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
NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT
Since no amount of money will buy for us a new Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Keats, or Eliotand since the bequest to Poetry Magazine might instead encourage a lot more bad poetryI suggest the money be used to buy off the poets who presently vex us.
A relatively small stipend, contingent on a promise from the recipient not to write verse, would do us all a world of good.
Re "Poetry Nation":
The only way to insure that poetry is taken more seriously in this country is to make it actually relevant to regular Americans. I'd propose that the money go toward innovative educational programming. Poetry could be taught in schools by energetic young poets who reach out to the students on their own turf, rather than requiring them to struggle through poems that don't sing to them. Readings could be sponsored in public places. Poetry spots could take the place of commercials during prime-time television.
As a poet, I am for poets' being valued and, as a result, viably paid and employed. But I know that in a capitalist society, supply and demand rules, so first we need to work on making poetry an experience that Americans demand, the same way they demand sports events, mystery novels, and a good milk shakethey have to be shown that poetry is something they can enjoy.
There is no doubt that the fast-growing security industry has created a boom in gun sales in Israel, but, skeptic that I am, I found the fantastic claims made by Ian Urbina ["Up in Arms," November 27-December 3] hard to believe.
I doubt that all "Israelis flock to buy guns." In fact, not one of my friends, relatives, co-workers, or neighbors owns a gun.
Perhaps if the article had been illustrated with a photograph of a long line of Israelis waiting outside the Magnum Gun Store clutching almost-impossible-to-acquire legal permits, I would be more convinced.
Re Ian Urbina's "Up in Arms":
Let's add a few more details that stress the difference between getting a gun in Israel and one in America.
1. In Israel, a person only gets to own one gun. The manufacture, model, and serial number all appear on the gun license.
2. A gun license is for only three years. In order to obtain a license, a person must complete a course that includes both firearm safety and a specified proficiency level at the firing range.
With these points in mind, even Urbina should acknowledge that Israel's gun-licensing procedure is superior to the laws in most countries.
NIMBY GOES DOWN
Although many other publications in New York have written about the conditions at the Malibu Hotel, it was always from the perspective of the neighbors' quality-of-life complaints.
It was only The Village Voice that took the time and effort to delve beyond the obviously superficial story and discover that the building conditions were but a visible symptom of a systemic failure in the administration of government in New York City.
Thank you for exposing the complex web of greedy landlords, duplicitous bureaucrats, and party functionaries who waste millions of taxpayer dollars while our most vulnerable citizens suffer mostly in silence.
Please! I don't have time to wade through all of the asides and off-the-topic remarks. (Half of his review is contained in parentheses, which should tell you something.) Seward should instead say something about the music and background of the band. I still don't know if Dälek is an über-Scandinavian metal band or some weirdo third-wave ska thang.
ON NATIVE GROUNDS
I think it's strange that we have museums about the Holocaust, which happened in Europe, and no museum about slavery, which happened here on our own soil.
We could learn more about our country's history and culture from an African American/slavery museum than from any other possible type of museumexcept for one about capitalism.
The performances were all excellent, and the timing was superb. The only thing that deserves "the hook" is Soloski's review.
Morris Plains, New Jersey
OFF THE HOOK?
Did Janet Kim ever visit Red Hook prior to writing this piece ["Close-Up on Red Hook," Neighborhoods, December 4-10], or did she call a couple of white folks she knew who lived in the neighborhood? The nonchalant mention of Fairway and Ikea fail to consider that these two "revitalization" efforts have divided a community into racial poles. She failed to interview one grassroots organization, and never mentioned Defontes sandwich shop or Sunny's Bar.
Janet Kim replies: Because the Neighborhoods column serves as a profile, the controversy over the imminent Fairway and Ikea was specified among Red Hook's various idiosyncrasies, including the lauded Sunny's Bar. Also, earlier in the year, Toni Schlesinger's feature "On the Waterfront" [February 6-12] detailed the community's delicate future.
THE FRUITCAKE CHRONICLES
From Robert Sietsema's fruitcake collection ["The Anatomy of Fruitcake," November 20-26]: "The mystic poet Thomas Merton ended his days at this abbey, and I like to think of him popping a final fruitcake into the oven as he draws his dying breath."
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and writer, died in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, from accidental electrocution.
Rochester, New York
It is unconscionable that we, like Robert Sietsema, suffer from such "affluenza" that we would disparage and scorn a gift of a fruitcake. In every city so many people are soup-kitchen sustainees or lonely, aged, ill, and homebound individuals, largely forgotten around holiday times. Surely these people would savor a fruitcake. Shut-ins who depend on Meals on Wheels, and God's Love We Deliver type of nutrition would welcome your cast-off fruitcake. Could not these "brickbat" fruitcakes be delivered to a City Harvest sort of organization that would distribute them? It would be no skin off your nose. You didn't want it anyhow.
Robert Sietsema replies: Thanks for that correction.
The United States should have more Linda Fairsteins to protect its citizens from sexual predators [Rivka Gewirtz Little, "Ash-Blond Ambition," November 20-26]. As the article points out, Fairstein is a "skilled prosecutor with an eye for the truth." We should have more prosecutors who use their power and judgment to help sex crime victims and aggressively seek solid convictions against their attackers.
The fact that Fairstein has written a number of bestselling mysteries has nothing to do with her job in the sex crimes unit. Let's hope that she returns to public service in the future.
George A. Dean
BOYS WILL BE BOYS
Christopher O'Connor's "Good Old Boys" [November 27-December 3] is disgusting. First of all, why critique Justin Timberlake and Nick Carter in the same article? Yes, they're both from "boy bands," but their solo albums have completely different sounds. It's ludicrous to compare the two. Justin has his r&b thing going, and Nick his rock 'n' roll deal. While the albums may not be their best work, you must give credit where credit is due. And both of these guys definitely deserve it.
Not only did O'Connor knock Carter and Timberlake, he laid into Linkin Park ["Show Me the Way," August 19-25] as well. So it can't be just an "I hate pop" thing. Maybe he feels that he can't give good reviews or his reviews won't be credible. Whatever the reason, he should take a closer listen to a few of the artists he seems to despise.
Waxhall, North Carolina
I did not appreciate Christopher O'Connor's cruel and stupid comments about *NSync ["Good Old Boys," November 27-December 3]. They're a hell of a lot more talented then the Backstreet Boys ever have been or ever will be. The review mentioned that Nick Carter co-wrote only five songs on his new album, but failed to announce that Justin Timberlake co-wrote every single song on his album.
WYNN SOME, LOSE SOME
While I agree that the Mets pursued Tom Glavine overzealously, I think Altman shortchanges Early Wynn. Many historians present him as an old geezer hanging on and hurting his team in his pursuit of .300.
It took five starts (and two losses) with the 1963 Indians for him to get his 300th win. He may have been sent to the bullpen after, but he pitched well, with a 2.28 ERA in 55 1/3 inningsdoing his best to help his sixth-place team win, despite having his personal goal in hand.
Edward O'N. Hoyt
CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD
Re Ed Park's "Magical Mystery Tours" [November 13-19]: Your reviewer is pathetically trying to read things into the movie that do not exist (or perhaps they doin his own mind).
The ever-so-righteous Muggle/racism criticism Park offers is so politically correct it nearly made me burp out slugs! Does the reviewer even have kids, or at least realize this is mostly intended to be enjoyed from a kid's p.o.v.? Potter author J.K. Rowling makes a perfectly good case here re prejudice in the wizarding world. Kids do get the point without Hermione having to be a nonwhite third-world AIDS orphan.
Ed Park replies: I'm sure most nonwhite third-world AIDS orphans would see your point regarding prejudice.
SYSTEM OF A DOWN
I had a strong reaction to a statement made in one of Toni Schlesinger's recent Shelter columns [November 13-19]. The gentleman being profiled, Andrew Vesselinovitch, states that "you'd be a fool not to buy."
I hear this all the time from people who own, and my first question to them is always "How did you get your down payment?"
People realize buying is the way to go in terms of lowering your monthly cost for housing and getting a better quality of space. The problem is that many of us cannot afford the down payment and are stuck in a cycle of having to pay high rent, thus lowering our ability to save for a down payment.
I'd like to see the Shelter column profile more people who are sharing a one-bedroom with three other people in Washington Heights for $1550 a month, or someone who is living in a $1200 studio on the Upper West Side and brings home $2220 a month. Instead of asking questions about furniture, ask questions such as "How do you manage to afford food with that kind of rent?"
We're not fools, Mr. Vesselinovitch. We're lacking down payments.
Due to a design error, the letters fl were omitted from some of the words in "Don't Say 'Pitch'!" ["The Heart of the Meta," December 4-10]. The words affected were conflicts, flower, and flesh. For the full text, see the story online.
The photograph on last week's Choices cover should have been credited to Paula Court.