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Sorry to See Lambda Fall

Posted 3/5/2008

We are greatly saddened by the news about the closing of Lambda Rising ("Lambda Falling," Mobtown Beat, Feb 27). We have enjoyed the ambiance the store afforded and will miss the convenience. Having lived in Los Angeles, where stores and businesses catering to the GLBT community are found everywhere, it amazes us that a city the size of Baltimore could not support the one business devoted to our community.

We are sorry for this closing and wish the owners well. They, and the store, will be missed.

Richard Crystal and Rick Wasserman

Fie on Foie Gras

So Henry Hong is gonna be controversial and write an article for foie gras complete with cooking tips (Eat Me, Feb. 27)!?! Wow--he's so hip. All the cool restaurants in Baltimore serve foie gras because it's so trendy to see on the menu. Even though Chicago banned the sale of it in 2006, and many restaurants in New York and San Francisco have agreed to stop serving it (it will be outlawed in California in 2012). As usual Baltimore is a little behind on the trends. But that's OK--Baltimorons who eat foie gras are in their own tiny world. We'll wise up in about six years and ban it then. We don't like to be trendsetting, we like to follow.

Jane Kelly

The international outcry against foie gras production has resulted from undercover investigations on foie gras farms all over the world that have all revealed the same exact problems. The animals often suffer ruptured organs, liver failure, and disease. Birds have been found intensively confined, covered in their own vomit, and barely able to walk or even stand. The outcry is causing the industry to be stamped out all over the world.

Most recently, Israel, previously one of the largest producers, banned the pricey pâté because the force-feeding was not consistent with their animal-cruelty laws. Over a dozen other nations have banned it, as well as the state of California and the city of Chicago. World-renowned chefs Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter have voluntarily stopped serving the controversial delicacy, and even Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out against it.

Indeed, foie gras can not be produced humanely. Generally, the birds' livers are expanded 10-12 times their normal size, and the only way to produce a liver that size is to force-feed the birds for several consecutive weeks.

Aaron Ross

Henry Hong fails to mention that many experts from around the world have weighed in on the issue of force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras--and they've concluded that it's cruel and inhumane. Here's what a few of them had to say:

A study by the European Union's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare determined that foie gras production is "detrimental to the welfare of the birds."

A report by Belgian veterinarians reveals that "there is absolutely no doubt that force-feeding subjects them to physiological and behavioral suffering," further concluding that "force feeding constitutes a reprehensible practice from an ethical point of view."

Ian Duncan, a poultry expert from the University of Guelph, states that the "regular insertion of a feeding tube down the esophagus several times a day will inevitably lead to damage . . . then the painfulness of every force feeding episode will be exacerbated."

Indeed, foie gras production is so cruel that it's been banned in more than a dozen countries, as well as in California and Chicago. A growing number of restaurants everywhere, including Baltimore, are voluntarily taking it off their menus after learning about the miseries forced upon birds raised for foie gras.

Foie gras is not a delicacy--it's a disease (fatty liver disease). See for yourself by visiting

Erica Meier
Executive Director, Compassion Over Killing
Takoma Park

Say It Loud: Fat, Black, and Proud

Back in the day when white folks totally owned the movie industry, the cinematic icons of white women movie stars did not make me feel good as a black nappy-haired young girl ("Women of the Years," Arts and Entertainment, Feb. 13).

Many of the black women in my family are very fat, with the most beautiful faces. My black mama, Lillian Custis, was heavy fat. She loved the beach and wore a swimsuit every summer at the black beach when I was a child. It never bothered her that two or three folds of fat was on her back or the side of her dark brown stomach.

Most black men in my family have seen a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. They are married to black women who weigh 170 to 285 pounds (or more). Have you ever heard of black men refer to black women as "Mack truck models"? Or beefy? Joking that fat sistahs could have their own football team? Did you know that elephants and whales have sex even with their weight size?

My father, Lonnie Custis, would talk about Jean Harlow, Katharine Hepburn, and Marilyn Monroe in front of my mother, who told him, "Dream on."

Today, the hip-hop artists videos are saying, "If you must have a black woman, find one as close to white as you can get, or the next best thing, exotic-looking."

I am not happy with the way I look at the moment. My brother Alonzo Custis Jr. died on Feb. 3. Since his death I have put on 15 pounds and might get to 25 pounds by the end of February. It will take a year for me to lose this weight. I was a princess in my brother's eyes.

Right now I am not an impossible female to have a conversation with or to be friends with. My left breast is two times the size of my right breast. I drag my left leg, but my walk is so that you might not notice. My teeth need serious dental work, dark interesting spots have formed on both of my cheeks, darker than my face color. And I am 5-foot-2 with growing thighs, moving wide.

Sports Illustrated will not use stick women to determine that my weight is not sexy-looking. When men who look like nothing themselves dare to tell me that I don't look attractive, I told them what Mama told Daddy: "Dream on."

Angela Bassett told us that she had a conversation with her mama about a guy she was trying to win to keep as a young woman. Angela Bassett's mama told her, "Shit, you the prize. He ain't all that. You the prize."

I read that moment of truth in the book Friends: A Love Story, by Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance with Hilary Beard. I laughed throughout the entire book.

I look real beautiful when I laugh and feel magnetically sexy in my fatness.

Larnell Custis Butler

Corrections: Contributing writer Geoffrey Himes' byline was inadvertantly left off last week's Q&A with Baltimore composer Christopher Rouse (Feb. 27), though he was listed as the author in the table of contents. Regardless, sorry about that, Geoff.

Last week's review of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead at Center Stage (Stage, Feb. 27) reported that Paul David Story plays the character of Hamlet. Although a Center Stage press release lists Story in the role, the production in fact features Reese Madigan as Hamlet. City Paper regrets the error.

Our story on local artist Mari Gardner and her Violence Next Door video project ("Scarlet Streets," Film, Feb. 20) misreported her age; she is 31. City Paper regrets the error.

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