By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
Re Norah Vincent's article "B Is for Bistro" [August 17]: Although I understand the feelings of hostility that gentrification brings about, I was disturbed by the romanticization of the days when Alphabet City was little more than a hellhole. I live at 2nd Street and Avenue B, and I am certainly not a "frat boy" nor do I have that much money. However, I am not a pale, pretentious, heroin-chic wannabe either. It does little good to gloss over the past. Junkies are not cool, and I think it's irresponsible to lament the previous identity of abuse and poverty which actually hinders the delivery of the message that poorer residents are being phased out of their own neighborhood.
Re Norah Vincent's "B Is for Bistro": I moved to 12th Street at Avenue B a year ago. I would not be able to afford an apartment in my building today. And yet, while the gentrification in just a year has been substantial, some things are missing that are needed to make a neighborhood a great place to live. While we have nice restaurants and trendy clubs, we don't have good groceries or dry cleaners (to name a couple of basics). The sidewalks remain badly ripped up, and I fear the new bars have only contributed to the mass of bodily fluids one sees on the streets in the morning. Gentrification has yet to benefit the average resident in quality-of-life ways, like clean streets and fresh vegetables.
To C.Carr's list of dates regarding the demise of the East Village ["Boho Boohoo," August 17], I'd add 1982. That was the year a host of fly- by-night storefront galleries opened in the neighborhood, displacing old ethnic shops that had long characterized it. When many of the galleries then closed mostly within a couple of rent cycles they were replaced by cafes and bars. The East Village went from being a neighborhood where poor artists coexisted with welfare families, barely assimilated immigrant groups, and, yes, drug dealers to a Bohemian Theme Park. Rents sextupled. Suddenly there were crowds of tourists. But of course it didn't die; it just evolved. I've since moved, and I don't miss stepping over junkies sprawled on my stoop. But that $125 a month rent . . .
C.Carr ["Boho Boohoo"] is correct that MTV, and media attention in general, commodify and degrade an avant-garde community's sense of specialness (or forward-looking, uncontaminated attitude). However, I live in the Lower East Side, and this hasn't happened in my corner of Manhattan. Nothing has died. The spirit is there for those who live and walk in its streets hunting down friends and gritty bars for pleasures that cannot be experienced in the rest of the city. Loisaida is alive and well with thousands of working Latinos pumping la nueva FM clásicos y nuevos down avenues C and D. Paint-speckled artists cruise Avenue A, Clinton, and Houston looking for coffee, booze, supplies. John Zorn regularly curates or performs in the most avant-garde jazz scene in the city. Cheap beers can be sucked down at a plurality of the bars in the area.
We have no Starbucks, only one Blockbuster, and very few chain restaurants. Carr can take her misunderstandings of Manhattan's East Village elsewhere. Perhaps MTV is interested in a meta-cartoon about their cartoons.
Lower East Side
I am writing in regard to Frank Owen's article about the possible closing of the Tunnel nightclub, even after allegations of rape there were proven false ["The Devil To Pay?" August 10]. This is an outrage to anyone who believes in the integrity of the law. It has become more than a personal vendetta. This is about taking away everyone's freedom.
Let's face it, drug use is prevalent in all social classes and in all neighborhoods. Is underage sex in public places a new idea contrived by Peter Gatien to turn us into sex maniacs who can come to his bordello bathroom for casual romps? Or has underage sex in public places been going on since the dawn of time?
I'm not wild about Gatien, but he shouldn't lose his club because of false accusations. He's an easy target for Giuliani to scapegoat. He isn't responsible for the degeneration of New York youth culture. He didn't show me or anyone else how to use drugs or have sex. Society did. What I watch on TV did. My own natural interest in experimentation did.
Wendy E. Boles
In Sharon Lerner's Body Politics column ["Tooth To Tell: Hamptonites Gather Baby Teeth To Fight Radiation," August 3], she describes what appears to be a very promising bit of research.
While any studies involving environmental radiation are important, we must not forget that contamination of this type usually affects poor communities at a higher rate than upscale communities. What we see in cases such as those discussed in Lerner's column is the opportunity that the wealthy have to help themselves. Without government funding, such research will not include less affluent communities than the Hamptons.