By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
After reading Grace Bastidas's article "Savings and Groans" [April 20], I asked myself, "Has it come to this?" A left-wing workhorse like The Village Voice printing financial advice to invest in companies that have "withstood the test of time, like Coca-Cola, DuPont, and Exxon." Welcome to the very, very late '90s.
C.Carr and comic Lisa Kron, the subject of her article "Shoah Business" April 20], seem to hold Art Spiegelman's illustrated novel Maus in high esteem. The book has merit, but is by no means universally acclaimed. While movingly telling the story of the author's father's survival of the Holocaust, Spiegelman's "humble masterpiece" contains crude racist imagery in its depiction of Polish characters, who are portrayed as (mostly hateful) pigs. Spiegelman's lack of sensitivity to Polish suffering and to the decades-long psychological abuse of Polish Americans in the form of racist jokes detracts from an otherwise poignant piece of literature.
Word to the Unwired
As a recent college graduate, the first thing I learned was that if you're not wired, you miss the latest developments. The older guys in the office laugh at kids who constantly check pagers and flash cell phones, but these crucial pieces of hardware are key components to climbing the corporate ladder of the future.
A piece of advice to my elders: get connected or get out of the way.
Birds of a Feather
After reading Peter Noel's "Father of the Movement" [April 6], I'll take Al Sharpton, hair and all, over zero tolerance any day. His handling of the die-nigger-die shooting of Amadou Diallo is a testament to the memory of Thurgood Marshall. Sometimes it seems like Giuliani and Safir would like to reinstate Jim Crow.
Man Needs a Plan
I've been following Peter Noel's articles on black leaders and black organizations for a little over five years now, and I have to say that I respect his work. However, I question his fascination with Minister Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Khallid Muhammad, organizer of the Million Youth March.
Though the Nation of Islam has a respectable following, it no longer has the same powerful attraction that it did prior to the Million Man March in 1995. The black community respects the Muslims, because they have a genuine concern for black people. Nevertheless, they are an organization whose ultimate responsibility is to look after its membership.
The Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan dropped the ball when the time came to formulate a progressive national agenda for black people after the Million Man March. Though I respect Minister Farrakhan's powerful speeches, he's a preacherno more, no less. Both Farrakhan and Khallid avoid strategic, concrete solutions and repeat generalized statements (i.e., blacks need to own businesses). I am all for moral cleansing and spiritual awakening, but what are the plans?
Wayne Barrett's Citystate column headlined "Mayor Pander" [April 20] left me feeling that Barrett would prefer it if Staten Island just paid its taxes and got nothing in return. Mayor Giuliani isn't pandering to Staten Island. He is givingto a borough that has long been ignored.
Despite our having "free ferry rides," this wonderful means of transportation runs only once an hour at certain times. The only other choice is an express bus that costs twice as much as trains connecting the other four boroughs. It runs on a limited schedule, and not at all overnight or on Sundays.
If Rudy Giuliani is giving Staten Island a baseball team, it might be so people from all boroughs can come to the games and not worry about being in a high crime area such as the South Bronx. We welcome other New York denizens to our home borough to enjoy the games. Just make sure to set aside a few extra hours for the trip out here, especially on Sundays.
Crisis in the Country
Compliments TO Karen Houppert for her excellent article "Crisis in Family Court" [April 20]. As an assistant public defender in West Virginia, I see many of the same problems here that Houppert described in the Manhattan system.
There are few other proceedings that have more potential for political abuse and grandstanding than child-custody hearings. Parents are usually at a disadvantage, and underqualified social workers are often called upon to give testimony in areas in which they have no expertise. In West Virginia, if a client is indigent, he or she must avail themselves of free counseling services, which often are provided by counselors who work hand in hand with the state. There is no confidential relationship between counselors and parents.
Clearly, reforms are needed to provide a just and fair system in which the needs of children and parents are met. A good place to start would be educating judges that sometimes it is in the best interests of parents and children to provide reasonable reunification services before terminating parental rights.