By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
. . . HAM-HANDED
The viciousness and inappropriateness of James Hannaham's review of Charles Mee's plays True Love and Big Love demand a response all the way from the Pacific Northwest ["It's All Greek to Mee," December 11].
Hannaham's assumptions about Mee's personal psychology are deeply offensive. Since when is it appropriate for a critic to ruminate about drawing a "psychological conclusion" based on the physical attributes of a playwright? Since when is it appropriate to suggest that a director "should get the electric chair"?
Mee (whom Hannaham also accuses of having "sexually abused" his characters) is widely recognized as one of the most intelligent and irreverent playwrights in the country. Far from being fearful of the physical aspects of theater, he exults in that physicality. That he does so with such joy and intelligence and political consciousness places him in a small group of exceptional artists.
Dearest Michael Feingold: Please come back soon. We miss you terribly.
BARRETT DREAM TEAM
Accompanying Wayne Barrett's article "Rudy's Gift to Mike" [December 18] are two photo-graphs, one of Osama bin Laden, the other of Mayor Giuliani. The caption states that "one-third of the nightmare [incoming mayor Michael] Bloomberg inherits is attributable to Osama, two-thirds to Rudy."
To place their pictures side by side, calling them "Osama" and "Rudy," and comparing a low-life murderer to a politician with whom you happen to disagree on certain issues is really beneath contempt.
Wayne Barrett replies: To condemn a comparison that did not occur is really beneath contempt. The caption ascribed the city's fiscal condition, according to budget experts, to two, vastly different, culprits.
"Death Wish in the Holy Land" by Jason Vest [December 18] is a classic example of an article by a writer who, having made up his mind in advance of writing the piece, then proceeds to selectively gather facts to support his conclusion. Vest's continued reliance on quotes from an anonymous veteran CIA operative would be laughable were it not pathetic. The Voicenow looks to anonymous CIA operatives as authoritative voices of international analysis?
However, the worst pablum that Vest, through the CIA operative, tries to feed us is the idea that the building of homes (i.e., Jewish settlements) is a terroristic act appropriately compared to the deliberate killing of women and children with exploding devices packed with nails. You should be ashamed for publishing such drivel.
STATE OF SIEGE
Jason Vest's article "Death Wish in the Holy Land" demonstrates a sound understanding of the present situation in Israel/Palestine. It is the perfect antidote to the risible propaganda with which powerful media organizations are deluging the American public.
One fact that Vest does not mention, however, is that the Israeli offer at Camp David II gave the Palestinians only about 65 percent of the West Bank and Gaza. It would have allowed Israel to maintain full control over water in Palestinian territories, and did not allow for any semblance of sovereignty save for the name "state" and the right to fly a Palestinian flag. What the Israelis offered Arafat were Bantustans, or reservations carved out of 227 mini-enclaves in the West Bank.
Kansas City, Kansas
Despite his flip writing style, I'm afraid Ted Rall may be right ["How We Lost Afghanistan," December 18]: Appearances of change in Afghanistan are only surface illusions. It will take more than interference from North Americans to make the 180-degree spin to capitalism, a system they probably don't even want.
I am torn between desperately wishing for a better life for all those veiled women who are slowly fading away in body and spirit, and demanding that everyone go home and leave the Afghans to arrange their country as they see fit.
In J. Hoberman's review of the film Lord of the Rings ["Plastic Fantastic," December 25], he remarks on the "fiery slit of doom that is the object of the quest" that Frodo sees in his ring-induced visions. Hoberman remarks with cynical amusement how "noisily suggestive" it is. What, pray tell, does he think it is suggestive of? I hate to spoil the joke, but that was not one of the Cracks of Doom that are the objects of Frodo's quest. What Frodo sees is the eye of arch-villain Sauron in search of his Ring. Perhaps Hoberman should rewatch the film with fresh eyes.
MANO A MONO
In the piece, Ms. Phillips likens the counterpoint of one song to that of medieval chant. One of the most striking characteristics of medieval chant is that it doesn't have counterpoint. It's monophonic.
I believe Miss Phillips actually praised a particular song for sounding like it was "made by robots." It was. You'd think an Ivy League student would understand that most pop music is made by computers. Quite different from the medieval approach of art being made by people.