Howard Kurtz's article says "yes" and "no" respectively {"Scribe Bids New York Trash Farewell," August 19}. Kurtz's hackneyed and superficial characterizations of the Big Apple were disturbing enough. More appalling is Kurtz's sentiment that an escape from the nation's largest city is the only rational response to its pressing problems.

New York City faces the same difficulties in larger scale that all U.S. cities face -- deteriorating infrastructure, declining tax bases, AIDS, violent crime. It has been said that cities are the highest product of civilization. The troubles of our cities reveal a very turbulent society. The indifference of our citizens reveals a very callous one. CAMERON GORDON Washington


New York City on a par with Saddam Hussein, what's next? Perhaps Kurtz and his band of Big Apple Bashers would favor placing a wall around the city and using it as a federal penitentiary a` la the movie "Escape From New York."

As a former New Yorker myself, I am constantly amazed by the fresh spirit and vitality that are seemingly present in the city. Sure the Big Apple has its problems, but what large metropolitan area doesn't? New York's continued contributions to American society in the arts, culture and social consciousness are unequaled. JAMES A. GAMBARDELLA Lorton ...GIVE CITY NEW LIX

HOWARD KURTZ WAS RIGHT ON THE money in his article. I write these comments as a Brooklyn-born metro Washington resident who moved here 3 1/2 years ago. The sensual repulsivity that is only known to anyone who has ever lived in New York City is difficult to explain to native Washingtonians. I now have a great piece to share with my friends.

I have also found that there is a defensiveness whenever ex-New Yorkers read articles that even seem to suggest "New York City bashing." However, this article answers the question I often ask myself when visiting home: "How could I ever have lived in this place?" MICHAEL P. HOLDER Silver Spring


New York Trash Farewell." I recently moved back to the Washington area after trying out New York for one intensely stressful, depressing, grimy, financially murderous year. Howard Kurtz brought to mind all the reasons I left The City. And boy, am I glad to be back in Washington! HILARY KANTER Arlington


RICHARD COHEN SPENDS AN ENTIRE column complaining about being unfairly stereotyped as a white male {Critic at Large, August 12}. Congratulations, Mr. Cohen: You have now experienced firsthand the unfairness of stereotyping. But be glad that in your case, as a (forgive me) member of the "white male power structure," the worst damage this inflicts on you is an insult.

Members of oppressed groups suffer from the same kinds of stereotypes, but in the cases of racism and sexism, the damage is felt more keenly in the form of such real-life hardships as housing or employment discrimination; or, in the case of women, being demeaned, ignored, sexually harassed or otherwise not taken seriously.

In a stroke of incredible irony, Cohen protests that he is "demonstrably not" powerful. Perhaps he has had the privilege of being paid to express his opinion on a regular basis in one of the most powerful newspapers in the world for so long that he now takes this immense power for granted.

I also found it ironic that Cohen, all the while lamenting his being so callously stereotyped, has given his computer the female name "Dotty." I'm sure we women are honored to have his computer "assistant/researcher" as a distinguished member of our group. I'll ask my friendly word processor, "Richard," to print this out for me posthaste. RUTH E. KASTNER Greenbelt

I AM ALSO TROUBLED BY BROAD SWEEP ing generalizations based on race, gender, religious affiliation and other superficial descriptive terms. And as I read Richard Cohen's column of August 12, I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his points, although I am a non-white, non-male person.

That is, until Mr. Cohen declared that Jesus was white! Not surprisingly, but unfortunately, that assertion is indicative of the pervasiveness of the white male sociocultural perspective that dominates much of the historical and religious propaganda that people commonly mistake for the truth.

Who told him Jesus was white? I was always told he was black! RUTH C. WALKER Suitland

IN RESPONSE TO RICHARD COHEN'S AR ticle "A Whiter Shade of Male," I can only say, "Amen!" Up until this appeared in print, I thought that I might be the only white male to feel completely trapped and typecast by the biological fate that made me this way. Being white and male is not the glorious and powerful position that many would like to think; it has become the vice that you cannot change.

In the past few years, the right to form opinions and voice them about any art, issue or event that does not exclusively involve white males has been effectively denied to me. Why, I couldn't possibly understand, empathize or have an unbiased thought by virtue of my sex and skin color, could I? I want this right and privilege back. I miss being able to have open and thought-provoking discussions; these were the first and greatest casualties.

Maybe this article is the first step in redeeming the "white male" and returning his status as human, simply human. Thanks, Richard. BRIAN VOGEL Reston

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