By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
In the four centuries of the Middle Passage more than 60 million people were taken from the continent of Africaone-third of whom never made it to the Americas. This is several times the amount that died in the Holocaust. No community's atrocities are greater than another's.
Many Jewish people changed their last names after immigrating here, avoiding discrimination and garnering some participation in the dominant culture. The easy assimilation into the white world was not an option for us. Yes, I believe that reparations are owed to African Americans simply because this country was built on the backs of our ancestors. No, 40 acres and a mule will no longer be sufficient. There is no such thing as white racism or reverse racism. Those terms and ideas are inventions of white American culture. Nowhere else in history is it recorded that slaves were made so simply based on skin color. The very people who founded this great nation were themselves the poor and downtrodden of England who chose to leave their homeland to escape tyranny. Only to become the tyrants.
Lost and Found
When I picked up Frank Owen's "The Myth of Catholic Bashing" [October 26], I feared that it was going to be another knee-jerk piece depicting Catholics as a bunch of close-minded rubes. Instead, it was a welcome defense of "Sensation," Dogma, and Andres Serrano. But there are many more people in the Catholic Church than the ones protesting outside these art exhibits!
Catholics are as diverse as they come. Pat Buchanan and William Donohue do not speak for all Catholics. Beneath the din of the demagogues, many Catholics prefer to work quietly for real peace and justice in their own communities rather than appear on Crossfire or in front of Lincoln Center clutching religious statues.
Thanks to Guy Trebay for his great article "Longer Harder Faster" [November 2]. I am 57, going on 27, and Viagra makes a huge psycho logical difference in all aspects of life, not just sexual. Knowing that I can really please my lovely, hot wife at any time she wants gives a man my age a whole new lease on life. It is not just sexual...there is a global uplifting, a real paradigm shift that greatly enhances attitude, optimism, and libido. Viagra gives us a reprieve, like a kind governor, releasing us from the dismal gray walls of a cell and giving us lush greenery, fresh spring rains, complete freedom, and the pleasure of woodland nymphs. Bless you, Pfizer!
I agree with Richard Goldstein that we cannot move forward without the support of the religious community ["Believers Who Brunch," November 2]. But who would have thought the gay community would have a getting-to-know-you brunch with Jerry Falwell!
Most of usthose not affiliated with out-of-touch GLB-based national organizationsknow that this was purely a "clean up my appearance for the general populace" campaign by Falwell and his cronies. Who better to be the spokes person for such an event than Mel White? White is a man whose life's work was bashing us and condemning us. Only after shock therapy and psychotherapy did he "join" our side. Both White and Falwell are media whores who love to come across as paragons of their communities' virtue. Do they, and the mass media, think we do not see this?
But what do I know? I'm only one of the millions who don't understand the significance of kissing Falwell's white butt. Maybe that's why Mel White was at the brunch. He's been doing it for years.
Los Angeles, California
Robert Christgau's review of the Comedian Harmonists CD on Hannibal unfortunately contained several errors [Consumer Guide, October 26]. Lead tenor Ari Leschnikoff was Bulgarian, but he was not a Jew. Nor was he deported from Germany in 1934 at the behest of Hermann Goering.
The Comedian Harmonists' tremendous popularity did shield them temporarily from the restrictions that were imposed on Jewish musicians by Joseph Goebbels's Reichmusik kammer, but they were eventually forced out of business in 1935. Once out of Germany, Jewish members Roman Cycowski, Erich Abraham-Collin, and Harry Frommerman formed their own version of the Comedian Harmonists, and the so-called Aryan members, Leschnikoff, Robert Biberti, and Erwin Bootz, formed a German group called Meistersextett.
The documentary The Comedian Harmonists: Six Life Stories shows Leschnikoff living in Sofia, Bulgaria, not Bucharest, Romania. I don't recall Leschnikoff shedding any tears in the film, in spite of his humble circumstances, and he speaks without any bitterness when he says ,"A man should love his job, and mine was easier to love than most."
Robert Christgau replies: Forced to concoct a coherent story out of three conflicting sourcesalbum notes, a music encyclopedia, and a Web siteI apparently added a few errors of my own. Mr. Barton's documentation seems authoritative, and I'm grateful for the clarification.
Austin Bunn was no prodigy when he de scribed the "poetry" of Great Scott ["Death of a Child Prodigy," November 2]. Great Scott wasn't riffing his own free verse, he was quoting that old chestnut "Wooden Ships" by Crosby, Stills and Nash!