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Numb and Numbers

American Lives are not more important than other people’s lives!

Richard Ochs makes a profound point (“Who Counts?” The Mail, Jan 18). I think the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party Bob Avakian also said, “American Lives are not more important than other people’s lives!”

Alan Barysh

Baltimore

Man/Boy/Love/War?

Max Obuszewski may seem to be opposed to our war-loving, demented culture (“More Numbers,” The Mail, Jan. 11) but participates in it by stating that “[k]illing human beings is unnatural.” To pretend that’s so is to deny that men are from Mars and that the first step toward a culture of peace is to admit man’s warlike nature. We must understand that nature and find ways to redirect the attitudes and instincts that lead us to war.

People err in thinking of gay and straight, when actually ambiguous/chaotic describes some folks’ sexuality better than either. The August 2011 Playboy featured a James Franco interview making plain his varied lifestyle, which must have had an intense relationship with a guy whose name is now carved into J.F.’s shoulder.

If we’re honest about things, we realize that several drives lead to wars and keep them going too. Egoism, greed, lack of respect for other peoples’ rights/boundaries, the attitude that the other guys are competitors or enemies. All of this is bad but part of the drive to war is inherited from guys’ descent from guys who hunted big, dangerous animals with stone-tipped spears. Long, long ago, a man who wasn’t a HERO was a detriment to the tribe, and it’s not hard-wired in most men and boys that risking death or suffering for a good cause is the best thing one could possibly do.

Let’s not confuse issues by pretending that wimpery equals pacifism. Many generals were opposed to the wars they were caught up in. Fundamentalist ministers are, I think, not too macho and they never object to any wars.

Almost all boys have fought a bully or two and have no need to prove their valor and when a war is proposed can say “been there, done that,” but the prissy fellows who became the ministers need the vicarious toughness of their bloody doctrines.

In sum, I think close male friends, dads and kids included, cut each other a bit annually and with smallish love scars become heroic pacifists as guys should be. I did something of this sort with a straight fellow who got careless and, at the cost of almost chipping a tooth, I now have a fine scar to show for it and the lost cup of blood was worth it.

Just as Oz’s Cowardly Lion needed a medal, guys need recognition for their valor. In 1978, I was attacked by a Bible-believing 17-year-old. With no escape (I was up against a “Stone Wall,” literally) I pulled a small sharp object to fend him off. He attacked me, barehanded, anyway, and I hope he wears his scar with deserved pride, as I wear mine. So there’s pain and bloodshed on the road to peace. Also, of course, man-boy love. Most men are obliged to love one or more boys; if fathers were protective of their sons, wars would be few and ended by compromises at first opportunity.

This culture has no approved ways for guys to manifest their valor without hostility. I think now there is a way to peace indicated here. The fundamentalists will call it weird, but they define Hiroshima as ordinary.

Thomas L. Fox

Baltimore

Dangerously Delicious CarryOut

Thank you for publishing the Cheap Eats review of Yau Brothers Carry Out (Jan. 11). As a resident of Better Waverly, living in extremely close proximity to this restaurant, I am very grateful for Van Smith’s willingness to highlight this business as a restaurant first and murder scene second. In the wake of multiple violent crimes that have happened within this small business, many have been quick to condemn the shop owners, with many calling to shut the establishment down. While I am not a regular customer, having one more vacant business on this block will not lead me to feeling that my family is any safer here. I’d rather find a way to increase business and push the criminals out all together.

It is important to point out that there has been no evidence released about criminal activity from inside the restaurant. What we do know is the youth who have been linked to the crime have come from within the Better Waverly community. We need to stop pointing fingers and start looking and talking to those living next door and playing in our neighborhood streets if we truly hope to curb this violence. I hope that this review will encourage more people to actually try eating from the restaurant. I know I will, and hopefully with a diversified customer base, the owner will see there are options for more traditional business hours and ways to make his newfound patrons feel more welcome on the interior. It may be wishful thinking, but I hope this small simple article will encourage citizens and local business owners to look beyond the bulletproof Plexiglas and find ways to work together to better our community.

C. Ryan Patterson

Baltimore

Correction: Last week’s Film section (New This Week, Jan. 18) referred to titles in the Spiral Cinema screening series as being presented with a live soundtrack. In fact, Spiral Cinema commissions downloadable mixes inspired by each title (available via spiralcinema.tumblr.com), but the mixes are not used to accompany the films. City Paper regrets the error.

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