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Foot note 1
I almost didn't think twice about Steven Carpenter's article "My Veggie Shoes" (May 19) until I read that he thanks Alfie's Soul Food Restaurant in part for his being able to remain vegetarian painlessly this past year. Funny thing is, I just had a three-meat combo there two nights ago and ate some of the weirdest meat I've ever eaten including curried goat, oxtail and jerk chicken. Although it was tasty, it resembled a pile of shredded meat and chipped bone. So him thanking them for their vegetarian dishes is like thanking Ryan's Steakhouse for their salad bar.

Thinking of this as I read Mr. Carpenter's story, I was prompted to comment on the insipid nature of his piece. I mean really, only in America (okay, maybe the U.K., too) can some jerk-off get a paycheck for writing a whiny yet redeeming article about non-animal shoes. Only in America where the consumer wants all the good and none of the bad. Give them their Coke without caffeine, their bread without carbs, their beer without alcohol, their sugar-free sweeteners and their e-mail without spam. And while we're at it, the consumer should be able to pump gas into their behemoth automobiles with a clean conscience, right? And we can support the war without getting blood on our hands, too; you just might get them a little sticky from all of the "These Colors Don't Run" bumper stickers. We have an election around the corner that most of the nation is hoping won't be rigged this time 'round, a war steeped in controversy and scandal, army prison abuse scandals with participants stationed at Ft. Bragg, and many other valid sources for stories, but Mr. Carpenter just had to be self-righteous and pick a story on how his poor, tender feet deserve the comfort of vegan shoes.

I just think there are better things to talk about than what goes on Carpenter's feet.
Brian Ludviksen

Foot note 2
It seems by reading Steven Carpenter's, "My Veggie Shoes" (May 19), that he holds a strong grudge against "hippies," especially those who wear Birkenstocks.

He admits "that vegetarian-hippie types who wouldn't give up their Birkenstocks to save the Amazon tend to annoy me" and later comments about his "non-Birkenstock-wearing" hippie friend who is apparently decent enough for him to acknowledge.

I strongly believe the author didn't research his subject before writing the article. My boyfriend has been vegetarian for 11 years and vegan now for five years, which includes wearing non-animal products. He has always been able to purchase animal friendly steel-toed boots from Kmart. He also recently had a job interview and wore animal friendly dress shoes he bought at Payless. I will agree with the author that it is difficult to purchase 100 percent synthetic and/or plant-based shoes, but it is not an impossible task.

As for his "hippie" Birkenstock opinions, I have been wearing Birks now for a decade. If I were to purchase a pair today, I would definitely purchase one of the vegan pairs they offer--oh wait, what's that?--the author claims Birkenstocks are nothing but leather and suede. Well, once again, he has undereducated himself in the subject matter. They are becoming more conscious and do offer vegan versions of their sandals.

I have a strong annoyance with people who don't "practice what they preach" and an even bigger intolerance to ignorance. So the author has been vegetarian now for two years...woop dee doo....seems to me like he's more concerned about his image and being labeled vegetarian than about what it truly stands for.

I do not appreciate being called a hippie because I wear Birkenstocks. I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion and while the author would call me an annoying hippie, I can proudly read his article and call him a **!#$@*!! dumb ^*%!!
Shea Long

No surprise, really
Heck of an article ("With Trembling Fingers," May 19), but why so surprised? Why shouldn't a nation founded on manifest destiny and the pursuit of a national 'way' have a foreign policy based on greed and personal wealth? Why shouldn't a public that includes illiterate college graduates vote for a candidate that insinuates himself into the collective psyche simply through media bombardment? What about the two Iraq wars and present occupation isn't a matter of killing all the fighters, enslaving the masses, razing the cities and despoiling the lands?

Bush and his cronies are an extreme example of what the United States stands for. It was and is a nation founded through genocide, environmental degradation, avarice and occupation. There are no lands left to 'pioneer' in the North, South and Central American continents. Canada's in the U.S. hip pocket, Mexico laps at the table scraps and almost every Latin American country is either manipulated directly or through some form of economic embargo. Consider Iraq and, inevitably, the rest of the Arab world as the latest gold rush. Say bye-bye to those pesky redskins. But don't get down on your country too much. Like any other nation hasn't their own version of infected blankets and rotgut whiskey.
Trent Garner

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