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Vegging Out

Linnea Covington’s story on the rise and fall of New York vegetarianism (“Flesh Mob,” Jan. 13-19) had meat eaters and herbivores alike sinking their teeth into it. Elaine Sloan from Manhattan wrote, “I’m one long-time vegan who will never eat meat, eggs, or dairy products again. It’s simply unethical to raise and kill animals for food—and nothing is going to change that. Going vegan helped me beat breast cancer, too, so I’d be foolish to go back. Fortunately, there are tons of vegan-friendly stores and restaurants in Manhattan, including my favorites, Candle 79 and Candle Cafe. Judging from the crowds at all the vegetarian restaurants I frequent, plenty of people are eager for tasty vegan meals.” Someone named “Moose” wrote that, “It’s interesting to note the trends in favor of, or not in favor of, eating meat. It’s also interesting to note how the trend is exhibited in NYC, which is not typically thought of as being close to the land when it comes to food trends. I may live in farm country, but I still can’t raise an animal then kill it and eat it. But I’ll buy a package of meat at the store. Go figger. Anyway, thanks for a well-written article.” And web commenter M&M wrote, “Great story. I’m dying for a steak.”

Mouse in the House

After Josh Bernstein asked readers to share their tips for getting rid of unwanted vermin, a slew of advice poured in. Leslie Baum wrote, “I find that peanut butter or almond butter works best. The lil’ bastards love it and it is sticky enough that they have to work to get it all and assures a quick kill. Enjoyed your story—might help to tap it on the head with a rubber mallet. Less blood and mess.” But Wayne Johnson from Brooklyn asked, “Why kill them? There are ‘have a heart’ traps at many hardware stores [that are] inexpensive and humane. Release them outside.

These creatures want to live as much as you and I.”

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This Week: A Satanist wants to make sure we know his true name, godammit; another one comments on comments on the remnants of the Satan-o scene; some secular ideas about healthcare; and an agnostic tells all.

The Caged Bird

John Aes-Nihil Speaking. I recently did an interview with Matt Harvey. I was promised a review copy of the article (“The Devil and the Dow,” Nov. 5-11) before publication. I received Nothing before publication and therefore did Not see that my name was replaced in the article with another name [John Cagle].This problem could have been remedied before publication if I had been sent a review of the article as promised.

I agreed to do the interview solely for the possible publicity it could bring to my Films, Music and Archives. I have no idea why the name was changed in the article. Everything I have done for the past 30 years has been as John Aes-Nihil. The name should be corrected to John Aes-Nihil in the online version of the article. A retraction of the use of the wrong name in the article should be printed in Matt Harvey’s column.

—John Aes-Nihil for Aes-Nihil Productions.

Editor’s Note:
While it’s not true that any sort of “review copy” of the article was promised before publication, we apologize for the mistake of using the name John Cagle and will make sure that everyone knows that you are indeed John Aes-Nihil.

Speaking loud and clear.

Satan’s Sentinel

[In regard to “The Devil and the Dow”:] Brian Butler pretty much nailed it, but he’s always had a good eye for the foibles of self-described Satanists and the folks too obsessed with them. Have you seen the bit he did for Disinfo with Ted Gunderson? Genius camera placement.

All in all, I think you captured a good sense of the remnants of the L.A. Satano-scene. They’re the Children, for better or worse, of the folks that make up the bulk of George Petros´ Art That Kills, with a less than desirable final trajectory.

—Pat (aka Pylon Sentinel)

Pointing Out Percentages

[In regards to your Willets Point story online:] The city says that it controls about 40 percent of the 62-acre site. Being included in that number the streets that they already own—so it’s rather misleading that they’re going before the council and saying that it’s 40 percent.The streets represent about 14 acres. If you take the deals that they’ve already made with some of the owners, it only represents about 20 percent of the privately owned land that they now control out of the 62 acres.

—Pete Scully

Payback’s a Bitch

In reviewing the film I.O.U.S.A. (“Here Comes That Rainy Day,” Aug. 20-26), your reviewer Mark Peikert boldly stated that the documentary film “proves the economy is about to implode.”The financial state of our government’s budget is certainly of great concern to the American public, however, your review missed a crucial opportunity to improve the national debate surrounding the deficit in the federal budget.

The film I.O.U.S.A. is scary. I myself literally felt goosebumps looking at some of the more grim projections in the film. However, the movie failed to mention a big way that Americans can solve their budgetary problem—health care. If our country’s healthcare system were even remotely as efficient as the systems of other industrialized nations, the reduction of healthcare costs would make our budgetary problem virtually disappear.The Center for Economic and Policy Research has a nifty online calculator that demonstrates this well: http://www.cepr.net/calculators/iousadeficit/calc_iousa_deficit.html.

The absence of any in-depth discussion of the healthcare crisis in America was a gaping hole in the film, I.O.U.S.A. (and your review of it). Hopefully, with this in mind, the New York Press will view the upcoming DVD release of I.O.U.S.A. in a more critical fashion.

—Matt Sherman

Agnostics Are the Way to Go

[In regard to review of Religulous,“The Gospel According to Maher,” Oct. 1-7]: I am not writing this to defend Mr. Maher, but to mention a few facts that you might find of interest.

Young James Madison (prime author of Amendment #1) was once asked what it was he was trying to accomplish, what was his goal, with his clause concerning religion, and memory isn’t verbatim, but I’ll come close. He replied: To keep forever from our shores that which has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.

Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Dawkinds as atheists are no different than my friends who are Christians, Jews, what have you. Here’s how it works.

Aldous Huxley finally coined a word to describe the fact that man has no clue concerning the supernatural, gods, goddesses, afterlife and such that hasn’t been handed to us by yet some other man. Book of the Dead, four to 35 gospels, Old and New Testaments, Book of Shadows, Koran…it goes on and on. Men wrote them all. They have much in common, as man tends to create his gods in his own image. Jesus, an Aramaic-speaking desert dweller portrayed by light-skinned, blue-eyed blondes Jeffery Hunter & Max von Sydow? Puh-LEEZ! Yes, those two exude the command one would expect, but a more accurate casting would be Samuel Jackson of Chattanooga. Anyway, we don’t know and we never will.The word is agnostic.

There are about 6,600,000,000 agnostics on the planet, including you and me. They can be broken into two groups, the smaller (about 1 in 7) being the agnostics who know they are agnostics, and the larger (about 6 in 7) being those agnostics who do not know they are agnostic. For ease of discussion, my grandfather called the former Thinkers and the latter Believers. The mutually exclusive “heads-or-tails” attributes of those two words will, I am sure, not be lost on you. We Thinkers have come up with a way of categorizing the Believers that is very convenient, and that is by the Number of Gods in which they Believe… If anything, Mr. Maher was a tad merciful, n’est pas? My favorite religious query was Dana Carvey’s son, who at the age of four asked, “Daddy, does God have feet?” Looks like he has a Thinker on his hands.

Best Regards: Donald (Scottish Protestant) Czerny (Bohemian Jew with tinge of Roma) Nichols (Irish catholic, raised one of six altar boys in South Georgia, where we were taught by Christians that blacks were not children of Adam and Eve and would go to Hell so not to play with them lest we go along). aka Dr. Nic, builder of 19 fine harpischords and maker of 4,764 fine skydives.

—Nic Nichols, DeLand, Fl

New York Press celebrated last week with friends and fans at Santos
Party House. Special thanks to Orzel Vodka, DJ David Chang, DJ Jonathan
Toubin, Bella Napoli Restaurant and Josie Woods Pub & Restaurant.

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Gut Nemesis

I’m an intern at TimeOut NY. Over the last few weeks, Mr. Bernstein, I’ve come to terms with the fact that you—scribbling away, writing for everything under the sun—are my nemesis. I heard about you as your name was casually mentioned around the office: “Is Josh free to write this, Josh is writing that,” and I found out you were a freelancer. Then, days later, while I sat at my desk fact checking and researching bar events, I find your articles on City Search, reviewing many of the bars I was looking for. Not too surprising though since you’ve been writing for the Eat Out department. However, days after that, while hunting for freelance gigs, I find your name on the first article I open up on the website of the New York Press! Now, being a struggling writer, getting my feet wet in the magazine business and seeing your name on the byline of everything I was reading was driving me up the wall. Talking about writing in graduate workshops was getting boring. I was looking for some advice. So I headed to Borders in search of a book on writing—something to inspire me and hopefully give me some insight on how to push my career. And what luck, wandering around the aisles I found a paperback I could really relate to! A book on writing from other writers in their twenties! BAM! I couldn’t believe it, this was exactly what I was looking for. It also happened to be called…Generation What? What a freaking coincidence.

And now, here I am, accepting the fact that your career is following me, taunting me like a school bully, pointing his finger at my inadequate collection of magazine blog postings and college newspaper clippings.

Well Joshua, though we’ve never met, I wanted you to know that you’ve inspired me to work harder, get my name out there and be someone else’s nemesis when they need a push.

P.S. This could very likely be me turning into a conspiracy theorist, but I’m almost sure you called my desk a year or so ago when I worked at Twelve Books and a freelance writer asked me for a galley of The Nuclear Jihadist.That might be pushing it.

—Travis DeLingua, NY


Kudos and Questions

I have enjoyed your [Josh Bernstein’s] column in the New York Press for some time. I love that you are an unapologetic glutton and frequenter of scary dive bars (like myself), and your musings are a pleasure to read every week. I recently started my own NYC food and culture blog and hope to eventually have a column of my own. Would you be willing to spare me a couple of sentences on how you got started as a food writer, and any relevant advice? I have no formal writing experience, but am incredibly passionate about food and New York City (pre-1995 or so) and believe that my experiences and insight would be of interest to many people. I’d love for you to take a look at my blog: www.thegothamglutton.wordpress.com.

—Jamie Lloyd, NY


The Girlfriend Chugalug

I have long enjoyed reading Josh Bernstein’s Gut Instinct column. He once wrote about a dive bar in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, that I visit whenever I get down there.

My friends and I now read his column at a local bar, and we have to chug a beer for every time he uses the word “girlfriend” in his column. In his last column, “Punch Drunk” (Oct. 8-14), it was three times, and she didn’t even go to the bar with him. Way to go, Josh. I think Vegas has an over/under line on next week’s column.The over is currently four, with three being a push.

—Dan Freeman, Brooklyn


Leigh Way

Reading this review [of Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky] (“Art of Happiness,” Oct. 8-14), I wondered why is it most people won’t prefer something happier and witty anymore. Pauline Kael mentioned this in her last interview, that instead of going to something with doses of happiness, they are indulging in smug liberal guilt like American Beauty, Mystic River and The Dark Knight. If these are preferred to be “artistic,” then why praise Rachel Getting Married and Happy-Go-Lucky? I don’t think people are dumb, and I don’t agree with Mr. White about CJ7. But I do agree: Morality is as fucked-up as people’s opinions of this presidential election.

—Jeffrey Zanker Saint Petersburg, FL


Sellout for Bloomberg

Ron Lauder is a sellout as long as he gets something in return (“Billionaires for Bloomberg, Oct. 8-14). He reminds me of a phrase John McCain recently used: “Talking the talk, and walking the walk.” Now we have to wait and see what Christine Quinn will do; she would have run for mayor this go ‘round, but will she accept usurping the will of the people if she gets something in return? I noticed the city council will have their limits extended as well.There’s your answer.

Serving the public good and gaining their trust by overturning their vote? As Cosmo Kramer would say, “Only in New York!”

—David DiBello, Lakewood, NJ


themail@nypress.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Letters may be edited for size and form.

 

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Armond, Don’t Give it Up

Regarding the nitpicking complaints about the inaccuracies in Armond White’s reviews for Death Race, Pineapple Express and The Dark Knight, I feel like Mr. White has become some type of Sarah Palin/ Barack Obama hybrid where readers are slinging anything they can find at him because his intelligence is too tall a mountain for them to go up against.

Wake up, people! Do you really wanna be left with Stephanie Zacharek and Nathan Lee for the rest of your lives if Armond finally decides to say “screw it” and walks?

—Mark Osborn, Austin, TX


BS Merchant

Armond White would not know talent if it came in the shape of a beautiful naked woman and sat on his face. His slating of Danny Boyle’s movies suggests he has spent way too much time analyzing films that are described as classics by a film school and is merely regurgitating passages of critique from other sources; he has his head so far up his own arse he thinks he actually knows film.

As with the majority of film critics—i.e., failed wannabe filmmakers who have no imagination, so slag off other films due to their own un-creative insecurities—Mr. White should start a new career. Bullshit merchant would be perfect.

—Matthew Drinkwater


Missing Mugger

I haven’t seen Mugger’s column in a while. Does he still write for you? (Please say he does—he’s the best of the batch)

—Douglas Segal, NYC

Editor’s Note: Russ Smith wrote his Mugger column for the Press for 20 years but has recently moved on to other projects. You can check out more of what he’s doing in Baltimore, at www.splicetoday.com

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Smoke It Out

Great that some kid decided to trek out to Long Island to score some cigarettes (“Smoking and the Bandits,” Aug. 20-26). But what about the fact that millions are dying from cigarettes all the time, and we need people to stop their stupid smoking. What? Do you want people smoking in bars and restaurants and pregnant women lighting up, too? Whatever, tell Ben Lasman, smoking ain’t cool.

—Syd Nadler, Brooklyn





The Meat of the Matter

Thanks for the Josh Bernstein article about obsessive, compulsive grilling and succulent sausage balanced with simple Midwestern pleasures (“Kiel-ing Her Softly,” Aug. 20-26). Great title, too.



His article has several sexual undertones to keep us laughing and reading it several times. From his opening line of “smacking my sweetie with processed pig” to his close of “aiming for that dark, shallow hole.” It was a funny read for us ass-smacking, pyro-enthralled, grill-masters.



Just like Angela said, “Fire it up.”

—John “The Greek,” Bay Ridge





Forget the Girl

Dude, we get it. You have a “girlfriend.” Woo hoo!! I’m not sure if Joshua Bernstein is just trying to convince us that he’s a big boy now, or that he’s not gay, but what’s with the multiple and constant references to his “girlfriend” in his columns?



From one recent issue (“A Trip Down Mammary Lane,” Aug. 13-18) alone:



“‘Well that certainly explains far too much about your childhood,’ my girlfriend says.”



“A fierce sticking point is my refusal to facilitate my girlfriend’s sweet-and-milky coffee addiction.”



“To appease my girlfriend, I could easily nab a gallon at the local Key Food.”



“Though I prefer whole milk, my girlfriend prefers excess calories in chocolate form.”



And it’s like that in most of his columns. OK, you have a girlfriend. Message received. Of course, if the illustrations accompanying his columns are an indication, I can understand why he seems so thrilled that he has a girlfriend. A pudgy, balding, pot-bellied, perpetually 5-o-clock-shadowed fellow probably has had some problems in that department.



Not to mention, from his own words, it seems he lives in borderline poverty, with a shitty copyediting job, and he usually eats/drinks in (and reviews) Brooklyn establishments, so again, it’s understandable the gals are probably not flocking to him.



But enough already. We get it, Josh. You finally got a girlfriend.



Now, how about reviewing some Manhattan places instead of telling us about your biking travels to some out-of-the-way Brooklyn joint that no one (even in Brooklyn) is going to go to. And yes, kudos on that girlfriend. If your boys could only see you now, huh?

—TJ McAlister, Manhattan





Get On the Obama Love Train

In response to Mark Peikert’s “Olden Showers,” (Aug. 20-26): A few weeks ago, I hooked up and went home with a guy who turned out to be a young gay liberal Democrat (yes, they DO exist!). As I was engaged in the act of topping him, he began slowly sighing, and then shouting, “Ohhh, Ohhhh… OOOOObaaaamaaaaa! True story.

—Rick Wyler, Upper East Side





Just Oldies, Stupid

In reference to Armond White’s suggestion in response to the reader who corrected him in “Mailbox” on his erroneous statement that Superbad was set in the 1970s that perhaps “the gaffe was Rogen’s”: No, stupid, the error is yours. Superbad is set in the 21st century. This is clearly established by the dates printed on the fake “McLovin” ID. I don’t know why you would think otherwise. If it was just because there were a few oldies in the soundtrack, you will probably be shocked to learn that Pulp Fiction wasn’t set in the ’70s either.

—Wayne Hepner, Staten Island

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Jedi Mind Trick

I wanted to alert you to a factual error in Simon Abrams’ review of The Clone Wars (“Clean Futures,” Aug. 13-19). He writes, “Apart from the new ground Ahsoka breaks as the first female Jedi,” but this is simply incorrect. There have been many female Jedi before Ahsoka, as seen in the prequel films, the previous Clone Wars cartoon series, the novels and the comics. There have been hundreds of them, in fact. With all due respect, I suggest revising this particular statement, as fans are having a good chuckle about it on a number of forums, since it shows a lack of knowledge on the writer’s part. Otherwise, a very interesting and well-written review!

—Rich Handley



McLovin In It

Although I generally find Armond White intelligent and thoughtful, his once again glaring oversight in this week’s “Mailbox” is laughable. The movie Superbad was set in neither the ’70s nor the early ’80s, and it is obviously meant to take place in a present time period, a period in which nearly all working-class kids can afford the Internet (even the earliest public networks were not available until the 1990s). The expiration date on McLovin’s fake ID very clearly states “exp: 06/23/2008.”



Armond has clearly paid little attention to the movie again after a second viewing, or perhaps he has still not watched it at all? Sometimes humor evolves, and perhaps it is just Mr. White who is becoming outdated.

—Lindsay Haeber



Smells Like Bologna

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar… [A line] from the [review] of Tropic Thunder contains an error: “Every line sparks: regarding his penis “That’s built just like bologna for some reason”; reciting The Jeffersons’ theme song…”



Downey’s character actually says, “That smelled just like bologna for some reason.” There was no reference to the size of his penis; it was just his way of adding to the believability that he had just urinated (which he had not). Not everything is a dick joke. I actually thought this was one of the funniest lines in the film. If he had actually said the line you say he did, not only would it not have been funny, but it also really doesn’t even make sense as its own sentence.

—Chuck Lynn, Burbank, CA



Right on Doc

This was a very good review (“Student Affairs,” July 30-Aug. 5) of an awful movie [American Teen]. Armond White may be in the minority (American Teen is certified fresh at 72 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), but he is definitely right on. Keep up the good work!

—Michael Bloecher



Music Makes the People Come Together

Color me cynical, but the three things I want to suggest to Susan Crain Bakos (“Harlem: It’s a Hard-Knock Life,” July 30-Aug. 5) are to start campaigning to trash assault laws, take up a self-defense course (however banal some of those ads are) and start ditching that typical tough-turf vicinity of Harlem and tarnished St. Nick’s Pub and gravitate toward the East Village and Lucky Cheng’s Instead. I began to feel that your unfortunate encounter with “Mykul” appropriately served you a wakeup call.



Even while descending from black and white parents myself, I still can’t count the incidents of being attacked, threatened and hassled—primarily by fellow blacks but by others as well. It wasn’t surprising the police would now act as apathetic toward you as to me (unless they felt they could get me somehow). Just as evident are the three leading strands of the American Farce (speech, self-defense and sovereignty), so now the ugly trilogy of the Big Lemon (New York, Poseur Central, what else!?) makes up a wasteland amounting little more beyond the “gorgeous mosaic” of reported turf vicinities (Broad Channel, Chinatown, practically the entire Bronx and Gerritsen Beach along with Harlem), congestion-riot-engulfing Scaffoldgate for 90-story skyscrapers and what is now indeed as ass list/thug life seesaw masquerading as pop culture.



Doubtless, you happen to like jazz. I think that’s great, and no matter what kind of culture you born into, you should simply gravitate toward genres or works that compel you the most.



I lean to Goth now (for better or for worse), though I had my brush with classical in the ’90s, with frequent trips to the Lincoln Center library. Despite this, even the land of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms was soon beset by an indifferent record company (Deutsche Gramophone) far more inclined to rehashing standard repertoire and courting British pop stars than reissuing other posthumous medieval tracks by David Monroe. Let’s not forget that the Nazis brought their own thug-life premise for a time as well (not to mention their own apologists and defenders).



They say that for evil to prevail is for “good people” (an obvious oxymoron) to do nothing, and I am certain you won’t heed a single one of my aforementioned suggestions, though you are still as naïve to this world as Arthurian England, where chivalry reigns supreme. Seriously, a YouTube video shows a cop shoving a Critical Mass cyclist just days before; yet not only are you willing to romanticize Harlem but yours is an imaginary self-idealized order of “a world where men do not hit or shove men.” Last year, one such worm in a wheelchair struck me with her umbrella; scores of gasbags made her the sacred cow and me the pariah. After my arrest for retaliating, it became a legal and personal ordeal. Let me spell it out for you: Human nature will always prefer saving face over making waves, cowardly bad-ass streaks over humane goodwill. So Grandma Dorothy, get back to reality while you still can, because as sure as Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, you are definitely nowhere near Kansas anymore.

—Pierre Brown, NY

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Superbad-Ass



In his Pineapple Express review (“High-Grade Shit,” Aug. 6-12) Armond White says that Superbad was set in the ’70s. It wasn’t. If he bothered to see the rest of the movie and not just the opening credit sequence, he might have noticed that the characters talked on cell phones and surfed the net, neither of which was around, I don’t think, during the ’70s.



Maybe he should give that film another viewing, and pay attention this time. He might not end up finding the movie quite so offensive if he gives up his biases and just watches it.

Just a thought.



—Jose Olivera, NYC



Armond White’s Response: Did it ever occur to the legion of Superbad-asses that the gaffe was Rogen’s? Could those working-class kids have possibly afforded the Internet in the early ’80s? I’m not just asking; I’m thinking.





Looking for King Kong



Dear Susan Crain Bakos: The thug named Mykul, who knocked you to the ground in front of St. Nick’s Pub in Harlem and took your purse, and pleasure in strolling away, as you waited, in vain, for signs of support to show up for you, was a reality check (“Harlem: It’s a Hard-Knock Life,” July 30-Aug. 5). You may have required that knock on the head to push you out of the twilight zone of blinding white light you seem to float around in when it comes to Harlem. You represent a small group of white women who think they’re re-playing Faye Raye, expecting to be rescued by big, black King Kong in an African jungle. Now you’re disillusioned with my village and want to blame us and run.



Harlem is just a diverse, multi-layered community of people who file W-2 forms for over six figures down to minimum wage. Harlem has high school dropouts and Ph.D./MD residents, who live in the midst of an eclectic street life. We have world-class artists, business owners, ministers and good parents who home school their children. Harlem is complex. We function like all urban communities.



It is your lack luster perception, of what your mono-dimensional perception of our lives, in our community, really is that is the age-old issue. You want/need the jungle to exist, to satisfy your primal instinct for savage sex and titillation, from the wild black beast… Your needy white thighs, as you graphically mentioned in your condemnation of Mykul, were left unsatisfied. It is unimaginable, that you could think a 15-minute subway or cab ride would deliver you to a fantasyland…



Harlem is NYC… It’s urban America at its highest form and serves as the ultimate standard for all things city related to “cool and hip.” African Americans in Harlem own that mystery territory. But everything comes with a price.



It is this coolness that smacks of music, food, dancing, talking, walking that creates the magic that drives whites, like you and all others, here. Unfortunately, the white woman can actually think that the attention she gets so readily from the big black type man makes her superior to the loud black bar woman degraded in the article. Susan, as many others, think that big black will not treat her and her whiteness poorly. She, foolishly, perceives his treatment of his own black female counterpart as inferior, to her treatment by him.



Well now you know. You can get hit on the head and stolen from on a public street with an audience. Your Mykul experience represents one man, not a community. He is who he is. And he knows how to treat whom… I do not defend or apologize for your experiences uptown any more than you apologize for your white benefits gained from my 400 years of American enslavement.



Move on. I had to. We had to.



White people like you are dangerous. Black folks need protecting from you. Have you ever heard that a NYC policeman, when faced with a visibly armed or unarmed white woman (or man or child), shot them until dead multiple times? White people get shot in the leg, arm, shoulder,etc. We get the full “I’m scared of them treatment” from police, and now here you come uptown saying, “Harlem is no place for a woman without male protection.”



Did it occur to you that upward mobile, successful black women were not the flavor of the patrons of St. Nicks Pub? Were you aware that you were in the shell of the past remains of jazz musicians who rarely if ever go near the Pub anymore? The true giants of jazz who had the clout had been gone for years, and the Pub slipped into ghetto/hip-hop/world music. The word is out there about the newer, serious jazz locations.



Many of the loud and crude black women you spoke about probably cared less about you or protector than they did the way the air shifted when you showed up in the bar. Most of those bold, black bar women can spot phony money and people without formal training. The reason you were left on your own is that everyone knew the deal. They knew you were trying to be Jane in your sexual longing for the Harlem jungle experience.



When big black Tarzan/King Kong showed up and knocked you in the head, they just watched. Since you knew his name and he knew yours, the crass black women allowed you to be humiliated by your choice of male fixation. They have seen your fantasy scene played out before.



Now that you’re in real time: Get dressed, check sources and make reservations or plans to go to places that like and cater to quality clientele and really have world class musicians. Take the same precautions in Harlem that you would in Chelsea or the Meat Packing District, where white women get killed leaving bars after drinks…



Harlemites are not doing a buck and wing dance and smiling their pearly whites at you few, white people who have a need to be needed by black people. Hip-hop is not your enemy; your en-mass ghetto expectation of us is out of a B movie, while your overblown star status is totally unsupported. Your Eurocentric worldview is dangerous to black people, generally.



Let’s be real. There is a reason he singled you out, and one day we may hear his story. But this “well-spoken and acceptable black woman agrees with you,” he was wrong. It was not fair to Nelson’s fair lady.



—Theda Palmer,Ph.D.

Author, Life Coach, Lecturer,

Intercultural/Interpersonal

Communication,Professor Pace U.;

The Seasoned Woman,Inc., President;


Co-owner of Bill’s Place, Harlem

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Italian Sympathizer

[I’m a] photographer and writer from Rome, Italy, and I’ve just read this article by Susan Crain Bakos, “Harlem: It’s A Hard-Knock Life” (July 30-Aug. 5). I have been to New York three times, indeed for a festival of “avant-garde” creative free-jazz [in] the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

My passion for photography brought me to Harlem, where I spent one afternoon. There I realized that I would need more to learn, to walk around, to look around, pay attention, walk carefully…

My impression is that the writer-journalist—as well as myself—would need to wake up: [Stop being] “naive”… you or I are not “black,” you will never be black; it is a fact. So you cannot know how it is. We do not know how it is.

Maybe it’s your romance; the romantic idea of Harlem as a place of music, fun and jazz. Are you sure that you did not put yourself in a dangerous situation? [Do not] mistake the “good savage,” “the good poor people,” the good “Afro-American” myth. Please do not do this mistake; it’s your own creation. It’s our own mind!!!

Indeed I was lucky to meet some of the greatest “giants” around the African-American music-art-planet: William Parker, Patrician Nicholson, Hamid Drake, Leena Conquest, a Queen, Kidd Jordan, etc. These are the GIANTS of CONTEMPORARY MUSIC and the next music to be born, and they are hardly known in their own country!!!

Anyway, I hope to have the chance to come back to NYC and spend some time in Harlem, before the “building money-makers” will just move the “people” away from there. By the way, it would be great to see Mr. Obama as president of the U.S.A. Just the thing itself would be a revolution. And we need new ideas—all over this planet. Well, I beg your pardon for the long, passionate letter…

—Stefania Errore, Italian, citizen of the world


Black-On-White Action

Initially mistaking the article for a joke, written in the style of The Onion, I soon realized that the two-page tripe was a genuine article written by an alleged victim. From beginning to end, the article is so heavily peppered with condescension and entitlement that I frequently found myself doubling over with pangs of revulsion. Susan Bakos is truly an atavistic throwback, painting herself as a precious and fragile damsel who, by divine right, is supposed to be exempt from the ills of the world…

The paradox is that, while savoring all of the (alleged) attention she receives from black men, Bakos uses every opportunity to denigrate and devalue black people and their culture. Her true loathing of, hatred for and myopic view of black people came through crystal clear. Bakos apparently views herself as a gift to the poor, uneducated black masses of the world: a people who should be grateful she would even consider commingling with them. She repeatedly compartmentalized certain folks as “educated blacks” as if this is a rare anomaly that has to be pointed out at each turn. When her Negro servant passed away, Bakos suddenly felt “unsafe.” Give me a break. Would she feel unsafe if the setting was in the East Village, which has one of the highest crime rates in the city? Of course not, because Bakos’ fears are based not so much on statistical fact as it is on color. Crimes happen every day, all around the city. Yet Bakos feels that her particular misfortune requires a front-page plaster because it involved (gasp!) a white woman in black Harlem. Forget about the countless victims who are robbed and raped each day in the city. Many of these victims suffer much more than a mere clonk on the head…

Bakos is a leech. A poseur of the worst kind. She surrounds herself with people she feels superior to in order to bolster her fragile self-esteem. The people she referred to as her “friends,” those who stood watching as she lay on the ground, knew this. They saw her for the fraud that she is, although Bakos assumed they were too stupid to realize it. Mykul also knew this. Much more insidious and dangerous than an overt racist, Bakos’ cover had been blown.

Bakos globalizes her experience, maintaining “Harlem is no place for a woman without male protection.” Rubbish. There is not a patch of land or concrete anywhere in all of the five boroughs where someone hasn’t been assaulted. Yet would Bakos dare make such an assertion about Chelsea or Murray Hill? While admitting to a prior mugging, Bakos didn’t see fit to put that story in print. Could it have anything to do with where it took place? Crimes that take place in more “acceptable” communities are exceptions to be overlooked (or at least rationalized) while those occurring in less esteemed communities (particularly when it involves black on white) are world news. Brings to mind a funny little ditty I recently heard: A Republican is nothing more than an ex-liberal who was mugged by a black person. They’re happily waiting for you, Bakos.

—Rashida Ayers


Captain to the Rescue

This is the CAPTAIN. I’m sorry you were victimized in front of the Pub. Had I been there, that wouldn’t have happened. Please, please don’t condemn the Pub for an incident that could have occurred anywhere in a cosmopolitan city. When I moved to the Lincoln Center area some years ago, my house was robbed of my precious guitars. Nobody called the police as the thugs made several trips to my fifth-floor walkup. I didn’t blame the entire Lincoln Center community. I just moved back to Harlem where, to date, I was never robbed! My mom’s purse was snatched in Harlem. She didn’t vilify the community, just the crook who robbed her.
Please be careful of your words in regard to the only Sugar Hill jazz club left. You love the music…we love to play it for you…we love to work at our craft and make some kind of living. There are some who are in Harlem that want the place shut down. The Pub didn’t spawn that thief. The Pub shouldn’t, in all fairness, be blamed. I miss seeing those “pretty white legs,” and I hope you won’t hold it against us for having the “NYC-I-don’t-want-to-get-involved” attitude. I hope to see you soon, Sweet Sue!!!

Peace, Love & Blessings

—The CAPTAIN

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Mr. Potato Head

Nice job on the David Carr story (“From Crackhead to Potato Head,” July 23-29). I don’t read all of Carr’s stories (who would?) but have seen enough to think that this tendency goes beyond the potato metaphor, and that he recycles content from one column to the next, spacing them out so he won’t get caught. One thing that his self-serving self-exposure accomplishes is that it deflects attention from all the other bad journalism he does—see the story on Media Bistro about his kiss-ass Bonnie Fuller piece. After outing yourself as a crackhead who beat his kids’ mother, anything else would be what?…small potatoes?

—John Sandman



Male Matters

Yet another female author featured in “Flavor of the Week” (Trish Bentley’s “The Penis Show,” July 23-29). Why doesn’t the guy (an assumption) who runs this section just place a sign that says: Male authors-DON’T bother submitting. I love women, and this isn’t sour grapes, since I haven’t bothered submitting anything, but I smell a bias. It seems as if the editor who keeps choosing women is the opposite of gay. Like the dude in Clerks who shouts out, “I hate guys; I love wimmin!” Same deal if the editor turns out to be female.

—Rob Santana



Who’s a Hipster?

So I checked out this week’s edition of the New York Press online, and now I know who the Ting Tings are. Too bad I think they completely suck and, in terms of boy/girl duos, I’ll take The Kills, Blood Red Shoes, The White Stripes, The Knife, Crystal Castles and even Roxette over them. And I still have absolutely no idea what they have to do with the movie Hellboy 2.



P.S. Armond should really stop trying to defending Eddie Murphy (“Murphy’s Flaw,” July 23-29). It’s not his race that critics are responding to, it’s shit films like Norbit. Sorry, Armond. And The Dark Knight kicked ass. Call me a “nihilistic hipster” if you must, and believe I must be a brainwashed consumer under the age of 21 to buy into it. Not only that, who’s really a hipster here? And that brings me back to the Ting Tings. Only hip Brooklynites would know who the hell they are. See you over on Bedford Ave., Armond!

—Mike, NYC



Generation Knight

This sounds less like a movie review and more like the ravings of a frustrated, poser-intellectual, social bully, with a generational superiority complex. You should spend less time making generalized judgments about an entire generation, while claiming to know what’s best for all of us. Stop whining. It’s a movie. You sound like a bitter, jealous, old, failed man.

—Christopher Watkins



A Deep-Down Idiot

Don’t allow an egotistical, hypocritical, elitist snob like Armond White to continue to make money through you. Honestly, he hides his lack of true intelligence and insight through a semi-extensive vocabulary; basically his idea seems to be that if he can sound intelligent you’ll believe he is. After looking over a number of his reviews, he contradicts himself at an alarming rate, comes to conclusions that routinely miss the point of what any film is trying to make, and he seems to think that he is above criticism as you cannot reply to him directly. Honestly I think he drags you down and most intelligent people see right through. Basically I find it insulting that you can allow someone to continue to benefit when he really isn’t that smart, really isn’t that good at his job, really isn’t at all in touch with people, and really isn’t that good at hiding his deficiencies.



Also it would be nice to have the option to talk to him—or other staff members—to see where they are coming from and why they think what they do. Sorry, it’s just this guy is so off the mark on most things that I think it makes you look bad, because deep down he really is an idiot.

—Adam Lewis



Our Knightly Right

The intense reaction to the negative The Dark Knight review posted on Rotten Tomatoes has a pretty simple source. It’s the perfect storm of a mass audience site, an intensely anticipated movie and a niche publication. I’ll admit, I found it distasteful, like a lot of the message board posters. Hopefully I can shed some light on the reaction.



Publications like the NY Press are a niche, and they serve a very specific audience that rejects the mainstream. With that in mind, Armond White’s review was less about the movie on its own merits, but reads like a reaction to its context. In this case, the context is the impressive hype and buzz.



Armond White has every right to dislike the movie on any grounds he wishes. That’s fine, and I think he does speak for his audience who will likely, by and large, also react to the context of the movies release. But being singled out as one of a very few negative reviews on a very popular site for a hotly anticipated film exposed his writings to people who are very much not his audience. What’s distasteful to most of us is the review’s subtext.



I often feel like there is a group who secretly suspect that they are smarter than other people, and are prone to react against popular things as an attempt to confirm it. That opinion may not be articulated by most, but I believe it is felt.



It’s disrespectful to anyone who anticipates the movie (which logically is everyone who looked it up), and shifts his review from a criticism of the movie itself to its audience. We are not able to “see past the product,” he claims. In doing so, he is casting judgment of all other judgments. It implies that we are incapable of his better perspective. Even referring to us simply as “consumers” strips us of our individuality in a way that “audience” or “public” or any other appropriate label does not. Audiences have reactions and opinions, consumers simply consume.



It’s a statement on class, of the intellectual class who is above this tripe, and the rest whose foolishness is exploited and consumes it. One sentence later, he claims that the movie successfully makes us servants to our Studio masters. It’s really outrageous to claim anyone’s fealty to entertainment.



Regardless, the strong reaction isn’t to the opinion of the movie, but the opinion of the audience.

—Dave Cicirelli

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Catholic Workers Did it First

While Joseph Huff-Hannon’s article is interesting (“Roommates for Jesus,” July 13-22), I was surprised by the lack of historical context. The Catholic Worker Movement was founded in New York City in 1933 by Peter Marin and Servant of God Dorothy Day and is still going strong all over the world with newspapers (The Catholic Worker is still published here), houses of hospitality and soup kitchens (two still active in the Bowery) and farms. With no support from either governments or from the institutional Church, the Catholic Worker Movement stridently seeks to witness the Gospel though communal living, radical giving, pacifism and anarchism. The old is new all over again, one must suppose.

—Bill Fox, Farmingdale, NY



Twentysomething Takedown


I am writing in response to Armond White’s recent review of the film The Dark Knight (“Knight to Remember,” July 13-22). I want to specify quickly, in light of the notion that your publication undoubtedly got bombarded by Batman fans throwing obscenities at Mr. White for giving the film an unfavorable review, that this has nothing to do with Batman at all (I have not even seen the film, I cannot disagree).



Instead, I have to say, as a person nearing the age of 21, that Mr. White has shown a scathing hatred of my generation in several of his reviews, and at its pinnacle in The Dark Knight article, it has become unacceptable.

It speaks to common sense to recognize that, despite perhaps being against the norm, there are 21-year-olds with a firm grasp of reality, an appreciation for the arts and oftentimes the same abrasive cultural politics that Mr. White so dominantly displays in his reviews.



My point simply is that Mr. White has literally insulted Heath Ledger (who’s recent and untimely death deserves at least a polite criticism if negative), Christopher Nolan (his age-wise peer and not to mention a Brit, which makes a lot of Mr. White’s “American consumers” babble absolutely nonsensical), and every one of the millions of young adults in the country in one fell swoop.



Twenty-year-olds are legal adults with the same rights as any 42-year-old in this nation. Many historical and contemporary figures have made amazing contributions by their 21st birthday. Stereotyping all 21-year-olds as nihilistic, mindless consumers is as inappropriate and inaccurate as calling all 65-year-olds senile old fools. Unfortunately, age is not congruent with wisdom; the years between 21 and 42 only provide an opportunity to accumulate and ponder more knowledge of the world, an opportunity that Mr. White has apparently squandered in regard to his knowledge of writing inoffensive, entertaining and informational film reviews.



I would appreciate it greatly if Armond White’s inappropriate writing style could be brought to his attention.

—Scott Pomykalski



Batman or Bust

Before you assign Armond White, or any writer for that matter, to review a film like The Dark Knight, please make sure that they fully understand the entire Batman mythology. I am a fellow journalist and I would be deeply ashamed if I wrote about a topic that I had not researched thoroughly, even if it’s just a review. Armond White’s narrow range of knowledge makes him a target for well-versed fans, critics and writers alike. The most ardent Batman followers do not necessarily regard Tim Burton’s 1989 film or the 1960s show as authoritative examples of Batman lore, and yet these two serve as White’s entire argument against The Dark Knight. Batman is not supposed to be fluffy and campy, which makes White’s assessment of the new film’s gloomy nature outright ridiculous. I have not seen The Dark Knight yet, but all I ask is just a little more thought and expertise from your writers.

—Oscar Pascual,

Contributor, SF Weekly



Not Your Mama’s Nihilism

A lone voice of sanity in the howling wilderness (or is it chaos of noise) is Armond White’s spot-on review of this “movie” [The Dark Knight]. Someone had the insight first and guts second to actually speak up about what is wrong with the whole thing. I was almost beginning to think something was wrong with me for not being in the least moved by the entire horror Batman genre and this nihilistic nonsense. Thanks for a moment of clarity.

—Cassandra LM Toth



Teach ‘Em What’s Right

Armond White’s review of The Dark Knight was spot on. Right from the moment I viewed the trailer, the film’s nihilistic point of view troubled me. Even though I may be in the target audience of high school students and twentysomethings, I do not buy into the film and its nihilistic tone. It’s ironic that such a dark and disturbing film, with its message of despair, should be so embraced by critics. Hardly anyone, even those who claimed they did not like the film, bothered to address the problems with the film’s central message. For this reason, I greatly appreciated Mr. White’s acute analysis that openly said something I myself had been thinking. I, too, found the quote, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain,” that was found in the trailer very troubling and not at all a good message to teach young people.

—Nadia Qazi

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Heights of Stupidity

“Choosing Washington Heights had been easy: It was affordable, and it was in Manhattan. What else did I need to know?” Well. I think Miss Kristen Bonarni Rapp announced her “gringa estúpida” status quite early in her essay (“Gringa in the Heights,” July 2-8), so let’s help her a little bit and tell her what else she needs to know.



As she enthusiastically mentioned, Washington Heights has survived wave after wave of immigrants, who like the Dominicans, share one thing new tenants don’t: poverty. Washington Heights—birthplace of Dominican-American luminaries like newspaper coverboy and sometime slugger A-Rod—it’s becoming the next frontier for white kids to turn into a center of douchebaggery like the Lower East Side (where Dominicans were rented out a decade ago.) There’s already a Nolita-type border that separates the old Washington Heights from the new: West of Broadway, or Hudson Heights, like kids who chose Wikipedia as their neighborhood selection tool prefer to call it. Home of the first Starbucks in the area and a sign of things to come.



This new wave of gringos, who possibly never lived a single day in poverty, possibly ignore the part of the Wikipedia article titled “crime epidemic.” During the Crack Era, Washington Heights was pretty much a war zone. Dominican news would cover the caskets coming out of planes in Aeropuerto Las Americas the same way Americans news covered their own during Vietnam. The Heights may be romanticized on Broadway now, but it wasn’t a nice place. Every story covered in the neighborhood by the local news had the words “crime,” “poor” and “tough” attached to the name in the same sentence. I imagine, the same way Hell’s Kitchen had it in the ’70s.



Anyone who has lived in the city long enough already knows where this is going. These middle-class white kids are soon going to be done with Manhattan—to the delight of landlords—and turn it into the fantasy island Giuliani and Bloomberg envisioned years ago.

—Harry Pujols, NY





Fascist Film Studies

I have just a few simple questions for Armond. One, in response to his Hellboy II review (“Hell Hath Obvious Limits,” July 9-15), I just want to ask, “Who the fuck are the Ting Tings and what in god’s name do they really have to do with Hellboy II?” It usually helps if the reviewer uses a reference to someone that readers might have actually heard of, therefore making the parallels that much easier. Week by week Armond is morphing more and more into Matthew Broderick’s NYU Film Studies professor in the film The Freshman. I’ll be sure to pick up my copy of Das Kapital in order to see how it corresponds to the Lake Tahoe sequence in Godfather 2. Thanks Armond.

—mdf0220



against the wind

I just wanted to pass along the note that Armond White is the finest film reviewer in America—and the most courageous one, as well—in an era of mindless and/or PC pack-mentality film criticism.



I just wanted to pass along my kudos because I fear someone with such independent, original and informed judgment is probably constantly in danger of being ostracized. His is the most valuable voice out there, all the more because he has the courage to stand against the wind. Best regards, and thank you for publishing his review column.

—Warren Fahy



Got it Good

Just read the Steven Doloff’s article “In Search of the Hard to Get” (July 2-8) and it was GOLD! From beginning to end. I loved the way it was written and the humor and realism. Flawless! Thanks for putting that article through—it came right on time.

—Tonya Tko

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Armond White is literally the worst, and by comparison, I am the best

If the inane, insufferable, and in fact brutally incoherent Armond White deserves a paid writing gig for your publication, I think I do too. This man is a cretin, and his pieces are often not even language but simply mere lists of words. Similarly, they are rarely subject to the logical framework of things like “thought” and “ideas” but fragments of tired and senseless memes colored by a fundamental misunderstanding (which every thoughtless complaint monger falls prey to) of our political and aesthetic culture.



The point being, of course, that there is a moral principle of equivalence (much like the physical one in alchemy) that demands that I be given a paid position with at least as much exposure as the charlatan Armond.

—Sheena



Obamafluke

C’mon, the movie [Hancock] was planned and made before Obama had a website (“The Pursuit of Crappyness,” July 2-8).

—James Day



Same Title, Different Story

Well, there you go again! It’s fair to criticize Trumbo as appearing too much the egotist (“Blacklist Blame,” June 25-July 1) to be the communist populist he purported to be, but why criticize him for Mission to Moscow, which he didn’t write? Howard Koch may not have known Trumbo, but Koch, not Trumbo, wrote Mission to Moscow (except the “Brother’s Keeper” ending producer Robert Buckner substituted for Koch’s original rhetoric about turning swords back into ploughshares…). An examination of the University of Wisconsin/Warner Bros. script library files clearly shows no official or unofficial involvement of Trumbo in Mission to Moscow, whether one agrees with his and/or Koch’s politics, it’s unfortunately a disservice to both of them to suggest—inaccurately— that Trumbo worked on the film. He didn’t…and [it’s] clearly a Howard Koch (sole-credited) script!



It’s an eerie coincidence that Trumbo won his screen story Oscar on Irving Rapper’s The Brave One now that the title of another Rapper film (not Trumbo), Deception, was also used for a current film with a different story. And now M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening (“Shock and Denial,” June 11-17) uses the titles of a 1967 Eliot Silverstein film that marked Faye Dunaway’s film debut and preceded her diving into Bonnie and Clyde.



I don’t dispute that Night earned his success with The Sixth Sense, even if it soon proved more controversial for him to show too many gratuitously dead people at the outset of Unbreakable a year before 9/11. Is death supposed to be a spectacle? Now Night has another superfluous film in The Happening, and it’s too bad Mike Myers wasn’t more of a satirist to remember why at least a few bars of Diana Ross and the Supremes’ hit, “The Happening,” actually would have been appropriately funny for The Love Guru (“Love Me True,” June 25-July 1). What’s more akin to that fat bastard Khrushchev banging his shoe at the U.N. while screaming “We will bury you!” is for film critics today to refuse to mention that new films called The Brave One, Deception, The Happening should not be confused with or mistaken for earlier films with same title, different story!

—Mike Snell, NY



Bryk in the Bag


I am very glad to see that William Bryk is back (“Bigger Than a Bread Box,” June 18-24). I always enjoyed William’s pieces in the New York Press, especially the ones that dealt with New York City history, and I was sorry when his pieces suddenly disappeared. Now that William is back, I’ll be a regular reader of the Press again.

—Jerry Weinberger

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Teetering With Trumbo

I have no desire to board the “I Hate Armond White” bandwagon. Most of the time, I find his contrarian perversity refreshing. But he does tend to get carried away with an argument, and an editor really should have challenged the assertion White makes in his review of Trumbo (“Blacklist Blame,” June 25-July1), the new documentary about screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. In the lead sentence of his review, White says that Trumbo “never wrote a great film.” Does Armond White really think that Spartacus—which he never mentions—isn’t a great film? I’m not going to sit around debating the relative merits of Roman Holiday, A Guy Named Joe and Gun Crazy; but any definition of “great film” that doesn’t include Spartacus is a definition I don’t recognize.

—Jack Lechner



On My Blacklist

Armond White is a loudmouth ignoramus. That is, he has an ideological agenda to push, which he doesn’t bother to support with facts. If he wants to say the Dalton Trumbo never made a great movie and he doesn’t consider say Spartacus or Lonely Are the Brave to be great movies, well fine. Today everybody can look up Trumbo’s filmography on the IMDb and decide whether or not White is a jerk or Trumbo a great screenwriter. What is so galling is the non-specificity of White’s limp but vitriolic review. Gee, a successful, Academy Award-winning screenwriter might have a big ego! And White never deals with one simple fact: Is it right to deny someone the right to work because of their political (and by extension their religious or moral) beliefs?



Not only writers were blacklisted. Actors and musicians were blacklisted, too. How does an actor act communistically? What is communist music? Further on White mentions the ‘infamous” Mission To Moscow, which, by the way, was not written by Trumbo. This was taken from a book written by the American ambassador to the Soviet Union and President Roosevelt personally requested that Jack Warner (Roosevelt’s first guest in the Lincoln bedroom) make the film. He assigned Howard Koch to write it as Koch was contractually obligated to do. It was a propaganda film whose purpose, like all propaganda films, was to help win the war. The United States needed the Soviet Union, and this wasn’t the time to hold our allies—either Stalin or the Soviet Union or even communism—up to criticism. Victory, in those days, was everything. Years after the war, Howard Koch was blacklisted for writing the film he was forced to write.

—Max Von Meyerling





ARMOND WHITE’s RESPONSE:

Granted, Trumbo did not write Mission to Moscow, but my point was that that film (like Trumbo’s Tender Comrades) did indeed contain Leftist propaganda that scholar Hanson claims did not exist. Mr. Von Mayerling, in his eagerness to call me names, misses Trumbo’s strongest point that the fabled Blacklist was, in fact, a film industry practice. It was studio execs who deprived artists of opportunity, not the government. Anyone named Von Mayerling should welcome revelations about an industry that virtually blacklisted the director of Mayerling to Sarajevo, Max Ophuls, as part of its financial bottom-line. Blacklisting is standard operating procedure in Hollywood, but it’s often covert.



No Apologies

Armond White’s work needs no apologies. He’s the most insightful commentator writing today about the movies. The fact that he often voices a minority opinion only re-enforces the sad state of American moviemaking and its unenlightened goofy audience.

—Tony Zaza, NY



Duty Bound

Wow. I sure hope the editors pay no attention to the Armond White hate letters that pour in every week. Mr. White often writes about the declining nature of film culture and comprehension, and to read the recent reader letters is further proof of that.



For example: Take “Adlai” from Gainsville, FL (“Cancerous Critic,” June 25-July 1). She’s the typical “entertain me” filmgoer that simply craves an innocuous up or down summary review of a film. These people are ruining film culture by rejecting the notion that films can offer anything below the surface. Not only does Adlai authoritatively tell NYPress that it is your “duty” (and Mr. White’s) to provide boring reviews, she even calls for the end of Mr. White’s career: “If four doctors say ‘cancer’ and one doctor says ‘not cancer’ over and over again, that fifth one shouldn’t be allowed to practice, since his consistently dissident advice could lead people who don’t bother checking other sources to false conclusions.”



Unbelievable. I know Mr. White isn’t phased by this type of moronic thinking, but I hope the NYPress editors would never truly give it credence. I’ve written in many times to defend Mr. White because he’s the greatest film and culture critic we have. I will continue to fight for him: It would be a major loss to the world of criticism if he was let go.

—Mark Osborn, Austin, TX

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Bromancer

LOVE the paper. But I’m beginning to think that the guy who decides what story gets published for “Flavor Of The Week” heavily favors women. He’s like the total opposite of gay. He’s like the dude in Clerks who says: “I HATE guys—I LOVE women!” Week after week, it’s a female author (and I love women, too). Let’s give a break to the boys now and then.

—Rob Santana



Cancerous Critic

As a reader of the New York Press, I’ve noticed that Armond White seems to disagree often with the majority of critics, myself and many other moviegoers I know. I understand that everyone has his own taste, but as a newspaper to whom people look for advice on what movies to see, you have a duty to provide reviews that are relevant to the average moviegoer.



If four doctors say “cancer” and one doctor says “not cancer” over and over again, that fifth one shouldn’t be allowed to practice, since his consistently dissident advice could lead people who don’t bother checking other sources to false conclusions.

—Adlai, Gainesville, FL



Don’t Hate Us Hairless Apes

This [Incredible Hulk review, “Impenetrable Hulk,” June 11-17] is one of the most pompous and insulting reviews of anything (film, theater, books) I have read in a long time. It’s OK that he doesn’t like the film or the genre of comic book films in general, but there is a tone and several insinuations (“peanut-gallery consensus,” for example) that seem to indicate that those who may enjoy the genre are little more than hairless apes who could never appreciate a movie as sophisticated as Transporter 2. There are many different genres of movies (something your reviewer would like to see eliminated apparently), and we all have our biases. The trouble with your reviewer [Armond White] is that he seems to hate not only the genre but the people who enjoy it as well.

—Dirk Mysterio



Caliber of Crap

I’ve just read the review (or, should I say, the bludgeoning) of The Incredible Hulk, and I’m surprised to see how vitriolic it is. This is no surprise, having read the pseudo-intellectual review of Iron Man (“Greed Racer,” May 7-13) one Armond White provided for your pleasure (or displeasure?), but this one in particular struck a sour chord with me. A question: Is there a definitive distinction your critic has made between timeless pop culture references and references to the war in Iraq (or some other controversial subject of the decade, needlessly applied to all levels of entertainment nowadays)? While the artistic merit of the film, which I have seen, is up for dispute, Mr. White has shown a lack of respect for any genre that does not aspire to recreate the likes of Citizen Kane ad nauseum.



Which brings me to my second question: Why does Mr. White continue to offer his services—or, alternatively, why does the Press continue requesting his services—if he consistently offers noting but contempt for these diversions? While White is definitely an accomplished critic, the bias held toward comic-book films that, in particular, do not dilute the source material is astonishing.



I find his critique to be lacking in a basic grasp of characterization during this entire tirade. This segment stands out as one such example (quoted sans academic citation): “There’s an ugly sequence where a trifling scientist (Tim Blake Nelson) declares ‘I hate the government as much as anyone,’ then exposes Banner and gives in to Roth’s antagonist (‘It’s beautiful! It’s god-like!’). It’s an unscrupulous plot turn. That this quasi-gay scientist admires the Nietzschean villain and dies with a freakish, orgasmic grimace is meaningless—offering none of Spielberg’s action-movie ethics, just shallow liberal, adolescent excitation. In the end, these allegorical characters fail comic-book myth. Indefinably good-vs.-evil, they stand for nothing.” My bewilderment is first with how the character’s orientation (never stated in the film) has anything to do with the greater characterization. Moving on, the traits of Dr. Sterns (the character isn’t even named for the discretion of the reader in this review) clearly do not fall into the bland “good or bad” definition Mr. White endeavors to put this particular summer release into. Mr. White seems to consider the whole affair to be quite base, which may have blinded him to this character’s nature—the “anarchist-turned-power-hungry scientist.” That caliber of gray material has been in films since the days of film noir, and recently in—what a surprise!—Batman Begins. Remember that “crappy” comic book film? All in all, I must call into question how the slightly profane and entirely belligerent attitude White has expressed toward this genre makes him qualified to look past this inherent bias and deliver an admirable review. If White cannot deliver, then why not find someone who can apply proper film critique without the undeserved venom toward the potential audience and be done with it?

—David, NY

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Not So Comical

I found Armond White’s review of The Incredible Hulk (“The Impenetrable Hulk,” June 11-17) to be somewhat rude [since], in his final line, he seems to suggest that fans of comics are immature and culturally unsophisticated. Perhaps he didn’t enjoy the new film adaptation of The Incredible Hulk; however, that is no excuse for suggesting fans of the comics need to “grow up and become cineastes.” The idea that comic book fans are immature is somewhat archaic as adult-orientated comics and graphic novels have been in production for years.

While it is certainly true that some comic books are immature, basic in storytelling and broad in their characterization, others have produced intricate plots with rounded characters backed by serious thought and hard work on the part of the writers.



Alan Moore’s Watchmen is widely recognized as a fantastic and mature read. His The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is peppered with references to classic literature from A Princess of Mars and The Tempest to Bleak House and The Call of Cthulhu. I suppose this should have gone over my head, as I am a fan of Hulk comics and therefore far too immature to have read, much less spot references to, historical works of adult fiction. Of course in the case of The Hulk there are years worth of comics to get through and, as such, the quality is inconsistent; but I would recommend Jeph Loeb and his Hulk: Gray as a decent jumping off point. I watch and appreciate what I consider to be a pretty decent variety of films. Does that mean I’m a cineaste and thus have to abandon an appreciation of any other form of storytelling—as film is the one true way? Or perhaps I’m not welcome in the cineaste club as I openly read comics. I take offence when I read a review by someone who, clearly seeing himself as an intelligent and culturally aware writer closes their film review by belittling the fans of an entire medium based on outdated preconceptions and no attempt at understanding. I would suggest Armond White take his own advice and grow up rather than looking down his nose and belittling people that have a fondness for things he doesn’t.

—Rob Grundy, U.K.



Hulk You

Wow, I have never read such a vitriolic and spiteful review before in my life. Your review was not about The Incredible Hulk movie; it was about all the insane little metaphors YOU attributed to the movie. Perhaps it was lost in your “I need to sound intelligent, so I’m going to try way too hard” pretentious prose, but I don’t think I saw three opinions about the movie itself. Instead, you rant on and on about the political b.s. that you gleaned from the movie, so that even after plodding through your unreadable tripe, I still have no idea what you actually thought of the story; other than the fact that it reminded you of all your own biases.



Get another job, because you’re a terrible reviewer. And here’s a prime example of why: “Now there’s a new film version titled The Incredible Hulk, starring actor-auteur Edward Norton; it’s the crappy summer blockbuster Marvelites probably deserve.” When you go out of your way to insult people you obviously know nothing about—as a fan of Marvel, I still have little interest in this movie—then you’ve failed as a reviewer.

—Joshua O’Neill,

Howard Beach, Queens



Dead Horse, My Ass

I just finished reading a rebuttal letter to Russ Smith from a guy named Don Stitts (“Die and Find Out,” June 11-17) concerning Senator Kennedy and his illness…I kinda take offense at Mr. Stitt’s asumption that the “Chappaquiddick” incident is a dead horse that cost Mr. Kennedy the presidency. Do you think the Kopechne family feels the same way?



I’d venture to say that there are many people in prison who did similar things and they never aspired to the presidency. The statement Mr. Stitts makes confirms the double standard that exists. Was Mr. Kennedy drunk? Did he leave that woman to die? It seems to be the facts, but he got off because he is a Kennedy, and the Kennedys have never lived in the real world that middle class America lives in.



I know, as a middle-class American, I wouldn’t run off and let someone die in my car for a mistake I made. If Mr. Stitts thinks that not being able to be president is punishment enough for Mr. Kennedy, then I can only hope he says the same thing when one of his family members suffers the same fate as Mary Jo Kopechne. I bet he’d sing a different tune then. Life experiences define the person we are, and I wouldn’t be defined by the fact that I left a woman to die in my car to save my own political ass.

—Larry Nava, Jersey City, NJ

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Human Nature, Asshole

Regarding Russ Smith’s article on Ted Kennedy (“Teddy Without Tears,” June 4-10): I strongly take issue with Russ Smith’s criticism of Patrick Leahy’s expression of enormous grief at the diagnosis of his friend Ted Kennedy. Smith argues that Leahy ought to get his head checked if he feels more grief at an old man dying than, for example, the 3,000 who died on September 11th. But I for one admit, human nature—or at least mine—being what it is, if God forbid, a close family member of mine was diagnosed with a terrible disease, I would actually feel more horrible than I do over facts of mass deaths brought to me in news coverage.



Tens of thousands died in China recently, in Burma, in Iraq, and while I throw up my hands and decry the authorities, or feel, vicariously, something for the dead, it just does not compare to intense personal loss. Also, I have to admit, that while I am as aware as Russ of many of the Kennedy foibles and incidents of hideous behavior over the years—I think mainly of Chappaquiddick, but also of the many lesser examples of unfair treatment he’s received because of who he is—I briefly broke down and sobbed when I heard about his diagnosis. Why was that?



I had to admit I was reacting as if it was a close friend. Maybe the media, over the years, pressed him into my consciousness so much I thought of him as family. But more than once now, whenever they show him walking around while saying something about the tragedy, I might cry for half a minute. Beats me.

—Ron Grunberg



Die and Find Out


A few words of advice to Russ Smith on the subject of how better to impersonate a journalist: 1) When writing an obit, it is generally best to await the subject’s death. (This way one cannot be embarrassed by surgery or other unexpected recoveries.) 2) When writing an obit for someone you hold in low regard, it is prudent to stick to the facts, and not become mired in vituperative ranting, which only makes you look amateurish and childish. 3) When writing an obit for someone you hold in low regard who has, nonetheless, given five decades of service to his nation, the best narrative tone is one of respect, however insincere it may be. 4) When beating a dead horse named “Chappaquiddick,” it might be worth pointing out that the mere mention of its name prevented the Senator from a clear shot at the White House, a severe penalty for what most fair and reasonable newspapermen would accurately describe as a tragic accident. 5) Ever wonder what people will write about you when you are dying? Me neither. Why don’t you fucking die so we can all find out?

—Don Stitt, Manhattan



A Lapse of Manners

Why the fuss over a dying senator?



Pardon me for pointing out that you are talking about a dying man, a dying husband and father and surrogate father to his two murdered brothers’ children.



Your lack of sensitivity and compassion for Senator Ted Kennedy and his family is contemptible; but sadly it is yet another sign of the times we live in where a good cover story is considered more important than the respect for a human life, a time where we gun down undesirables on the streets, bomb entire villages suspected of harboring “evil ones” and trash our planet for the sake of profit and ever more “progress.” Now that truly is a grim situation.



And you, Mr. Smith, are without doubt a callous man of these times!

—Anji Janitschek, NYC



Favored Son

I’m glad that Russ Smith has not drunk the Kool-Aid regarding Old Joe Kennedy’s last son. Save deification for the Red Sox if you must. As for Teddy dying, aren’t we all really?

—Joan M. Macey, Binghamton, NY

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Grind that Axe, Armond

Armond White belongs to the Pauline Kael school of reviewing: Pour the words on something you don’t like. Why such detail and the feeling of venom I sense in White’s review of [Savage Grace (“New Queer Bomb,” May 28-June 3)], something that so appalls other than an opportunity to rage against something that has hit home? Just what is he trying to prove? How tough and mean he can be after the fact? I doubt I will see the picture: No deference to the review. The subject does not appeal to me. (I am now reading Lot’s Daughters so kindly don’t lecture me.) Armond has an axe to grind. I think he owes it to his readers to explain it.

—Irwin Moss, L.A.



Mouthful of Nothing


Amazing that a movie reviewer [like Armond White] can say so much about so little (Opiate of the Lasses, May 28-June 3). I don’t know which is worse—the pretensions of the movie [Sex and the City] or of the writer.

—Shan Finney



Choke on It

Dear Armond White: I think I love you. Thank you a billion-fold for trashing Trash in the City… Uh, er, Sex and the City. And to those who go apcalyptic (sic) upon reading your critiques, I say: Let them eat their copy of New York Press… and maybe choke on it?

—C. Yannis



Male Chauvinist Reader

Simon Abrams’ reading list (“An Elitist’s Summer Reading List,” May 28-June 3) is exclusively male. That’s fucked up.

—Cate Marvin, Staten Island



An Xpert Witness

I enjoyed your interview with Exene Cervenka (“Magical Meteorite,” May 28-June 3), but I just wanted to mention that there was some misinformation in the writer’s comments where it’s stated: “Zoom left the band in 1986, and they recorded one album, See How We Are, with Dave Alvin in his place before disbanding. X then reformed with Zoom in ‘93 to record Hey Zeus! and has toured on a periodic basis since.”



That’s not true. Dave Alvin only played on one or two tracks on See How We Are and only toured with them once, in mid-1986. Tony Gilkyson played on the rest of SHWA, Live at the Whiskey A Go-Go, all of Hey Zeus! and the live acoustic, 1995’s Unclogged and then toured with them from late 1986 until 1996 or so. Billy Zoom rejoined X in 1998.

—Tony Palmer, Lagunitas, Calif.



Ate it Up

Your review of Ate Ave (“The Quicker Picker Upper,” May 14-20) was hilarious. Thanks for making me laugh out loud during a stressful workday.

—Jane Kratochvil



A Strand Supporter

I read “Struggle at the Strand” (April 30-May 6) and the subsequent letters to the editor and am completely dumbfounded. Does Kimberley Thorpe or your readers have any idea how difficult the bookselling business is and how hard it is to maintain an independent bookstore in a market dominated by Amazon and Barnes & Noble?



Look at the difficulties a chain like Borders is having. For every B&N that goes up (or closes, like the recent  superstore on 6th Avenue and West 20th Street), another independent bookstore in the city goes out of business. Book Row is long gone, and recently we’ve lost Books & Company, the Gotham Book Mart and Coliseum Books. That Fred and Nancy Bass are running the Strand like a business, trying to make a profit, is the reason this 80-year-old bookstore is still around; and, given the difficulties of the economy, it’s to their credit.



I cannot speak to the racial issues implied in the article, but I can speak to the need for the Strand, the need for the Strand in New York, and the need for the Strand to remain profitable and survive among the chains. I salute them for continuing their family tradition, and for maintaining an excellence in bookselling that Barnes & Noble and Amazon and Borders could only hope to one day emulate.

—Charles Kochman, NYC



Cheated and Chided

Let me add to the discussion about the Strand bookstore from another perspective—that of the seller of review and other books. I was cheated regularly by the book buyers, who were often antagonistic when asked to slow down as they zipped through the volumes and did the additions in their heads and arrived at arbitrary sums. Books from my own library were denigrated, even though I knew they were often worth much more than the low prices offered, often with a sneer. The people at the Strand, no doubt, feel that theirs is the only game in town and in that way justify taking advantage of sellers.

—Mark Tomlinson, NY

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Respect the Penis

[Susie Forestal’s] column is incredibly wrongheaded and offensive (Flavor of the Week: “Oh, Danny Boy!” May 21-27). If your current boyfriend, whoever he is, were to retort with the argument that you have a large, ugly, vagina with large vaginal lips that are kind of gross and a sort of bad smell…well you get the idea. It is simply beneath you to get into that kind of stuff about his penis and your lover’s penis (in a chatty column for sure). Also: Is your boyfriend reading this with all of us? He is a human being, correct? C’mon, Suze, remember he can cry as easily as all of us. He has an ego and an identity, and he has to walk around inside that skin of his for the rest of his days. Can you cut him some level of respect—just normal decency here—and not spill to him that he basically means almost less than gnat shit to you? That his faith in something he was calling a relationship is ruptured, but hey, you got a good column out of it?



You’re better than that. And I know that he—and anyone in your life—deserves better. Because everyone deserves better than that, Suze. Everyone who is not actively involved in, say, trying to destroy you—which is most of the people in your life. You have to think about what it means to be a person; you are one and just have to act like one, y’know?



Finally, I want to sort of touch on the rather unique “white woman’s lament” about sex and love. You don’t routinely hear black or Asian women blabbing all over the net about their lovers’ parts, sex or multiple boyfriends. The legacy of the white-woman sex columnist is a really bad and sad one.



Life is short, everyone deserves respect, especially people who you are involved with. You’re an adult now, hon, show some maturity. You’re better than that.

—Todd S., Bushwick, Brooklyn



Beloved Bronx

Sorry City Island was not to Kate Teller’s taste (8 Million Stories: “La Vie en Bronx,” May 21-27), but she was looking for La Vie En Manhattan in the Bronx, and the Bronx is not Manhattan (nor would those of us who live here want it to be). By the way, City Island is a great place to live, even if she found it romantically disappointing.

—Sandi Lusk, the Bronx



The Idiot

I’m going to keep this brief and to the point; Armond White is a complete idiot. I have never read such pompous/elitist writing (“Greed Racer,” May 7-13), especially considering that the pompous writing is wrapped up in utterly idiotic opinions. This guy is a complete disgrace to his profession and should be isolated in a crazy chamber so that only he can hear/read his stupidity.

—Preston Arnett



Ebert the Great

I appreciated reading Armond White’s recent column regarding the state of current film criticism (“What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Movies,” April 23-28). I definitely agree with you in your general tone. Most young people today don’t have any real knowledge of films before 1990, let alone anything with subtitles. It really is a shame, given that for me, the wealth of great cinema lies in the past, with filmmakers constantly experimenting. Even the classics of Golden Age Hollywood are largely forgotten. It is interesting to see how the Internet has democratized criticism, giving a voice to the average fan, and it is an exciting prospect in theory; but yes, the majority of blogs show people who are seriously ill-informed, regardless of their passion for the latest $200 million blockbuster. Critics, at least the traditional, more serious ones, seem less like they embrace this trend, but I think it seems as if they have given in to the current state of Hollywood without a fight.



However, I must take a degree of umbrage with your view of Roger Ebert’s criticism. Siskel and Ebert, despite reducing criticism on their show to a baseline thumbs formula, were nevertheless intelligent and perceptive. The fact that their heated arguments were entertaining and that they begat more shallow entertainment successors should not be a strike against them. More seriously, however, I question your general attitude to Mr. Ebert’s criticism. If you have read any of his print reviews, you should know him not only to be a strong writer but also one with an inexhaustible knowledge of film history. Read any one of his “Great Movies” essays and that should become immediately apparent.



Other than that, and your questionable grouping of socially retrograde or pseudo-serious films (Zodiac and There Will Be Blood for example. And Army of Shadows? It’s an indisputable classic!), I share your views on the state of current criticism.

—Daniel Morris

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Four Eyes, You’re the One

Let me get this straight: You’re a nerd if you wear glasses? Why are all 16 of your nerds (“The Cool Nerd,” May 14-20) wearing them? And your former nerd [Benjamin Nugent] is without them. It’s like a movie from the ’50s—take off the glasses, let down the hair and ta-dah!

—Kylis, Maplewood NJ



More Asians on the Menu

Great paper. I stumbled upon you while trying to find some smut on Francis Cardinal Spellman (“Franny”) and his down-low sexual behavior. I found that nice piece by Michelangelo Signorile. That led to the meditation on “DILF” (“Say Aaaaah…” May 14-20). It was good to read about that kind of relationship from the other side, and I like the fact that the author of the piece didn’t present her dalliance as a world-historical tragedy or an exercise in victimage right out of White Women’s Studies 101. The writing is superb; a much-needed relief from my subscriptions to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Nation, Counterpoint and others.



One question, other than the obligatory Asian-American faces you slapped onto the “nerd” feature, do you have any such writers of said ethnicity working for you other than in production, art/layout or website maintenance? Have you noticed that NYC is just chock full of them Oriental people? It just might be interesting to find out what’s going on in their inscrutable little minds via the writing process. And no, they aren’t just like white boys/girls but with a strong work ethic. So I’d like to read something about their lives if you wouldn’t mind obliging me. Peace. I have you bookmarked and will be checking in periodically.

—Darrell Hamamoto, UC Davis, CA



Dems Fighting Words

Dear Ms. Schimansky: I read your letter in the New York Press (“Hillary or Bust,” May 8-14). While I disagreed with elements of your rebuttal of Russ Smith’s [column, “Historical Blindness”], I appreciated your passion. However, your declaration that many Hillary supporters will sit out the 2008 general election struck me as petulant and contrary to the values of our party. The primary campaign has been very competitive and hard fought. But like any contest, one side emerges victorious. There is no need for acrimony.



Our goal should be the defeat of John McCain. We need to elect a Democratic president who will end the war in Iraq, revise and expand our domestic economy, restore our standing in the world, invest in our schools, colleges and universities as well as rebuild our roads, bridges and transportation infrastructure.



As Democrats, we do our nation and ourselves a disservice when we talk about sitting out an election. I hope I have succeeded in encouraging you to put aside your disappointment and to direct your considerable energy in helping to elect a Democrat as our next president. When we accomplish that victory, I want to be able to say, “I told you so.”

—Michael Benjamin,

NY State Assembly Member



Abuse of Comedy

I find it strange that a woman [like Julie Klausner] who makes a career out of skewering anything anti-woman, including a scathing review of the Skinny Bitch diet book (also one of the subjects of a video), would make a statement like this [in “Here’s… Yanni,” May 14-20]: “The reason why we have Yanni in the show—not just because it makes me laugh to see David wear a mustache—is because in real life, Yanni was Linda Evans’ live-in lover for nine years,” Klausner says. “And based on Yanni’s arrest record for domestic violence at the time, we can deduce that he hit her at least once. Which is shocking considering that Linda Evans is built like a brick shithouse and has hands the size of large hamsteaks swaddled in thick leather.”



So do I understand this correctly? That Ms. Klausner is using not only the possibility that Linda Evans was physically abused as a jumping off point for comedy, but her looks as well? I’m no comedy prude, and I don’t subscribe to any PC guidelines in my own work, but I do feel that making fun of a woman for something she can’t control—her looks—is easy and shameful. Ms. Evans has never spoken about any sort of abuse at the hands of Yanni, so I can’t even give Ms. Klausner a “fair game” comedy out on this one. It seems Ms. Klausner is looking out for the ladies until it’s funny not to.

—Sean Abley



Power to the Critic


Armond: I love reading your reviews and opinions. You’re one of the few critics who can understand the culture of the world and what films really mean. This review [of What Happens in Vegas, “The Newlywed Game,” May 14-20] may put you on the spot as being weak to some, but I found your opinion in this movie unusual. The name is Jeffrey Zanker, and maybe we can chat about a few movies. I’m going to see Indiana Jones next week, and I’m not reading your opinion beforehand, so let’s see to that. Keep up the power.

—Jeffrey Zanker

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Swine Time
I noticed a peculiar article, “Gut Instinct: What Would Jew Do?” (May 7-13) by a Joshua M. Bernstein, where he carries on about how he, a son of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, eats bread on Passover, as though it is a big sin on his part. While certain denominations of Judaism might consider him a Jew, Orthodox rabbis would not. Consequently, although he thinks that his having undergone a bar mitzvah ceremony makes him a Jew, by Orthodox standards it doesn’t. So what is he knocking himself out for with this article? As far as they are concerned, he can eat all the pork and bacon he wants to. No big deal.

—Ed Goldsmith

Cash Cow
As another worker at the Strand, I found Kimberley Thorpe’s article on the tension inside the Strand (“Struggle at the Strand,” April 30-May 6) to be a welcome look into a situation I and my co-workers encounter every day. It did, however, tend to revolve exclusively around the possible racial discrimination angle, which is just one aspect of the situation in the bookstore. The Strand’s biggest problem is that of its identity. Nancy Bass Wyden does seem to see and manage the store more as a cash machine than a bookstore. Of course, as your readers pointed out, that could be seen as her prerogative. After all, what storeowner wouldn’t want to increase the store’s profit margin?

The realization that the Strand is not some sort of high-minded literary oasis but just another business—as some readers pointed out—is not enough. In fact, it is about time New Yorkers came to terms with the fact that the romantic, literary vibe the Strand advertises is nothing more than a misleading tactic by a management that is quite comfortable with unethical labor practices and seems to have no idea how to deal with their employees. Indeed, the store management did illegally pressure workers to sign the new contract in order to neutralize the possibility of a strike; and the climate that Wyden maintains through her underlings (because that is how she sees them) is one of intimidation rather than sound business practice.

I’m amazed that Wyden cannot see the obvious tension she creates in how she deals with the store’s reputation as a cultural landmark, the expectations of the educated and ambitious store employees and her own expectations as a businesswoman. If a store is entitled to do what it needs to make a profit, at least Wyden shouldn’t be allowed to pretend she’s some sort of patron for the literary arts and take advantage of an image that the store barely deserves. I am sure that the Strand is becoming no different than a Barnes & Noble (only with dustier aisles). So don’t let the grandstanding about a family tradition fool you that this is a mom-and-pop store that doesn’t offend your armchair anti-capitalist sensibilities. It isn’t and it shouldn’t pretend it is.

—George Kakouris, Brooklyn


Kael Was a Wanker, Too

Thumbs up on Armond’s article (“What We Talk About When We Talk About Movies,” April 23-29) Dogme ’95 (tee-hee), as it is correctly spelled, is not legitimate—good call. Most film critics and bloggers are wasting our time, true. I’m also glad that he got something special out of War of the Worlds, but it still boils down to personal opinion. Across the board on either side of the imagined fence (Kael or Ebert) there are cinephiles who haven’t read a book in years and look down their nose at anyone who likes Tarantino or Iron Man. Is the point of a review or a film to remind us we are human? And if so, what does human mean? The same? Whatever a lobby group tells us a movie can say? Planet Terror is a personal film about community, family, xenophobia, believing in yourself and cooking—all issues that are part of Robert Rodriguez as well as the spirit and sport of the genres in which he plays.

In fairness to Ebert, he does great informative DVD commentaries. Kael had her own form of wanking. An idea is just that—whether it comes from a critic or a filmmaker. And just because there is a lot of junk blogging online doesn’t mean people aren’t mentally engaged in serious personal discussion once in a while using a movie as the springboard.

Happy Mother’s Day all the same.

—William La Rochelle, Toronto

The Resistance Will Persist
I wanted to thank you for writing what shall be the most important film essay this year (and of the past 10 years, for that matter). I’m sure you will get the regular bloggers and critics sending you hate mail, and I’m sure that in less than eight hours there will be an online movement against you, but please know that there are film lovers out here that consider you to be the greatest critical mind of our time.

Honestly, your opinion is the ONLY ONE that challenges me on a weekly basis. That should reinforce the points you made in your essay. Please continue your brilliant work (your collection Resistance is one of my bibles).

—Mark Osborn

P.S. Thank you for introducing me to the films of Julian Hernández. If you didn’t have a column, I would have never heard of him or Broken Sky and A Thousand Clouds of Peace.

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Love the Lit Life

I work in the web department at the Strand bookstore. Your article (“Struggle at the Strand,” April 30-May 6), which has begun to circulate around the store as I type this, is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of unethical behavior on the part of the Strand’s management. I cannot tell you what a relief it is to know that the press is finally cluing in to the Strand’s hypocrisy.



Yes, the Strand was close to striking, and while negotiations were pending, management committed several unfair labor practices—attempts were made to persuade unknowing employees to agree to the new medical plan. The Strand has openly violated the contract for several years, and they have done this knowingly. In short, they know that even though we have a union, they are the ones with an expensive lawyer and all the money to provide them with the best legal counsel.



One of the main, and unfortunate, reasons the Strand did not go on strike was because our union leader, Horace, appeared to be towing the party line, urging us essentially not to strike. Perhaps he has given way to complacency like so many others here have.



If you want an idea of how it is to work at the Strand, it reminds one of communist-era East Germany in the 1980s. You can love your country, but you may not speak ill of it. Have you ever seen The Lives of Others?

I’d like to add that I am not another disgruntled worker. I have been a hard worker here at the Strand because it is a store whose essence I believe in. I believe that knowledge should come at low prices. However, I am of the strong opinion that the Strand has indeed become corrupted by greed. Instead of ignoring these issues, Strand management needs to assess their treatment of employees both on an emotional and financial level. They may know how to market their name, but they know nothing of human relations.

—Elizabeth Dosta, Greenpoint, Brooklyn



Caught a Bass

Someone who worked at the Strand for seven years is claiming they fired her because she’s an “African American”? What a crock. She was cited for tardiness 12 times in two months? Could that have anything to do with her being suspended/fired? Why didn’t she just show up on time after the first citation?



I was at the Strand recently. Somebody apparently was late and wasn’t yet out on the floor. The line I was in to sell them my used books was long. An exasperated man stepped up and took my books and led me to a register. The man was Fred Bass, owner of the bookstore. He wasn’t late for work (and he stepped in at a cash register to check me out), which is why he and Nancy run a successful business.



It is difficult for business owners to find good workers. Being good simply requires showing up on time and doing the job properly. It’s that simple. No business owner wants to fire someone. Replacing someone requires interviews, which are business costs that can be avoided if current employees can be kept. But if someone shows up late for work 12 times in two months they should expect to be fired, not just suspended.



Here’s a tip for any dissatisfied employees anywhere, including the whiners at the Strand: If you really don’t like where you work, quit. You’ll be happier.

—Brian Teasley



Holden Caulfield, Aisle 4

I wanted to commend you on your article regarding the Strand bookstore’s mistreatment of its employees. As someone who has worked for the Strand for several years, I can attest to the absolutely abysmal managerial strategies that are employed by the store’s upper echelon. While Ms. Thorpe’s article focused on events that occurred in the past and concerned individuals who I did not know personally, this piece could not have been more topical, as Nancy Bass Wyden’s hostility and ire have been particularly rampant as of late and have affected virtually every employee, regardless of gender, ethnicity or work ethic. Nancy Bass Wyden is a sallow-faced vulture who goes out of her way to punish people for the most trivial of offenses, while Eddie Sutton trolls the aisles like the vice principal of a middle school, waiting for one of us to fuck up. We are treated as liabilities, not as assets. The majority of us are well-educated people who genuinely care about doing a good job at work and this kind of behavior is insulting, especially when it is administered by someone who is as out-of-touch with the nature of her profession as Nancy is.



The following may seem to be the stuff of myth and gossip, but it has been verified to me by several managerial sources: Several years ago, Nancy was helping a customer who was looking for a book by Nietzsche and she typed “KNEE CHEE” into the search field of the computer; another time she was informed that a famous person was shopping in the store and when she asked who it was, a mischievous employee joked, “Holden Caulfield.” Nancy then proceeded to brag to other managers that Holden Caulfield was shopping in the store. The point is this: The Strand is not some friendly, family-run company that rests upon pillars of intellect. Let us dispel the notion that the Strand exists as an anachronism—an anchor grounding us to the past, reminding us of an older, hipper New York. Let us squelch the erroneous assumption that the Strand is a triumphant underdog that is heroically attempting to withstand the throttle of gentrification. At the end of the day, the Strand is just another capitalist enterprise (albeit more poorly run than most). I suggest that people take their patronage elsewhere.

—An anonymous and severely disgruntled employee of Strand, Inc.



And This Too Shall Pass

Thank you for the thorough piece on Nancy Bass Wyden and the Strand. I worked at the Strand in the mid-1980s. Having graduating from Bryn Mawr, I was pursuing my MA in English at NYU. (I’m now on the English faculty at S.F. State.) Even 20 years ago, we Strand employees had a bad feeling about Nancy when it came to the prospect of her running the store. From her demeanor on her occasional visits, it was clear that she was ignorant of the literary culture that was the lifeblood of the place. As we sat around a pitcher of beer at the Cedar Tavern after work, we’d predict an unfortunate future for the Strand.  It’s sad to see that our prognostications were accurate. One can only hope that the Nancy Bass Wyden phase will not spell the end of a grand tradition.

— Katherine Powell Cohen, San Francisco, CA



Business as Usual

Wow, what an article. Three women who are African American get fired. We are talking about people who showed up late, took unauthorized breaks and took unauthorized time off from work. These are union workers, and firing union workers without justification is not an easy thing to do. Oh, and no evidence of discrimination was ever documented and the union dropped all charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board. Excuse me, but maybe I missed something here. Just what did the Strand do wrong?



Maybe the fact that the Strand is trying to improve their profit margin is the issue. Wow, that would be groundbreaking and certainly worth a front-page story. I guess the Strand going broke and going out of business but holding to whatever standards the New York Press thinks they should be held to would be a better alternative. Oh, I know, the Strand should try and treat their employees as well as the New York Press treats theirs, and be just as profitable.

—Dan Freeman, Brooklyn



Hillary or Bust

Russ Smith is wrong when he states that Obama’s appeal to the blacks (“Historical Blindness,” April 30-May 6) will compensate for his lack of appeal to older voters. The fact is that blacks comprise only 12 percent of the electorate, while voters 18-44 made up only 31 percent of the electorate in Pennsylvania. The youth vote has only made a difference in the Iowa caucus. In the Democratic primaries Obama is losing the white and the Hispanic voters. His winning combination of blacks and upscale liberal whites in the primaries make him unelectable for the fall election. Obama has demonstrated that does not appeal to blue collar and middle-class voters. Hillary is right: Obama is unelectable.



Russ Smith is also wrong when he says that when the primaries are over Hillary supporters will unite around and support Obama. That is not true. Many Hillary supporters like myself will sit out the 2008 election. We feel that this election was stolen from by a media that promoted Obama as if he were the resurrection of Jesus Christ—who if elected would solve all our problems. We resent the characterization of the Clintons as mudslingers in contrast to Obama who is supposedly  above fray practicing a so-called new form of politics. But the fact is that Obama and his gang sling mud with the best of them, especially when they unfairly characterize the Clintons as racists. If the Democrats nominate Obama I hope he loses so I can have the _satisfaction of saying, “I told you so.”

—Reba Shimansky, Upper West Side

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This Week: Our 20th Anniversary issue reveals unresolved issues; and Armond’s finicky fan club speaks up.



Former Press Editor Speaks Out


I have not been, and would not be, associated with the New York Press since the pigfuckers who bought it from Russ Smith unceremoniously canned me, via a phone call from a flunky, two days before Christmas 2002. Merry Xmas, Mr. Strausbaugh, and rots a ruck. So I was surprised to see my name on the cover of the “20th Anniversary” issue (April 23-28). The roll call of fallen heroes on the cover clearly suggests we all had something to do with this issue, when obviously most of us did not, and a lot of us definitely would not. I’m guessing you meant it as a nod to the paper’s golden age, but it looks like you’re glomming on to a legacy to which you have no claim. There’s NYP 1988-2002, and then there’s whatever it’s been since. And that’s not just me gassing about the good old days. If you limited that roll call to people who came to the paper after 2002 there’d be… let’s see… four names. And the list of those who were associated with the paper 1988-2002 could have been vastly expanded (off the top of my head: Taki, Alexander Cockburn, Norah Vincent, Michael Gentile, Mimi Kramer, George Tabb, Celia Farber, Lionel Tiger, Alan Cabal, David Sedaris, JT Leroy, Danny Hellman, Christopher Caldwell, Dave Eggers, Jennifer Blowdryer, Lucian Truscott IV, Ted Castle, Takeshi Tadatsu, Michaelangelo Signorile, and let us not forget Claus von Bulow, among many, many others).



Armond’s having written half the issue notwithstanding, the pretense that there’s an unbroken timeline connecting the original New York Press to the current version is misleading and disingenuous at best. Using my name to front for this fantasy was, unintentionally I’m sure, kind of an insult.

—John Strausbaugh, Brooklyn



Secrets & Lies

Your [20th Anniversary] issue is profoundly deceptive. As a regular contributor to NY Press (on and off) who worked with editors Strausbaugh and Koyen, and as a friend of Strausbaugh for 14 years, I am well aware of certain elemental and indisputable facts of the paper’s history—most glaringly that John Strausbaugh was fired.



What possessed you to state the history of 2002 as, “John Strausbaugh leaves the paper to become a full-time author,” when you are well aware this is a lie?



I have no idea whether this 2002 firing is something John wishes to be remembered for or not, but I doubt you lied to appease his feelings, since his feelings meant absolutely nothing at the time he was abruptly and inexplicably fired.



Whoever had the brilliant idea to axe John can perhaps now see a clear curve that goes from the Press being a great paper, when he was editor, to the Press being a soggy bore. By firing John, you lost the magic recipe.

As you seem to concede on the cover page, where you deceptively list the Press’ past stars as if they had each contributed pieces—virtually all of them were cultivated by John and Russ. None of them will have anything to do with the Press because they were all given The Treatment that the Press seems to reserve for its talent: Either random firing or gradual debasement (or both). If you want to run a great paper, try not firing all the talent. Or, if it was your predecessors who were at fault, then get on your hands and knees and try to bring the squandered talent back.

—Celia Farber, NYC



Vizzini Vision

I’m a longtime reader, and as a geezer/fan of the good old days, I greatly appreciated the timeline you published by way of commemorating 20 years of the New York Press. However, as such a geezer/fan, I must point out a small error: It was not John Strausbaugh who discovered Ned Vizzini, it was Sam Sifton, as evidenced by these two interviews with Ned. I doubt Sifton is losing sleep over the error, or that Strausbaugh is celebrating, but as long as there is going to be a record, let’s keep it straight.

—Brent Cox, Brooklyn



Hates a Strong Word

Finally, Armond White exposes himself as the infuriatingly narrow-minded movie Nazi that he is. In his article “What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Movies” (April 23-28), he makes it perfectly clear that he hates art (especially “art for art’s sake”), hates any kind of political discourse (that dares to criticize the Bush administration!), hates “cynical” world views (because they don’t uplift the human race), hates “mumblecore” (because it’s all about middle-class white kids), hates personal opinions (that don’t agree with his), hates movie critics (who actually like to watch movies), hates niche filmmaking (when it’s not his niche), hates audiences (who don’t know what’s good for them) and basically hates everyone who isn’t Armond White (or Steven Spielberg.)



He has such specific ideas of what movies should be—and what political purposes they should serve—that he reminds me of the Soviet propagandists of the past who demanded party-line product with state-approved messages for the masses. He sneers at “art for art’s sake” because he can’t stand personal creativity or individual freedom. His reductive emphasis of politics over art explains why he loves such TV-movie-like treacle as World Trade Center and Amistad. He also has no sense of humor, no affection for filmmaking and no patience for artists or audiences who don’t agree with him. He accuses Hollywood of being elitist, and yet—with his pompous vocabulary and condescending attitude—he’s the biggest elitist of all!



White needs to realize that some of us actually enjoy being exposed to a variety of ideas and perspectives different than our own. It’s why we go to the movies. All I ask (of any form of art) is that the artist convey his or her own unique vision, whether it’s nihilist or one-sided or pretentious or syrupy sweet. Every movie doesn’t have to be humanist and uplifting. Think how boring that would be!



Still, I have to admit: I never miss reading Armond White’s reviews. He’s the critic I love to hate. Sometimes, he makes my blood boil; other times, I actually agree with him. Either way, when it comes to expressing a strong point of view, there’s no critic like him. (See? Some of us really do welcome different opinions.) Keep up the good work!

—Richard Surmacz



More Challenges


I wanted to thank Armond White for writing what shall be the most important film essay this year (and of the past 10 years, for that matter). I’m sure you will get the regular bloggers and critics sending you hate mail, and I’m sure that in less than eight hours there will be an online movement against you, but please know that there are film lovers out here that consider you to be the greatest critical mind of our time.



Honestly, your opinion is the ONLY ONE that challenges me on a weekly basis. That should reinforce the points you made in your essay. Please continue your brilliant work (your collection Resistance is one of my bibles).

—Mark Osborn, Austin, Texas



P.S. Thank you for introducing me to the films of Julian Hernandez. If you didn’t have a column, I would have never heard of him, Broken Sky or A Thousand Clouds of Peace.

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This Week: Someone recognized our parody of a magazine of parodies, but didn’t appreciate us explaining it; a Gladwell fan takes aim at Matt Elzweig; someone’s sleepwalking on Opana; and, in honor of our 20th Anniversary issue, a few great letters from the past.



Lampooning the Lampooner

Your April 16-22 cover photo (“If You Don’t Buy This Parody, We’ll Kill Tony Hendra”) is hilarious for those of us familiar with National Lampoon from the years when Hendra was a NatLamp stalwart. I stopped laughing when I saw the photo decision you made on page 4, hedging your bets just in case your readers aren’t old enough (or hip enough) to get the joke without this explanation.



Anyway, the joke you’re referencing was not created by the very talented Hendra. National Lampoon’s notorious threat “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog”—on the cover of Lampoon’s reportedly best-ever selling issue—was the only funny joke ever thought up by Hendra’s fellow Poonster, the grossly untalented Ed Bluestone.

—F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, NYC



Matt’s no Malcolm

Did you guys bother to read Matt Elzweig’s ludicrous piece (“Gladwell Hunting,” April 2-8) before you put it on the cover of your paper?



No Nobel Prize winner was “taking on” Gladwell, and Elzweig’s beef seems to be that Gladwell is smart, successful, kind and really good at defending his actions. Malcolm is actually as good as he seems. The only foul, it seems to me, is Elzweig’s belief that after seven years of focusing on Malcolm, the world should focus on Matt now.



If this piece is any indication, I’m dubious it’s going to work.

—Seth Godin



Sleeeep Waaaalking on Opana…

Thanks for your informative article about Opana (“Bad Dreams,” March 5-11). I can add another possible [side effect], from my personal experience while on Opana. Opana causes me to walk in my sleep.  Sleep walking can be very dangerous.

—Suzanne, NYC



“Uh, Doctor, When You Get a chance,” Jack Shafer’s Letter from May 20, 1988

Tom Weisser’s literay account of his medical reeming (Press, 4/29) reminded me of my last encounter with the white coat fascists known as MDs. My throat, which was rawer than a New York strip, was discharging bloody chunks. The arsenal of my medicine cabinet—aspirin, aspirin substitutes, Pepto-Bismal, anti-malarials, contact-lens enzyme tablets—had failed to cool my molten temperature. It was time for medical intervention. Serious medical intervention.



Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not a whiner or a hypochondriac. I rarely even exaggerate. So when I visit the doctor, it’s only because I’m really sick and need help. So get out of my way. Miss Nurse, when I drag my ass into your office and tell me to take a seat and a magazine and “Doctor” will be right with me! I tell ya, it happened! For the next two hours I sat there, drooling my life’s blood into a Styrofoam cup, reading Highlights for Children, while the nurses twirled their fingers in their hair and talked about soaps.



I was getting pretty pissed. Finally, I was escorted to an examination room, and like a fool, forgot to bring something to read. Without reading material or a clock to monitor my wait, it was “Hello, Kafka,” or at least “Hello, Tony Perkins.” My jaw was doing its best peaking-on-acid clench. Bloody spots obscured my visual plane.



After my internal clock ticked off another 45 minutes, in walked this nurse who intoned in a sing-song,” How are we, Mr. Shafer?”



“We’re fuckin’ sick.”



“Well, we’ll do something about that.”



She strapped me on with the blood pressure gizmo, pumped me up, and hmmmmmed.”



“I’ll have to do this again,” she said. “You’re very high.”



“How high?” I asked.



“Oh, I can’t tell you. You’ll have to ask Doctor.”



As she was putting the squeeze on me the second time, Doctor appeared. It wsn’t my regular doc; it was a young cheese-ball with a bad rug.



“How are we, Jack?”



“We’re fuckin’ sick,” I said, spying his ID badge,” …Phil.”



He blanched. With a “FFFFFssssthhhh,” the nurse tripped the switch on the blood pressure unit and looked up, genuinely alrmed. “Oh, Mr. Shafer, your blood pressure!”



I tore the Velcro thing off my bicep and stood up.



“Yeah! I’m sick! And your’e a genius! Between the examination room and the waiting room I’ve been stewing in my white blood cell count for almost three hours! So get out of my way! I’m gonna knock over a pharmacy for some antibiotics!”



I haven’t seen a doctor since.

—Jack Shafer, Washington, D.C.



“A World of Addictions,” Susan Orlean’s letter from May 27, 1988


I wish I’d met Leslie Schwerin’s father (Press 4/22). Any man who weighed 300 pounds and still kept active the fantasy of being a jockey must have been a remarkable character. His plans to drive up the odds was one of the funniest and most poignant tales I’ve heard in a while. I do have a few complaints about Schwerin’s story, though: the analogy between phone sex and off-track betting is tidy, but not totally convincing. OTB parlors cater to peole who are titillated by wagering, not by horseflesh—I’d bet that most of them feel entirely fulfilled by the experience. And finally, she says that OTB parlors are “an acquired, possibly addictive taste.” C’mon, Leslie, out with it—did you like it or not?



Niggling aside, New York Press has been a treat. I can’t get enough of MUGGER, and “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer” is really remarkable—strange, funny, sad and wonderfully drawn. Quite an auspicious debut.

—Susan Orlean, Manhattan



“Group Therapy” letter, Jan. 8, 1992

Occasionally a restaurant review appears that seems mean-spirited, or as if the reviewer is transferring his displeasure about something else to a restaurant. Sam Sifton’s views on Tennessee Mountain (NYPress, 12/11/1991) seemed such a review.



About a month ago I visited Tennessee Mountain for the first time. My meal was very good, and everyone else in our party of 12 was just as pleased as I was. The service was exceptional, which is not always easy to bring off when seeing to the needs of a large group, and the upstairs room we dined in was wonderfully pleasant. We lingered for a long time after our dinner because we all enjoyed each other’s company so much. This in itself was not remarkable, but there are too many restaurants in New York where to linger is to experience a letdown. Not to belabor the issue, when I’ve seen other participants of that communal dinner in recent days, they have all agreed that Tennessee Mountain provided us with a perfect evening.



Since we ranged in age from 15 to fiftysomething, Tennessee Mountain gets our collective applause.

—Mary Bringle, Manhattan



Sam Sifton replies:


I was feeling fine when I got to Tennessee Mountain that fateful night, principally because I was looking forward to eating ribs. That mood was shattered, however, by the array of pedestrian and tasteless food that came before me; I can assure one and all that I had no beef with the place before that.



Perhaps it was a mistake, though, to bring along my friend from the USMC. After all, as Cole points out so charitably, what could a jarhead lieutenant possibly know about food? Maybe instead of simply iforming readers that the wings “sucked,” I should have quoted verbatim from my notebook: “pimply, oversweet, and lukewarm, with tiny wisps of feather protruding from the crevices.”



There is no doubt in my mind that there are a lot of people who enjoy the food at Tennessee Mountain; how else to explain the crowds there on weekend nights and the tone of the above correspondence? There are also people who praise the seafood at Red Lobster and who say that Montrachet is terrible. Others disagree. But the bottom line is this: the food at Tennessee Mountain was, to my palate, grim and uninteresting. I’ll stand by what I wrote.

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This Week: Someone thinks parkour people just need a skateboard; the publisher of Jenny Phillips’ book on prison Vipassana courses questions her comments; someone wants to debunk Stanley Milgram and documentarian Alex Gibney; and the East Williamsburg vs. Bushwick smackdown continues.





Skaters Rule

Parkour? Seriously? So some Frenchman conned you guys, eh? All the guys in the pictures [by Derin Thorpe (“How to Fly,” April 9-15)] were missing something vital. It’s called a skateboard. Otherwise you’re just running and jumping around. I know we all miss recess, and it’s fun to run and jump around, but let’s not fool ourselves into really believing this is some new sport or something. To everyone involved in that article: Let’s take a deep breath, count to 10, and pull your heads out of each other’s asses.

—Alex Crowley, Brooklyn



Meditate on the Shelf

Your reviewer Amre Klimchack quotes the filmmaker Jenny Phillips in her review of the film Dhamma Brothers (“Prison Monks,” April 9-15): “I became a filmmaker to make this particular film,” she explains. “I felt like you needed to hear it and see it. You couldn’t read about it and think about it.” Whether that statement is accurate, or whether Ms. Phillips changed her mind with regard to writing about the Vipassana courses at Donaldson Correctional Facility, I cannot say. However, Pariyatti Press has recently published her book Letters from the Dhamma Brothers, in which the personal transformations that continue to take place in that facility are described in the many letters written to her and the Vipassana teachers by the meditator-inmates.

—Luke Matthews, Executive Director of Pariyatti, Onalaska, Wash.



Obedience to Authority

I’m a published author and film critic who read Matt Elzweig’s “Gladwell Hunting” (April 2-8) with great interest, though I can’t help but feel he missed a much deeper story. A couple years back I wrote about Alex Gibney’s documentary The Human Behavior Experiments, which uses some of the same (I believe flawed) data as The Tipping Point, notably the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments, to explore how decent folks do the most heinous things. David Berreby’s “The Case for Fitting In” in The New York Times Magazine notes how academics are just now beginning to debunk Stanley Milgram and his “groundbreaking” experiments.

—Lauren Wissot, Brooklyn



E. Williamsburg vs. Bushwick

It was disappointing to read the article by Julia Wertz (no matter how brief) about coffee houses in Bushwick (Attitude to Spare, March 26-April 1). Not only did it give an outdated and ignorant view of the neighborhood—which is quite vibrant and mixed beyond the people priced out of Williamsburg—but the two coffee places she reviews are in fact NOT IN BUSHWICK. They are in East Williamsburg, or rather the “East Williamsburg Industrial Park,” which is a bleak, desolate, depressing area of industrial and vacant industrial buildings and a major waste-disposal facility. She does casually mention that the real heart of Bushwick is a few blocks east, but in reality all of Bushwick is a few blocks east.



I realize that it’s titled “Attitude to Spare,” and I should expect it to be dripping in snark-ism and childish sentences that begin with “Everyone knows…” where facts just get in the way, but I still hope that The New York Press would have a little more on-the-street familiarity with the neighborhood it is “reviewing.”

Please feel free to give Ms. Wertz a smack to the back of the head and a map of Brooklyn.

—Alex Hurwitz, Brooklyn



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This Week: Readers add their own critiques of Malcolm Gladwell’s practices; a Stones fan calls Armond White a racist; and one letter-writer calls out another letter-writer as a fraud.



Malcolm Gladhand…er, Gladwell

Too bad that Matt Elzweig was so intimidated by Malcolm Gladwell’s stupendous, mammoth, monumentally impressive intellect that he chickened out from laying a glove on him (“Gladwell Hunting,” April 2-8). Reminds me of Schwarzenegger in his muscleman days intimidating the other bodybuilders with his bigger muscles. After all those words, at least Elzweig could have noted the obvious: That Gladwell is an ace self-promoter whose “success” is as a “popularizer”—someone who makes a show of seeming to take abstruse, complex, profound ideas and make them simple and accessible to middlebrows, who then enjoy the pleasant conceit of understanding Deep Thoughts.



As far as crediting the phrase “Tipping Point,” he and his publishers appropriated that intellectual creation of others for their own marketing purposes. These are salespeople and businesspeople, not academics and scholars, Gladwell’s pretensions to the contrary notwithstanding. It’s laughable to even try to apply the standards of scholarship to them. The facts were there in the article to make these points. Elzweig needn’t have taken a dive at the end. Instead the article peters out in awed admiration at the base of Gladwell’s pedestal that Elzweig unwittingly (?) constructs. (Forgive me if in fact the intention was subtle mockery—how sophisticated do you think we Press readers are anyway?) There is possible cogent criticism of Gladwell—calling him an “idiot” as Leon Wieseltier does, a sputtering fulmination expressing pique but not a critique, clearly won’t do. Gladwell obviously is highly intelligent. But I notice in his New Yorker articles an annoying tendency toward sophistry. He presents interesting facts and then pulls intellectual sleights of hand to lead to pet conclusions that just aren’t true. The minuscule letters section of that mag is far too small to hold a refutation, even if the editors were inclined to permit one (which they obviously aren’t). So you missed an opportunity. But even going lowbrow, why didn’t you hit Gladwell for his blatant “Dweebitude”? That photo you ran is a slam-dunk on that!



Ironically, NYPress helped further the Gladwell industry by making him the featured cover story. I wonder how many people who grab the Press in a given week had even heard of Gladwell before. But I can sympathize. I doubt it’s easy to come up with 52 cover ideas a year that are both topical and attention-getting.



Hey, maybe Gladwell can hire himself out as a high-priced consultant on the “science” of getting attention! He knows how to network and advance oneself, and with his linguistic gifts, he could B.S. with the best of them.

—Jason Zenith, Chinatown



Suspect Shysterism

Kudos to Matt Elzweig for his thoughtfully debunking article about Malcolm Gladwell’s suspect claims to originality in his book The Tipping Point. As a classmate of Mark Granovetter, the Stanford professor credited with helping to develop the original idea, it’s nice to see credit where credit is due. Elzweig also deserves a good conduct medal for not throwing up all over Gladwell’s sophistry-laden disclaimer, which we learned on the first day of law school to ID as the classic “distinction without a difference” school of shysterism.

—J. M. Parish



Shining a Light on Armond


After reading his review of Shine a Light (“Hegemony Talks,” April 2-8), I can say by his repeated focus: Armond White is racist. The Stones film was part documentary, wasn’t it? As for most critics, they think it cool to be nasty and unemotional. They are never real artists, though they want to be: So they bitch. Newsflash: music has feeling. Is that OK with you? Mr. White knows zero about the Stones sound, unlike the millions of us who know and recognize (note-by-note) these songs, from playing them over-and-over through the decades. Only a true Stones fan should review this film. The Stones did not have difficulty finding a groove. Sheeesh—what (ignorance) balls!



Yes, the audience participation is always sad/tacky at a concert. What do you do when you are lucky enough to have  fans who know the words to your songs, disrespect them? Mr. White, you are a wannabe Stones-sound expert. No one knows better than the Stones that Buddy Guy’s performance was awesome and so was theirs. You aren’t teaching anybody anything they don’t already know, so relax with YOUR racism.



And so what if Jack White looked star-struck? His performance was one of the most heartfelt moments in the film. Should he have “acted” differently? Should they have staged fewer fashion-model people in the front row? Unfortunately this is what is happening in NYC. It’s not Scorsese or the Stones fault that everyone is fake. That is reality! Setting up an even faker situation to feign “unstarstruckedness” or a “cooler” audience is what you prefer? Phony! Time to grow up! Sweetness and feelings are cool. All the rest is wanna-be trash. But only a real artist would know that. And remember this: A filmmaker decides what the focus should be. If he chooses to keep moments in his film that you can’t appreciate, it was not a mistake. You may think so, but it’s not your “art,” so you don’t get to decide.

—L.C., Brooklyn, NY



Duped by the Crackpot

You wasted some prime layout space by giving the lead-off spot in your Mailbox column (April 2-8) to screedmonger Reba Shimansky. A glance at the letter columns of the Daily News, Post, Newsday and other Gotham gazettes shows that Shimansky and her crony, the vowel-challenged Susan Smpadian, perpetually pollute these periodicals with letters that are thinly disguised agitprop for the leftmost fringe of the political spectrum, always endorsing female political crackpots. The letter you printed by Shimansky, purporting to be a reasoned argument against Obama’s candidacy, was calculated to convince your readers to support Hillary Clinton on the dubious premise that Obama is unelectable.

—Timothy C. Allen, Brooklyn, NY

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This Week: Obama is called a racist; we give Channing Tatum his credit; and there’s a call for lots more Mishka Shubaly and cock dancing (go figure).



Obamalot of Lies

Russ Smith is correct about Obama’s speech (“Obamalot,” March 26-April 2). The media predictably over-praised his dreary, self-serving lecture on race in order to pump up his campaign. It was not an act of courage, it was an act of expediency by Obama in order to salvage his presidential campaign. However, Obama did not disavow his racist church and minister, and he publicly humiliated his grandmother who is still alive and deserves better.



Obama is a divider, not a uniter, who is increasing the racial divide. Obama does not transcend race, which is a media myth. The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. Based on the black separatist church he belongs to, the incendiary Jeremiah Wright who is his spiritual advisor and the fact is that he married a belligerent white-hating woman makes Obama a militant, black extremist who is not suited to racially unite this country.



If Obama’s goal was to reach out to people who feel uncomfortable about his membership in the Trinity United Church of Christ and his relationship to Jeremiah Wright, he failed big time.

—Reba Shimansky, NY





Channing Tatum Time

The review of Stop-Loss (“A Hero’s Welcome,” March 26-April 2) included a photo that identified one of the main actors (Channing Tatum) by his character’s name (Steve Shriver). Please correct, the poor guy did a pretty good job!

—Barbara Glover





More Mishka

Dear New York Press, Mishka Shubaly can actually write!  “Lost in Texas” (March 19-25) has great sentences like “Damien has texted me a picture of his naked ass pressed against my unconscious face in the alley.” I don’t remember ever admiring the prose style of a New York Press writer (OK, maybe Jonathan Ames), but Mishka evokes double-whoops of delight.

—Sparrow, Phoenicia, NY



More Cock Dance


I’m writing to tell you how much I enjoyed Margeaux Baulch’s “Making Love to the Camera” (Flavor of the Week, March 19-25). It was so real and honest that I think many people can relate to it, myself included. So many people fantasize about experiences like this and might actually try them out; but they are rarely brazen enough to tell anyone besides their best friend, much less write a delightfully entertaining column in the NY Press. Give my regards to Margeaux & Alex…and I want to hear more about the cock dance!

—Clair Wholean

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This Week: A guy and his girlfriend relate to a story about filming their lovemaking; a Gallagher fan takes issue with those “college kids”; and someone turns her computer on to read Mugger.

A Guy and His Girl
I’m an avid NY Press reader and thought the “Making Love to the Camera” story (Flavor of the Week, March 19-25) was really funny. That couple sounded a lot like my girlfriend and me after a few drinks. Anyway, keep up the great “true to life” imperfect adventures for us regular readers. I’d like to hear a few more from that writer.
— Rob Calder, Union Square

Gallagher, the Icon
Shame on the Blender Theatre for putting such a bad opening act on before a comedy legend like Gallagher. If the “college comedy group” and their following had not been there, it would have been a different situation not only for Gallagher but also for the audience that came to see him (“Ballsy and Bawdy,” March 19-25). I have been to a dozen of Gallagher’s live performances over the years (of which all were fantastic) and never once was there an opening act.

I was embarrassed by the behavior shown by the college kids that came to see the opening act. They heckled and talked throughout the whole show and showed no respect to Gallagher or his fans. Those kids should pay more attention to a comedy icon, if they ever want to be in the same league as Gallagher.

I have Gallagher’s Sledge-O-Matic Collection of 14 of his cable specials. I can only think of one other comic that has that many and has lasted this long and that would be George Carlin.

Gallagher’s interview on Howard Stern on March 12 was one of the best I have ever heard. I have many friends and colleagues that have seen and heard the interview and agree that Gallagher has only gotten more brilliant: not only as a comedian but as an honest and truthful person.
—Ann Maness

A Luddite Speaks Up
I just got a new computer after struggling with a 1999 iMac. I had quit computer activity for many years, and I forgot how entertaining Mugger and his columns are. This one [“Presumed Innocence,” March 12-18] is just priceless.
—Myra Washington, Oceanside, Ca.

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This week: A righteous fan of Angela Lovell’s Flavor of the Week story; a lesson in true pulp fiction; and a real Knicks fan finally comes out against the fake ones.



Flavor Saver


The ladies around my office have all been talking about this great funny column [by Angela Lovell, “George on My Mind,” March 12-18]. When I finally got hold of the paper to read the Flavor of the Week column, I must tell you I was pleasantly surprised! After hearing all of the gals’ talk about how they can relate, how she was so funny with the way she told her story, I was satisfied with totally understanding what everyone was talking about after reading it for myself!



I have read your other sex & relationship columns, and I found them to be a bit too raunchy for my taste. This Angela Lovell was so awesome, though. I speak for all the ladies in my office: We cannot wait to read what she has to say again. You bet we will all be checking back with the paper to see what our new favorite gal pal has to say next!

—Alexis Brown, NYC



Contains No Pulp


Jenny Fisher perpetuated a common mistake in her review of Beebo Brinker Chronicles (“Butch and Proud,” March 12-18). It probably comes directly from promo material she was supplied with: “1950s lesbian pulp” is a complete misnomer. If she thinks there were lesbian pulps, I ask her to name one.



While there were lesbian paperbacks, pulps were newsstand magazines. Pulps were pretty much wiped out by the rise of paperbacks in the 1950s. They were called that because they were printed on the cheapest available paper, pulp. Paperbacks were not. This is fact, not opinion. To use “pulp” and “paperback” interchangeably is like saying radio and TV are the same thing.

—Patrick Lozito, Brooklyn



#1 Knicks Fan Tells All


I am writing to express my discontent with an article published in your January 9-15 issue titled “I’m not a Knicks fan, but I play one on TV.” Becca Tucker claims that five of six “real fans” she spoke to about the New York Knicks promotional commercial were actors. I am the sixth fan. I am the sixth very irate, disappointed, hurt and still diehard Knicks fan.



I poured by heart out to Becca on the phone to make her understand that I bleed blue and orange, and the only mention of me in her two page article was that there was one fan among six who was a real fan. This was a fact that was meant to be skimmed over by readers. It was overshadowed by the rest of the bullshit she wrote. I told her about my orange wig, my painted sneakers, my blue-and-orange classroom, my lost voice after every game, my desire to write a book on Allan Houston, my Knicks bobbleheads, my Knicks towels, blankets, Barbie, lamp. The list is endless.



My first reaction to the article was disbelief. I sat in the waiting room with most of those actors as we shared some of our favorite Knicks moments. How could they be fake? I think that most, if not all of them, were indeed Knicks fans but actors as well. Becca almost implies that you can’t be both. I don’t remember any of the actors in the article denying that they were truly fans.



Secondly, I felt deceived. The Knicks are my passion, and I have been a fan with a lot of pride for as long as I can remember. I always hated the bandwagon fans, but this was even worse. If these actors were indeed just acting for the money, I am disturbed and disgusted with them. They cheated real Knicks fans out of the chance to express their love for their team. Does she really think that there are no real Knicks fans out there? Although I may not be the biggest fan, I am not the only one. Why don’t you step into the Garden one day, Becca? Do you even know where it is? Do you know anything about the Knicks…or basketball in general? Are the 20,000 people that fill the Garden all actors? Did they all pay the high ticket prices to just pretend they are fans? The Garden still erupts with cheers during the close games and exciting plays. Do you hear the “Fire Isaiah” chants? Those are fans. Those are cries from diehard Knicks fans who want a good coach to lead our squad and bring out the potential we know the Knicks have. Do you hear any of this, Becca? If not, you are as deaf as you were during our phone interview.

—Marija Kero,

The World’s #1 REAL KNICKS FAN

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This week:  A flavor someone likes, a lesson on proper techy animation techniques, and praise for another film reviewer.



Happy Loser

As a writer who regularly enters (and loses) your “Flavor of the Week” contest, I’ve not been prepared to like any of the stories that win the weekly contest. However, I have to congratulate you on selecting last week’s winner, as Donna Ferstand’s story (“In the Beginning, There was Adam,” Feb. 27-March 4) was excellent. She is an artful writer who told a trenchant and amusing tale, and while sex stories can often be clichéd, hers was not.

Imagine: a story that both titillated and edified me! (It sent me directly to Google, trying to find out who this Archer guy was.) If I was going to take relationship advice from any of your winners so far, it would definitely be Ferstand. Her combination of wisdom and experience—not to mention a sense of humor and a pretty robust sense of adventure—are just what a sex columnist need.



And if I’m going to keep losing this contest every week, I can at least take solace when I am defeated by a writer as gifted as her.

—Lance Stewart, East Village



Point and Shoot


No no no, it’s not rotoscoping in Chicago 10 (“Cartoon Court,” Feb. 20-26), it’s motion capture! Rotoscoping is tracing footage of a live actor frame-by-frame to turn him into cartoon; it’s how Bakshi made his Lord of the Rings. Motion capture is putting your actor in sensor-covered leotards and letting a slew of computer-connected cameras record his movements from every angle. It’s what Zemeckis used in Polar Express and Beowulf. Once you have all that data in the computer, you can CGI-animate anything into existence with it (like dancing penguins or long-dead radicals) and have your camera “swirl through the room in impossible positions.”



Glad to help you out on this one. Hey, aren’t you glad you got a letter about a film review that isn’t complaining about Armond White?

Joe Strike, NY



California Meta Critic


I just wanted to write to praise Felicia Feaster’s work (“Marc Jacobs, The Pixie,” Feb. 27-March 4). Her ability to render film and art into their essential forms is remarkable, especially given her review of Shooter [last year].

—Kevin Chow, California

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This week:  Leonard Jacobs gets a few laughs on the 4 train; sex writer Katelyn Nudo discovers she has a fan club; but don’t worry—Armond White’s many hate-filled fans haven’t disappeared.



Laugh Track

I was reading this review of Dina Martina’s Off the Charts (“Gift of Gab,” Feb. 27-March 4) on the uptown No. 4 train and found myself snorting, chortling, roaring and making all sorts of sounds I haven’t resorted to in altogether too long a time. I was leaning forward to ease the intensity of the hilarity and getting stares from everyone around—until I shared with everyone about Dina’s looking like Liz Taylor and Liza Minnelli hit with a brick! Then everyone else began to roar!



I’m gonna go see this show next week, and I’m also gonna keep reading Mr. Jacobs’ columns. How many times have I reread this and shared it with others? I almost feel like his new publicist! No regrets here, and I can’t wait to see what he steamrolls us with next!

—R.D. Eastman, III, Bed-Stuy, NY



Give Me More Flavor

I absolutely loved Katelyn Nudo’s “Flavor of the Week” column (“The Date From Hell, N.J.,” Feb. 27-March 4). She’s got it!  As a “fiftyish-year-old” online “dater,” I’ve come to realize the scenario is the same no matter what age or gender. I’m considering submitting my own “experiences,”which, in my eyes, are enough to curl the straightest hair!



Katelyn’s mix of real life and her thought processes (something all online daters can relate to) was so true, and her sense of humor—which is vital—came through loud and clear. I look forward to reading more of her work!

—Lisa Cecere, Parsippany, N.J.



Katelyn Nudo’s story was one of the most entertaining things I have ever read! More please! I wish it were a book, I wouldn’t put it down! I was literally laughing out loud! Do things like this really happen?! This girl is really funny, and VERY entertaining! I anxiously await her next column.

 —Marissa Levy, Palm Harbor, FL



I have read many terrible date stories—and had quite a few myself—but Katelyn Nudo truly knows how to go the lengths of trial and error. I’m impressed by her wit and skillful descriptions, and I would love to hear more from her.

Angelica Cota, Hicksville, NY



Working Class Stiffed

I have been reading some of Armond White’s old reviews on your website, and I’ve come to the simple conclusion that Armond White is a moral idiot. He knows jack shit about human nature, although he trumpets every so-called humanistic film as though it’s the Holy Grail. Not to say I disagree with him in his championing of Wes Anderson, who I think is one of the finest working film directors there is—and his Darjeeling Limited was a masterpiece. Be that as it may, when it comes to films like Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Fight Club and, most recently, Gone Baby Gone, White has his head up his ass.



In the latter film, White takes the film’s creators to task for their depiction of working-class people in South Boston. Mr. White, I hate to tell you, but as a person who was brought up in working-class Queens, that’s a perfectly good depiction of working-class people. A great deal of them actually do work soul-numbing, dead-end jobs and then lose themselves in cocaine and alcohol; and they turn off from their children and beat their wives. There is nothing to be proud of in being working class. So, again, I have to say, fuck Armond White.

—Mike, New York, NY

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Free to Ride

I’m writing in regards to Ted Kheel and his proposal for a free mass transit system in New York City (“Teddy’s Last Jam,” Feb. 20-26). When city services such as the Fire Department, the Police Department and Sanitation are “free,” paid for through taxes, what has taken so long for our subways and buses to also become “free?”

Could it be that the wealthy don’t have to use mass transit, although many reap its benefits by getting their employees to work each day? I’m sure that the vast majority of working people would support such a proposal, even if it meant high congestion pricing for cars and trucks entering Manhattan.



Perhaps free transportation could be also paid for by charging citizens every time they need a police officer or if the fire department has to help put out a fire in a home or each time sanitation picks up garbage or every time someone enters Central Park. Ridiculous? Just as ridiculous as it is to pay every time one has to use mass transit.

—Lew Friedman, Brooklyn



Picking on Armond


Please accept my apologies for this opinion, it is no way meant to be disrespectful, but Armond White’s movie reviews are, in general, ridiculous. I find it astonishing that he writes for your publication. Contempt for great cinema, adoration for mind numbing nonsense. The reviews are also predictable; unlike the films he picks apart.

—Neil O’Hanlon, Spanish Harlem



Poker face

I’ve been playing poker on the sly for years now and have enjoyed the camaraderie that is found amongst a bunch of guys who get together for a game of cards. After reading Peter Alson’s story, “The Worst Bad Luck of All” (Feb. 20-26), I was reminded once again that I should be on better guard. I read about the other problems people are having in the city, but I almost forgot that I really am taking my life in my own hands everytime I play.

—S. Guzman, Manhattan




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This week:  A reader in Los Angeles thinks Michael Cieply should be fired; the Armond White defender gets his own response; and a Romney fan thinks the New York Press is too foul for public consumption.



CLARIFICATION:


The caption on last week’s Mailbox photograph by Robert Ruiz, “Junky Table,” was not intended to infer that either man depicted in the photograph was a drug user. We apologize for any misunderstanding created by the caption’s imprecise wording and description of the scene.



Hollywood Hates Writers


I was sent your piece just now, Mr. Blum (“The Cieply Scenario,” Feb. 13-19), and nothing in it surprises me, except for reading what that reporter did for several months. I have nothing to do with the WGA or Hollywood, being a writer of verse and fiction and essays, as well as a man who spent 57 years teaching at high levels, including playwriting. A naif, in short.



But, I will tell you this, for your entertainment and satisfaction. While the strike was about halfway along, I sat on a certain important committee at UCLA, which does trial work for infractions of the rules of life for students. The chair is always a professor from the law school, to ensure that amateurs don’t louse up the legal aspects of prosecution and defense. This chair happened to be someone I had not met in my many decades at UCLA. Since I know a screenwriter very well who was marching daily, I asked this professor what he thought the outcome would be. And, vehemently, and most arrogantly, he replied: “They are all jerks, writers. I should know, having been for years a producer myself. Idiots. They will not only lose the strike, but they will get nothing from the producers: Nada, zilch, zip, NOTHING! Losers, all of ‘em!” To which I could only nod in astonishment. That was what the bottom line was from long before the strike, during the strike and until the end, almost.



Cieply ought to be fired forthwith from the august “newspaper of record.” But I guess, despite your long analysis, a paper that lies outright when the nation’s fate also is daily in and out of the frying pan, will not deign to do that against someone involved with movies, forsooth!



Congratulations for a pointed, point-by-point exposure of sheer rottenness. I thought the L.A. Times was pretty bad itself, but this takes the waffle!

—Jascha Kessler

Professor Emeritus of English & Modern Literature, UCLA



Stop Defending Armond White

It figures that the one person coming to Armond White’s defense (MAILBOX, “Defending Armond White,” Feb. 13-19) would use language as repetitious, pretentious and vacuous as that of his hero. Benjamin Kessler does his idol no favor by spewing forth a torrent of nonsense in a letter devoid of rational thought, argument and substance. His rambling diatribe does, however, contain an abundance of chest beating and hyperbole. Gee, what a surprise! Anyway, with fans like these who write such bilge, who needs enemies?

—Barry S. Levy, Manhattan



Armond Doesn’t Get Family

Does Mr. Kessler REALLY want to know why White drives so many of us bonkers? Though I have not see Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show, White’s review—more generous than most—makes a certain sense. But now, this week, here he is again, tossing Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages (which I have seen) into the same pot with what he calls “last year’s stampede of poisonous family movies, There Will Be Blood, Gone Baby Gone, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Atonement and Margot at the Wedding.” (“Stop Hating on the Family,” Feb. 13-19). The Savages is about an aging, debilitated father who long ago relinquished responsibility for and care of his two children. Now the kids must come to terms with how they will care for him, if at all. At first they do this haltingly and begrudgingly; but as they do it, their own lives and their connection to each other—and others—awaken.



By any standard I know, The Savages is a wonderful “family” film, though unlike the sort of pandering, feel-good twaddle that White seems to want. It’s humane but never preachy, featuring troubled characters whose victories are small but real. That White sees it as a “poisonous family movie” indicates either willful stupidity, simple ignorance of plot and character or—more likely—willful obfuscation in order to jam a nuanced, life-affirming film into his increasingly deadly theorizing. For shame. Unfortunately, I’m sure we can expect more of the same.

—James van Maanen,

Jackson Heights, NY



Indie Film Smackdown

Mr. White, after reading several of your columns, especially the most recent one [“Stop Hating on the Family”], I can only conclude that you don’t quite grasp the concept of what an “independent film” is. An indie film is made without consideration toward pleasing Hollywood, a mass audience or film critics. As such, indie film producers don’t give a flying fuck about whether a film critic considers them “anti-family” or not, and are not going to change what they do simply because a film critic tells them to. I sincerely hope that you consider my words before a successful indie film producer or director gives you a “dressing down” that you won’t soon forget afterward.

—Susan, Staten Island



New York Illicit

This Mugger article, “The Romney Curse” by Russ Smith (Feb. 13-19) is so deceiving and misleading, full of ugly curses and admission of addiction and bad habits, that I am concerned how widespread this [paper’s] website is, which can be viewed by the children or young adults that we are trying to shield [them from] garbage. I am a working mom with young kids, and this article and your website are appalling to me. You should edit your limited vocabulary of cursing words or give some warning so readers know beforehand and won’t be offended. I think that will be a more responsible and professional approach. I hope there is a way to block your website.



I supported Gov. Romney and subscribed to a Yahoo alert for anything about him. I regret that I ever opened this link about him because this is entirely the opposite of the great man that I am supporting. Your demeaning and foul language is unacceptable. I hope you got the hint. If not, I will just complain directly to the FCC. Your name NYPress is misleading and should be renamed NYIllicit or something as demeaning as your articles are.

—Caroline Armstrong,

Redlands, Calif.

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This week: Someone thinks the Dude of Life is deluding himself; others don’t like hearing about “Jew Camp;” and yet another thinks Steve Pollak could be up for “Dick of Life.” Plus, a reader defends Armond White, while a couple of others think he should stop picking on Sidney Lumet.



Dude’s Delusions of Grandeur

I’m sure countless numbers of college sophomores receive clever nicknames on drunken, shroomy nights (“The Dude of Life,” Feb. 6-12). Some of those nicknames may survive the night or be uttered by a handful of friends for a short time and then, appropriately, forgotten. The “Dude of Life” just happened to have a talented roommate who made it big. He and his ongoing delusions of grandeur should have been left in that dorm room years ago. I’m sure most Press readers were scratching their heads over this one.

—David Welker, Soho, NY



Make it Hebrew Camp

Just finished reading Becca Tucker’s article on the Dude of Life…great read. One line puzzles me, however: “I found someone who had gone to crunchy Jew camp with his niece, Sarah Pollak, where they held a day of mourning when Jerry Garcia died.”

I am far from PC, but my guess is Becca could have used a more user-friendly term than “crunchy Jew camp.” If I am the only person who has expressed disappointment in this, then please let things be and allow me to enjoy my moment of free speech in the same way Becca has. Should others express a similar sentiment, then perhaps a gentle reminder to Becca that the term “Jew camp” could be better expressed… such as “Jewish camp,” or “religious camp” or “Hebrew camp.” Anyway, you are all professionals and I am sure could come up with better alternatives than mine.

Thanks for listening, peace and good health to you.

—Steven LaKind



Jerry & Jew Camp

Decent article, but I thought the author’s reference to “crunchy Jew camp” was borderline offensive. Honestly, in another context, I think this could be acceptable, but in the current context it is not. She didn’t even say “a crunchy Jew camp,” either. The exact quote is as follows, “I found someone who had gone to crunchy Jew camp with his niece, Sarah Pollak, where they held a day of mourning when Jerry Garcia died.” I get the feeling the author did not mean to slight anyone. A change to “a crunchy Jewish” camp would make this non-offensive in my opinion. Also, Great Woods (now the Tweeter Center) is in Mansfield, Massachusetts, not Maine.

—Jamie Aresty



Dick of Life

Steve Pollak should be content with his current role as suburban dad/schoolteacher.

There was never any legitimate mystique surrounding him in his Phish days. For him to say, “I have to do this family thing for a while” then go on to suggest that his true calling is to fulfill his destiny to be a rock star should earn him the title “Dick of Life.”

—B. Clendenan, N.Y.



Don’t Pick on Lumet

Hey, do me a favor. Can you please tell Armond White that you have one reader in Los Angeles who thinks he’s a real piece of shit. Picking on an 83-year-old man (“The Lumet Myth,” Feb. 6-12). That’s real tough. Why doesn’t Armond go after someone who has a vested interest in fighting back? Is he that much of a coward? Maybe Armond wishes Lumet made more movies like Game 6, since he obviously identifies with Downey Jr.’s character. Yes, Armond, oooooh, we’re all so afraid of you. Especially Lumet. I bet he’s drinking his coffee over at the Sly Fox right now, reading your sucker punch and questioning every choice he’s ever made. Lumet has forgotten more about the process of filmmaking than Armond White will ever know. And tell Armond that he doesn’t need to be jealous of Dale Peck anymore. He is Dale Peck, and like Dale Peck he will soon be relegated to the dustbin of critical infamy.

—Chris Okum, Los Angeles



Prince of the city

I found Armond White’s entire piece on the truly extraordinary Sidney Lumet strange and obtuse. You gotta be so not-in-the-mix not to get a masterpiece like Prince of the City. Keep up the good work…

—Eduardo Victor Sanchez III,

Jersey City, NJ



Defending Armond White

Armond White has always inspired a lotta hate mail, but never before have the anti-Armond crowd occupied as great a proportion of the Mailbox as they have in recent weeks. Every week, it seems, a brand-new uninformed Armond-basher (or two) steps into what has become a reserved swath of the letters page, with little or no room set aside for rebuttal. As a longtime White reader and admirer, I felt compelled not just to contribute some words in support of this great, embattled critic but also to attempt to clarify why the man matters urgently, not just to me but to what’s left of our culture.

Fresh examples of White’s artistry appear every week, but I will quickly examine his review of Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show (“Antiques Roadshow,” Feb. 6-12). The first thing that should strike the reader is its brevity. In fewer than 700 words, White does much more than a mere overview or concept description. With impressive precision, he isolates details that speak forcefully (meaningful punch lines and the audience reactions to those punch lines—signifying moments of performance and communication). With dazzling lucidity, he builds an argument based on these examples, finding a socially rooted theme beneath the movie’s overt theme. Along the way, he comes across prevailing perceptions about comedy, movie stars, “fratboys,” etc. but never simply accepts them; he always subjects them to rigorous, passionate scrutiny. Reading the film becomes a way to access deep truths about art, culture and society.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that the Armond-bashers don’t care about truth. Their letters about White’s review of There Will Be Blood aren’t intelligent, impassioned responses; they’re outraged attempts to bully White into the baa-ing herd of critics who make a living transmitting Hollywood’s callousness and complacency to their readers. The readers, in turn, bask in the buzz of feeling superior to both popular taste and cultural history. White won’t join in, so he’s called an elitist. That’s an irony worthy of Altman, but far beyond the ken of Paul Thomas Anderson.

—Benjamin Kessler,

Manhattan

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This week: Clinton supporters jump on Mugger’s case against Bill; calling Armond White an elitist hypocrite feels good; I spy a Gotbaum ad; a diffident defense of a dubious film.



Hillary For Reals

Unlike Russ Smith, I am looking forward to Bill Clinton back in the White House (“The Trouble With Bill,” Jan. 30-Feb. 5). I am glad that he will be Hillary’s most influential advisor because the Clinton years were good years: eight years of peace and prosperity.



The so-called Clinton scandals are not going to hurt Hillary. They were all investigated for eight years by a right-wing, out-of-control special prosecutor named Ken Starr and he could not find any evidence of wrongdoing.

Therefore, if the GOP does bring up those so-called scandals, Hillary can just brush them aside as old news and evidence of desperation. As for Obama, no Democrat should ever say anything positive about Ronald Reagan the way Obama did. Reagan was one of the worst presidents in U.S. history. The Reagan legacy was a $4 trillion debt, selling arms to Iran, tax cuts for the rich and the demonization of the poor

and minorities.



It seems that Obama is more interested in appealing to the GOP than seeking the approval of Democrats.

That is why I loathe Obama and why I’m supporting Hillary for president. She has the potential to be a great president.

—Reba Shimansky, Brooklyn



Mugger’s No-Good Nattering


Why stop at dredging up Gennifer Flowers 16 years later? There’s always Vince Foster. Ricky Ray Rector was sentenced to death before he sustained the injury that dropped his IQ precipitously. To say Reagan had anything to do with Starbucks and Microsoft’s success is like arguing that Bill Clinton was responsible for the dotcom bubble bursting. Oh yes, Russ did write that.



I love when Russ writes, “it can be argued.” It can also be argued that Reagan let Ollie North run around like a bandolero. The Challenger exploded in 1986, should Reagan take credit for that? How about the hundreds of thousands who died at the hands of apartheid and AIDS in the ’80s, should Ronnie take credit for that?



Reagan was white America’s last hope, so I understand the adulation, but let’s hesitate at giving him credit for inventing the wheel. And if he did, it was invented for only the wealthiest riders.

—Sam Greenfield, Manhattan



Impassioned Elitist in Pauper’s Clothing


In [Armond White’s] review of Cloverfield (“Media-Memory Mistake,” Jan. 23-29) he suggests, as a way to demean their work, that the directors of The Blair Witch Project deserve to now be working as greeters at Wal-Mart.

This can’t be the first time such a determined asshole as yourself has been told this, but that won’t stop me:

Fuck you.



You—who at the slightest possible provocation leap to attack phantom or, occasionally, real elitists in your reviews—choose in this case to make a lame, easy and extremely elitist joke demeaning a job filled primarily by either the disabled or (more often) the elderly, who are forced to work bottom-rung jobs such as these well beyond retirement age thanks to the Republican government whose ass you so bafflingly take every opportunity to kiss. Arrogance I can stand, but not hypocrisy.

Your review of There Will Be Blood (“A Guilt-Soaked Epic,” Jan. 2-8) betrayed an almost touching inability to realize how deeply its protagonist’s suffocating isolation resonated with your own, so I think it’s fitting that I quote Daniel Plainview in saying, I’m finished.



That’s right, Press editors: Armond White’s scattershot bile was the only thing keeping me reading for the past couple of years, and he’s finally done me the favor of pissing me off enough to stop. Sad fact is, his reviews were still the only thing bearing the semblance of intelligence that you all have published in ages. Get it the fuck together. Or don’t. I won’t be reading.

—Micah Allen, Brooklyn



One Hand Washes the Other

Let’s see: First, NY Press runs a long puff-piece cover story on Betsy Gotbaum (“Got baum?,” Jan. 16-22) the nearly invisible “Public Advocate,” then, the very next issue has a half-page ad on page 5 advertising the “Office of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum,” complete with three photos of Herselfness advocating for the people, I suppose. Never saw such an ad before. I have a funny feeling that I and my fellow taxpayers paid for it, to promote Gotbaum’s ambitions to be the next mayor.



You followed that up in the next issue with a mash letter to her from someone or other (who knows who, an accomplice of Gotbaum?). Well, one hand washes the other, eh?



Only useful thing about the original puff-piece article was Gotbaum breaking cover and copping to her CIA role in Brazil. Your writer neglected to mention that the year in question was right after the CIA/military coup in Brazil of 1965. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t working to help rural cooperatives, as was claimed. Historically the CIA’s relationship to rural cooperatives is to sic death squads on them. Someone like Gotbaum could collect the names of the victims to be targeted.

How ironic that Gotbaum herself was recently victimized by state violence when police in Arizona murdered her daughter-in-law. No, she didn’t “strangle herself with a chain” while her hands were cuffed behind her back. The cops got enraged at her screaming abuse at them so they shut her up, perhaps “overdoing” it. The question of what Gotbaum did in the CIA is something worth exploring. But it would take a serious publication to explore it.

—Jason Zenith, Chinatown



Give Me MOre Flavor

It may sound strange, but I was so excited to see the two lines of coke in the illustration for the new sex column contest (“Flavor of the Week,” Jan. 30-Feb. 5).



I don’t mean to sound like I think people should be snorting up the white stuff (although it does feel like everyone’s skiing the slopes when I’m waiting in line for the toilet at most bars), it’s just that it reminded me of some of the crazy things that the New York Press used to do.



We need a publication that’s willing to take some risks, do something a little different and not expected. Seems like most everyone these days is just interested in eating and shopping. How about a little down and dirty action?

—Sam Winston, Hell’s Kitchen



With Bated Breath

I can’t say that I don’t trust your movie reviewer Erik Kohn’s opinion because I’m not familiar with his track record of being able to accurately discern a good movie from a bad one. However, given the terrible review he gave The Air I Breathe, (“Breathless Cycle,” Jan. 23-29), I’m hoping that my investment in the tickets won’t be as total of a loss as Kohn makes the film out to be. Personally knowing the writer (Bob DeRosa) as an acquaintance, and having read and enjoyed one of the “Air” drafts several years ago before the film had even been cast, I’m really hoping the film isn’t that terrible. 



Without criticizing the reviewer for attacking a film I feel close to, for obvious reasons, I would like to point out one factual error that I believe the director would find offensive. Mr. Kohn refers to director Jieho Lee as a “she.” Given my personal connection to the film, however, I can assure you that Lee is, in fact, a man. I would appreciate it if you could somehow edit the article to reflect this fact. Should he find and read the review himself, it would only add insult to injury for him to not only have his first film torn to shreds, but also, to be mistaken for a woman because of his Korean name.

—Tiffiny Whitney, Los Angeles, CA

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Give Us Gotbaum

Of all people who could run this city (“Got baum?” Jan. 16-22), Betsy Gotbaum is the most highly qualified. She knows how to get things done, and she knows how to cut through the stifling bureaucracy that makes progress so difficult. In other words: She knows how to kick ass! I know because she was the only person in New York State or City government who took direct action to try and help me.



I was a victim of, not one, but two gay-bashings in my classroom. The first dislocated my shoulder. The second left me with tTraumatic bBrain damage and neck and spinal fractures.



When I brought suit against the city, the principal swore under oath that we sat around and laughed off the first assault, even though I filed a police report, went to the DA and submitted medical records documenting serious injuries.



I spent months gathering evidence. I even pursued a grievance that finally got the principal to sign a document admitting that I had been injured. But the DA’s Office refused to act.



I started writing every city and state official I could think of. Nobody—not even the gay ones—did anything. Then, I thought of Betsy Gotbaum and sent off a brief letter.



A few weeks later, Chancellor Levine sent me a copy of a letter he sent to his chief counsel Michael Best complaining that “Of all people, I do not want Betsy Gotbaum upbraiding me in public.”



I say of all people, we need Betsy Gotbaum running this city. She not only knows how to get things done,wn, she also knows what must be done. We need her as mMayor.

—Larry Hayes, Soho, NYC



Dot to the Rescue


Please let Dr. Dot’s column return like a “Phoenix out of the Ashes.” It would solve a lot of problems in my sex life. Being an active “trisexual” (try this… try that…), I often need Dr. Dot’s advice. Seriously now, as a real 1968-Generation dude, roadie, hippie… we need columns like that of Dr. Dot in this prude day and age. Us plain people like us who that are not Mormons or with the Talibans also need our spiritual leaders. Dr. Dot has been that to me. No, really seriously now, damn it!!! Get Dr. Dot back! Otherwise I will steal your cat!!! Thank you for your time. Smiles go for miles. Salve – Pax.

—Sandy Sandifer, Germany



There Will Be Dumb Reviews?

Armond White’s rant against the irresponsibility of Romania’s cinematic  contributions (“There Will Be Abortion,” Jan. 23-29) was entertaining but ridiculous. Perhaps someone out there is trying to claim they’ve invented neo-realism, but what does that have to do with this film? As such, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days is a wonderful piece of work, far from the bizzaro version painted in this review.



White’’s assertions that it portrays the two college-aged protagonists as heroes or that the film glosses over the realities of abortion in favor of society’s current laissez-faire attitudes are based more on White’s own personal issues than in anything the film actually offers. Had he bothered to pay attention, White would have seen how the film doesn’t shy away from criticizing both the girls’ own personal choices as well as the government policies that created such dire circumstances. It is political commentary on one level and moral commentary on another, something which White seems to have missed.



4,3,2 doesn’t judge, but it doesn’t gloss over the facts, either; and, in the end, it gives us a very real example of the difficult situations humans find themselves in every day. Rather than seeing how many pop-culture references he can cram into one movie review, White would have served his public better by paying attention to what was happening on-screen.



The fact that White interprets a clear abuse of power and personal violation as simply a couple of college girls consenting to sex by their own free will makes me glad he’s a movie reviewer and not a Supreme Court Judge. Perhaps he walked into the wrong screening room and accidentally watched a restored print of Animal House.

—Memo Salazar

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Give Us a Break, Gotbaum

I couldn’t stop laughing after reading “Got baum?” by Edward-Issac Dovere (Jan. 16-22) concerning the possibility of Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum becoming mayor if Mayor Bloomberg vacated the office to become president. The article confirms why taxpayers would be better off if the useless Office of Public Advocate were abolished.



Millions of New Yorkers go to and from work on a daily basis by bus and or subway. Ms. Gotbaum is driven around town by staff accompanied by her own police security detail. Is it beneath her dignity to use public transportation like everyone else? Perhaps she has never purchased a MetroCard or doesn’t know how to use one.



NYC has a municipal budget of $55 billion dollars with over 200,000 employees. This is greater than most states and many nations. Ms. Gotbaum has never built a business, created jobs, met a payroll or managed any significant agencies with large numbers of employees. What qualifications could she bring to the second-toughest job in America?



Thank goodness term limits will force her out of both chauffeured limousine and public office in 2009. You or I have as much chance of landing on the moon as Ms. Gotbaum does of becoming Mayor. Don’t worry, she will live comfortably ever after on her fat municipal pension. She has some ego!

—Larry Penner, Great Neck, NY



Price Point to Prove on Pinot

The Grosjean Pinot Noir is not $60 [at Bar Boulud] (“Boulud Over Broadway,” Jan. 16-22). I enjoyed it for far less on my visit, and I think it was closer to $45 for the bottle. Some fact checking may be in order. The paté grand-mere we enjoyed as part of the small tasting was actually quite superb, and the service was friendly and attentive for a restaurant in its opening week.

—A.L. Donovan



Editor’s Note: We’re overjoyed that you were able to get the bottle for a bargain. We confirmed on our writer’s receipt, he spent a whopping $60 for the pleasing Pinot.



Toothsome Terror

In Eric Kohn’s review of Teeth (“Vagina Dentata,” Jan. 16-22), he refers to Robert Rodriguez’s zombie flick in Grindhouse as Death Proof. Shame on you! That’s Quentin’s title for his Kurt Russell mini-movie. The living dead were in Planet Terror. Arrrrrgh!!!

—The Cinema Kid



Whiney Wannabe

With his review of Sweeney Todd (“Grand Guignol, Burton-Style,” Dec. 19-25), Armond White has once again illustrated how completely his own pomposity, grandiosity and unfortunate tendency towards overripe phraseology informs his world view. Other than spewing out his armchair pop-psychology in overwritten, disdainful “reviews,” I am curious to know what other accomplishments Mr. White might consider among his finest.



I agree with Mr. White that the story of Sweeney Todd as imagined by Tim Burton lacks a sense of humor, but when he launches into a diatribe against Stephen Sondheim’s stage masterpiece, he shows us just how far he’ll go to demonstrate his bitterness towards another artist’s achievement. Let’s face it: He’s not a great critic. Just another artist wannabe who never did become one.

—Tim Latenser

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This week: Answering the question of whether our teacher cover girl and “Hoodie” ever hooked up; and Armond White continues to piss off film fans across the country.



Hoodie Love?

I loved the article written by Montana Whiteley (“From Crayons to Perfume,” Jan. 9-15), about the dating rituals of a South Bronx public school teacher. I have met a couple of people who either are teachers or parents of teachers in the Teach for America program, so it was eye opening to see what the teachers’ lives are like. They are truly amazing! But, on a more gossipy note, I just have to know: Did Hoodie ever call? Did she go out with him? What happened next?

—Ann Stachenfeld



EDITOR’S NOTE: Hoodie did call her, but their extremely different schedules (and lifestyles) made meeting up difficult and, after a few dates, he drifted out of the picture.



Give Us a Year Without Armond

In his article “A Year Without Altman,” (Jan. 2-8), Armond White seemed to have lost his focus entirely by forgetting that 2007 was not sub-par because of Altman’s passing. That’s like saying the ’80s sucked because Altman was alive and well. There’ve been plenty of years that were pathetic even while Altman walked the face of the planet. And even the great Robert Altman, certainly a towering giant in cinema history, occasionally made an errant toss in his own canon, as he would have admitted himself. Popeye? Please, what a piece of dog shit. Robert Altman was an angel of the highest degree and will be sorely missed, but he would have been proud of filmmakers like Jason Reitman, Paul Thomas Anderson and Todd Haynes for being able to achieve their visions in an industry that has collapsed artistically in recent years. White is an example of an acolyte critic gone south, petulantly lamenting that his favorite films by his favorite director can’t be duplicated over and over. He probably has a chip on his shoulder, maybe that’s the reason why he’s trying to sink Noah Baumbach’s career and is an example, like John Simon, of dangerous personalities who seduce editors with their wit, charm and book-bought intelligence, like a succubus.



Congratulations to the American filmmaker class of 2007 for still having some gumption left at the end of the barren Bush years and still taking chances in the polluted field of dreams and imagination. Failed teachers and failed filmmakers often become gym teachers and film critics, respectively. Armond White is a repugnant A-Hole and probably wishes in his wildest dreams that he could make films as well as Anderson and Haynes. He doesn’t make a good film critic and would make an even worse gym teacher. Relieve him of his duties. He’s not making any friends, and we don’t want the poor bastard to go to Hell, do we?

—Mike Reiss, Brooklyn



Pretentious Writing 101

I really hope you are looking for a new film critic. I don’t try to think I know everything, but I know movies, and Armond White is more pre-occupied with impressing his readers with what he thinks is intelligent analysis rather than review a movie.

Mr. White gave negative reviews to The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford, Eastern Promises, Atonement and There Will Be Blood, but he likes Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, War, The Nanny Diaries, El Cantante and, worst of all, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Once again, I really don’t try to think I know everything, but I think Mr. White—and the rest of us—would be better if he taught sociology or Pretentious Writing 101.

—Matthew Houghton, L.A., Calif.


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This week: Our year-end film issue is remembered for remembering Altman; Armond White draws blood for his review of P.T. Anderson’s latest; Mugger’s called out for his immigration rant; and the pope’s secret itinerary riles a few readers.



Altman Remembered Best

Armond White’s article, “A Year Without Altman,” (Jan. 2-8) is, without a doubt, the best thing written about Bob since his death. Bob was a close friend for many years, and a recent colleague (I produced the Arthur Miller play, Resurrection Blues, that Bob directed at the Old Vic in London in 2006), and everyone I’ve spoken to about Mr. White’s article (including Bob’s widow Kathryn), feels exactly the same way. Please give Mr. White all our thanks—a job well done.

—Scott Griffin, Chelsea, NYC



Jack as Easy Rider

Regarding brothers making movies (“Everybody and Their Brother Made a Movie in 2007,” Jan. 2-8), as long as you’re covering 2007’s related movie guys, why not mention Freeman and Nicholson [in Bucket List] as “Easy Reader” and “Easy Rider?”

—Dean Morris, East Village, NYC



Blood Not So Simple

This [review for There Will be Blood] is the worst movie review I have ever read (“A Guilt-Soaked Epic,” Jan. 2-8). Aspects of it lead me to believe that your reviewer [Armond White] is mentally deficient for failing to grasp painfully obvious plot elements, such as the “estranged brother” character, who is not an estranged brother at all, but a charlatan, which is where the gravitas of the Plainview character is fully manifest. He not only fails to recognize the best dramatic performance of the last 25 years, but his incessant name-dropping of irrelevant RELICS is not only obnoxious, but confuses even the most patient reader. This review, honestly, belongs in the SAT examination, as an object of boredom to be mocked and sworn at, representative of film criticism at its most masturbatory. This is the nadir of film criticism, and your reviewer is a blithering idiot.

—Daniel Simon



This is arguably the most biased and misleading review I have come across.

—Daniel R. Schwartz, San Francisco, CA



What an independent review [of There Will Be Blood]. Bravo! Free thought isn’t dead!

—Lesley Tatum



Anchors Away

Based upon your expressed sentiments in your [column regarding immigration](“Are You There God, It’s Me Mugger,” Jan. 2-8), you and your buddy weren’t having a debate, but rather it was a love fest—blowjobs and all.

All illegal aliens and their anchor babies need to be deported when caught or recognized. That’s what the majority of Americans want, as well as a secure border, stopping this invasion across America’s Southern border. I believe a day is coming when American citizens will rise up and take our government back.

—John Gleeson



Pope Problem

You guys have a short memory. Although you have new owners and writers, did you check the archives before authorizing this [piece on the pope] (“New York, New York: It’s a Heaven of a Town,” Dec. 26, 2007-Jan. 1, 2008)? You will be getting a lot of hate mail—again. Time for another publisher, editor and writer—again.

—David Plump



Anglicans For the Pope

Is Rob Kutner aware that the Cathedral of St. John the Divine is an Episcopal cathedral, and has no connection to the Catholic Church? I’m sure the clergy and staff would be pleased to give the pope a tour, however.

—Robert Hefley, NYC

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This week: Someone else sees the humor in the pope’s upcoming visit; Mugger gets dissed; a few Kelly Kreth fans unite; our “Overrated Albums of 2007” list gets a question; and, of course, Armond White gets a few (mean) words to ring in the new year.



Order Me Another Pope-a-Cino

It was nice to see the New York Press find a way to ridicule our current, ridiculous pope without stooping to the depths of previous Press cover stories—namely, that idiotic piece a few years ago about funny ways for the last Pope to die. Maybe your idea to hire a writer who actually knows how to write a joke had something to do with it. I’m a huge fan of the “Daily Show” (aren’t we all?), and it was great to get a taste of that Jon Stewart humor in the middle of this horrible strike. I laughed out loud on the subway, and that’s not something I do very often, at the “Pope-a-cino” reference. Funny stuff!

—Lauren Matteo, Brooklyn



Is Mugger Missing Something?

Is it my imagination, or has Russ Smith’s Mugger column been taken over by the love-child of Santa Claus and Snow White? Also, has he started getting his daily paper delivered a month late? I remember the days when his endless screeds would actually amuse me with their vitriol and venom, and timeliness. He seemed to be angry at everyone and everything in the news (and sometimes I even agreed with his reactionary point of view). But recently he seems to be ridiculously late and hopelessly out of touch. He wrote about the Dylan movie months after it came out, and now this week he finally gets around to the steroids scandal. I’m looking forward to his piece next week about Halloween. 

—Rance Diamond, Hell’s Kitchen



Hottie’s Digits

Is that a drawing of Kelly Kreth next to her column last week on Paul Janka? If so, please give her my phone number. If not, please give the illustrator my phone number.

—Louie, Brooklyn



Seeking Versatile, Honest, Emotional

When I read the first story by Kelly Kreth about Mr. Shaffer on your cover (“Sorry, Girls… He’s Single,” Sept. 19-25), I was thinking that while it was good writing, it was just another ploy at shocking readers using sex. What else should I expect from a paper that has ads featuring half naked women on its cover? However, I have been so very pleasantly surprised by Kreth’s subsequent columns. Finally a sex columnist that doesn’t bore me and insult our intelligence. Hurrah for a woman who doesn’t gloss over how hard it is to date and be single in this city and who offers realistic social commentary about it without that Girls Gone Wild airhead mentality. Yet she does it with humor and a wink and a nod. This last column in particular, the one about the challenges of splitting up and moving out (“Sex and the Single Bed,” Dec. 5-11), absolutely hit home. Who else in NY can go from obsessive compulsive disorder to booty calls to sexy writers and be consistently endearing? Good job, New York Press, now if only you can keep up this type of quality and get rid of the gratuitous flesh on your cover.

Pat Liebman, age 31, NYC



No Love for Lucinda

J. R. Taylor’s otherwise excellent list of overrated acts should not have included Lucinda Williams. No way is she overrated. If anything, it’s the opposite. Why don’t more critics write about her? She’s still one of the best singer-songwriters out there, and there aren’t nearly enough of those. Go Lucinda!!

—Janeen Drake, NYC



Sci-Fi Set to Rights

In his review of The Golden Compass (“Trans-Dimensional Dustup,” Dec. 5-11), Armond White writes: “Its ‘beauty’ is artificial and superficial-proof that Peter Jackson’s influence over the fantasy-adventure film has ruined it.”

Cough-cough, “Fuck you,” Cough.

—Chris Mankey


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This week: Another I Am Legend fan wants Armond White fired; Emma Span’s take on ‘quarterlife’ finds another ‘Degrassi Junior High’ fan; no love for the boy at the gallery party; and as the WGA strike continues, a scab volunteers.



Armond White is Dumb


Armond White doesn’t do his research. He should be fired. [His review of I Am Legend] is definitely the worst movie review I have ever read (“The Invincible Man,” Dec. 12-18). It’s not bad because I disagree with his opinion on the movie—in fact, there is hardly any opinion presented on the film. For this, and because the research behind the article is atrocious, the review is the worst I have ever read.

Nearly the entire “review” is dedicated to pointing out the fact that Will Smith is a black man. Was Will Smith cast in this big-budget vampire flick to make any social commentary? Or was he cast because the man is a blockbuster machine? Armond White will find racial commentary wherever he looks.

He mentions that Will Smith recites the lines of Donkey, the Shrek character voiced by Eddie Murphy, and alludes to them being “kin” in Hollywood. If Armond White had paid attention, he would have noticed that he recited the lines of both Donkey and Shrek (the latter being voiced by the very white Mike Myers). The point of that scene has nothing to do with blacks in Hollywood: It’s supposed to illustrate how long he’s been alone, how much time he has had with nothing to do.

White’s review has almost nothing to do with the movie. He doesn’t critique the movie as much as he does chronicle Will Smith’s career and retroactively place racial commentary into movies where there is none (Shark Tales? Really?). Armond White’s review is dumb, he is dumb, and he should feel dumb.

—Patrick Plovanich, Chicago, IL



Give Me Degrassi

I agree with Emma Span, (“emptysomething,” Dec. 19-25) if I wanted another “Degrassi Junior High” rip-off, I would’ve bought the DVDs of “Degrassi Junior High.”

—Higgs



Shut Up, Whiny Rich Boy


After reading Royal Young’s poorly written account of how he wastes his life (“A Christmas Ornament for the Rich, Dec. 12-18), I couldn’t help but refer to the subtitle of his piece, “Rubbing shoulders at the Robert Miller Gallery Christmas Party is a job in itself,” and question whether the party he attended was any kind of job at all. Since his words appear in your paper, I have to accept the fact that Mr. Young is indeed a writer, as his pithy MySpace page suggests. What I have trouble accepting is a paper that would publish such an irreducibly pathetic “story,” which so penitently caters to the absurdly inflated art society of NYC, as well as Mr. Young’s unquestionable status as a coddled white boy from Manhattan. Perhaps he was taking a stab at this era’s holy irony. Forgive me if I’ve missed the gist. Wait, don’t forgive me; it still reads like Vice’s best material, otherwise known as shit. Thanks for nothing.

—Aaron Gettler



VOLUNTEERING TO SCAB


I read your story, “Meet the Scabs,” (Nov. 14-20) and, as a writer—fortunately, not a TV writer—I have an opinion. I would never join the WGA. What kind of organization vows to hunt down willing people who want to break into TV? It is a hard life, and those writers should be damn glad they get paid at all. With so many people willing to step in their places, I would just thank god every day I get paid. Don’t like the money your show is making? Then write a little less better (sic). The networks would get the hint. Hold back your best for your own endeavors—‘cause you know all them writers have a novel going. But to have some rep from the WGA tell me they would hunt me down and make sure I never worked again? That’s the definition of abuse of power… Makes me want to get on a plane and scab.

—Kristine Kalish


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This week: Doctoroff failed at Ground Zero; and a pack of angry fans of  hate on Armond White like he’s the last negative critic in New York.



Doctoroff’s A Bigger Failure

In his article about Dan Doctoroff (“Development Hell, Dec. 12-18), Andrew J. Hawkins touches on the inactivity on rebuilding the former World Trade Center site. Hawkins fails to mention that a major problem with that site has been the lack of officials, including Mr. Doctoroff, to do the right thing and rebuild the Twin Towers. On page 11 of Imagine NY’s Summary Report, published in 2002 and available on their website, the “vision statement” reads “The Twin Towers should be built as they were before September 11, perhaps even taller, to restore our spirit and dignity, and to prove that the terrorists did not prevail. The new World Trade Center buildings should incorporate a memorial in addition to office space, and should be built with the latest technologies to make them safer and more secure.” Doctoroff should have advocated to rebuild the Twin Towers. Instead, all we got was the awful “Freedom Tower” design.

—Bill Hough, San Jose, CA



On Will Smith’s Legendary Team

Armond White’s review of I Am Legend (“The Invincible Man,” Dec. 12-18) would have benefited from some basic fact-checking. A “remake of the 1971 Charlton Heston futuristic sci-fi thriller, The Omega Man” that is “ripping-off 28 Weeks Later”…Seriously? I understand that his article is more of a diatribe on race than a serious attempt at film review, but White expounds upon his themes without even a Google search awareness of the movie’s identity. As purveyors of culture, isn’t it more important to unearth popular culture’s roots than to offer a mere pundit for groundless fancy? Couldn’t White have mentioned the original film adaptation, starring Vincent Price? Might your readers have benefited from a discussion of Richard Matheson’s genre-defining novel, upon which this film was based? Even if the movie proves sub-par, White could have used it as a springboard to expose your readers to one fantastic novel. Instead, he explored Will Smith’s racial identity. What a wasted opportunity.

—Derek Kagemann, Bloomington, Ind.



Next time you write a review of a movie, [Armond White,] please don’t waste your readers’ time by filling it with false information  (the “family” as they were called in The Omega Man were actually albino, not “darkly complexioned” as you note) to trump up your charges of Hollywood holding down the acting enigma that is Will Smith, who has had to claw his way to the top of the rank and file of the Hollywood elite playing second file (as you would have the public believe) to such luminary actors as Martin Lawrence (seriously?), a robot, Kevin Kline and other assorted superstars.

I’ve never read anything, let alone a movie review, that tries to dig so hard to find racial equality. It’s a movie, your job is to review it—which you woefully were unable to do. Is Peter Travers to blame for your woefully inadequate job on this review, because he is white and works at Rolling Stone? You, buddy, are an idiot.

—Sean Pickwick, Monroe, CT



I don’t understand how you can write a review like this and get paid at the same time! Ironically enough, I am taking television and radio writing, and my professor (who writes for The New York Times) made us write a movie review. He specifically said not to write about an actor’s career past unless it was necessary. If this review were to be turned in to my professor, you would have received a D.

Yes, I understand that Hollywood hasn’t changed its ideology on black actors. However, you constantly and consistently bring it up, making references to his hip-hop past on “Fresh Prince.” It’s not only annoying, but it also makes you out to look racist.

—Jasmine Davis, Brooklyn, NY


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This week:  Last week’s story on the availability of information to those interested in stalking celebrities stirs up a campaign to save Claire Danes from her potentially psycho fans.



Lunatic Fringe

Are you guys insane? How could you approve the article on stalking by Becca Tucker (“I’ll Be Watching You,” December 5-11)? Couldn’t you at least have the decency to avoid giving so much information? At the very least, you should not have given out the name of the street. Even if it’s easy to find on the Internet, that does not release you from the responsibility for making it even easier. Nothing gives you the right to terrorize a person just because they decided to work as actors. And now, thanks to you, Claire Danes might look at every person she crosses in the street and wonder if some lunatic got there thanks to your article. This story was creepy, and not because of the other stories about stalkers, but because it shows such complete disregard for the safety of another human being. You should be ashamed.

—Rafael Hernandez



Delusions of Grandeur

I suppose you think “regular” stalkers are mentally unbalanced, whereas stalkers who publish accounts of their own stalking are “journalists.” In my view, you’ve exhibited an even higher level of mental illness than a garden-variety stalker. You should definitely take down the article, apologize to Ms. Danes, seek help for your illness and find a line of work where you can’t harm others. No, seriously. Do yourselves, your readers and real journalists a favor: Try another line of work.

—Cliff Tarrance



Invasion of Sanity

I’ve read your story [on stalking], which I thought was very interesting and informative, and the story of how Danes felt “violated” by it. I don’t understand her reaction. Her home address was already published in another magazine. If a stalker wanted to find her, he could find her address on the Internet from that story. The point of this article wasn’t to advocate stalking, it was to point out the dangers. If I were Claire Danes, I would be more concerned with articles that invaded her privacy, like the kind that Us Weekly publishes every week. This wasn’t a sleazy tabloid story about her personal life. It was thoughtful, balanced journalism. It’s too bad Claire Danes didn’t bother to read the story before attacking it.

—Betsy Brauner, Chicago, Il.



Inspiration for Stalkers

We all know famous women, or anyone else, can be stalked, then raped or killed. There is nothing to know or prove with your article on Claire Danes. There is, however, a high likelihood that your teasing prose could inspire some sicko to actually go after her. You are disgusting to use her, or any live human, as a target. I hope she sues you. I hope you are arrested by the NYC police department. You deserve it. Yuck.

—Bob Treumann



Yuck, Yuck, Yuck

A New York Press reporter decides to go on a mission to stalk Claire Danes, in an effort to prove just how easy it is to stalk someone: Yuck. I mean really. Yuck. Whoever thinks this was a good idea was/is warped. Scummy. Gross. Makes me think of dirty, underhanded things. What a shame that it’s not in the least unexpected. Have you heard of Rotten.com? Check it out. It’s your kind of place.

—Jay Blackburn, Santa Rosa, CA



DIY Disturbia

While I appreciate your interest in bringing attention to the problem of stalking, I am very disturbed by your efforts to stalk Ms. Danes. Perhaps you should be more interested in talking about how to stop stalking, how to prosecute stalking, than in providing a step-by-step guide. Stalking is a serious problem. Anyone that has been stalked and unable to get the judicial system to intervene knows that it’s not funny, and not fodder for some celebrity human-interest story.

—Katherine Haenschen, Austin, TX



Vulnerable to Attack


I wasn’t sure what to think when I first saw your cover story on stalking last week. But when I read Becca Tucker’s article, I was impressed by her good writing and her perspective. It could have been a sensational tabloid article, but instead it had a lot of fascinating history. Stalkers are, obviously, crazy people who will find their prey without the help of anyone, but it’s still scary to realize how vulnerable celebrities are.

—Philip Hawkins

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This week:  Our “Flaming Assholes” story fired up a few Julia Allison fans (and a few other haters); and Kelly Kreth is one reader’s hero.



Another Allison

I just read your piece on the Patrick-Camille story, “Flaming Assholes (Nov. 28-Dec. 4), via Julia Allison’s website. I am a reader of her site, though I wouldn’t say I’m a fan because I do think she’s a bit flaky and I don’t follow celebrity gossip, but she seems like a generally friendly person and an entertaining writer. So is Jakob Lodwick. Which is why I wanted to write you as hopefully one of many letters you get to express my disappointment in your article. I have followed it at a distance from when it started, and I know it seems a little odd that something like this would happen, but I am surprised that you would feel it necessary to attack them personally for it by calling them assholes.

I just don’t understand how you think that’s journalistic integrity to email people saying you want to talk to them about the state of dating in New York and then turn around and spend an entire article lambasting them for something that is at its core just a romance. OK, sure it’s a bit hokey and bordering on “Who gives a crap?” But so what? With so many stories about violence and wars, I actually appreciate the fact that these four went out of their way to promote what happens because otherwise, no one would have known about it. And yes, this is a media-ladened society where people love to promote and self-promote and cash in on the next big thing, but it’s not like this is the first (or last) time someone has used their real life to make money. And so what? If you don’t like the story, just move on. You are perpetuating the media circus surrounding these four by writing about them in a column. As for self-obsession, personal blogs are about the people who write them. That’s what they are there for. There are quite a few blogs that are news blogs, but for the most part, the blogs are there for people to talk about their lives. And if they are known for other well-known projects, such as being on TV or owning a popular website, people will read the blogs! People will find out what they write about and tell other people. It’s how the Internet works. We are in a world of user-generated content. You can create your own content, and I can create my own. I don’t expect you to respond to this and I certainly don’t expect you to apologize for what you said, because I know you think you didn’t do anything wrong. But I just wanted you to know, as someone who read your article, that I didn’t like it.

—Allison (no relation to Julia; it’s my first name) E. Rutherford, NJ



Manhattan Circle Jerk

I wanted to let you know I enjoyed your article, and appreciate you taking the time to write it. Although many might already be privy to the circle jerk that is Manhattan media—many who read Gawker and watch GMA, particularly the thousands who reside in places where this climate does not exist—are not. And I always appreciate when people lift the veil a bit, on any issue, so that others might see what everyone else can. That in and of itself is an important exercise, and I am glad to see you doing so.

—Paolo Mastrangelo



Just Ignore Them

I just read your story about Patrick and Camille (and Jakob and Julia). I’d just like to point out the obvious: Instead of complaining that these people get too much press, it might have been a better idea to not say anything at all. You just devoted an entire article that looks like a whiny story about why you’re not sitting at the popular lunch table, and at the same time gave them more press.

You’re a journalist, and I’m sure you expect such criticism, but the entire time I read it, I just kept thinking the same thing, over and over…“This guy is a douche bag.” And I meant you.

—Jessica, Brooklyn



Secure in Her Insecurities

I am really digging your new columnist, Kelly Kreth. I am drawn to her column for many reasons but the one that sticks out the most is the fact that she possesses a fatalistic view of life and yet is still a successful female.

It is inspirational to know that even though a woman can possess the same insecurities and fears that I do, she is still able to have a successful career and this in turn has helped me to see that I have not been trying hard enough with my own life.

So I thank you for adding her to your newspaper and I thank her for making me feel that there is hope no matter how insecure and scared I feel.

—Sarah El-Attar, Dobbs Ferry, NY

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This week:  A very thorough explanation of what’s really going on at Indian Point (from someone who seems to know); and Kelly Kreth gets her mouth washed out with soap.



Guarding the Truth

I read Becca Tucker’s nuclear security piece, “Yawn Patrol,” (Nov. 7-13) with great interest, and I have some comments. When I was in the Army, a long time ago, I had the bad luck to pull stockade duty, which means I would get stuck 30 feet up in a wooden tower for three hours on, three hours off, for a 24-hour day in hell. They gave us only three bullets, so if four guys were escaping, we were dead meat. It wasn’t hard to stay awake, seeing as the tower was unheated, and I was 24 years old, the three hours went fairly quickly…

Please accept my first-hand field data, presented without any underlying agenda, concerning the physical challenge of being a guard and staying awake. It can easily be done. I know. I’ve done it.

To say, as Ms. Tucker did, that [the guard at Indian Point] was on “a second ring of security around the reactor” is a vague and untelling way to describe the post this guy occupied…and [it needs] a better description of it. This guy was a baggage screener. He was not functioning as a guard, per se. He was not on a vigilance post. He was not responsible for keeping a perimeter unchallenged. He did not pack a rifle or a shotgun. There was no expectation that Mohammed Atta would suddenly appear, screaming at him: “Check my bag, Kaffir!!!”

The guard post with the employee screening gates is far, far inside the fenceline, in a rather hidden and secure position, and anyone approaching to get screened, has already been challenged by a team of guards, minutes before, who intentionally engage in conversation with each entrant, to ascertain if the person has a badge, seems alcohol-free, carries no weapons, contraband, etc. Any entrant so challenged, and passed, will park their car and enter the screening station.

If the guard on this post died of a heart attack, the machines still would have to see a matching palm print, matching a badge stripe and an employee ID number—or else nobody could make the big steel gates rotate.

The floor-to-ceiling steel gates are computerized, and are tapped into the station database. The guard does not OK your entrance, the machines do that. The guards on this screener post act mainly as a motivator, for the boisterous union crowds to submit to the protocol and to act nominally normal. (On Monday at 7 a.m. the place is a madhouse.)

On Sunday at 2 p.m., with the outer-campus vehicle barriers activated, nobody can even drive into the Indian Point parking lots. With no shift turnover expected until 3:30 p.m., the baggage screener post is a totally isolated backwater.

I feel bad for [the guy] that he drifted off. I feel good for Indian Point, and the public, that NRC thought it was a good idea to do “backshift” snap inspections. NRC proved to us all that the system works.

The nuclear plant control room is a bright, open place, with 24-hour camera surveillance, great decorum, a special three-point communication language all its own and a strictly white-shirt dress code… For someone to actually sleep in this room, or even to casually sit, would be, to me, inconceivable. But how could you guys know? Well, now you know.

—Name withheld for security reasons



Shame on You, Kelly


What bloody awful language! Who gave you the permission to write for a magazine? You are disgusting, but even more pathetic is the fact that you are ignorant.

—Sashi


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This week:  A “working writer” responds to our exposure of the writing scabs; and our story on sleeping guards at Indian Point alarms someone into worrying about the potential dangers.some praise for our reviewers.



Writer’s Rights, Not Residuals


In “Meet the Scabs” (Nov. 14-20), Matt Elzweig wrote, “The strike’s goal is to force Hollywood to reformulate the equation of residuals paid to writers.” That statement is completely misleading. While the residual equation is a part of the strike to be sure, it is hardly the defining aspect of it. The defining aspect of this strike is, in fact, WGA jurisdiction of New Media, aka the Internet. Just like the studios did not want to cover television when it first came on the scene in the 1950s (which would have destroyed the Guild), they are now trying to exclude Internet content (which will also eventually destroy the Guild as it becomes the dominant form of media delivery…which we all know it will).

Unfortunately, the echo chamber consistently talks about residuals—as if 12,000 of us actually went on strike so we could get a $100 DVD residual check instead of a $50 one. This is not a simple misunderstanding of the facts. It is clear that the AMPTP is pushing this issue of residuals in the media as a “wedge” issue with the public since most of the public does not understand the importance of residuals as a necessary part of the business model in a working writer’s life. Thus it undercuts the WGA’s position on the strike. It’s the old Lew Wasserman b.s. analogy: “Hey, I don’t pay the plumber every time I flush my toilet…Why are these writers getting residuals?”

Regarding residuals, suffice it to say, as UnitedHollywood.com said: “But if the plumber had set it up so Mr. Wasserman’s toilet spit out a thousand bucks every time he flushed, you can bet your ass that plumber would have been beating down the door looking for his cut.”

So please, do all 12,000 of us in the WGA a favor and correct the record and report the truth of why we are really striking—and not just repeat the AMPTP spin. And while you’re at it, maybe even remind the public that the majority of WGA writers are middle class, just like them. While, yes, there are a few in the top 5 percent of earners who make the really big bucks (if they’re lucky to be working that year)…most of us are just getting by.

—One of the lucky ones…this year



On Guard


Thanks for scaring the living daylights out of all of us, via your article “Yawn Patrol” (Nov. 7-13)! Just picture some whack job (of whatever extraction) getting an idea in his head to blow up Indian Point, now knowing that its catnapping security force will wake up too late to do anything about it.

While this article is, granted, an obligatory “wake up” call, its negative aspects simply outweigh any of its benefits. To have focused upon the irresponsible decisions of ruthless governmental entities who refuse to consider less environmentally menacing alternatives to nuclear madness would have been more professional. Exposing the understandable behaviors of abused working-classed security personnel living miserable lives via the title and bulk of this article isn’t the answer.

—Pete A. Matteo, Bayonne, NY


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This week: Kelly Kreth’s list of WILFS gets one guy hot and bothered; plus, some praise for our reviewers.



Kreth, You’re a WILNF

I wonder if you’re as fucked as you make yourself out to be [Kelly Kreth], or you’re pretending to be so just to make yourself into some faux celebrity. One of the few things you said in your article (“Writers I’d Like to Fuck,” Oct. 31-Nov. 6) that was somewhat true is that the allure of creativity comes from being able to create something out of nothing. (I’ve been a professional artist for 30 years, and I’m a good writer.) But even that isn’t why people are drawn to writers. Creative people tend to be archetypal “rogues” that women find so irresistible. Creativity and power are the more obvious aphrodisiacs that people respond to, but the underlying force that draws people to, and defines, a rogue is contravention: What it is that makes them stand out from the crowd. Whether they write or draw is less important than the fact that they are different from others.

For example, someone who dresses differently from the rest of the culture immediately attracts attention. (Think Dracula, fashionistas, punkers, etc.) When I worked in management as a production coordinator, I wore a shirt and tie. But unlike everyone else, I had a lot of different style vests that I would wear, my shoes were more stylish, and I knew how to mix and match my wardrobe. Plus, I had an office. Neither women nor men failed to look at me as they passed by. Offices are a symbol of power, but they are merely the veneer that attracts women. Take a look at that illustration [for your column] of the lass underneath the guy’s desk. Why is that image the first one most people think of when they think of office sex? It isn’t the office or its “power” that women are so attracted to. Desks happen to be a symbol of the cover or privacy that women want in order to live out fantasies that they don’t want other people to know about. The office merely lends an element of risk and adventure that makes it so exciting. Rogues, on the other hand, happen to be everything a husband or boyfriend isn’t (usually). Twinkles of the eye don’t necessarily have to be duplicitous, either. But women who give in to liars have a lot of self-esteem issues. They’ve usually had unstable relationships with men which is why they’re crude, act like sluts and don’t understand the nuance and power of being demure. In other words, they don’t understand sensuality and why men are attracted to women (they always think it’s sex, the poor idiots). Indeed, there’s nothing more satisfying than a woman who can subtly charm a man without appearing to be promiscuous, but has an insatiable appetite for lovemaking—especially if she’s married! So you see, being a rogue works both ways. The power of sensuality is just that. But if you have to resort to being outlandish or crude to get a man’s attention, then you just don’t have it nor can you ever know how sublime sex can be. In the end, you only come off like a WINLF: a Writer I’d Never Like to Fuck.

—Richard Reay



Talk to Me, Too

I just saw Talk To Me on DVD and absolutely agree with your review of the film (“Afro Stylin,” July 11-17). As one who was around in the ’60s (and involved), I was really put off by the history-for-dummies approach to such an important and turbulent time.

The trivialization of the King murder, the cartoon costumes and hair, the black AND white stereotypes. Plus, no hide nor hair of the real leaders of the time and the actual roots of Black Power. Oh well. I should stay away from these tarted-up, let’s-recreate-the-’60s movies ’cause they really bug me.

(P.S. I also found Petey Greene, as depicted, a fairly unattractive and uninteresting figure. I’ll take Lenny Bruce anytime!)

—Joanna Kyd



Camp is in the Clothes

Thanks so much for your nice mention of our costumes on Charles Busch’s [Die Mommie Die!] (“Sleepaway Camp,” Oct. 24-30). As I’ve said before, reviews are our only applause, and we are most grateful.

—Michael Bottari & Ronald Case, Theatrical Designers, New York

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This week: Jerry Seinfeld takes a few more hits after our career critique from last week; Ron Paul supporters love their man (and our coverage); Armond White needs to leave David Chase and “The Sopranos” alone; and a personal story about a stint in jail gets some respect.



Stop Worshipping Seinfeld

Regarding your Seinfeld piece (“Bizarro Jerry,” Oct. 31-Nov. 6), it seems to me your article is “about nothing.” The catchy title stating Jerry is “not master of his domain,” promises an article that would allude to his life somehow being beyond his control. The facts you discuss show his affairs being managed exactly as he wants it. He is portrayed as mean-spirited and greedy and artistically shallow. But there’s no indication he strives to be any different from that, or is failing in any way. In fact, we should expect nothing less, as excepting the artistic aspect, those shallow and selfish qualities were one of the hallmarks of his character on “Seinfeld,” and one of the primary things that made the show such a refreshing alternative to the sentimental, corny gunk pop culture usually churns out. The larger and more important point you could have touched on is why fans of the show feel a desire to connect with Seinfeld beyond watching him on TV, when in fact they should have more important and meaningful things to focus on than celebrity worship.

—H. Roundstein, West Village



Seinfeld’s Not Funny

What we’ve realized about Jerry is that he was never that “gifted” a comedian in the first place. Larry David carried the show “Seinfeld” on his back. We know this for several reasons. One being that the show completely deteriorated in its final two seasons, after David left. The style of comedy went from clever, dry humor to almost pure slapstick. I cringe when I watch some of those episodes on reruns. And now we see what both men have done post-“Seinfeld.” No comparison. And look at the rest of the cast. Jason Alexander and Michael Richards turned out to be completely unfunny when left to their own device. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss is a decent actress, but she’s not particularly funny either. I have a feeling this Bee Movie is going to be a disaster. It’s almost as if Jerry maturing in the wrong direction. On television, he behaves like a dumb child. And all the spots with him promoting Bee Movie are so painfully unfunny as to be almost unbelievable.

—Mark Grueter, Brooklyn



Ron Paul’s My Man


I just wanted to say thanks! for your article on NY Ron Paul supporters, “Apostles of Paul” (Oct. 31-Nov. 6). It seems a bit odd to thank a reporter for simply doing their job correctly. But with so much anti-Paul-spin in the media these days, it is refreshing to read un-spun articles.

—Tom Biggs, Newtown, Penn.



Fuhgeddaboutit, Armond


Thanks to Armond White for providing us another withering cultural critique in his “American Gangster” review (“Original Gangstas,” Oct. 31-Nov.6). But how can he yet again blame, of all things, “The Sopranos” for debasing American film culture? Is White really not able to distinguish content from style? That “The Sopranos” provided an unflinching and unforgiving moral inventory of its characters while still allowing them to be their authentic, despicable selves was perhaps its most unique achievement. That Clinton, Hollywood and many viewers somehow failed to recognize the characters’ depravity says more about the public’s need to be spoon-fed ideas and morality than it does about David Chase’s series. What other recent American filmmakers have asked and expected more from their audience than David Chase? David Simon, perhaps?

—Michael C. Whalen, Brooklyn



Stand-Up Gal

Laura Dinnebeil’s “Feeling Caged” story you published (“8 Million Stories,” Oct. 31-Nov. 6) issue was exceptionally good. It was so precision-packed with human detail and self-knowing irony that I really wanted to read more and more of what went on that night and the following day. Full disclosure: I’ve reviewed her stand-up work in the past as a critic and am a big fan, so I’m not surprised she could take so outwardly humiliating a situation and make it personally riveting the way she did. That’s Laura: No whining. No impotent petulance. Just absorbing honesty and (a bleak as that ending might seem) guts.

—John Michael Koroly, Manhattan

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This week: A reader thinks Armond White’s the real racist here; after our Best of Everything issue, a call for the NYC City Council as “Best Pay for Play”; and a reminder that AIDS isn’t back, it never went away.



Superbad Bigot

So Armond White makes his point that white critics are racist and closed minded to Tyler Perry’s black-themed films (“White Lies,” Oct. 17-23). But by being closed minded to a couple of the best comedies of the year, Superbad and Knocked Up, who is the real racist here.

— Alex DiTullio



Best Pay For Play


“The Best Of Everything 2007” issue (Oct. 24-30) missed that the New York City Council is the best place for “Pay for Play” campaign contributors to influence elected officials. New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Finance Committee Council Chairperson David Weprin and many of the other 34 term limited Council members running for higher pubic office in 2009 have collectively raised several million dollars in $500, $1,000 and $2,750 donations from various special interest groups. They are making investments today on behalf of their clients for future favors at taxpayers’ expense. See for yourself and contact the New York City Campaign Finance Board or log on to their website…www.nyccfb.info. The list of special interest groups makes interest-ing reading.

—Larry Penner, Great Neck, NY



Bareback Baloney

Reading your AIDS issue (“The Plague Returns,” Sept. 26-Oct. 3), J.T. Leroy and James Frey appear to be doing just fine in their new jobs at the New York Press.

I have worked in the nightlife industry for 20 years, thrown 3,000 parties in New York alone, met tens of thousands of gay nightlife denizens, and yet I have never encountered a character remotely like “Jared,” a convenient all-in-one stereotype: He’s compared to Audrey Hepburn, an Abercrombie model and a slut who doesn’t want to die of AIDS because it’s “a disgusting cliché” even though he only has receptive anal intercourse without condoms. Although I spend several nights a week in the very nightlife mileu J.T. LeRoy (I mean Becca Miller) found this Jared (no last name, please, lest someone fact-check), I’ve never had such a swan-like creature tell me all about his propensity to bareback total strangers, something that is generally something that one wouldn’t boast about. What an intrepid reporter! What a load of hooey.

Then we turn the page and meet “Gary,” who was supposedly intentionally infected by a psychopath who then starts taunting him about his T-cell count. Selfless, pathetic Gary stays with him through all of this abuse. Why, he doesn’t even get angry! Why, it’s his own fault! Whatever Happened to Baby Gay?

Exploitive, obviously exaggerated tales like these make gay men sound like suicidal nitwits who only stop intentionally infecting teens or gleefully taking loads up the ass long enough to pause and tell all to the nice lady from the New York Press.

I’ve been an AIDS activist for over 20 years. Sensational (and fake) stories like this obscure the real causes for the only-too-real rise in HIV infections among young people.

Sadly, the facts about the rise in AIDS among young gay men in New York are true. My friends were young and slipped up, and the odds were against them. They don’t hang around Christopher Street boasting to total strangers about the fun they have barebacking. They’re dealing with the reality of what one night’s mistake has done to their lives. And they have much more to say about what is actually causing the rise in HIV transmission than these too-convenient-to-be-true characters your writers have created.

I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that Sara Markt, the spokesperson for the Health Department, actually exists and said that, “We somehow have to remind people that this is a gay disease, all over again, before it becomes another epidemic.” Ms. Markt, AIDS isn’t a gay disease. It is a disease, period. Saying it is a gay disease sends the message to everyone who isn’t gay that they’re home free—and they aren’t. And guess what: It never stopped being an epidemic. AIDS isn’t back. It never went away.

—Chip Duckett, East Village, NY


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This week: Another pundit on what Bloomberg must do to win the presidency; a reader looks for his favorite former columns; Dr. Dot refuses to die; somehow Dolan gets mixed up with Michael Clayton.



What Bloomie Must Do

Regarding Edward-Isaac Dovere’s “How He’ll Do It” (Oct. 17-23): The conventional wisdom suggests that by leaving the Republican party, Michael Bloomberg has signaled that he may be a player in the 2008 presidential election. Bloomberg’s public speeches, demonstrating his leadership in governing New York, fuel discussion on the New York mayor’s possible run as an independent presidential candidate, despite all his denials.

To win the Electoral College, Bloomberg needs to win by a 34 percent of the popular vote plurality but only in each state of a group of “victorious” states, controlling at least 270 electoral votes combined. Even if he wages a strong national campaign. Registered Democrats and Republicans who currently identify themselves as independent voters, along with swing voters, are his potential electorate in each “victorious” state. But non-voters are those who can make a difference in Bloomberg’s run, especially if he teams up with a visionary appealing to their needs.

Currently, non-voters constitute at least 45 percent of the American electorate and aren’t represented in presidential elections by two major political parties. Given percentages of independent republicans, independent democrats and swing voters in each potentially “victorious” state, one can estimate the number of favorable non-voters needed to carry the state in a three-candidate race.

Finding whether there are groups of “victorious” states for Bloomberg in the 2008 race with particular major party nominees is a matter of calculations. Choosing one such group among available is a matter of strategy.

Though the 1912 and 1992 elections suggest that non-major party candidates are unlikely to win the Electoral College even with broad public support. However, a comprehensive analysis of their campaign strategies is rarely offered. If Bloomberg runs, he may become the first independent candidate to prove that in close elections, an appeal to unrepresented voters and smart Electoral College strategies matter.

—Alexander S. Belenky

visiting scholar at MIT’s Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals



Missing Writers Wanted


Congratulations on making a vanilla paper! I have been a reader of the paper for four years and have even given the new New York Press a chance, but this is enough. You think you have done something worthwhile? Where is Dr. Dot (an NYC Dear Abbey), the “Rental Dementia” guy who gave New Yorkers insight into apartment hunting, Ed Koch (a good read half the time) and the sexy girl Stephanie Sellars who always had something important to say about sex, NYC and relationships?

So glad the color escort services are out of the paper but we needed all the columns that I listed above. I was an advertiser in the old New York Press, but my dollars will not be spent with you now that you have destroyed the excellent journalism and fine paper to rival the advertising rag called the Voice. So, no flowers, no hearse, no tombstone = just tears. RIP.

—John Stevens, Manhattan



Doting on Dot

Why, oh why did you drop Dr. Dot’s column? I found her stuff amusing, informative, un-biased and often helpful.

I am still a faithful reader of your paper, but I sincerely hope that you bring her back. And I strongly suspect that many of your readers agree!

—Steve Kraus, East Village



Dolan and Michael Clayton?

Armond White, I appreciate your contrasting Michael Clayton’s would-be 1970s thriller stylistics with the authenticity of Spielberg’s Munich—both emotionally and cinematically (“Retro Truthiness,” Oct. 3-8). While Tony Kushner might have done less to try to put words into Golda Meir’s mouth, and more to use Geoffrey Rush’s role as a way of explicating some moral shortcomings of some Israeli intelligence activities, I feel those of us who lived through the time depicted feel in Munich can vouch for Spielberg’s astutely internationalist sense of detail.

While I don’t doubt Clooney’s sincerity at wanting to expose and oppose the sort of corruption of Clayton’s storyline, of course, the deck is stacked by having Tilda Swinton’s character resort to life-threatening measures. Real corporate “fixers” in Swinton’s character’s position would seem more likely resort to more sophisticated forms of bribery. It might not make for an obvious “thriller,” but it would make for an interesting movie. As interesting a movie as one about Jim Dolan’s hubris in refusing to offer an out-of-court settlement to Isiah Thomas’ accuser…

—Mike Snell, Manhattan


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This week: A Knicks fan knocks us for our coverage; Armond White doesn’t know his Platagenets from his Tudors; and adding insult to injury for Deborah Solomon.



Dolan (Coverage) Sucks

Your “Dolan Sucks: A Special Report” (Oct. 10-16) was far from special and riddled with factual errors offensive to any Knicks fan worth a damn. In Bobby Julian’s Knicks history lesson (“Will the Knicks Ever Win Again?”, he tells us that the franchise “won it’s first NBA title in 1970…But the team only enjoyed a few more winning seasons before returning to its losing ways.” Wrong. The Knicks made it back to the Finals in 1972, losing to the Lakers, then won the title against the Lakers the following year.

That’s three finals appearances with two crowns in the ’70s. This is not to mention the healthy Bernard King years (1982-84) when Knicks fans were treated to some of the most heroic and thrilling post-season play in their history. Julian does recall the Knicks’ 1994 return to the Finals, losing to Houston, but fails to note the Knicks’ Finals appearance in 1999 against San Antonio. Julian also lists Don Nelson as one of the “shrewd” but wasted Knicks coaching talents. Nellie was here for less than a month. I could go on but I won’t.

Then you’ve got Brian Koppelman’s laughable reminiscence (“Pain Management”) of the game his father took him to when he was four years old. Really Brian, who remembers anything in such detail when they were four? Oh, that’s right, he remembers “Walt ‘Clyde the Glide’ Frazier.” Frazier was simply called “Clyde,” named after gangster Clyde Barrow who was being popularized at the time in cinema (see Warren Beatty in “Bonnie and Clyde”) and whose sartorial style Frazier emulated. The moniker “Clyde the Glide” is well known to be the property of one NBA player and one only, Clyde Drexler. Real fans don’t mix up that kind of thing.

Finally, Emma Span’s “The Boneheads” offered little more than a milquetoast recitation of facts we’ve already known for weeks. I thought this was supposed to be an alternative paper. Where are the guts? This pabulum reads like weak version of Reader’s Digest.

Look, there’s a reason your new EIC David Blum and his darling Emma Span were hastily run out of the Village Voice, which they turned into an increasingly bland and pointless publication. Don’t let the New York Press descend into total vapidity and irrelevance.

You should bring back Hollander vs. Sullivan. At least those guys knew sports. They were smart, had street cred and delivered poignancy while still being entertaining. I don’t know why you let them walk. Now I’m walking.

—Billy Clyde Puckett,

LES, Manhattan



Get Your Royals Straight

I don’t know Armond White and haven’t seen Elizabeth: The Golden Age (“Golden Aged,” Oct. 10-16), but could this reviewer at least get the history correct?

Would it be too much to ask that if you’re going to review a film and fling mud at an actress because she didn’t capture the character, you might be even tangentially aware that the character in question wasn’t a “Plantagenet royal”?

Elizabeth II was a Tudor, being the daughter of Henry VIII (Tudor) and Anne Boleyn. That Henry was maternally related to the Plantagenets, through his mother does not make him a Plantagenet. So how does one accept the criticism of an ill-informed and lazy opinionator?

—Rod Burk

Ocean City, N.J.



Dull Deborah

I used to think Deborah Solomon was just sanctimonious, simplistic and dull. I didn’t suspect that she was also unethical until I read your piece (“Questions for the Questioner,” Oct. 3-9).

—Charles Kaiser

Upper West Side, Manhattan

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This week: Last week’s look at Deborah Solomon’s way of conducting her Q&As in the New York Times Magazine elicits a slew of responses, including two new reports of dubious reporting; a massage therapist has her own questions about those “certified” masseuses; and a reader laments the loss of Stephanie Sellars’ “Lust Life” column.



How to Succeed Without Really Trying

I was interested to read your recent story on Deborah Solomon (“Questions for the Questioner,” Oct. 3-9), having been burned by her myself. We had met professionally in New York on a few occasions, back when she mostly wrote about art. In 1999, when she was working on a New York Times Magazine story about Los Angeles art schools, she called to ask me for an interview over dinner. I demurred, suggesting that the NYT was unlikely to quote the art critic of the Los Angeles Times in such a story; but she insisted that it would certainly not be a problem, especially given my long-standing tenure and reputation, and that it would even look odd to omit any reference. An interview would also help her immeasurably, given her paucity of knowledge about L.A. So in a spirit of collegiality, I agreed.



Having been a journalist (at that time) for almost two decades, I also did my homework: I prepared a couple of quotable quotes on the subject, which might encapsulate larger ideas. Since her story was about art schools, over dinner at Pinot Hollywood I brought up the history of the postwar American avant-garde and the debt it owed to the G.I. Bill. (It represented the first generation of college-educated artists.) I then said: “Modern art began as an assault on the academy, but post-modern art might be described as a return to the academy.” When I said it, she dropped her fork and said, "Wait, wait, say that again. I want to write that down!" And she did. I was not surprised.



She used it in her story, too (“How to Succeed In Art,” June 27, 1999). Except in her story it was not a quote; my words had become her words. They were used to introduce her observations on the relevant history of the G.I. Bill. Our interview was not mentioned in the 3,500-word piece. (Frankly, the omission had its benefits since her story was awful).



I wrote Deborah a letter on June 30 telling her I was shocked by her “grossly unethical behavior.” She called me—nearly two weeks later, saying she had been out of the country—and blew it off as an editing decision beyond her control. That’s the last time we had a conversation. (Yelling at her to “Get away from me!” when she approached at a Whitney Museum press preview doesn’t count.)



I suppose my mistake was not cc’ing my letter to Solomon’s editor. Imagine my surprise that Ira Glass and Amy Dickinson later got sandbagged in their Q&A’s.



—Christopher Knight

art critic, Los Angeles Times

Knight was a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in criticism.



Breaking the Solomon Spell

My experience with [Deborah] Solomon was very much like that of Ira Glass and Amy Dickinson. I had to get very insistent with the fact checker to get them to change some things they wanted to put in that were torn out of context. I more or less succeeded. Yes, she manufactured questions and comments after the fact that weren’t in the interview. I wish I’d taped the interview (a good 90 minutes as I recall) so I could substantiate this.



In my case, the amusing incident was that she asked me, several times, if I knew Leon Wieseltier. I didn’t. (In fact, at first I confused him with Simon Wiesenthal and said to her—“Is he the Nazi hunter?” and she said, “Well yes, sort of.”) Clearly, she’d been talking with Wieseltier about my book, Breaking The Spell (this was before his loathing review came out in The New York Times Book Review a few days later), and he’d put fear in her. Her manner when talking with me was as if she was talking to the devil, or some horrible ogre. That had puzzled me until I saw the review.



—Daniel Dennett, Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies

Tufts University



Times Pretensions


Your piece on Deborah Solomon was enlightening, to say the least. Perhaps the most remarkable part was the Times’ pretension that its reporters do not “clean up” quotes. Every reporter does that, and it is useless to pretend otherwise.

When I worked for CBS News 30 years ago, I once heard a very prominent correspondent telling an interview subject, “I need you to say it this way…”



—Paul Miller, Publisher of

The Carmel Pine Cone, Calif.



Sensationalizing the Solomon Story

Your piece about Deborah Solomon raises some interesting questions regarding journalistic and publishing ethics. Unfortunately, your treatment of the situation is sensational, ham-fisted and sophomoric. The piece reads like something out of a hybrid of a high school newspaper and a tabloid. Flaws in the approach and presentation of the piece abound, but possibly the easiest to spot comes from the subtitle from the cover: “Did Deborah Solomon of The New York Times break the newspaper’s strict code of ethics? Ira Glass and Amy Dickinson say ‘yes.’”



From what we can tell in the article, this simply isn’t true. Neither goes so far in their criticism of Solomon. I doubt either of the above quoted are familiar with said strict code of ethics, nor did they mention any such violation. All they said was that Solomon treated them in a way that was, to quote Glass “lousy.”



The Times is obviously far from being above reproach, but your methods and presentation of this accusation will not and should not warrant even a second glance from them (or any other critical readers of the news.)



—Christopher Thomas, Manhattan



Follow the Sheeple

Wow. This is what journalism should be. I really enjoyed your article, and the response from The Times is a wonderful manifestation of what the “sheeple” hate about them. They act like they’re too elite to respond to the NY Press, which probably has lost fewer litigations than they. Is this Mathis lady the only person dealing with the world outside their bubble? It seems to me that she was the one thrown at when complaints came up about the discount price given to Moveon.org. I had assumed she was an accountant in advertising at the time.

I’d not looked at NY Press much since Russ Smith left, but now I’m certainly going to read your contributions regularly.



—Kit Winterer, Beaufort, S.C.



The Whole Truth

As a journalist, I think it would be good if The Times explained how the sausage is made when it comes to its Q&A column. People don’t speak in the short pithy sound bites that appear in Ms. Solomon’s column week after week. She clearly is taking huge amounts of information and boiling it down to bite-size morsels. The column would have a lot more credibility if The Times would post the entire interview online, allowing people to see what has been deleted.



—Frank Lockwood, North Little Rock, Ark.



Just the Facts!

How typical of The Times. Their opinions are so important to them that they continually have to twist the facts to fit their opinions. Can’t they just print the facts and leave us to think what we will? I am sick of being told what to think! Just the straight facts please!



—Keith Dale, Ft. Worth, TX



Massaging the Truth

In the article titled “Sorry, Wrong Floor” (Oct. 3-9), author Leah Koenig writes of the indignity and frustration she experienced while working in close proximity to a brothel. She ends the article with a comment about how a “mysterious massage parlor” moved in upstairs. As I turned the page, I was surprised to see four glorious, full-color pages of “massage parlor” advertising—just the kind of illegal business Ms. Koenig had been offended by.



As a New York State licensed massage therapist, I’m disappointed that your publication has to resort to these advertisements to, presumably, keep you afloat. It seems a great hypocrisy to run an article describing the disgusting day-to-day effects of the sex trade in New York, and then advertise them on the very next page. In addition, someone in your advertising department has tried to legitimize the (very obviously) sex trade ads by describing them as “certified.”



In New York State, massage therapists are licensed, not certified, through a years-long process and a state-regulated exam. If the New York Press is willing to espouse one set of ethics in the articles, and another in the back pages (i.e. sex—or advertising—for money), you have lost not just one reader, but also the progressive and principled authority your articles attempt to convey.



—Molly Montgomery, LMT, Greenpoint, Brooklyn



No More Lust

Recently, I discovered that Stephanie Sellars column, “Lust Life” was being cancelled by you. How sad! I’m sure other readers as well as myself will miss reading Ms. Sellars column, which mixed both sophistication and sex so well. The NYPress will never be the same again. My condolences.

—Chris C.

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This week: Exposure to our AIDS story stirs up support and a Beatles fan is no fan of Armond White’s.



Prevent the Plague

Thank you for the article on HIV/AIDS (“The Plague Returns,” Sept. 26-Oct. 2). Very well written and reported. We need to keep a prevention message out there, and it is important that out-front publications like NY Press let us know the truth.

Kudos to you and to John Mikytuck who has chosen to write about things that matter!

—Joe Pais, Deputy Director, AIDS Help, Inc., Key West, FL



Magic Johnson Misused

I would like to comment on your issue, describing the current state of the HIV/AIDS crisis in NYC. John Mikytuck’s article mentions Magic Johnson’s diagnosis with HIV, and the more recent GlaxoSmithKline ad which features him and purports to “attract attention to the statistics showing a growth of HIV in the black community.”



I am an outsider to this cohort, generally speaking (I am neither gay, nor a man, nor a minority, nor an IV drug user), but I am a registered nurse in neonatal intensive care. This entails that I have frequent exposure at work to one of the highest at-risk populations mentioned in the articles this week: black and Latino teenagers who are having unprotected sex. From my perspective, it seems that the choice of Magic Johnson, a person of great fame and personal wealth who has no doubt optimized his healthcare in an effort to maintain control of his disease, is an unwise choice for such an ad campaign. If anything, this picture of a healthy man who has lived seemingly well with HIV-positive status for over 15 years stresses that it is possible to live well with the disease. I believe that it severely undermines the message of how serious a matter it is to become infected with the virus. If anything, I feel such an ad encourages the belief that HIV is “no big deal,” so to speak, a cavalier matter that can be managed easily with merely “a positive attitude, partnering with [one’s] doctor, and taking [one’s] medicine every day” if it strikes oneself.

—A.L., Turtle Bay, NY



Hammer it Home to Armond

I just had the pleasure of seeing the film Across the Universe. Unfortunately, this was followed by my catching up with Armond White’s negative and factually incorrect review (“Smashup,” Sept. 12-18). He writes: “…Jim Sturgess looks like baby-faced Paul McCartney but speaks bitterly, like the mythified John Lennon.” Did it occur to Mr. White that perhaps Sturgess was cast to play a figure who mirrors McCartney and Lennon, while also playing the character of Jude? Mr. White goes on to say that Sturgess “misrepresents” the song “A Day in the Life.” The song is presented as an instrumental. It is sung neither by Sturgess nor by anyone else. Finally, Mr. White refers to Sturgess’ “fatuous” rendition of the song “Hey Jude.” The song is sung, beautifully by the way, not by Sturgess but by Joe Anderson who plays Max, Jude’s best friend. Mr. White is entitled to his opinions but not while misinforming his readers. Maybe someone could knock on Mr. White’s head—perhaps with “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”—and see if anyone is home.

—Barry S. Levy, Manhattan

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This week: A reader gives her opinions on the complexity of parents’ choices, a shout out from the Netherlands and an archived article saves an unsuspecting actor.



Fetal Favor

Regarding “Juli’s Choice” (Sept 12-18): Not to be insensitive, but it is strange when women attribute a personality to an unborn fetus and then grieve when the fetus has to be euthanized. This is an act of a mother (and/or father) pretending that they have what it takes to love a defective child unconditionally.

Actually, most people can’t handle it. The article handles the issue as if abortion (to my understanding) was nevertheless an inherently wrong choice. It actually was a favor to the unborn fetus. How can anyone think that it is a bad choice to terminate a pregnancy that would only result in a person with a genetic abnormality? Hospitals and children’s homes are filled with abandoned, handicapped and unadoptable children—and even with a lot of older adults whose parents thought they could never institutionalize or give up their genetically deformed or genetically abnormal child, but after having to care for such a needy life, people even grow to “hate” the life they decided to “heroically” bring into the world.

I live in a building in which certain apartments are allotted to severely disabled young adults. They need professional, round-the-clock nurses and caretakers to tend to them. They cannot talk and are literally like large infants who cry or shout or just have habits of moving their hands or legs uncontrollably. It is sad that other people laugh or stare, or use insulting words in the presence of these unfortunate individuals who apparently were abandoned by their parents. For anyone who thinks that it is “horrible” that a person would abort a defective fetus, that person should spend time in a facility for retarded or handicapped children or persons. The wasted lives are not some “favor” that someone did for them.

—Lucy Martinez, Manhattan



Far Away Sex

Hereby, I express my sadness for putting a halt to Dr. Dot’s sex column. We tried getting more conservative in our liberal little country called the Netherlands. It led to more greed, more hatred and less well-being. Although you are free to try the road yourself, it might be interesting to look at our little lab and draw conclusions.

—Onno Hansen, The Netherlands



Scam Revival

I would like to thank you for publishing your article, “The Casting Ouch: At some 500 bucks, Scott Powers offers the most expensive minute in show business” (Oct. 2005) about Scott Powers’ company.

I was enrolled in two of Powers’ courses, then after reading your article and other sources online providing that his business is a scam, I immediately withdrew before the courses began.

Thank you for informing the theatrical community and the public of his professional scam. It has been greatly appreciated, and it is sources like yours that truly provide the truth about some of these scamming companies.

—Brittany Q.

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This week: Stephanie Sellars needs fewer partners, not more; a reader recalls writers from the Press’ past; and hatin’ on Armond White is always fun.

Do the Math
Regarding Stephanie Sellars’ “Emotional Affairs” (Sept 5–11): It hits the nail on the head. Most people can’t handle monogamy. Most people who seem to be handling it are probably only doing a good job of hiding the fact that they are having affairs—or having thoughts about having affairs. Marriage does not control sensual longings or “attracted” feelings towards others. The pity is the failure of most people to see how Stephanie Sellars (at least as far as she presents herself in the article)—who is observant enough to notice that the big societal idea about “completing oneself” through an intimate relationship is such hogwash—still does not get her own idea. If one person cannot “complete” you, how can more than one person “complete” you? Being emotionally and psychologically “complete” is a matter of subtraction, not multiplication.
—Lucy Martinez, NYC

Another One Bites the Dust
Whoever is the owner or publisher du jour has done it again—continue the proud tradition of getting rid of another of the very few reasons to read the New York Press. Recently, it was the very clever and enjoyable weekly Hollander/Sullivan sports column that could hold the interest of even non-sports fans with its wit and good-natured rib poking.
Most recently, the departure of Dr. Dot from your pages again removes a voice of honesty and frank reason—and not without some wit—from the paper. Sure, it was a write-in sex advice column, chaired by a rather unconventional role model, but does that make it bad? People love sex advice columns!
These two join the ranks of other departed features through your history, demonstrating repeated stunning misjudgments by the editor/publishers: Julius Knipl, Amy Sohn, Howie Chronicles (loved to hate it), Dategirl.
I’m sure I am omitting more than a few others, but these next two are truly shocking: Maakies (recently and thankfully reinstated) and Slackjaw. The creators of these features, Tony Millionaire and Jim Knipfel, respectively, were the most talented and unique artist/writer and writer I ever encountered in the Press. Doubtless, there were reasons—perhaps personality clashes, perhaps money—that were not disclosed to the reading public as to why these items were let go. Obviously, one has returned, but—to me—you made colossal mistakes letting these features go and there is little left in your paper now that I should miss if it were to disappear. I admit, I don’t miss the 63 pages of sex ads, but why gut a paper of some of its best and most unique talent? What’s next?
—Michael Slater, Manhattan

Armond the Hipster?
I am no longer reading your paper. Granted I only read it for your film reviews—particularly Armond White’s—but after this week (“Blood and Perversion,” Sept. 12–18), I now am certain that Armond has jumped the shark and is no longer a relevant critic, if he ever was. I think he has completely lost touch with reality and is now just fighting the “nihilistic hipster”—as opposed to the “humanist” Spielberg (I can’t tell you how I laugh every time I read that)—that he secretly is. Armond is such a hipster that he has to knock other hipsters because what could possibly be hipper than that, right? In short: Fuck Armond and fuck the New York Press. I will read film reviews by those left-wing assheads over at the Voice because, at this point, Amy Schwartzbaum [sic] at Entertainment Weekly has more cred than Armond.
—Mike, NYC

Armond the Arrogant
Why do you continue to allow Armond White to review films by David Cronenberg (“Blood and Perversion,” Sept. 12–18) and Gus Van Sant and movies starring Samuel L. Jackson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt when he clearly disdains and disrespects all of these artists? How can a critic fairly critique films when he has prejudged their directors and actors? On the other hand, Mr. White has also made up his mind about Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma. In his opinion, they can do no wrong. So perhaps he shouldn’t write about them either.
—Barry S. Levy, Manhattan



CORRECTION:

In its July 11, 2007 issue, Allen Barra of The Village Voice reported: “The 2007 Yankees, with five wild-card contenders ahead of them, are going to have a much tougher path to the playoffs, even if they do finish 20 or so games over .500 for the rest of the season. But what are their chances of playing that well from here on in? A quick survey of the available resources would indicate two probabilities: slim to none.” The Voice regrets the error.

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This week: A reader has his own beef with Time Warner cable, William Friedkin is called out for revising history, Armond White should be taught a lesson as well and a reader laments the end of Dr. Dot’s sex advice column.



Cable Calamity

Congratulations on a front-page article exposing problems with current cable systems (“Free My TV,” Sept. 5-11). I do not quibble about the prices—when Time Warner works, it’s great—but in the last 18 months I’ve had a parade of technician visits with no understandable explanations why problems continue. I’ve offered to pay out of my own expense for better equipment—summarily turned down. I am presently progressing with a formal complaint to the NY State Public Service Commission.

—Martin Abraham, NYC



Freidkin’s Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’


In “Freidkin’s Ferocity” (Sept. 5-11), loathsome director Billy Friedkin is showing either signs of senility or making a desperate attempt at self-justification for his hateful 1980 movie Cruising and interviewer Eric Kohn let him get away with it.

Friedkin goes on and on about his gay snuff film somehow having had to do with the AIDS crisis. “It was a plague at that time. I lived through it and lost many of my friends, and that’s part of what the film was about. Those losses were mysterious and unsolved.”

What monumental crap! Friedkin shot Cruising in the summer of 1979 and released it in February 1980. The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly did not report a cluster of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia cases among gay men until June 1981, reported in the New York Times in July 1981. But all of this was two years after Friedkin cooked up his gay monster movie.

I was involved with the literally thousands of gay people who protested the making of Cruising right in Greenwich Village, which was tantamount to trying to make Birth of a Nation in Harlem. While Kohn flatly refers to our “misguided reactions” to Cruising, we were simply drawing needed attention to Hollywood’s history of using gay people as metaphors for evil or as fag jokes—a struggle that continues to this day.

Kudos to your film reviewer Armond White for not buying into Cruising revisionism as it is re-released and condemning it as the “debauch” and king of “rotten gay movies” that it is.

—Andy Humm, NYC



Armond White the Heterophobe?


I never cease to marvel at what passes for criticism these days. Seems all you need is an impressive vocabulary and an axe to grind to be able to taint the work of real artists, thereby allowing yourself (momentarily) to feel superior. One has to love Armond White’s characterization of Oscar winner William Friedkin as a “hack” simply because the filmmaker had the audacity to show the S&M culture of the 1970s West Village for what it was: selfish, dangerous and unhealthy. He lashes out at cinematic portrayals of “predatory lovelessness,” despite the fact that such an atmosphere was prevalent in those hedonistic times.

To condemn Cruising in 2007 for its realistic portrayal of the depravity of places like The Mine Shaft or The Anvil is myopic. The film foreshadows the AIDS epidemic that robbed me of some of my best friends, and is a valuable time capsule if for no other reason.

To show that White is utterly clueless with regard to filmmaking, one need only read a few sentences of his review of 3:10 to Yuma to see that he is one of very few reviewers today who don’t recognize a good example of a genre just because they don’t like the genre. Some things the NY Press editors might wish to say to Mr. White at their next meeting include: 1) an impressive vocabulary is no substitute for taste; 2) heterophobia—like all other forms of [bigotry]—is unbecoming to a journalist; 3) there’s a difference between being critical and being vituperative; 4) until your aesthetic sophistication evolves to a level that matches your vocabulary, you are restricted to reviewing animated films by Disney, DreamWorks and Pixar.

—Don Stitt, NYC



Doomed Dr. Dot


I’m saddened to learn that  Dr. Dot’s sex column will no longer be running in your publication. While I understand that with new ownership comes change, I hope it will be taken into consideration by Manhattan Media that the loyal readers of the NY Press did not ask for change and certainly are not looking for a more conservative publication. Dr. Dot is…Dr. Dot and, frankly, that’s what your readers want. Sex cannot be removed from real life, and I think to remove Dr. Dot’s column will not only make the paper just another ordinary publication, it will lose you a lot of readers. New Editor-in-Chief David Blum, having previously been with the Village Voice, surely knows this to be true and knows what it takes to make a publication unique.

—Kathy Beall, flight attendant and loyal NY Press reader

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This week: The texting drivers should be punished, a few words for Stephanie Sellars about where to find some love (if she’s looking) and a new nickname for the West Village.



Road Rage



You are no less a libertarian for advocating against “driving while connected” (“Baby, You Can Drive Your Car,” Aug. 29-Sept. 4). The number one killer of young people (defined as men and women 18-44) isn’t AIDS, it isn’t cancer and it isn’t even smoking—it’s trauma. For those that perish, the impact in years of lost productivity weighs heavily on our national economic muscle; for those who survive, the costs of the healthcare that gets delivered is suffocating. Every one who rolls into the ER is guaranteed treatment regardless of their ability to pay. As a surgeon, I can tell you that the cost of a one night stay in an ICU for mere observation would rival any tab of Lohanian/Hiltonian debauchery. (We don’t call it the expensive care unit for nothing.) Guess who gets to pick up the tab for the young, chatty and uninsured?

One’s right to act foolishly and risk their own life (and of course the others on the road) shouldn’t have to come at the expense of the tax base—there is simply nothing libertarian about that. The public does need to start thinking about doing more than fining people who drive while distracted. If you kill a pregnant woman because you were texting, or applying make up, or getting or giving a blowjob—that should not be a civil matter exclusively.

—Dr. G in New Hampshire



I thought your column following up on Greg Easterbrook’s piece and drawing attention to our national ignorance of driving fatalities was excellent. Thank you.

In one of my stand-up routines, I have a bit on how: I think it’s odd that they sell beer at gas stations. Isn’t that tempting fate?

Feel free to use that idea in any future column to draw attention to the issue.

—Ben Brofman



Lust Life Admirers



I read with fruition your column and wonder if it would be possible to meet you some day and possibly be invited to one of your “erotic” parties. Your last column really blew my mind and made me see how much I am missing. I would like so much to partake in this endeavor, belonging to your circle of pleasure, if that would be possible for an older man.

I am 70 but in great shape, with a youthful outlook—maybe 60. I am a musician and a fine guitar player. I would love to play for your parties, for free of course.

Many years ago I frequented a nudist colony in Pennsylvania, “Sunny Rest,” where I spent very rewarding experiences—with women and couples—with which I learned to enjoy oral bisex, althought I am not gay. With the onset of HIV, this avenue of pleasure was closed to me. Then I began to traveling to my country of Cuba, which I love much, as soon as the government permitted.

I never try the offerings in NYPress as commercial sex repulses me. I miss so much the free aspects of sex and would be so happy to hear from you. Maybe a call, as you will be too busy to write. Your name is so beautiful, you must be quite so.

—H. Bernal, NYC



I just read your article “Naked Funny” (Aug. 15-21). Since you seem to enjoy being naked on the beach (and in the water), I was wondering whether you’ve ever tried or considered going to a nude beach. You’d probably love it, especially since you’re an exhibitionist (and I’m guessing a voyeur, too) and a bisexual. The only drawback, of course, is that you might not be able to have sex on the beach with all those people around!

If you’re ever on the West Coast, I highly recommend Black’s Beach in La Jolla. I spent many glorious afternoons there during my frequent summer vacations in California. For me, It was a great place to meet women. For you, it would probably be a great place to meet men—and women!

(P.S. I met you about a year ago (last September, to be exact) on “In the Flesh” Wednesday at Happy Ending.)

—Richard Fried, Brooklyn, NY



Play It Again



Please bring back the section, “For Play.” I looked forward to it each week and bought a few of the featured items. Please bring it back.

—Melissa, Brooklyn, NY



C Cup



Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (“A Person of Cleavage,” Aug. 8-14) The Summer I turned 13, I went from scrawny and knobby kneed to “C” cup, and I don’t think anyone’s seen my eyes since. As if I haven’t always felt self-conscious enough about showing any amount of cleavage, now we have the only woman ever to run for president lambasted for it! Jeepers, I was starting to think maybe we should start binding ourselves and order some of those berkas.

Gaije Kushner has put these gawking escapees from the 7th grade playground in their place! Bravo!

—Teri Beaugez



New Nickname



Here’s my new nickname for the West Village: San Bernandino Valley East!

—Pete A. deMatteo, Bayonne, NJ

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This week: Mugger is called a “Giuliani sycophant,” we hear more about those pesky porn ads and standing up for the real working girls out there.



I am not surprised that Giuliani sycophant Russ Smith would like Peter Boyer’s puff piece about Giuliani in the New Yorker (“There’s No Shame in Tracking Political Candidates,” Aug. 21-28). The article was filled with so many inaccuracies that I wanted to scream. Like true Giuliani zealots, Boyer refers to Giuliani’s so-called herorism on 9/11 and that he is an expert on terrorism. But the record shows that Giuliani was the bungler of 9/11 who did not care if the firemen had inter-operable radios which caused the deaths of 121 firemen on 9/11 because they did not evacuate 2 World Trade Center as it was about to collapse. And that Giuliani put his emergency control center at the site of a likely terrorist attack. Therefore, because of Giuliani’s poor judgment, NYC did not have a functioning emergency control center on 9/11.



Boyer questions the fact that Giuliani had an affair with Cristyne Lategano, yet Wayne Barrett reported that one of the factors that led to Donna Hanover’s estrangement from Giuliani is that she witnessed Lategano and Giuliani in fellatio.

Contrary to what Boyer writes, New Yorkers were not grateful to Giuliani. He was an awful mayor whose only legacy was exacerbating racial tensions. We should never forget that the crime rate started going down during the Dinkins administration and NY, as elsewhere in the country, benefited from the Clinton economy, which had nothing to do with actions taken by Giuliani.



Mr. Boyer concludes his article quoting someone saying what an asset Judy Nathan is—which is mind boggling. The fact is, Judy Nathan is a hooker who rented by the hour. She is not fit to carry Donna Hanover’s handbag. No matter how much Boyer [tries, he] cannot turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse. It would be an outrage if a woman of her ilk ever becomes first lady.

—Reba Shimansky, NYC



Smut Sacrifice

OK, so maybe the merging of the Press with will take away the “alternative” element from the Press. Sure, porn ads helped make the Press the kind of paper it was, but on a superficial level. Still the editor’s words (August 8-14) sounded disingenuous. You don’t want to admit you “sold out” to the mainstream. You feel you did. From what I understand, it was stated, “Let’s get to the real issues.” After all, the comments about the merger are over. Yes, do as your own words tell others to do.



In reality, there is no need to be apologetic, not that you actually were. You being a paper without any, or without a lot of porn ads is not self-defeating. There is plenty of smut to go around and you were sacrificing intellectual content to appeal to people who don’t have intellect. There is a greater need to touch on more important and less-championed issues than the so-called “fight for artistic expression” done through racy ads.



By the way, the article “Hilary’s Cleavage Problem” (Aug. 8-14) disappointed me in a way that I think I should always be disappointed. I thought it would be another completely useless, completely one-sided, anti-feminist piece, all out rightly toward the idea that women in public or private or wherever have to be traditional and worry about how they look so as to sell themselves through “sex.” It was a good discourse on an old topic regarding how women, no matter what they do, are criticized and judged for their looks or supposed lack of it and it should not be.

—Lucy Martinez



Real Working Girls

Regarding “Who Needs Work?” by Gaije Kushner (Aug 22-28): The problem is her point of reference. She does not speak for a general populace of people who work, and it is as if Ms. Kushner assumes most people have the luxury of a different career path. Ms. Kushner talks about people she knows whom prefer the office to a life “working from home.” She talks about women working in white-collar jobs or in cubicles. Society is not exponentially made up of people who sit behind a desk with paperwork to do and phone calls to make and meetings to attend. Most people can’t identify with a ready choice to pick working at home. Few can afford to start their own businesses. Even more, a home-based biz is just as much a job that a person has to be the type for as with any other job. Kushner doesn’t like anything but writing. What if you don’t like working with people, or having to talk to them, or do business with them: How can you have your own enterprise at home and be your own boss?



Promoting yourself is essential to a business and what if you don’t like doing that? Also, if you are a common walking courier who delivers packages building to building, or a flier distributor who stands on street corners giving out advertisements for grand openings of restaurants, or sample sales of women’s shoes, or for any store that has nothing that most passersby are looking for or would want, or if you are a construction worker welding steel, or operating a crane or maybe if you work, literally, operating on people in a hospital how can you take your work home?

—Martin Ru

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This week: A reader asks us to keep our “edge,” more cleavage encounters and how to keep kids healthy (without charging smokers).



Legal Mixup

Regarding Becca Tucker’s otherwise excellent article on the plight of residents exposed to WTC contaminants (“The Overlooked,” Aug. 15-21), I’m writing to let you know that Benzman et al. vs. Whitman et al., the class-action lawsuit against the EPA on behalf of residents, students and office workers exposed to hazardous substances, is alive and well: It was not struck down in April as Ms. Tucker states. The plaintiffs in the case against EPA that was struck down in April were not residents, students or office workers. That case, Lombardi et al. vs Whitman et al., was a class-action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who performed search, rescue and cleanup work at the World Trade Center site.

—Jo Polett



Bosom Buddies

As a fellow (or more aptly, sister) woman of cleavage, I found Gaije Kushner’s article (“A Person of Cleavage,” Aug. 8-14) witty, well written and thought-provoking, both for the mammarily gifted and for those who live among us. It reminded me of the “Saturday Night Live” sketch that depicted the future of evolution: If men keep staring, women will eventually develop eyes where our nipples are. On the other hand, as she so eloquently pointed out, appreciative looking, well, that’s the kind of thing that can make one’s day. People think having big boobage is a blessing, and in some ways, it is. But, as Kushner explained, there are some major downsides—and not just gravity.

I recall one morning at my favorite West Village flea market, checking out one of those popular necklaces with an eye pendant, presumably a symbol of wisdom. I didn’t buy it, because I really didn’t need anyone else making eye contact with the place where that pendant would fall.

Given what a pissing contest the presidential race is, it is surprising that nobody has bothered to guess what packages lie below those debate podiums of the male candidates.

Maybe it’s a Clinton thing, and we wouldn’t understand. After all, hubby Bill was the first Presidential candidate to be asked, during an MTV interview, “Boxers or briefs?” But even during the whole, drawn-out Lewinsky scandal, not a single media outlet (to my recollection) speculated on the size of his cigar.

Reading Kushner’s response to the whole brouhaha (or would that be brahaha?) was a delight. Thank you for printing this particularly refreshing piece in a city where the majority of women (read: actress/model/servers) wear their lack of cleavage as a badge of near-anorexic honor.

—Sarah Chauncey



Children’s Health-Careless

Hmmmmm. The proposed State Children’s Health Insurance Program will further raise cigarette taxes to provide health insurance for poor children (Amy Goodman: “Children’s Health Care a No-Brainer,” Aug. 1-7). A much better idea would be if the money went directly to paying for care for these kids, and not into the coffers of the insurance companies. Or, for that matter, to fund antismoking groups, which is where lots of cigarette tax money ends up. Smokers should not be forced to pay for their own persecution and the lengthy quote about how a higher tax supposedly reaps fiscal and health benefits leads this reader to believe that this bill is primarily another government attempt to force people to quit smoking.

One further quibble: If you base funding for a program on taxing something you hope will shrink, aren’t you shrinking the funding for the program??? I usualy side with Amy Goodman and against George Bush, but this time I say, “Veto the sucker, W.”

—Matt Bocaperto, Brooklyn, NYC



Don’t favor fiftysomethings

OK, I know that changes are usually in order when one company purchases another, but can you please make me one teeny weeny little promise? Can you please keep your edge? Your last two covers aren’t giving me much hope and, frankly, the only thing I disliked more than the logo you just abandoned was the one you just brought back. I’ve always dug your “Little New York Paper That Could” attitude, and now I’m worried you’re going to start catering to fiftysomething UWSiders. I mean, c’mon, there’s a reason I don’t read The !

—Irwin Plinter



(Cross)Word Matters

I’ve been a reader of the paper for many years, and wish you and the new approach lots of luck. Was dropping the adult ads really necessary? Some of the pix were quite cute!But PLEASE, please bring back the crossword. I, and I am sure many of your readers, looked forward to solving it every week. Bring back the puzzle!

—Steve Kraus



EDITOR’S NOTE: We all like a good brain teaser, and you can find our crossword puzzle on page 56.

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This week: We receive some compliments for our attention to Hillary’s cleavage problem, but not everyone’s happy with our breast exposure; fans look for their answers in the stars (and crossword puzzle); a vote for Wal-Mart from outside the boroughs; and Amy Goodman is called out for her illogic.



Cleavage Consensus

This was an entertaining and witty article (“Being a Person of Cleavage,” Aug. 8-14), and I agree with the writer that the Post article about Clinton was creepy. Yes, apparently a woman CAN be a creep. This is going to be fascinating political cycle—I hope you plan to make Ms. Kushner a regular columnist.

—Sarah M. Frazier



This article hit the nail right on the head! When are we going to get past issues like appearance with women politicians? Thank you for publishing something rational AND funny.

—Ginny Rafferty



Wow, that article pretty much says it all: Women demand equality, to be taken seriously and given the same opportunities as men, and yet here is one of our own, Ms. Givhans, who made it a crusade to point out that Clinton does indeed have cleavage. I can’t wait for Ms. Givhans to point out the unsightly crotch bulge (or lack thereof) of male candidates.

Ms. Kushner’s article struck an inner chord in this once Republican, now Democrat, and gracefully points out the absurdity of the media in their frenzy to become “known” through the nit-picking and general “make it up as you go along to be controversial” coverage of this election.

—Penny Blankenship



Boob Bombshell



Shame on you for checking out Hillary’s tits (“Hillary’s Cleavage Problem,” Aug. 8-14). In your initial publication under your new team of equity investment supporters (pun intended), you were caught with your pants down in what to expect from the revised editions of the New York Press. If this issue is any indication of where your change of direction is headed, you’ll join the pornographic ranks of the legacy of Goldstein’s Screw magazine and flush your journalistic talents right into the sewer, along with the plunging bustlines and Dow Jones averages of late.

Instead of cleavage exposure, you should “expose” the “naked” and “bare” truth about our beloved city’s unfit political, social, economic and environmental underpinnings. Bring back your tried and true past “alternate” format. But that is unlikely in view of the publicized distaste for it by the new titan investors now controlling your pages. We need an alternate voice, especially in Manhattan at this period of time, but it seems unfortunate that you’re not up to that challenge of providing it. Tell your big shots to refrain from meddling with our media. But, then, that would jeopardize your already-shaky position. But it would uphold your journalistic integrity. You must decide.

—Peter E. Zaccone, NYC



Star Quandry



My name is Brian Barefoot, and I am a New Yorker and a regular reader of your publication. It has come to my attention that your loyal readers have lost what I, and I am certain many, now consider to be a staple of the paper. I am talking about “Sign Language” by Caeriel. Whatever you may or may not feel/believe about astrology, this column was always good for catalyzing thought and often a good laugh in my day. The writing is insightful and clever and, frankly, one of the more interesting offerings from the rag. I don’t know in what direction the editorial staff has decided to turn, but I honestly hope you do not just start hacking away ay our favorites without regard to our attachments to things we have come to love.

—Brian Barefoot



EDITOR’S NOTE: So sorry you missed “Sign Language” last week. No need to fret, Caeriel’s astrology column can be found on page 46.



Retail Choiceless



John DeSio is just one of many reasons why intelligent New Yorkers look for his article in every edition of New York Press. Manhattan Media has made a wise investment in adding New York Press to your ever-growing family, and Mr. DeSio once again has the pulse on what average New Yorkers are thinking about in “Retail Check-Up” (Aug. 8-14) concerning the White Plains Wal-Mart store in Westchester County.

NYC Council Finance Committee Chairperson and aspiring 2009 candidate for NYC Comptroller David Weprin will be the Grinch once again for New Yorkers looking for affordable medicines, children’s clothing and school supplies. His past statement that “he would consider allowing Wal-Mart into the city if they played by our rules” is both bad news for New Yorkers and the height of arrogance. Why should Councilmember Weprin, Council Speaker Quinn and their council colleagues set the rules for who can or can’t open a business?



Intelligent Democratic Primary voters in 2009 will remember both Quinn and Weprin’s anti-consumer positions when selecting the next best respective NYC mayor and comptroller.

—Larry Penner, Great Neck, NY





Children’s Health-Careless



Hmmmmm. The proposed State Chldren’s Health Insurance Program will further raise cigarette taxes to provide health insurance for poor children (Amy Goodman: “Children’s Health Care a No-Brainer,” Aug. 1-7). A much better idea would be if the money went directly to paying for care for these kids, and not into the coffers of the insurance companies. Or, for that matter, to fund antismoking groups, which is where lots of cigarette tax money ends up. Smokers should not be forced to pay for their own persecution and the lengthy quote about how a higher tax supposedly reaps fiscal and health benefits leads this reader to believe that this bill is primarily another government attempt to force people to quit smoking.

One further quibble: If you base funding for a program on taxing something you hope will shrink, aren’t you shrinking the funding for the program??? I usualy side with Amy Goodman and against George Bush, but this time I say, “Veto the sucker, W.”

—Matt Bocaperto, Brooklyn, NYC


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This past week, the New York Press, the city’s independent weekly newspaper, was purchased by Manhattan Media. It’s been a whirlwind of change accompanied by a new design, a new address and a few new editors and writers since we’ve joined forces with . In addition to our regular letters section, we’ve also compiled pieces from a few of the other media outlets who’ve had things to say on the transaction. But we still want to hear from you, so please send your emails (themail@nypress.com) and letters (79 Madison Ave, 16th Floor, NY, NY 10016) to us. We look forward to continuing to bring you news, opinions and arts coverage worth reading every week.



The New York Times first reported on the sale and quoted Tom Allon, president and chief executive of Manhattan Media as saying, “The paper is rich with a 20-year history of being an alternative publication with a distinct perspective on news and art, and we are hoping to expand upon that.”

They also reported that “Mr. Allon said he wanted to expand deeper into Brooklyn.”



The obnoxious folks over at Gawker then jumped on in with the headline: “The ‘New York Press’ To Become Community Paper” and went on to say:

“Lost amidst all the hubbub about Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of Dow Jones is this little nugget: The little alternative weekly that could, the New York Press, got bought yesterday! Its new owners are ‘Manhattan Media.’ You may be familiar with their other publications, New York Family and AVENUE, not to mention a newish outfit called downtown. Doesn’t that just sound so quaint! What’s even quainter is that the new owners are going to merge downtown with the Press. Just when it seemed like it would be the perfect time for a real competitor to the New Times-ified Voice to emerge, the Press basically gets turned into a community paper. Then there are these reassuring words: ‘We also anticipate that most current New York Press employees will be joining the Manhattan Media family.’”



Things really got going once the NY Observer reported on the sale:


“So how does the feisty (and sometimes salacious) Press, fit in with Manhattan Media’s stable of community papers like Our Town and ?…

‘As of this week, we are not going to accept any explicit advertising [with photos],’ Mr. Allon said.

‘We’re probably kissing away about a million dollars a year in revenue,’ he added. ‘We’re not making a moral or puritanical decision. We just believe in the long-term, it’s not best for the publication.’

Of course, it’s all about synergy these days, and publishing such adult ads in Our Town probably wouldn’t fly.”



That got Crain’s attention with their headline: “The edgy but faded alternative paper is saying goodbye to sex ads”

“Sex may sell, but not in the New York Press. The edgy but faded alternative paper that once challenged the Village Voice is saying goodbye to sex ads—and about $1 million in annual revenue.

New owner Manhattan Media, which bought the New York Press last week, says the explicit ads—for escort services and massage parlors—cost more than they’re worth, since they drive away mainstream advertisers.

The publisher is dropping all such ads with photos in this week’s issue, and will phase out the text ads.

‘We’re making a business decision,’ says Manhattan Media President Tom Allon.

Mr. Allon plans to reinvent the New York Press as an ‘independent paper’ that combines columns and criticism with community coverage. He’ll add some elements from Manhattan freebie Our Town downtown, which he is shutting down.”



The NYTimes rejoined the discussion on their CityRoom blog with this entry:


“The new owners of New York Press, the free alternative weekly founded in 1988, announced a major change today, and it has nothing to do with the paper’s political coverage, underground sensibility or arts listings. The scrappy weekly is dropping its sexually themed ads.

The banned ads include those ‘that advertise illegal massage parlors and blatant ads promoting prostitution,’ the local chapter of the National Organization for Women announced today…NOW said that Manhattan Media ‘will initially take a financial hit by dropping sex ads that have made up a sizable percentage of New York Press sales, but the long-term growth prospects for this widely circulated newspaper dramatically increase as it is remade into a reputable publication.’

Sonia Ossorio, president of the organization’s New York City chapter, praised Tom Allon, the chief executive of Manhattan Media, for the decision…”



Editor’s Note: Now that we’ve gotten all the discussion of our ads out of the way, it’s time to get people talking about more important things.   

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Finally an excellent analysis (“World At War,” July 19-25) of the Middle East conflict! This definitely covers the issues, avoids sensationalism, and provides a clear history. Thanks.

Duncan Blackman

The present situation in the Middle East while Israel is bombing Lebanon while the United Nations is not saying and doing any thing and the USA president is encouraging Israel to do what she wants is a disgrace! Mr. Francis Fukuyama (“Principles & Prudence,” July 19-25) has changed some of his views, but he is still a neoconservative and that alone makes him still one of those who feel that the USA is allowed to whatever it wants to do to other countries in the world.

Winston Wirht

I never get depressed; I feel good when I should feel bad; but daily TV viewing of Israel chewing up its cowering neighbors’ vital infrastructure for no discernable benefit beyond extended target practice discourages me more than anything since America traded skyscrapers for settlements on 9/11/01.  

Denis Drew

I do not support some of Bush’s domestic stances, but I have full confidence in our system of checks and balances. When an administration crosses a certain line, we have Congress and the Judiciary to step in. Yes, president Bush’s policies are not perfect. But at least he recognizes that we are at war and a new type of war at that, one that we do not have experience with as yet. But, we are learning.

HZ Bornstein

Your bland cover story (“Burlesque Confidential,” July 19-25) ignores the real phenomenon of transgender women and TG burlesque. There is a large subculture of men who date transsexual women in various stages of transition from male to female. 

Name Withheld 

Last week Stephanie Sellars wrote, “…one of my responsibilities was to fill out repair tags for the inarticulate, roguish rapper dudes…This process was laborious, especially if the customers smelled like they hadn’t washed their nether regions in a week.” (“Lust Life,” July 19-25) OK, this is offensive, soft-shoe racism. “Inarticulate, roguish rapper dude?” Translation: Black men. Or maybe Latinos, but I have a feeling that, if that were the case, they’d be referenced by their “immigrant” status. So I’m safely assuming that they were Black men. “And they smell?” Well, what a surprise. Oldest racist stereotype ever.  I guess those Rapper Dudes were all too inarticulate, too roguish, too smelly, to merit her sexual interest. A recommendation? This writer (and her editor) should both check themselves for unexamined racist ignorance before there is afforded to this writer yet another opportunity to let it Freudian slip into her otherwise malnourished writing.

Sun Singleton

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My question for Ozzie is…as an insult, is that the best you can do (“Fire Ozzie Guillen?” July 5-11)? And as for the characterization of fag as a “hateful slur,” give me a break. The term is so mainstream it is ludicrous to characterize it as a slur. I bet NY Press itself has printed the term a few times in the last year. Frankly, if the comment hadn’t been directed at a sportswriter, the news community would have ignored it. In fact, the sportswriters would have most likely “protected” Ozzie and not even reported it. Sorry Ozzie, you were in the wrong union this time.

Norm Astwood

Dr. Dot is the lamest sex columnist in America. I mean come on, that Wallace and Gromit letter (July 12-18) had all kinds of potential. And she just said, “Uh, people have all kinds of kinks…” Sure they do, but is it the clay that turns that dude’s girl on? Is it the voices? Is it a variation on a plushy kink? Is it the lurid elasticity of Wallace’s mouth?

John Doyle

I was very fascinated by your article “Cupcake Crawl” (June 14-20). Over the years, I too have searched around for the perfect chocolate cupcake. As a SAG actor actively hitting the cement sidewalk to find a booking, I find that in order to get through the day, especially when there’s an audition, we actors need that sugar rush.

Hank Eulau

Are you guys brave enough to do a piece (“Finding The Face Of Asian NYC,” May 10-16) on black bigotry? I’m a queer, white liberal, but I feel the subject must be discussed. All but one case of me being called “faggot” came from well-dressed middle class blacks (once at gay pride). Don’t get me started on the racial breakdown of my physical assaulters! I suppose if race is one’s mental currency, one dishes it out at least as much as one takes it. From race cards to plain xenophobia, I dare you to cover the topic intelligently to open some eyes!

Dean

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Freegans (“Dumpster Dining,” June 14-20) decry “consumerism,” while being the ultimate consumers. Who and what do they think makes possible all of the things they scavenge for, eat and use? Fortunately, for freegans, we do live in a capitalist society, which produces such a surplus of valuable products that stores cannot possibly sell it all —hence why so many things end up in the trash. In Communist countries such as Cuba, you’re lucky if you can find food on a store’s shelves, let alone dumpsters filled with recently expired freebies out back. If you actually enjoy scrounging through garbage, living off the refuse of others—if you don’t find it abjectly humiliating to “squat” in somebody else’s building or hitch rides from strangers capitalistic enough to own cars—maybe freeganism is the lifestyle choice for you. Only don’t use phony terms: you’re not a “freegan,” you’re a freeloader, bumming off the very free market system you claim to despise.

Kevin Delaney

I dumpster dived as a teenager, just because the local KFC closed a few minutes early and my friend and I had an irresistible urge for chicken. The timing was perfect, as everything in the dumpster was still warm. We got chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits, whatever seemed reasonably untainted and tasted ok. My friend even jumped back in to look for gravy. Hunger and craving make sense, and need provokes knowledge of which dumpster to hit when. Food sellers get pissed because it is illegal, and the same people who glorify it are usually the first to sue when they get sick. Now those dumpsters are hot, and people do need that food and eat it. Once I got older I just stole fresh food for no reason other than stinginess and anger. Adventure maybe, but not to advance my personal politics by ruining a perfectly good dumpster.

Harry Seitz

The racists in the immigration debate (“Fight For The Future,” July 5-11) are the people who support illegal immigration and amnesty for illegal aliens.

Tim Binh

Vietnamese for Fair Immigration

I don’t know what’s worse about Lucy Baker’s story (“The Dumb Bitch Guy,” June 28-July 4): that she thought it was fine to ignore clearly-posted signs asking joggers to stay off the bike path or that she actually assumed her readers would side with her. That poor cyclist probably has to deal with 20-30 Lucy Bakers a day, all of whom think they look so cute in their Juicy Couture sweatsuit that the rules don’t apply to them. How would Baker like it if cyclists started riding on sidewalks? I am so sick of the sense of entitlement some people have in this city while the rest of us try not to add to everyone’s aggravation. This ain’t “Sex in the City,” Ms. Baker, and you’re no Carrie Bradshaw.

Dan Avery

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Kudos to you for publishing this article (“Sex And The Faithful City,”
June 28-July 4). However, I think you missed another important side of
the story—those of us who don’t necessarily subscribe to the
“Lifestyle” aspect of things and don’t go to the big parties. My wife
and I have been exploring with others for almost two years now, and it
has had an incredibly positive impact on our marriage. We see exploring
sexually with others while together as an extension of our sex life and
not a “lifestyle” choice. For us, the casual, meat-market aspect of the
Lifestyle parties doesn’t work for us. Comb Craigslist on any day and
you’ll find plenty of couples looking for something more laid back and
less pressure-filled. Drinks at a bar with some great conversation and
flirting is the better approach for us. The personal connection for us
is as important as the sex. So while there may be many people going to
the parties, there are plenty more of us out there who prefer something
more private and intimate.

Mark,
Manhattan

I nearly shit myself laughing as Stephanie Sellers declared, “rigid
monogamy is as outdated as homophobia,” when she repeatedly shows in
her article that homophobia is still alive and well even among her
cohort of self-professed, open-minded hipsters. “If the women are
comfortable, the men will be comfortable, but it doesn’t usually work
the other way around,” Ms. Sellers writes, explaining why girl-on-girl
action is rampant at these “erotic soirees,” while any man-on-man
activities are rare, discouraged and at best, “accepted.” Am I the only
one who sees a double standard version of homophobia here?
Let’s be honest about what these parties are really about: An excuse
for nominally straight women to play with other women while their
boyfriends occasionally join in or just enjoy the show.  People
who are actually comfortable with sexual openness don’t need
guest-listed, overpriced, pretentious sex parties to have
fun.   The scene Ms. Sellers writes of is only putting a
yuppie gloss on ’70s key parties, and there’s nothing adventurous about
that.

Dave Silverstone,
Manhattan

Anyone who passes even feint praise on anything containing Adam Sandler
(Armond White, “Remote Viewing,” June 28-July 4) encourages movies to
try even less to act anything but brain damaged. You are praising the
man who has single-handedly lowered the standards of comedy, whose
brain-damaged gaze lowers your intelligence just by looking at it.

Douglas Cherno

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There’s a bear joke that goes, "Question: What’s the difference between a redneck and a bear? Answer: A six-pack." That alone has a better grasp on the bear subgroup of the gay community than the one from last week’s NY Press (“Disguises,” June 21-27). “Trying not to look HIV emaciated…”? Lumberjackphilia predates HIV; just as show tune fans replaced opera fans, boyishness was replaced for some by…non-boyishness. In fact, bearishness is the original male style. I don’t recognize any of the bears that the writer describes.

Dean Morris,

Manhattan

Get over it, Michelle is a star (“Is Michelle Wie Bad For Women’s Golf?” June 21-27), and a wonderful demonstration of what is good and wholesome about the youth of America today. Do you remember what you were doing at 16? This young lady is handling all this attention in a professional, graceful way, and at the young age of 16, is living her dream—the hard way! Go write a negative article about someone who deserves it. Leave this wonderful talented girl alone. Remember Tiger coming out with the huge Nike contract? No wins on the tour, etc. Well, he proved that he was a star. Michelle is good for golf. We all love to experience the birth of a legend, and in this case, Michelle has come to life in a big way. 

Henry Sullivan

Vernon, CT

Regarding Armond White’s review of The Road To Guantanamo, (“On The Road,” June 21-27), Orwell said all art is propaganda, but that doesn’t mean art criticism has to be as well. White’s piece on the film doesn’t even deserve to be called a review. It’s nothing but knee-jerk, apologist frenzy-enraged reactionism at a perceived insult to the fatherland. I thought he was just a contrarian, but this rabid treatment of Guantanamo shows him to be a rightwing hack. This in itself doesn’t bother me. But what he shouldn’t be doing is passing off his agenda as real film reviewing. You hate the message? Fine. Now what about the film? I suspect this film must be very effective, to have reduced you to a slavering beast the way it has.

Hollis Henry 

Armond White’s shamelessly partisan pan of The Road To Guantanamo might leave readers with the impression that The Tipton Three were found guilty of collaborating with the Taliban.  The fact is that these three British citizens were held for two years at Guantanamo Bay, tortured and finally released without charge. The Pentagon clearly didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute them at a military tribunal. Do us all a favor, Mr. White: Stick to your ass-kissing reviews of DePalma and Spielberg. But, if you want to be a shill for the police state, there might be an opening in the White House Press Office.

Matt Cornell

West Hollywood, CA

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I think the irony of living off the spoils of capitalism is lost on Weissman (“Dumpster Dining,” June 14-20). Very funny story. By the way, I’m not mocking him. I don’t like to see food go to waste.

Lauren

We teach our kids that winning is where the glory is (“Is The World Cup Must See TV?” June 14-20), and winning by using force is the greatest glory of all. Only the big kids, the stronger ones are encouraged to play a game where might makes right. We have the audacity to think we can condone violence as a means to an end on the playing field, worship a game that mimics warfare and idolize the winners, and then complain about bullying in our schools? Our schools ought to be promoting healthy lifetime sports, the good cholesterol, the kind that can keep our bodies and our minds fit and involved long after we are too old to actively participate in games that promote violence. In the mean time, soccer is the better alternative to football.

Marilyn LaCourt

C.J. Sullivan, you must be living on another planet. I do agree that soccer will not replace baseball, basketball or football as “the” national sport of America any time soon, if ever. Where you go ridiculously wrong is when you claim “Basketball is the new world sport.” You obviously have a defective knowledge of the planet you live in; and thinking that New York gives you a fair idea because, well, it is New York, only shows that even New Yorkers can be provincial. Soccer is the undisputed leader in all of these countries (except in France, where it competes with rugby). In Latin America, except for a few Central American and Caribbean nations, soccer is king to the point of being a national obsession. In a globalized media market, soccer is increasingly becoming a “uniter, not a divider.” Go to any NYC sports bar on a Champions League or World Cup game, and you’ll find an immediate connection among fans from all over the world (including America) praising the skills of Ronaldinho or regretting the historical misfortunes of the Dutch national team. It is, more than ever, a universal language. Basketball doesn’t remotely come close to that. 

Miguel Moreno 

ERRATA: Robert Proudfoot’s June 14-20 article, “Behind the Free Lunch,” incorrectly stated that the New York City Food Bank receives 30 percent of its food from rescued food from City Harvest. It receives 28 percent from American Second Harvest and does not use rescued food. It also provides more than a quarter million free meals a day to New Yorkers in need through its network of more than 1,200 programs.

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Although Mr. Bret Liebendorfer recognizes the seriousness of steroid use (“Steroid Pigeon Alert,” June 7-13), he doesn’t seem to comprehend the seriousness of the sport. Surely someone as clever as Mr. Liebendorfer could have come up with something better than the old Woody Allen “pigeons-equals-rats with wings.”

Doug Hansen

John Desio (“Fighting for Bronx Film,” June 7-13) wrote, “Rumble in The Bronx was actually filmed in Toronto, a fact made obvious by the appearance of a snow-capped mountain in the background of one scene.” Not that obvious, because there aren’t any snow-capped mountains anywhere near Toronto. Rumble was filmed in Toronto and Vancouver (home of the snow-capped mountains).

Mark Sloboda 

I just read your article about the Underground Combat League (“Gentlemen, Welcome To Fight Club,” May 31-June 6) in the recent issue—great story!

Daniel Koschera

 

Since we here in St. Paul are chronically overshadowed by our bigger shouldered twin, I’ve been enjoying our 15 minutes of fame, what with all the attention we’ve been receiving in advance of the debut of A Prairie Home Companion debut (“Altman’s Art,” June 7-13). I’m cut to the quick though when Mr. White asserts in his review that our hometown production is actually based in Minneapolis! Well, I guess that things haven’t really changed after all, and that our modest—though not inconsiderable accomplishments—will continue to be attributed to our outsize twin.

Steven Bloomfield

St. Paul, Minn.

For my money, Armond White is the only essential film critic in America today. I consider him a great artist, and I do not think it’s an exaggeration to say that his writing changes not only people’s thinking, but their lives. This makes it all the more surprising that he fails to locate the cultural pain that has turned The Da Vinci Code (“Misplaced Faith,” May 24-30) into a huge hit as both a book and film. White criticizes Hollywood’s “secular humanism,” and then accuses the film of contributing to “the culture wars.” What White’s assertions neglect is the deeply ambivalent and often outright traumatic relationship citizens worldwide have with the Catholic Church. A critic who locates the spiritual essence of films like A.I. and Running Scared should be more aware of how the scandal in the Church has contributed to the success of The Da Vinci Code: audiences need a symbolic way of understanding the disillusion they feel as members of a labyrinthine and mysterious institution which preaches spiritual values but delivers exploitation and hypocrisy.

Christopher Shinn


Lower East Side, NYC

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It’s kind of ludicrous for Armond White’s piece on The Da Vinci Code (“Misplaced Faith,” May 24-30) to compare the Passion of the Christ, which was made by a devout Catholic attempting to portray what ‘really happened’ to The Da Vinci Code—a work of fiction…

Dan Shuman,

Brooklyn, NY

So Tray Butler is spending daddy’s trust fund at IKEA in Elizabeth (“Yellow Is The Color Of Fear,” May 31-June 6) and doesn’t care much for the great unwashed of New Jersey? Talk about a New York stereotype. Silly yuppie. Please tell him that he’s welcome to visit the IKEA in Brooklyn with his hipster ilk and leave the three percent sales tax and cool views of Newark Airport to us Jerseyans, who prefer “industrial blight” to overheated real estate and materialistic and pretentious little pricks like Tray taking up space in our furniture stores.

Jeff Jotz

Rahway, NJ

Although Larry Brown and Stephon Marbury aren’t blameless (“The Decline And Fall Of The Knicks,” May 31-June 6), most of what ails the Knicks can be laid at the feet of Isaiah Thomas, the prototype of the corporate executive who fails upward (see Pacers, Indiana, and Raptors, Toronto). My dismay with Isaiah dates back to the final game of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Bulls swept the Pistons in four games, and Thomas and company skulked off the court in the closing seconds, refusing to congratulate the winners. That moment captured Thomas’ personality perfectly and helps to explain all of the poor sports, cry-babies and losers he’s accumulated on the Knicks. He selected them because they’re exactly like him.

Tim W. Brown, 

Westchester, NY

I’m an Asian-American male living in NYC (“Finding The Face Of Asian NYC,” May 10-16), and I experience racism daily from many Blacks and Hispanics when I’m with my Caucasian girlfriend in public. While I understand that most Blacks and Hispanics are not racists, the ones that are, are worse than the Nazis or the KKK because of how open they are about their racist attitudes in public. I hear these people saying things like “Look at that Chinese guy with the white girl.” It’d be a wholly different situation if the Whites were allowed to curse out Blacks and Hispanics the way I get treated by Black and Hispanic racists. I believe this is a direct result of having the ignorant belief that Blacks and Hispanics cannot be racists.  How can anyone let such bigots get away in this civilized society? People need to be educated that racism does not have any racial boundaries.

Jeremy,

New York, NY

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Jim, stop beating your concave breast; you were right the first time not to be wowed by On The Road (“On The Skids,” May 17-23). We can find better heroes than these, or live without secular saints. Ralph Nader makes a7 better permanent impression than those thrill-seeking self-justifiers. Or Sam Smith. Or Izzie Stone. Or Studs Terkel. By their heroes shall you know them. 

Patrick D. Hazard, 

Weimar, Germany

 

Armond White’s take on The Da Vinci Code is one of the best I’ve come across. All those who chide Catholics for protesting something that is “just a film” would do well to read his succinct piece pointing out what many in the media refuse to acknowledge: Hollywood would never insult Jews or Muslims the way it bashes Catholics. The Catholic League has had problems with New York Press in the past. That only makes it all the more pleasing to praise White, and the paper, for this article. I look forward to hearing more of what he has to say. 

Kiera M. McCaffrey

Director of Communications

The Catholic League for Religious 

and Civil Rights

New York, NY  





Thank you to Mr. White for his eloquent and refreshing shredding of that idiotic and hateful “phenomenon” of the decade "The duh Vinci Code." His review stands as a clear and thoughtful reminder of how both the book and movie shamelessly display the anti-Catholicism that pervades Hollywood and much of the rest of the media. It brought me a moment of hope that the hypocrisy of those in the media, who claim to be both champions of social justice and despisers of prejudice, might not always go unrecognized.

Nick Melucci

Brooklyn, NY 

The article by Susan Crain Bakos (“A White Woman Explains Why She Prefers Black Men,” December 7-13, 2005) was very informative and confirmed some thoughts of mine on the subject. I agree fully with the writer, white men perceive the world from a linear perspective, with everything beginning and ending with them, however the world is round and has others in it besides white men. Also, it is Susan’s right to choose whomever she pleases: white men date who ever they want. In fact, while we are on that subject, recent statistics shows that there are more couples with white men dating Asian women, than black men with white women! But the so-called mainstream media is not appalled by this, and there are no books about it. 

Nkosinathi Sibanda

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Great article! (“Tale Of Two Cities,” May 17-23) Bed Stuy is a great community that continues to foster family values in spite of the media’s often glaring image of it being a crime infested neighborhood riddled with neglect.

 – Urban I.D.

Brooklyn, NY  

Jim, you ignorant slut. Jack Kerouac’s On The Road is the greatest American novel. It’s about a guy named Dean Moriarty and another guy named Sal Paradise that travel all over the country for three years sharing adventures in California, Colorado, Louisiana, New York and even outside of the United States in Mexico. They’re very literary!

 – Richard

State College, PA

In Mugger’s latest column he admits defeat (“Dime Store History,” May 17-23), not openly, he’s not the type, but like Nixon did when he stated that he “was not a crook.” Mugger contends with the notion that Dubya is possibly one of the US’s worst presidents. By simply addressing the notion Mugger admits that he has to face it, because it feels, looks and sounds so true. He makes himself feel better because he takes on a Princeton professor but he admits, yet again, the truth (that continues to hide even to himself) by contradicting himself; at one point he calls Wilentz’s piece a “critical artifact” and then later sees Wilentz as just another “partisan Democrat.” Which one is it, Mugger? If he’s just a partisan Democrat, then why take him seriously? It is what he is saying and not who he is that gets up Mugger’s nose: the ugly truth that the man you consider a great President has done true damage to the American people, to the country and to all that it stands for. 

Then again, should we expect anything different from this monied pundit? Mugger voted with his feet. He high-tailed it out of downtown New York and currently hides in a white enclave of Baltimore in a McMansion. We New Yorkers know exactly what that is: a wuss and worse, a wuss with money. Those of us who work, live and continue to raise children in this great City face the truth about Bush through the scars left by 9/11. His war was badly planned, and is built on lies. No one can stop us from getting hit again, and we’ll deal with that too because we are the brave and the strong and we do represent, in our souls, democracy and liberty. Mugger, you ran, you fled after the fact. As you put it, yours is a “Dime Story History,” as defunct as Woolworths.

 – Peter C

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Is the movie United 93 (“The 9/11 Show,” April 26-May 2) too soon for America? Yes—because 2001 was too soon for this country to go through a 9/11.

Ron Schalow,

Fargo, North Dakota

Mr. McCauley may regard celebrities as a vacant addition to campaigns to preserve the quality of life in NY (“Information Agent,” May 10-16), but he fails to note that—as with the Ratner MegaMess in Brooklyn—the media neglects these issues as if they were not happening. Ratner’s plan is a shameless boondoggle with no financial oversight, no thought to traffic flow, sewerage or the quality of life surrounding it. When celebrities are enlisted to point that out, suddenly the press takes the ham on rye out of its mouth and looks up. If that were not enough, Ratner’s company has an appalling record of completion and financial practices. They want to build a city in the middle of Brooklyn that has a larger tab than the economy of many states in the union, and all of it up for grabs in the grand tradition of NY state graft. The governor has even allocated state education funds ($33 million) to do god knows what about, or for, Ratnerville.  Mr. McCauley cannot seem to get that one into his thoughts.

Steve Hart,

Brooklyn, NY 


Er, was that a review (“J.R. Taylor,” May 10-16), a critique, a fluff piece or what? And what exactly is “a false memory of when the ’80s were actually catchy?”—they were catchy. And please explain this: “Fortunately, there’s a New Europe nowadays, and privileged frontman Diego Garcia does his best to make his native Argentina seem like part of the Union.” How on earth can you reference Argentina and Europe as part of a “Union?” I’m confused.

Dave Allen, 

Gang of Four

We need to impress upon these young artists that when this art form (“Bomb The City,” May 3-9) is done well, it can help them to lift themselves out of poverty, crime and the other pitfalls they face growing up in “the hood.” Mayor Bloomberg and Peter Vallone should research this topic a lot more before making such rash decisions that will criminalize America’s budding artists.

Frank “Rek” Santiago,

Red Hook, Brooklyn

Look, obviously, to have stereotypes is not a good thing (“Finding The Face Of Asian NYC,” May 10-16) but having them is not, in any way, limited to USA/NY culture—if there’s only one stereotype that is true, it is that all cultures have them. 

Gerry Koval,

NYC 

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This is the second time in five months that you have printed an Armond White-bashing letter. It’s clever to balance Doug Atchison’s letter with an opposing viewpoint, but there must be another letter that can serve this purpose. Or is there? Nayman’s rant in January revealed to us that he is someone who has read White regularly for years and that White influenced Nayman’s “own development as a critic.” Oedipus complex, anyone? It’s really, really easy to find positive reviews in the mainstream media of movies that White dislikes. 

- David H. Turner

My usual high regard for Matt Zoller Seitz was diminished considerably on reading his review of the Roscoe Arbuckle retrospective at the MOMA (“You’re The One For Me Fatty,” April 19-25). Seitz compares Arbuckle’s acting unfavorably to Chaplin and Keaton; reasonable people can disagree on such judgments, and while disagreeing, I respect his opinion. But I was disappointed that he made no mention at all of Arbuckle’s gifts as a director, arguably far superior to Chaplin. And he neglected to mention his patronage, friendship and professional generosity towards Keaton (and others), which Keaton never forgot well beyond Arbuckle’s death.

Most egregious, however, was Seitz’ handling of the scandal. There is an undertone throughout the article that Arbuckle had committed some terrible deed. Yes, Seitz does say “Arbuckle was tried three times and acquitted after the third,” but this is thrown in almost parenthetically. Before mentioning the acquittal Seitz has already begun the damage. He describes, in lurid and exquisite detail, an event that never occurred: the purported crime for which Arbuckle was acquitted. Not only acquitted; the third jury, as I’m sure Seitz is aware, felt compelled to issue an unprecedented public written apology to Arbuckle: “Acquittal is not enough for Roscoe Arbuckle. We feel a grave injustice has been done him as there was not the slightest proof to connect him in any way with the commission of any crime.”

But Seitz insists on referring to Arbuckle’s “status as a bloody footnote in movie history,” and ends writing of the “stench of horror [which] lingers over every chuckle.” In this awful ruination of a creative man the only “stench” arose from a vindictive prosecutor, perjured witnesses and Will Hays. I hope Seitz will revisit this and try to “judge Arbuckle’s gifts without knowledge of the charges”—he may find them to be considerable.

- Michael Lessinger

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Golf (“Is Golf A Sport?” April 19-25), in my opinion, is the world’s best game, but it’s not a sport. By my own definition, sports (such as football, tennis and even ping-pong) require split-second reactions from their participants; games (such as golf, pool and bowling) do not. As to golf being boring—only to those (like C.J. Sullivan, I suspect) who have never played a round of it.

Dae 

Russ Smith has the order of toughness in his example exactly backwards. Stickball involves almost no physical contact (“Lax Attack,” April 26-May 2). Lacrosse is in the middle somewhere as it involves checking, but the players wear pads. Water polo involves an enormous amount of vicious unprotected contact that is rarely called by the officials because it’s underwater and can’t be seen. In the most famous water polo match 50 years ago at the Melbourne Olympics, the Hungarian water polo team fought a proxy resistance against their Soviet adversaries, the Soviet Army having just invaded Hungary to repress an uprising. The pool was filled with blood. Literally. Think that would happen in lacrosse?

Anonymous 

I dare Armond White to write a film review without using the word “hipster” or invoking Steven Spielberg. I also dare him to start making sense at least once per issue. His reviews of Doug Atchison’s Akeelah and the Bee (“Bee Season,” April 26-May 2) and Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Three Times—the former a schematic, cloying family flick, the latter a tricky, rewarding work from one of the world’s most acclaimed filmmakers—emanate from deep, deep left field. At this point, Mr. White is up against the warning track. It’s sad to see someone with such a vast and searching intellect lock it away behind an impenetrable array of code words, high-toned references (this week, it’s Godard, De Sica and Charles Burnett), and pre-calibrated grumpiness.  

 Adam Nayman, Toronto 

I am the writer/director of Akeelah And The Bee. I have not read many reviews for the film, as I typically find doing so to be unhealthy for myself as an artist.  However, Mr. Armond White’s analysis (“Bee Season,” April 26-May 2) of my film was brought to my attention, and I wish to express to him my profound appreciation for his clear understanding of my goals with this picture. I wish others who write and think about film had his depth of understanding of film history and the manner in which African-Americans have been historically depicted in cinema. It is good to know that there are critics out there doing the job the way its supposed to be done: not simply recommending or not recommending films, but placing cinema in its proper context.  Mr. White does honor to his profession. 

Doug Atchison

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A LUSH PICKS UP THE PEN

I read the review of Modern Drunkard’s new book with great interest. [“Booze Rules,” Joshua M. Bernstein, Dec. 21]. It is published in Minneapolis, the city where I spent my formative years. I myself have a bit of experience with drinking, as I am currently in the last stages of visiting 1000 bars this year. My website, www.thousandbars.com, which chronicles this quest is actually referenced on the Modern Drunkard website.

I find the magazine most entertaining and thought the review of it hit all the right marks. Now, admittedly, this letter is a bit of a plug for my website, but only a bit of one because my entries will cease once I actually hit bar number 1000, which will be Pioneer on the Bowery, on Friday, Dec. 30th (another shameless plug). [It’s a great site. —The Eds.]

By the way, I am very sorry that I missed your pub-crawl the other week, even if it was only five bars. I used to hold a Bar Trek where the objective was to have a drink in 26 bars in a single day. I have to admit though, in five years only two people were ever successful in doing this, and I wasn’t one of them. My personal high during this year’s 1000 Bar quest was twelve in a single day (well, part of it was early the next morning) while I was in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Dan Freeman, Brooklyn


NO

Do you think perhaps for 2006, Armond White could be relieved of the task of reviewing Spielberg movies? [“Spielberg Climbs Another Mountain,” Dec. 21] Or, failing that, could you please put a black-label warning on any such reviews to protect diabetics from terminal sugar-shock?

I am sure he can peddle his Spielberg-worship to Hagiography Daily, but for the rest of us, it has gotten very old—a complete waste of column inches.

Peyton Moss, Manhattan


GET Bent, JACK

Personally, I am enjoying watching the shit-hole grind to a halt and the typical liberal New Yorker suffer. [“Striking the Rail,” Azi Paybarah, Dec. 21]. I hope it goes on until spring. I hope the entire city becomes a total disaster; then we can clean up the mess made by another bunch of liberal thugs, hahahahahaha. Living in San Diego has its upside—it is about 78 degrees today. Hahahaha. Thanks for the laughs.

Jack Truman, San Diego

HIS OWN BULLWHIP

I want to congratulate Mayor Bloomberg on his hard-line rhetoric and open threats against the Transportation Worker’s Union [“Striking the Rail,” Azi Paybarah, Dec. 21]. He is truly New York’s George Wallace for the 21st Century.

It takes courage and conviction in this day and age to support New York’s Jim Crow Taylor Law. Public agency workers are indeed second-class workers, and clearly deserve to have inferior rights to real private sector workers. It’s high time that we all thank our government for bringing back Jim Crow. If only the NYPD could turn fire hoses and police dogs on the strikers on their picket lines. They could start in Staten Island—it is Richmond after all. Can I sign up for such duty with the NYPD auxiliary? I’ve got my own bullwhip, and I’d love to help teach them a city-sanctioned lesson in knowing their place.

Eric Wolfsbane, Brooklyn


Smell of Burning Flesh

Is Ted Machman in complete of all his faculties? [“Spy On This, Pal,” Dec. 21] It always amuses me how writers like Mister Machman find fault with everything the President does in the war on terrorism.

Wow, I think that it would be really sinister if someone from the NSA listened in on my international calls to my cousins in Ireland. God forbid they would check to see the last e-mail that I sent to my Irish cousins. Perhaps they could grab me for having bad taste.

When the FISA law was passed in 1978, I think the Internet was not in wide public use, and I don’t think Congress ever considered it as the major means of communication that it would become. Cell phones were bulky devices and hardly anyone used them because of the poor, expensive service. Ones that could be used and discarded were unheard of in those lovely 1978 days.

Mister Marchman suggests that a warrant be obtained for every interception. It is my understanding that before a warrant can be issued, an application must be made. If you are lucky enough to get a judge to read and sign it, a certain period of time has passed. This process involves many people and man-hours. The judge’s clerk has to read it, it needs to be typed, filed and delivered, etc. Perhaps, time is of the essence in these types of espionage (terrorism) cases. Of course, the more people that are aware of a wire or another electronic warrant, the greater the chance that it will become public, thereby compromising the investigation.

But then again, I’ll bow to Mister Marchman’s obvious in-depth experience in tracking down criminals prior to their committing crimes. [Little does he know. —The Eds.] I am sure that he has the answer for preventing future terrorist attacks.

I don’t have the answers, but I am willing to cut anyone lots of slack if it will protect my family from another attack. I am a proponent of having our civil liberties, but I believe that, on certain occasions, they may be abridged due to circumstances. In case nobody at New York Press has noticed, we are engaged in a war with people who have no regard for our civil liberties or our lives. It’s time to wake up, get out of the 1960’s mode and smell the burning flesh.

Bill Lonergan, via email

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Ben Domenech’s article
on the Capitol murders ("Capitol Shooter: Russell Weston, Three Years Later,"
7/18) was riveting and poignant; I hadn’t known the details. Kudos.

Terry Ward,
via Internet

Stupid and Illiterate

Are you paying Tim Hall
to spew that swill in defense of illiterate teachers on the New York Press
website ("Daily Billboard," 7/13 and 7/16)? I can deal with his carping
that the New York Post’s take-down of Sunny Liang was unfair and
cruel. Who doesn’t make mistakes in e-mail notes? But Hall’s clearly
operating his word processor under the influence of stupidity when he goes on
to claim that it doesn’t matter if Liang is illiterate because: 1) he’s
a foreigner, 2) he teaches social studies, not English, and 3) Hall once had
a teacher who couldn’t speak English very well and look how smart Hall
turned out.

The first two points are
pure fool’s drool. Being from a foreign land shouldn’t exempt you
from being qualified to do your job. If there were any sense to Hall’s
second point–the notion that writing grammatically is only important for
English teachers–why would we bother having students take English classes
at all? Most of them won’t be English teachers either.

It turns out that Hall’s
third point is nothing more than a boring fact of his biography. A recent study
by Harvard’s George Borjas demonstrated that students perform worse when
they are taught by foreign-born teachers who have trouble with the English language.
For God’s sake, MUGGER, keep Hall off of education and safely in the music
columns.

Name Withheld,
Manhattan

Nkomo Mon Amour

Maybe y’all should
steer Nkomo Morris and her next "Nothing Happened" piece over Salon’s
way ("First Person," 7/11). That’s why they’re going Chapter
11.

Jeff Gilchrist,
via Internet

A Childs’ Love

John Strausbaugh: Reading
your article on Komar & Melamid’s RBS Gazette ("Publishing,"
7/11), I couldn’t believe you failed to mention the wonderful article by
Josh Zeman regarding Jewish pirates. Jewish pirates! What a fascinating and
original idea. To tell you the truth, I found the piece to be quite enchanting
and extremely well-written. I think we’re going to be hearing a lot from
this writer in the future. Best regards from Josh’s grandmother…

Ann Childs,
Pittsburgh

Whiny Europeans

Andrey Slivka: There is
one thing I would like to hear from Western Europeans ("Daily Billboard,"
7/16): "Thanks, America, for the Marshall Plan." Maybe from the Germans
a "thanks for the Berlin Airlift." We heard no whining about smog
from all those C-54s landing food and coal at Tempelhof, did we? No sniveling
about greenhouse gases from the tractors used to harvest that food, no finger-wagging
superiority about the pollution generated by the machinery used to mine the
coal to heat German homes in the winter.

I dare Europeans to actually
ratify, rather than just sign, the Kyoto Protocol. Then they might have a point.
But of course they won’t do it. I hope that next time those wine-besotted,
soap-averse cowards in France scream for help we sit on our hands instead.

David Mann,
Concord, CA

Jung and the FBI

I liked Alexander Cockburn’s
article on the polygraph ("Wild Justice," 7/18). About two years ago
I translated and synopsized 80 articles on the polygraph for the Pentagon. The
manner of questioning that is used in conjunction with the polygraph goes back
to Jung. (Other systems of measuring various reactions were also tried out.)
Jung would compose a block of questions relating to the crime and person. Reaction
times were also measured. If the person took a long time to answer, I think
more than four seconds or so, the answer was considered invalid.

Based on the subconscious,
Jung could tell if the person knew something of the crime. It was all very interesting,
but Jung did not like using the method for criminal investigations. He also
cautioned against abuse and pointed out that only a fully trained psychologist/psychiatrist
could make the system work. It is worth noting that even Nazi Germany found
the polygraph useless and deemed it illegal.

Name Withheld,
Alexandria, VA

In Defense of Cal

MUGGER: Cal Ripken a mediocre
athlete over the past decade? In 1991, Cal Ripken Jr. won the MVP award. His
.323 average is the fourth highest of MVP winners in the past decade. It takes
a pretty good athlete to take the field every day. As for Ripken being indifferent
toward his teammates, if you had upstanding citizens such as Albert Belle, Roberto
Alomar and Armando Benitez on your team, would you down beers with them after
the game? Ripken’s best friend on the team is Brady Anderson, which is
no surprise at all since Anderson has been an O since 1989.

All superstars get the first-class
treatment, that’s just the way sports has evolved. It’s not a good
thing, but Ripken can’t be faulted for it. Do you think the Sox treat Nomar,
Pedro and Manny the same way they treat Troy O’Leary? Do you think they
stay in the same hotel as Craig Grebeck? I’m not saying Ripken is still
a great baseball player, far from it. He should have retired two or three years
ago. He did revolutionize the position of shortstop, though. I can’t help
feeling you’re knocking the man because you hate the O’s and Peter
Angelos.

Gregory Joseph,
via Interent

Russ Smith
replies: A preposterous letter. Agreed, I do think Angelos and his fellow trial-lawyer
pirates are a scourge on society. But having lived in Baltimore for 14 years,
being a vendor in their old Memorial Stadium for three years while in college,
a season ticketholder for many more, the Orioles were always my favorite team
aside from the Sox. Ripken was an exciting player in the 80s, just as Jim Palmer,
Boog Powell, Frank and Brooks Robinson, Mike Cuellar and Eddie Murray were in
their days. But something snapped with Ripken, and as any Baltimore fan will
tell you, it wasn’t good for the team.

Sam’s Champ Is MUGGER’s
Chump

MUGGER: Now that Clinton
is out of office and "Clinton sucks" articles are out of fashion,
you have taken to assailing Cal Ripken. Here’re a few facts you might want
to mull over in the name of accuracy and fairness:

Lou Gehrig is not heroic
because he died young. He was spiteful and jealous of Babe Ruth, and tight with
a buck to teammates and waiters. Considering that Gehrig died about 60 years
ago, it is not incumbent on Ripken to know anything about him. Pete Rose was
a baseball historian, would you like to praise him?

Ripken gets perks because
he can, just as anyone would if they could. Ripken is credited with saving the
game by unselfishly signing autographs for free and acting like a champ during
the time he was breaking the streak. You should read Boswell, a baseball writer
who still loves the game and writes with passion.

Brooks Robinson sold himself
like the worst trollop around; he sold parts of his fame and reputation to the
highest bidder. Your anti-Ripken rant is emblematic of a man who roots for a
team that comes close but has yet to smoke the cigar. Although I think the Red
Sox should play the Cubs in the new millennium’s first World Series, poetic
saps who lionize the last team to integrate leave me longing for more parades
in the Canyon of Heroes.

Sam Greenfield,
Manhattan

Totally

I write for The New
York Times
, Vanity Fair, GQ, etc., and am based in Los Angeles.
I don’t have Armond White’s e-mail, but he wrote a letter to the editor
in the L.A. Times that really impressed me with its truth and clarity.
It impressed me enough to look up your website and search for his writing. I
only saw the review of The Score ("Film," 7/18), which was
as truthful as his piece on A.I. ("Film," 7/4). I am totally
impressed, and would like you to convey those sentiments to him. I don’t
know much about your paper, but it’s a testament to his writing that if
you publish his work, it must be great.

Cliff Rothman,
Los Angeles

Warming Air

After reading Alexander
Cockburn with less and less interest over the last six months, it finally occurred
to me that he’s nothing more than a highly informed windbag.

John Marlen,
Upland, CA

Little One

Michael Yockel: I read your
online obituary of Monica Coughlan ("Obit," 5/16). I always believed
her, and did not understand why Archer got 500,000 in damages. I am really
sorry that she did not live to see herself vindicated. She was one of the small
people, in both senses, who got trampled on.

Clare Haire,
Belfast

This One Better Not

Your 7/11 issue contains
two points I wish to comment on. Tama Janowitz refers to "a petrified trilobite
of the pre-Cambrian era." ("Food," 7/11). There are no pre-Cambrian
trilobites. The Cambrian era began 580 million years ago with the appearance
of the jellyfish-like Ediacaran fauna. The oldest trilobites are thought to
be 522 million years old. The mass extinction of trilobites, roughly 500 million
years ago, marks the end of the Cambrian era.

I’d also like to express
my agreement with the caption under Chris Caldwell’s column, "The
era of the Perot-style outsider hasn’t ended yet." It certainly hasn’t:
I predict Ted Turner of Atlanta will be the Democratic presidential nominee
in 2004. And my predictions always come true.

Clifton
Wellman, Manhattan

The editors reply: According
the Encyclopedia Britannica online, "Because trilobites appear fully developed
in the Cambrian Period, it appears likely that the ancestral trilobites originated
during the Precambrian (3.96 billion to 540 million years ago)."

Wrong, Right, Very Right

MUGGER: The Barstow/Van
Natta Jr. Times piece is revelatory, groundbreaking and a necessary corrective
to the evils done in Florida (7/18). Okay, I didn’t actually read it, but
this is my opinion and I’m sticking to it. More importantly, there are
at least two Sandy Denny best-ofs out there: a three-disc set called Who
Knows Where the Time Goes?
and a single disc that culls 16 tracks from the
former called The Best of Sandy Denny. (The three-disc set is never far
from my stereo–in this case, more is more.)

Meanwhile, the Yankees suck
and I’m convinced Nick Johnson is ticketed for Oakland in exchange for
Jason Giambi. At least this is what I’m hoping, and, like most spoiled
Yankee fans, I actually have cause to expect it.

Harley Peyton,
Santa Monica

Get Me Rewrite!

MUGGER: I don’t know
your age but mine is 63, almost. Earned my journalism degree from the University
of North Carolina in 1961. I have seemingly forever read The New York Times,
The Wall Street Journal, The Charlotte Observer, and since
Al Gore invented the Internet I’ve added daily papers from across our country.
The Times article on "Mining the Overseas Vote" is by far the
most embarrassing piece of journalism I have ever seen. Terribly written. Ugly.
And enlightens no one. No wonder in some public opinion polls today’s journalists
are ranked lower than used-car salesmen on the respect scale. I wouldn’t
even buy a newspaper from these awful writers, much less a mode of transportation.
They should be put on obits, where you have to get the facts and get them right
or some dearly departed will haunt your ass for decades.

Tom Camp,
Shelby, NC

Witty and Penetrating

Sam Schulman: I thought
you were merely a keen mind when you wrote an earlier essay; to find that you
are also an extraordinary wit, as your recent column on the recession and gender
roles proves, is a pleasant surprise ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/18).
Thanks for the very amusing take on vanishing (perhaps vanished) social norms.

Frank Turk,
Pittsburgh

That’s All, Folks!

Thanks for the laugh, Steve
Sailer ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/18). I shouldn’t be astounded
that people are paid to sit around and formulate such ridiculous claptrap–after
all, Peter Singer passes as an "ethicist" in the new, improved America.
(He is the one who thinks that sex with animals and euthanizing the elderly
are both dandy ideas.) That creationism is an exclusively American "disorder"
is not surprising either. Europe is the place that most of us fled in disgust.
Note that Europe is not sending peacekeepers here, nor have we ever required
a "Marshall Plan."

It is not the slightest
bit surprising that those lovelies should imagine "survival of the fittest"
gave us humanity. But wait–weren’t the Nazi SS and Hitler Jugend the
"fittest" to ever walk the planet? Gee, I wonder what went wrong.
Maybe someone should consult with Margaret Sanger or Nietzsche. Darwin would
have no comment because it was he who drove the theories of the former. Surprising,
isn’t it, that there are still black people in the world–after all,
those fine folks heartily recommended that blacks, being inferior, should be
allowed to die out. But then we don’t mention that part of Darwinism anymore,
as it wouldn’t be politically correct.

I can understand why racist
whites with a socialist agenda would push the dark religion of Darwinism. In
the last 100 years white European Darwinists have given us Stalin and Hitler.
That black people (at least in academe) buy into this malarkey puts me in mind
of the old Looney Tunes where Porky would morph into a giant lollipop and the
word "Sucker" would flash on the screen.

Michael
Peirce, Atlanta

Science Digest

Thank you so much for your
recent bit about Christian Science ("Healed," 7/4). It was informative
and just risible enough. If John Strausbaugh wishes to read a bit more about
the cult, I would suggest Edwin Franden Dakin’s Mrs. Eddy: The Biography
of a Virginal Mind
. The book contains some very interesting facts about
the builder of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, here in New York City,
one Augusta Stetson. Mrs. Stetson is, in her own right, just about as, if not
more, interesting than Mother Eddy.

Quite frankly, just reading
an account of the physical structure of the church makes me almost mad to be
allowed to explore it. It happens, most fortuitously, that I am the editor,
explicator and propagator of the poetical work of the famous Boston poetess,
Eleanor Thayer Alain. Mrs. Alain is now quite old and rabidly Anglo-Catholic,
but in her much younger days she was just as rabidly a disciple of Mrs. Eddy’s
and some of her best, though most dreadful, work comes to us from those days.
I am happy to tell you that I have an extra copy of one of Mrs. Alain’s
most affecting works, entitled The Healing Art. I am sending it to you
under separate cover and hope that you and your staff find it as pleasing and
satisfying, not to say "ghastly," a work of poetry as you’ve
seen in a long, long time. All in all you have a pretty good paper. Keep up
the good work.

Jeff Blocker,
Manhattan

Pro-Life, Anti-Ali

MUGGER: How come a baby
in his/her third trimester suddenly can be spared when a week earlier, in the
second trimester, you would acquiesce to the aborting of that child (7/18)?
What happens on the calendar between second trimester and third trimester that
"grants" a baby the "right" to be defended? Won’t you
join me in believing that everybody has a right to his/her own body, no matter
what gender and age the body is?

I like your articles, and
I hope to read that book about Muhammad Ali. I personally believe that Ali was
the worst thing to happen in the world of modern sports. He was the first to
so publicly gloat as a victor and mock his victim; he’s a trash-talker,
an arrogant, ungentlemanly, defiant athlete. Standing over the fallen Liston
and mocking him while lavishing his praise on himself was disgraceful. Now athletes
everywhere do this. When "they" crowned Ali the Sportsman of the Century,
I mourned.

Carter Featherston,
New Orleans

Ain’t Life Grand

First the Times makes
a fool of itself trying to justify the millions they spent to prove those wascally
Wepublicans stole the election in Florida. I think the word for this is "obfuscation,"
but it’s also "hilarious" and as far as I can tell, absolutely
everybody is laughing. That would have been enough to make my week, but along
comes Tina Brown, threatening WWIII over a book that is probably accurate in
every respect and is already skyrocketing up the Amazon.com bestseller list,
three days before publication. MUGGER, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Judith Willms,
via Internet

Powell in Eire

Scott McConnell’s "Poor
England" ("Taki’s Top Drawer," 7/11) told us much but not
all about that super English Tory MP Enoch Powell.

Powell’s racist remarks
caused the embarrassed Tory Party to get rid of him in England as an MP. Enoch
then went to Northeast Ulster for a seat as MP. There he allied himself to the
KKK-type Orange-super-Tories, bigots all. His attitude toward the indigenous
oppressed was one of vigorous collaboration with the Paisley mentality. Maggie
Thatcher was close to Powell’s "solutions" in N.E. Ulster. Better,
"Poor Ireland!"

Kenneth
Tierney, Yonkers

24-7 Ripken

MUGGER: "Where have
you gone, Brooks Robinson?" (7/18) Amen, brother. You should be down here
again. It’s nonstop Cal Ripken. Every news cycle has at least one Cal story.
They even managed to get something in about him during the big train fire–"Cal
was spotted entering his limo still in his uniform!" Oh my. My cycling
route takes me by his big, ugly house out by where the Hunt Cup is held–there
are often people standing outside of the huge iron gates to his property, even
though it’s way out in the country. Losers. However, I am 100 percent certain
that I am the only Baltimoron who feels that Ripken should have said goodbye,
quietly, years ago.

Name Withheld,
Baltimore

Code Writer

MUGGER: Do you disagree
that an individual life is formed at the time of conception? When the DNA from
each parent is fused into one specific individual code that will never again
be re-created and cellular division begins, is this not the beginning of a human
life? If so, is there anything that would make that life worth terminating?
Is the possibility of curing diseases for other people enough reason to kill
children who have never had a chance to experience the world? (7/18)

If you’ve read this
far, thank you. I am pro-life–in all circumstances. I believe these questions
illustrate my foundation for this view.

Steve Patterson,
Salem, OR

Sandlot Slugger

MUGGER: Your articles are
a breath of fresh air for me. You’ve got a great mix of topics and irreverent
inside views on politics, journalism and city life in New York. I am living
in Saudi Arabia and the first thing I look up every day is the Drudge Report
to get a quick fix on the real headline news. Then I move down to MUGGER, which
is the best option on the list.

My only complaint is the
amount of space you sometimes use up on the topic of baseball, though I know
it’s America’s traditional sport. I’ve been over here for 18
years, and having raised three muggers myself, I get a kick out of the antics
of your young ones. It gives me faith that I have given my own a reasonable
sense of American life while we’re here. We go to Arizona to "another
desert" for our holidays and I’ve taken them to see the Diamondbacks
a couple of times, but they can’t seem to get into the game. Maybe if I
get them into MUGGER… Thanks again for your fine writing.

M. Quinn,
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Satire Can Be Ugly

Will someone please explain
the meaning of two of the three words that constitute the title of your publication?
"Press" I understand, but "New" and "York" have
me scratching my skull. Judging by contributions to "The Mail," very
few of your readers actually reside in New York City. Perhaps this is the reason
for a recent editorial slant better suited to David Duke country than to a city
boasting the largest Jewish population outside of Israel. First we have Editor-in-Chief
Russ Smith crowning himself "honorary kike" for pocketing a penny
("MUGGER," 7/4); a week later, music critic Bob Pomeroy treats
us to a laudatory review of the Scottish rock group Country Teasers ("Music,"
7/11), whose lyrical musings include, "we are the Hitlers of comedy and
everybody else is the Jew," and "[kill the] women and children first,
then the jews and the niggers and the faggots."

Maybe this sort of thing
plays as humor in Peoria, but when this New Yorker reads such balderdash, he
can’t help thinking of the old Borsht Belt chestnut: Q: "How many
feminists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" A: "That’s not
funny!" Indeed–some things just aren’t.

Paul Kaplan,
Manhattan

MUGGER Envy

MUGGER: My wife and I look
forward to your remarks every week. Your willingness to call things as you see
them is something many of us wish we could do. Thanks.

Gary and Betty
Gatzen, Newington, CT

Leaning Tower of Jello

MUGGER: Agree with you on
the Republicans keeping mum on Condit (7/18). Let the Democrats roll with those
punches. Agree with you on Trent Lott. This guy is a tower of Jello, and personally
I wish they’d throw Don Nickles in his place. Don’t agree with you
on Bob Barr. He’s the only guy who has the courage to come out really swinging
and mean it–he was, as you’ll recall, the first to call for Clinton’s
impeachment.

I love Hastert giving it
in the eye to both the Democrats and McCain. If people can’t recognize
a very clever double play when they see one, that’s their misfortune.

Jean Van Etten,
via Internet

Not Your Fight, MUGGER

MUGGER: Kindly take a look
at volume 344, issue 10, of the New England Journal of Medicine before
you again claim that fetal stem cells "could possibly yield incalculable
advances." What it comes down to is this: the fetal cell uproar is a scam,
in the same sense that Kyoto and the endless "investigations" in Florida
are scams, designed solely to embarrass George Bush and throw as many roadblocks
in his path as possible, the devil take the social cost. You shouldn’t
be involved in this.

J.R. Dunn,
New Brunswick, NJ

Power Barr

MUGGER: I read your column
every day and normally enjoy everything you write, except the stuff with a local
flavor. Since I don’t frequent the Big Apple and have no desire to do so,
a discussion of eating joints in Manhattan or Junior’s Little League experiences
doesn’t really hold my attention.

There are two points I’d
like to cover briefly. On stem cell research, why is there very little discussion
(at least in the media I read) on the feasibility of using adult stem cells?
I heard a Christian doctor/researcher on the tube last year debate some "expert"
who advocated embryonic stem cell research as the only way to go. The "expert"
was unable to refute the Christian doctor’s assertion that adult stem cells
would work just as well as those cells derived from embryos.

Second, as a member of the
NRA, I consider Bob Barr to be the ballsiest guy in the GOP. I would trade him
in for Arlen Specter in a heartbeat. I’d like to hear more from him. His
outspokenness on the issues puts the Democrats on the defensive, which is where
the majority of the slugs belong.

Rob Vanelli
Jr., Woodlyn, PA

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Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Posts.


Imagine the WWII generation
in Camden. It thought it had achieved middle-class status and then suddenly
they wake up in the 1960s–working poor, trapped in an apartment with grubby
furniture, kids whom they can’t afford to send to college smoking dope,
a sick grandma living in the basement, siblings from Cherry Hill who won’t
even send a Christmas card to the neighborhood! You could feel Cabal’s
spirited mother vibrating out there, spinning. I was rocking to the whole metaphor
commuting home from work on the Staten Island ferry when I got to the line,
"Every face you see was once a baby’s face." He was looking at
his mother’s body in the coffin, right?

Wow! The ferry docked and
I automatically took my shuffling place in the mincing steps of the disembarking
queue of the disgruntled middle class of 2000, of which I myself am not privileged
to be a part. I was overwhelmed, thinking how some people have to live through
some serious sad shit while others just sail through, and maybe it’s not
all economics, but if it isn’t greed and corruption, how will I ever really
know? And like that. I was busy remembering my own mother’s lifetime and
all the bad luck…

What happened next was very
weird and wonderful. A deckhand in the captain’s deckhouse quietly, in
the most melancholy voice, announced over the speakers, "Happy birthday,
Buddy Holly." Just that, nothing more. It was ghostly. I looked around.
Nobody seemed to have heard it. But some fiftysomething dreamer remembered.
It was like a Kurt Vonnegut minute in time, and so was Alan Cabal’s moving
account of generations past.

Thanks.

P. Vitucci,
Staten Island

Ames Perdu
Hats
off and best of luck to Jonathan Ames. Having read his stories in New York
Press
from a time before he was a columnist, when he would occasionally
write about the perverted and strange things that he experienced as a child,
I can say that "City Slicker" has been one of my favorite columns.
Artists are always more credible, though, when they know when to quit, and it
is probably for the best that he has decided to retire the column. I did tend
to skip it with regularity during the recent Mangina phase.

Nonetheless, such a character
deserves only success in future endeavors, and I hope that I might still see
his work on occasion in this paper.

Brian Manning,
Manhattan

Tom Was Kind To Spiders
As
a recent Columbia graduate, I can confirm that many of the generalizations you
make about the Columbia jocks and fratboys are more or less accurate ("Opinion,"
2/9). As a former friend of Tommy Nelford, however, I can tell you that he was
atypical, and was neither, as you say, "a hypersteroidal ogre" nor
a "lummox" who made fun of fat girls and chess players.

When I met Tommy, I found
his personality refreshing and surprisingly unique among many Columbia students.
He obviously was not exceptional in the traditional scholar/athlete way. He
was, after all, kicked out because his grades were low. Nor did he have ambitious
plans about working or getting back into school.

Instead, he traveled around
the country, wandering from place to place, and then, when his camper broke
down, returned to New York. He spent his time writing, reading, drawing, painting,
playing music and simply talking to people. He had hardly any clothes. He didn’t
care about grades, diplomas, money or material things. He had the courage and
the ability to look beyond life’s and society’s objective standards.
Above all, he was intelligent, articulate, introspective and artistic, much
more so than not just the jocks he hung out with, but also most other Columbia
students.

Though he may have entered
Columbia a jock, he soon after quit the wrestling team because he decided it
did not coincide with his pacifist philosophies. According to friends, in an
article in a Columbia newspaper, when he found a cockroach or a spider in the
house, he’d carry it outside, rather than kill it. Once he stopped wrestling,
he didn’t look like a jock either. He looked more like a modern-day hippie,
with long, shaggy hair.

One of the more bizarre
details of the case was that he covered the victim’s face with a literary
magazine featuring a Jack Kerouac portrait on the cover. Tommy and his girlfriend
were both Kerouac fans. I wonder if he somehow identified with Kerouac. They
had at least superficial similarities: both were artists, Columbia athletes
and Columbia dropouts.

Though the New York Press
article effectively assumes that Tommy shared the drinking habits of many of
the jocks and fratboys, he was not, in reality, much of a drinker at all. He
did have a penchant for drugs, though. His drug use, unfortunately, progressed
over time way beyond the level of normal recreational use and became excessive.
I imagine that his increasingly heavy drug use was the primary factor in this
mysterious and tragic murder/
suicide.

In the future, if you want
to write an article deploring the state of jock and fraternity culture at Ivy
League schools, don’t hinge your allegations on someone who’s merely
convenient because they’re in the news. Implicating someone based on an
old picture and peripheral associations discovered by sleazy New York Post
reporters is both irresponsible and inaccurate journalism.

Becky Smeyne,
Manhattan

Tom Was a Talented Fellow
If
only all reporters and editors could cut corners so effortlessly in order to
tell a story. Your 2/9 editorial "A Brutal Jock at Columbia" is uninformed,
based more on a made-for-tv high school melodrama than on the reality of Tom
Nelford’s life. If only we could script people’s lives to coincide
with our own prejudices and stereotypes, then we could really shape public opinion.

Did you do any research
before writing that piece? Did you read the Columbia Daily Spectator
to learn that Nelford was more than an ox? Did you know that he was an artist?
Did you know that he published a scathing, witty cartoon in a campus magazine
entitled "Sid, the Ugly Kid," about an unaccepted high school nerd
whose heart is broken by the most popular girl, ending in his suicide? He was
no bully. My image of Tom, based on his art and on seeing him around, is that
he wasn’t the brooding superjock, juiced up on steroids and ready to steal
your lunch money. He was intensely quiet and, undeniably, crazy.

But your own version of
this story is more comfortable for you to deal with. You want this to be about
the date-raping frat thug who slipped through the cracks of an ivory tower to
prey on his next victim. Oh, how much more interesting my reality is than your
WB-inspired plot, which exploits the murder to knock Columbia’s uncouth
rich kids. Shame on you.

Take your photograph of
Tom sweating and foaming at the mouth on a wrestling mat and place it next to
one of his paintings. Then maybe you’ll get more meaningful fiction, and
you’ll better understand what made Tom tick.

Name Withheld,
Manhattan

Why, You’re Welcome
Why
do you let Matthew DeBord write for your paper? It’s always blah, blah,
blah about himself instead of the restaurant or wine he is reviewing. And he
doesn’t really seem to know what he is talking about. Put his stuff in
your "First Person" section. It fits better there.

Thank you for your time
and for printing my last letter.

A. Munoz,
Brooklyn

Filing from Rockford
We
have two million people in prison and no major candidate is discussing the drug
war. Why?

M. Simon,
Rockford, IL

Harvesting McCain
John
McCain’s strident support for the illegal and immoral bombing back into
the stone age of Serbia–in the name of "democracy" and preventing
a "genocide"–worries me. McCain, should he become president,
is likely to continue the journey across the burning bridge to the 21st century
built by the Clinton/ Gore administration. He may have spent many years in a
Vietnamese prison camp, but it is obvious the experience taught him absolutely
nothing about the futility of military interventions in the civil affairs of
other nations.

John McCain is the yang
to Clinton’s yin. Both are demagogues and charlatans. I guess that’s
why the dullards and the utopian schemers who infest the news media fawn over
both of them.

John Brandon,
Urbana, IL

S. Is for "Sucker"
Tireless
and tiresome letter writer S. Dempsey has the nauseating gall to recklessly
label New York Press columnists George Szamuely and Armond White anti-Semites
("The Mail," 2/9).

Let’s see if this week,
he/she has the moral integrity to send in a letter castigating the self-described
artists and "Russian New York Jews" Komar and Melamid. They contributed
to the 2/9 issue ("Opinion") with statements aimed at the presidential
candidates such as: "their tedious Christian campaigning"; "few
things last 2000 years, and Jesus wasn’t one of them"; and "get
down off the cross, we need the wood for the easels." In effect, this is
true anti-Semitism, in a self-reflective sense.

Also, pseudonymous and pseudo-intellectual
Dempsey should look to his own peevish letters for antireligious screeds, such
as the 1/19 installment, in which he says the Virgin Mary perpetrated a hoax:
"She was the Tawana Brawley of her time, except that she actually got away
with it… Mary was no virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. It’s clear
beyond any doubt that Joseph (or some other testosterone-crazed local kid) fathered
Jesus by having sex with Mary." Nowhere do we see Dempsey’s denigration
of Moses’ miraculous feats. One cannot be an arbiter of anti-Semitism while
at the same time maligning another’s race or religion.

Dempsey goes on to criticize
MUGGER and virtually every New York Press writer (and by implication
their readers) as being dull and witless, and yet he seems to read the paper
assiduously front to back to see just how much he dislikes it!

Nothing is more pathetic
than the mindless critic who is in denial and who projects his own shortcomings
and intolerance onto others. This sort of person isn’t just a hypocrite.
For his malice he truly deserves to be called a screaming a-hole.

K. Schnellmeister,
Manhattan

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Written by NY Press on . Posted in Posts.


Brett M. Slater,
Manhattan

Way to Be Canadian
Bad
luck. I am an unemployed Canadian, due to company restructuring. Recently I
was offered a two-week job in Washington, DC. As I returned home via Greyhound
on 10/9 and transferred buses for Toronto, in New York City, I accidentally
left my wallet behind somewhere. Having walked some meters from the bus I realized
I was missing my wallet and returned to the bus to search for it, unsuccessfully.
Ironically, I was one of the last passengers leaving the bus. I lost all forms
of personal documentation, 360 American dollars and the opportunity for my family
to have Thanksgiving dinner. Plus I’m struggling for next month’s
rent.

I hope whoever found my
wallet reads this letter and meditates about his good fortune.

Felipe Torres,
Toronto

100% Rall Cheese
I have been following this
Ted Rall thing since the beginning, and I just can’t believe this guy.
I feel like I’m watching a man go completely insane in a very public way.
How many people have to tell him he’s wrong before he’ll imagine that
it’s possible?

I’m not a cartoonist,
but I work in the comedy business, and it seems to me that anyone who wants
to be funny needs a sense of humor when they’re going in. If your business
is making people laugh, sometimes you have to take a pie in the face.

I know some of the cartoonists
involved in this affair, and they’re all such nice, gentle people that
I guess they assumed Rall was one of their own. They treated him that way by
teasing him in exactly the same manner in which they tease each other.
It’s just too bad that his stupid case against Danny Hellman hasn’t
been thrown out of court yet. What a waste of the justice system.

Becky Thyre,
Los Angeles

Up Against the Rall
Sam Henderson’s "Turd
Rail" was fabulous, as was John Strausbaugh’s "Dirty Danny Update"
("Publishing," 10/27). How ironic that Rall, in his out-of-control
frenzy, seems to have done more to damage his own professional stature than
any prank Hellman could have perpetrated.

Irwin Chusid,
Jersey City

Hasids Aren’t Zionist
Regarding George Tabb’s
Zionist Halloween costume for his dog ("MUGGER," 11/3): I’m outraged,
really outraged. It is absolutely indefensible to impose one’s religion
on one’s pet like that. I had the good fortune of meeting Scooter Tabb
this last summer and, as a matter of fact, the subject of theology did come
up. I can now attest to the fact that the doggie’s an Episcopalian. I mean
for God’s sake, he’s a Yorkshire terrier!

Rachel Courtney,
Brooklyn

The Sage of the "City
Hall District"

I would just like to point
out how talented I feel George Tabb is. His latest essay involving his boyhood
friends ("Oklahoma," 11/3) and the relationships they share with one
another and with their fathers had me not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Indeed,
I found myself doing both. Mr. Tabb, like other great American writers, has
a fine grasp of humanity, as well as a refreshingly raw sense of humor. Write
on, George.

Tom Howard,
Brooklyn

She Gets It
I look forward every week
to reading NYPress, particularly the writers who appear in "Taki’s
Top Drawer." Taki is always interesting, and I share his revulsion for
the Clintons (Any news on the Albright painting swindle?), the intense George
Szamuely (Innocent? Surely you jest) and the one I often save for last to savor,
the very witty and elegant Jim Holt.

This publication is a bizarre
mishmash where a fine page such as "Top Drawer," intelligent political
analysis (well, for the most part), serious criticism (Godfrey Cheshire comes
to mind), arresting gothic (The Collyer Brothers) and the wonderful John O’Sullivan
run alongside vulgarities I feel compelled to hide from our dog. (Sparky, no!)

Josée
Kestner, Manhattan

Three Men in a Tub
For quite a long time I’ve
been meaning to write you in praise of the excellent film writing in NYPress.
I recently finished a graduate degree in film studies and now work in the film
industry. The result of my background is that my passion for film combines a
desire for serious analysis with an attention to real-world concerns. White’s,
Cheshire’s and Zoller Seitz’s reviews come closest to embodying my
ideal of true criticism. They take film seriously, maintain voices and recognize
film as at once art, commerce, politics and many other things. I admire these
writers’ convictions as well as their critical flexibility. Unlike the
case with many other critics, one can’t predict their thoughts before one
reads their columns.

Thank you for fostering
this kind of writing and for respecting your readers.

Marie Guirgis, Manhattan

Chris, Cross
May I please be allowed to
respond to the letter from Richard Kramer ("The Mail," 10/13)? Your
heading "In Deutsche" should have read "In Deutsch," with
no "e" ending. Or to be more correct, "Auf Deutsche." In
many forms in German grammar, instead of the plural form’s ending in e/er/en,
the plural prefaces the noun when the noun has no plural ending. Thus, der
hakenkreuz
(swastika) becomes die hakenkreuz (swastikas). Meaning,
of course, hooked (hakem) and cross (kreuz)–hooked cross.

Trusting this clarifies
things.

Christopher
Close, United Kingdom

Not Jesse’s Camp
MUGGER: In your 10/27 column
you wrote of the nomination of Carol Moseley-Braun: "Clinton could’ve
nominated one of 100 other qualified public servants, black, white, yellow or
purple, and he or she would be rubber-stamped."

Then you mention William
Weld and how Helms refused to even bring the nomination to a vote. Obviously,
what you mean is that Clinton should nominate persons who are on Jesse Helms’
approved list.

Naturally he’d "rubber
stamp" appointments that are to his liking. However, Jesse Helms is not
president and has no business interjecting his personal bias into the confirmation
process. You "forgot" to mention that Helms’ beef with Moseley-Braun
centers on her resistance to the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a racist
organization, receiving official imprimatur to use the Stars and Bars on their
logo. Braun’s refusal to cave to these racists infuriated Helms, who is
expected to block her nomination out of personal pique.

Actually, this nomination
is a masterstroke. Helms could have dodged the bullet and proclaimed avuncularly
something like "The ex-Senator and I have had our differences, but I endorse
her for ambassador," were it not for the questionable baggage that Moseley-Braun
brings with her.

She is ethically challenged,
no question about that. What that means is that Helms is forced to reject her,
something that can and will be blamed on the Stars and Bars incident. It will
be a lot of fun watching this one play out. Let’s see if Jesse manages
to ward off this attack.

It won’t be easy, that’s
for sure. But that’s just fine with me. I hope that this nomination will
lead to the destruction of Jesse Helms as a political power. If Clinton plays
his cards right, there is a good chance of exposing this troglodyte and bringing
him down. I’m looking forward to Helms pounding the gavel and screaming
for "decorum," as he’s so fond of doing, while being chased around
and relentlessly branded a racist.

H. Fisher,
Los Angeles

Your Mother?
MUGGER: What I want to know
is, who’s putting the oats in your nosebag, you jackass? Reporters are
liars and idiots. Just because someone doesn’t buy into the spin politics
that sell your papers doesn’t mean he’s not genuine. I have an idea–why
don’t we decide to elect someone who can execute policy based on principle;
that way we can self-actualize our ideals, make policy we can actually believe
in and quit all this blamestorming. But wait–then you might actually have
to work for a living! (You know, I think I just answered my own question from
the top.)

Thanks for perpetuating
a cancerous system by weakly asserting that McCain, someone who is at least
trying to be sincere, is a bad person.

Your ability to complain
is unsurpassed. Congratulations!

John Kane,
Swedeland, PA

Soup Bones
God, what will Al Gore come
up with next to amuse us? ("MUGGER", 11/3). It seems pretty silly
to appeal to a birdbrain like Naomi Wolf for anything, but I suppose if that’s
what Gore wants to do, if he wants to go after the feminist birdbrain vote,
then it makes sense. I don’t even have a problem with their keeping it
a secret–at least they are sane enough to know that she’s an embarrassment.
(Wolf says the secrecy was her idea, but that is surely not the case, since
it implies that she is aware of how goofy she is.)

No, the part that’s
really screwy is the $15,000 a month they originally agreed to pay her. That
is a staggering amount–there are doctors and lawyers, highly educated people
who do real work who don’t make anywhere near that kind of money.
What on Earth do they expect to get from her that would justify that price tag?
I just can’t imagine. That’s really the kind of judgment that we need
in the Oval Office. On This Week last Sunday Wolf was repeatedly asked
to justify her high salary working with Gore. She offered the usual gibberish
about being in touch with women, which her hosts were clearly not buying, and
finally huffed, "As a professional woman I make more apologies for earning
a professional salary. And I don’t believe that any woman in America should
apologize for that." In other words, she has no answer.

Personally I’m all
for it, though. Let Gore piss away his resources on fruity consultants; it will
diminish his already small chances even further, while scaring off voters with
an eloquent demonstration of his unfitness for office. And I’d love to
see the reaction from all those suckers who put up the money for his campaign
when they see what Gore is doing with it.

Joe Rodrigue,
New Haven

Granite Hate
MUGGER: Just read your 11/3
McCain indictment. You really need to take a break for a while. You come off
as the embittered, supercynical honcho of the castrati chorus.

Have a good one.

Ted Leach,
Hancock, NH

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Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Posts.


Mr. Repsher begins his very
long piece on Bruce by informing us that he, Repsher, attended a recent
Springsteen concert in New Jersey, but makes no reference to any aspect of the
significance of these shows, i.e., the reunion of the E Street Band, the record-breaking
run they enjoyed, the overwhelmingly positive reactions of the sold-out crowds.
Instead, he dismisses Springsteen’s major career themes of darkness and
dreams and desperation as–and how’s this for a critically sophisticated
analysis?–"all this malarkey." This bit of brilliance is followed
by a claptrap session of navel self-contemplation best summed up by the single
word "DUH!" Mr. Repsher: "I wondered how I fit into all this"
(sic; the grammatical lapse here an ironic subjugation of the language to form-fit
concept into physical action–the very thing he accuses Bruce of trying
to do, but that’s another article–a real article. Very briefly, he
means into all of this, and then the question is, all of what? The malarkey?
The Continental Arena? Rock? His jeans?).

Like so many amateur music
critics–and God help us, there’s no shortage there–Mr. Repsher
glides oh so easily into his favorite (and only) subject, himself, and gives
us one of the dullest glimpses into a life utterly without interest to anyone
except, apparently, himself and your editors. Here is a load of such
mediocre horseshit fustian about his early days trying to make money in the
1980s, the same time he was fetishistically attaching his own lack of personality
onto the super soul of the Boss. But, ho, he then does an instant 180 and dismisses
Born in the U.S.A., one of the most compelling albums of its time, a
document that burst forth during the height of the disco domination of rock,
a statement about the long-simmering neuroses of the Vietnam War generation,
that finally put Bruce Springsteen, after a 13-year struggle to make a living
as an uncompromised rocker (no commercial endorsements, no commercial tour support),
at the top of mainstream charts. Mr. Repsher first admits to "being nuts"
about the album, and the Boss, until he confronts some fellow construction workers,
a couple of obviously low-witted, gay-bashing, highly insecure, angry and jealous
ignoramuses who respond to Mr. Repsher’s gushing lunchtime praise of Bruce
by telling him that Springsteen "…ain’t nothing but a million-dollar
faggot." This ignorant, hate-filled, ugly and troublesome statement is
followed by a bit of simplistically expressed rage: "He’s a millionaire.
And I bet he’s never worked a day in his life in a place like this…fuck
Bruce Springsteen…all that shit about darkness…" These comments by
his coworkers, according to Mr. Repsher, cause him to experience a critical
and emotional epiphany of sorts. In his own words, "a rude awakening."
What follows is something unfortunately stretched out over several hundred words
of mind-bogglingly boring prose, during which Mr. Repsher abandons Springsteen
entirely in favor of giving us the sad saga of his own nothing life. Finally,
Mr. Repsher brings us up to speed 12 years later, to let us know
his career, unlike Bruce’s, was so worthwhile, and, hey, even profitable.
Mr. Repsher: "I’ve floated from one low-level corporate job to
the next, writing all the while and making fairly good money." (God, I
hope those coworkers don’t get a hold of this. What ever will they think
of Mr. Repsher’s sexuality!) Wow, Bruce gets reamed for making money through
self-expression, but it’s okay for our hero, Mr. Working Man Repsher himself,
to justify his own career with a "fairly good money" pat on his own
back. Unbelievable! Finally, astonishingly, he winds up praising Springsteen
for "beating the system," the same evaluation that, 12 years
earlier, caused him to turn away from Bruce-in-the-USA.

I have to say, in all my
years of writing about rock ’n’ roll, and reading its followers forever
in search of the next great voice of critical insight and awareness, this dribble
of Mr. Repsher is about the absolute worst. When someone sets about to criticize
a concert, a career, a theme (all of which are approached and then abandoned
in this hodgepodge of self-indulgent pisspot of Me-ism), it’s often a good
idea to actually write about the subject, rather than the self. Otherwise, why
bother to put down the thoughts you’ve already had, and then, who else
should possibly care?

For the record, I wrote
a biography about Bruce Springsteen in 1993, working closely with his first
manager. It was called Down Thunder Road, and, in a development that
might shock Mr. Repsher, it was actually about Bruce Springsteen.

Memo to NYPress:
get some writers who can, you know, write, instead of incoherent self-important
boneheads who prefer to attach themselves to iconic figures in order to elevate
their own miserable, meaningless and anonymous lives. The icons, love or hate
them, deserved a little better than this.

Marc Eliot,
Manhattan

William Repsher replies:
I’m sorry you didn’t like my honest appraisals of my factory coworkers;
if you want, I can arrange for you to meet with a few of them so that you can
directly convey your heartfelt emotions to actual working-class people. Whom
do you think Springsteen is writing about in those songs?

As for your insulting blather,
it’s just another tribute to the maturity level of "established"
music critics. I’ll gladly accept being an "amateur" if "professionalism"
means writing letters like yours. Whether or not you’ve written a Springsteen
biography is irrelevant, and mentioning that you’ve done so only emphasizes
your obvious insecurities.

My piece was meant to be
a recollection of my working-class experiences. I didn’t set out to review
a concert, comment on Springsteen’s recent music (I still love his recordings,
by the way, and the recent show of his that I saw was one of the best live performances
I’ll ever see) or otherwise approximate the inane writing of obsequious
music critics like yourself, who wouldn’t know what a shovel was if they
were hit over the head with one.

Your closing sentence,
by the way, is a real winner. What exactly
do icons deserve? Maybe you
should treat Springsteen the way you treat me–it just might make you a
more interesting writer. You make a living at this? I might as well go back
to treating telephone poles.

Talkin’ NYPress
Blues

Mean Mr. MUGGER

Never shuts his trap

Writes a bunch of crap

And he wastes paper

It’s free by the side of the
road

The rag in which he blows his load

Ain’t no prince inside this
toad

Such a mean old man

Such a mean old man

His writer Amy

Just switched her john

She likes to cop

She’s a cock-teaser

Shows men things that they’ve
never seen

She’ll even suck then swallow
their cream

Always writing something obscene

Such a dirty little mind

Such a dirty little mind

Oh look out…

Name Withheld, Manhattan

Going Sub-Sohnic
My
condolences to MUGGER. How like a serpent’s sting it must be for that woman
Amy Sohn to leave NYPress for not the Village Voice, not The New York Times, but–worse–the New York Post! What a
joke! The once one-dimensional Ms. Sohn has surprised us all by being not only
a sexual slut in every sense of the word, but by transmogrifying into a career
whore as well. Good riddance, I say. Let the unwashed masses have her. The fit
will be good.

Serg Kravanovich,
Manhattan

Golden Shower
The
appropriate title for your pointless article "Don’t Call Me Nigger,
Whitey" ("Publishing," 9/1) is "Don’t Call Me Nigger,
Kike."

But of course NYPress
would never run a headline using the word "kike," even though the
newspaper finds it perfectly acceptable to use the "n" word without
any thought being given to it–just as do whites who fit the description
of "cracker," be they "kike crackers" or just "plain
ol’ crackers."

What trash your paper is.

P.P.W. Golden,
Manhattan

333 X 2
Let’s
see, I write a letter suggesting that the secretaries at NYPress are
the spawn of Satan, and the next week…my letter does not appear in "The
Mail" (9/8). Hmm.

There is, however, a love
note from Rebecca Davidge, who regrets only that she "can’t hear [me]
when [my] mouth is full of bullshit!" Such an eloquent young lady, my lovely
Rebecca. And what prompts such friendly sentiment? Merely my suggestion that
commuters contribute more to the prosperity of New York City than the cost of
services they consume and that, therefore, the commuter tax is bad policy.

Note, reader: My criticism
of the commuter tax is a matter of policy–issues–a subject
upon which liberals loudly insist they wish to debate their opponents. And so,
when one takes up the gauntlet of "issues," what is the reply? Profane
personal insult. Fairness, tolerance and civility are hallmarks of liberalism,
you see.

When I suggest that suburban
commuters who are the objects of the commuter tax are not criminals, Miss Davidge
responds with a completely irrelevant comment on the (so she says) verminous
denizens of the subway. But Miss Davidge must realize the "the city’s
petty criminals, drug dealers, gangsters and junkies" are the intended
beneficiaries of the revenue to be extracted from the pockets of the
suburban commuters who, apparently, are entering the city via some other mode
of transport. These subway thugs are the "poor" on whose behalf the
"Robin Hood" commuter tax wishes to take from the "rich"
suburbanite. To demean these poor people as undesirable riffraff hardly constitutes
an argument in favor of such a policy.

Miss Davidge also appears
to argue that successful black people do not wish to live in majority-white
communities. I say "appears" because she is so busy naysaying me that
she neglects to make any real arguments of her own. But federal housing policy
seems to be based on the idea that the well-being of black people is enhanced
by their moving to majority-white neighborhoods.

There are entire offices
of bureaucrats in the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development dedicated to ensuring
that black people who can afford homes in majority-white communities are not
denied the opportunity to purchase those homes. Other HUD bureaucrats are tasked
with implementing so-called "Section 8" policies that subsidize the
cost of housing in majority-white communities for inner-city blacks who otherwise
could not afford to move there. If black people have no desire to reside in
majority-white communities, then obviously HUD is just squandering the taxpayers’
money on such programs, which would not surprise me in the least, you understand,
as squandering money seems to be the raison d’etre for HUD. If Miss
Davidge is arguing, then, for the repeal of equal opportunity housing laws and
shutting down the Section 8 program, perhaps she should write to her congressman.
As it is, I am content to suppose that these policies, however misguided they
may be, are aimed at meeting the housing preferences of their targeted constituencies.

Miss Davidge writes, in
her peroration, that she will admit not knowing what the problem plaguing black
communities is, and wishes that I, too, would admit similar ignorance. But if
she would refer to my original letter, she would find I only argued that white
racism does not seem sufficient to fully account for all the problems of the
black community. This simple assertion is a long way from "blowing your
shit all over everybody," as Miss Davidge daintily asserts I have done.

What I was arguing against
was the tiresome mau-mauing of "race hustlers" (to borrow Thomas Sowell’s
apartment term) who have made racism the one-size-fits-all explanation for every
ill ever suffered by any "person of color" anywhere, any time in the
course of human history. This is exactly what causes Jack White to feel obligated
to call David Horowitz a "bigot" ("Publishing," 9/1). What
was Horowitz’s offense? He suggested that black criminals, rather than
gun manufacturers, are to blame for the high rate of black-on-black crime. In
doing so, Horowitz disagreed with the NAACP. Thus Horowitz committed two "racist"
sins: (a) suggesting that black people are responsible for their own actions;
and (b) criticizing a prominent black "civil rights" organization.
You can criticize Serbs or Texans or Catholics, but not the NAACP. One can freely
argue that the two teen killers at Columbine High School were autonomous individuals
who were responsible for their own actions, but to make the same arguments about
Colin Ferguson is "racist." Guess Horowitz was "blowing shit
all over everybody," too.

I am perfectly willing to
admit that I have no policy quick-fixes for what ails black America. But I am
absolutely certain that a continuation of the doomed liberalism of LBJ’s
"Great Society" is not the answer. Like Ronald Reagan said, government
isn’t the answer, government is the problem.

Come to think of it, the
clerical coven at NYPress did me a favor by trashing my last letter.
Please don’t ever print that letter. If the Rebecca Davidges of the world
are so disconcerted by ordinary conservatism, they would positively freak out
over my making an analogy between homosexuality and child prostitution. A clever
analogy, I thought, and funny in a sick, twisted South Park way, but
just so damned intolerant. Devil ladies of the typing pool, I thank you.

R.S. McCain,
Gaithersburg, MD

20,000 Make a Coat
RE:
E.P. Albertine’s and Mark Trares’ letters ("The Mail," 9/8).

Brian O’Hara is a pig,
and I highly disapprove of any sort of abuse of small, furry animals. However,
and I believe this strongly, it is time to grieve over this loss and move on.
These gerbils are now happily playing on Busy Wheels or running through tunnels
in Gerbil Heaven. I know it is upsetting, but at present it is a moot point.
Even a thousand angry, pain-wracked letters concerning the loss of these poor
innocents cannot bring them back. The gerbils are no more.

I know how you must feel.
I also have issues with the deliberate eradication of animals. I think it unfair,
for example, that this city has an obsession with destroying what are insensitively
termed "rodents." These creatures did not create the urban blight
that makes them the disease-infested, disgusting, dirty, child-biting, nightmarishly
voracious scavengers that they are today. And were it not for this urban blight,
I would happily let them scamper across my countertops or run among my canned
goods and major appliances, instead of setting down traps to snap their skinny
little necks–but you see the problem. And your gerbils, too, to return
to my earlier point, did not choose to be actors in Rock ’n’ Roll
Frankenstein
. Rather, they were kidnapped. Unlike the "latent thespian"
Mark Trares, they could not walk off the set or call their agents when they
found themselves trapped in a "bad contract."

I admire your love of animals
and it is nice to know that there are people out there who see the beauty of
God’s creation even in His smallest creatures; please do keep fighting
for the rights of animals. But for heaven’s sake, please choose your battles
very carefully. Right now you’re fighting for dead gerbils. What about
the plight of killer whales or Bengal tigers or even Alaskan salmon? They are
all still living, and I’m sure could use all the indignant letters you
could write. If you feel that you still need closure, perhaps you could take
up a collection fund to buy special "dead gerbil" effects for low-budget
filmmakers in order to avoid a repeat of this sort of catastrophe. Or maybe
make a nice memorial to their memories, or a little gerbil-related artwork to
purge your anger (little crosses constructed of their food pellets, and so forth).
There are many ways to commemorate the passing of loved ones; you must find
your own. But for now, I think that you’ve come to a stage in your grieving
that has surpassed the limited healing powers of an indignant letter to a struggling
filmmaker. Now I need to make a request of all gerbil lovers: Please do not
continue to write these silly letters. You are wasting your and everyone else’s
time. Brian O’Hara will not change and does not care what you think! I’m
sorry to yell, but sometimes one must be cruel to be kind.

Rebecca Davidge,
Brooklyn

Reply to Sender
I
feel the need to defend myself regarding a letter published in last week’s
NYPress ("The Mail," 9/8) in which I am called "pitifully
arrogant, sadistic and egotistical." Ouch! E.P. Albertine writes in that
letter that anyone who knows animals "knows and enjoys their compassion
and love." Reminds me of an uncle I had who liked to manually relieve his
basset hound of "hormonal tension," as he called it. Now, I’m
not accusing E.P. of being an advocate of handjobs for hound dogs. But I do
have to wonder where he/she draws the line regarding animal companionship.

As for my own culpability
in the deaths of gerbils during the making of Rock ’n’ Roll Frankenstein,
I’m reminded of an incident from the career of the late, great film director
Sam Peckinpah. In his film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid there was a
scene where live chickens buried neck-deep in the sand had their heads blown
off (in lovely slo-mo) by gunslingers engaging in a bit of target practice.
At the time, Peckinpah received quite a bit of flak for using real chickens
in that scene. His response was that he was going for realism, a sentiment I
can appreciate.

In the film I directed,
Roll ’n’ Roll Frankenstein, we have a scene in which a gerbil
gets his head bitten off. I was likewise striving for realism (and on a low
budget, your options are limited). Lest the reader think I’m the type of
person who as a youngster stuck firecrackers in frogs’ asses and blew ’em
up, I must state that I didn’t enjoy being a part of what happened to Gus
(we even named the furry little guy), but it was a case of the ends justifying
the means.

Since art (i.e., entertainment)
is a major factor in keeping people sane, I don’t think it’s that
big of a deal if from time to time an animal or two is sacrificed in the course
of creating that art. Consider the butchered bull (or was it a water buffalo?)
in Apocalypse Now, for instance. Of course, animal rights activists will
balk at this notion. But these are the same leaf-eaters who would rather let
a cure for cancer go unfound than sacrifice a few lab specimens.

Although as advanced homo
sapiens
we are no longer forced to hunt down and slaughter wildlife for
sustenance, we have found other uses for animals, and if they were capable of
cognition I’m sure they would understand their place in this scheme. And
oh yeah–we’re only talking about a gerbil here. Gimme a break.

Brian O’Hara,

R&R Productions, Manhattan

Wrestling in Sodom
R.S. McCain is a big crybaby.
In column after column, McCain spews out his vindictive hatred for gays, fornicators,
liberals, Madonna and anyone else who doesn’t fit into his idealized vision
of an ultra-conservative Christian society. But then when someone has the nerve
to criticize him and challenge his self-anointed omnipotence, he whines, acts
hurt and makes himself out to be a victim.

In his 9/1 letter, McCain
calls me intolerant. Apparently, in McCain-talk, those who speak out against
the bile and bigotry of the conservative right-winger hatemongers are themselves
labeled as intolerant. If that is the case, I wear McCain’s scorn as a
badge of honor. I guess that according to McCain’s definition, the Jews
in Nazi Germany were intolerant, since they dared to speak out against Hitler’s
murderous tyranny. We already know that McCain shares Hitler’s views on
homosexuality. I wonder where McCain stands on the Jewish Question.

McCain then whines that
"…[Dempsey] heaps odium upon myself and my children in a rancorous stream
of ad hominem insults…" Well, if McCain can’t take criticism, he
shouldn’t write essays for NYPress. No one forced him to publish
his articles in a public forum. If McCain doesn’t think that his extremist
views are likely to draw criticism, he needs to get out of his cave a little
more often (that’s probably the same cave where abortion clinic bomber/terrorist/murderer
Eric Rudolf is hiding). And as anyone who read my 8/25 letter knows, I did not
insult McCain’s children. I merely expressed to them my sympathy and pity
that life has dealt them the horrendous blow of having R.S. as a father.

The rest of McCain’s
letter is indecipherable. His rant deteriorates into the ultra-patriotic lingo
of the Republic of Texas separatists or the Montana Militiamen. McCain writes,
"But no lie lasts forever and no tyranny is permanent, so long as truth
lives in the hearts of men who love liberty." He continues, "Tell
us to make bricks with no straw, command the slaughter of our firstborn, force
us to hide in catacombs and communicate by the ikhthus. Nothing new.
Quarter your troops among us, levy new taxes upon us, disperse our assemblies,
overturn our laws, shoot us down in the streets. Nothing new." And then:
"And liberalism is doomed, Dempsey, doomed beyond hope of repair or salvage."
Huh? Tyranny? Bricks? Catacombs? Slaughter of your firstborn? Jeez, R.S., take
a chill pill. I think McCain must have spent too much time this summer watching
the Gaithersburg Theater Company’s revivals of 1776 and Godspell.
And it’s probably a good idea to lay off the History Channel until the
nightmares stop.

Truth be told, McCain’s
bravado-laced rant sounds like a 1970s Fantastic Four comic book. Of
course, I doubt McCain would ever let his children read the Fantastic Four,
since he’s surely convinced that the Human Torch is gay. After all, the
guy is always flying around screaming, "I’m flaming! I’m flaming!"
And by the way, since McCain seems so overly preoccupied with my reading list,
I hope he’ll make a note of my propensity for Reed Richards, Ben Grimm,
et al.

And concerning Joe Conason’s
9/1 "In Rotation" piece about the 1999 Million Youth March, and its
organizer, Harold Moore Jr. (these days, Moore goes by the name of Khalid Abdul
Muhammad. But considering that Moore is hateful and disrespectful to whites,
Jews and virtually anyone else who is not African-American, he does not deserve
the respect that comes with being addressed by his adopted name): Conason’s
description of Moore as a "reverse-racist" is too generous. A racist
is someone who hates a person or group of people solely because of their skin
color. By that definition, Harold Moore Jr. is not a reverse-racist; he is simply
a racist.

S. Dempsey,
Manhattan

Radical Cheep
Why
is there such an uproar over the release of the FALN terrorists? The U.S. tells
Israel to release Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Israelis. The U.S.
also tells England to release IRA members who have committed murder. And the
U.S. has even told China to release political prisoners, in addition to telling
other countries what to do.

So why shouldn’t the
U.S. release these terrorists after they’ve served longer sentences than
what the crime called for? After all, none of these particular terrorists were
charged with or convicted of murder. And they were only trying to gain freedom
for their country at a time when the U.S. was too arrogant to consider granting
it.

We demand that other countries
make friends of their enemies, yet our hearts are hardened against our own.
The times have changed, and it’s time to send these people back to their
homes. Besides, the FBI will keep a close look at them anyway–let them
go home!

Henry M. Valdes,
Ridgewood, NY

Mailbox

Written by None - Do not Delete on . Posted in Posts.


Dempsey does not refrain
even from mocking the Most High, writing of "the fantasy that there is
an old man with a white robe and a long beard who lives up high on a cloud and
determines what will happen to every person on Earth every minute of every day."
A false description of my beliefs. But still, Dempsey says that faith in God
is a "delusion" that he compares to believing in Superman, the Easter
Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, or even the Satanic evil that drove David Berkowitz
to commit the most notorious murder spree in your city’s recent history.

Such vehement blasphemy
is the sort of "civility" that the liberals urge upon us, you see.

Dempsey mocks that which
he knows not, attacking a cartoon parody of the Christian faith that in no way
resembles what Christians really believe. Understand this: If God exists, He
exists independent of human belief. You can scoff all you want and ridicule
those who believe in God. It does not harm them. Throw them to the lions, burn
them at the stake, ship them to the gulag, whatever. Others have done likewise.
But if God exists, your lack of belief and your persecution of believers will
have unpleasant consequences, either here or in the hereafter.

This is not about gun control,
and Dempsey knows it. Dempsey’s gun-control fantasy is but another manifestation
of what Allan Bloom called "The Nietzscheanization of the Left," in
yet another book Dempsey has never read, The Closing of the American Mind.
(Dempsey’s stubborn refusal to read good books is as impressive, in its
own way, as his hatred of God.) What Bloom saw more than 15 years ago, rising
up from the ashes of the new left’s failed peace-and-love utopia, was the
left’s newfound obsession with power for its own sake. The kids who once
sang of caring and brotherhood are now powerful grownups claiming that (their)
might makes (them) right. As the Bolshevik utopia gave way to Stalin’s
iron hand, so have the hippie-dippie peaceniks given way to the now-Stalinism
of Janet Reno and Madeleine Albright, supported by the propaganda ministries
of Ted Turner, Dan Rather, Michael Eisner and Larry Flynt.

So Dempsey wishes to disarm
the populace entirely, does he? This would make the subject…er, citizen
entirely dependent on the government for his safety, right? Just like Social
Security makes people dependent on the government for their retirement, and
Hillary wants to make us all dependent on government to provide our medical
care. To make us all into dependents of the State, in other words, so that we
may beg to kiss the hand of those who would enslave us. That a nation founded
by free men like Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, James Otis and George Washington
should degenerate into such a worthless mob of fawning, servile cowards…

Ah, but I console myself
to think how Khrushchev pounded his shoe and shouted that "we will bury
you," while his American apologists celebrated the triumph of the "agrarian
reformer" in China and advocated the causes of such benefactors of mankind
as Ho Chi Minh and Fidel Castro.

Yes, Dempsey, your hateful
ideology may triumph at the next election or the next or the next. We may yet
be ruled by such ruthless despots as Al Gore, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt.
But no lie lasts forever and no tyranny is permanent, so long as truth lives
in the hearts of men who love liberty.

Go ahead and gloat at your
short-term gains, Dempsey. Fill your heart with all the hatred it can hold and
puff yourself up with the arrogance of power. Enjoy it. Tell us to make bricks
with no straw, command the slaughter of our firstborn, force us to hide in catacombs
and communicate by the ikhthus. Nothing new. Quarter your troops among
us, levy new taxes upon us, disperse our assemblies, overturn our laws, shoot
us down in the streets. Nothing new.

But know this, Dempsey:
You reap what you sow. Justice will not sleep forever. There will come a time
when your lies and hatred are studied only as an historical curiosity, like
the nonsense in those old copies of The Daily Worker gathering dust in
some dark library basement. But centuries elapsed between the death of Julius
Caesar and the collapse of the Empire, and the barbarians did not overrun the
frontiers with pamphlets and capture Rome by deploying debating societies. It
was not reason or persuasion that toppled Hitler, but bombs and tanks and artillery.

The reign of so-called liberalism
(coercion by judicial fiat is not "liberalism") in America may end
sooner or it may end later, and it may end peacefully or otherwise, but it
will end.
Who knows what horrors liberalism may inspire between now and
then, or whether it will last 10 years or 10,000, or whether the current evil
may not give way to even worse? It will behoove the devotees of a doomed and
dying empire to heap scorn and venom upon their adversaries.

And liberalism is doomed,
Dempsey, doomed beyond hope of repair or salvage. The invisible hand has already
writ its fateful message: Mene, mene, tekel upharsin.

Be nice to those Medes and
Persians, my Babylonian friend.

R.S. McCain,
Gaithersburg, MD

The Stump ’n’
Muggsy Show

MUGGER: Just wanted to take
the time to let you know that I and most of my friends think you are just awesome
with your handling of editorial subjects. Thanks, and keep up the great work.
They call me "Stump" and I ride for those who can’t (POW-MIA).
Our slogan is "never forget." Check out http://www.rftw.org. We are
a loosely organized group of veterans working for a cause to bring accountability
for our missing and unaccounted-for military men and women. Again, thank you
for your articulate point of view.

Stump, Gardnerville,
NV

Exit Light
MUGGER:
I completely agree with your assessment of the idiotic Alan Dershowitz (8/25).
It says something about the media that he actually gets air time.

However, I do think that
you ought to check the ratings of Imus versus Stern among listeners who actually
vote. Probably no way to check for sure but I’ll bet that 1/2 to 3/4 of
Stern’s audience rarely votes.

Also, take it easy on Mike
Barnicle. All he did was fail to give attribution on some George Carlin jokes
that weren’t even that funny. Believe or not, there were some of us who
are "boomers" who didn’t smoke dope in the 60s, and you know
what, it might even have been the majority of us. Hard though it may be to believe,
some of us thought that Dylan was a poetic but lousy singer and that Phil Ochs
was pretty much like Cobain–a guy a little off the deep end who also killed
himself. Granted, I agree that Barnicle’s line about "good sense to
kill himself" is totally uncalled for but, MUGGER, you have got to explain
how you can possibly label Kurt Cobain "an immensely influential man."

Lastly, I know and to some
extent have listened to about 3/4 of the artists on Spin’s list
(and the voter poll list), but the only album out of the group I listen to regularly
is Metallica (aka the Black Album). "Enter Sandman" is a classic.
Name me the albums on this list that you still listen to regularly. I’ll
bet it’s a relatively short list and I suspect that Courtney and Hole aren’t
on it, right?

Steve Hume,
Canton, MI

..