Mailbox: 01.20.09-01.27.09

Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts.

Taibbi a Treasure

Just read Matt Taibbi’s “Flat N All That” (Jan. 14-20) ROTFLMFAO… I read his Rolling Stone stuff all the time. Cat is a fucking national treasure. Every time I see Friedman on the TeeVee, I wanna throw shit at the screen. That just made my day. —BobbyG

Suck It, Friedman

Matt Taibbi has given succor to all us secret anti-Friedmanites. Over the past 14 years, disliking the work of Thomas Friedman has been akin to disliking Schindler’s List: All your reasoning will have no effect against the barrage of pious homilies and praise thrown about once you offer some critical dissent. I can’t add much to Taibbi’s scalding but well-deserved hatchet job, but I would like to suggest one more napkin-graph to go along with Friedman’s oil/unfreedom version and Taibbi’s various derivates.Try plotting the intelligence of the New York Times columnists against the collective quality of their commentary. With apologies to worthy exceptions such as Nick Kristof, I think you will find the intelligence stays flat or even goes up, while the commentary keeps going down, down, down. —Adam Bloch

Hatchet Job

I started reading Mr. Taibbi’s article about Thomas Friedman, but I had to stop after a few paragraphs. It seemed to me that he was attacking Mr. Friedman personally with a deluge of name-calling and small-minded personal attacks on the level of a small child. I expect this from kids at recess, but not when I’m reading a major newspaper. I would have written Mr.Taibbi and mentioned this but for two things: 1. his initial words clearly indicated he was biased, unreasonable and a zealot. Nothing I could say would calm his hatred of the man. 2.YOU are his boss, and when someone offends, best to tell the people who write out his checks.

I hope you have a talk with Taibbi, not about his opinion, but about his approach to discussion. I doubt you would have appreciated me asking this of you if I had called you names before trying making my point. —Gene Elder

Bogus Burris

Regarding Jamaal Young’s Real Politikin’ column “Who Are These Negroes?” (Jan. 14- 20): Great column!!! As a matter of constitutional law, it is pretty obvious that they had to seat him. (see Volokh Conspiracy for more). Accusing Harry Reid, or whatever his name is, of racism is silly. These guys are shouting fire all the time in a crowded theater, and when a real fire breaks out neither their fire shouts nor anyone else’s will be heeded. And indeed since the constitutional matter seems so clear cut. Why get involved at all once Blago made the appointment? —Martin

Biggie is BK

Responding to Armond White’s Notorious review,“From Drugs-to-Bitches” (Jan. 14-20): Biggie’s life mirrors human life: It is complex. But the power of Biggie’s story is that his life and his artistry speak to this complexity… in a hip-hop way.The authenticity of hip-hop is exactly this: that it is complicated.That is why Christopher Wallace is also “Biggie Smalls,” “Frank White,” and the “Notorious B.I.G.”

So when we retell Biggie’s story, we cannot be irresponsible and under-express its problems: misogynistic, sexist, violent, and even amoral.Yet we can not underestimate the great positive force hip-hop culture induces: skill, wit, determination, and…success. Biggie’s life is not an archetype, it is a truth; it is a truth because the urban reality of poverty, inequality, and injustice are lived…not imagined. While B.I.G. may have lacked political ambition or a social justice orientation, he unquestionably embodies a human sentiment: the desire to not be poor anymore.

And if you’ve lived the urban, ghetto experience, escaping poverty is a sentiment you’ve undeniably felt. How to escape is complex; the path to escaping is complex.

But the sentiment and desire is without question authentic. B.I.G symbolizes this, in rhyme and reason; and in hip-hop culture. That is why “Biggie Smalls is the illest.”That is why Biggie Smalls represents BK to the fullest. So fuck the haters. It’s all good baby babyyyyy. —Michael Partis