Henry Flynt

The cry of Peacock

In "Free Again" [April 20-26], Francis Davis's review of Art Ensemble of Chicago re-releases, he writes of Paul Bley's Improvisie: "Synthesizer isn't the problem with this 1971 concert. The problem is Annette Peacock's star-tripping, electronically processed vox—the big deal she makes of being transgressive." The problem is, Peacock's voice, in fact, hasn't been electronically processed.

March Everett
Woodstock, New York

Beau's better blues

My name is Chicago Beau, and I am described in the last sentence of Davis's "Free Again" as a "hanger-on whose place was in the audience." I'm not sure what Davis's thing is, but he probably never listened to the music he is writing about, because if he did he would not call the composer of two of the three tunes on the album a "hanger-on." Also, I don't recall seeing him on the scene in Paris when we were doing the sessions, so how can he possibly know what the relationship was/is between the Art Ensemble and me? In fact, I am Lester Bowie's co-autobiographer, and I have written a book with the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

He also reviews Archie Shepp's Black Gipsy, saying, "Chicago Beau barges in again." Well, I organized that session back in '69, and two of the compositions and the poetry are written by me, the "barger," who also wrote the original liner notes for the album.

I don't care if Davis likes or dislikes the music, me, or my contributions, but inaccuracy and omission of important information are inexcusable. His writing is arrogant, lazy, and a cynical condemnation of goings-on in a world and a time that he has absolutely nothing to do with, except in his feeble mind.

Lincoln T. Beauchamp
a/k/a Chicago Beau
La Grange Park, Illinois

Francis Davis replies: If Everett is correct and Peacock's voice wasn't electronically altered, her pitch is even worse than I thought. As for Chicago Beau, I'd say the identity he seems to derive from having been on the scene in Paris and chummy with Shepp and the Art Ensemble just proves my point about him being a camp follower. He may have organized the sessions in question and contributed "poetry" and "tunes" (more like rants and vamps), but that in itself hardly entitled this amateur to join in with the pros.

Dead souls

Thanks to Charles McNulty for spotlighting the critical establishment's fawning praise for authors of amoral, soul-deadening plays ["Misuses of Enchantment," April 20-26]. He is right that playwrights like Neil LaBute and Martin McDonough who use torture and cruelty for humor and titillation are symptomatic of the times. We live in the age of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, an age when vicious right-wing kooks are mainstreamed by Time magazine. So what could be more natural than for a theater critic, Clive Barnes, to titter over child murder, torture, and mutilation? The destruction of the human sympathetic response is a perfect complement to the social Darwinism of the right. But you don't have to be a conservative to revel in tales of child torture—there are plenty of liberals who are so terrified of being called politically correct that they refuse to express disapproval of anything.

Nancy McClernan
Hoboken, New Jersey

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