By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
The New York Times' proposed land deal outlined by Paul Moses in his article "The Paper of Wreckage" [June 25] is so unfair. If Scot Cohen, who operates a business on the planned TimesHQ site, or Sidney Orbach, who owns the 16-story building that is slated to be demolished, approached the city with a similar proposal, they'd be laughed out of City Hall. Is this a case of government selling out to a huge conglomerate? Are the politicians involved afraid of the editorial power of the Times? If the courts rule that the condemnation of the properties involved is for a "public purpose," they will have set a terrible precedent.
I am deeply disturbed by Shoshana Guy's unfounded slur in her article "The Arrangement" [June 4] that the School of American Ballet has been complicit in "the perpetuation of racism and elitism in the dance world" in its dealings with La Guardia High School for the Performing Arts.
Yes, the School of American Ballet is elite, but not as defined by the writer. We train the most talented ballet students in the nation, and those students in turn achieve professional employment at ballet companies in the United States and beyond in numbers not matched by any other school. SAB's success in training professional ballet dancers is unrivaled.
No, the School of American Ballet is not racist. SAB aggressively seeks and enrolls the nation's most talented ballet students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds or the color of their skin. To ensure that allstudents with excellent potential for professional ballet careers can train at SAB, we provide direct scholarship support to almost half of our student bodyin excess of $100,000 for students of color during the past year alone.
Each spring, SAB holds community auditions for young children in Harlem, Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Chinatown a further demonstration of our profound interest in enrolling a diverse population of students who show great promise for success as ballet dancers.
Talent alone sets SAB's students apart. The writer has done a significant disservice to the youngsters at this school by suggesting otherwise.
Suzanne Davidson, President
School of American Ballet
Shoshana Guy replies: Although Davidson now writes to criticize the article, multiple attempts over seven months to elicit comment from the School of American Ballet's public relations office were denied. "The Arrangement" was not about SAB's "profound interest" in enrolling minority students in its program. Rather, it addressed concerns raised by the La Guardia faculty about SAB's attempts to excuse its students from La Guardia's dance curriculum. Some of the issues raised by the La Guardia faculty dealt with privilege and race. No "slur" of SAB was intended.
PS: I LOVE YOU
Thank you for "Postscript From Palestine" [June 25]. Kareem Fahim's work is wonderful. It's seldom that one can read an honest account of what is happening in the Occupied Territories, and I am grateful for Fahim's articles and the Voice's integrity. I look forward to his pieces. Please continue the great work!
Reading Kareem Fahim's "Postscript From Palestine" on the day that 19 innocent Israelis were killed, I found it to be in poor taste. It was disgusting and an outrage. Where is your "Postcript From Israel"? It could end, "PS: My 11-year-old daughter boarded a bus to go to school and was blown to bits."
New Orleans, Louisiania
BLOWING IN THE WIND
Thanks for Geoff Gray's excellent article "Code of Quiet: The Secret War on Whistle-Blowers" [June 25]. As one who has worked a lot with individuals who have exposed incompetence and wrongdoing in a number of different government agencies, I want to point out that the FBI is not alone in its mistreatment of such employees, and this has been going on for decades. One of the problems is that it is hard to get the establishment media to tell their stories and apply pressure on their employers to honor them instead of punishing them.
There was an exception in the June 19 Washington Post. A story by James V. Grimaldi reported on testimony given by Sibel Edmonds, a former wiretap translator for the FBI in its Washington field office. She testified that one of her co-workers had unreported contacts with a foreign government official who was a surveillance target. The co-worker was also connected with a Middle Eastern organization that was under surveillance. She and her husband allegedly tried to talk Edmonds into joining it. When Edmonds reported this and other information to her superiors and to the Office of Professional Responsibility and the inspector general, she was the one who lost her job.
Tricia Romano, in her June 18 Fly Life column, criticizes Christina Ricci's physical appearance. I had the honor of being Ricci's personal trainer in pre-production for the movie The Opposite of Sex. At 17, she was awesome to work with: She was charming and cool. In recent pictures, she looks great. Of all the petty jealousies, ripping on a starlet like Christina. Your writer is obviously troubled that some people have it, and others end up bitter, jaded gossips with little class.
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.
Nat Hentoff's column on vouchers for schools and the intermingling of church and state was a real eye-opener ["Your Taxes for Church Schools?" June 11]. Who, on this beautiful earth, is qualified to teach creation? No one. In my opinion, some form of philosophy should begin in schools as early as kindergarten. Perhaps by graduation from high school a student might have a true grasp of the scheme of things and the knowledge that there is no answer to the big questions. The student will be free if he or she is taught the correct lessons. Philosophy erases dogmatism and the know-it-all outlook. It puts us in our proper place, a little smarter than the "lower" animals, and permits us to live a fuller, more satisfying existence.
I run a boxing gym in Washington, D.C. A friend e-mailed me Mark Jacobson's piece on Mike Tyson ["On His Back: Is This the End of Iron Mike?" June 18]. It was the best thing written on Tysonbefore or after the fightthat I've read. It was enough to get you to start sending me your weekly update.
Downtown Boxing Club
Tricia Romano on Andrew W.K. at Roxy [Fly Life, June 11] sums up the demise and the mentality of the music industry today. I was there and, after viewing this exhibition of trailer park trash at its finest, feel he should change his monogram to W.A.K.
Downtown Boxing Club
FOR THE BIRDS
One minor correction to J. Hoberman's excellent article on the current spate of war films ["The Art of War," June 25]: The stadium blown up in The Sum of All Fears was Ravens Stadium, not Camden Yards.