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To the Editor:

Re Alexandra Jacobs’ “Hey! Remember Us?” [Oct. 30]: In 1985, I was invited by Graydon Carter to attend a lunch to brainstorm ideas for the satirical monthly that he and Kurt Andersen were starting up. At the time, Graydon made a point of letting me know that he had combed through back issues of Esquire’s Dubious Achievement Awards—which I edited from 1985 to 1997—for inspiration, but that they were trying to find a “different humor vehicle.” That they accomplished their goal brilliantly in those early years and that their legacy can be seen today in countless publications (including The Observer) is without question, but Ms. Jacobs’ suggestion that Esquire’s Dubious Achievements somehow grew out of the success of Spy is in itself a dubious achievement. Esquire had been publishing the annual issue since 1961 when Harold Hayes charged two young editors, Robert Benton and David Newman, to come up with a fact-based humorous review of the year’s stupidities. The Dubious feature “Which Twin Has the Toni?” wasn’t funny, however, until Spy renamed it “Separated at Birth.” Different vehicle? Sure. Sadly, also a shorter ride.

David Hirshey


Clinton Foundation Director Responds

To the Editor:

John Koblin’s story about President Clinton’s fund-raising activities in support of the Clinton Foundation was snide, unfortunate and completely ignored the important charitable initiatives that are saving lives and helping people around the world, which that weekend will help fund [“Bill Clinton’s Birthday Plans: A Party for Really Rich People,” Oct. 30]. Today, the Foundation has a staff of more than 600 working to fight H.I.V./AIDS in Africa, to alleviate extreme poverty in the developing world and to provide safe drinking water and sanitation in Malawi and Rwanda. The Clinton Foundation is also assisting entrepreneurs in Harlem and has launched a successful partnership with the American Heart Association to fight heart disease and childhood obesity.

This is substantive work that is made possible through charitable giving that, in just a few short years, has helped saved the lives of 415,000 people around the world, who are receiving anti-retroviral medication thanks to a Clinton Foundation effort that reduced the cost of lifesaving AIDS drugs. Mr. Koblin’s mocking reference to “$100,000 for poached eggs and mimosas with Bill and Hillary” neglects to mention that the donation will save the lives of 500 children with AIDS.

Mr. Koblin unfortunately fails to recognize that charitable funds do not grow on trees, that the good works of President Clinton’s foundation are not free and that the money to support them has to be raised somehow. Raising money is not easy and it takes a lot of time, but the hundreds of thousands of people who are alive today because of the Clinton Foundation’s work make it worth the effort.

Jay Carson

Director of Communications William J.Clinton Foundation


Presidential Race?

To the Editor:

There seems to be a ceiling when it comes to African-American elected officials [“Obama’s Rise Ends Era of Long Waits,” Steve Kornacki, Wise Guys, Oct. 30]. Just look at what happened to Carl McCall in 2002. Another good example is the mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin. A couple of years back, she was Governing Magazine’s Public Official of the Year. She’s been an effective mayor, cleaning up the mess left by her predecessor. She would be a fine candidate for governor, but would the folks in places such as Cobb and Forsyth counties vote for her?

Merrill R. Frank


Pretty Pathetic

To the Editor:

George Gurley’s front-page article [“I Am Charlotte Bocly”] in the Oct. 30 issue of The Observer amounts to child abuse. Take a silly, albeit beautiful, 19-year-old who already has a substance-abuse problem and turn her into a joke? Are you in the business of creating the 2008 edition of Paris Hilton? Pretty pathetic. “Have you no shame, sir?”

Richard Gottlieb

Sharon, Conn.