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.

Reverend Grant Barber
Oxford, Ohio


SOCIAL SECURITY

"Israel's Missing Link" by Sylvana Foa [January 22] fails to mention that the Arab Israeli population of the Kfar Qara area rioted at the start of Intifada II against Israel. Their violence and obstruction of major thoroughfares resulted in the deaths of at least 13, and many more were wounded. Peace is a wonderful goal, but security is even more vital. When the enemies of the Jewish State renounce violence, only then will Israel take them seriously.

At the moment there is a war going on in Israel. It isn't a minor scuffle. Platitudes about the next generation of forward-thinking and "peaceful" Arab Israelis are simply clichés.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel

Sylvana Foa replies: The deaths of 13 Arab Israelis killed by Israeli police at the start of the second intifada is currently under investigation by a government committee looking into the use of excessive force. This tragic incident is evidence that the link is missing—Arab Israelis can bridge the gap if they are treated like real citizens with full civil rights.


ANIMAL LIB(ER)ATION

I have to point out a tragic piece of misinformation in Carla Spartos's January 29 Liquid City column. Ms. Spartos refers to the animal she purchased as a "rescued pooch." This is incorrect. Pet stores get their dogs from puppy mills which, through sub-concentration-camp conditions and forced breeding, produce enormous numbers of puppies. So while Spartos's new dog sits on her lap at some stupid bar, the puppy's mother and father likely lie malnourished, diseased, and slowly dying in a tiny chicken-wire cage in a barn producing litter after litter along with thousands of other dogs. By spending money at the "Evil Pet Store" (Spartos's words—and in fact, the pet stores lock the dogs in tiny cells partly to save space and partly to play to potential customers' emotions), she enabled these breeders to continue this unbelievably evil practice.

So, what does it really mean to rescue a dog? Spartos only need call the ASPCA or visit buskerdog.com or petfinder.org for references to thousands of dogs that need homes. Without rescue they are euthanized—literally by the millions. Even though the poor dogs in pet stores deserve homes too, it should be the priority of every conscientious person to help alleviate the problem of homeless animals first.

Gil Jawetz
Brooklyn


HOMAGE TO CATALONIA

Regarding Robert Sietsema's statement, in his review of the restaurant Allioli [Counter Culture, January 29], that "Allioli . . . is a misspelling of the Spanish word for garlic mayonnaise": Allioli is a Catalan word for a common condiment similar to garlic mayonnaise. Breaking down allioli leads to "all i oli," which translates as "garlic and oil." It is simple to make. You crush a couple of cloves of garlic in a ceramic mortar. Add salt and slowly add olive oil, grinding the mixture with a pestle. On Sundays Catalonians will have a cookout of lamb chops, chicken, or butifarra (a pork sausage), and allioli is made by two people drinking wine and taking it easy. One person grinds and the other adds the oil. Note that one major difference between allioli and mayonnaise is that allioli does not have any egg in it. Store-bought allioli sometimes has eggs in it, but the authentic stuff claims to be sense ou (without egg).

Keith Lubell
Manhattan


LABOR PAINS

Tom Robbins asks a legitimate question—of any political party—in his article "Outer Borough Battler" [January 29], about Staten Island bus drivers' union chief Larry Hanley: Can the Working Families Party withstand a "good old-fashioned battle"? The answer is, we think so—and the evidence of this optimism is not hard to find. There have been many heated disagreements inside the WFP and we are still standing, even growing.

The Working Families Party didn't start out four years ago to become a cult of personality. This is a party with candidates and issues. We have thousands of dues-paying members and more than 50 affiliated union and community groups. More than 100,000 New Yorkers voted on the WFP line in our last statewide race. We are the only minor party to routinely organize legislative campaigns at the city, county, and state levels. Examples are our living-wage initiatives, which recently were enacted in Suffolk and Oyster Bay, with new campaigns heating up around the state, including in New York City.

We're building a grassroots electoral infrastructure that gets results. In some small measure, the political dialogue in New York State is expanding because of our efforts. Basically, we think we can do more to make New York a decent and humane place to live and work. This belief is widely held by party members and leaders, and will help us survive the inevitable internal disagreements on particular candidates.

Dan Cantor, Executive Director
Working Families Party
Brooklyn


FETAL POSITIONS

I appreciated Sharon Lerner's article on New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to incorporate mandatory abortion training into medical curricula—but I hope this never happens ["Mayor's Choice," January 15].

As a physician who finished training in 1997, I would have run from any medical school that would have forced me to learn how to provide abortions or jeopardize my standing in the school. Why should any prospective physician be forced to challenge the school establishment if their beliefs about abortion don't line up with curriculum setters?

There's a reason why there are so few abortion providers in America today: Doctors are aware of the facts. At day 21 after conception, the heart of the fetus is beating, it has its own blood supply that is not shared with the mother, and all its internal organs are rapidly developing. Early in development the fetus responds to pain and has cortical brain activity. If any doctor had a patient with brain activity who responded to pain but wasn't able to sustain life on their own, the physician's question would be, "What's the prognosis for improvement?" For fetuses, the prognosis is overwhelmingly good. Why are we treating the lives of unborn children so much more recklessly than the lives of the elderly in intensive care units?

I sympathize with women who have crisis pregnancies. I've delivered food, diapers, and money to women with new babies on many occasions. As a psychiatrist and father, I'm aware of the turmoil and soul-wrenching difficulty that a baby can bring to life, especially in situations where there are limited resources.

Choice and privacy over one's own body are of penultimate importance and are foundational to the practice of medicine and the Constitution. They are surpassed only by the right we all have to live, in my view and in the view of many physicians and citizens, both in the uterus and outside it.

David Estep
Morgantown, West Virginia

Sharon Lerner replies: As I write in the story, the mayor's plan allows those who "object on moral grounds" to opt out of training.


I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for addressing the need to continue to train gynecologists in pregnancy termination. A woman's right to choose to become a mother is totally dependent upon having the skilled physicians able to safely and effectively perform the procedure (or to supervise medical terminations, which are now so efficacious). The physicians of my generation embraced the opportunity to help women avoid the fatal complications of improperly done abortions. By his actions, Mayor Bloomberg clearly demonstrates his concern for the health and well-being of the women of New York City.

Irene N. Sills, M.D.
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Albany Medical Center
Albany, New York

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