Mailbox: 09.02.09-09.08.09

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The Many Lives of Carlos Alvarez

I am writing to thank you for the two beautiful articles (I won’t call them obituaries) that your paper has published about the life of our good friend Carlos Alvarez [Jonathan Toubin, “In Memory of Carlos Alvarez” Aug. 28]. Some of us who have been assembling photos and videos to share with his friends and family believe there was a cartoon published in the New York Press in the summer of 2003 depicting a man, dressed in a lion suit, passed out in a pile of trash near the Verb Cafe on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. As Carlos was the only one known to wear a lion suit in those days (for artistic purposes of course!) we believe this cartoon is of him and would love to locate a copy of it. So far we have been unable to find any image online, and being unsure of the exact date of publication, have not tried microfiche yet. The lion suit was hysterical, and something a lot of people remember from the more gonzo days of Williamsburg. If this image does exist, would there be a way to locate it in the New York Press archive? (It may be possible the cartoon was published before or after 2003, but probably not by more than a year.) Thank you again for keeping your paper lovely and current.The articles about Carlos meant a lot to his friends, and we would appreciate any help you could offer in tracking down this cartoon.

—Eva Levinson

New York for Dummies

Although we intended our College Survival Guide for those who are new to the city, one reader felt like it was nothing new, writing: “Lifelong NYer here, calling bullshit on all this shit [“How to Survive the City,” Aug. 26-Sept. 1].Those free places are only listed in the most lazy of ‘welcome to NY’ articles, you don´t need a barber, getting directions on the street is fine, use the library, paying for fakes is a ripoff, and so on. Jeez.”

Jizz-tastic

Jamie Peck’s confessional piece in last week’s Flavor of the Week column, “Student Bodies,” caused another personal admission from a reader: “Very well written, but [I] went to school with the author, and this is very thinly veiled! Not to mention if you know his brothers, you should have expected him to become an even bigger jackass with age.”

Flavor of the Critic

With all the comments we get regarding our film critic Armond White, this one left by an anonymous commenter got our full attention: “If Armond White were an ice cream flavor, it’d be champagne flavor that actually tastes like dog shit. The ice cream’s label might try to convince you that it’s complex, decadent and amazing, but it just turns out to leave the taste of partially digested grass clippings in your mouth.”

The Pornographer of Hollywood

Another reader responded to White’s review of Inglorious Basterds (“Nazi Junkie Jamboree,” Aug. 19-25) with this: “White, I am in complete accordance with you:Tarantino’s films are juvenile and deeply exploitative. I have no idea what masochistic urge prompted me to see Inglorious Basterds last night: It translated into two hours of revulsion and disappointment.Tarantino is absolutely the pornographer of Hollywood. He embodies all of the insecurities, vapidity and self-loathing that has led to a rotting American cinema masked in strung-out plot lines and special effects.At least with each new film, it becomes more and more apparent how sick he is with his own puerile fantasies.”

The Gatekeeper in Question

A reader decided to weigh in on the negativity launched by Roger Ebert toward Armond White as well: “I have always been entirely perplexed by the Ebert phenomenon. People perpetually cite him as something of an intellectual, a cultural shepherd.Yet his tastes are not refined, and I would venture so far as to say his bad [reviews] have found immense and unwarranted celebration. His reviews never even tease pseudo-philosophy, let alone the real thing.That Ebert should be thought a cultural gatekeeper is the greatest tragedy of the ’90s.Though I suppose he has massive appeal to intellectually defunct man-boys, who need to be told what to think. People do seem to find validation in their ‘good’ taste, their selfdifferentiating taste, maybe, just maybe, that’s why a certain Steven—accomplishment after accomplishment—has been devalued.”

The South African Side

After District 9 finally opened in South Africa last week, we’ve received more comments from South Africans regarding Armond White’s critique of the film (“From Mothership to Bullship,” Aug. 12-18), such as this one:“As a young Afrikaans South African with a fondness for interspecies-conflict-based fiction, I enjoyed D9, and still I agree with White on a few levels. As a purely fictional sci-fi movie, D9 is excellent. During the first 15 minutes of the movie, the entire audience around me was laughing at how the South-African public’s nuances were portrayed… But White is right about the whole analogy thing. The similarities between Apartheid and Human- Prawn segregation is non-existent, except for the fact that in both cases the segregated party resided in crappy shacks.There is a lot more to South Africa’s history than what the general international public realizes, and Peter Jackson’s cash-in on it seems like pure publicity hunting to me.What’s worse to me is the hundreds of critics appraising the analogy in D9, while they themselves don’t know shit about what apartheid is really about. The Nigerian thing is also way overdone, and I feel it is insensitive seeing that there is already a general xenophobia in SA toward Nigerians.”

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