Letters

BREAKING NEWS

I was a bit surprised to see Richard Esposito use a piece I wrote for the Left Business Observer in 1996 in his strangely cop-friendly take on the World Economic Forum demos in New York ["Law of the Fist," January 29]. Esposito seemed to confuse my critique of author David Korten—the MBA who did a stint with the U.S. Agency for International Development—with my critique of the founder and funder of the International Forum on Globalization, former sweatshop magnate Doug Tompkins. My point in highlighting the elite and business connections of Korten and Tompkins was to criticize them for not being militant enough, and for leading discontented activists along a path of fantasy and compromise. I didn't bring them up to promote any faux working-class sympathy for cops.

My feeling is that most of the violence at these headline demos over the last few years has come from the police. Smashing a window now and then is hardly serious violence in my book, but smashing the heads of demonstrators is, and there's been a lot of it.

Apologias for cops joined to smears against anarchists—who follow an honorable political tradition, even if it isn't mine—aren't things I expect to read in The Village Voice. I guess that's why I don't read the Voice much anymore.

Doug Henwood
Manhattan


KEYED OFF

I just finished reading Kyle Gann's review of my book, Temperament: The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle ["Leaving Well Enough Alone," February 5], and I couldn't resist responding, especially to his silly notion that if I disliked equal temperament I would "probably have had to settle for a much smaller publisher." Does Gann really believe my editor at Knopf said, "Hey, listen, we want to publish a book about musical temperament, but only if it supports the modern system"? Conspiracy theories abound at the Voice, but this one must set some kind of record for ridiculousness.

Gann admits that I present "plenty of evidence" in support of the value of older tunings. Indeed, though he claims my book "brushed aside" the uniqueness of different approaches, I actually celebrate their variety. For example, I call them the musical equivalents of poet Robert Frost's notion of a sentence, in which "notes strung as melodies and harmonies became suffused with particular shades and shapes." But, since I also value equal temperament and the "exquisite music" that resulted from that system, Gann, a narrow-minded purveyor of the new, politically hip, anti-equal-temperament movement in music, feels the need to attack. Unlike Gann's review, my book is not a polemic, but the history of an idea. It presents the evolution of that idea by demonstrating links between developments in music, art, science, philosophy, religion, and societal mores. Along the way, it explores why people fought over these issues, and how we got to where we are.

I end Temperament with a question, bringing the narrative full circle to the tuning ideas of Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C.E. Gann thinks that means I should have gone back to the beginning and rewritten the whole thing. He misses the point, because he is an ideologue for whom only one way of doing things can be correct. I intentionally preserve the mystery inherent in this subject—the inability of anyone to arrive at a final answer.

Stuart Isacoff
Bedford Hills, New York


LOVE 'EM AND LEAF 'EM

Reading Ed Park's article "Shuttering New York Bookstores" [January 15], I was reminded of a time in the mid '90s when I lived with my then girlfriend on York Avenue. One day I stumbled upon not only the Bryn Mawr Book Shop, mentioned in the article, but also a curious phenomenon of the store, whereby every Thursday and Sunday, boxes of books would be put out front, ostensibly for the garbage pickup.

I settled into a pattern of waiting each of those days for those boxes, walking away with backpacks full of beautiful old, battered editions such as Grove Press paperbacks of Miller and Genet. Some books needed repair (spines broken, pages falling out but never missing), and I worked on them with the care and love afforded antiques.

The finds inside the store were equally amazing, such as early editions of Charles Willeford and an old Signet edition of Mezz Mezzrow's Really the Blues. It seemed to me some quintessential New York moment in time: in love on the Upper East Side and all this great literature.

My girlfriend and I then started playing out Strindbergian dramatics in our relationship (and the spoils from Bryn dwindled). Although I finally moved out, we tortuously tried to work things out. One Sunday, while biking in Central Park, I thought to detour over to Bryn, only to find that it had closed. I felt profoundly sad that some things were really over.

Photos of that relationship are buried in my closet, but the treasures from Bryn are to this day proudly displayed on my shelves. My current girlfriend doesn't understand why all the books.

Christopher Hasler
Brooklyn


Re Ed Park's "Shuttering New York Bookstores": No!!! Coliseum Books and Books & Co. were two stores that I had to go to whenever I was in town. Coliseum was where I knew I would find the poetry I looked for; it had fiction I could find nowhere else. This is terrible.

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