By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE CAVE . . .
In "Skirting the Issues" [March 713], Lynn Yaeger performs an important public service by expressing her outrage, though muted, at the inability of the American people and the media to take seriously a woman politician at the highest level. Women are still treated by standards that are so primitive, it's a wonder they want to participate in public life at all. Irrespective of anyone's feelings about Senator Hillary Clinton's merits as a candidate, this kind of maltreatment by mainstream and influential media should be simply unacceptable.
Rego Park, New York
Thanks for Sean Gardiner's article on the NYPD's egregious crackdown during the GOP convention "Day of Rage" [March 713]. I am, however, disturbed that the article perpetuates the mainstream media practice of only highlighting the arrest of innocent bystanders (i.e., a filmmaker, a law student, and a lawyer) rather than highlighting the fundamentally unconstitutional behavior of silencing people engaged in free speech activity. This perspective obscures the more important point that government officials were intentionally targeting people because they were voicing opinions or protesting. The problem, both literally and figuratively, is not that the police cast their nets too widely, but that they cast them at all.
Gardiner reveals that the mass arrests in New York City resulted from deliberate policy decisions by the NYPD to stifle the right to protest in this city, thereby depriving individuals of their liberty and taking the focus off of the issue of the demonstrations. As many of us continue to demonstrate against the war in Iraq, we must not forget, nor forgive, the criminalization we faced that day. At the very least, we should urge our elected officials, including the City Council Speaker and Public Safety Committee chairman, to demand that Mayor Bloomberg hold Police Commissioner Kelly accountable for the illegal arrests that occurred on that infamous day. Law enforcement in New York City must mean more than questionable CompStat numbers.
KICKIN' UP DUST
Re: Kristin Lombardi's "While Schumer Slept" [February 21-27]: As environmental activists calling for proper indoor cleanup of World Trade Center hazards, we shared Senator Charles Schumer's desire to bring downtown back, and we appreciated his hard work. After 9/11, the vast majority of residents resolved to stay in the Lower Manhattan neighborhoods that many of them had settled as urban pioneers. But their enthusiasm for revitalizing the area was dampened when they were forced to wage a protracted David-and-Goliath battle with their own government to get their homes, offices, and schools properly decontaminated. A major factor in the post-9/11 exodus from Battery Park City (resulting in a 45 percent vacancy rate) was the EPA's failure to conduct an effective cleanup. In late summer 2002, one longtime resident told me with tears in his eyes that he and his partner were leaving BPC and not looking back. When I asked why, he said it was the way that the EPA had left residents in the dust, adding, "If I hadn't lived through it, I would never have believed it was possible." At that time, it would have been a wonderful thing to have been joined in our struggle by Senator Schumer, the elected official who led the charge to secure the federal help needed to rebuild Lower Manhattan. Lombardi has brought one of the most important lessons learned from 9/11 into focus. The drive to redevelop downtown (or anywhere else) can never be divorced from the imperative to protect the health of those who live, work, and go to school there.
Co-coordinator of 9/11 Environmental Action
While I can't say I agree with Andy Propst's thoughts on my play Arrivals "Homeland Bound" [March 713], I must thank him for printing them. In doing so, he has published, so far as I know, the sole print review of the play in New York. This outcome remains a mystery to me, which is not solved by Propst's implication that the play isn't any good. What we have experienced in the press and critical community can only be seen as a "blackout." I don't mean to suggest that it is an organized blackout, but it is a blackout nonetheless. It is certainly the case that no one seems to want to reflect on these issues, beyond reporting true events, not even in relation to the fictional story in the play. Too much dirty laundry, I suppose. Audiences seem to love the play and the houses are, at this point in the run, nearly filled to capacity, even with no reviews whatsoever and no advertising that I'm aware of. While Propst concludes that audiences "might demand more from their political drama," I would like to suggest that the audience might demand a very great deal more from their pressespecially here in New York. The press could at least report on the play and its contents.
NO CHOKING MATTER
Tristan Taormino's article about choking "Hard to Swallow" [Pucker Up, March 713] was completely fucking irresponsible! As a martial artist and someone who has enjoyed "breath play" with just my hands on my partner's neck, let me ask: Do you know how dangerous it is to describe a sleeper hold or mention hoods and the use of belts? What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Readers will get ideas and not do things the right way because they've never been shown (that's how you learn, dumbfucksif you just describe something, you don't really get it). In this case, not really getting it can kill someone.
North Bergen, New Jersey