MUGGER: Like your mother ("e-MUGGER," 12/22), I'm from the Bronx?Woodlawn to be precise?and by now I've been resettled for 35 years in Los Angeles. But?and here I'm sorry about your Red Sox?you can't take Yankee Stadium out of the boy.
In my childhood Christmas stocking there was always a tangerine. I have remarked on that tradition recently to several friends, including my wife and some of the kids. You're right on with that memory. Tis a long way back?I'm 70 now?yet Christmas does not change inside for me. It's Mass, get-togethers, more food than we need and all defenses down.
What could be better?
Merry Christmas to you and thanks for the memory.
Jim Sweeney, Los Angeles
Reeling in the Year
Coming across Russ Smith's 12/22 online Christmas reminiscence was a lovely way to get into the Christmas nostalgia mood. I'm in Manchester, UK, and what strikes me is how similar our experiences and traditions are, and the way we think about them.
Christmas is such a bittersweet experience. I'm in my 50s now, and my two boys are 17 and 18. Obviously Christmas isn't quite as magical as it was when they were young (though it's not as exhausting either), but it is still good fun, despite the endless rain we've had this year. Anyway, I can look forward to Manchester United at home tomorrow (that's our football team).
But the really melancholic festival for me is New Year's. I never look forward to it. It just seems to bring up so many memories of sad parties, plastic cupfuls of sweet wine and the nightmare of whom to kiss (or not) as midnight sounds.
Roll on, January!
Bernard Leach, Manchester, UK
A Wee Tribeca Elf
I took a chance and clicked my "MUGGER" bookmark this afternoon hoping that...yep, you did do a week-ending Christmas column! And thanks a lot for it. Illness forced me to cancel my flight to see my mom and dad this year at Christmas for only the second time in 45 years. (The other one was spent in Greenland in the 1980s. Now that was a white, dark Christmas.) So I really appreciated reading your reminiscences about time spent with your mother and family.
A faithful online reader, I look forward to your columns, miss them when they don't appear and vicariously revel in everything you do. (Except the sports stuff; too boring for those of us uninterested in such things.)
It appears you've got it together in most aspects of your life, and I wish you and your family a long and happy time together. Sometimes I don't know how you do it?I'd rather live in my car than live in New York?but you do, and godspeed.
Merry Christmas, my friend, and all my best wishes for a happy and productive new year, with adults in charge at last!
Jim Switz, Port Townsend, WA
Norman Kelley: Interesting article ("Dear Hillary: Are You Already Selling Out Black New Yorkers?" 12/20). However, who are you kidding? Blacks voted almost 100 percent for Gore and Hillary. Do you think your threats?"We vote. We keep score. We also believe in punishing those who do not protect our interests, or take us for granted"?will have any effect? Hillary is probably laughing hysterically at you right now. The Democratic Party owns (and expects) the black vote, and gets it every time. Why should either party do anything other than what they do now?pay lip service and take no action?
Jimmy Porcus, via Internet
Norman Kelley: Oh, this is sweet!
I hope she screws you blacks to the frigging wall. I hope she is ruthless to your concerns. I hope the double crosses exceed themselves a million times.
What's the saying? Payback is a mother???? She is selfish, self-serving, power-crazy and loves to live off the government, like you.
You voted for her. Now live with it.
Oh, how I love poetic justice! It warms my heart, especially at Christmas. Thank you, Jesus, for this happening. Please let it get worse. I mean far, far worse.
Stupid people in New York?you get what you vote for. You'll see her ruthlessness now that she's gotten what she wanted.
Rosalie Boyle, Reno, NV
Jackson, but No Action
Yikes! Just when I thought New York Press was as idiotic as you could imagine, Armond White ("Film," 12/13) takes a movie about an artist seriously! But wait, there's more! He uses well-rehearsed gobbledygook to make studious pronouncements about this boring film about a boring individual. Artists don't do anything! Pollock went through a wall doing the drip paintings, and changed (or was part of a change in) American and international art. But what can you say about a film about someone who hardly traveled? The guy was pathetic, the film was boring.
Top drawer, you all.
Name Withheld, Manhattan
Baked in Alaska
Not sure Marty Beckerman is old enough to be writing things like his 12/13 "Books" review of Siv Widerberg's wacko Swedish sex book, The Kids' Own XYZ of Love and Sex, but who's complaining? That his mom bought it for him at the age of 11 goes a long way toward explaining so much. Please publish more work by this sick young degenerate mind.
Jeremy Lott, via Internet
Brat and Leer
Re: Toby Young's "Penis Envy" ("Taki's Top Drawer," 12/20): I loved "the doctor will see you shortly" from a nurse in a penis enlargement clinic.
But maybe that's just me.
Ronald Melrose, Queens
Revote of the Masses
Christopher Caldwell is guilty of highly selective memory ("Hill of Beans," 12/20). He forgets that Katherine Harris made it extremely difficult to get anything done in a timely fashion. He forgets that Florida law dictates that counties devise a recount method, just like it dictates that they devise what technology to use.
The list goes on. How many thousands of people were part of the PBC revote lawsuit? How many letters, etc., did I read about people who were confused and made mistakes?
So, Mr. Caldwell, before accusing Jesse Jackson of pulling numbers out of a hat, perhaps you should indulge in a smidgeon of careful research.
Daniel Hellerstein, Wheaton, MD
Banging and Hollering
In Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, I stumbled upon a definition of rock 'n' roll that reminded me of New York Press. Bangs defines it as "an attitude, it's not a musical form of a strict sort. It's a way of doing things, of approaching things. Writing can be rock 'n' roll, or a movie can be rock 'n' roll. It's a way of living your life."
I've been reading New York Press for the six years I've been living in New York City, and I must say thank you?for keeping journalism (in its loose New York Press sense) rock 'n' roll. Although I skip "MUGGER" every week (because honestly, who has time?), I always enjoy the intelligent wit of Jessica Willis (where is she now?) and Tanya Richardson?great tit piece ripping Betsey Johnson a much-deserved new asshole ("Falsies: Fashion Hears the Call of Gigantic Ta-Ta's," 10/4)?and Alan Cabal (simply because he is). "First Person" is my favorite section, and I think George Tabb is simply a total sweetie because, honestly, how many thirtysomethings can still cling to punk rock the way he does and still come off as adorable? Not many. Marcellus Hall and M. Wartella round off the cast with their cartoons. Very nice indeed.
Bangs also said, "I have always believed that rock 'n' roll comes down to myth." New York Press goes beyond myth. It's created a legend with an all-star cast of up-and-coming writers who make me look forward to Wednesdays.
Lisette Basson, Manhattan
Yeah, He's a Real Gore Supporter
Is Alexander Cockburn ("Wild Justice," 12/20) senile, venal or just another Democratic Party hack masquerading as a columnist? Doesn't he read anything that doesn't come from Democratic headquarters? He's written such crap before?but to buy into that whole racially-oppressed-voters-in-Florida thing requires blind obedience to the party. Thank the gods that this is a free country, where even the willfully obtuse can write "commentary."
Wallace Watford, Fruitland Park, FL
Emerald Isle, Blue Balls
Alexander Cockburn's 12/20 indictment of the stealing of the national election in Florida is exemplary?not to exclude his hilarious recollection of an eros-deprived youth in Ireland, details of which deprivation will amuse ex-Catholics the world over.
Patrick D. Hazard, Weimar, Germany
MUGGER: Ah! The voice of Noo Yawk even echoes here down under in Sydney.
I spent 10 years as a political staffer here in Oz?worked for the equivalent of two secretaries of state and a state governor?and can't get enough of U.S. politics. Love your take on it all. A mate of mine who?despite having the surname "Fitzgerald" and being a good Jesuit boy to boot?worked for the Republicans in Boston falls to his knees at the mention of your name.
More power to your pen.
Christian Kerr, Sydney
We Wanna Be More Like Doug Simmons
Wow. Public service journalism in New York Press (Jonathan Vankin, "Votescam 2000: The Real Scandal Is the Voting Machines Themselves," 12/13). It was nice to read a story in your paper that was 1) not solely first person and 2) based on reporting, as opposed to the author's native genius (no, Russ Smith quoting his children does not count as reporting) and 3) edited.
Was it the Village Voice's Pulitzer that made you wake up and realize you have to do some reporting once in a while to be a legitimate newspaper? Just curious.
Mike Brewster, Manhattan
Under the Mistletoe
Just when I thought that Taki has written his best column, he comes out with a better one ("Top Drawer," 12/20)! Thanks for bringing his work to us.
Robert Kress, Staten Island
At Least She Never Killed Anybody
Tanya Richardson: I think you're a piece of shit. Maybe you ought to learn how to write before you attack Pearl Jam ("Reviews," 8/23). I read an article that you wrote, and you know what? You need to pull your head out of your ass and stop sucking sweatnuts. In your article, you spend nine-tenths of the time personally slamming Eddie Vedder. Once you learn anything about music, maybe you'll judge a band by its music instead of the comprising band members' personal agendas.
Your article was the worst I've ever read. Get back into school and maybe they'll teach you something.
Name Withheld, via Internet
In Christopher Caldwell's 12/20 "Hill of Beans," there is this sentence (about Al Gore): "The country may have been against him, but a highly polarized pundit class is solidly in his favor."
Thus in one tidy sentence we get a sneaky nontruth that conservative writers will employ as often as possible during the next four years, followed by a version of what has become their stabbed-in-the-back theory.
Please, Chris, as you know, while Bush may have won (fairly or unfairly) under the rules, Gore received a half-million more votes than the Genial Idiot. Unless you take the Taki-like view that blacks and other minorities are lesser people, and that their votes should count for less, this fairly solid fact means that "the country" didn't vote against him. Just think how you'd feel about that half-million if the situation were reversed!
Please adjust this in your future columns. Tell your buddies also. It makes you seem dishonest.
To review. It is correct to state that George Bush will be president, and that, to you, this is a good state of affairs. You may even offer an impassioned defense of the Electoral College. But all statements such as "the country rejected Al Gore," while they must be satisfying, are incorrect and must be eschewed in order to retain credibility.
Terry Benoit, Manhattan
A Public Service Message from NYP
Aahh, the mid-to-late-1980s meth explosion in central Florida was something to see. Some suggestions:
Bring back the meth, or even better, Stacker2. It feels a bit dirtier, but somehow it's legal. Dose the hell out of yourself with Stacker, then cut it cold turkey. Drinking on it is hell, though?ephedra dehydrates you worse than moonshine. The up period gives you nervous nauseating excitement, minor trembling, dizziness and utter loss of appetite without the gnashing of teeth. When you cut it, the screaming need will sink you into a motionless abyss you won't want to escape. I slept 17 hours on Saturday and was in bed just after midnight Sunday. Unadulterated sloth! And the 48-hour off-period lowered the tolerance enough for it to have an effect on Monday morning.
Certainly won't help with the curmudgeoning, though. NyQuil in heavy doses is enjoyable and effective. With Stacker, though, you must remind yourself to eat.
Shaun McCormack, Brooklyn
Lionel Tiger ("Human Follies," 12/13): I spent my 1974-'75 sabbatical in Basel, Switzerland, as a colleague of the zoologist Adolf Portmann, who had been the director of the Institute of Zoology at the University of Basel for many years. He pointed out to me that it is the males who choose the females, not the Hollywood picture. He gave an example in the peacocks. Some third of all male chicks are white, and the others are the resplendent array of blues and gold. Why do the males have those gorgeous tail displays? Ask anyone on this side of the Atlantic, and he/she will tell you in order to attract females.
Alas. The white males breed with exactly the same frequency as do their flashy sibs. And, in America, one sees herds of couples with the man dressed like an underprivileged teenager accompanied by a very smartly turned-out partner. Is she looking for a partner? I don't think so.
Richard Carter, Baltimore
Funny how Hillary Clinton gets an $8 million contribution to her personal disinformation campaign ("MUGGER," 12/20). I'm sure her book will be a campaign manifesto, and I'm annoyed at press reports that it will feature inside information about the Clinton presidency.
Come on. Hillary Clinton is the biggest fake that ever walked. She's the only political candidate in history who ran for office while refusing to appear on any political talk show. When reporters ask her questions she hides behind the Secret Service, which she otherwise despises. She won't give a proper interview or do any kind of public appearance that isn't totally scripted, controlled, choreographed and faked by her handlers. And with good reason. She's got more skeletons in her closet than Vincent Price. She's about as forthcoming as Lucky Luciano, and for the same reason. If she told the truth for 15 minutes she'd probably land in the slammer. What do you suppose she's going to say in this so-called memoir? She's not even going to write it herself.
Is she still "writing" her column, or has that gone down the tubes? Has anyone noticed? I recall one paper dropped it simply because it was so utterly boring.
I don't know what is behind this book deal, but it sure looks fishy to me. Any two-bit celebrity can get an advance for a book these days, but eight million? For a book she hasn't even started? Nor do I think Simon & Schuster is getting hosed. This was no spur-of-the-moment decision for them.
One thing's for sure: they won't make that money back through sales. They would have to move something like a million and a half copies, and there aren't that many insomniacs out there. Look at the pap she's put out under her name in the past: Dear Socks, Dear Buddy and An Invitation to the White House. Who's she kidding? The woman is a vicious, ambitious careerist with a sailor's mouth. Her very marriage was a political arrangement. Is that going to be in the book?
Evidently Simon & Schuster believe she's going to be able to do something for them that is worthy of eight million.
We'll see if they get their money's worth.
Joe Rodrigue, New Haven
Charles Glass' 12/13 "Taki's Top Drawer" article on the Armenian holocaust of 1915 to 1918 reminded me of an incident from my childhood. I lived uptown in New York, and across the street were two girls, my own age; and we became friendly by playing ball or rollerskating in the street. After the end of the WWII, they said goodbye and kissed me. They said they were "returning" to Armenia with their parents and extended families, and they were all very happy. Armenia, they said, was now part of the USSR, and their rights were assured and guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution. Their destination was Yerevan, I think. What is their situation today? Are Armenians free now?
Rachel Stang, Brooklyn
Time Out of Joint
MUGGER: Time magazine awarded its "Person of the Year" to George W. Bush, someone who hasn't even done anything yet. And now you guys wrote two cover articles attacking Hillary Clinton before she's even gotten started either. Is this a new trend of writers making up shit before it even happens? Oh, wait?I guess that's business as usual.
Tom Patterson, Brooklyn
Nuts and Bolts
Russ Smith: Thank you for another entertaining and correct column (12/20) of great insight and wonderful wit. We enjoy your endeavors and contributions.
Long live the Republic! Enjoy the holidays.
Ben and Dorel Bolt, Ft. Lauderdale
Lot of Old at End of Rainbow
MUGGER: Using your logic about Republicans fighting hard in the coming year, can we expect an IRS audit of Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition? Isn't it about time someone other than conservative organizations gets audited by that almighty agency? Maybe if they ask for enough records from the good Reverend, it will shut him up for a week or two.
Edward Brady, Manhattan
MUGGER: I have to agree with your points about Chris Matthews (12/20) and the way he acted after Al Gore's speech. While the speech was acceptable, Matthews nearly fainted after it. I can forgive him for that, he being a former speechwriter and all. But what amazed me was the tone he took immediately after he regained his composure. He went on the attack and started to bully any Bush supporter on his show. I hope this is not going to be a trend.
Another annoying habit that I cannot stand is the constant bon mots about Tip O'Neill. Again, I know Matthews worked for him and it's quite understandable for him to idolize his former boss, but let's be clear. Tip O'Neill was a rank partisan and political thug. I live in his former district and I've heard the many stories of his political skullduggery. The stories are plentiful of Tip's shakedowns.
As for Mike Barnicle, the man's a boob. His faux-populist charade makes me ill. It's funny how the only show Barnicle can get on is Matthews' Hardball. It's payback for all the water Barnicle carried for O'Neill over the years. I was quite pleased when the Boston Globe gave him the boot. His "journalist forays on the mean streets of Boston" were so gripping. What a joke!
Finally, I have great fear of the next two years. The economy seems doomed, the Democrats are going to be more partisan than ever and the racial divide will become even wider than the Rio Grande. I hope I'm wrong.
Marc P. Pascucci, East Boston, MA
Terry and the Pirate
MUGGER: Terry McAuliffe taking over the DNC means only one thing (12/20): Hillary will run for the presidency in 2004. There is no other reason that such a corrupt yet successful fundraiser would be put in such a position. The media will not do their homework (with the exception of The Wall Street Journal editorial page) on this individual and the corruption that surrounds him.
What happened to outrage? CBS/Viacom penned an $8 million advance deal with Hillary during a White House event, and no one can manage a mild protest, including Republicans! Republicans are just too cowed when dealing with Hillary, and the media is too friendly with this mediocre woman.
Bottom line?hire Terry and you get Hillary.
Tom Donelson, Marion, IA
MUGGER: Condoleezza Rice? Colin Powell? This seems to contradict the idea of a Bush old-boy network. Maybe I didn't read the news correctly or perhaps the papers erroneously reported these appointments. All I know is that according to all the slander journalists and backstabbing, nation-dividing Democrats, Bush is a racist. I'm waiting for The New York Times to report that these appointments didn't occur, and it was just a figment of our imaginations.
Scott Atkins, Brooklyn
Right to Choose
Sam Feldman of Manhattan ("The Mail," 12/13) is quite wrong: The law states one must be a citizen to vote. But that does not seem to matter in many places in this country. Robert Dornan was robbed of his congressional seat by Loretta Sanchez here in California because of votes cast by those not legally eligible to do so.
I, for one, have nothing but contempt for Robert Dornan. But even at that, the man should not have lost his congressional seat due to illegal voting.
I very firmly believe that registering to vote should not be as easy as it has been made. One should demonstrate literacy and proof of citizenship in the form of a certified copy of a birth certificate, a passport or naturalization papers. A mere driver's license or Social Security card should not do it.
If this were done, I believe the election would not have been nearly as close as it was.
David "Bear" Mann, Carmichael, CA