By Michael Musto
By Capt. James Van Thach told to Jonathan Wei
By Kera Bolonik
By Michael Musto
By Nick Pinto
By Steve Weinstein
By Michael Musto
By Michael Musto
Letter of the Week
Bad to the bone
Nat Hentoff's account of outsourced prisoners ["Europe Shames Congress," May 1723] and the treatment they receive at the hands of U.S. personnel is bone-chilling. Every law of God and man is defiled and spat on here. The European press is to be applauded for its exposure of this terrible crime. That it has been approved by our president makes him compliant, therefore as guilty as the perpetrators themselves. It's easy to imagine former CIA officials being threatened by the president for speaking out against this practice, but to threaten to deprive them of their pensions after having served their country? One cannot help but question how America came to this point. It's gross, it's pathetic, and it's unacceptable. Yet it continues and Congress does nothing to stop it. A threat of impeachment for Bush and his cabinet would, at the very least, put the brakes on. But we see nothing of the sort occurring. He has two and a half more years to carry on his terrorist administration.
Urban Polk tales
I read Molly Langmuir's obituary of the Polk Theater in Jackson Heights ["The Last Days of a Porn Palace," May 1723], all the while feeling wistful and sad about the closing of this landmark of my youth. I went with my first date to the Polk in the '60s, to watch Michael Caine in Funeral in Berlin. In later years, I returned for its adult fare, and got what limited sex education I received in those days from the likes of Annette Haven, Nina Hartley, John Holmes, and Ron Jeremy. I have not lived in New York for almost 27 years, but when I return to visit my mother this June (she's now in her eighties and still lives in Jackson Heights), I will stop by to say a last goodbye to another lost reminder of better times gone by.
Different states of mind
Re Silke Tudor's "Proving Your Metal" [Loitering, May 1016]: Why is the Voice boldfacing names of nobodies? Why is Tudor writing about things that are old and tired and not news to any New Yorker? It's disgusting that the Voice imported someone from another coast to write about cool stuff in New York. Lots of Voice writers already do just that. And they do it much better than "Proving Your Metal" pretends to do.
I have been following Tudor's writing for years. She has always had her finger on the hidden pulse of things and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her account of the Dark Passage picnic in an abandoned building in Brooklyn. So happy to find proof that there are still adventurous worlds left to explore in New York City and people willing to explore them.
San Francisco, California
Re Cortney Harding's "Give Noise a Chance" [May 1723]: I can understand how some audience members would not be able to appreciate loud, dissonant noise music. The amount of noise and aural dissonance one can handle is determined by many cultural-historical factors. It's an acquired taste. But to point out that this is the type of music played in the tanks is to imply that loud, aggressive music makes individuals more inclined to commit acts of violence. This is not the case. In fact, a schoolmate of mine who was recently stationed in Iraq only listened to the Smiths-hardly aggressive. The truth is, most young men who join the army come from working-class backgrounds and most young men from working-class backgrounds grew up on punk and metal. Pleas for peace have been loud and sonically aggressive since the Vietnam era. Think Jimi Hendrix playing "The Star Spangled Banner" full blast at Woodstock. So here's my olive branch: It's a split with John Lennon's "Power to the People" on one side and Yoko Ono's "Touch Me" on the other.
Jerry's kid goes to camp
Re Jerry Saltz's "Leviathan" [May 1016]: All expressed intentions toward art world do-goodery aside, Saltz still misses the point: Matthew Barney is total camp. Questions of validity and narcissism do not need to be discussedBarney is doing quite well and does not require defending. Besides, negative judgments of Barney are as common in Chelsea as nude performance artists are in grad schools, and just as boring. However, Saltz does nail what makes Barney's theater of metaphor so interesting: The man has absolutely no idea what he is doing. Like a stoic Pollock convinced of his own deep Jungian archetype-ness, Barney is making spectacular art out of a pure, unadulterated, and carefully preserved misunderstanding. Charles Ludlam's old friend Mr. T described this type of art years ago with an acute social observation: "Heterosexuals can't understand camp because everything they do is camp."
Breaking the cycle
Those writing in regard to the detainees [Letters, May 1723] held in secret prisons scare me more than the prisoners do. The detainees are suspects yet to be proven guilty or not guilty. Denying they exist is disturbing; volunteering to torture detainees and then end their lives with a bullet is chilling. Without human compassion, a respect for human decency, or a sense of humanity, we fail one another. What happened to "Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you"? And just because "they" didn't does not make it OK to do likewise. As long as a "better than, less than" attitude exists, we will be locked in an endless cycle of judgment and hate. As a consequence, that door leading to the psychological and/or physical abuse of others remains open.
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