By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Three things: First, Manhattan vs. Brooklyn is the wrong question. It is divisive and only serves to further splinter the performance (and visual arts) community. Second, the studios, performance spaces, and galleries must maintain a foothold in lower Manhattan if the area is to retain any cultural integrity. Otherwise, you simply have the world's most expensive mall. Third, viewing Brooklyn and Manhattan as part of some either/or axiom only serves to limit the cultural possibilities of the city. The boroughs have artistic centers and an aesthetic of their own, created and fueled by the artists and audiences who live there no matter how they got there. If anything, they are a welcomed augment, offering the possibility of greater cultural democracy. While both infrastructure and demographics have shifted, much to every real estate developer's chagrin, the possibilities are limited. The inclinations to transform Williamsburg into a carbon copy of lower Manhattan are as boring as they are oppressive.
What would be truly interesting would be for the not-for-profit art world to shed its man-the-lifeboats attitude, fueled by the current end-is-nigh mentality. My millennial wish is for the formation of some meaningful cultural consortium to study the hard facts of commercial real estate infringement vis-à-vis what NYC's cultural communities might do about them. Whether it is partnerships, combined multi-use spaces, or what have you, as long as artistic integrity is kept relative to economic survival mechanisms, the bastards are kept at bay.
Andrew Cohen, Managing Director
550 Broadway Dance
Arion Berger ["Over That Hill," August 31] is a fine writer. It's just too bad that the only way she could think to praise Mary J. Blige was by putting down Lauryn Hill. At the end of the day such a cynical tactic cannot fail to be recognized as faint praise indeed.
Although I found Kyle Gann's article on the Kurstins interesting, I disagree with the statement that "great art never gravitates toward cutting-edge technology" ["It's Not Just for Aliens Anymore," August 31]. Most great composers have been eager to utilize new ways to produce sound. Think of the expanded orchestras used by Wagner and Strauss, the baroque and classical pieces which exploited new keyboard designs, Zappa's Synclavier, Debussy's use of the latest chromatic harp in Danse Sacrée et Danse Profane, or Varèse's absence from composing as he waited for the technology to catch up with his imagination. Nancarrow might have been attracted to the player piano's sound, but he used it as the only way he knew to realize his "unplayable" compositions. If he had had access to digital equipment when he was punching piano rolls, he might have been happy to go that way instead.
Bruce Benderson's cursory review of Henry Flesh's novel Massage [August 10] contains comments that are inaccurate and irrelevant. Contrary to Benderson's assertion that the "obvious" point of the story is the protagonist's realization of his childhood abuse, Randy is aware of his history of abuse from the start of the book. Also, Benderson's quibbling over which drugs are now appropriately hip ignores the circumstances in which Randy got them. Massage is a complex and provocative work, which deserved a more prepared and respectful reviewer.
Bruce Benderson replies: Nowhere did my brief review condemn the drugs in Massage as not "hip" enough. I merely pointed out that Dexedrine and barbiturate pills are anachronisms because they're almost unattainable today from anyone. I am aware that the character realizes from the start that he has been abused; the events of the novel are a playing out of those memories.
Leighton Kerner replies: Zekov apparently still lives by the outdated and musicologically discredited 19th-century catalogue of Mozart's works. So do Lincoln Center and most of this country's symphony orchestras. I refer Zekov to the updated Mozart work-list in, among other sources, The New Grove Dictionary, where a few misattributed and several lost, but definitely composed, symphonies are sorted out and totaled authentically at 48. Thus the so-called "great" G Minor Symphony is not No. 40, but No. 47.
'Voice' of the City
I am a young guy from Mexico who just spent a summer in New York. I had very good experiences and met a lot of New Yorkers. I also discovered The Village Voice, and it was very useful to me. Through it, I found interesting places and events that have changed my mind about some things. Now I visit your Web site as if I were in New York City.
Thank you for adding Tristan Taormino's column, Pucker Up, to the Voice. She is a great addition to your staff. I also enjoyed her article on the 13th Annual International Ms. Leather Contest a few weeks ago ["Thorns and Roses," August 10].