By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
As a sculptor and animator, I was thrilled by David O'Keefe's clay sculpture work of President Clinton on the cover of the September 22 Voice. His caricature of the president's face made of naked women in various positions was a great visual trick--the best Clinton cover I have seen.
John Norwood Jr.
E-Wrecked In Washington
Richard Goldstein, in his article "Sexual McCarthyism" [September 29], exposes the hollowness of the Lewinsky imbroglio when he writes, "The perception that the red-blooded male has been dethroned is as powerful today as was the fear in the '50s that America was losing its power in the world."
It staggers the mind to think that the hypocrites on the Hill consider that dropping bombs on the Sudan or gassing mentally retarded criminals is morally sound, but are outraged at a few sexual encounters between consenting adults. Clinton ignored a genocide in Rwanda, and a dress stain has become the emblem of his administration's degeneracy. Common sense is on vacation in Washington.
I'm not sure I agree with Goldstein that Clinton has revealed himself to be "the ultimate premodern pig." Clinton's greatest crime seems to have been his lack of manliness: his dithering, his wimpiness about the affair (and his objet d'affection, Monica, is no Marilyn). The details of the affair as they were dumped on us via Internet and cable didn't seem robust and heady, JFK-style. They were merely pathetic. Starr's report didn't titillate; it made you groan.
I wonder if the adulterous McCarthyites--Hyde, Chenoweth, Burton--whom Jason Vest, speaks of in "House of Hypocrites," in the same issue, aren't projecting their own sexual discomfort onto Clinton in an attempt to purge themselves of sin. It won't work; impeachment won't provide purification. Perhaps when considering the stain, they ought instead reflect on the wisdom of Julian of Eclanum, a Pelagian bishop who opposed Augustine's notion of sex as inherently sinful: "God...gave power to the semen, and operates in the nature of the semen, and God made nothing evil."
Seeds Of Trouble
I find it rather curious that in his article "Sexual McCarthyism," Richard Goldstein left out Bill Clinton's own contributions to these witch hunts. In firing Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders for the crime of advocating masturbation, President Clinton has helped sow what he has reaped.
Hair braiding, be it cornrows, box braids, or any other form, is our African heritage. It is passed down from generation to generation, and is not something that can be taught at cosmetology school. Our ancestors, men included, wore their hair in beautiful braids. I learned to braid from my mother, and my mother learned from her mother. The next thing you know, Hasidic Jews will need licenses for their curls.
In Gary Indiana's interesting review of Mike Davis's Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster ["City of Blights," September 15], he writes, "The more white-flight communities encroaching on 'wilderness,' the more cougars, mountain lions, and coyotes roaming suburban back yards."
Yes, Gary, but don't forget to mention all the pumas, panthers, catamounts and long-tailed cats as well!
Marc B. Fried
Gardiner, New York
Conspiracy of Silence
In James Ridgeway's rant about conspiracy theories ["Paranoia Runs Deep," September 22], he refers to believers who wake up and smell the coffee as "buffs" and "fringe" types.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to smell out conspiracies, major or minor. Only a wide-eyed Pollyanna would see the activities of Kenneth Starr and his cronies as a search for truth and justice. Sure, there are valid and invalid theories; it just involves doing some real research to separate the two.
People in high places seldom do things in the open. Dismissing conspiracy theories, as the majority of the Fourth Estate has done for years, results in their own conspiracy: a conspiracy of silence.
Re James Ridgeway's "Paranoia Runs Deep": In his analysis of the crash of United Airlines Flight 553, Ridgeway reports that the pilot's body "had significant amounts of cyanide in the blood." Then, he cites three government investigations--one conducted by the FBI--that all found that the crash was an accident (even though the wife of E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate burglar, was suspiciously on board).
As a nurse, I can tell you that cyanide is not supposed to be in the blood--in any amount. If there were even traces of cyanide, and the black box was missing, that would be a damned good indicator to me that the plane was sabotaged.
We all know what Nixon was about. He was capable of the Watergate crimes; why not arranging murder or airline sabotage?
Allen St. Jphn hails Mark McGwire as the winner in St. John's staged competition between baseball's great home run hitters ["Swinging Sixties," September 22]. However, he gets some of the facts of Babe Ruth's career incorrect.
St. John states that Ruth broke his own single-season home run record twice. Actually, Ruth topped his own record three times. He broke the existing record in 1919 when he hit 29 for the Red Sox. He broke that in 1920 with 54 home runs at the Polo Grounds for the Yankees, and he hit 59 the following year in the same park. In 1927, he hit 60 to break his record for the third time.
It's true, as St. John states, that Roger Maris's record of 61 stood for 37 years, three years longer than Ruth's record. However, Ruth did hold the record consecutively from 1919 to 1961--five years longer than Maris--while he continued to surpass his own record.
Regardless of records, Ruth was so far ahead of his contemporaries that it's absurd to compare him with today's sluggers.
Endwell, New York
Thanks to Allen St. John ["Swinging Sixties"] for mentioning Josh Gibson, the Negro Leagues player who hit 84 homers in 1936. Many people are unaware that some of the greatest ballplayers, including Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson, started in the Negro Leagues.
The Republicans, instead of fulfilling the business of government, are engaged in a coup d'etat. We can have fewer Republican senators around to cast possible impeachment votes by canning politicians like Al D'Amato. Vote Democratic this year. Don't allow the Republican coup. It is a far worse crime than Clinton's indiscretions.
Unlike the people who drone on about how tired they are of the coverage of the Clinton scandal, Christmas has come early for me. I get to see Clinton looking sleazy and pathetic, and his supporters debasing themselves trying to defend him. It's the greatest revenge to see your enemies make themselves look ridiculous.
Rocky Point, New York
Re J. Hoberman's September 22 article about the late Akira Kurosawa: Kurosawa deserved a little more column space in a publication like The Village Voice, which, after all, nearly created modern American film criticism.
To discuss Kurosawa without mentioning films he made after 1962 is unfair to film history. Even a short article might mention that the director made some of his boldest and most controversial films at a time when many other filmmakers would have rested on their laurels. Kurosawa's command of color, as displayed first in Do Des-Kaden, and stunningly showcased in Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, and Dreams, also merits some mention. Sadly, this was a lightweight eulogy to the greatest postwar heavyweight.
Guy Trebay's "The Hate Report" [September 29] was disturbing as well as enlightening. What will it take for New Yorkers to disabuse themselves of the notion that they are, in the words of city comptroller Alan Hevesi, living in "the most tolerant city in the world"? The fact is that bias crime is as accepted in New York City as it is in far less cosmopolitan cities.
Another question prompted by Trebay's article is, when will New Yorkers stop turning to City Hall for answers? While petitioning the mayor and the police is one avenue of response, the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered communities must realize that other alternatives are available.
Community patrols are another answer. Certainly, such groups have been organized and achieved results here as well as other cities. When I lived in Seattle in the early '90s, an organization called Q Patrol was formed in response to a rising awareness of hate crimes that weren't being satisfactorily addressed by the police or the mayor. They patrolled the streets of Capitol Hill, the largely gay neighborhood, wearing T-shirts that read "Queers Bash Back." This seemed to be an effective deterrent to hate crimes, and people felt safer having them on the streets. If nothing else, they raised visibility of the queer community's refusal to accept violence as the cost of being out.
Sometimes in a city as big as New York, it's hard to remember that the streets belong to us, the city's inhabitants, and we have as much of a right to safe streets as do the tourists flocking to the new Times Square.
Allen St. John's U.S. Open coverage ["Closing the Open," September 22] offered some good observations--the most stellar being that CBS should "give Super Saturday a rest" and allow tennis coverage by a "network that's interested in broadcasting tennis rather than providing a digestif to the one o'clock NFL game."
However, I take issue with St. John's analysis of the Patrick Rafter/Pete Sampras semifinal. I agree that if Sampras had not pulled up lame, he would've won the match, but characterizing Rafter's win as "hollow" strikes me as ignorant. Suggesting that the lame Sampras "wouldn't have lasted two games against Serena Williams," even though Sampras "hung on for 90 minutes against Rafter," is the kind of hyperbole that's frustrating to read.
Consider the match between Sampras and Alex Corretja a few years ago, and you will realize that Sampras is capable of playing with an injury and that it is difficult to close out a match when one is aware of his opponent's injury. Rafter still had to play well to win, and he easily defended his title in the finals, something that I think St. John should have alluded to, especially since commentator John McEnroe dubbed Rafter a one-slam wonder.
Lower East Side Festival
A festival celebrating the cultural richness and activist traditions of the Lower East Side will be held at Sara Roosevelt Park on Sunday, October 4, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be exhibits, workshops, and live entertainment. For further information, call 212-420-9045.