Letters

Chicken Little

Re Philip Guichard's pride diatribe ["I Hate Older Men," June 27]: Is this Phil's acne medication talking? Perhaps the result of too much Nintendo? It sounds more like the kid hates older gay men less than being a younger gay man himself.

So you couldn't get a date in the ninth grade and straight people spoiled your rave? Tough shit. It's not worth turning bitter before your time. Please bear in mind that, when faced with the horrors of being a postpubescent fag in the new century, you can be told something that your predecessors could not: You'll live.

Mike Beaumier
Chicago, Illinois


Bird's-Eye View

What a wonderfully written, insightful, and articulate article by 19-year-old Philip Guichard! As a gay man who is five years older than he is—and who is just now emerging from having to actively defend myself against the "hawks" lurking at every turn—I empathize with his sentiments.

Guichard asks, "Will my taste in men age with me—or will I become a chicken hawk, too?" I, for one, am certain that a new generation of gay men who continue to develop healthy romantic relationships at a young age will not fall prey to such tendencies.

Young people of all genders and orientations have always sought older partners, but relationships with one's peers, like Guichard's, will truly change the status quo within the gay male community.

Jeremy Blacklow
Brooklyn


Transcendent

Bravo to Michael Warner for his article "Disruptions" [June 27]! It is heartening to read an articulate queer theorist and activist who appreciates the contributions that transpeople have to make to our broader queer community, movement, and self-understanding.

Jacob Hale
Los Angeles, California


Wet and Wild

Thank you for Chisun Lee's excellent article about the Central Park rampage ["Twice Soaked," June 27]. Especially thought-provoking were the comments that police considered behaving savagely toward women to be part of the victims' culture. What a cop-out to claim cultural insensitivity because "that's how those crazy Puerto Ricans have a good time." I hope such politically correct delusions are fading, as they hinder common sense.

Star Silva
Corpus Christi, Texas


Idness as Metaphor

In "Playback's a Bitch" [June 20], Eric Weisbard theorizes about the meaning of the name of music group Matmos. My trade paperback of the late Jean-Claude Forest's Barbarella is boxed up out in the garage, but in the movie at least, the Matmos was an emotionally sentient volcanic magma that underlay the Eyepatch Queen's city. It rose up like a collective angry id, feeling ill used.

Ned Sonntag
Chatham, Massachusetts


La Mamas and Le Papas

Michael Feingold, considering telling the history of Off-Off-Broadway ["Your Future, My Past," June 13], asks, "I wonder what good it would do?" As a participant in the original Off-Off-Broadway, which Mr. Feingold so movingly mourns, I can affirm that it would never have existed if still earlier writers had not told my generation about earlier movements such as the Impressionist painters and the beatniks, and even fictitious movements such as Mickey and Judy's "putting on a show."

There is nothing we can imagine that we cannot do, but we must have images of it. Images from the past are realized in the present and future. I know from experience that young people love to hear the story of Joe Cino's, Ellen Stewart's, and Al Carmines's Off-Off-Broadway. I imagine it would do a great deal of good for Feingold to tell the story, especially if he does it while so many of us are still around to be interviewed.

Robert Patrick
Los Feliz, California


Band Aid

Gary Giddins's column on the jazz festivals stumbled in assessing the June 4 presentation of the La Guardia High School band at Columbia University as "amateurism" ["Saved by the Classics," June 27].

This high school band has twice won first prize in the nation in jazz at Lincoln Center's competition of high school orchestras; no band has more consistently placed so high. Even without the ringers, this group—at this toughest of arts schools—is not a set of weekend wannabes; they are professionals in training, true apprentices in a highly specialized field.

Within this tradition, instructor Bob Stewart sets up rich situations by arranging for vets to play with the teens and to tutor them. Stewart's secret weapon is to have the students play dances: to make them learn to swing the music in the context of swinging and being swung by dancers on a rocking floor.

Amateurism? I don't think so. Though when it comes to the word itself, let us remember that amateur originally meant lover. To paraphrase Edward Said, the kind of amateurism that means devotion to art's textures and tones, its special ways of communicating, is precisely what we do want from art and artists.

Robert G. O'Meally
Director of Jazz Studies
Columbia University
Manhattan

Gary Giddins replies: I used the wordamateurs not pejoratively but factually and perhaps evasively to avoid having to review them, which I think would be unfair. If Mr. O'Meally really thinks they ought to be evaluated as professionals in training, I wonder if he would review the La Guardia band by the highest standards of jazz or by the standards of high school competitions. I'd like to think he would not be so cruel as to try the former, and I can't imagine how he'd go about attempting the latter.

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