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
Re Carla Blumenkranz's "Code Warriors" [Education Supplement, January 1117]:Deciding that music should be free as a cultural right is equivalent to walking into a movie theater and refusing to pay on the same grounds. Thinking that you have the inherent right to reproduce and distribute an album is equivalent to taking a video camera into a movie theater. Recorded music has never been free and our rights have not been threatened. If artists want to give away their music for free, they will. If they don't, maybe it's because they're trying to make a living and don't want to give away their income to self-important NYU students who form collectives to damn "the system," the same system that gave their parents enough money to pay for their overpriced education. I should know about these things. I am a musician and I went to NYU.
Radio play-a hating
I am a producer of the WBAI radio program that Phyllis Chesler mischaracterized as "one hour devoted to hating me" in "Women and Badness" [Education Supplement, January 1117]. Had Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow checked, she would have found that our 38-minute piece was not a personal attack, but a critique of Chesler's politics. We examined the absurdity of Chesler's urging feminists to ally with George Bush as he loads the Supreme Court with judges poised to overturn Roe; we pointed to the folly of her thinking we can co-create "feminist foreign policy" with an administration that has voted down every international treaty on women's rights (e.g., Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Cairo population accords) and stopped U.S. aid for family-planning clinics overseas merely for mentioning abortion. We showed that while Bush used women's rights to justify the Iraq invasion, the new religion-based Iraqi constitutiona result of that invasionpushes Iraqi women back decades. If Chesler is not being given a platform at feminist events it is not because feminists have designs on her "free speech" but because our rights, hard-won over 30 years, are now in terrible jeopardy due to the machinations of the neoconservatives with whom she is making common cause.
Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio
WBAI, 99.5 FM
Re Sarah Ferguson's "Ghost Riders" [January 1117]: I have only been living in New York City for two weeks, but I have seen some alarming sights regarding bicycle safety. First, as a cyclist you are required by law (and common sense) to follow the rules of the road. This includes not running red lights and not riding the wrong way down a one-way street, and (although not a law) it is probably not wise to talk on your cell phone while biking. I recently saw a cyclist do all of the above on Third Avenue. Although I do not condone the aggressive driving in this city, nor do I know the circumstances of the 21 deaths that occurred in 2005 that the article refers to, some responsibility needs to be taken by cyclists.
King's other dream
Thanks to Tricia Romano for getting to the core of why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day [Club Crawl, January 1117]. Some of us were remiss in remembering that when Dr. King was repeatedly arrested and pelted with bricks, his house firebombed and his family harassed, all while the FBI and CIA crawled up his ass, he endured it all so he could lighten Romano's party-planning load. Actually, King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail" was supposed to be a prescient to-do list for one of your shindigs. He just got sidetracked by the whole civil rights thing he had going on.
Re Jarrett Murphy's "Mapping Rape" [January 1824]: When looking at rape statistics it is important to explore the number of cases where rape charges are pleaded down to lesser assault charges when they reach the criminal court system. This usually happens when the D.A. doubts the possibility of success in front of a jury (the victim was drinking, the rapist had no priors, the trial would be too expensive, etc.). Although this practice of pleading down is separate from the analysis of NYPD statistics, and depends on the commitment of the individual D.A., surely it contributes to the illusion that the incidence of rape is declining. Politically it's a good move, but it doesn't change the reality that people were raped and not just assaulted.
Shill for Hill
Kristen Lombardi's puff piece on Hillary Clinton ["Honorary Jew," January 1117] and her disgusting groveling for Jewish votes is sheer crap. Lombardi acts as a press agent and megaphone for Clinton rather than using any critical thought to expose the blatant opportunism involved in this pandering to the most racist, right-wing elements in the Jewish population. If Clinton ever became president, how could she deal with 200 million Arabs and over 1 billion Muslims in a world properly hostile to Israeli occupation and ongoing displacement of the Palestinians? She couldn't.
Snide and seek
Re Aina Hunter's "Dykes and the C-word" [Health Watch, December 28, 2005January 3, 2006]: The biggest problem the collection of pseudo-wits who make up the staff of the Voice has is their erudite and snide remarks that pepper nearly every article. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Hunter's reference to when "pink-ribbon activism hits the malls" is negative. The fact is that the politicization of breast cancer is helping fundraising for the disease. Who cares what it takes to fight the disease?
Still N.O. love from D.C.
Re Michael Swindle's "Flyover: Bush Stands Up Catholic Schoolgirls in the Big Uneasy" [January 13, villagevoice.com]: It is fantastic to see that the girls of Sacred Heart are getting so much attention for their protesting. New Orleans needs the attention. I'm an alum of Sacred Heart currently living in New York City. I've been back to New Orleans twice since Katrina, and it is heartbreaking to see. It is important that the nation not forget. The promises are not being kept. Things are not back to normal, even for the lucky 20 percent who did not lose their homes. Please keep covering stories on New Orleans.
I'm one of the Sacred Heart girls who was at the rally. I just wanted to thank you for putting our story out there. Of all the articles I read about what we were doing, The Village Voice's was by far the best and explained exactly what we wanted to do.
Sense and sensitivity
I was shocked by Leland de la Durantaye's nonsensical piece on my book Tête-à-Tête: Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre [The Essay, December 28, 2005 January 3, 2006]. The thing makes no sense. I do not mention Pascal, Descartes, Hegel, or Bourdieu, so why does de la Durantaye rant about them? In his vain and ignorant attempt to be smart-arsed, de la Durantaye produced arrant nonsense. Why does the Voice print this sort of crap? What purpose does it serve? De la Durantaye certainly did not do me or my book the slightest favor. It is the very opposite of what I was trying to do. And the opposite of what Sartre and Beauvoir were trying to do.
Having just read Corina Zappia's "Awards for Awards" [NYC Life, January 17, villagevoice.com] I'm astounded that The Village Voice would put the responsibility for such pap in the hands of someone who obviously lacks the capability to do even the barest amount of research. Unless Zappia has been dwelling on Pluto for the last year, she should be aware that Johnny Depp's "devil goatee" is not an affectation developed for award shows, but a necessary growth for the character of Captain Jack Sparrow, in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise that Depp has been filming for the past year and will continue to shoot until the end of this year. Did Zappia think the gold teeth were an affectation as well? Do your homework, Zappia, or keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.
Wesley Chapel, Florida
In the January 1117 issue of the paper, the photo of Phyllis Chesler should have been credited to Nicholas Burnham.