Two Presidents Do Not Make a Right

To the Editor:

Bruce Feirstein’s “Message From Mahmoud! Dear President Bush: We’ve Got Lots in Common” [New Yorker’s Diary, May 15] is truly trying to be funny, while comparing rotten apples with ripe California oranges. I read the letter from the President of Iran, and frankly, I didn’t think there were any people left with a measure of pure common sense and ordinary decency. But the letter from Iran was intelligent, logical and honest. The Western media has distorted, perverted and hyped it, while being grossly hypocritical. It is obviously true what Mr. Feirstein writes about President Bush, but what he writes about Mr. Mahmoud sounds disingenuous. The President of Iran is honorable and forthcoming. This is something unimaginable in our Western society. Therefore, comparing the two is grossly perverted.

Wayne Bent

Des Moines, N.M.

Ready to Wear Thin

To the Editor:

In Rebecca Dana’s article regarding Washington, D.C., fashion and trends [“The Smarmies of the Night,” May 8], she remarks: “In that village somewhere south of Staten Island, the hometown newspaper this year scored the first-ever Pulitzer Prize awarded to a fashion writer—The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan. Mustn’t that mean it’s time for New Yorkers to finally learn some fashion lessons from the District of Columbia, our much-maligned and terminally lame capital city?”

Robin Givhan of The Washington Post is a marvelously insightful social commenter in the role of a fashion critic. Admittedly, Washingtonians as a group are not known for being chic. We are traditionally (and tritely) maligned as dowdy and fashion-backward, especially by New Yorkers. However, rather than facetiously suggesting that it’s time to learn more about fashion from Washingtonians, as was the premise of Ms. Dana’s otherwise fairly amusing piece, Ms. Givhan’s Pulitzer suggests that it’s time for more fashion writers to realize their potential for greater depth in their coverage, to aspire to being as circumspect, substantive and worthy of the readers’ time.

A multigenerational native Washingtonian who loves both D.C. and New York, I freely acknowledge that D.C. isn’t as hip as you are—as if I cared. Nyah nyah nyah, over and out. We are certainly not as rich in fashion-related “assets.” But we do have Robin Givhan.

Elizabeth F. Stewart

Washington, D.C.

Alloy Is to Blame

To the Editor:

Thank you for assigning blame where it really belongs in this Viswanathan tale [“Viswanathan-athon: Plagiarizing Writer Fell in Weird Alloy,” Sheelah Kolhatkar, May 8]. I don’t know anyone personally, but from my experience in publishing, it seems the packager should be taking a lot more of the blame (and limelight) for this than an author, who was merely 17 when it all began. Publishing is a very insular business, and it is hard to imagine that a 17-year-old—no matter how brilliant—could understand all the implications of aligning with a packager, an agent and a publisher. One presumes that if the packager is getting nearly half the royalties and shared copyright credit, then they are also signing the contract and thus bear equal responsibility for the warranty clauses in the contract, which means verifying that there is no plagiarism. Shame on the owners of Alloy for not stepping forward, and for hanging the young girl out to dry in the press.

Barbara Moulton

San Francisco

It’s All History

To the Editor:

I enthusiastically concur with John Heilpern’s huzzahs for Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, and was especially intrigued by the parallels between the play’s milieu and Mr. Heilpern’s own British education [“Bennett’s The History Boys: Telling Witty Tales of School,” At the Theater, May 8]. Evidently, his lessons stopped short of the American musical theater, however: Just about any Broadway baby knows that “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” however soignée it may be, is one of the many gems by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart (Pal Joey), not, as Mr. Heilpern states, Cole Porter.

Dick Donahue


To Wit, Washington

To the Editor:

I read Chris Lehmann’s article on Stephen Colbert’s performance [“The Smarmies of the Night,” May 8]. I wasn’t there, but I and almost everyone I know have been laughing our asses off after watching it on the Internet. For someone to finally take on the President and the press (who have been almost equally dreadful) right there in person, using humor and irony, took such guts and intelligence that it elevates Mr. Colbert above everyone in politics and the media. Think about it—where have you seen such balls before?

Even if you didn’t find it funny, one has to admit it was historic in that sense. Things have gotten so bad that only humor can begin to relate what is going on, as well as the emotions that many Americans feel. In one shot, Mr. Colbert took on the President’s intelligence and leadership, the wimpy press and tyrannical TV news personas like Bill O’Reilly et al.

Yeah, the video at the end should have been cut, but the rest was amazing.

Brandon Kessler

Brooklyn Letters