By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Reading Lenora Todaro's "Prague Diary: Report From the Barricades" [October 10], I was deeply concerned with her repeated depictions of violent anarchists. It appeared that the stone-throwers and window-breakers were categorized as anarchists purely by virtue of their destructiveness, a dangerous generalization that anarchist activists have labored under for the better part of a century.
Were the stone-throwers Todaro saw confirmed members of anarchist groups? Certainly any number of peaceful protesters in Prague were diehard activistsas is the case at solidarity actions all over the world. Anarchist activists have made use of virtually every form of radical action, from union organizing to street theater. Conflating anarchism with violence is a tactic the authorities have used for decades to avoid addressing the real issues anarchism raises.
Regardless of how one defines violence (and which act is more violent, breaking a store window or teargassing a peaceful crowd?), the distinction between rioters and peaceful anarchist organizers is one that a left-identified paper like the Voice would do well to study. Glossing over that difference only strengthens the position of the capitalist authorities.
Lenora Todaro replies: Many of those throwing rocks and gasoline bombs and setting fires did indeed identify themselves as anarchists, both verbally and with the clothes they wore (the anarchy symbol stitched, stuck, or spray-painted on) or flags they carried. Henne is right, of course, that not all anarchists are violent. Nor in this situation were all rock-throwers anarchists. I thought I made that distinction clear.
Rap On Russell
In response to Chisun Lee's article on the hip-hop exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum ["Roots, Rhymes, and What?" October 10]: When it comes to the culture of hip-hop, Russell Simmons has no clue how to separate the commercialization of his personal projects and opinions from what is real. The exhibit should reflect everything that is the foundation of hip-hop and what makes it a culture. At the same time, the focus should be the origins in the Bronx and how the pioneers brought around the world before the RUN-D.M.C. era.
Although police brutality is a very important part of what goes on in our streets, that doesn't make it a hip-hop issue. Things like that have been going on since this land was conquered.
Hip-hop evolved because of the lack of social and community-based programs for the youth in the Bronx. It became our ghetto game and a way for us to express ourselves while gaining respect from our neighborhood for being creative and talented.
I wish that Russell Simmons would sincerely acknowledge that there are four basic elements of hip-hop (B-boyingnot breakdancingMC'ing, graffiti, and DJ'ing), not just the things that he touches.
I hope he will become a true supporter of hip-hop culturenot just rap.
Richard "Crazy Legs" Colon
Rock Steady Crew
Someday, when The Village Voice's progressivism is more fully realized and its readership is genuinely sophisticated and enlightened, and no doubt hipper, your "Best of NYC" food picks [October 3] will ignore such abominations as "a burnished-skin half-bunny," "a whole baby pig, roasted to perfection," "thin slices of veal roast served in a creamy tuna sauce . . . bravo!" and endless takes on beef and chicken.
When will the progressive community in New Yorkone of the world's most dynamic citiesstop living in denial, acknowledge the obvious, and accept its responsibility to effect change in its eating habits and in an immoral system that is dependent upon the constant and vile torture of beings wholly aware of their existence and fully capable of feeling their suffering?
Meanwhile, those people who refuse to deny, rationalize, or sanction atrocities involved with the food they eat will cry in anguish and in anger and marvel at the causes you champion over the likes of pork chops, chicken wings, and burgers "consistently big, moist, pink in the middle."
Lot To Complain About
Regarding the cover for your recent "Best of NYC" issue, which featured the category "best vacant lot":
Once it is named "best vacant lot," it's not really the best vacant lot anymore, is it? It's a once vacant lot that is newly populated by Village Voice readers who wish to hang in the best darned vacant lot out there.
Another irritant: the excessive use of the term "dotcommers" as a derogatory label indicating boring, smug people.
I shall boycott your "best vacant lot," as it will now undoubtedly be chock-full of dotcommers and annoying humanoids representing a myriad of occupations.
Diamond in the Rough
Thank you for "Toni Schlesinger's New York Obsession" ["Best of NYC"]. I was a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History until a year ago. The dioramas of African mammals that Schlesinger described truly are the best.
I was lucky enough to get into the museum before it opened and could wander the halls alone. My imagination ran wild.
Lauren J. Diamond
Thanks for Wayne Barrett's powerful exposé of State Senator Roy Goodman's artful two-step on legislation, presenting one face to the district voters in New York and another to his legislative peers in Albany ["Senator Straddle," October 10].