By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
So Sweet and Low
Re Dennis Lim's review of Patch Adams in "Licensed To Ill" [December 29]: Oh dear Movie Critic, are you bitter? This is what the low, low ends of the Hell Curve will say. But my bitterness for the moment is silenced by the sweet, sweet sounds of your review. I laughed till I cried. That is something Robin Williams has never succeeded in doing for me. Despite his viliant attempts (spelling intentional due to rage), I have been completely horrified by the man since I was 21 and stuck with my "peers" watching Dead Poets Society in a university movie theater. I wanted to first kill and then perhaps bludgeon Mr. Williams while my peers wept gratefully and chanted "carpe diem" and figuratively and perhaps literally proceeded to wet their pants in tribute to the wonder of it all.
But back then it was a lonely ride, for no one had discovered the horror. Just want to drop a note telling you how magnificent your review was, and to invite you to lunch. I will be wearing an enema bulb for your pleasure.
I was horrified to come across Solomon's critique of the moving play Zise Khaloymes. The content of the play will keep a new audience away from this production, she says, but I couldn't disagree more. Rather, it is sour reviews such as hers that will do the job.
Specifically, Solomon criticized the "shmaltz"-iness of the genre and referred to the play's idyllic references to Israel as troubling and foreign to a less Israel-centered contemporary audience. But she really sells the younger generation short.
Three generations of Jewish left-wingers in my family enjoyed this play together. As you're supposed to do throughout what Solomon derides as the "shtick" and "shmaltz" of Yiddish theatre, we laughed and cried. It is musical entertainment about a second-generation Holocaust survivor's relationship with her mother and the past, and the ongoing discontent that affects many second generationers. This is a contemporary theme; indeed Yiddish theater need not rely on nostalgia, as Solomon suggests.
As for the Israel critique, a contemporary Jewish audience can easily understand a child of survivors' need to feel safety and acceptance even while s/he is aware of Israel's current problems.
I'd recommend that Voice readers go and judge for themselves.
I was glad to see an article focusing on gender issues and AIDS, especially in West Africa, where I spent a month traveling in 1995 ["The Deadly Gender Gap," January 5]. During my visit, I was shocked by the animal-like treatment of women by men in the villages of Mali. When I was in the company of men, no women were allowed to join the conversation or even speak unless one of the men commanded it. Women were either working in the corn or millet fields with babies on their backs under the sub-Saharan sun, or cooking and cleaning, while the men often lounged around the village telling stories. The slavelike powerlessness that women experience in countries like Mali are truly human rights violations and should not be viewed as just dynamics of culture.
Guy Trebay's article ["Bother From Another Planet," January 12] on the holiday "alien invasion" of tourists carried a sting worse than Manhattan's crappy-ass arctic winds blowing against my Southern hide. I walked Gotham's streets in happy ignorance this season and I don't think Trebay realizes how important tourists like me are to the ambience that is New York City! We give y'all the luxury of feeling so pompous.
I've been a reader of The Village Voice for 25 years, but with the appearance of the article "The Hate That Makes Men Straight" [December 22] I'm reluctant to ever pick up a copy again. Richard Goldstein's disdain for those different from himself, in this case heterosexual men, shows evidence of a mind overtaken by bigotry and sadly deteriorating into a right-wing-like bitterness.
It's disgraceful that The Village Voice would publish and then highlight his diatribe on its cover.
Richard Goldstein replies: It's not heterosexuality I abjure but the system of straight-male dominance that has nothing to do with loving women and everything to do with policing homosexual desire.
In the important article, "The Hate That Makes Men Straight," Richard Goldstein writes that in the early 1970s the "APA dropped its diagnosis of homosexuality as an illness." First, it is important to clarify that. Although most of his article was about the American Psychoanalytic Association, it is a larger and more powerful APA the American Psychiatric Association which claimed in the early '70s that homosexuality was no longer a mental disorder.
The shocking truth is that, contrary to that APA's public claims, when the next edition of its bible of mental disorders was published, it still contained "ego-dystonic homosexuality," which simply means not being fully comfortable with one's homosexuality. It is close to if not impossible to grow up lesbian or gay in a homophobic society and be totally comfortable with one's sexual orientation. Thus did the APA pathologize the effects of bias and oppression. In the subsequent now current edition of the manual, published in 1994, one still finds "sexual perversion," which therapists are free to interpret as they choose, potentially including any sexuality they decide is sick.