Letters

Kelly Cowan
Coulterville, California

Steve Weinstein replies: If some idiot wants to have unsafe sex, it's as easy to find as the nearest computer modem. Having buried my partner of over 11 years last May, I am second to none in my hatred of this disease, but I am realistic enough to know that a venue where condoms are readily available is preferable to getting rid of such parties, which would only increase gay men's isolation. Making party producers act in loco parentis shifts responsibility away from individuals, and blaming the party for unsafe sex is like blaming bars for alcoholism. If people quit partying, would they magically transform themselves into full-time activists? No, they'd probably be home watching TV. So instead of blanket condemnation of having a good time, perhaps activists like Osborne might consider working with the Black Party to help encourage safer sex in a controlled environment. And remember, for the vast majority of participants, this is still primarily a dance party! As for 10 fallouts, get 8000 straight men into a club and then count the bodies. I freely admit I couldn't find anyone to condemn the party; all of the pseudo-Druids were having too good a time.


DEAD WRONG

It is simply amazing that Thulani Davis, one of the nation's best reporters, has authored an article that has so many errors ["Black History for Sale," April 9]. Many of the miscues could have been avoided had Ms. Davis consulted the very fine chronology in the book of photos and text about Malcolm X that she edited.

First, the date of Malcolm's assassination is wrong. It happened on February 21, 1965, not February 17. (Also, the article has the 13th of that month on a Friday, when it was the 12th that year.) In addition, Dr. Betty Shabazz was not alive in 1999 when the article has her contesting the ownership of Malcolm's bullet-riddled address book. Moreover, I am listed as an organizer of Malcolm's last major speech in Detroit, when I recall telling Ms. Davis that I was close to the organizers and was merely a spectator at the event.

When I wrote for the Voice several years ago, I endured a platoon of fact checkers picking over my articles. Where were they when Ms. Davis needed them? Even the misspelling of the name of the director of the Schomburg Center, Howard Dodson, is a matter that could have been avoided with a little more time and attention to this very important article.

Malcolm deserves better.

Herb Boyd
Harlem

Thulani Davis replies: I appreciate Mr. Boyd's letter and I take responsibility for the obvious glaring mistaken date of Malcolm's death, Howard Dodson's name, and the failure to say that Malcolm's diary was reclaimed by the late Dr. Betty Shabazz's lawyer, Joseph Fleming. My notes of the Boyd interview include his mention of Malcolm's returning on a Friday, and ambiguous language that I took to mean he helped host Malcolm in Detroit. Mr. Boyd is probably even a bit too young to have been an organizer of that 1965 event!


BLOOD, SWEAT, AND TEARS

In response to the article "Rough Trade" by Douglas Wolk [March 26]: You can show facts and figures that suggest the decline in record sales is due to the economy. The Recording Industry Association of America can show us different stats that suggest the slump is due to online theft. There's bias everywhere, but in the end the real issue is avoided, just as it was in Wolk's article: an artist's rights.

Whether the Napclones are promoting or hurting CD sales is irrelevant. The real problem with these programs is that they take away an artist's right to choose how to distribute his or her work.

As a composer, I can make my work freely available (which some of it is) or charge a fee. It's my work—I bled, sweat, and cried over it. To take control of what I made away from me and give it to "little Johnny" is a crime.

I've made sacrifices. I've worked shit jobs and live in a shit apartment so that I have time and money to dedicate to my art. Why should Shawn Fanning, the founder of Napster, be a multimillionaire off my sacrifices? Every time someone "shares" one of my songs, he or she reduces my chance to ever be able to quit these shit jobs, and make a living doing what I love.

If someone set up a Web site with the entire contents of The Village Voice on it, sans ads, sans credits—there'd be a lawsuit. Perfectly fair, it's your material. I ask the same respect.

Mr. Wolk has been a great advocate for new music; for my own, in fact. But promoting sites like Audiogalaxy—and by merely mentioning them, you do promote them—is only going to make artists' lives far more difficult.

Seth Gordon
Brooklyn


FROM HILLY TO THE HIGHLANDS

In response to Bill Werde's article about the Ramones' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ["Punks in the Hall," March 19]: I'm sorry, but I saw the Ramones plenty when they toured the U.K. in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Johnny never played a single fuckin' solo—apart from bending the G string in the middle eight of "I Don't Wanna Walk Around With You" a couple of times. Don't get me wrong—Johnny rocks—but he's famed for not doing solos. He should be proud of the fact that he only knows rhythm. (Isn't that a rhythm guitarist's job?) It's pure punk not to be concerned with solos—the Ramones were one of the first punk bands, for God's sake. They had no blueprint to follow. They made the rules, so Johnny shouldn't be ashamed of them.

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