Letter of the Week
Luc Sante's piece on the history of hip threw some great curves ["Eyes Wide Shut," VLS, October 1319].
The tragedy of hip can be seen in its subversion and death at the hands of the highly advertised exclusivity that has replaced it. Schnabel and his ilk are now high-art hipness, while the real edges remain forever obscured. It's as if the Murdochian shills now covering the art scene, in addition to Iraq, have full sway.
If hip has ceased to exist, it's because the subversive is no longer allowed, thanks to a media so servile it must have Goebbels salivating.
I was reading John Leland's book Hip: The History as Luc Sante's review ["Eyes Wide Shut," VLS, October 1319] came out. Enjoyed the synopsis. Oh, by the way, I'm in marketing.
The check is in the Mailer
Luc Sante may be correct in saying that John Leland's book is the only extant history of hip. Still, Norman Mailer's The White Negro and the recordings of Lord Buckley surely merit mention as precursors.
Howard A. Doughty
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Howard Hampton's "Bob on Bob" [VLS, October 1319] is easily the best of the three dozen or so pieces I've read on Chronicles. Hampton communicates the heart that runs through the story of Dylan's gorgeous book.
Rhyme and reason
Re "The New Poetry" [VLS, October 1319]:I read with interest the poem "I Love Artists #3" by Mei Mei Berssenbrugge, whom I had not previously read. I greatly enjoyed its ability to transport the reader to its own very cerebral realm, that constant though usually subsumed area of awareness that registers being, consciousness, and the passage of time with all the intrinsic enigma (and wonder) that our attention to such things evokes.
My only caveat (subjective, of course) was its tendency to hover between poetry and prose as I understand these two categories. The subject matter seemed "poetic," possibly in its tone, somehow bordering on the "mystical," or a postmodern version. Its form, on the other hand, seemed to take no account of the weight, measure, and sound of the words themselves and their relations to each other.
But perhaps I already answered my own question earlier when I said that the work seemed to hover somewhere between "poetry" and "prose" as I understand those categories. I suddenly find myself asking, "Why shouldn't it?" My responses to things are always more conditioned than I perhaps like to think! Keep up the good work, Village Voice!
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Enjoyed the review of the book by Alberto Manguel and reviewed by Rachel Aviv ["Seeking Hyde," VLS, October 1319]. Robert Louis Stevenson was one of my favorite authors in high school. Reading the review, I learned a lot about Stevenson's social life. I never thought of looking up his life in Samoa, although a friend visited his home when she went to Samoa. Now I may purchase the book. Thanks.
Palm Springs, California
Survey says: We are family
Mollie Wilson's "Second Spin to the Right" [The Essay, October 1319] is a fine piece, very clearly presented thanks to the Family Feud analogy. The problem for those who believe in democracy is that I think we have to be committed to the idea that the family can be brought around to admitting some reality into the fantasy worldand that there is a family. Hope and trust are the basis for such commitment.
Letter from Florida
Chisun Lee's "Political Prisoners" [October 1319] was most timely and quite stirring to restless souls who vent at another effort by conservative forces in this country to subvert voting rights of minorities, ultimately proving that we have advanced negligibly since the Civil War.
On top of this gross injustice, Lee could have added that names that sound similar to those of prior felons have also been purged from voter rolls in some states. (My state, Florida, had been accused of employing this strategy wholesale in the previous election, affecting thousands of legitimate voters.)
This would appear an egregious act perhaps surpassing the felon lists purge, because states like Florida accused of such despicable acts could at least cite ignorance of felons' restoration rights status as rationale for their suppressions.
Thus, you would need to add substantially more to the 5 million count suggested by Lee. It appears that this election, as well as many elections to come, will be compromised and tarnished by this denial, which casts our country as one of the least democratic among representative governments.
But we have elected the representatives who enacted such gross injusticesand all of us pay for this loss of real democracy.
[Mondo Washington, October 5, villagevoice.com]: I just wanted to ask, were we watching the same debate? As a Republican who voted for President Bush in the past, I must say that Mr. Edwards was sharp! The fact that the vice president wouldn't address certain issues conveys his inability to "make the record straight," as it were.
Please give us credit in knowing the difference between editorializing and reporting! Though I'm a Republican, I assure you, I am an American first and foremost and expect more from publications such as yours.
Bobby W. Chambers
Sales from the crypt
I am in rare disagreement with Ridgeway. Edwards more than held his own against "Unka Dick." For anybody with a sensitive bullshit detector, Cheney's supposed gravitas comes off like an undertaker trying to sell a crypt, all unsmiling and deathly seriousness as a mask for flimflam sales tricks. I do not mistake that for authority. In fact, Cheney's mask only thinly disguises his ad hominem attacks and sheer meanness. His "resolve" rhetoric is that of the warmonger, and his fearmongering has the logic of spousal abuse: Stay with us or you'll get hurt. I'm not going to be bullied into buying, and neither was John Edwards.
Lance B. Miller
Las Vegas, Nevada
What's up with Voice writers bashing a progressive candidate for doing what progressive candidates are supposed to do, i.e., run for office? Yes, I'm referring to "egomaniacal asswipe" Ralph Nader, and yes, I'm one of his "deluded followers"if it's deluded to vote for the only remaining candidate who shares my view that invading Iraq was immoral and illegal. (And for anyone who still believes Kerry counts, you needn't go all the way back to his pro-war votesjust check transcripts of the Dem debates, when he postured as the real pro-war candidate.)
The above quotes are from Dan Savage [Savage Love, September 29October 5], but other Voice writers (hi, Gary Indiana) have been just as snarky. Savage also writes, "It's the Nader voters that are most responsible for inflicting the Bush kakistocracy on their fellow Americans."
How so? More Dems voted for Bush than Nader in 2000, and obviously each of their votes damaged Gore's chances twice as much as a vote for any third-party candidate. And way more eligible voters opted not to vote at all than voted for Nader. Setting aside Gore (for running a rotten campaign) and Clinton (for his conniving legacy) it seems like Naderites in battleground states are at most third on the list of blame.
Once every four years we get a chance to tell the powers-that-be precisely what we think of them and in which direction we'd like to see the country move. I'm not going to squander that on a candidateKerrywho not only doesn't "esprise" me, but in fact disagrees with me (and most other progressives) on practically every major policy issue. And for this, Savage thinks I deserve "to have [my] virilia sliced off and stuffed down [my] fool throat"? Jeez.
I'm glad Dan's doing his part to keep words like kakistocracy, esprise, and virilia from obsolescence, but here's another word that's clearly in dangerdemocracy. Remember? That used to mean that you could vote for the person you liked, and so could I.
Congratulations to staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman, whose book, Life on the Outside: The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), is a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction.
Due to a database error, the name of the director of Café Lumière appeared incorrectly in Retro & Beyond (October 1319). The correct name is Hou Hsiao-hsien.
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