Letter of The Week
Lost in transportation
Re Paul Moses's "Something's Missing" [The Fine Print, December 28, 2005January 3, 2006]: Several years ago, I was the victim of a pickpocket on the subway. I reported my stolen wallet immediately, and even retraced my steps. The police told me that since I did not see the person physically lift the wallet from my pocket, they would report it as "lost property" rather than as a crime. A couple of years after that, I was summoned for jury duty, and when it was asked if anybody there had ever been the victim of a crime (virtually every hand went up), I told my story to the judge, who said that seemed like a way for the police to keep crime statistics down. So this is not a new phenomenon.
I'd like to thank the Voice for its coverage of the TWU strike, particularly the piece by Kristen Lombardi and Jarrett Murphy ["Fault Line," December 28, 2005January 3, 2006], which provided an unbiased glimpse into the lives of the people your billionaire mayor slanderously painted as pampered, overpaid thugs. Pataki, Bloomberg, and Kalikow have a strong sense of the class they belong to (or long to belong to). Perhaps this is due to the pervasive coverage of them by the media. Lombardi and Murphy gave workers a peek at the lives of others like themselves, a useful first step toward the understanding needed in the development of class consciousness.
Ossining, New York
The MTA is one of the most selfish, arrogant, and deceitful bureaucracies in the world. MTA chairman Peter Kalikow should be forced to resign in disgrace. But don't you think it would have been nice if Murphy and Lombardi had at least attempted to obtain the MTA's side of this story? I have never seen Voice reporters Tom Robbins and Wayne Barrett fail to do so. I have no problems believing the MTA is arbitrary, capricious, and wanton in its disciplinary actions. I have a major problem believing that every MTA employee is unfairly disciplined. The Voice's coverage of the strike failed to recognize the straphanger, who is the real loser in all of this, not because she/he lost transit service for three days but because the system is rapidly falling into a state of decrepitude.
In the article "Bill Weld's School Daze" [December 2127, 2005], Tom Robbins hit almost all of the main points about Decker College and Weld's poor running of it. However, there is one point missing: Weld walked off with his pay of $700,000 in October, while over 500 people who worked for him are still owed three or more weeks of pay from August and September 2005. I would like to thank him for such a wonderful Christmas of unemployment.
Suffern, New York
Re Jennifer Gonnerman's story "Tuesdays With Judy" [January 410]: It's great that the Voice showcased the artwork from Judith Raskin-Rosenthal's Gallery 300. I was particularly drawn to Jill Friedman's A Room With a View. Raskin-Rosenthal is one of those wonderful people who make life better by doing good work. Having friends who suffer from mental illness, I appreciate and know the value of her work for the good of humanity.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
I am studying to be an expressive or art therapist as part of my degree, so I am very interested in Gonnerman's article. I would like very much to connect with the Bridge Group Artists and speak with the facilitator Raskin-Rosenthal about her career and college life. I am grateful that Gonnerman spent time on such a lengthy article about one of my biggest passions.
Anne Ishii's article "English as a Second Language" [The Essay, January 410] on Memoirs of a Geisha exhibits flawed logic. What these detractors seem to forget is that Japanese and Chinese people are of the same race. That is why Don Cheadle can play a Rwandan, because he is of the same race, i.e., African, whereas Ishii's other example of James Gandolfini as Chairman Mao is not a parallel argument because they are of different races, i.e., white versus Asian. In an ideal world you could have Japanese play Japanese, etc. But in Hollywood Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer can play French women in Dangerous Liaisons while speaking in English and not be criticized. In fact, the film and the acting were praised. Where were all the detractors saying, "But they are speaking in English and they are not French"? If you want a film with a Japanese cast who speak Japanese, you should get a Japanese production company to film and finance it. For better or worse Hollywood films are generally made by white men for the white viewing public. If this is so offensive, then I suggest that Ishii read books instead of watching movies and pay less attention to pop culture.
Los Angeles, California
James Ridgeway's "The Bush Family Coup" [Mondo Washington, January 410] details what many have been saying since the Bushes were in the Reagan administration. But the coup is far from over and is wide-ranging. It includes those who embezzled from the American treasury in the savings-and-loan scams and who were protected from aggressive investigations by Bush Sr., who was assigned to manage the debacle by the Reagan administration. It includes the cabal out of Yale University that historically has inculcated aggression against the liberal Constitution from within the federal government itself as directors of departments and the White House. These new, so-called Republican conservatives have used a strategy of attacking liberals as a euphemism for attacking the Constitution and its protections against despotic rule, disenfranchising minorities, and impoverishing labor. The tragedy is that they have been assisted by a large percentage of the electorate who are clueless about American history and their own interests, with the exception of one constituency, African Americans.
Ridgeway's article was great but it left out a crucial point. The Bush family coup and shredding of the U.S. Constitution began in 2000 with Bush's theft of the election that yearbypassing the Constitution and Florida law in order to illegally block the counting of thousands of legal votes in Florida. None of the terrible things that Ridgeway described would have happened had all of the uncounted Florida votes been counted ?Bush would never have been president. No discussion of all of the illegal and bad things that Bush has done will ever be complete without including the crime that started it all, the Bush family's illegal theft of the 2000 election and the end of democracy in America.
Terms of engagement
In response to Robert Christgau's short take on Antony and the Johnsons' I Am a Bird Now in Dud of the Month [Consumer Guide, January 410]: I found it comical when Christgau suggests that "his failure to undercut that emotion with irony or humor is a spiritual weakness." I've been arguing the inverse for years. Reliance upon irony and (supposed) humor has played too much interference in popular art for my taste. It's a defensive strategy that too often hinders sincere emotional investigation and engagement. To quote a friend, "You can't cry ironically." Beyond all that, to hear Antony and only hear "his suffering" seems sadly to miss the boat.
True listening, like "empathy," may not be an obligation, but it definitely enriches understanding.
Bainbridge Island, Washington
Christgau's critique of I Am a Bird Now is a smug, obnoxious crouton of music journalism, ripe with homophobia and a complete ignorance of the "new sincerity." I'm neither a transsexual nor HIV-positive but the music is as important as anything Chan Marshall could have written.
Re Robert Sietsema's "Santa's Top 10 Cookbooks" [November 2329, 2005]: I disagree with Sietsema. How can he say bad things about Jamie Oliver? His recipes are incredibly delicious and he is extremely talented. Also, Rachael Ray's TV show $40 a Day isn't her best show but her book has some great recipes and since it is considered a cookbook (or sold as one), you have to go by the recipes. I've made several of Ray's dishes and they were terrific.
Oxford, New Jersey
In last week's review of Candida, actress Amanda Jones was misidentified as Amanda Roberts.
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