With a humanist cheer: I enjoyed Jeff Stratton's excellent December 23 piece on the homeless, "A Sort of Sanctuary." Without being thick, it honestly shared the stories and confirmed that there exists a "cycle of poverty" -- that trap where people can find themselves in a heartbeat. I was the key photographer on Newsweek's mid-'70s cover story "Homeless in America." What I found after two weeks on the streets with these people expanded my humanist sensibilities. Your piece in turn, I hope, will do that for your readers.
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Not That Marvin
He's thankfully still kickin': Thank you so much for the kind words in Ronald Mangravite's December 16 review of Affluenza! ("Gold Diggers 2004"). I'm honored that my performance reached beyond the stage and found your appreciation. Happy, happy holidays! Be well, be safe, be happy!
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And drugging: I truly appreciated Trevor Aaronson's December 9 article "Suffering Together." I commend him from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of all the kids who will never be the same from this boot-camp "help." This is an incredibly important aspect of how we handle teens. Often, it is not the teens who are troubled.
The drugging is a very important but oft-ignored part in all of this. We are creating kids with bad behavior by giving them psychotropic drugs that cause them to be destructive and self-destructive.
Who should be accountable for contributing to the delinquency of these minors? We just finished with Lionel Tate and his probation situation.
Your article is excellent, and I can't thank you enough.
The Defense Foundation for Children USA
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No angel, no devil: I am a former resident of Growing Together. I was admitted June 30, 1998. I am extremely upset because this article is completely one-sided. I owe my life to this facility, not because I was brainwashed or beaten into saying it but because it helped me find a world that did not involve stealing, drugs, or fighting.
The program is not designed to humiliate the kids, as you so delicately worded it. It's designed to make you grateful about the things you once had by stripping you of them. As the saying goes, "Never realized what I had till I lost it." It makes you earn it back by following the rules and by participating in group therapy. Each time you earn a higher phase, you gain more privileges.
On the subject of the kids being "beaten," I'll admit I was no angel back then, that's for sure. The only time I got restrained is when I got violent and loud. No one ever hurt me. As for the "riots" that took place: If you put 20 to 40 teenaged kids in a building who are going through the feelings of withdrawal from drugs, you're damn right -- kids are going to get loud and rough. That's the purpose of the behavior-management staff. By the way, "The Enforcer" is a joke. That was his nickname, given to him by his teammates when he played football for the Bengals. The man is a pastor. I have no comment on the "Naked Crusader" because I was never there for that. Some are sicker than others, I guess.
I wish you had interviewed some more people before you wrote this article, because there are a lot of people who feel the same way I do.
West Palm Beach
That's all you need to know: I loved "Scripps Script" by Bob Norman (December 2). This type of article is why I read New Times. I love columns that inform us but also have that cynical New Times bite. It is the edginess that I, as a blue person in a red state, lust for.
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Pricey prey: I was perusing the letters from the November 25 issue, and I gotta respond, just on principle. Here we go: What's up when the big boy of the fetish scene sour-grapes a letter 'cause a store/party monopoly didn't get any press after the underdog got a little write-up (boo-hoo) ("Whither Goeth the Goth?")?
So what? Fetish Factory didn't get more press? My heart bleeds for Mr. Glenn "Name-Withheld-as-If-Everybody-Doesn't-Know-Who-You-Are." I say, knuckle up and applaud a vibrant scene.
There may not have been much of a fetish scene before Fetish Factory opened up and carved out a corner, but don't paint yourself into a corner by punching holes in the new guy's hull. Pricing policy usually takes care of that. Remember, if the kid with the most marbles whines 'cause he doesn't have them all, he winds up alone playing with his marbles. Reading that letter was like sitting at the bar listening to the headliners knock back their free drinks and slag the opening act for putting on a good set. What's the point? Especially if you're the king predator!
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The December 23 Night Court column, "2004: A Club Odyssey," incorrectly referred to the Hollywood club Zombie. It is closed.