it, and so will you.

    Just a suggestion. I enjoy your column very much. Keep up the great work.

    By the way, I am not affiliated in any way with the Ranch.

    Judith Fredrickson, Conifer, CO Russ Visits Ft. Lauderdale; Fish Walks

    MUGGER: Welcome back! You were missed. I'm sorry you had such a negative experience in Miami. Next time, stop here in Ft. Lauderdale. We aren't as glitzy as our neighbors to the south, but we're a lot more friendly, and our crime rate isn't nearly as high. Matt Drudge and MUGGER having lunch together?I would have paid to have been there!

    You're on the money about Jesse Jackson's repulsive conduct in Huntsville, TX. His gag factor, though, was lower than Geraldo Rivera's, who never fails to offend me. And the New Black Panthers somehow didn't seem as threatening as the authentic 60s version, did they? I wish I could have walked up and put flowers in the muzzles of their AK-47s.

    Thanks again for the great writing and clear thinking.

    Jack Brewer, Ft. Lauderdale

    Graham Crackers

    MUGGER: George W. Bush has proved that he is not fit to be president. He is not even fit to be a governor.

    His execution of Gary Graham flew in the face of two witnesses whose testimony exonerated Graham of the crime.

    But the racist, murderous Texans chose to believe one witness who claimed she had seen it all, from a long distance away, in poor light. This is what passes for "justice" in Texas. What a pea-brain that Bush is. Now wonder they call him "Shrub."

    "Poison Ivy" would be more like it.

    Bobbie Schwartz, Brooklyn

    Al's Rat

    MUGGER: Thanks again for a terrific synopsis of the current state of the presidential campaign in your 6/30 online column. In particular, I enjoyed your discussion of Al Gore's front man, Chris Lehane.

    Actually, I hope Lehane stays on board with Gore. His persona and diatribe are further evidence of Gore's bad judgment. Only Gore would retain someone like Lehane to act as his surrogate.

    Dennis Bunker, Beverly Hills


    Ban the parade? This asshole, Taki ("Top Drawer," 6/21), has got to be kidding. He sounds like a spoiled rich brat who never got his butt properly kicked. He states that, upon viewing the tape of the thugs accosting women, he is most upset by the absence of chivalrous male rescuers. Prior to that he implies that The New York Times reported the story with a strong and unfair slant against the police. The story as I understand is that a couple of these women actually reported a crime in progress to some pussy cops who were too fucking scared to do their job.

    And besides, Taki, you little faggot, what would you have done anyway?

    Go the fuck back to England, you little punk greaser.

    Louis Cuisinier, Manhattan

    The City That Reads

    John Strausbaugh: Someone e-mailed me your screed on the AAN convention, "AAN in Hell" ("Publishing," 6/14) because my name was mentioned. The last AAN convention I went to, New York Press' Andrey Slivka described me ("Media Roundup," 6/2/99) in your pages as a "bohemian" (whatever that is these days), but it was no big deal since he never bothered to get my name. I admit it was fun watching you stuff yourself and get shitfaced drunk at my bosses [sic] expense, but I'm from upstate New York, and while that's admittedly a greater hick-credential than being from Baltimore, I could give a shit what you write about Charm City, in addition to not giving same about all the other back-biting garbage I'm sure you spew, no doubt while drunk on someone else's tab.

    And while I might now be a sorehead after reading through your leavings, I didn't grumble about your "Summer in the City of Rednecks" (5/17) piece because I never read it. It's interesting that you spend so much time thinking and writing about a town you don't live in for a paper that serves a readership that also probably doesn't give a shit.

    Also, you failed to mention that you: 1) sneezed food particles all over me at dinner while you were trying to talk, eat and gulp booze simultaneously and 2) cleared out adjoining tables with your expletive-laced, overly loud discourse about how it would cost "three fucking quarters of a fucking million dollars" to buy a house in Manfuckinghattan. And I don't drink Natty Boh. I mean, jeez, it's not even made in Baltimore. I recommend some of the excellent microbrews down here such as fucking deGroen's, Brewer's Art Resurrfuckingection or Clipper Fucking City. I realize the chances are slim, but should you ever find yourself in Baltimore, stop by the fuckin' paper and we'll hook you up with a hot meal and some more grist for your bullfuckingshit mill. Or hey, maybe that "Al From Baltimore" guy will feed you at one of his fine establishments and then you can scurry back home like the hateful, scabrous cockroach you are and puke up some bad stuff all over your paper's pages about how he treated you, you stupid cunt.

    Joe MacLeod, art director, City Paper, Baltimore John Strausbaugh replies: Did I say "sorehead"? Wonder what reaction I would've gotten if I'd said "moody twat" or "talentless small-timer with huge chip"? Within a few minutes of meeting me, MacLeod started grumbling something like, "Aren't you famous? Weren't you on Conan O'Brien or something?" He was not making polite conversation. As anyone from Baltimore knows, when a Baltimoron accuses you of any level of success whatsoever, or, worse, any sort of fame, he's calling you an asshole. Nothing gets a Baltimoron to chewing on his liver like the idea that somebody else is "famous." So MacLeod may claim to be from another boonie hellhole somewhere else, but he's obviously gone native and become more Baltimoron than the Baltimorons: bitter, envious, extremely touchy and functionally illiterate. (The "bosses" expense? You work at a newspaper, you idiot?)

    And the microbrews bit is classic small-town boosterism. (Oh yeah, we got microbrews down here in Bawlmer, hon. Taste just as good as any of that expensive piss you drink up there in New York.) Anyway, you don't need to be from Mob Town to be a very unhappy, very angry little hillbilly loser.

    I already thanked his boss, in print, for the dinner. It's not like MacLeod was buying, so on that score as well he's putting on phony imbecile's airs. His boss, as I wrote, is a gent. Next time his boss is in town, I'll be happy to return the favor of a meal. MacLeod can go on chewing on his liver, scanning late-night tv for "famous" people to hate, and keeping up the high levels of discourse, table manners and alternative weekly art direction down there in the land of peasant living.

    Shake That Old Ass, Grandma

    John Strausbaugh: Generally speaking, John, you are an articulate and intelligent person. It is rare that one finds offensive either your opinion or your approach. But the next time you get the urge to tell "us" (whoever it is "us" is?it must not include any fratboys or Midwesterners) exactly what rock 'n' roll is ("Hall of Lame, Part 2," 6/28), who a legitimate audience for rock 'n' roll is, and under what circumstances and in what environment rock 'n' roll actually exists and/or thrives, do "us" all a favor, and don't.

    Do not get me wrong. I live in Pittsburgh, and have visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is like any museum built after 1970. It's poorly designed, laughably conceived, populated by exhibits extraordinary only in their banality, built expressly for the purpose of drawing tourists?not acolytes of the honored topic. It's a joke as big as the giant rubber stamp in the courtyard across the street from its parking lot.

    The ultimate irony, I think, is that rock has always been for "tourists." There is no way you can say that rock as such ever really is (or was) anything more than a draw for the rubes. As you yourself admit, rock has always been for those who want to grab a beer (or six), get drunk and then high and listen to a wall of sound for one night (even if that night lasted two or three days). But then they wake up, figure out where the hell they slept, get home, shave and shower and get back to work. The exhibits have been everyone from Elvis to Lou Reed to Slash, but the people in the crowd haven't changed. They were never all heroin addicts or pill-poppers or suicidal trailer trash pimping their guitars for the next fix. They have always been a lot more like the people you saw there in Cleveland?including the percentage of "hipsters," who themselves were only posers compared even to the opening acts. Cutting to the point, "they" have always been "us."

    Maybe the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should have been more like Disney gone bad, or a state fair in hell. Maybe it should have included a Foltz vending machine that gives out a free handful of (somewhat harmless) unmarked pills to enhance the trip. Maybe it should have existed as a private exhibit on a backstreet in the Village, or in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district, or someplace off Times Square behind an unmarked, greasy metal door that vibrates with the sounds of the room it conceals, and you need to be recognized to get admitted. Maybe it should have been more dangerous or for more esoteric tastes.

    However, for you to take out your angst about no longer being young, dumb and full of come because you see David Bowie aging slightly less than gracefully, or because you had to muscle past the St. Geriatric's Home for Mature Adults' day trip to see the Eagles' hotel-room key collection smacks of the kind of conceit you accuse Ahmet Ertegun and Jann Wenner of in the first place. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets visitors from the Midwest? Farm boys? Fratboys? Who the hell do you think actually funded that industry, anyway? Who bought all those albums? Who attended all those concerts? Did rock only happen in "New York... L.A., Detroit or Memphis or San Francisco," or did all those world tours have more than six stops (you excluded London, you knucklehead)?

    You may hate it, but you have a much more provincial view of rock than those you ridiculed in your essay. To you, if it wasn't at CBGB, it wasn't history. Well, we are rock 'n' roll, you prick?and if you talk this shit again, we're all going to get our old leather shitkickers out of the footlocker in the attic (from under our third-hand leather jackets, right next to our vinyl copies of Thin Lizzy's Jailbreak and the Clash's London Calling), drive up to your house and see how authentic your rock 'n' roll collection is.

    That is, if they give us the day off at work.

    Frank Turk, Pittsburgh

    He Got His M.A. There

    I was surprised to find out that Taki's alma mater is the University of Virginia ("Top Drawer," 6/7). I always figured him for a graduate of the Muhammad Ali School of Humility.

    Brett M. Slater, Manhattan

    Exploring Plato's Cave

    Homophobe Taki's contribution to your 6/21 "Gay Pride Issue" was to assert that 92 percent of Englishmen are queer. No doubt this should be taken in the same spirit as his outrageous exaggerations about Puerto Ricans.

    But Taki is always dead serious when it comes to discussing Greece. Why has he never, at least not in your pages, acknowledged that the ancient Greeks were notorious pederasts? Judeo-Christian proscriptions against gay sex acts probably are a reaction to polytheistic Greece.

    Years ago oral sex was often referred to as "French" and anal sex as "Greek." In that way one could discuss such taboo topics without corrupting the minds of innocent children.

    Kenneth Hermann, Manhattan

    Il Papa Don't Preach

    Michelangelo Signorile's clever 6/21 "Opinion" piece ("Showdown with the Vatican") about the big Gay Pride event in Rome shows that he is, in fact, a dolt. The gays are going to Rome to protest the big, bad Vatican.


    They're like a bunch of teenagers trying to shock the sensibilities of the uptight adult world. What the Gay Pride movement needs is adult supervision, because none of them are grown up.

    The gay activists are pitiful, and I wish Mr. Signorile and his co-exhibitionists a bumpy plane ride and a rude welcome in Rome.

    Neil Donnelly, Lakewood, OH

    Christopher St.

    Christopher Caldwell: Thank you for sharing, in your 6/21 "Hill of Beans" ("Gay Marriage: Bad For Gays"), your paranoiac fantasy of how gays will be subject to examination of conduct after gay marriage has been enacted, as if straight people don't cheat on their spouses as frequently (if not more) as we do, and as if they weren't also better at concealing it!

    As for the far-flung analysis of our orientation, saying that gay men don't want their partners' bodies as much as their male attitudes toward sex?well, if that were true, then all of my straight friends would have turned gay the first time their wives or girlfriends said, "Not tonight, I have a headache." I suggest you may be able to explain this piece of work ("work" not being the first word I thought of) by informing us which plane you exist on. Are there really any gay people on that plane, and, if so, do you actually talk to them or observe them at all?

    Max Christopher, Brooklyn

    No Straight Dope

    This line sticks out for me in Christopher Caldwell's 6/21 column opposing gay marriage:

    "What gays want in their partners is not their male bodies so much as their male attitudes toward sex."

    The logic of homophobia couldn't have been put into a neater nutshell: "We hate you because you are us."

    Save your condescending attitude, Caldwell. We don't need the advice of straights like you. Never did.

    David Ehrenstein, Los Angeles

    Gallo Whine

    I was appalled by Christopher Caldwell's 6/21 column.

    Obviously, Mr. Caldwell hasn't an inkling about gay America. His position that gay pride is "illogical" because pride is about things "acquired or merited," not things "inherent," such as homosexuality, is outrageous. According to my dictionary, the first definition of pride is "a sense of one's own proper dignity or value; self-respect." Had Mr. Caldwell grown up gay, he would know that respect is not something a homophobic society generously showers upon gays and lesbians. Often, pride itself is the thing that must be "acquired or merited." That gay pride be encouraged is essential.

    Furthermore, it astounds me that he likens "gay pride" to "male pride" or "Aryan pride," and equates hate-crimes legislation with "special rights." That being "male," "gay" or "Aryan" is inherent is where the similarity between these groups ends. How can one liken two privileged groups to an oppressed one? Privileged groups don't need protection, but gays and lesbians do need hate-crimes and anti-discrimination legislation to protect them. These are not special rights; they are equal rights. Mr. Caldwell thinks that because the whole country was outraged by the Matthew Shepard case and the murderers were prosecuted, the addition of sexual orientation hate-crimes legislation is an unnecessary "special right." Perhaps he is unfamiliar with the number of hate crimes that are perpetrated against gays and lesbians every day, which are not as obviously "appalling" as the Matthew Shepard murder, and therefore don't make the headlines. The victims of these crimes need to be equally protected under the law. What's so "special" about that?

    As for his treatise on civil union, I am speechless. In a society where a staggeringly high number of marriages end in divorce, and presidents have oral sex with their interns, Christopher Caldwell has the nerve to suggest that gays wouldn't be up to the sexual accountability of civil union.

    And how can he develop a theory on gays that doesn't include lesbians?

    The truth is, nobody is getting fired from their jobs for being either unfaithful or an older single person, and health care in this country suffers far greater abuses than those committed by the relatively small number of men with HIV who would possibly form civil unions just for health coverage. As far as is concerned the moralistic backlash that will be generated by civil unions, this is simply an indication that the movement is finally making some real progress in this country.

    Do we really have to read articles as hateful as this in a so-called "Gay Pride Issue"?

    April Gallo, Manhattan

    War of DeWitts

    Dump Al Gore (Christopher Caldwell, "Hill of Beans," 6/28)?

    A lovely thought. As a former Republican?now an independent?I'd love to see a real race this fall. Is there not some way that the Democratic National Committee could free Gore's primary delegates should he be deemed "unfit" to run, and let Bill Bradley assume the role he deserves?

    Heck, I could probably even be persuaded to vote for Bradley!

    Just a thought.

    David DeWitt, Melbourne, FL

    Soup Bones

    Kudos to Stephanie Gutmann for her piece on Claudia Kennedy ("Opinion," 6/28). Everyone knows the U.S. Army is weak and flabby, especially after its deliberate decimation by the current administration, but it is truly disgusting to see people like Kennedy holding such a high rank. The cowardice of the people at the top in today's Army and their unwillingness to stand up against stupid liberal changes is an old story by now. But what did this woman ever do to become a three-star general? Is this the kind of tough leader you'd want if you were a soldier?someone who goes to the teacher at recess and says, "Johnny hit me"? This is the best they can do?

    Gutmann's description of the Army as "self-immolating" is very true, and unfortunately so is Claudia Kennedy's line, "This is not your father's Army anymore." That is exactly the problem. Since the 1940s standards have really gone down the tubes, mostly on account of ignorant Chuck Schumer types sticking their noses where they don't belong. Training has been dumbed down so that no one gets hurt, and lying to meet standards has practically become tradition.

    This state of affairs continues because the system is never really tested. What we need is a war, not a foreign war like Vietnam but one to defend the country like WWII. When you see politicians get desperate for victories, you may begin to see them stop interfering with the military and look to someone who can give them results by any means necessary. If all vestiges of military culture haven't already been bred out of the population by then, the real military types will then have a chance to retake control of the Army from the liberals. If that blessed day ever comes, people like Claudia Kennedy will be among the first casualties. Good riddance.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven

    Angel's Share

    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed your interview with Sonny Barger (5/24). You did a fine job. Sonny hit the nail square on the head. It's 2000 now and we're out of the pen, doing well, working hard, and proud. Thank you so much for a job well done. Those were some days.

    Kevin Quinn, Oakland

    We're Not Hypocrites

    Your 6/21 editorial, "Puerto Rican Day Follies," contained this:

    "But it's also possible that channels of communication might have been established that would have precluded a current situation in which discourse is polarized between two corrupt camps: a defensive, embittered, woodheaded conservatism, and the traditional smarmy Upper West Side creed of hypocrisy we've come to know so well."

    So what does that make you guys? Defensive, embittered, woodheaded, smarmy hypocrites?

    Lee Vela, Gardnerville, NV

    Boyz to Men

    In response to your 6/21 "Puerto Rican Day Follies" editorial:

    As an African-American, let me assure you that we aren't all looking at what happened after the Puerto Rican Day parade as the NYPD's fault. It's not the liberal press' fault nor the fault of the parade organizers. The men involved are to be blamed. They chose to go out and act like animals! Yes, I said it, and I'm not the only person of color who feels this way.

    Those were not the actions of responsible black men. Those were undisciplined mama's boys in desperate need of fathers and disciplinarians. Since they didn't get that as children, they are now grown "children" who are constantly "acting out" and having to be disciplined by law enforcement. However, the police should not have to be these kids' loving parents.

    These adult "boys" should be forced to work in a center for abused victims. They need to realize that life is more than boys being boys. It is time for them to behave as men. Shame on the mama who defended her baby! That's why he's a drain on his community now, rather than one of its assets.

    Name Withheld, Manhattan

    German Warfare

    William Bryk's piece ("I Fights Mit Sigel," "Old Smoke," 6/21) on Franz Sigel was very fine.

    You might mention to Bill that Sigel's German troops performed even more miserably under Oliver Otis Howard at Chancellorsville than they did under Sigel. The primary victims of Jackson's flanking attack, they ran screaming from one side of the battlefield to the other, crying, "Als ist verloren!" The VMI professor "of natural sciences and artillery" (Jackson) would have been properly disgusted, as a soldier, at Sigel's gloating and self-promotion after New Market.

    M.A. Lackner, Manhattan

    Black Dick Hunter?

    William Bryk: Well done, sir!

    Your essay on Franz Sigel ended on a rousing note. The VMI cadets put me in mind of Napoleon's forces?as I recall, the 46th of the Line. A brave man called Tour de l'Avergne died fighting with his grenadiers, and his heart was saved in a little box, worn on the chest of the bravest man in the regiment. At roll call they called out his name and the response was the same: "Dead on the field of honor!"

    The sad part about Sigel was that he wasn't such a bad man. Just a bad soldier. Sheridan, who was a pretty fair soldier, was a very bad man. We won't talk about Milroy or "Black Dick" Hunter...

    Michael Peirce, Atlanta

    Up the Republic

    Re: Harley Peyton of Santa Monica, CA, in "The Mail," 6/29: So we in Texas are "moronic mouthbreathers" living in a "Third World cesspool."

    Pretty funny coming from someone who lives in a state where folks celebrate NBA championships with riots and mayhem.

    For your information, James Byrd's murderers will receive their own shot of Huntsville heroin. In regard to your claim that the other 49 states don't accept Texas lawyers?maybe, but then again, our bar doesn't include Marcia Clarke, Johnnie Cochran or Lance Ito. Furthermore, our state doesn't have a popularly enacted law denying health service to undocumented immigrants, whom we still treat, with the blessings of our governor.

    Finally, I don't need to "exaggerate."

    Derek Copold, Houston

    Government Cheese

    "The Magnificent Eleven" by Alexander Cockburn ("Wild Justice," 6/28), dealing with the war on drugs against Colombian narcotics dealers, missed the bigger picture.

    The attempt by our government to eliminate drugs domestically and abroad reminds me of the 20s, when smuggling alcohol during Prohibition took place. Our civil and economic liberties prosper best when government stays out of both the bedroom and marketplace. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes or private social clubs is not the business of government. Economic liberties also prosper best under the free enterprise system.

    Crusades by the Moral Majority social police against drugs and adult entertainment are doomed to the same failures as Prohibition. The marketplace will continue to provide what consumers desire, despite what government may try to outlaw.

    Why should we continue to waste billions in taxpayer dollars supporting corrupt military dictatorships in foreign countries? Just as bad, supporting our multibillion-dollar domestic war on drugs, which is a total failure.

    The only logical solution is legalization, with a sales tax on all transactions. Revenues could be used to support the medical costs of public healthcare systems for those foolish enough to abuse these substances. There will be enough surplus revenue to support increased medical research to find cures for real illnesses, such as cancer, etc. The criminal element in society will have to find some other trade to ply. Drug addicts will no longer have to commit crimes to support their habits. Law enforcement could go after real crooks.

    In the new millennium, let's try something different.

    Larry Penner, Great Neck, NY

    Pussy Pat

    This letter is regarding Andrey Slivka's "Buchanan On/Off Message" ("New York City," 6/21).

    As a lifelong monogamous "liberal," I'm surprised to find myself, this election year, as promiscuous as Puss in heat. My latest strange bedfellow is Pat Buchanan, of all "conservatives."

    I'm a liberal because Jesus was. And I'd always considered conservatives as anything but. Quick to punish but not to forgive. To build prisons but not schools. Unwilling to turn the other cheek. Anyway, what's going on in Boobusland? Have conservatives changed, or have liberals? Or has the ground shifted, so that such labels are meaningless?

    Like there I was, mewing in political frustration in the alley, when scrappy Pat came along. My "liberal" instincts said no, but it wasn't liberals who denounced the barbaric and illegal U.S. bombing of Serbia. The liberals were gung-ho all the way, and still are.

    And Pat's the one who speaks out against the decade-long U.S. genocide in Iraq. Our scurvy liberals, on the other hand, along with a couple of other morally bankrupt rogue states, persist in it, because Arab lives are unimportant in their scheme of things. Indeed, in the opinion of our foreign-born Secretary of State, the hundreds of Iraqi children who die every week under our siege are "worth the price." Worth the price: each little soul crying out for justice, the living relatives for revenge, ensuring more bad karma for America.

    But I'm not caterwauling with Pat only on these urgent moral issues. We're on the same note on immigration. We need more people elbowing for jobs, space, food, water and sewerage? Like we need more cars in Hoboken. But "liberals," elected dutifully to Congress year after year by Dupus publicus, do the bidding of their real bosses, who want a steady supply of immigrants keeping wages low and American workers disorganized and weak. In fact, if you advocate putting the brakes on, and paying Americans more to do the dirty jobs, the kneejerks are likely to call you a bigot or a Nazi.

    Well, anyway, so there I was, yowling it up in the alley with Pat, when out of the corner of my eye I see this other tom, Ralph, coming around the corner. Oh, golly, he's cute, and he got all the right moves. Meeeeeow! Ssssssscat, Pat!

    T. Weed, Hoboken

    Points, by George

    George Szamuely, in his article concerning American policy toward Israel ("Taki's Top Drawer," 6/7), claims that the U.S. has been very lenient in its foreign policy treatment of Israel in contrast with the great pressure it has put on other nations to which it has given military and economic aid in very large amounts.

    The contrary is clearly evident from the pressure that has been applied to Israel in the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations, in which a large slice of territory was returned to Egypt (the Sinai Peninsula); and in the present peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, in which most of the territory Israel captured in the 1967 war has been turned over to the Palestinians. Israel has also acquiesced to the virtual creation of a Palestinian state. These concessions were granted by both conservative and Labor/Liberal prime ministers. Israel has sought peace negotiations with Syria, which the latter has consistently refused. Does this show American acquiescence to the policies of Israel's "imperialism"?

    Furthermore, the criticism that Israel is too much of a "Jewish state," rather than a participatory democracy of diverse groups, is exaggerated. The Israelis allow Arab members into the Knesset and into most of the echelons of government except on the ministerial level. Arab-elected local officials are very manifest throughout the country.

    Israel, by maintaining the general ethnic and cultural flavor of a Jewish political community, does not differ significantly from Britain, where only Anglican, white, English persons can ascend to the throne; or from the U.S., where most high positions of the federal government, especially the presidency, have, with the exception of the Kennedy presidency, been occupied by white, male Protestants.

    Even if these facts were not so, no reasonable replacement of the "Jewish state" concept of Zionism is warranted if the people of Israel wish it to remain. This is consistent with the American concept of national self-determination. Why should Israel be different?

    Donald Friedberg, Bronx

    Greek Myths

    Great story by Celia Farber on the AIDS dissidents' conference in Pretoria ("AIDS & South Africa: A Contrary Conference in Pretoria," 5/24). Farber has really kept on top of this HIV myth since her days at Spin. I've been following it since I saw Tony Brown's interview with Peter Duesberg in the mid 90s.

    Give Farber my heartfelt congratulations. I hope your paper is going to follow this story as it develops through the summer.

    Al O'Brien, Birmingham, AL