Carrying the Mail

By The Editors / May / June 1999
November 14th, 2007

Letters are always welcome, and we try to print all we receive. Preference will be given to those that address the content of the magazine. Please limit letters to 200 words. We reserve the right to edit for style, clarity, and length. - Editor I was disturbed that the BAM published the cover story about the travails of Lhakpa Dolma, the Nepalese child brought to Providence by Professor Philip Lieberman and his wife, Marcia ("Luminous Angel," January/February). The narrative was gripping, and Lieberman's photographs were stunning. But I fail to see how the child was served by exposing her story in a community where she is struggling with transracial adoption, impaired hearing, and other challenges.
— The Editors


Your story was fundamentally different from the many recent reports in the U.S. media about adoption of children from China, Russia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. Many of those stories have served a social purpose by focusing public attention on orphanage conditions overseas and on the many challenges faced by adoptive parents and adopted children.

But you framed Lhakpa Dolma's story simply as a heart-wrenching tale of a special child from a faraway place. In doing so, you exploited her exoticism. I wish you had found a way to publish Professor Lieberman's beautiful photographs while giving greater weight to Lhakpa Dolma's need for privacy.

Steven P. Litt '78
Shaker Heights, Ohio


Having recently returned from Nepal, which I frequently use as a stopping-off point, I am in accord with the Liebermans' hope to return. It is a delightful country with very gracious people.

I have set off many times from Nepal for a flight around Mt. Everest to Tibet, where I collect herbs used locally for centuries, bringing them back to the United States for use in tests against cancer and infectious diseases. What a pleasure to see this little part of the world in "our" magazine!

Jack W. Frankel '48
Research Professor
College of Public Health
University of South Florida
Treasure Island, Fla.


Thanks for the wise tribute to Ros Bosworth '18, prominent Brown and Bristol, Rhode Island, centenarian ("The Newspaperman," Classes, January/February). I grew up in Bristol, and the Phoenix played a major role in our lives. My Uncle Joe was for many years Ros's linotype operator (a key job on newspapers of the day). Ros's daughter, Nancy, was a contemporary of mine at Brown. I hope Ros makes it to the '99 Commencement. He has rarely missed a year. (I plan to be there for our 55th.)

Bill Bottomley '44
Kansas City, Mo.


As a homosexual without inherent "deviant psychological problems," I take offense to your printing of Mr. Miranda's letter ("More About Sex," Mail, January/February). Had he expressed similar trash on a racial theme, this magazine would not have given him a forum - and justifiably so.

Where is your editorial judgment? I read your magazine to keep abreast of my university's life, not to hear crude summations of my own. I am not an abstract intellectual topic; I am a person. I do not want to hear derogatory language about who I am and cannot change. It is not right. I demand a public apology in your pages.

Robert Sarno '86
Revere, Mass.


It is nice, Mr. Miranda, that you are sympathetic to those with "deviant psychological problems." It is also, of course, entirely irrelevant to any discussion of homosexuality, which is clearly a natural phenomenon, as demonstrated by a growing body of scientific evidence.

But you should not take this to mean that I am angry with you, Mr. Miranda. For, you see, I am sympathetic to those who practice fork-tongued hypocrisy.

Ben Darrow '95
Evanston, Ill.


This is the first letter to the editor I've written - and I've been receiving the BAM since my graduation in 1972. But reading that John Forasté was stepping down as staff photographer got me to respond.

I have been John Forasté's silent-but- avid fan for all the years his photos have been appearing in the BAM. His images are so consistently superb: usually soft-spoken, always clear and beautiful expressions with the perspective of a quiet observer not looking to make a me-statement, but rather wanting to share an image.

Often, when I saw yet another issue of the BAM with his photos, I found myself wondering what John was like, wondering what he might say about his photos or about Brown, and imagining I knew him from his pictures. Lo and behold, along with the sad news that he has left his position at Brown, I got the happy opportunity to read his sensitive piece about his work over these last twenty-three years ("John Forasté Looks Back," Mail, November/December). It was lovely to "hear" a voice that does indeed express in words the same sensibilities that those photos had always expressed.

I wish John Forasté all the very best as he moves on in his life. I admire him for taking the leap into freelance work, but he needs to know how much I'll miss his consistent contributions to the BAM and how much I've valued his work all these years.

Tania Bouteneff '72
West Hartford, Conn.


Re: the death of Kirk O'Donnell '68 (The Classes, November/December):

When former Brown history professor Forrest McDonald, chair of the Rhode Island Goldwater for President committee in 1964, gave the Jefferson Lecture of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1987, a knot of his former Brown students - all Democrats - was in the reception line to honor him. Until that moment, I did not know that Kirk was also a Brown alumnus, even though our paths had crossed in Washington a number of times in the 1980s.

Waiting for "Mac," we talked about what we had learned from him, such as how to do history, and where those lessons had served us. Kirk was quite eloquent in reflecting on the balance of political position and historical method. We made an appointment to talk about some policy issues related to higher-education interactions with the labor market. Kirk was then setting up the Center for National Policy, a small Washington think tank that, a decade later, still stands - no small achievement in this town. He was looking for outside-the-box ideas.

That's how I remember Kirk O'Donnell: open to visitors, never too important to return phone calls, looking for new directions. For a while, in this hall of mirrors, we had an unusual man.

Cliff Adelman '64
Senior Analyst
U.S. Department of Education
Kensington, Md.


In "First Dates" (January/February), where you reprinted my story of meeting my wife, Ruth, you misstated Ruth's class year: she is in the class of '60, not '59. Also, in addition to our son Josh '90, whose marriage to Jocelyn Guyer '90 was mentioned in the article, we are the parents of Dan '88, who broke with tradition by marrying a non-Brunonian.

Aaron Seidman '59
Brookline, Mass.


Uphill Battle

I was pleasantly surprised to read the article on the ski team ("Downhill Risers," Sports, January/February). As a member of the Brown women's alpine ski team, I felt that no one took us seriously - on the slopes or during dryland training - save our coach and my teammates. The Brown Sports Foundation would not accept our requests for funding to purchase downhill suits or to defray our travel expenses to races all over the Northeast. Nevertheless, we managed to be the first team to qualify for the NCSA Championships held on Brundage Mountain in McCall, Idaho - my first trip skiing out West. It has taken eleven years for the team to get some recognition from the University. Better late than never.

The ski team had an immense influence on me. I wrote my master's project at journalism school on the positive role played later in women's careers by the skills they learn while playing sports.

Thanks for finally recognizing us in print. I love reading the BAM. It is an excellent magazine.

Elizabeth J. Murray '90
Greenwich, Conn.


Oh, Miss Cheever, Miss Cheever! ("Note Found in a Bottle," January/February) Has anyone ever called you a lady?

Stan Phillips '52
Southport, Conn.

Like her previous attempts at writing, Susan Cheever's Note Found in a Bottle is a narcissistic exercise which, among other things, exploits her father's name. John Cheever, whom I knew fairly well, was a troubled man but a very talented writer. Susan Cheever may have inherited the first quality, but surely not the second. This latest book of hers has had devastating reviews, even from the Boston Globe, which is almost always exceedingly generous to pathetic enterprises.

In the book Cheever says: "Now I'm proud to have gone to Brown, but at the time, all that mattered to me was that I didn't get into Harvard." That surely was Harvard's gain.

Not everything that has a Brown reference is worth publishing in the BAM. This piece most certainly was not.

Henry Kucera
Professor Emeritus of Linguistics


First it was George Lincoln Rockwell '42. Then it was E. Howard Hunt '40 and Charles Colson '53. Now it is Kenneth W. Starr '69 A.M. who has crawled out from under the same rock.

I, for one, am greatly disturbed by the accounts of Starr's harassment and intimidation of citizens of my country, particularly women. If Brown has been instrumental in producing these four ideologues, it has failed in its duty as an institution of higher learning. I and all the others who left Brown voluntarily to enter the military in World War II to fight against the Nazis and their Gestapo cohorts have been betrayed.

John Harry Hill '49
Bristol, R.I.



I was absolutely overjoyed to see no booze ads in your first issue of 1999 (January/February). Initially I thought that perhaps your advertising people had adopted an enlightened policy for the millennium. Then I realized that the lack of alcohol promotion may have been a one-time decision based on inappropriate juxtaposition with Susan Cheever's powerful "Note Found in a Bottle."

Thank you for putting content ahead of advertising and canning the booze ads instead of the article. Now can you tell us that you are absolutely committed to a BAM free of alcohol promotion every issue?

Michael Abadi '88
Oakland, Calif.

No. The magazine's advertising policy remains unchanged. - Editor

In his letter ("More Music, Please," Mail, January/February), Donald M. Marshall '45 asks, "Is there any music in Brown's soul?...Do they give performances away from Providence? Are there any tapes/CDs available?"

The answer is yes to all of the above. The Brown University Chorus, made up of forty soul-filled members, is currently practicing for a two-week tour of Italy this June. We sang in Portland, Maine, on March 19, and in New York City on April 10.

CDs from our '96 Iberian tour are available for $12. Send checks, made payable to Brown University Chorus Tour Fund, to Steve Schwartz, 172 Congdon St., Providence, R.I. 02906.

Sally Tressler '99

Due to an editing error, the photograph of Carole Jenny on page 17 of the May / June issue is uncredited. The photographer is Peter Goldberg.

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
May / June 1999