Letter of The Week

Torture gets cold shoulder

Thanks to Nat Hentoff for exposing the Bush administration's hypocrisy regarding human rights ["Anatomy of a Murder," Liberty Beat, February 8–14]. While George W. Bush and his team keep telling us that the U.S. does not engage in torture, Amnesty International and other human rights groups keep collecting more and more evidence to the contrary. In his 2006 State of the Union address, Bush never even spoke the word "torture." Despite pressure from the grassroots, he did not tell the truth about the CIA's interrogation tactics and he did not take a stand against those tactics. Instead, he just kept telling us that he is spreading "freedom" around the world. Freedom? Would someone please give the president a dictionary?

Mary Shaw
Philadelphia Area Coordinator Amnesty International USA
Norristown, Pennsylvania

Editor in chief wanted:

The Village Voice, America's flagship alternative weekly, is seeking an editor in chief to carry on the paper's storied tradition of investigative journalism, feature-length storytelling, and cutting-edge cultural criticism. Applicants should have a fine touch with copy, significant experience crafting stories in magazine style, and strong reporting chops. They should be able to help staff generate superior in-depth stories that explain how New York City works, and guide beginning writers as well as accomplished ones. The ideal candidate will be able to edit and write, leading by example rather than by dictate.

Qualified candidates should send a cover letter, résumé, and clips to:

Christine Brennan
c/o Westword
969 Broadway
Denver, Colorado 80203

Rebels yell: Don't fuck with Bush Beat

Are you morons, morons? Cancel Bush Beat? Do you realize what little you have to offer your readers, of which there are many, who do not live in New York City? Yes, of course, you've got Michael Musto (don't screw that up you jerks). But James Ridgeway and Ward Harkavy! That's a one-two punch to the political solar plexus of this messed-up nation. Dudes, wake up! Politics is coming back into style. People are going to start getting political again and then The Village Voice is going to be in trouble. Has the Voice been taken over by self-absorbed poseurs? So it would seem.

I was hoping the Voice would remain substantive rather than become derivative, but it seems you are selling out.

Rabbi Soren Katz
Austin, Texas

So, it didn't take long for "new management" to muzzle one of the best features about the Voice. I'm talking about Bush Beat.

Instead of selling out the paper to new masters, maybe it would have been better to let the Voice die. It'll be a long, slow death to be sure. Just know this—I won't be reading.

Diane Maher
via e-mail

I cannot believe you have canceled Bush Beat. It seems you are following the trend of many papers that are intimidated by this regime. I depended upon this excellent column for information about this administration's criminal activities. I am very upset and disappointed.

Beverly Kile
Half Moon Bay, California

Preying from the pulpit

Congratulations to Kristen Lombardi and The Village Voice for investigating a sector of society riddled with hypocrisy—the Catholic Church ["Outing Cardinal Egan," February 8–14]. I often wonder how gay priests can preach from the pulpit each week about the evils of homosexuality while being gay themselves. That must grind at the very core of one's being. I shudder to think of the damage being done to their spirits. I hope more men of courage like Reverend Bob Hoatson will stand up and change the culture to one of respect for all lifestyles and individual ways of thinking. Freedom leads to healing.

Laura Breault
Hull, Massachusetts

Racial cock-tales

Re Naomi Pabst's "Black and White and Read all Over" [February 1–7]: Black people and white people in America are all mixed. I have Jamaican friends who will not check off African American on a census document of any sort and resort to the "other" or "mixed" race category. The term mix is emerging because white people have agreed to acknowledge the other, but God forbid they call their children black. For the true essence of being black and American is being mixed in the first place. I have lived in Africa and as a black American woman I can't tell you how many times I am called "white" because of where I come from instead of who I am or think I am. So folks, get over it. Americans have always been mixed in the separatist view of the word and we (black Americans) will always be black—tell folks who ask to fuck off, and call it a day. My rule of thumb is, if you were born from a black woman (from anywhere in the world) you are black.

Natalie Leb

Playing the piano man

In his review of Billy Joel ["Sometimes He's Shot," February 8–14] , Mikael Wood tips his hand when he mentions Bob Dylan. Joel is like Dylan but with actual musical, as opposed to simply lyrical, talent. When an artist doesn't conform to the Voice's tired revolution, he's then branded a sellout. We've all heard this dialectic before: Only "underground" musicians are true artists, as they haven't sold their souls to corporate interests. But the miracle of Billy Joel is that, somehow, despite his famous lack of business savvy and his self-described "non-matinee-idol looks," he's managed a career-long end-around run, successfully dodging such "intellectual" critics, and delivered two things in spades: lyrics to which a diversity of people relate, and music that combines originality (while not hiding its influences), infectiousness, and complexity. Pay close attention, Wood, "Pressure" was written just for you, as you've turned Bob Dylan's tap dance into your crusade. Your own "cosmic rationale," surely, is that you write for the Manhattan intelligentsia—the channel 13 PBS crowd—with their elitist pinko politics, Time magazine tucked under their arms, and degrees from NYU.

Rufus Makenzie

Rolling over the Stones

Re Nick Sylvester's article on how "disgusting" the Rolling Stones were ["I Wanna Be Your Riff," Riff Raff, villagevoice.com, February 6]: Sylvester's review betrayed a common prejudice within music journalism, in what I see as an inbred "conservatism" that most music critics have either ignored or failed to recognize.

Rock 'n' roll (as opposed to jazz, r&b, blues, or other forms) has always been viewed as "youth music." To a certain extent, this is understandable. A fresh influx of ideas and sounds is always necessary to keep things from stagnating. But to assign relevance to only that facet of it is shortsighted. In other words, for many people like Sylvester, rock music "should" look and sound a certain way. For example, only kids under 25 playing loud and fast. If it doesn't fit that mold, it's either "dinosaur music" or won't get acknowledged. Dumb. I'm not trying to make the world safe for aging bands to sell $1,000 tickets for arena shows. I'm merely trying to point out what Sylvester, and others of his ilk, often fail to see. Everyone's entitled to their opinion. If you watched the show and thought the Stones sucked, fine, I respect that. But say that. I don't think there was one word in your review about the quality of the performance. I find it interesting that you're willing to make fun of geriatric geezers, with their "skin flailing about," but you didn't mention anything about overweight Aretha Franklin or Aaron Neville.

Erik Bresnihan
Port Jefferson Station, New York

Feminist farewell

Thanks for Michael Feingold's wonderful piece on Wendy Wasserstein ["Wendy Wasserstein 1950–2006," February 1–7]. It was because of Wasserstein that I made the mistake of going to Mount Holyoke College. Oy—what a bad idea. All the same, her plays highlighted the internal conflict of what it means to be a woman in this day and age. It's such a shame to see feminism become "out of style" for my generation (of idiots—especially the ones who voted for Bush). It's a good thing to learn that brilliance can be accompanied by a sense of humor. So many writers take their mediocre thoughts so damn seriously. I never got to meet Wasserstein, the woman who inspired me, but Fein- gold's article made me feel like I finally got to know her a little bit.

Ash Barth Yardley, Pennsylvania

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