Raquel Cepeda's timely essay, 'Only Fania Can Save Us Now' [June 4–10], doesn't go far enough. Latin rhythms exercise us internally, carrying physical, mental, and emotional nourishment throughout our bodies to every cell. More importantly, the music mitigates culturally against its unwholesome competitors.
Re Wayne Barrett's 'Want to Work for Mike?' [June 4–10]: The Administration for Children's Services is not quite as bad, but the commissioner has a habit of creating senior management positions for his pet young (and white) special assistants. The entire lower ranks of the agency are made up of black and Latino employees, while the senior staff is lily-white. It's a toxic environment.
Another photog framed
Re Sean Gardiner's 'Shoot First, Hand Over Film Later' [June 11–17]: A few weeks ago, I was detained by a school crossing guard and asked to wait for the arrival of a police officer. The "offense" was photographing some children. I waited, knowing that there was nothing wrong or illegal about what I had done. A police officer arrived. He inspected my camera—a plastic throwaway using black-and-white film—returned it, and told me that it was illegal to photograph people without their permission and that if I did it again, I would be "locked up." Then he ordered me "on your way," as if I were a derelict.
I know that the NYPD operates in an atmosphere of high stress. But to be accused of committing a crime that doesn't exist, threatened with arrest, and then spoken to contemptuously is not right. I called the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, & Broadcasting, which told me that there was no restriction on handheld cameras on New York streets and that what I was doing was not only OK, but was done every year by millions of tourists.
They suggested that I call the local precinct's officer in charge of community relations. I did so. No one answered the phone or returned any of several calls that I made. I then called the New York Civil Liberties Union, which agreed that I had the right to photograph in public, but offered no legal assistance in exercising that right. Then I called the Public Advocate's Office. I was questioned as if I were a wrongdoer by their phone rep.
I returned to the crossing guard and told her that the mayor's office had said it was OK to take pictures. She answered that she didn't work for the mayor's office and didn't care what it said. She then told me that it said in her training manual that neither she nor the children could be photographed. That is where the matter stands: I have First Amendment rights to photograph in public, but if I do so, I will be arrested. Does this sound like the USA? Not to me.
I like Mike
Regarding Lyndsey Keesee's letter [June 4–10] attacking Michael Musto: Thanks for reinforcing the idea that small towns equate with small minds. Mr. Musto is persistently self-effacing in his column, so to take anything he says so personally and issue such a rude smackdown only makes you sound like the moron you accuse him of being. "La Dolce Musto" is the singular reason I pick up the Voice every week. Not only is it dishy, audacious, and laugh-out-loud funny, but I wholly admire Michael for being one of few out and proud reporters. So you, dear, can kiss my gay butt.
PS: Hope you're happy in the heartland. Stay there.
Get the Led out
Re Rob Trucks's 'No More Happy Endings' [June 4–10]: It's funny that Robert Plant always has to include a snide remark about the Stones when asked about whether Zeppelin will regroup. Robert can name-check as many dead bluesmen as he likes as influences; the problem is, he and Zep always confused loudness with soul.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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