By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
I WANNA'ED TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND
In response to Billy Altman's obituary for Dee Dee Ramone [Sound of the City, June 18]: When my then future wife and I first met, she was wearing an original Ramones T-shirt that was nearly torn in half and held together with safety pins. I was wearing a Johnny Thunders shirt. It was love at first sight!
In those pre-MTV days, to wear the uniform meant that you knew the scene and that you had been to CBGB to see the band play live. To outsiders or those too young to have an appreciation, the old punk lyrics appear abrasive or silly; but they tapped deeper currents. It was poetry that evoked the pain and joy of a generation raised in post-Watergate, post-Vietnam America. The music was a catharsis that gave one freedom to still feel young and alive in an era of despair and moral confusion.
Of all the representatives of the scene, Dee Dee Ramone was the most eloquent. To the surviving subculture, his death, following that of the Ramones' frontman, Joey, last year, is monumental. We listen to old scratched Ramones vinyl and wax nostalgic, but feel older.
I appreciate Richard Goldstein's article "The Eminem Shtick" [June 18]. Eminem is a well-designed controversy machine who wonders publicly, Why is everybody always pickin' on me? He markets himself to the "rebel" in people, and gains an audience that becomes "an army marching in back of me." He is to violence what Madonna was to sexuality.
What the praisers and haters don't seem to note, however, is that Eminem did not invent violent, misogynistic, or homophobic lyrics in rap music. To his white-collar, paper-pusher followers, perhaps a blond baby face is more acceptable for regulating on bitches and fags than those scary black folk.
FEELS ALL RIGHT, JUST GOT PAID
Norman Kelley ["Blacked Out," June 11] should realize that black artists and intellectuals have been undermined and have not received enough exposure to give them the clout to organize. The vast majority of commercially successful, so-called "black artists" have become recognizable through the whims of the white power structure and can be easily manipulated by it. Hip-hop began as the second wave of the black civil rights movement, but has been turned inside out by forces outside of the music industry and is now feeding on itself. Thus, most of these "black artists" are mere opportunists willing to sell their own people out. The true black artists who have held on to their principles have been neutralized and dismissed by the people they are trying to enlighten.
Universal Zulu Nation
John Giuffo, in his article "Toy Story: A Pataki-Appointed SUNY Trustee's Conservative Crusade" [June 18], attacks too easy a target and thereby misses the point. The real problem to which Candace de Russy's objection to African American and women's studies speaks is not the programs themselves, which serve a clear and present need, but the kind of justification for them offered by academics, which uses that need as an excuse to dismantle the idea of core and common knowledge everywhere and altogether, throughout the curriculum.
To speak only of American literature: African American literature is in; Asian American literature is in; gay and lesbian American literature is in; the literature of American imperialism is in; the literature of the Americas, and so forth. But one cannot anymore, in polite company, speak of American literature without adding another qualifier, because the idea of an American literature is dying, which means the idea of an American literature will soon no longer be taughtwhich means the idea of America will soon not be taught either.
Professor of English
State University of New York
AIN'T NO MR. COOL
What's the deal with Nick Catucci recommending that Weezer fans replace their Weezer discs with ones by Reputation or Pedro the Lion ["Tired, So Tired," June 25]? Is it because he thinks they'll like them better? Because they're better records? Because they're cooler? I'm so tired of music writers using every review as a bully pulpit to demonstrate their perceived "coolness." Just stick to writing about whatever is the most interesting and important statement a pop artist has to make and spare us your grad school deconstructions. I'll decide what's cool and what I listen to. Thanks, man.
I am a Catholic living in the Seattle area and thought Andy Humm's article on the bishops' conference in Dallas, Texas, was excellent, sensitive, and very observant ["The Spirit Moves at the Catholic Conference," June 25]. There will certainly be changes in the Church, and I think this will be a very interesting time to watch things open up morewith many forward and backward leaps, no doubt. I hope the gay priests will not be hurt in this. They are a precious gift of the Spirit for a Church that badly needs to open up to the fullness of life and God's presence in all of creation.