Puh-leeeez: I feel compelled to write regarding my disappointment with Felicia Levine's November 7 article about Leather University. I awaited the release of this article with great expectations (and a sense of dread), hoping that our event would be presented in a neutral light. The headlines dashed that hope fairly quickly. Pricked penises, blood in the classroom, teachers hog-tied? Weird university comes to our weird-sex Mecca? It was at least refreshing not to be cast as baby-eating monsters in need of religious intervention.
It seems to me that the article focuses too highly on the more extreme (edgier) forms of play. There was no mention of the ideals taught during the weekend: respect for others and yourself, communication, understanding, and the desire to expand past our preconceived limits. Our courses stress safety and the consequences of our actions. The classes are indeed the core of the event, but it is also a time for people to socialize and re-forge bonds of friendship and family. Often, our peers in the leather community are the only support network we have. It's a shame that there was no mention of the main banquet, which included an awards ceremony.
I also take umbrage at the descriptions of the attendees. Not only are the faculty some of the most well-respected leather educators in the country, many are personal friends. I found your portrayal of them unflattering and unfair. Printing their full names connected to this event in a general publication is not only impolite; it is potentially disruptive (or damaging) to their careers, home life, and peace of mind. A member of the "vanilla" world may not easily understand the responses to your questions, but the answers were accurate. A skydiver asked of his desire and rewards for such risky behavior might also be difficult to comprehend. What words can a marathon runner use to explain the mental state he or she achieves after a two-hour run? How can one person attempt to fathom the process behind a choice of favorite color?
I allowed Felicia to take part in the weekend against the advice of my entire board of directors. They were concerned that an outsider would not be able to suspend judgment or would trivialize the activity. They also cautioned that someone from outside the scene would not know what questions to ask, let alone process the answers in any true way. Unfortunately, it seems they were correct.
Lawrence E. A. Fox, President
We like to call him "Kevin Crow": Regarding Ted Kissell's quite extraordinary article on voting restrictions ("Felon Follies," October 31): he states "the original wrong -- the improper removal of their franchise -- has yet to be righted... this has had a clearly discriminatory effect: 27 percent of black men in Florida cannot vote." How did the "original wrong" come about? By chance? By random selection? Was any of it self-induced? Let us assume that "27 percent of black men in Florida cannot vote." What, pray tell, do you make of the following statistics?
1) Black men make up some 75 percent of the NBA. Does that prove discrimination against calorically and vertically challenged white men?
2) I know of only one white man -- Eminem -- who is big in the "rap" business. Is that proof of discrimination or good taste?
3) Blacks make up about one-eighth of the population of the United States. Black women have about three-eighths of the abortions in this country. Is that proof of voluntary genocide?
4) Once again, the Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physics have been given to white men. Does that prove anything?
5) Did you know that half the physicians practicing medicine finished in the bottom half of their classes?
6) If I have one foot on fire and one foot frozen solid, statistically, I'm comfortable. Am I?
I opened the dictionary to see the precise definition of boob. All it had was Kissell's name.
Hear this, Jeb? This is just so criminal. How can they get away with it? It's a strike through the heart of our democracy. How can these people live with themselves? They should be ashamed.
via the Internet
Aw, shucks: I would like to personally congratulate Mr. Bob Norman for honesty, moral and political courage in his article, "Wexler's Travels," which appeared in the October 24 issue of the New Times. I have no e-mail and meant to write sooner but simply forgot.
There's a column in his future: I am writing you concerning the Real Astrology column. I noticed it was missing from your October 24 issue.
If you still have this column, please border it in red, white, and blue so all loyal, astrology-fearing Americans can find it. Thank you for listening.
Anthony J. Vaivada
Editor's Note: We can't reproduce the old column, but Real Astrology is back this week.
Give Howie a chance: I just finished reading Eric Barton's October 17 article on FAU's football program ("F-A-Who?"). As evidenced by the title of the article and a lot of its content, it appears that New Times delved into this subject matter with an unnecessarily critical eye. Howard Schnellenberger enjoys a renowned reputation as a well-accomplished coach in both the college and professional ranks, and I feel that your article was unnecessarily harsh, especially given that the FAU football program is only in its second season. For God's sake, give the guy a chance! It's got to be a difficult endeavor to put together a football program, train the athletes, formulate strategies, etc. I have had the pleasure of dining with the coach and his wife while enjoying his radio show on Thursday evening at his restaurant, and I can truly say that it appears that coach has his heart and soul into making this team truly top-notch. I wonder if New Times will be as critical when the coach turns this young FAU team into a winner.
Stinks! I was astounded to read that Miriam Oliphant blames Walter Foeman for the disaster that occurred in the September election ("Walter's Lament," October 17). I applaud Chuck Strouse for pointing out that she, and not Walter Foeman, is the problem. I had the privilege of working with Walter when he was with the City of Miami. I will tell you that Broward County had the most professional and dedicated public servant. It is a shame that, because of Miriam Oliphant's unprofessionalism, Broward County will miss out on the great opportunity of having Walter. Walter is extremely knowledgeable of election laws and the election process. Dedicated and hard-working, he was the first one in and the last to leave City Hall. Walter Foeman is more concerned about doing things right than promoting himself. He shied away from media during our tough times at City Hall. When describing Walter Foeman, many words come into mind: competent, fair, intelligent, committed, knowledgeable, meticulous, detail-oriented, organized and above all, gentlemanly and a professional. Broward County lost a jewel of a person.
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Bernie's one more pathetic senior citizen: I realize it's tough to find a story that hasn't been around the world two or three times; however, the recent piece about Bernie, the "self-proclaimed world's oldest male stripper," was just lazy journalism ("The Full Bernie," Rebekah Gleaves, October 3). It just wasn't worth the space you devoted to it. Bernie is one pathetic character lost in an area of America that seems to attract and absorb characters like him. As such, he is not even remotely unique. Dumb!