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
Nightclubs must fall
Going, goooo-ing, _______, you fill in the rest. I'm referring to Douglas Wolk's article "Priced Out" [villagevoice.com, February 11]. New York is a city in crisis, under siege by developers, the modern-day satans. Bloomberg and Giuliani would argue the city is better, but for many of us, New York has been overrun by shortsighted politicians and developers who think only in dollar signs. The once unique place that I've called home since the 1980s looks and feels more and more like just about any place in the U.S. As clubs that are the fabric and the character of New York face closures due to astronomical rent increases and developers who want only to tear everything down, we as residents watch an important part of New York die a slow, painful death. But with the ring of the cash register, who out there besides me seems to care?
I read with increasing dismay Elena Oumano's apologia of dancehall reggae's groups ["Jah Division," February 16-22]that attempt to differentiate themselves by proclaiming the righteousness of gay-bashing. Not only has she blamed this on colonialists and, indeed, Western civilization as a whole, she proceeds to offer yet another pseudo-liberal patronizing commentary: "Young men unable to make a living and raise families suffer from a fragile sense of masculinity. With no outlet for all that cyclonic energy, what's left but church, territorial warfare, and/or controlling women with your big bamboo? Homosexual sex doesn't fit this picture; it becomes yet another way to rob the black man of his manhood."
Oh, please. "Fragile sense of masculinity"? Homosexuality as "yet another way to rob the black man of his manhood"? This last statement clearly establishes this writer's own deeply ingrained homophobia. Note to Oumano: Gay sex is a celebration of manhood to gay men and a nonevent to straight men. After all, it does seem to be sex for men, with men, and in the company of men. Feeling left out? There's always "that big bamboo." Maybe you can write an essay defending lyrics promoting violence against women. After all, it's one of the few ways in which Jamaican men can escape their "fragile sense of masculinity."
Churchill's finest hour?
But I do take exception to his statement that "we [left academics] have little choice but to continue to do these things," in reference to collecting our salaries and then paying taxes that we know are going to pay for the very things we decry. Real choices for radical action by leftists in academia do exist. They include donating a significant percentage of those salaries to radical social-change organizations like RESIST, teaching students about counter-recruitment, racism, and sexism on campus and off, encouraging them to think despite significant cultural forces that continue to bludgeon them with the received opinion of corporate culture, and, last but not least, making a personal decision to engage in whichever of the many forms of tax resistance available to us. The slogan "Not with our bodies! Not with our money! Not with our minds!" has real meaning in the real worldand yes, even in left academia!
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
Curtis White overshoots his mark while adding his two cents to the recent Ward Churchill fracas. I congratulate him, and The Village Voice, for providing the only news story I have seen about Churchill's appearance at Hamilton College that correctly identifies him as an American Indian. It's important to take his comment in context with his activist, Native American perspective (oddly similar to Malcolm X's famous JFK faux pas).
Then again, White dismisses Churchill's roots far too casually, citing only his being on the outs with the American Indian Movement (AIM). Churchill's books are manufactured and distributed by a publishing house that has nothing to do with the University of Colorado, and to associate his entire output with his academic position does all authors who happen to hold academic positions a disservice.
White also claims liberal activism is a commodity, but in these post-Reagan days, it's not nearly the commodity of a frothing supply-side economist. If White really teaches in Illinois, he should be familiar with his colleagues over at the University of Chicago, whose paychecks have been in essence signed by the Rockefeller family for decades and whose neo-conservative ideas are by and large responsible for the anti-liberal climate in our countrynot to mention putting undue power into the hands of despicable charlatans like Bill O'Reilly.
Adjunct professor, music, Purchase College Gramercy Park
The souls of gay folk
Just returning from San Francisco, with all its fury, finger-pointing, and firestorm over crystal and the new HIV strain, Mr. Musto's article ["Zip It Up!" February 23-March 1] eloquently reflects a deeper understanding.
Social fundamentalism is creating harm in the souls of gay people. Finding places to place hope becomes more and more difficult. I would like to suggest that we might be further along than this by now.
(recovered crystal meth addict)
Upper East Side
Meating of minds
Your article on industrial livestock operations (CAFOs), "Asthma Goes Rural, Thanks to Amnesty for Polluters" [Aina Hunter, villagevoice.com, February 9],was timely and interesting. Lest New York City dwellers think they are far removed from the consequences of this obscene method of "farming," take heed of the following:
There are at least three permitted CAFO operations in the New York City watershed. Think about the possibility of antibiotics, E. coli, cryptosporidium, and nitrates among other contaminants in your drinking water.
The dairy and meat products produced on CAFOs reflect the inputs used to keep the herd alive in hideously overcrowded conditions. Think about antibiotics, pesticides, fungicides, hormones, and pus in your food supply.
And you are supporting the operations with huge subsidy payments from your state and local taxes. Most of these operations can't stay in business without corporate-welfare payments courtesy of you, the taxpayer.
You can help stop this travesty by asking legislators why the DEC is avoiding calls from frantic neighbors all over the state. You can ask for an immediate moratorium on new permits for CAFOs.
Most importantly, you can try to select pasture-raised meat and dairy products or cut back on meat and dairy consumption. Check out Just Food (justfood.org), Local Harvest (localharvest.org), and Friends of Rural New York (friendsofruralny.org).
Chair, Sierra Club Atlantic Group Farm and Food Committee
Nicole duFresne, doubly annihilated
Jarrett Murphy's consideration of the racist aspects of mainstream media portrayals of the murder of Ms. Nicole duFresne ["A Murder Made for the Front Page," February 9-15] was on point! As a feminist scholar and activist, I share the public's sorrow over the senseless murder of a beautiful young woman. However, the unique particularities of Nicole duFresne's personhood are doubly annihilated when she is objectified into a commodity, reduced to a stock character in one of the deepest dramatic plots in white American culture: the erroneous belief that African American men hunger to murder, rape, and violate white women. Press attempts to sensationalize Ms. duFresne's death pay no homage to her life, offer no comfort to her loved ones. The absence of journalistic grief and anger in response to all the other incidents of senseless violence and wasted lives in our beloved city simultaneously reflects and further mobilizes racist fantasy and fears. Murphy's references to the Central Park jogger case and research by Natalie Byfield of the Black Media Foundation and Kelly McBride are helpful, but too superficial. Voice readers deserve a deeper discussion of the enmeshed history of journalism's sorry complicity with Wall Street and real estate interestsespecially now, in the midst of contentious economic, political, and cultural battles to redefine who belongs in Manhattan, who is entitled to work and live and dream here . . . Nicole duFresne presente!
Assistant professor of anthropology
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY