By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Reading Joy Press's review of Dave Eggers's latest ["Eggers on His Face," October 23-29] felt good in a guilty way, like seeing the most popular kid in high school trying to nonchalantly light a cigarette outside the gym in January while pretending he's not freezing his balls offand then slipping on the ice and falling flat on his ass.
That's not to say that I don't like Eggers's writing, or that I dispute that he has talent. Quite the opposite: His fashionably self-mocking tone goes right to my black little Gen X heart like a Tomahawk cruise missile into an Iraqi bunker. No, the source of my schadenfreude is the frustration of watching the bitchy cheerleading squad that is the mainstream and "alternative" press line up to fellate his latest tragically hip book, while meanwhile, new releases from verifiable geniuses like the Lower East Side's own Reverend Jen Miller and avant-garde small presses get nary a column inch.
Oh well. One can dream that every high school zine writer and Midwestern grandmother sweet-talked into the "self-publishing" game by Vantage Press got the same attention as Eggers, but then, we geeks always secretly envy the cool kids, don't we?
Wayne Barrett's "Bad Policy, Big Bucks" [October 23-29] missed one aspect of this scandal. How did Bill Davis, a mid-level state energy office employee and prime architect of the infamous New York State Six-Cent Law, become CEO of NiMo?
As a former NiMo employee (displaced as a result of deregulation), I shake my head in amazement at how this unknown was wheeled into power. Further, the policies established after his appointment were extremely favorable to dereg and (more importantly) the Independent Power Producers.
I've also wondered what happened to NiMo's Power of Choice program, wherein 8000 new jobs were to be created in central New York, and lower electric bills enjoyed by all. After all, that was the promise provided by Bill Davis in 1997! But overall, the piece was on target about the dereg scam: A few people made a lot of money at the expense of the ratepayers.
I thought David Shields's "36 Tattoos" [October 16-22] would discuss the NBA's stance on tattooing. Instead, it rehashed other writers' words, with a listing of tattoo parlors in Williamsburg and the Lower East Side [Hillary Chute, "Tattoo You"].
These days, the only new thought anyone can offer about tattoos involves graffiti. I have several tattoos and am a member of NYC's graffiti community. I live within walking distance of several tattoo parlors in the Bronx, including those run by graffiti artists, such as SEEN Tattoo and Tuff City. A more interesting article would have analyzed graffiti art's migration from trains and gallery walls onto the human body.
David Shields has created a remarkable and quite sophisticated kaleidoscope of quotations and reflections that brilliantly embodies the tensions around origins and accretions of thoughts felt when ideating tattoos. While reading, we sense each passage adding to and refining the others, piling layers of meaning and experience one upon the next, such that when the piece is completed, we step away from the scene with a new and complexly precise vision.
This sensation is akin to viewing a full-sleeve tattoo on (in) one's arm, where the history of aphoristic pleasures delving into the matter and the changing perspective of each glimpse creates a new skin, as it were. Thank you.
THE TWIN TERRORS
Re Cynthia Cotts's "Blame It on Al Qaeda" [Press Clips, October 23-29], on the irresponsibility of our nation's press regarding an Al Qaeda tie to the sniper shootings: What precisely was the hype that The New York Times and The Washington Post were so guilty of?
There probably wasn't a soul in Washington who didn't wonder whether Osama, et al., were behind the sniping. Not to address this fear in print is dereliction of duty. Both the Post and the Times stories quite responsibly answered that question, saying in effect that as far as anyone knew, the answer was no, Osama wasn't behind it. That's hype? Seems more like reader service of the first order.
Montclair, New Jersey
HOW NOW BROWNMILLER?
Rivka Gewirtz Little's "How Feminists Faltered on the Central Park Jogger Case" [October 16-22] quotes "author and activist Susan Brownmiller" as having said, "They misprosecuted because they had confessions. You can't fault them for that."
What can we fault "them" for? Can we fault "them" for coercing false confessions from frightened teenagers, who were denied access to their families while being questioned? For tactics such as these?
Little writes, "Moreover, it still would not surprise [Brownmiller] now if the men were guilty . . . [o]verlooking the idea of coerced confessions . . . 'They may have been beating her and hitting her, and perhaps we can't trust the [DNA] reports.' " I wonder if Brownmiller holds this level of skepticism in reserve for when the flaws in the system are being exposed.
Re Sterling Clover's review of Madonna's latest single ["The Art of Stopping," October 23-29]: The author is quite perceptive in highlighting the icon's battle between self and ego. The strange writing that appears throughout the video (and more specifically, tattooed on Madonna's arm) is Hebrew and spells one of the 72 Kabbalistic names of God used to humble ourselves in the face of that which we have seemingly created.