By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Upon release, prisoners of supermax facilities will be considerably more damaged than they were when they were first incarcerated, and will have real reasons to be angry at the world.
Kudos to Ed Morales for his article "Uno Step Beyond" [May 25] about the canonization of Ricky Martin, who is hardly doing anything that could be called new. Being a gringo who has lived in Mexico City for three years, I have been exposed to a wealth of Latin music. Though I agree with Morales on several counts, I thought he would dig beyond the usual suspects: Café Tacuba, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, and Maldita Vencindad.
Though these are vanguard groups, there are quite a few more worth checking out. Los de Abajo from Mexico City put on a very energetic show of Latin ska. From Venezuela, Los Amigos Invisibles produce a lively mix of disco-revival, club,and funk. Jarabe de Palo, from Spain, does blues-infused folk-rock. Los Tres from Chile are completely ignored in the U.S. except, ironically, by MTV, which featured them on a Latin edition of Unplugged two years ago.
Mexico City, Mexico
Ed Morales replies: Three years before you left for Mexico, I went there to write a five-page story about Rock en Español for theVoice, which featured early interviews with Maldita, Café Tacuba, and Caifanes. Los de Abajo were discussed in a previousVoice review I did on Ozomatli. The other three acts you mentioned, Los Amigos Invisibles, Jarabe de Palo, and Los Tres, are non-ska bands and therefore did not fit this article's theme.
Just wanted to let Douglas Wolk know that the version of "Heard it Through the Grapevine" by the Crust Brothers, a/k/a Silkworm, was sung by Tim Midgett of Silkworm, not Steve Malkmus of Pavement, as he incorrectly stated in his May 25 article ["My High Guy"].
I know that Midgett is not quite the celebrity Malkmus is, so the piece might have lacked a certain je ne sais quoi had Wolk actually looked into it to any appropriate degree (damn those bootlegs and their lack of liner notes). If you are going to determine a "Grapevine" hero, please endeavor to put the laurel on the correct head.
Re "Keely Sings Sinatra," [Will Friedwald, May 4]: I couldn't agree more. In an age of pseudo-tributes, Keely Smith is the genuine article. The assured, clear delivery of her bronzed alto has long been a cherished staple in American music. Her Capitol albums Politely and Swinging Prettyremain outstanding gems in the golden-age archives of great albums devoted to pop standards. The only mystery is why this great artist has not been recorded more frequently during the last 20 years! Judging from a relatively recent appearance at Long Island's Westbury Music Fair, Ms. Smith's voice remains in exquisite condition. Singers of this caliber are a rare commodity indeed!
Late White Way
When I was 12 my parents took me to the West Virginia Mountaineer Dinner Theatre's production of Fiddler on the Roof. There were 13 actors. My mom and dad and I ate pulled pork and hushpuppies while the funny fat Jewish man made big faces and shook his belly. Late in the play, he sang a sad and sweet song about his little Chavaleh. Chavaleh danced under a couple of blue lights next to the buffet. Then a good-looking Russian boy joined her and Chava said "Papa, I beg you to accept us." When Tevye's response came, my skin turned hot.
In that moment, I knew that musical theater would be my life's work. I listened to every cast album I could find, and I studied the holy rites of dance, acting, and singing. I spent many long years practicing my art. My passion was unrelenting.
Twenty-two years later I am leaving the industry. Turns out the Great White Way has no room for the likes of me who fell in love with storytelling pioneers such as Lerner and Loewe, Kander and Ebb, Loesser, and Sondheim. Somewhere along the way the path they cut has been obliterated, the sets have grown bigger, the stories smaller, and I have grown emptier. If only someone could convince the producers "if you don't build it, they will come."
As the Staten Island coordinator for the Citywide Task Force on Housing Court, I appreciated J.A. Lobbia's effort to inform readers about the trials and tribulations of nonprofit groups that lost or were delayed funding in the past year ["Wrecking-Ball Budget," May 25]. Two facts, however, need to be made known.
The Task Force has maintained an information table in Staten Island Housing Court since 1992. I am available in the Staten Island Housing Court on the days it convenes to help people who can't afford attorneys. I work with homeowners and small-property landlords as well as tenants, who would otherwise be unaware of rights, laws, and procedures. Last year, while we were in the midst of the cutbacks and downsizing Lobbia outlined, some borough presidents contributed emergency interim funding. In fact, some funding came from Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, thus enabling me to continue serving his constituents.