Letters

THE FOG OF 'SHADOWS'

Re J. Hoberman's "The Return of Shadows" [February 4-10]: I would like to make the following corrections. Hoberman refers to the second version of Shadows as a "longer, revised cut." In truth, it was not a revised cut: It was a version for which several new scenes were specially filmed after the first, now legendary screening at the Paris Theater on 59th Street.

Another sentence needs correction. Hoberman writes, "The known version is not, as Mekas suggested, a virtual remake." I never made such a statement. My problem with the second version always was that significant segments of the first version were replaced with the newly filmed sequences, which did not organically fit into the original version and thus made the second version inferior.

Jonas Mekas
Anthology Film Archives
East Village


THE PUPPET MASTER

Re Nat Hentoff's "Who Speaks for Liberty in Cuba?" [February 4-10]: Hentoff went further than many writers when he underscored the reasons why supposed defenders of free expression and other basic rights seem to suddenly clam up when the subject matter is Cuba.

People always seem to think that any Cuban movement for democracy is just a Batista or U.S. puppet, but this is politically primitive. Certainly, I never would have thought the majority of the governing council of the American Library Association would fail to understand the distinction.

Hentoff hits the nail on the head. It's nothing other than moral cowardice and a good dose of ridiculous circumstances—like Cuba being on the UN Commission on Human Rights, along with other luminous members like China, Zimbabwe, and Sudan.

Maria Herrera-Hofmeyer
Heemstede, Netherlands


FREE ELECTIONS?

I have one question for Hentoff: What elections are free anywhere on this earth? Don't tell me I have choices when there has never been a candidate with clout from my neighborhood. Whites from the U.S.A. are quite out of line to tell anyone how or why to conduct their affairs—apologize for slavery, for starters.

Walt Smith
Troy, Illinois

Nat Hentoff replies: Try living in Zimbabwe, China, Iran, or Cuba, and your question will be answered. Have the NAACP and other organizations had no effect at all in their voter registration drives? Look at the increasing difference in the composition of city councils, state legislatures, and Congress. At least, no one here gets tortured, as in Zimbabwe, for voting the wrong way.


RECOUNTING THE RECOUNT

Re "Sleeping with the GOP" [February 4-10]: Wayne Barrett unfairly characterizes the 2000 protest in Dade County as having shut down the recount there. The mob bloomed when Democratic election officials tried to move their efforts from public view to a secret back room. The mob relented and dissipated when the recount was resumed in public. So how can you honestly suggest that the protest's intent or effect was to shut down the recount?

Michael Hagen
Hell's Kitchen


IT'S LIKE SOME WONG KAR-WAI MOVIE

Re Robert Sietsema's "Chinese Twist: Elmhurst diner specializes in arcane Korean-Chinese noodles" [February 11-16]:

I can't help but think of my local noodle shop. Living and working in Shanghai for nearly six months, I think I have hit almost every noodle shop in this city. Most of the shops I've seen are run by the Xinjiang Uygur minority, from the northwest border, and have brought their trade thousands of miles across the mainland. These small la mien shops in Shanghai are amazingly popular and cheap. Most just offer noodles—thick, thin, flat, round, stir-fried or deep-fried, with soup, Xinjiang style, or with a fried egg. Eating at a small, local shop in Shanghai is like nothing else; often during this winter I shared a table with the cold wind, eating while the steam from the hot soup became the only thing keeping me warm. The hand-pulled noodles are made right there while you wait, making the transition from a three-ounce roll of dough to your table in less than two minutes. Typically the table is set with only chopsticks, chili pepper, and rice vinegar, and the noodles come with a bit of beef, fresh cilantro, and spring onions—nothing else, nothing fancy.

It's great to know that, if I come home, I'll still be able to find one of my all-time favorite dishes, even if I have to figure out how to order it in English.

Jeff Slagg
Shanghai, China


JJA JANG YUM

I'm a big Sietsema fan. I especially enjoyed "Chinese Twist," on Sam Won Gahk, the Korean-Chinese restaurant in Elmhurst. But I was surprised by the assertion that "only two [restaurants in New York] serve the freshly made noodles called cha chiang mein."

There are plenty of Korean-Chinese restaurants in the area that serve freshly made "cha chiang mein," or, as we Koreans call it, "jja jang myun." I've never been to Sam Won Gahk, but I have been to a place of the same name on Northern Boulevard in Flushing. If it's the same owner and the same quality of noodles, then I can safely say that there's better jja jang myun out there.

Try Mandarin Chinese Restaurant (owned by Koreans) on Broad Avenue in Palisades Park, New Jersey. Most Koreans in the New York/New Jersey area consider their noodles some of the best (if not the best) in the entire area. Crystal Palace (known by Koreans as "joong gook sung," or "China star") is also very good—it's on Sylvan Avenue (Route 9W) in Englewood Cliffs. It's owned by one Chinese and one Korean. There are also a couple of Korean-Chinese restaurants on 35th Street in Manhattan, but neither is recommended.

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