By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
SCENE BUT NOT HERD
Re Richard Gehr's review of the Vision Festival [The Sound of the City, June 18]: Why is already marginalized art like so-called "avant-garde" and the incredible energy and initiatives of an artist-run festival always considered retro? Is the Mostly Mozart Festival retro? Are Ellington, Armstrong, Beethoven, or Bach retro? Is my invoking the name of John Coltranequoted out of context by Mr. Gehr without even an understanding of what the poem is all aboutretro? Why can't this festival, one of the first successful ones of its kind in America and possibly in the world, be considered a celebration or a continuance? Sure, why not play me another solo, Mr. Coltrane?
I appreciate Mr. Gehr's quoting three poets in his brief excursion into our world, but why does he cite the phrase "it all comes down to money and pussy" as one of the festival's more "articulate moments"? Is he intimating that's all we're in it for? Who's pulling the "neocon" here? Who's the "double agent," Mr. Gehr? "Police and thieves"? Which are you? Are you gearing up for your move to The New York Times like so many of your predecessors? What did you expect when you entered that simple space? Something that never happened before?
As I stated in my poem, Mr. Gehr, "it's all about good food and press passes." The latter of which, and correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure you had. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been able to walk so freely and unappreciatively in and out of some 17 sets of this free jazz festival the apparently uninformed "newbie" that you are. But I'm just a moldy oldie, "so correct me if I'm mistaken." At least someone has a Vision. What's yours?
And by the way, the William Parker Quartet's album is Raining on the Moon, not "of the Moon." And maybe it's about time that the Vision Festival, or at least Parker, should be invited to Jazz at Lincoln Center. Now that would be a step forward.
They did, after all, finally catch up to Coltrane.
PALES IN COMPARISON
"One does not judge a democracy by the way its soldiers immediately react . . . ," notes Alan Dershowitz. "One judges a democracy by the way its courts react. . . . "
Therefore, one should acknowledge that Mr. Fahim does cite the fact that Israeli courts do indeed review alleged abuses by Israeli soldiers. However, conspicuously missing from Fahim's report (aside from the fact that Palestinians do not merely "abuse" Israelisrather, they murder them in pizza parlors, discos, and buses) is acknowledgment that not only do courts in Yasir Arafat's government not review abuses, but that organizations under his command support terrorism.
Clearly, Fahim's "Postscript From Palestine" needs a "Post-Postscript."
Kareem Fahim replies: Is that the same Dershowitz who suggested the IDF destroy Palestinian villages to fight terror? The two of you are no doubt aware of the chasm separating "review" and "punishment." Soldiers and settlers are very rarely punished. Conversely, Palestinians accused by Israel of wrongdoing pay an exorbitant price, usually extracted by a helicopter gunship.
Allen St. John's assertion in his article "Hoop Dreams" [June 25] that "the Pacers and Knicks both slipped into Lotteryland almost immediately" following their NBA Finals appearances is untrue. The Pacers haven't missed the playoffs since their 2000 Finals appearance, and this year the Knicks missed for the first time since the 1999 Finals. Furthermore, St. John's proposed trade of Keith Van Horn and Kerry Kittles "and whatever else it takes" for Karl Malone is a half-baked scheme. St. John writes that "the real kicker would come in 2003, when Malone's $14 million comes off the salary cap." Actually, Malone will earn $19.25 million next season, and the deal is unlikely because Malone has a no-trade clause.
In addition, the Nets are run by former NBA senior executive vice president and league disciplinarian Rod Thorn, who Malone believed was out to get him. They are coached by Byron Scott, who said last season that Malone has "no heart." And they have Kenyon Martin, who tried to decapitate Malone with a flagrant foul. Even if Malone (who holds grudges) overlooked these things, is he ready to leave the only team he's played for, and split with John Stockton, who also has one year left?
For his part, Van Horn has established a reputation for being soft. Why would Utah assume the remaining $55.5 million on his contract? They already have Donyell Marshall, who is practically the same player but earns half the money! Add the nearly $24 million due Kittles over the next three years, and you have the Jazz turning themselves into the pre-Jason Kidd Nets, with the added burden of two bloated salaries. St. John's hallucination culminates with Tim Duncan as a Net in 2003. Why wouldn't Utah let Malone and Stockton play out their contracts, creating enough cap room to try to sign Duncan themselves? Is Utah in business to benefit the Nets anywhere except in St. John's head?
Mitchell Lavnick, Contributing Editor
Allen St. John replies: If the proposed Van Horn-Malone deal is half-baked, I wasn't the bakerthe widely circulated rumor was previously reported by theDaily News, the NewarkStar-Ledger, and theSalt Lake City Tribune. And my larger point remainsthe Nets have to get better if they're to avoid getting worse, and the only way to do it is by pawning off overpaid stiffs like Van Horn on the Jazz or some other suckers. But Duncan signing with Utah, a Kidd-free team toiling in a Shaq-dominated conference and a lily-white city? That'sElectric Kool-Aid Acid Test stuff.
NAT ON (AND OFF) THE NET
On one hand, Nat Hentoff ["The Sons and Daughters of Liberty," July 2] celebrates "how much more and swifter organizing can be done on the Web now," but two sentences later, after asking readers to contact him, he stipulates that we should "not use e-mail." Which is it, pro-Web or anti-Web?
Los Angeles, California
Nat Hentoff replies: This is a free country. I don't use e-mail because if James Madison had e-mail, we probably would not have a Constitution. I do use the computer.
What was that article about again?