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My friend sent me your article on PETA's Dan Mathews [Steve Lowery's “How to Stuff a Lettuce Bikini,” July 25]. It's hard to imagine this gorgeous hunk was once a fat kid who got picked on. He's drop-dead gorgeous. It got me wondering if that's a common thread of individuals in the animal rights movement: that for one reason or another we all bore the brunt of others' cruelties and it made us more able to feel empathy for others. I know that we'll never be able to reach all the callous people of our world, many of whom seem to take joy in the suffering of others, but articles like this will surely plant seeds in those who do care. Great article! Great guy! Sure hope that those who picked on him in high school saw it. Hey, guys, see what a vegetarian diet can do?

Jayn Meinhardt
Via e-mail

After reading Steve Lowery's remarkable article on PETA's Dan Mathews, I don't know who I love more: the activist or the writer. Dan makes the world safer for defenseless creatures and Steve makes every week a little more bearable with his hilarious “Diary of a Mad County.” When he writes one of his longer, more in-depth articles, I feel doubly blessed.

Diane Finney
Huntington Beach

I sincerely enjoyed reading one of my favorite writers, Steve Lowery, write about PETA. I read it straight through over lunch, barely glancing at my roast beef sandwich and chicken salad. Boy, that Dan Mathews is hot! Hot as my fur coat and leather pants.

Via e-mail


Regarding Rebecca Schoenkopf's defense of Kobe Bryant [“Commie Girl,” July 11]: Schoenkopf states that Bryant is her “noble Kobe.” Bryant has since admitted to being an adulterer—an adulterer with a newborn baby. This is nobility? Schoenkopf goes on to state that Bryant couldn't possibly be a rapist, due to his head being “shaped as elegantly as Nefertiti's,” and his receiving “1080 on his SATs.” Schoenkopf's theory goes that if he's smart and good-looking, he couldn't possibly be guilty of rape. Ever heard of Ted Bundy, Rebecca? Schoenkopf would benefit by getting down to her local rape crisis center, and educating herself about the crime, the criminals who commit it and the victims who suffer.

Peter Benefiel


Viva Gustavo! In your article “Joe Dunn Fights for Mexicans” [“Repatriate Act” July 25], you touched upon the culture shock an American girl experienced when she was unjustly deported. I can very much relate to this. I have lived in this country for 15 years, and I was never asked when I was four whether I wanted to be a gringa. Much like my legal status, my identity is in limbo. I am not American enough to avoid being called a “beaner” and not Mexican enough to be welcomed by my cousins in Mexico who constantly criticize my Spanish and my “American” ways. I was also pleased with your response in Spanish to dumbass Mr. Gutierrez. I think that it is important to the culture of us non-Mexican yet not-Americans to understand and accept one another and unite, as I assume was your point in the response to his letter. I would also like to point out to Mr. Gutierrez that I do go to a Cal State. Y QUE CHINGADOS IMPORTA!? Thank you, Mr. Arellano, for speaking on behalf of those of us without an accurate label; I wouldn't have it any other way.

Brenda N. Gonzalez-Gomez
Via e-mail

As a scholar of racial imagery in American movies for the past dozen years, I concur with Gustavo Arellano's critique of Fox Movie Channel's decision to cancel its Charlie Chan retrospective [“Whitening Blackface,” July 18]. Our ability to understand how popular ideas about race and culture get communicated in popular film will be greatly hampered if television, the primary medium for exhibiting older movies, alters their content in order to placate the admittedly legitimate concerns of well-intentioned interest groups. It might interest your readers that, during the era in which the Charlie Chan pictures were produced, they were seen as somewhat socially progressive. The Chan series' insistence that its hero intermingle within and serve the aims of “white” society and its casting of Asian actors in prominent supporting roles reflects what historian Larry May labels the “Big Tomorrow”—a movie-based ideology in which American egalitarian values ultimately redeem popular democracy. Sadly, Euro-American culture ensured that this inclusive vision express itself in the form of minstrelsy, which exaggerated the most egregious differences of minorities from “white” norms of speech and customs and denied them a full accounting of their humanity on the screen. The racism of the Charlie Chan series therefore differs from earlier, more blatantly racist films, such as Birth of a Nation, in that it represents a failed liberal attempt to exhibit American values of inclusion in a style that paradoxically insists that certain racial groups inherently fail to fully assimilate into the nation's “white” cultural norms.

John Anderson
Department of History
California State University, Fullerton


The sorry excuse for a human being who pitched us a cartoon strip by using the catastrophe at the Santa Monica Farmers Market as an opening line: “I thought Florida had a problem with octogenarian drivers, but it appears that Santa Monica, California, has 'em beat. The Farmer's Market may be gone, but [name of lame cartoon which will never run in this paper] is still around, and going strong.” That's nice. You know what's one thing that isn't going so strong? Your sense of basic human feeling or decency, wad. You're just another automaton who sees others' misery—whether it's car accidents or rape allegations—as a means to your own pathetic ends. Hey, next time why not throw in some stuff about AIDS-infected babies? Hilarious. Dude, what does it benefit a man to gain a syndicated cartoon deal only to lose his soul—oh, that's right, you don't have one.

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