Scared of the Kink

Struggle for acceptance: I loved "Happy Nappy Girls" (July 5). It was as though the writer had interviewed me for the piece. As an African-American woman, I had been conditioned to think that I am not beautiful just the way I am. Thank you for letting me know that the struggle for acceptance is not just in my small section of the United States or in my family.

Tanya Dye
Via e-mail

Saccharine tales: Black folks. They can't see the oppression for the nappy heads. I was deeply troubled by Kaylois Henry's article because of its sheer banality.

The organization, A Nappy Hair Affair, could be something great. It could be a hotbed of intellectual discussion focusing on the implications of being a black woman in a country that values white standards of beauty. The organization could be the vanguard leading the anti-racism efforts in our fair city. Instead, we get a shallow article highlighting saccharine tales of black women being "saved" by natural hair and exchanging great hair-care secrets.

Perhaps the Dallas community would have been better served by an article that used the nappy/straight hair debate as a symbol of the perils of forcing assimilation on a minority group. Or perhaps the Dallas Observer's readers would have been better served by an article that confronted the eternal dilemma facing blacks and whites alike: What does it mean to be black in this unfinished and highly flawed experiment we call America?

Akwugo Emejulu

Hero Hata

Reconsidering men in tights: Nice story on Bizarro ("Totally Bizarro," July 5). I read superhero comics as a child but gave 'em up in my adolescence. I would have lost all connection to comics but for my relatively belated (early '70s) discovery of the "undergrounds" (Zap and the like). Latterly, I read the alternatives, but I presently find a dearth of books I want to follow.

This being said, I took a look at Bizarro and remain undecided on the matter of whether to buy it or not. Yeah, the art's nice, the writers' reputations precede them, but...it's still really just straight superheroes done à la Mad magazine, though perhaps with less venom. I consider $30 a fair price for this package, a sturdy hardcover all-color book on nice paper. I just don't know if it's worth $30 to me to read the thing. Your story has made me reconsider my initial thumbs-down; at least, I'll take a second look in the bookstore.

Finally, The Comics Journal is "porno for fanboys?" At the risk of coming off defensive or a shill for the Journal, this is hardly an accurate description of the magazine, much less fair. To the extent that there is serious coverage of the comics field, one will find it largely in The Comics Journal. Compared with the often acerbic views of the Journal, the mollifying everything-is-as-it-should-be pabulum extruded by Time or Newsweek, much less People, Us, etc., amounts to "porn for the subjugated."

Robert Cook
Via e-mail

Road Rage

Highway-induced blight: Thanks for the article concerning ongoing construction of a new highway in West Texas to accommodate U.S.-Mexico trucking ("Run Over," July 5). I wince to imagine the further erosion of that region's special distinctiveness, to be displaced by further extension of the big highway-induced blight of crummy strip-retail buildings, utility poles and so forth that will insult that particularly sensitive landscape.

I was particularly impressed by the writer's awareness of the historical precedents (100-175 years ago) for creating a major trade pathway from the central United States to the west coast of Mexico.

It is sad testimony about the regrettable imbalance of transportation policy in North America that while this highway project is pushed so heavily, the forlorn tracks of the old "South Orient" railroad are neglected. I trust that the folks out West who are concerned about the big road impact will demand policies and projects that would provide ample transportation, by rail, of NAFTA goods, without the negative environmental and aesthetic effects of another too-heavily used highway.

David Martin

Spielberg's Folly

Fatally flawed: A.I. ("Space Oddity," June 28) really is a mess, isn't it? How could it have worked? The conflict is impossible to resolve because we don't like Mummy! If David had been torn from his mother's arms by the Robot Police instead of dumped by his mom, we'd have been sobbing in the aisles. But that alone would not have made it a good movie.

A.I. misses the opportunity to answer the question, "What does it mean to be human?" As far as I can see, David never gets it. To be human is to be a bundle of contradictions, loving and hateful, courageous and cowardly, graceful and vengeful. David is the little angel even to the end, even as his brother Martin is spawn of the devil. Put these two together and maybe you'd have a "real" boy. The closest Spielberg comes is when David swallows the spinach and when he insists "I'm David" and kills his alter.

Being a perfect little boy doesn't make you a good human being. Being a superb director doesn't make you a good writer or even a competent one. A.I. is fatally flawed from long before the beginning, because the writer didn't understand what he was doing.

Thanks for your review. I read it before and after the movie. I appreciate the spadework you did on source material. Good writing, too.

Dan E. Burns
Via e-mail

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