By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
EMINENEMY: ROCK CRITICS BATTLE
Among the countless misconceptions, fatuities, inaccuracies, half-truths, and arrogant moralisms that riddle Richard Goldstein's bid to become an Eminem pundit, two are factually egregious enough to deserve special notice ["The Eminem Shtick: What Makes a Bigot a Genius? Presiding Over Guilty Pleasures," June 18]. First, Goldstein's arrhythmic anti-Semitic paraphrase of Eminem's oft-quoted "I'll stab you in the head whether you're a fag or a lez" implies that the line constitutes a threat to commit the crime described. In fact, as Frank Kogan long ago established in this newspaper, it's the opposite: In the previous line, Eminem states explicitly and unmistakably that the line is metaphoric, that it's his words that slice into the brain. Clearly they made hash of Goldstein's, as suits a song whose premise is that anybody who believes words imply action is stupid. Second, an anti-Semitic brouhaha like the one Goldstein posits actually occurred in 1990 around Public Enemy's "Welcome to the Terrordome." Goldstein's scenario notwithstanding, the controversy was tamer and shorter-lived than the one Eminem endures and enjoys.
Richard Goldstein replies: I'm aware of the context of Eminem's remarks, but Christgau seems unaware of the standing ovation this rapper has received when he recites these lines in concert. The audience is getting a message that the critics won't acknowledge. As for the Public Enemy flap, bear in mind that this group suffered a serious loss of prestige for its comments. In contrast, Eminem became the bestselling recording artist in America. There's far more profit in sexism and homophobia than there is in anti-Semitism. That's the issue my piece raises. Call it moralism if you like. I call it speaking truth to the power of pop.
E-QUALITY OF LIFE
Thank you for Tom Robbins's outstanding investigative reporting in his series of Voicearticles concerning Russell Harding, the head of the Housing Development Corporation under Rudy Giuliani. Once again, in last week's cover piece, "The Secret Life of Russell Harding," we learned how contemptuous Giuliani & Co. were of the law, and evento use one of Giuliani's own wordsof decency. In the case of Harding, the list of allegations now appears to include everything from stealing city funds to transmitting child porn on the Internet.
So now Harding has become the focus of a federal investigation. I hope that the probe widens to include the Giuliani administration and that perhaps, through Robbins's reporting, America will come to understand some of the truth about the real Rudy Giulianiand stop treating him like some kind of heroic saint! It's long overdue that the truth come out.
I read "Against Rosa's Odds" by Chisun Lee in last week's issue, and after that Tom Robbins's article on Russell Harding. It was quite a juxtaposition. I can't understand how Hardinga man without a college degreecould have been appointed by the Giuliani administration to preside over the prestigious New York City Housing Development Corporation, while people like single mother of three-turned-welfare advocate Rosario Rodriguez were suffering at the hands of the same administration!
Regarding the statement in the last paragraph of Jerry Saltz's review of the exhibit "Ralph Fasanella's America" at the New-York Historical Society and the reference to Local 1199's supposed dislike for his work ["Working-Class Hero," June 18]:
Labor leader Moe Foner and 1199 supported the work of Ralph Fasanella from the very beginning. The union's gallerythe only labor union art gallery in the countryhosted two extensive Fasanella exhibits with much joy and acclaim. Two years ago, we produced a beautiful Fasanella calendar. Ralph Fasanella was more than a friend to 1199. We love his work, and his beautiful posters fill our walls.
'WONDER BREAD' AND ROSES
Gary Giddins's "57 Jazz Tracks I Cherish, 1945-2001" is a treasured article. As a jazz enthusiast, it's interesting to learn what a critic like Giddins considers to be the one release he'd choose over all others in a given year; a pretty risky undertaking, I must say! Still, Giddins's list is invaluable, and should generate considerable interest for novice and seasoned enthusiast alike. And, hey VV, a CD set of these recordings would be a prized possession in anyone's collection!
SIMPLE DECLARATIVE SENTENCE
Somewhere between the despair and the dark finality of a 14-year prison sentence, Touré ["Very Much Like a Death," June 18] manages to tell us about John Forté. Not John Forté, Refugee Clique all-staranother celebrity duped by his own famebut a ghetto youth done good, who made a mistake for which he'll pay a hefty price. Take away the champagne, and Forté, a gifted, promising lyricist, is a woman from Brownsville's only son. A son who made a mistake and will have too much time on his hands to wonder "if only." Thanks for keeping it simple. Thanks for keeping it real.