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Letters: Jun. 14, 1999

11 minute read


“Why has it taken everybody so long to realize what we Latinos have known for quite some time. Salsa is caliente!” MIGUEL NOE DEJESUS RODRIGUEZ Chicago

Ricky Martin and the Latin-fused sound he represents [SHOW BUSINESS, May 24] are a welcome breath of fresh air on the otherwise dreary pop-music scene. It’s time to dance again, and not a moment too soon. !Viva la vida loca! JAVIER SAN MIGUEL Los Angeles

Shades of Frank Sinatra. The opening paragraph of your article sounded like the 1940s accounts of Sinatra’s appearance at the Paramount Theater in New York City, when he was mobbed by bobby-soxers. I don’t know about Martin’s music (I’m a Mozartian), but it’s nice for a change to see a pop singer who doesn’t look as if he came out of a garbage dump. Good luck to him! RAY DAMSKEY Calistoga, Calif.

Much of Martin’s international success is due to his ability to depart from typical Latin-rock or salsa music and to blend popular rock sounds with Latin jazz. His music incorporates lyrics in both Spanish and English. This exotic new hybrid of music captures festive rhythms and tempos similar to Brazilian samba in familiar beats that can be danced to. Martin also demonstrates an uncanny versatility when he sings slower-tempo Latin ballads in the “danceable” rumba and bolero rhythms. GUILLERMO SAMUEL YOUNG San Jose, Calif.

I recall reading in TIME about Bob Dylan, John Lennon and other trend-setting singers, but somehow Martin just doesn’t fit into the same class as these cultural icons. I saw Martin’s “breakthrough” performance at the Grammys, and I found it repulsive. Is this where music is today? Can I become musically successful by wearing tight clothes and dancing? I think we’re being fooled. BEN DUPRIEST Atlanta

Latin music has always had its share of great pop artists (Julio Iglesias led the way for the Ricky Martins of today), but only now are U.S. Latinos beginning to show their vast purchasing power and clout in music and other markets. As a Latina, I rejoice in Ricky’s success! YVETTE N. TAZEAU San Jose, Calif.

Ricky Martin is right to say he “didn’t have to go to English to make it.” The new English-language album seriously lacks the intense flavor and zest of his four previous Spanish releases. The watered-down American pop doesn’t show half of what he is capable of doing. Hey, Ricky, those of us who see you in our dreams want you whispering those sweet nothings in Spanish. JULIANNE HANSON Fremont, Calif.

Am I the only one who has really listened to Martin’s song Livin’ la Vida Loca? I thought it was the worst and most pointless piece ever. The only thing keeping that song on the charts is MTV. Sure, Ricky’s cute, but does that make him a good singer? I think not. SHENA FINCH Cottondale, Fla.

Martin is an example of a person who persevered and worked hard to attain his dreams. But most important, he and singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are examples of the duality of cultures that Hispanic youngsters face every day as they grow up in a bilingual and bicultural environment. I’m glad that my kids have several role models. VIVIAN ALEJANDRO Tucson, Ariz.

You’ve got to be kidding! Chinese espionage has put the U.S. at serious risk, and you have Martin on the cover? ELIZABETH D. MACKENZIE Lake Grove, N.Y.


Your short item on B-vitamin folate and its connection to various medical conditions [HEALTH, May 24] included a conclusion from the New England Journal of Medicine that folate deficiency in the U.S. has “virtually disappeared.” That is not only wrong but also poses a very real threat to millions of women of childbearing age.

Consuming products with folic acid helps prevent certain serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural-tube defects. The U.S. Public Health Service has recommended that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms of folic acid daily beginning before pregnancy. Despite the encouraging findings in the Journal report, there is no direct evidence that blood-folate levels in women ages 15 to 40 have reached protective levels. DR. JENNIFER L. HOWSE, PRESIDENT March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation White Plains, N.Y.


I am fed up with your one-sided reporting about Kosovo. You ask, What were the alternatives to the bombing [KOSOVO CRISIS, May 17]? Well, only a few months back, the West could have warned Yugoslavia that it would not allow, much less condone, any further dismemberment of the country. It could have helped Yugoslavia on its path toward democracy and European integration. I suppose we are pounding Yugoslavia back to the Stone Age simply because Serb President Slobodan Milosevic allowed himself to be provoked by rebels.

The whole thing is so absurd. Whatever the end, the people who used to live in Kosovo will be worse off than before the war. So what will happen now? I hope Milosevic will step down for the good of his people, and the Europeans–not nato–will step in and help rebuild the country. DIANELOS GEORGOUDIS San Jose, Costa Rica

Kosovo is no longer solely a European concern. It’s a global issue. Muslims in Kosovo do not feel safe under the umbrella of nato because it is the agent of the U.S., which we openly term an enemy of the Muslim world. So let the U.N. assume responsibility for solving the crisis. We don’t want to see any more pictures of war-torn Kosovo and the miserable plight of its people. We want the conflict properly settled soon. ALIYA SHAHNOOR AMEEN Chittagong, Bangladesh


After NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, killing four people [WORLD, May 24], tens of thousands of Chinese poured into the streets to protest. Any suggestion that the demonstrations were orchestrated by the Chinese government adds insult to injury. There are genuine grief and anger. CARMEN LUK Hong Kong

The only thing the embassy bombing accomplished was to give China’s leaders an excuse to protest and take the world’s attention away from the 10th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. PATRICK MAY Vancouver

There are many theories and debates on whether the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was in fact a mistake. If Americans had been killed in a bomb attack on the U.S. embassy, all hell would have broken loose. Do the politicians really expect the Chinese just to forgive NATO for what happened? I do not believe in an eye for an eye, but by not fully apologizing right away, the U.S. hurt its own people who are expatriates living in China. MEI OSAN Scarborough, Ont.


If your story on the billions of dollars in wealth amassed by the Suharto family [WORLD, May 31] had been published early last year, while Suharto was still in power, it would have been very helpful to the Indonesian people–although the profits made by the West from his regime might have been reduced. Instead, your coverage now serves as a signal to those few corrupt regimes still in power to hold on at any cost–definitely at their people’s. KYAW KYAW Butterworth, Malaysia

You showed what the residents of most Third World countries undergo at the hands of their dictators. The solution to the problems of these countries is for the developed nations to outlaw the use of coded or secret accounts. This would limit the ease with which public funds are stolen and hidden away. INYANG IME EFFIONG Dundee, Scotland

Your article is a big slap in the face to President B.J. Habibie’s government, which has so far declined to freeze the Suharto family’s holdings. But it should help us clean our country of corruption. Although Suharto asserts he did nothing illegal, I think that deep inside he feels the end is coming. NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST Jakarta


In response to your report “On The Defensive,” which included different views on gun control [NATION, May 24], the kindest thing I can say about those who, like gun advocate Lisa Bochard, think teachers should carry guns is that they are fools. Do you want your child taught by someone who is willing to shoot students? Would this kind of atmosphere foster learning and personal growth in America’s public schools? NIKKI CUNNINGHAM Columbus, Ohio

To all N.R.A. members, to Charlton Heston, to Lisa Bochard: don’t worry about the government’s taking away your guns. There are so many in your hands that it will never, ever get them all. So now we can just wait for the next massacre to happen. It will! RUSS DROST Palatine, Ill.

As an educator, I was appalled by Bochard’s remark. Well, Ms. Bochard, before I bring a gun to school, could you please tell me where I would keep it? On my person? In my desk drawer? Sure, it’s scary sometimes to think about what could happen, but how much more scary actually to have a gun in the classroom. FLORA CAMAJ Gilbert, Ariz.


Your article on the failure of several rockets to launch their payloads [SPACE, May 24] implied that the world’s satellite makers must depend on Russian, Chinese and European rockets to get into orbit. Nowhere did you make note of the most reliable booster in the world today–the Lockheed-Martin Atlas launch vehicle. The Atlas has had 43 consecutive successful launches of commercial and government satellites. That is a fabulous record in this very challenging business. The U.S. looks a bit better when the bad news is mitigated by the good. LEE R. SCHERER, FORMER DIRECTOR Kennedy Space Center San Diego


So Belgian designer Martin Margiela has dipped some garments in agar and treated them with mold to develop new colors and textures [NOTEBOOK, May 24]? I have a feeling that sales for Margiela’s mold-covered dresses will be sporadic at best! (I couldn’t resist.) MATTHEW LADUKE Spotswood, N.J.


I’m glad that David S. Jackson, who attended the Electronic Entertainment Expo of the video- and computer-game industry [VIDEO GAMES, May 24], did not write an article on how these games are causing violence in children. As long as the children who play them have a strong grip on reality, violent video games are fine. There are so many people who regularly play video games and are unaffected by them that the games are obviously not to blame for violence. GREGORY A. KNOX Millbrae, Calif.

I enjoyed Jackson’s report, “A Room Full of Doom,” but after reading about the desensitizing carnage that’s in video and computer games and on television and movie screens, and hearing Marilyn Manson labeled the Antichrist of modern music, I’m patiently awaiting an intensive study on the types of poor parenting that leave our children bereft of proper morals. MATTHEW MOORE Bothell, Wash.


The article by Andrew Ferguson on school programs that teach moral values to students [EDUCATION, May 24] was predictably snide, fashionably cynical and, in at least one instance, inaccurate. Contrary to the implication in the piece, I have not just discovered “the elixir of schoolroom values.” My interest in the Character Counts movement and character education in America’s schools didn’t start with the Littleton, Colo., murders. I’ve been involved in the program for six years at the state and federal levels. The impetus for character education comes from the parents. It is the second most important thing that parents want from public schools, and it is a goal that most parents think the schools fail to achieve. Most parents try to teach their kids character, only to watch the media and some school curriculums undermine what is taught at home. PETE V. DOMENICI U.S. Senator, New Mexico Washington

Character education is a return to the original goal of public education: to develop the whole child morally and intellectually. But TIME seemed to want to trivialize what is occurring in schools. You chose largely to make fun of the visible aspects of how character is taught rather than probe into the deeper and more meaningful teaching time in which character education is embedded in the curriculum and entire school climate. Children are much more engaged when they have reading or history lessons that draw out ethical and moral issues rather than just rote learning of names and dates. The colorful, visible aspects may look simplistic, but the subtle and more thoughtful work of character education can make all the difference. I’m sorry you missed the story. ESTHER F. SCHAEFFER Executive Director and CEO Character Education Partnership Washington

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