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From the week of May 1, 2003

Lastly, think about how the capitalistic/ democratic (ahem) system actually works. When the government buys something -- say, a $600,000 missile to replace one of the 750 fired in Iraq -- that creates a taxable income to the seller. Instant rebate! Then, when that seller's employee spends his already taxed income on groceries, more taxes on more profit. The grocer supplier pays taxes, the farmer selling to the supplier pays taxes, the diesel fuel for the tractor to make the food is taxed, the guy selling the fuel is taxed...ad nauseam! The more missiles the government buys, the more it makes in taxes. It's not really money; it's just taxes in motion. God bless America.

Steve Fickler
Wheat Ridge


Veiled Threat

The belly of the best:The beautiful art form of belly dance, or Oriental dance (its correct name), has long battled the stigma (mainly in the U.S.) of being scandalous. Throughout the years, burlesque dancers and images from movies and TV have misrepresented the dance. Oriental dance has its roots in Middle Eastern folk dances done to celebrate joyful occasions, community festivals, weddings, childbirth, etc. Granted, many (but not all) performance costumes can be sexy, but no more so than ice-skating, cheerleading and many ballroom-dancing costumes (not to mention young ladies' street fashions, à la Britney Spears). The movements are also considered sexy, but they are natural feminine movements. They are intended to celebrate the feminine form, not as sexual come-ons. There are many men, all over the world, who dance the same moves (hip circles, shimmies, undulations, etc.) that women dance.

I regret that Julie Dunn did not do any research on belly dance for her April 17 "Belly, Belly Good." With statements like "forget the stripper pole and tassels and try belly dancing" and "less tacky than amateur night at Shotgun Willie's, belly-dancing could lead to all sorts of other exertions," Ms. Dunn implies that belly dancing is merely a step up from stripping and that the main motivation for pursuing it is titillation. As a personal friend and student of Dahlia (Dianne Losasso), I am certain she was disappointed by this correlation. Belly dancing is a difficult art form requiring years of study for a dancer to become truly proficient. More accurate motivation factors are learning an art form, self-expressing through movement, fitness and health.

Although I imagine Ms. Dunn meant to promote belly dancing, the Oriental dance community has been working hard for decades to dispel this type of misconception. Articles like this just set us back at least a few steps.

Teresa Wright
Arvada

The bare facts:I was very disappointed to read the article that slammed an ancient art form by lowering it to the level of pornography. I have only been a student of belly dancing for six weeks, and personally, I find it very rewarding. The musical phenomenon best-known as belly dance has entranced its listeners and dancers for over a hundred years. The dance is more evocative than provocative and requires skillful body control and a disciplined isolation of every movement of the body. For a lesson in the history of belly dancing and an in-depth explanation as to why this popular and respectable form of dance is related to, and has so often been compared to, stripping, go to: www.shira.net/likestrip.htm.

I have not used, nor do I intend to use, my newfound expression to satisfy any man's carnal enjoyment.

Laura Rector
Westminster


Masterpiece Theater

Building concern:What, exactly, qualifies Daniel Libeskind's design for the DAM building expansion to be described as "a masterpiece"? It's clear Michael Paglia has only the highest praise for this project ("Sprouting Up," April 17), but what is he referring to? He doesn't tell us how the building's interior might help inform our understanding of art; why a jagged profile and a gleaming titanium skin are culturally relevant and thoughtful contributors to the neighboring Civic Center; or what sincere consideration has been given to the spaces between the buildings and the making of our outdoor experience.

The very eccentricity of this building calls for answers to fundamental questions. In what ways will the building facilitate the display of art or respond to the environment in which it is built? What are the lessons to be learned from Wright's Guggenheim or Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim, both of whose usefulness and impact on the landscape are the subject of debate?

By now, we have heard enough that Libeskind is a world-class architect, Sharp is a brilliant museum director and Hamilton is an exalted benefactor. Amazing people, we are convinced. And no doubt the building shape and shine will be a marketing coup. But assuredly, beyond the hype, Paglia's column doesn't tell us why the building itself is noteworthy.

David Reusch
Denver


Art of Darkness

Color her world:Michael Paglia, I have to disagree with you on your review of Delka McCray's show at the Pirate Gallery ("Artbeat, April 3). I am by no means an art critic, but I know what I like. The paintings Dancers" and "Haunting" really moved me, and the colors could not have been chosen better to match the scene of the paintings. Her paintings not only held your attention, but they pulled you into their energy. I would call her work astonishing and mesmerizing. I totally love it.

Delores Risberg
via the Internet

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