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October 23, 2006

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The Word on Colbert Adam Sternbergh’s article on Stephen Colbert [“Stephen Colbert Has America by the Ballots,” October 16] describes Jon Stewart as “impish” but says that Colbert plays a “shrill, abusive demagogue” on TV. I’d suggest that Colbert is never shrill; he is occasionally abusive, but always plays a smiling leprechaun type of demagogue.
—Marilyn Naito, Tallahassee, Fla.

I like Stephen Colbert, and I enjoy cackling with the rest of the country about how ridiculous our government looks on a daily basis. But it isn’t so funny that the only “folk hero” of my generation is a TV personality pretending to be an arch- conservative on a quest for “truthiness.” I’m always holding out for another hero.
—Alyssa Worsham, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Colbert’s depression on the lack of political response to his press-corps- dinner speech was most significant. “Where’s the politician who can take advantage of that anger and that passion?” Why are Stewart and Colbert the only people publicly holding politicians accountable? Where are our champions?
—Matt Burton, Cambridge, Mass.

Spy vs. Counterspy In order to relieve New York readers from paranoia, I must correct a misunderstanding in “Spy vs. Counterspy” [“Handbook: Under Surveillance,” October 16]. It says, “Inexpensive scanners pick up wireless phone calls easily.” This is not true. The older 900-MHz cordless phones (and baby monitors, too) can be picked up with a cheap Radio Shack scanner. Even the first analog cell phones had this weakness. Today, though, it’s difficult to eavesdrop on a cell phone. I know of one scanner that will pick up cell-phone conversations. It is sold to the government for about $75,000—the company wouldn’t sell it to average people even if they could afford it.
—Skipp Porteous, Sherlock Investigations, Inc., Manhattan

The Church and the Devil I’m one of the “dorky bake-sale Christians” Maryann Skubus refers to in Steve Fishman’s article “The Devil in David Berkowitz” [September 18]. Having lost connection with a sibling whose life follows Maryann’s teachings, I can tell you that this is a ministry of divisiveness. I think the article made that clear. I can only hope no other family will have to endure the pain of severed relationships caused by fringe doctrines.
—Marlene Coscia, Vernon, N.J.

Amateurs’ Day I applaud your “Jukebox” column [October 16], in which three nonprofessional critics offer their take on recent releases, but I wish you would include more reviews of lesser-known musicians. Taking on Beck and Dylan and Ludacris is fine, but obscure artists zest up the section, give critics fodder for more-inspired commentary, and gain you street cred.
—John Thomas Robinette III, Brooklyn

Not Expecting Company Thanks for all the Company lyrics hidden in the piece about Heather Laws’s pregnancy [“Intelligencer: Expecting Company,” by Dan Kois, October 9]. Recognizing all the song quotes made my day. It’s the little things like this that make your magazine a joy.
—Rosalind Warren, Bala Cynwyd, Pa.

Project Robuchon Adam Platt comments on the downfall of French cuisine and its place as the purview of “Upper East Side bon vivants or elderly couples” [“Project Robuchon,” October 16]. Some of us still prefer dining in rooms where our elbows are not touching those of our neighbors while attempting to converse in a noisy room in which T-shirted patrons eat as if at a campfire outing. The French may be justifiably in retreat, but at least their restaurants have some semblance of civility.
—Neil Kurtz, the Bronx


Correction: In “Yes, That’s a Local Call” (October 16), it should have been noted that the book Scenes From the City: Filmmaking in New York, 1966–2006, edited by James Sanders and produced with the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, is being published by Rizzoli on October 17.


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