Readers Weigh in on Knipfel, MUGGER, Taki, Seitz, Caldwell; Is New York Press the Organ of the Black GOP?

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:55

    FACE="Plantin Semibold" SIZE=5> NAME WITHHELD, Brooklyn Bowery Boys I attended New York Press' "Rock in New York" event this past Sunday night at the Bowery Ballroom and found it interesting, with a fine array of featured participants, and an uplifting appearance by Ronnie Spector. The evening was only marred, and considerably so, by the disturbingly cruel mention of Eric Emerson, one of the founding personalities of the 1970s/New York Dolls period. David Johansen pointed out that Eric Emerson and the Magic Tramps offered the Dolls their first theatrical appearance at the Mercer Arts Center. Mr. Johansen never fails to do the right thing by giving credit where it is due. However, later on in the presentation, a certain ex-clubowner and an A&R person from that period made some truly cruel and vicious remarks about Mr. Emerson. I would like to point out a couple of things:

    1. Eric Emerson was a pioneer of the "performance art" aspect of New York rock music, bringing elements of European, glamorous and "angelic" costume and dance performance to the music scene?with more depth and complexity than did artists who got more exposure, like Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper.

    2. Eric Emerson was the soul and spirit of that particular period?that is, 1969-1975?in New York rock, in that he tirelessly encouraged and promoted all the artists at that time, inspiring people to feel free to influence each other and share in the gains?gigs, rehearsal spaces, parties and publicity. He was always quick to share anything that would advance the cause of New York music. There was some very advanced music and performance art that came out of Eric's influence on the various artists of that time. These artists know who they are.

    3. While a little has been written about the archetypal "trickster" aspects of Eric's life, and about some of his shortcomings and failures, I haven't heard much about the contribution to the music and art scene of the early 1970s made by Eric and his many friends and associates. Like the original New York Dolls drummer, Billy Murcia, Eric died tragically, and far too soon. Poking fun at the tragic way that he died is not just irresponsible, but downright unforgivable.

    4. Having known Eric for some period of time, I never heard him say a bad or negative thing about anybody, even those who abused or hurt him.

    5. It is easy to judge people in hindsight, and it is easy to attack those who are no longer present to defend themselves. It is unfortunate that the "selective memory" of some of the participants at the "Rock in New York Event" left out a lot of what was good about that remarkable period in the history of New York rock 'n' roll.

    Timothy Jackson, Manhattan

    Like Klein's Exciting Latest MUGGER: You're right about George W. Bush's nod toward real Social Security reform (5/3). It's the kind of risk-taking?courage??that folks are looking for. But if the Elian Gonzalez snatch is "a pivotal moment in U.S. foreign policy," then JonBenet is the Lindbergh baby. Lay off the Fox News network and read a book. Harley Peyton, Santa Monica

    Private Fantasies MUGGER: Excellent analysis of the political landscape! Other countries are way ahead of us as far as privatizing retirement funds goes. Al Gore is dead in the water on this one. Steve Cook, Kingston, NY

    Soup Bones Re: Ellen Willis' opinion piece on the feds snatching Elian Gonzalez ("Opinion," 5/3): Yeah, as a matter of fact we are concerned that the raid was illegal and the subjects of the raid had done nothing wrong. Because it proved that you don't have to be a drug dealer (or mistaken for one) to have the feds bust down your door in the middle of the night. It proved that you don't have any rights if the government has decided they want to raid you, and that the public will tell you you had it coming, especially if they've been primed by the media as they have in this case. And if anyone should point out that this is outrageous and illegal, you can be sure that little liberal snots will write catty articles about how they are extremists on a jihad.

    In this country, custody disputes are handled by the courts, not the president. The court had just refused Reno's request for a court order; the raid was "an end run around the Constitution," as Alan Dershowitz put it. The Attorney General, of all people, cannot do that. She should be removed.

    The main problem with Clinton is not that he is a wuss, but that he's a liar and a criminal who's out for himself and ignores the law whenever it's convenient for him. Do you really think Clinton is butting into an ordinary international custody dispute because of his deep concern for the kid? When has Clinton ever done anything other than to benefit himself? I suppose Castro is acting out of his deep love for children also.

    As for the culture war, it is never lost or won. It is constantly ongoing.

    Joe Rodrigue, New Haven

    It's Satirical MUGGER: I can see you're a little bent out of shape over the way this Elian Gonzalez situation is going. Me too. What a shame that raid was. Did they really need all those police and guns just because a hundred or so pissed-off Cubans said they would fight to the death if anyone tried taking the boy away? And just because Lazaro said "take him" doesn't mean we really had to do it! I mean, we gave them so many chances?what's a couple more?

    What's so important about Elian being with Juan Miguel anyway? I know Juan Miguel's his father, but what's that got to do with anything? Besides, he seemed so happy with his new family. And wow, that Marisleysis, she plays with a six-year-old for five months, then tells that bitch Reno that she doesn't know what it is to be a mother. That's a real woman for ya!

    I say, if that crazy Juan Miguel wants to live with his family in his country under that damn Castro's rule, then he can do it without his son, because we know what's best for Elian. We're Americans, damn it! We know what's best for everyone!

    Eddie Brown, Manhattan

    Drunk, Horny Creep MUGGER: You wrote in your 5/3 column: "Gore's campaign is floundering. He roams the country like a 3 a.m. drunk..." Ah, MUGGER, that's maybe the greatest line I've ever read about the reptilian Al Gore! Keep it up!

    Name Withheld, Manhattan

    He's a Bong Man MUGGER had just the right take on the pitiful reactions to Rudy Giuliani's prostate cancer (5/3). He questioned the widespread compassion for the compassionless. The poetic justice will be when Giuliani is denied a sweet joint to relieve his nausea from chemotherapy.

    Sarah Koslosinka, Manhattan

    Stylo Wars I always enjoy Taki's straight-to-the-point thrusts with his pen. The Clinton years provide more than enough fodder for many books. Being a selfish bastard, I only regret that Taki does not write more often. It would be great. Taki needs to get his columns printed here in Europe, perhaps in translation. Europe could use them. Your other columnists are quite good as well. Keep them coming.

    Rick Jones, Prague

    Toledo, Then? I agree with David F.X. Mandel's 5/3 letter to "The Mail" calling on Dr. Kevorkian to rid us of Alexander Cockburn. Nuking Miami ("Wild Justice," 4/26)? Patient Cockburn to be confined to the asylum. Phil Dragoo, Santa Fe

    Scottish Dances I had stopped writing letters to New York Press after I left Manhattan and moved back to Britain, but now I feel that I should address Matt Zoller Seitz's ruminations on Barry Lyndon ("Film," 4/19). Seitz wonders what inspired Stanley Kubrick to film Thackeray's novel, and then wonders why Kubrick chose Ryan O'Neal for the lead role. In fact, Seitz has got Kubrick's thought processes back to front. After finishing A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick had no specific project in mind, but he had already decided that his next film would be a starring vehicle for Ryan O'Neal. Kubrick's two daughters were on the cusp of pubescence at the time; they had a crush on Ryan O'Neal, whom they had only ever seen onscreen, and they wheedled their father into offering O'Neal the lead role in Kubrick's next film so that they could meet their favorite actor. Barry Lyndon just happened to be the first story that Kubrick encountered that seemed appropriate for O'Neal.

    Even the work of great artists (Stanley Kubrick, I mean?not Ryan O'Neal) is often shaped by banal motives.

    MUGGER, keep turning up the heat on Al Gore, and likewise maintain the scrutiny on Hillary Rod-'_Em-and-Shaft-'Em Clinton. When George W. Bush moves into the White House, I hope he brings some air freshener along to expunge the stench of the previous occupants. If the U.S. gets its much-needed Republican landslide, I might even move back to New York so that Rudy Giuliani can be my senator.

    New York Press rules!

    Fergus Gwynplaine MacIntyre, Glasgow, Scotland

    Archived Matter I was in another bored state tonight and, while looking through the Internet, I came upon a review by Matt Zoller Seitz of a favorite movie of mine, Princess Mononoke ("Film," 11/3/99). As a huge fan of that particular movie, I must say he deserves extreme amounts of praise for that article. It went above and beyond a simple good/bad and why. It entered an area I don't normally see in critics. Seitz explained all of the main points of this movie so clearly and concisely that he could make even someone who cannot stand animation long to see the movie. Matt showed that he paid full attention to the movie, and understood things in it that took me months to realize. Matt deserves praise, as does the rest of your publication. Sean Gibbons, Oxford, CT

    Indescribably Offal MUGGER: The line in your 4/28 online column, "...but let's cool it: Jews are not the only people who've suffered at the hands of tyrants and madmen," is remarkably obtuse and challenges a straw man. It is quite similar to describing Itzhak Perlman's playing of the violin as scraping horse hair on sheep intestines. David F.X. Mandel, Manhattan

    Video Drone MUGGER: Air Force readiness is at a 15-year low, and Bill Clinton is off making a cutesy "lame duck" video for the White House Correspondents Dinner. He is without doubt the poorest excuse for a commander-in-chief that this country has ever had. Steve Hume, Canton, MI

    Up in Michigan MUGGER: We like your stuff out here. But we don't understand how you can write a sentence like this: "After seven years and three months, any American with an IQ of over 100 knows that Bill Clinton is the most unethical, immoral and selfish president of this century" (5/3). Obviously implicit in that is that there was another president in the other 100-years-plus who was worse. Please tell us who.

    Thanks for your fine work.

    Doug Williams, Detroit

    Drop Abe, Hire Gersh MUGGER: While cleaning house at the New York City tabloids ("e-MUGGER," 4/28), how about asking Mortimer Zuckerman at the Daily News to retire Abe ("I'm Writing as Bad as I Can") Rosenthal's column? Surely he doesn't need the money. F. Peter Model, Manhattan

    We're Not Hiring I'm sad at the passing of your dual format design, which took into account the amount of space and number of hands available at any given time. The tabloid was great while reading at the dinner table, and the broadsheet while on the head. And, ironically and efficiently, garbage in, garbage out.

    Oh come on, just kidding. Can't you take a joke?

    Kent Hellerian, Manhattan

    So Thought We Return to all-tabloid format? Why couldn't people simply insert the broadsheet into Section Two, and read Section Two on the subway or bus? They can then read the wraparound broadsheet at home. Joseph Mazza, Manhattan

    Going Virtual First of all, I would like to tell you that I am a regular subway rider, and I greatly appreciate your return to the tabloid format. However, I am quite disgusted with your new practice of printing only a selection of letters in the paper, while the entire "Mail" section is available only online. I believe that when your website started out, just the opposite was true. A selection, and only a selection, of letters?usually those with an outside-of-New York-City subject?could be found in the online "Mail" section. Now you seem to be enjoying using your readers' dedication to your fine "Mail" section against them. Are you trying to discourage me from picking up the hard copy version of your publication? Well, it hasn't worked yet, but keep trying. It just might.

    Joe Dessereau, Brooklyn

    Darn, We'd Lose Salon MUGGER: You do a great job overall. You and George Will continue to be the only columnists smart enough to figure out how dangerous the McCain Fool's Gold bill is. Letters to the editor couldn't be published on the Internet under this goofy plan. Third-party websites would be cleansed of all political content 60 days before an election. Campaigns cost a combined $600 million in 1996? So? P&G spends twice that every year on advertising alone.

    Gimme a break.

    I'm hoping George Voinovich gets the veep spot. I had the privilege of voting for him for mayor of Cleveland in '79 after that flake Kucinich ran the city into default in a single year. Voinovich did 10 years as mayor and nearly eight as governor, and is likely bored silly with the Senate after a couple of years. He spoke out against the Serbian Soiree.

    Tom Ridge is good as well.

    Don Surber, Charleston, WV

    Diver Down Thanks for Jim Knipfel's report on the "vaginal tracking device" implanted, perhaps, by the FBI in Nonna Osipova ("New York City," 5/3). This goes a long way toward explaining the Global Positioning System device I found in my crap the other day.

    Sven Kuntzman, Manhattan

    Our Cosmetics Reporter I've got to say, I adore Alan Cabal's articles. He's sort of the gonzo reality-confrontational scrivenal archangel for the new millennium. Cabal rocks! Rosemary Edghill, Poughkeepsie

    Canyon Cowgirl Oooooooeeeey! We heart us Crispin Sartwell's "Farm Report" (4/26)! We also heart a tattooed boy they call Cupcake, but we heart the Farm Report more. We're holding out for the George Jones special. Liz Danahey, Los Angeles

    Their God Is Powerless to Stop Us The "Message to Readers" on the cover of your 4/26 issue had me going for a few minutes. Thank you for not selling out to Rupert Murdoch! I look forward every week to the movie reviews, and to anything by William Bryk. He's a treasure. I was surprised and disappointed at the first paragraph of the 4/12 "Soup to Nuts," entitled "Blackman in Effect." Doesn't someone look over the articles before they go to press? How can you allow someone to demean the Resurrection of Christ this way? You know that Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar. Please speak to the perpetrator who did this.

    MUGGER: Keep on beating Slick Willie and his worse half. Now that Giuliani has cancer, things will get really rough.

    Sheila Lynch, Manhattan

    NYP, Main Organ Of Black GOP Ha ha ha! You guys at New York Press crack me up! In this year's reader's poll I'm going to have to choose whether to pass up Tony Millionaire as best comic and put in either MUGGER or any one of the black Republicans I've been seeing in your pages. I got quite a kick out of Mike Green's letter in particular ("The Mail," 5/3). It was ludicrous. And it's not like I don't think you can be both black and a Republican, but his letter was totally self-delusional and ridiculously full of shit.

    I'm so tired of the (completely false) cliche that the Republicans care about individual freedom and smaller government. Even our ironfisted Mayor has given speeches about how he's a Republican because he wants to give people more individual freedom! Could a person be any more full of shit than that? Yeah, and Clinton didn't have sexual relations with that girl!

    And some people actually fall for this crap (hello Mike Green!), which is scary. This guy says stuff that's completely nuts, like that the Democrats pander to the people, unlike the GOP, which stands on principle. Yeah right, the endless refrains of "Elect us! We'll lower your taxes! We'll lower your taxes!" aren't "pandering" at all. Heck, maybe "Read My Lips" Bush wouldn't have had to flipflop and raise taxes if his buddy Fogmeister Reagan hadn't taken U.S. taxpayers to the bank to make his defense contractor pals filthy rich!

    And too bad those Democrats created that welfare state, huh? Them blacks should go out and get the plentiful jobs created by GOP deregulation and capital gains tax cuts. Oh wait a minute, all that corporate welfare didn't help the poor or working classes at all! The mergers and stuff simply allowed the billionaire CEOs to lay off tens of thousands of workers while giving themselves $50 million bonuses! Well, the little black people can get jobs at the minimum wage?but wait! They'll still be in poverty, unless they work 80 hours a week! Is that the true bounty the GOP promised?

    If Green really does "believe in?smaller, limited government," then how the hell can he support the GOP and its totally mad war on drugs? Yeah, many Democrats, like that scumbag Clinton, also support it, but didn't you see those recent stats in the paper? Dinkins had 720 arrests for marijuana in 1992, while Giuliani had 33,000 in 1999?a 4500-percent increase in bigger government! And when Dinkins was mayor, my friends didn't get carded at every single club or bar they went to, but now they do. Is that your idea of less government interference or bureaucracy? The GOP stands for more interference in individuals' private lives (no gay marriage, no sex clubs, no sex in art, etc.) and only less government interference in Big Business. (Let's get the World Trade Organization to make our decisions for us! Why should the citizens of America get to enjoy self-determination? Let's trust large corporations to treat people better! Why would they do otherwise? The savings they generate by dumping waste in the river will be passed on to the consumer, right?)

    And what was that nonsense about Lyndon Johnson's social programs inspiring illegitimacy among blacks? He conveniently fails to mention that this occurred among whites as well! Besides, I thought conservatives had already confirmed that it was those heathen Beatles and hippies that ruined our nation's morals, not any government action. In fact, when Chubby Checker's hit "The Twist" first came out, conservatives went apeshit because it lacked the discipline that all prior dances?the Charleston, the tango, etc.?required, and they felt it promoted anarchy! The early American Bandstand even refused to allow individuals to dance alone! They insisted that you had to be a traditional boy/girl couple, and that individuality would be the downfall of our traditional society! (Looks like they may have been right. Damn that Chubby Checker!)

    Morals are important, in my opinion. And Jesse Helms and gang supporting the drug-dealing cartel that are the tobacco companies is about as immoral as it gets. The Republican Party is just as corrupt as the Democrats (I think they're even a little more corrupt), and Mike Green is a fool, incapable of using his head. Maybe the damn liberals who wrote The Bell Curve were right: blacks are dumber!

    Finally, MUGGER provides further absurdity with his insistence that Rudolph Giuliani "happened to achieve remarkable quality-of-life improvements." That's an hilarious (and completely false) cliche. I'm unfortunate enough to drive a car in this city sometimes, and the gridlock is the worst in the USA. The potholes more plentiful than anywhere else, too. Is that also an improvement? Maybe Giuliani's 33,000 pot busts improved somebody's quality of life, but I can't figure out whose. Maybe of those cops earning overtime.

    My favorite stores and diners are all shutting down because they can't afford the intense rent hikes?is that an improvement?

    I'm thinking of leaving New York City, and I'm not alone.

    No wonder MUGGER wins "Worst Columnist" each year.

    Vote Green Party!

    James Carpio, Manhattan

    The editors reply: Carpio speciously imputes to New York Press a monolithic political identity, and then tries to attack us for it. We love how he acts as if our publishing a letter from Mike Green, a black Republican, makes us any more rigidly "Republican" than publishing a letter from someone named James Carpio would make us supportive of whiteboys who claim, probably disingenuously, to dislike Giuliani.

    Mike on the Mic I'm sure you are proud that Mike Green, "the only black conservative on the air in all of Southern California," took the time to write 13 paragraphs in "The Mail" last week in response to a short note from a reader from Brooklyn. I won't respond to any of Mr. Green's bizarre opinions about what causes illegitimacy, or his opinion that Democrats are targeting God, but I'll answer his request for examples of former old-line Democrats who are now Republicans. Just off the top of my head, I'll submit the names of these former Democrats who publicly supported segregation, and have since become leaders of the modern Republican Party: Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Trent Lott.

    Jerry Skurnik, Manhattan

    Donato Drink the Water I was with Christopher Caldwell most of the way in his 5/3 "Hill of Beans" column, until he started his postgraduate thesis (it could have been either Marginal Literature or Pop Psychology) on Donato the Fisherman. Let me preface here: I think MUGGER was flatly wrong about the alleged "crime" Clinton and Reno (via the INS) perpetrated against Lizardo and Mary-Alice. Ultimately, we should not give anybody any ideas about how to handle castaway American children, especially when it's based on political ideology. Getting Elian away from Uncle Festuro and Cousin Ita should have been a goal of Miami social services, and of the INS.

    Back to Caldwell. The more I read about the whole ensemble of Telemundo B-actors involved in this "drama," the more I think that Castro had a reason for bringing communism to his Beloved Cuba: it would drive the unsavory element out. But the one "American" in this drama?Donato?is not a tragic figure of importance. By Caldwell's own admission, Donato "moves as a young man from New York to Florida, hoping to party a lot and get laid. He stints on his education and drifts from job to job and from woman to woman, none of whom wind up liking him. Suddenly he's 40, working as a glorified maid, driven to the mug's game of body-building to preserve his fleeting youth, and so bereft of family or anyone to love him that he has nothing better to do on Thanksgiving Day than to spend it on the fishing boat of his cousin?who hates him."

    He is not a Willie Loman or a Lenny Small. He is a real person who could not muster the courage to be a man in 40 years. Doesn't it get through your media filters that Donato is exactly the kind of self-discarded idiot most of us are disgusted by when we see one on Jerry Springer? And worse still, does it not gall you to find yourself supporting this man and his ragged fellow conspirators, who wanted to shackle a small boy?already a victim of his mother's stupid, vain attempt to follow her ne'er-do-well lover-cum-husband?into a life of political symbolism he couldn't possible understand? Elian was not a salvation to Donato. If Donato thinks he was, the more shame on him.

    Donato's choice is ultimately the same choice he has made for decades: the selfish satisfaction of his own shabby emotional needs over the real formation of relationships and responsibility to those around him. To say, as Caldwell does, that "For the first time in his life, [Donato] belongs! To a boy, to a family, to a community, all of whom care for him! It doesn't matter that the whole thing happened by accident," is either complete infatuation with Donato as a kind of MTV everyman, or self-induced blindness for the sake of taking a shot at a moron like Michael Leahy.

    Does anyone believe that Elian would have chosen Donato over his father?in any country?once they pumped the sea water out of his lungs? What the CuboAmericano Gonzalezes did to Elian was grotesque in the extreme. It borders on brainwashing and cultic indoctrination. And to make a hero of any of them?even to give them the lite touch and have sympathy for them?sits along side Al Gore's "Greatest President" speech on the eve of Clinton's impeachment on the top shelf of self-indulgence and self-service.

    Frank Turk, Pittsburgh

    It's No Fun... All through college (one of the best), I was a liberal Democrat. Then Jimmy Carter, along with Mondale, Dukakis and many others, turned me into a Republican. Now, Russ Smith and his ideological buddies (Armey, Hyde, Barr and that moron from Texas who used to be an undertaker) are turning me back, against my will, into a Democrat.

    Regarding Elian Gonzalez, Janet Reno was right. She just waited too long. By the way, despite what unkind critics from every corner want us to believe, she's not bad-looking for a woman her age.

    Finally, are Mr. Smith, Peggy Noonan and the others trying to turn Donato the Fisherman into some kind of biblical hero?

    Give me a frigging break.

    Richard Wilkens, Manhattan

    ...Being an Illegal Elian MUGGER: As much as I appreciate your column, and of course support your right to your own opinion, I think you're gravely wrong in your reading of the Elian Gonzalez affair these past few weeks. I'm a lifelong Republican, but see nothing but damage to the party in making this more than it is. While I do understand the political side of the issue, I recognize, too, that that is not the point. Here, there are two laws in conflict. The majority of Americans, regardless of party affiliation, believe that child custody is more important than relations (or lack thereof) with a pissant communist country.

    I've written my congressmen to tell them I want them to back off. If need be, I'll write the Bush campaign to tell them to back off, too. I'd never tell you to do that, MUGGER, but I would suggest that this is an issue that is going nowhere. To push it will damage anyone touching it. There's nothing to be gained, not even a moral high ground, because the morality factors have been decided in favor of paternity.

    Best wishes. And I really do love your column. I keep sending my liberal friends to it, just to make sure their hearts aren't getting too flabby.

    John Burgess, Silver Springs, MD

    Oy? Yo? No MUGGER: Is there any relevance to the fact that "Oy" is the reverse of "Yo"? Damn, your columns are always spectacular. Why? I've tried to verbalize why before. I've speculated that it's because they're pragmatic, or "earthy," or evocative of an "Army supply-sergeant mentality," but all that misses the point. My latest attempt? Your columns are devoid of the political partisanship that characterizes everything the Clintons do. You offer simple, straightforward, rational, common-sense everyday thoughts, containing wisdom that the sentiments of almost all other highfalutin columnists don't, even though their words are more august and regal than yours.

    You're right about John Podhoretz ("e-MUGGER," 4/28), too. He's an asshole, mistaking the transitory present for the eternal future. You see the forest and the trees?and also the lichens, ferns, mosses and other detritus that cover the forest floor. You gestalt it all together, and provide wisdom in the process.

    Thanks a bunch.

    George Mikos, Concord, CA

    Among the Hillary-Billies MUGGER: As a member of a minority group?I'm a Republican in West Virginia?I eagerly look forward to your column every week. It's a lifeboat in a state full of sycophant liberal editorialists. That being said, I wanted to point a few things out that you may not have appreciated. First is that you have complained that the Republicans and Bush have been shamefully silent on the Gonzalez case. Bush made his initial announcement months ago that the kid should stay. After the raid, the Republicans made their pipsqueak noises of outrage. However, the major players in this episode, Clinton and Reno, shared the spotlight with no one. No one can say the Republicans sabotaged the talks, inflamed the protesters to violence, etc. This shameful episode was all Clinton and Reno. This will be in the minds, or in the back of the minds, of voters in November.

    My second point is that the Democrats are trying to use tactics from the last election to win this one. With Denny Hastert being so low-key, avoiding the talk show circuit like the plague, it's hard for the Democrats to cast him as another Newt Gingrich.

    Thus, they've gone after Tom DeLay. They will remind the media every few weeks of their bogus civil suit against DeLay, and try to maintain that the real corruption in the House comes from DeLay and the Republican National Committee. The media will dutifully lap that all up, claiming that the Buddhist temple matter is "old news." The Republicans need to steal this play and use it against the Democrats. No one outside of the House knows or gives a crap about DeLay, but everybody knows Dick Gephardt. The GOP should hang him around Al Gore's neck. The ad would remind voters what happened the last time Congress and the White House were controlled by the Democrats. They enacted retroactive taxes! They, together, gave us the highest tax rates in history.

    Robert V. Mantzel, Huntington, WV

    Peel Session MUGGER: I don't agree that George W. Bush will slip on that banana sooner or later (5/3). This is a guy who has very carefully crafted an image consistent with low expectations, so that people will think, "Hey, he's not as dumb as I thought." And yes, I'll be voting for him in November, too?just like I voted for his daddy and for Ronald Reagan. At first I supported him reluctantly, but now I do so enthusiastically. Anyway, further information on this subject may be obtained from Ms. Ann Richards, of Austin, TX, who has a banana peel left over from 1994 that's getting pretty rank now.

    Howard Hirsch, Carson City, NV

    Gregory's No Relation MUGGER: I love the precise way you cover every one of my peeves. You certainly do not mince words. You read people like a good book. I love your column even when you use that F-word, because it seems to just fit so accurately. Keep up the great work. Shirley Craig, Jacksonville, AR

    One Heart at a Time MUGGER: I'm a firsttime reader, and I am very impressed at the way you describe the Gore scene. I hope your masterful usage of words will persuade some of our society's brainwashed voters. I look forward to checking in on your future articles. P. Ponnech, Bellingham, WA

    The Ass Narratives Christen Clifford: I've got to commend you on your 4/5 "Nothing Butt" article ("First Person"). It was entertaining, but it struck so close to home for me. I empathized with your having "ass days," because I have them, too. Actually, just about every day is an "ass day" for me. I understand so well the obsession and the aching. Every excursion into the street is an occasion for watching for and lusting for and searching out the really good asses. There are always one or two outstanding asses that I can "take home" with me for later fantasies. The visual experience is so strong that, years later, I can remember a lush-assed woman whom I observed for a few moments in a mall o