BIG BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?
Thank you for Noah Shachtman's story on the computers linking up with the video and still cameras (for Terrorism Information Awareness) ["Big Brother Gets a Brain," July 9-15].
It may already be too late, but at least we'll know what's happening as it transpires. May freedom reign.
RESISTANCE IS FUTILE
Shachtman and other Voice writers do a good job of whipping up fear and anxiety (albeit justified) about the government's steady erosion of privacy and civil rights, but then they drop the ball. Shachtman et al. don't write as to how the average citizen can work to stop these invasive, overbearing government projects and protect our rights and freedoms. Writing to our so-called representatives seems futile, since it results in a form-letter response. What's an average Joe to do when his representatives seem more interested in furthering their political careers than representing their constituents? How does one stop Big Brother and a police state from slowly becoming a reality? A little help would be nice.
PASS THE BHANGRA
Tina Chadha's "Mix This" [July 2-8] was fascinating and very informative. Now all we need is for her to write a brief history of the original bhangra, so all our hip-hop heads can check theirs. Hats off to her and Timbaland, who will hopefully lead the way with these bhangra artists toward a broader understanding of Indian culture in America.
San Francisco, California
What an excellent article! Hooray for the Indian community. You have provided many viewpoints in the article of the acceptance of our culture in the media through music. Nice job and keep up the good work! It is about time Indians are recognized in other shapes and forms!
WHAT ABOUT 'NORWEGIAN WOOD'?
I was glad to see an article on hip-hop's recent interest in South Asian culture, but it misrepresents the historical exchange between the Indian and African worlds as just an ignorant passing fad. The two have long interacted with each other, bringing together distinct musical and cultural styles into a strong fusion, while Europeans still viewed us as subhuman.
In America, jazz musicians from Sun Ra to John Coltrane have long looked to India as a site of musical inspiration, while Bollywood always took from the sound, style, and feel of black music. In this country, many South Asians look to hip-hop to help us figure out our place in the American spectrum. From A Tribe Called Quest's sitar sample in "Bonita Applebum" to Truth Hurts and Rakim's "Addictive," current usage of South Asian flavor in hip-hop continues the tradition. I feel right at home hearing hip-hop with an Indian flavor and can't imagine how anyone but the most rabid cultural conservative could find this exchange disconcerting. Though the ancient relationship between South Asia and Africa may have tensions, the worlds do come together often, and at the least, produce some beautiful music.
In Richard A. Kaye's article "Outing Abe" [June 25-July 1], a reference is made to C.A. Tripp's forthcoming book on Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Tripp is identified as the "co-author." In fact, he is the sole author. Dr. Tripp very generously gave me credit as a "with" author. After his death it became clear that "with" means that he contributed the content while I did the actual writing. Nothing could be further from the truth. We had a close collaboration, but all of the ideas and most of the writing are original Tripp. I did research, I edited, I egged him on. That's all. I am not a co-author of the book.
LED IT BE
Re Sasha Frere-Jones's "Our Band Is Your Life" [June 25-July 1]:
What possible reason could there be, after all these years, to waste yet more time and space singing the praises of what has to be one of the most overrated groups in history?
A couple of decades from now, I suspect that people much like yourself will still be raving endlessly about the dubious achievements of such bland, mediocre, over-hyped bands as Bon Jovi and Guns N' Roses, while completely ignoring unique, pioneering musical geniuses like Björk and Ween.
Re James Hunter's "Make the Charts" [July 2-8]:
Upon reading the review of the Postal Service's Give Up, I was dismayed that the author had failed to mention Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis at all. Many fans consider her voice to be an important contribution to the record. To blatantly leave her out of a review of a record that has her voice throughout is just thoughtless. It's not like forgetting to mention a song; it's forgetting a human.
ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Re Richard Goldstein's "Free at Last?" [July 2-8]:
Great points in the article about the recent sodomy victory and the homophobes in current politics. As a young gay man, however, I find gay men's number one problem is not the religious right, but each other. So many gay men don't care about each other, refuse to get along, and will not get involved in the community. I do not know what the answer is for this, but I have a hard time thinking about how gay people are supposed to convince society that we deserve human rights when we can't even treat each other with respect and dignity.
International Falls, Minnesota
GIVE ME YOUR POOR, YOUR TIRED, YOUR UNINSURED
I was challenged by Alisa Solomon's "Don't Ask, Do Tell" [July 9-15] regarding documenting the undocumented.
Two years ago, my adult son in Florida was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident when a senior cut him off and then sped away. Not being able to afford medical coverage, he was rushed to a local hospital, which then billed him for $30,000, forcing him into bankruptcy.
To provide similar medical services for undocumented immigrants by an overworked system, then wiping the costs clean, seems unfair to me. They infringe upon the very laws that are supposed to protect law-abiding immigrants and the rest of us.
Upper East Side
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