By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Cynthia Cotts, in Press Clips last week, implied that my criticism of Carol Felsenthal's Citizen Newhouse, in the November 30 New York Observer, was a calculated effort to obtain employment with Condé Nast as an "associate editor at Details, or contract writer for Vogue." That's pure nonsense. My review contained sharp criticism of S.I. Newhouse in general and Details in particular, and I argued that Felsenthal's trashy celebrity biography was vastly inferior to Thomas Maier's superb Newhouse.
In the same week that powerful sectors of the press joined forces with Tom DeLay, it's odd that the Voice's new media critic devoted more than half of her column to a defense of a fourth-rate book. With the mob at Clinton's door, Cotts's predecessors Alexander Cockburn, Geoffrey Stokes, Doug Ireland, and James Ledbetter would have used every inch of the Press Clips column to assail the puritans who inhabit all the newspapers and TV networks. Likewise, one suspects that they would have excoriated the press lords whose deference to the Republican Party and the Christian Right is more apparent with each passing day. This is a dubious beginning for the Voice's new media critic.
Cynthia Cotts disparagingly referred to Seven Stories Press as "lowly" in last week's Press Clips. Why "lowly"? Because they are based in lower Manhattan, not in a posh midtown tower? In addition to publishing my book, they have just unveiled Trips, the hippest guide to psychedelic drugs ever released a volume that just may be smokable like those banana skins of yore. Perhaps they are higher than you think.
Re Michael Atkinson's "Psycho-a-Go-Go" [December 22]: The antiPsycho remake review is already a cliché. Doesn't anyone sense a nudge and a wink when Gus Van Sant, America's most successful gay director, casts openly gay actress Anne Heche in a role where she is brutally murdered by the epitome of this year's revival of '50s hetero-machismo chic, Vince Vaughn?
How wonderfully queer it is to see these players remaking a film from a time when homosexuality equaled mental disorder, when queer meant psycho. A killer in drag was a Cold War nightmare. Why can't anyone see Van Sant's lovely "retread" as delicious irony?
Yoko Oh No
Sutton's cartoon was an attack on one of our city's greatest counterculture heroines. I thought The Village Voice respected Yoko as one of the original pioneers of the funky New York art scene. Didn't Kyle Gann praise her as "The Inventor of Downtown" in 1992?
As for the Lennon anthology: it is not the throwaway material Sutton implies. And Yoko's merchandising of the Lennon estate has been minimal.
Re Judith Coburn's "Up Against the Wall," [December 8]: I applaud Hocus Focus's noble expeditions to undermine and expose the true colors of Apple's ad campaign that uses cultural icons as "hucksters" for its products. I'm glad someone is fighting the good fight.
Apple's use of the images of John Lennon and the Dalai Lama may be clever and alluring, but it is mere exploitation to increase profits.
Bruce In A Box
Evelyn McDonnell writes in her review of Bruce Springsteen's new box set, Tracks, that "By setting one of his most scathingly critical lyrics to a ridiculously punchy chorus, the only popular artist who actively contradicted Reagan's sunny-morning-in-America routine became part and parcel of it. With 'Born in the U.S.A.,' Springsteen became a symbol of megastardom, of '80s success excess, the rock concert turned Super Bowl" ["The Ghost of Bruce Springsteen," December 15].
The fantastic collision of rage, confusion, and vitality present in "Born in the U.S.A." could not have been expressed in a sad, weepy ballad. It is precisely the musical arrangement that brings the lyrics to life.
It is sadly true that the jubilant sound of "Born in the U.S.A." enabled George Bush and the Republicans to pervert it into a campaign theme. However, Springsteen went out of his way to counteract this misappropriation of his music by releasing the single "War," which was unambiguously anti- "sunny-morning-in-America."
Furthermore, Springsteen has scrupulously avoided the pitfalls of '80s-style superstardom. While fellow '80s alumni such as Michael Jackson and U2 have made fools of themselves chasing larger audiences, Springsteen has shunned stadium crowds. The themes of his most recent albums disillusioned romance, personal probing along with his discovery of a new disenfranchised class of Americans, are hardly crowd-pleasing topics.
In Toni Schlesinger's Money column [December 15], she quotes her subject, Emily Prawda: "I go up to counters and say my skin is dry, do you have anything I can take with me and sample and then I'll come back and buy the bigger size? Then I'll walk down to Saks and Lord & Taylor and do the same thing."