Heimlich’s So WASPy; Show Us the Light, Slackjaw; Cockburn’s Eunuchs; Kudos to Signorile and MUGGER; More…

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts.

Fort Greene Is Sorta Slopey, We Guess

Adam Heimlich:
In writing, “For some reason, middle-class urban black people love family chain
restaurants” (“Food,” 12/18), you show you’re another New York Press
contributor who has to get out (of Park Slope, Williamsburg and Tribeca) more

Adam, my
dear boy, have you ever walked along DeKalb or Flatbush Aves.? (When I lived
on Bergen St., we used to refer to Flatbush as “the Mason-Dixon Line.”) If you
have, how can you wonder why Junior’s, “a generations-old Jewish diner,”
has a “loyal African-American clientele”? Or why the new branch of Applebee’s
has a similar customer base?

Save for
pockets like Park Slope, most of the middle-class in Brooklyn is African-American.
Or Asian- or Latin-American; anything but Caucasian. This situation is mirrored
in urban areas all over the country.

people of any color, anywhere in the U.S., are as loyal to Applebee’s and
other family chain restaurants as the Brooklyn Buppoisie. The Fort Greene locals,
for all their Kwanzaa displays, are as resolutely middle-class in their tastes
as anyone in suburban Ohio. And middle-class families with children find the
chain restaurants (like Applebee’s) a godsend: the food is predictable
and there aren’t long wait times for it. Ever sit at a restaurant table
with a bunch of fidgety kids?

Also, in
many non-urban areas, they’re the only eateries available as the old coffee
shops and diners disappeared along with the Main Street strips that supported
them. The eating options in such places are only slightly narrower or broader
than those available in downtown Brooklyn.

So, tell
me, Heimlich, do you still think “middle-class urban black people” or the shoppers
in any upstate mall truly “love” family chain restaurants? Young man, I only
hope (for your own sake) that your day job isn’t in market research. All
the best.

Justine Nicholas,
Long Island City

Isn’t It?

Great article,
Mr. Smith. By the way, smarmy is such a great word.

Janet Peterson,
Charlotte, NC

Please Shine Light on
The Matter

Jim Knipfel:
Maybe I’m late to the party and you’ve explained all this in earlier
contributions to New York Press, but why is it your narrator was tapping
with a cane and walking face first into a post (“Slackjaw,” 12/18) if he could
see the blood on his hands when he got to the subway stop, and see the big guy
reading the Post on the train, and see the wound when he got to the office?

wondering? Thanks.

C. Pendley,
Shreveport, LA

Pretzel Logic

George Bush
says we need a missile defense system to keep those box-cutters from getting
in. Hmmm.

Michael R.
Marantz, Jamaica, VT

Condi & Colin Got

I am sure
your black readers will be interested to know that left-winger Alexander Cockburn
(“Wild Justice,” 12/18″) places Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice on the eunuch
level. I suspect that, outside of the sophomoric Harry Belafonte and his ilk,
many Aframericans do not consider Powell and Rice as eunuchs, race sellouts
or Uncle Toms, and feel some degree of admiration or pride in what those two
have accomplished—apart from whether they disagree with their politics.

The kneejerkiness
of Cockburn’s rant leads me to think he and others afflicted with leftosis
may want to look for the eunuchs in their bathroom mirrors. Except for the matter
of choice or free will, unthinking service to an idée fixe is little
different from unthinking, castrated service to a Roman emperor.

Alan Cabal,
in saying that “the SUV fad is directly related to the observable and indisputable
fact that Americans get fatter and stupider every day” (“Culture,” 12/18), falls
into step with the other unthinking critics of this mode of transportation.
The fat crowd, from what I can see, drives Big Winnie-type Holiday-Inn-motel-rooms-on-wheels;
and the stupid crowd is all in red compacts or subcompacts.

a big reason for increased SUV use relates to what Cabal himself notes
earlier in his travelogue: the preponderance of the cowboy-manque truck driver
on interstate highways. Not that SUVs offer greatly increased real protection
in the event of physical encounters with the true mayhem machines of the highway,
but the higher ride at the very least makes one less prone to intimidation.

wager that if you could get a rock-solid, no-exceptions, 55-mph speed limit
slapped onto any vehicle with three or more axles, and have it enforced Arizona-style,
you would see many Americans, beginning right here, abandon their SUVs
for something smaller and more fuel-efficient.

Jeffrey S.
Erickson, Davidson, NC

If It Looks Like a Duck…

Mike Signorile:
Your recent column about the Times (“The Gist,” 12/18) prompts me to
make the following proposal: that we need to start calling a spade a spade and
this current regime by its only appropriate moniker—fascist. I don’t
know why we liberals are being so shy about the matter. Now if anybody calls
this hyperbole, then let’s apply a short test. Buffoonish and jingoistic
leader, unabashedly intellectually indifferent and contemptuous of intellectual
establishment, the arts and sciences? Check. Leader has history of mediocre
academic and professional achievement and is vastly underqualified for position
in national, much less world leadership? Check. Regime is bent on world domination?
No-brainer. Regime longs to reincarnate glorious quasi-mythical past when masters
were masters and slaves were slaves? Check. (The Teutonic Golden Age/Roman Empire/Old
South will rise again.) Regime mocks and ridicules all opposition, even moderate
ones? Check. Regime makes unholy alliances with powerful religious institutions?
Check. Regime is largely financed by powerful military-industrial complex and
wealthy big business? Check. Regime targets certain minorities and political
groups for “special” persecution and incremental marginalization? Check. Regime
promotes vast complex of prisons or internment camps? Check. Regime is xenophobic
and propaganda-obsessed and the “Homeland/Fatherland” is glorified beyond all
others? Check and double check. Regime monopolizes and controls mass media for
purposes of propaganda? Check. Regime puts into place domestic spying agencies
and secret tribunals? Check. Regime makes war on much weaker countries based
on very slim justification? Check. Regime suspends civil liberties and due process
in the name of self-preservation? Check. Regime continually uses “outside threat”
to justify increasingly draconian measures? Check. Loyal opposition fails to
appreciate regime’s increasing hunger for absolute power, while clinging
to the hope that the current situation will improve in the future? Check. Loyal
opposition and well-meaning citizens demur from using “hurtful” terms and strong
language with regard to regime? Check. Words have power.

Lou Dattilo,
Austin, TX


I quote
from the article on the cover of your publication (“Gay Millionaires Club,”
12/18): “The heavyweight poplin shirt alludes to how I liked to read, while
the jeans infer how I like to drink trendy cocktails at hip nightspots.” His
jeans “infer”? No, it’s not just a “typo.” It’s a basic test of literacy,
a shibboleth, if you will. No real writer would write that, no real editor would
print it. I guess you just don’t care.

James O’Meara,
Long Island City

It’s There in Black
and White

Like many
people in the media, Russ Smith writes that nobody would ever call the White
House bum George W. Bush a racist—however, he is (12/18). The media always
points to Rice and Powell as evidence that Bush is not a racist. However, Powell
is a national hero and would have been secretary of state in any GOP administration.
And Condoleezza Rice is an Uncle Tom Bush family retainer who, unlike Powell,
has never spoken out on race. There is no question that Bush is a racist. In
college he belonged to the anti-Semitic and racist Skull and Bones society.
In Midland, TX, he lived in a whites-only community. When his campaign was in
trouble he ran to speak at Bob Jones University and started a whispering campaign
that John McCain fathered a black child. As governor his favorite indoor sport
was frying black people. He is opposed to affirmative action and appointed a
racist attorney general, John Ashcroft, who worships the old Confederacy and
Jefferson Davis, to enforce the civil rights laws. Bush is a racist—no
ifs, ands or buts.

Reba Shimansky,

Russ Smith
replies: Looks like Reba put her snout into the holiday eggnog a little early
this year.

He’s Not a Huge
Fan of Much

How convenient
that Alexander Cockburn uses the Trent Lott scandal merely as an introduction
to his usual rant about the Jewish conspiracy against Jesse Jackson and Cynthia
McKinney (“Wild Justice,” 12/18). Cockburn is still outraged that the citizens
dared to vote against McKinney—but, then, his preference for the likes
of Syria and Egypt over Israel shows that he’s not a huge fan of democracy.

Josh Beckerman,
Jersey City

Broken Bones

break your elbow trying to pat yourself on the back, MUGGER (12/18)! Yankees
don’t have a corner on tolerance. In fact, there’s less racist sentiment
in the New South than in New Jersey (where I once lived when I worked in NYC).
Other than your reference to “where he was raised,” regarding Lott, I agree
with your article.

G.B. Hall,
Montgomery, AL

Use Your Noggin

college students should take a lesson from Hashem Aghajari, a history teacher
recently sentenced to death in Iran for “blasphemy.” Aghajari’s capital
“offense” was telling his students that “In all matters…your reason is a better
tool of discernment than all the sayings of prophets and clerics.” Aghajari
was condemned for advocating that individuals should think for themselves, as
opposed to blindly accepting the thinking—or non-thinking—of others.

If America’s students,
especially in the humanities, would realize that their “reason is a better tool
of discernment than all the sayings” of their politically correct professors,
they might discover that most of their teachers are no better thinkers than
are the mullahs.

David Holcberg,
Irvine, CA

Don’t Hold Your

Did Jim
Jeffords “Benedict Arnold” the Republicans who elected him or did he faithfully
serve the moderates who elected him (“MUGGER,” 12/18)? Is the label Democrat
or Republican more important than the liberal, moderate or conservative philosophy
a candidate holds and upon which the voters choose him? Hold on for McCain,
Chafee, Snowe and Specter. Sometimes the right thing might actually be done
in politics.

Ray Belongie,
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

I already sent my view to Sen. Trent Lott, having been prompted by a conservative
online group to which I subscribe (12/18). My suggestion was that he, himself,
resign as Republican Senate Leader—not as duly elected senator by his constituents
in Mississippi. By so doing, he will show all that he puts his party, and the
nation, before his own personal concerns. That would be dignified—and enable
him to prove to the people his true concerns and values. He is not a bigot,
but, as you have stated, has been a mediocre leader at best, and his remarks
most assuredly do not indicate prudence. They were at best plainly stupid! I
do personally take a different view as to doctors versus lawyers and reporters.
In my experience, the medical profession has, in the mainstream, been extremely
backward, and made some horrible decisions as to the use of antibiotics, steroids
and psychotropic drugs. I do not admire the majority of physicians at all! Among
journalists and lawyers, however—I personally have found some profound

Nancy Joyce
Jancourtz, Brooklyn

Lofty Sentiments

You have stepped foot in unknown waters. Robert Zimmerman is an icon (12/11).
He has captured enough imaginations that even his worst performances are of
abiding interest. I watched Theodore Samuel at bat perhaps 200 times (in person).
He only had about 80 hits. Nobody booed when he “failed”!

Roy Lofquist,
Lakeside, AZ

A Long Way to Go

Excellent article (12/18). As a conservative Southerner, I’ve wanted to
get rid of Sen. Trent Lott for several years now. We just don’t need that
kind of leadership in the Republican Party. While I wish the GOP leadership
would have done something about him on their own, hopefully, when this is all
over with, our image will improve with minorities.

Todd Jenkins,
Montgomery, AL

Some Folks Are Never

You write about something important in the first part of your piece and then
you make the whole thing trivial by going on about Dylan (12/11).

Donald W.
Bales, Kingsport, TN

Empty Lott

What a stupid comment (12/18). Trent Lott is an embarrassment. He has to go.

Sidney Gwyn,

Christian Bashers

I’m sorry, but I’m finding it harder and harder to read your newspaper.
I usually read the online and hard copy and check in daily to read the “Daily
Billboard.” What seems to be happening is that you have a bunch of writers who
have never met a Christian (goodness forbid a Protestant) that they like. In
fact, I get the impression that most of your writers truly hate Christians (especially
Protestants). It’s one thing when Mike Signorile does it. We all know where
he’s coming from and once in a while he actually makes some sense. It use
to be that there was a wonderful mix on your pages, but it seems to be all liberal
tripe (aside from your column) or Christian bashing. It’s as if they cannot
talk about any topic in your pages without referring to the intolerant, or as
Peter Eavis thinks, those stupid people who live to vilify Sean Penn (“Daily
Billboard,” 12/16).

Come on
now…who’s been doing this? Calling the guy on some of his past is
hardly vilifying Sean Penn. In fact, most conservatives took a wait-and-see
attitude when Penn went to Iraq and you’ve hardly heard much about it from
the conservative press. But somehow, Penn’s visit and subsequent findings
are not only an affront to us intolerant boobs, but, boy, has he put us in our
place. In fact, now we can stop thinking that Muslims want to kill us all and
stop supporting, “blindly,” of course, Israel, since folks in Iraq really loved
Dead Man Walking (which Eavis thinks is a film about Christian forgiveness).
It’s sad that there’s hardly a soul at the Press to answer
these folks. I mean, we are supposed to take Penn’s word (and that of the
Times man who followed him around) that the Iraqis have love for us in
their hearts. If Penn were such a fair and upright character, why didn’t
he try meeting with our women and men who are serving in the U.S. military and
assess the situation from all sides?

starting to really believe that your paper is all about bashing conservatives,
right-wingers and Christians in any way possible. Not that conservatives, right-wingers
and Christians are above-board or never make mistakes—sometimes they make
terrible mistakes, and are called on them. But it’s, again, just sad that
folks on your pages can only criticize, mock or heap scorn on Christians, conservatives
or folks on the right. I’m giving up on the Press. I’ll still
read your column, but that’s about it. And hopefully once in a while there
will be a good article on art or the city, etc., that doesn’t take the
opportunity to attack that which it doesn’t understand. I’m open to
debate and even willing to give the benefit of the doubt to those who curse
Christians, but I’m not willing to be continually assaulted by the writing
staff of the Press. God Bless and I will pray for ya!

Adrienne Warden,

You Mean Crown-Roast-of-Pork

Soon after he took over the Senate from Bob Dole it became apparent that Trent
Lott was far too accomodating to the Democrats (12/18). Why can’t Republican
leaders be a bit tougher? President Bush the 1st got no help from George Mitchell
at all, and Bush the 2nd was treated equally by Tom “The Liberal Enforcer” Daschle.
Also, if Robert Byrd is the King of Pork then Trent Lott must have been the
Crown Prince. I hope in time this will blow over and Bill Frist helps get some
common-sense judges onto various courts. I hear far too much of liberal judges
appointed by Carter letting criminals go without just punishment. A local tabloid
has published a few letters with ideas I find interesting. For example, let’s
rebuild the Trade Center Towers to their original height and put the offices
of the UN in the top 30 floors of both towers.

Frank Higbie,
Bridgewater Township, NJ

Well, We Do Call Him
“Supreme Highness”

Is Alexander
Cockburn related to the Cockburns connected to the Edinburgh Review?
I know he has written about his father Claud, the communist. But I keep coming
across more Cockburns when I read British history. Although known as rebels,
apparently this was not always so. I just came accross this piece on an antiwar

“The high
point came for the anti-Eyre forces in April 1867, when Lord Chief Justice Sir
Alexander Cockburn issued a lengthy ‘charge’ to grand jurors looking
into the acts of two of Eyre’s subordinates. He stated that in a ‘settled’
colony such as Jamaica, English law applied in full and that the concept of
‘martial law’ was completely foreign to it. The jurors, much of the
press, and most of the public thought otherwise.”

If this
is part of his heritage, it would be illuminating to read how this has affected
his outlook.

Tom Phillips,