LETTER OF THE WEEK
Sloane Crosley writes with humor and wit ["Where's the Beef?" The Essay, May 25-31]. However, I think she's a bit unfair in typecasting other vegans and vegetarians because, contrary to popular belief, most of us aren't card-carrying members of the food police. Many of us have a simple goal: to reduce the suffering of farm animals killed for human food consumption. To those like Crosley who care about animals but think they could never give up bacon or fish, my response is simple: Don't give those foods up. Keep your animal consumption as low as you can possibly manage but allow yourself to enjoy those few animal products you feel you cannot live without. This option is so much better than remaining frozen in a meat-at-every-meal mind-set. You'll be minimizing the environmental impact of your food choices as well as the mistreatment of animals.
Question of auteur-ship
Thank you for J. Hoberman's glorious write-up of A History of Violence ["Historical Oversight," May 25-31]. Working with David Cronenberg on the film convinced me that my impression of him as one of our greatest living filmmakers was correct. I take some issue with the following statement, however. Hoberman writes: "Freely adapted from John Wagner and Vince Locke's graphic novel (and apparently a work for hire), Cronenberg's movie manages to have its cake and eat it."
The film was, indeed, freely adapted from the graphic novel, using its central premise and main characters as a launching point to tell a very different story. I speak with authority on the matter, as I am the screenwriter who adapted the novel and whose script attracted David to the project. I worked closely with David on the subsequent rewrite and was, in fact, the sole writer on the project. I understand the auteur theory is one that once embraced is hard to let go of, but I am sure Hoberman would understand my frustration were his reviews to run without a byline.
Los Angeles, California
A bad rap
I'm a bit upset here that Werner Trieschmann called Rascal Flatts a load of crap in his review of Cowboy Troy ["Dallas Cowboy Gets Big and Rich," May 25-31]. Rascal Flatts are not a load of crap. They are a great country band, and they have great fans who care about them. They are the reigning kings of country music. Now what's a load of crap is Cowboy Troy. Rapping in country music is gross and sick. It should be off the airwaves, period. Please get your ears checked by your local doctor.
You forgot China
Nat Hentoff's column on Sudan [Liberty Beat, "An Ally From Hell," May 25-31] fails to mention why no U.N. sanctions will ever pass the Security Council. China has the rich oil concession in Sudan and will veto any sanctions.
Hentoff's informative column keeps referring to the genocide victims as "black Africans." But they're also Christian. The perpetrators are Muslims. Why is this angle not being investigated?
Nat Hentoff replies: I have often written that China, because of its extensive interest in Sudan's oil, has made it clear it will veto any sanctions, and so will Russia because of its involvement in Sudan. As for Mr. Dailey's question, the victims of the Khartoum government's genocide for many years in the south of Sudan are Christians. In Darfur, those being murdered, raped, and dislocated from their homes are black African Muslims. So Muslims are killing Muslims, and the Arab League has shown no meaningful concern.
Two's a crowd
Re Allen Barra's "Stadium Cheating" [The Essay, May 11-17]: That the Yankees are lining up to get a new stadium is only half of it. The plan calls for building the new stadium on a public park, destroying (although the city claims it will replace some of) a recently renovated running track, many tennis courts, an open space for picnicking, and a swimming poolall used by the local community. In return, the old stadium will be hollowed out and the seating will be converted probably to parking (the last thing we need is a magnet for yet more cars), while most of the exterior of the old structure and the field itself will be maintained as part of a hall of fame or something else. So rather than one stadium, the community will be stuck with two, plus all the additional parkingread pollutionand we will have to do without badly needed sporting facilities.
Mott Haven, Bronx
Join us, or animals die
Re Sloane Crosley's wavering commitment to vegetarianism ["Where's the Beef?" The Essay, May 25-31]: The moral issue really isn't whether one is a vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, but whether or not one chooses to do something to improve factory farming conditions. Simply because 9 billion meat animals a year in the U.S. can't think or talk in the way we approve, many are subjected to live flaying, live boiling, live dismemberment, lifelong immobilized confinement, and numerous other forms of torture. The issue of whether to slaughter or not pales beside the horrible slaughtering processes and mechanized raising conditions we now have. A vegan who thinks he is putting a dent in these conditions by abjuring meat is smoking something: The proportion of U.S. meat going to developing countries where there are few or no vegans is rising exponentially. The issue is not refusal to eat meat but actually helping these animals sometime before the golden millennium when everyone will be a vegetarian. If the tiny minority of us who work to put pressure on animal factories to improve conditions, on lawmakers to pass laws, and on the USDA to enforce existing laws were joined by even one-quarter of the vegans and vegetarians out there, some progress could be made.
Pleasantville, New York
Holy helpful term!
Crosley's inability to be forthcoming about the fact that she consumes fishthough still considers herself a vegetariancan be relieved with a simple vocabulary lesson. A pescetarian is someone who supplements a vegetarian diet with fish. If Crosley feels the need to label herself, she can use this term and needn't feel guilty, lie about her last supper, or be shunned by the veggie club any longer!
I am sitting here eating a piece of pizza that I have picked the meat off of and laughing out loud at Sloane Crosley's essay. I technically don't eat meat either but I order the pepperoni and peel it off so at least I can sneak some of the taste. That's my dirty vegetarian secret! I really thought this was one of the most astute things I have ever read in the Voice. The whole vegetarian fad has been played out for years but Crosley's article has breathed new life into the matter.
Lone starved for sushi
I absolutely loved Crosley's essay. I don't believe I've ever agreed with anyone on the subject more. Vegetarianism is becoming increasingly easier; if only I were in New York and not Texas, I'm sure the sushi there would be far more tempting.
Re "Poor Students, Fast Learners" by Anya Kamenetz [Generation Debt, May 18-24]: Kamenetz's statement that students must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours to retain a Pell Grant is wrong. For a student to be eligible to receive a Pell Grant, she must only be enrolled in at least one credit hour. The Pell Grant program pays out based on a student's expected family contribution and enrollment status. It is a sliding scale of sorts. The more credits students take, the more Pell they receive at their expected family contribution level.
Anya Kamenetz replies: I want to thank Ms. Murray for pointing out the error. While less-than-half-time students are not eligible for federally subsidized student loans, they can receive Pell Grants. In 1999- 2000, according to the Government Accountability Office, the average Pell Grant for a less-than-half-time student was $465, while the average Pell Grant all students received was $1,915. For the students in my story, there is a clear incentive to remain enrolled at a level where they are eligible for enough aid to live on, even if they must also work.
The photo of Johnny T, Justine D, Michael T, and Georgie Seville (the Motherfucker crew) on page 102 of last week's issue should have been credited to Alexander Thompson.
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