By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
INTIMATIONS OF TERROR
Re "I Spy" [September 25-October 1] by Sarah Goodyear: About a week before 9-11 I had a conversation with a cabdriver whom I spoke to nearly every day. He had shaved his beard earlier that week. I asked why, and he said it was so he wouldn't stand out as much. He told me New York was not safe, and he was going back to Iran the next day. When he asked if I ever did work in or around the World Trade Center, I almost felt he was trying to warn me.
I look for him daily; I wonder if he ever returned to the U.S. I wish I had called the FBI like Sarah did. I will never know if I could have made a difference.
As a habitual user of the parenthetical phrase myself (which I trace to early and prolonged exposure to Pauline Kael), I stand in awe of Don Allred's barrage of asides, digressions, and (literally) inside jokes in his review of the new Dixie Chicks album, Home ["Goin' Out Walkin'," September 25-October 1]. Allred knows what he's doing. By frantically juggling language (I'm reminded of somebody working a shell game, or maybe three-card monte, same thing), sometimes going so far as to insert brackets within parentheses, he almost manages to conceal the fact that he has nothing to say. (He thinks that an argument set down in simple declarative sentences would be dull.) (Given his inability to describe music, it would be.) Add the steady barrage of puns, neologisms, and street talk (but where would we find that street?), and we just have to give up. The prose (and the reader) is (are) tortured beyond belief. We long to hear something, anything, about the Dixie Chicks, but Allred doesn't deliver (or, as he might have said [and I'm surprised he didn't]the Chicks are in the mail).
Don Allred replies: The Chicks are also in the mall, and I suggest that you go reward yourself by purchasingHome, if you haven't done so already (or even if you have) (it gooood).
THIS SIDE OF PRURIENCE
They say any press is better than no press at all. By that standard, I should be grateful, as the owner of See Hear Fanzines, Magazines & Books, to have been mentioned in your Best of NYC issue [October 2-8]. But how could I be? Despite the fact that I sell a broad range of publications on the cutting edge of contemporary music and culture, my store is listed in the implicitly pornographic "Bodily Pleasures" section. I am indeed an avid supporter of the First Amendment and carry material some would deem deviant, but I take exception to your characterization of See Hear as a purveyor of porn.
Ted R. Gottfried
Re "Plotzing in New Paltz" [September 25-October 1]: Advocacy journalism proponent Alisa Solomon's chutzpah is only exceeded by her Middle East myopia. Now she has vaunted the malevolent Hanan Ashrawi as a Palestinian "moderate." Ashrawi has displayed her purported moderation in the most peculiar manners. In a 1988 Palestinian-Israeli panel discussion on ABC's Nightline, she was part of a Palestinian trio that insisted a physical barrier be erected so that the Israelis would be blotted out from their vision. Ashrawi supported the Palestinian thugs who lynched two IDF reservists who had the misfortune of making a wrong turn and wandering into Ramallah in the autumn of 2000. Moreover, it is not because Ashrawi finds terrorist murders of innocent Israeli civilians morally repugnant that she spoke out against Palestinian suicide-bombers. She did so because she recognized that their atrocities were counter-productive to the public relations of Yasir Arafat's corrupt, murderous, and dictatorial regime. To this day, Ashrawi has not acknowledged Israel's right to exist.
Alisa Solomon replies: Feinstein perpetuates myths and half-truths to avoid dealing with what Ashrawi actually says: that her people were dispossessed by the creation of Israel and that a 35-year occupation continues to oppress them. On suicide bombings, she says: "Not only do they not work, they're morally reprehensible." She has not wavered in her support of a two-state solutionwhich obviously recognizes Israel. On international TV she asserted that no one could condone the murder of those soldiers. Do Palestinians have to renounce their own narrative and embrace occupation to be considered moderate?
CATCHING BEARS IN RED WEATHER
In his review of Punch-Drunk Love, J. Hoberman writes that "perhaps it needs to be seen with diminished expectations to be fully appreciated" ["Collision Courses," October 2-8]. By what psychological contortions can I enter the theater expecting less, as a plan to enjoy the film more? Hoberman might as well have advised not to think of a white bear while watching the film.
Far Hills, New Jersey
NOT YOUR FATHER'S CLAMBAKE
In the article "Jammed for All Time" [September 25-October 1], Robin A. Rothman states that "smaller bands like the Big Wu, Strangefolk, moe., and the Disco Biscuits now coordinate their own successful self-indulgent shindigs . . . sometimes luring over 5000 fans to sundry remote locations." But she missed one "smaller band" that really initiated the do-it-yourself festival: ekoostik hookah of Columbus, Ohio. They have held "Hookahville" every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend since 1994, drawing crowds of over 15,000 with performers like Willie Nelson, RatDog, Little Feat, and the Wailers. Ekoostik hookah also have a five-year lease on their own music venue to ensure the festival lives up to its motto: "No hassles or bad attitudes."