By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Although I loved "The 1998 Wacko Awards" [November 24], one landed flat. William Bastone's inclusion of Norman Rosenbaum, brother of Crown Heights murder victim Yankel Rosenbaum, was truly off the mark. If anyone deserves a Wacko in this regard, it's the New York Republicans, who used the Rosenbaum family's genuine grief as a campaign device.
After reading your politically bigoted Wacko Awards, I'm glad I don't live where you scumbags live. Most of America hates New Yorkers' guts, and reading your paper shows why. Go fuck yourselves!
Los Angeles, California
What the hell is Jerry Saltz talking about in his review of Kara Walker's confrontational paper cutouts ["Making the Cut," November 24]?
In citing reasons for the black brouhaha over Walker's work, Saltz writes, "The pain of racism is so big and Walker's world so ambiguous and so devoid of the good-old sinless black victim: the passive, sexless Christian Negro."
The good-old sexless Negro victim?
The Negro's been groped and manhandled from the day the white man yanked him in chains out of Africa. Didn't we just learn that lesson from Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson's young play-slave?
Perhaps the description applies to Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammie in Gone With the Wind. Every other slim young thing was deep-throating Massa in the fields with a knife at her neck.
Princeton, New Jersey
Lisa Jones's article about The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer ["Slave TV," November 10] was wholly misguided.
Ms. Jones calls the show "irresponsible," warning us that since it depicts a peaceful, "fairytale" South instead of the gross realities of slavery, young viewers can be expected to be deeply harmed or confused about it all.
Jones informs us her great-great-grandmother was a former slave and the idea of Granny alongside Desmond, the black character in Pfeiffer, "makes her teeth grind." Perhaps Ms. Jones would feel less stressed if her great-great-grandmother were standing alongside the Wayans brothers during one of their send-ups of slavery.
Teeth a-grinding, Ms. Jones explains that it really isn't that the show has offensive things in it about slavery, but that it leaves slavery out altogether-and that such a thing is not only racist, but proves that the show actually was about slavery, even if it wasn't.
Jones merely repeats the arguments that many in the black community have voiced. I know; I'm black, and I've been getting an earful of it. They tell me the show is racist. I watch it, laugh, and say to myself, what in the world is Jesse Jackson talking about?
St. Croix, Virgin Islands
Edmund Lee used the recent report on DNA findings that Thomas Jefferson had fathered at least one child with Sally Hemings as the basis for questions in his November 17 Mad on the Street column about dating. What occurred between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings was not dating. Hemings was his property. There's not a lot of choice there.
The use of women for sexual purposes during slavery wasn't rare. If Jefferson treated Hemings gently, it is to his credit. But for Lee to start a poll on interracial dating with a reference to this relationship insults the memory of women who were born into slavery.
It was with some dismay that I read Michael Feingold's review of the current production of Pericles at the Public ["Pick a Rescue," November 24]. On the subject of picaresque drama, the author reveals himself as a producer as well as a critic. The description of Jay Goede's mercifully restrained performance as having "the inner conviction of a shirt ad" left me with a wry grimace. How touching that the Voice Gold Standard for performing Shakespeare is conviction. Does that mean that we should clap our hands and hope Tinker Bell shows up every time we don't believe?
Michael Feingold replies: Well, no, but if we don't clap our hands and believe, Peter Pan sure is a big yawn to sit through.
For 25 years, Richard Goldstein has forced us to take a deeper look at graffiti with articles such as "New York (Old) School" [November 17], in which graffitist Case 2 explores the works of Jackson Pollock.
Goldstein is one of the most important supporters our controversial movement has ever had. Since subway and street graffiti first appeared in 1970, the city has engaged in a war against this "plague." Graffiti has been used by public officials as both scapegoat and smoke screen, with varying degrees of success. After 28 years and millions of dollars spent combating graffiti, the city has never attempted any dialogue with graffitists. Are we inaccessible? Hardly, if Case 2 spoke to the Voice. Maybe it's our "feeble minds," as a New York Times editorial once put it, that deters the city from communicating with us.
Graffitists are not dangerous criminals; they're disenfranchised kids and, more importantly, developing artists. Graffiti is a youth movement: art designed by young people for young people. If it doesn't speak to you, that's because it's not trying to.
Art critics look at Pollock, and not Case, because he and other such artists are part of a "reality" that is politically fabricated and media-fed. Those of us who are willing to see with our own eyes-not those of The New York Times-know there's a lot more to the picture.