By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
BACK TO REALITY
Thank you, Richard Goldstein, for your reality check and your insights about truthfully revealing and reveling in queer class and ethnic diversity ["Get Back!" August 6-12]. No doubt about it, the right-wing nuts are highly manipulative, well organized, extremely frightened, and in a preemptive mood.
We must act together to forestall the fanatical effort to deny some U.S. citizens the self-evident truths, equal protection, and equal rights guaranteed to us all by those curiously insightful documents also known as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. As is now evident, these documents are the bane of cynical fundamentalists (Scalia: "The Constitution is not living, but dead"), as well as more shadowy shrubs.
As for that old canard "special" rights tossed into the great rhetorical game every time queers raise the issue of our basic rights, I say, "No DOMA, no special rights." We ought to be holding fundamentalists' feet to the fire and calling them on their rank hypocrisy.
Re "Get Back!":
I understand objectivity. However, as an African American I am highly offended that The Village Voice would suggest that we are against gay marriages and gay rights because we feel threatened by the gay status. African Americans have never been "left behind" and I resent that you would sum up our struggle with such offensive terms.
We have moved forward, slowly but progressively, and our status will never be contingent upon whether gays can marry or not. If you were more informed, you would know that African Americans are not so much opposed to gay marriage because of the social threat it poses to them, but rather the lack of information many African Americans have about homosexuality, period. Before you start making such general, offensive statements, you need to thoroughly do your research.
Richard Goldstein replies: Anxieties about status are hardly limited to the black community; they are built into the American way of life. But how to account for the sudden negative shift in black attitudes toward gay rights and even sodomy laws? I hope your explanation is correct.
A PAIN IN THE ASPECT RATIO
Atkinson makes a number of egregious factual errors. 70mm film is not nearly "as wide as a slice of bread," it's . . . well . . . 70mm wide. Perhaps Mr. A cuts the crusts off his Wonder Bread and that accounts for his misassessment of the measurements.
The AMMI screen (despite the extraordinarily high quality of sound and projection at that theater) is notorious for being rather too small; and calling the Walter Reade "the biggest screen in town" is kind of like saying that the Quad has the largest screen in the Northern Hemisphere: What about the Ziegfeld or the huge, huge screens at the Loews 42nd Street?
While Atkinson is certainly correct that the cropping of widescreen films for television removed a great deal of important information from the sides of the frame, he seems to be oblivious to the greater aesthetic loss of the small detail and composition that is unique to widescreen formats: For example, 2001: A Space Odyssey is rhythmically and dramatically meaningless on a television setnot to mention on a small movie screenno matter how wide the aspect ratio might be.
Michael Atkinson replies: Well, the egregious bread I eatis a little narrower than Wonder, true enough, but, short of IMAX freaks, the Reade screen always looked pretty big to me, and the Ziegfeld always seemed a trifle disappointing. Let's settle thiswho's got real stats? You're right about2001, certainly, though I didn't mention that as a scan-and-pan ringer.
THE PLAY'S THE THING
Feingold's description of the evolution of the role of "director" is spot on, his accurate delineation and discrimination between "underscoring obvious ironies" and interpreting the "substance of the work" is not only pertinent but important.
I'm never sure where the craft of directing is successfully taught, if it can be, but wherever it is attempted, Feingold's analysis should be required reading.
James Ridgeway's "The Burning Bush" [August 6-12] is timely, amusing, and well executed. I have only one issue with his take on Evangelical Bush: Let's not call these folks Christians. In the same way we don't label the lunatic fringe of Islam as just plain Muslims, we should not throw these power hungry, corrupt devolutionaries into the same basket with all those good folks who genuinely try and emulate the ways of Christ in their own lives.
How about "right-wing, cheap labor, religious extremists"or something to that effect?
STAIRWAY TO HELL
I find it sadly ironic that Richard Hell's fine essay about Lester Bangs ["The Right to Be Wrong," August 13-19] ran the week that the Voice Choices unveiled its cramped new "style-over-content" format.
I can't imagine Sasha Frere-Jones's recent gushing essay on Led Zeppelin, for example, fitting in with the new format. A pity, because that essay, for all its sprawl and bombast (this was, after all, a Zep review), showed the same sort of absolute love of music, of talking about music, of relating everything to music and music to everything, that makes Bangs's best essays worth reading decades later. Hell, it made me want to relisten to Zeppelin. And I really dislike most Zeppelin.