By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
I am writing in response to Rita Ferrandino's article "Fueling Fears" [December 18-24], about the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and how its resources could be turned into catastrophic weapons. While I applaud Ferrandino's thoroughness, her detailed description of the ease with which one could indeed terrorize that particular area was plain dumb. The need for sensationalized storytelling does not outweigh prudence and common sense. The article in effect gives a potential lunatic the ways and means to take life on a large scale.
There are better ways to let the public know that Indian Point is a dangerous area without telling them how one could inflict collateral damage. I'm not paranoid, but I'm not going to give someone a schematic, either. We live in a time in which we must be careful about what we print.
Rita Ferrandino replies: There is a wealth of public information available on the subject of security and danger at Indian Point. It is also public knowledge that blueprints and other information about nuclear power plants were found in the caves of Afghanistan during the early, rigorous manhunt of Osama bin Laden. I didn't write this story from a safe distance. I live in the "peak fatality zone" of Indian Point. Many people in Westchester who live in such proximity to the plant are well aware of these safety risks, and it is crucial that more people become educated about the reality of this hazard and demand smarter defense. Part of being aware of the threat of terrorism is facing reality, and the reality is that people are out there looking for ways to harm us. They will not overlook the potential destruction that can be caused by attacking a nuclear power plant, and even the most cursory research in this area reveals the vulnerability of storage pools. With that said, I was still extremely cautious about the information revealed in the story.
Thanks for the great story on Barney Rosset and Samuel Beckett and the PEN event [Cynthia Cotts, "Waiting for the Invitation," December 4, villagevoice.com]. As a PEN member, I am thrilled that the event took place. I do wish, though, that Barney had been included in the discussion. A few years back, I had him on a panel that I chaired at the Annenberg School for Communication, and he was terrific. He livened up the whole thing, warning about the dangers of having a publishing industry without independents who would be willing to publish an author like Beckett. He saw Grove Press (under his leadership) as a company dedicated to putting out daring and experimental works.
Barney was also Beckett's theatrical agent, working closely with the late Alan Schneider, who directed Waiting for Godot. One thing is for sure: If Barney had been on the panel, sparks would have flown. What he and Beckett shared was a powerful sense of the absurd. I think Beckett would have noticed the absence of Barney on the panel; in a sense, that absence is a more powerful statement than his presence would have been.
Sylvana Foa's "Battle of the Wombs" [December 11-17], on the varying Israeli and Palestinian birth rates, was brilliant. Common sense is so rare in that part of the world that, as she is an Israeli, it is dazzling that she sees the virtues of a Palestinian state. An extremely rare point of view!
The question now is, will the current Israeli leadership take her point? Or will it continue its futile, never-ending plan to supplant all Palestinians by establishing new Israeli outposts, semi-disguised as towns?
Time will tell. Meanwhile the two sides presumably will continue to kill one another, including their children, thereby damaging everyone and all hopes for a peaceful future in the Promised Land.
Catfight, Round Two
Amy Farley criticizes Leora Tanenbaum's use of anecdotal evidence and personal opinion to back up her conclusions in her book Catfight: Women and Competition["Cat Power," December 4-10], yet when Harvard's gender-issues author and feminist high priestess Carol Gilligan does the same in her books, it's considered sound research. Like Gilligan, Tanenbaum assumes that just because she has been published (though not, like Gilligan, in leading psychological journals), her subjective, non-scientific research must be true. In Gilligan's case it also helps to have legions of man-hating readers who agree with her that men are morally inferior to women. Both Tanenbaum and Gilligan should stick to traditional research methods to avoid making what Farley calls "an erratic read."
Dance Dance Dance
For those of us who have read the Voice since the 1960s, when we trekked over to your teensy offices in Sheridan Square to place our concert ads, it was refreshing indeed to read Anya Kamenetz's article on contact improvisation ["On Balance," Mind Body Spirit, December 4-10].
The Voice has played a groundbreaking role covering dance since the 1960swould Judson have become Judson, or modern dance postmodern dance without Jill Johnston's inscrutably brilliant weekly columns? For more than three decades, award-winning Deborah Jowitt has contributed enthusiastically insightful commentary about any kind of dance imaginable.