Peter Noel's article on Mark Green and Reverend Al Sharpton ["Mark Green, You Can't Hide," October 23] marks a low point for an otherwise insightful journalist who often brings hard truths to the forefront. By writing that "Green was trying to kosher Sharpton," Mr. Noel enters the realm of fairly blatant anti-Semitism.
Elsewhere in the article, the focus on Jews belies a deeper problem Mr. Noel has in seeing diversity within the Jewish community. Monolithic views of the members of any racial or religious community are the basis for more blatant forms of bigotry.
I understand the complex history of black-Jewish relations, but no one deserves to be defined by their group. I share Mr. Noel's anger about how the campaign was run and the blatant appeal to stereotypes. But returning the favor is not the answer.
The writer is the former chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights.
I am extremely disappointed in your "Best of NYC" coverage [October 23]. I normally look forward to reading the Voice for the insight it offers. However, with the item about Yankee Stadium's Monument Park headlined "Best Place to Spill Beer on the Pope," you reveal that the long-standing anti-Catholic bias still prevalent in this nation is alive and well at the Voice. I thought you were supposed to be a tolerant bunch. Obviously not.
As a longtime L.A. punk rocker, I was distressed by some of the inaccuracies and generalizations in Barney Hoskyns's review of the L.A. punk "oral history" book We Got the Neutron Bomb ["Anarchy in LA," VLS, October 16].
This is not "actually the third book" about the L.A. punk scene. That honor belongs to Forming: The Early Days of L.A. Punk, published in 1999 by Smart Art Press. Hoskyns also manages to miss Fucked Up + Photocopied, which features commentary on many L.A. bands, including the Germs, Circle Jerks, JFA, and yes, the Weirdos. True, Hoskyns makes an interesting point about the perceived validity of punk rock in L.A., but I liked it a lot better when I read it the first time in Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life.
As a piece of puff to make aging New York punk rockers feel smugly superior to their kindred spirits in L.A., this is a successful review. However, it should not be conflated with objective reporting about a culture that operates outside the mainstream. Hoskyns may come off like a word-mangling, omphaloskeptical zinester, but his major failing is an overreliance on mainstream media sources, which is always a mistake when writing about a phenomenon by, for, or about the underground.
I guess if I want my dispatches from the front lines of punk rock bias-free, I'll have to keep reading zines. What a shocker.
Los Angeles, California
Jerry Saltz points out in "Keeping the Faith" [October 2] that "as surely as patriotism will bring kitsch, guilt walks hand in hand with hypocrisy." But right under his nose Saltz missed a truly repulsive case in point. In addition to artist Richard Phillips's cipher of a portrait of a cipher of a president, Bush, the artist's show includes his usual collection of dripping-wet fashion models, including one finely rendered pissing pussy. For Saltz to claim that this show, emphatically concerned with surface, is now suddenly full of portent post-September 11 is one thing, but surely the artist's mawkish apologia posted on the wall about "the preciousness of life and the bond of compassion" ought to be denounced as an insufferable atrocity against taste, not to say simple reason.
This attempt at recontextualization is so absurd that one wonders if Phillips is pulling our leg, in which case we have to decide whether to applaud his daring and bonhomie or lynch him. But let's be real. It's far more likely that this sort of disclaimer is just a desperate attempt to tread water in a sea change. Far from illustrating the power of art to channel "something important in the culture," as Saltz has it, Phillips's dilemma is an unmistakable harbinger of the upcoming casualties that Saltz, along with just about everyone else, predicts among the careerist, the self-absorbed, the adolescent, and the petty in a deadly serious time.
Jerry Saltz replies: Two things: I never said the Bush portrait makes Phillips a good artistonly that looking at it feels weirder than ever. I did say the territory Phillips is carving out is quite circumscribed. The other thing, I agree: No more apologies or explanations should be posted in New York galleries.
I'm a longtime resident of Madrid, but first and always a New Yorker. Like most overseas residents, I'm going through a lot of the same trauma as you all are via TV and e-mailwith less fear, maybe, but a lot of homesickness. It kills me to admit it, but Lynn Yaeger's October 16 article "The Way We Shop Now" voiced a thought that I shared: What about Century 21, the destroyed designer discount clothing store, which was located next to the twin towers?
There, I said it. Am I the worst person in the world?
LINCOLN AND THE BEDROOM
Kudos for Michelangelo Signorile's article "Hate Crimes" [October 9]. As gays in America well know, we are victims of hate and "terrorism" every day of our lives. I find it ironic that the Pledge of Allegiance uses the words "liberty and justice for all," yet there are persecuted people in America.
We need to wake up and realize the dreams of Abraham Lincoln when he said that this country was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." We must stop the persecution of gays in America before we can ever successfully do so overseas.
LOBBIA AND GONNERMAN WIN FRONT PAGE AWARDS
Voice housing columnist J.A. Lobbia has won the Newswoman's Club of New York's 2001 Front Page Award for Beat Reporting, and staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman has won the Front Page Award for In-Depth Reporting for "Anatomy of a Prison Murder," published in the Voice of April 10, 2001. The awards will be presented at the Water Club on November 9.
CHRISTGAU WINS ASCAP AWARD
Voice music critic Robert Christgau has won the 2001 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award.
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