Making them plots
Re Graham Rayman's '9/11, Warts and All' [Runnin' Scared, September 10–16]: Would the whole truth include the fact that a third of Americans don't believe the official story about the attack; the facts that were ignored completely by the 9/11 Commission; and the laws of physics that were violated? The truth of September 11, 2001, is far from being told, and considering what goes on today that is being justified by the event, it must be discussed—truthfully.
Out of the pest
It's really amazing how a film critic of his vintage like J. Hoberman can be so out of it ['Man on the Run,' September 3–9]. Shoot the Piano Player, according to him, is based on the "1956 pulp novel Down There . . . but hardly a hardboiled noir." This reveals how Hoberman doesn't understand the meaning of the words "pulp," "hardboiled," or "noir." They are not interchangeable terms.
First off, a novel couldn't be "noir," since that is a film term. "Noir" is the term French film buffs gave to certain B-films they finally got to see once World War II was over. Down There isn't a pulp novel; pulps were magazines—not books (a fact, not an opinion). And pulps were dead, put out of business by '56 because of competition from paperback originals that were big on the very same genres the pulps published.
"Hardboiled" is indeed applicable to books. But to call The 39 Steps "the precursor to James Bond movies" is the ultimate in ludicrousness. How so? Richard Hannay is an amateur caught up in intrigue quite by accident; Bond is a professional secret agent on assignments. Perhaps Hitchcock's own Secret Agent would be a better choice as a precursor to Bond. Or better yet, how about the adventures of Bulldog Drummond? Those are already acknowledged as being influential on James Bond. Drummond was popular in print and film, just like Bond.
Jim, it's so easy. Don't listen to a Bond/Hitchcock/pulp/hardboiled/noir crank like me. Just look things up for yourself.
Hoberman replies: Pat Lozito will be amazed to learn that the French used "noir" to characterize American crime novels (as in Série noire) years before applying the term to film. Equally incredible, I guess, is the notion that paperback originals like Down There were the equivalent, both in tone and subject matter, of the old pulp novels. And, fantastic as it may seem, The 39 Steps is a spy story that is both thrilling and comic and thus a precursor to James Bond.
Down on the canvass
Re Elizabeth Dwoskin's 'Got a Minute?' [September 3-9]: I can't believe that New Yorkers are such weaklings and suckers that they let these kids push them around. We always hear that New Yorkers are tough guys. But apparently they're featherweights. What a terrible place to live.
In Chicago, if one of these punks stops us, we tell them: "Hit the road, asshole." And they'd better.
This story is a cheap-shot pitch that appeals to people's worst instincts. Lame.
Maybe some of you feel so annoyed because there's a little cognitive dissonance going on: You have this positive image of yourself as someone who helps people, but you're really just another cheapskate who could care less about anyone other than themselves. Of course, few people think of themselves that way—but go on, keep channeling that dissonance into annoyance at the canvassers!
Or, if you want to stop feeling so "annoyed," open your wallet and give away like 5 percent of your income to a bunch of charities.
The Voice is taking applications for the fall 2008 Mary Wright Minority Fellowship, a full-time, three-month writing job with the Voice that provides an opportunity to work alongside our veteran journalists. We're looking for recent college graduates with impressive clip files who can demonstrate that they have unique story ideas, excellent writing skills, and a desire to do non-intuitive, deeply reported stories about New York City. The fellowship pays $500 per week, and applicants should be prepared to pitch several original story ideas in an interview.
Send a cover letter, résumé, and recent writing samples to: Tony Ortega, Editor, Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003 or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about the fellowship may also be directed to former Mary Wright fellow and current Voice staff writer Chloé A. Hilliard, at email@example.com.
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