By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Thanks so much for Jennifer Gonnerman's detailed yet condensed story about Sidney Hatchett ["Over the Edge," March 29April 4]. I only recall a brief account of a boy who drowned. I did wonder why more was not said, but soon forgot, getting engulfed by other stories that followed. I believe the color of your skin dictates how much coverage you receive from the media. Had Sidney been a young white man, coverage about him would have been extensive and ongoingI observe it over and over again. Our lives should be valued in the same way. Thanks to Gonnerman, I have learned a great deal about the life of a sad, lost young man, who I am certain screamed "help." No one listened. No one cared. Not really.
Lesson in mutation
I enjoyed Karen Iris Tucker's "Mutant Bike Gangs of New York" [March 2228], but Tucker should have done a little more homework. "Mutant bike" is not a phrase that Black Label ever calls its own bikes. While this may seem a small point, Tucker relies on this phrase, puts it in quotes, but does not accredit it to any source to build the case for a secret "community" united under this moniker. Black Label denied Tucker an interview not because it shuns all media but likely because of Tucker's lack of effort to do basic work to get to know some people beforehand, and because this article is based on a political move of vandalism that has everyone on edge. Tucker overstated how hard it is to interview or even see Black Label. This overstatement becomes an excuse for writing an entire article about a "community" that is basically based on an interview from one member of C.H.U.N.K. and some "outsiders" who write blogs. Then Tucker writes: "Some members of the mutant-bike community were understandably mystified when the Brooklyn chapter of Black Label, which normally shuns the press, agreed to be [sic] appear in B.I.K.E." Media aren't the problem (note the New York Post article on Black Label Bike Kill last yearhow did the Post find them?). But when Tucker comes calling at the last minute for some sexy piece and is willing to write an article about a "community" based on one supposed member, it demonstrates why Black Label voted not to talk to her. The importance of shoe leather in investigative reporting cannot be overestimated.
Re Tom Robbins's "Garbage Fight" [March 29April 4]: As far as the labor dispute between Waste Management and the Teamsters goes: Choose sides as you will, but please don't cast this as a David vs. Goliath situation. This is Goliath vs. Goliath. Save your sympathy for small business or small unions.
Change in battle cry
Nat Hentoff's objections to "don't ask, don't tell" on constitutional grounds ["Don't Mourn, Organize!" Liberty Beat, March 2228] need closer examination. It would seem that gay rights activists' demands for absolute inclusion in the U.S. military would hardly result in a gain for anyone's rights. Over the past 60 years, the five branches of Uncle Sam's armed forces and their proxies have been responsible for more murders, immoral acts, and outright atrocities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iraq, Chile, and Hiroshima than Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and Idi Amin combined. Rather than protest the exclusion of gays from the military, the gay community and supporters should be demanding the disbandment of the world's greatest terrorist organization and the arrest and prosecution of every commander in chief and defense secretary responsible for this ongoing reign of terror.
No fags, no freaks? Not cool
Re Kristen Lombardi's article "Gay and Loud" [March 22-28]: As a third-generation New Yorker who remembers his first sight of the Christopher Street Pier in 1991, I was saddened by the controversy surrounding the gay youth who congregate there. I grew up in the Bronx and there was no place for gay youth to go. It makes me proud that I grew up in a city that nurtured individuality, a city that thrived on its diversity. The issue here is why the youth are so rowdy. Could it be that they are forced to the fringe again, with nowhere to run? Are they now taking a stand and defending the last territory they occupy? Gentrification has killed the spirit and identity of what was once a unique city. To those young families and Sex and the City wannabes: Living in an area that was once cool does not give you cool status. Once the fags and the freaks leave because they can't afford it anymore, that area becomes a has-been, and that's the only thing you have bought intoan idea of a lifestyle that you really don't want. If you did, you wouldn't change the facets that make it a unique place to live in.
Re Aina Hunter's "The Dark Roots of New York's Hair Trade" [March 29April 4]: Tunisia has a bad human rights record. Correct. Hair processing occurs in Tunisia. Fine. But the connection between the two is not supported in Hunter's article. First of all, Tunisia's population is 10 million versus China's 1 billion plus. Any idiot could then tell you that, no, Tunisia could never "become" a Chinese province as far as hair processing is concerned. Why? There is no endless supply of desperately poor workers in Tunisia and the proverbial six degrees is cut down to about three. Why is there no mentionif you're going to vilify a whole countryof relevant parameters such as Tunisia versus Henan economic disparities, GDP per capita, and especially Tunisia's labor record? Amnesty International speaks of prisoners of conscience but not of workers' conditions.