By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Letter of the Week
Brave and funny
Good heavens, I am so deeply, deeply inspired by The Village Voice's coverage of the convention protests [September 17]. Bravo to you all. And bravo to all the fine, fine folk of New York City! Patriots of truth! You all are so brave. And funny! I feel so proud to be an American, way down here in rural Kentucky.
This is just to say that many of usthough as of yet untelevised, unrecognized, and unorganizedare right beside you all in this good fight. We of the heartland are with you on the front line. So much is at stake! Land, water, mountaintops, our communities, our souls. Truth to power, hurry! Hurrah!
I've always enjoyed Ward Sutton's work in the Voice, but his coverage of the Republican love-in was probably the best, most concise convention coverage I saw anywhere [August 31September 3, villagevoice.com]. It's amazing how much accurate outrage this guy can get into a single panel (though I would have liked more on that freak Zell Miller).
Bush to NYC: Drop dead
Chanel Lee's "New Yorkers to Bush: Listen Up!" [September 17] contained statements by everyday people who would point out what was wrong, problematic, or being ignored in their communities. These people need to know something: Bush and his Republican confederates don't care. I live in a "red" town in a "blue" state (California) and hear what my Republican acquaintances have to say about these things. Their attitude collectively is that these problems exist because the denizens of those communities deserve it. They, the denizens, won't work and expect the government to "hand them everything." In other words, people, they say it's your own fault that there are these problems. That's the mantra, folks. New Yorkers should just send in their taxes so they can be redistributed to Wyoming (red state).
Chauffeur, so good
Tom Robbins and Jennifer Gonnerman's "Streets of Rage" [September 17] was an interesting account of how bikers took over the streets of New York during the Republican National Convention. Some riders blocked off traffic, "corking" so that the main group of riders could run red lights. After all, the streets belong to bikers. In Mississippi, we have something called "flattening." This is what happens to bikers who engage in "corking." I would have thought that New York cabbies would practice "flattening" too. Were there just French cabdrivers out that day?
Iran: So far away
When I initially glanced at Michael Atkinson's review of the Iranian film masterpiecesHamoun andThe Cow [Scanners, September 17], I thought, Wow, what a cool dude to shed some light on these stellar releases.
Then I actually read the piece. Hey, if you decide to posit yourself as a culturally enlightened obscure-film connoisseur, then at least get your facts straight: "Still leads the Arab pack"?
That's completely insulting and embarrassing. Iranians and Arabs are two independent peoples and cultures. I believe the Voice needs to make this mistake public. And apologize, at that.
Michael Atkinson responds: I was absentmindedly thinking in terms of what the U.N. calls "the Arab region," but you're right, it was a stupid generalization. What's precisely "insulting" about it, I'm not so sure, unless you're an Iranian who hates Arabs.
Very concise and thorough reportingit's much appreciated. As an absentee voter based in Ireland, I am about to post my vote. While my body may be elsewhere, my mind will always be concerned with the quality of our congressional representative.
I believe in looking at the track record of each candidate before I vote, and this article helped focus on just that!
One last butt letter
Re Sloane Crosley's "Butt Seriously" [The Essay, August 1117]:Finally someone said it. I am white and I have a very nice, perfectly curved bubble butt that I am proud of. And my boyfriend is too. I believe it to be one of my assets. But we're not alone. I know tons of girls who get that frequently asked question, "Are you mixed?" just because they have a round one. Maybe evolution is making us more alike. I know I've seen plenty of Nubian queens who have a lack in the back.
Re "Trumpets No End" [August 1824]: Francis Davis boils all of today's trumpeters down to how they're perceived in terms of "two varieties, Wyntons and Daves." He states, "With Wynton Marsalis and Dave Douglas at their peaks, there's not much room at the top."
He then suggests that Wallace Roney is a "Dave," Brian Lynch is a "Wynton," and Ron Horton is a "Dave," because "the current scheme allows for only one brainy white guy, and Douglas has that part sewn up."
Is this for real? This is ignorance supreme. If you're trying to correct a perception problem, don't state the perception as if it were fact. And whose perception is this anyway? The level of gross categorization here would be laughable if it weren't so insulting. Insulting to trumpeters like Roy Campbell, Greg Kelley, Wadada Leo Smith, and Axel Dörner, who are trying to make a living by breaking boundaries.
John Powers's allegation that the widespread disaffection with the Olympic men's basketball team is driven by racism ["Jingo Bells," On, August 2531] ignores the reality that many true basketball fans have become increasingly disenchanted with the devolving nature of American professional basketball.
For any number of reasons, learning and practicing fundamentals and learning and playing team basketball have become the exception rather than the rule in America, and that makes for ugly, bad, and ultimately losing basketball, as the 2002 World Championships and Athens Olympics have proven. The hope, for those who love the game, is that by getting beaten at the Olympics, USA Basketball and the NBA will be forced to acknowledge that they are leading American basketball in the wrong direction.
That Powers considers Tim Duncan's fundamental bril-liance "boring" suggests that he prefers the NBA's current style-over-substance modus operandi. Which is fine. But he shouldn't make the mistake of attributing improper motives to the large number of people who legitimately find fault with that approach to basketball and wish for its demise.
One of a kind
Thanks for Lindsay Waters's "The Bonfire of the Humanities" [The Essay, September 17]. What stood out is how books make things new, how they give us an aesthetic experienceneither of these gifts is quantifiable nor the same for every reader. That's what makes the journey so great, and that's what people forget about books. They're an experience.
Re "The Bonfire of the Humanities": A brief comment on Waters's statement "What good are books?" is "What are good books?"
I recently had a close friend, a professor at Cal Tech, ask me what to read. A great deal of what he is exposed to is, in his words, "airport trash." It is the responsibility of the intellectual community to reach the global professionals of our country. The humanities may seem less important than two decades ago in academia, but those of us devoted to liberal arts need to make them relevant to our colleagues and friends whose professions require their knowledge to keep pace with jetting around the world.
The top photo on page 22 of the September 17 issue, captioned "Jeers and cheers on Seventh Avenue," should have been credited to Nicholas Goldberg/Polaris.
Nat Hentoff's "The Spinning Wheel" [Liberty Beat, September 814] misquoted Wendy Kaminer (as interviewed on NPR) in the epigraph. She should have been quoted as saying, "I'm very pleased that the ACLU is rescinding this agreement, but I am very dismayed that it took a front-page story in The New York Times to get the ACLU to rescind the agreement and return the money . . . "