LETTER OF THE WEEK
Thank you, Dan Savage, for having the balls to come out so forcefully on the subject of HIV infection [Savage Love, February 23-March 1 and March 2-8]. Stories like the one about the man knowingly going out and infecting other gay men are the reason I have been terrified to have a sexual relationship for the past three years. Mainstream America tiptoes around gay-related issues (unless of course we're being used as a political punching bag), so there is no need for gays and lesbians to do the same. We are the only ones who can turn the tide. No one else seems to care anymore. Your little bit of tough love was exactly what our community needs. Victimhood among gays and lesbians is our biggest barrier these days. It stifles any kind of honest debate on issues that relate to our well-being. I was horrified to hear the reader who wrote from a clinic chastise you for being "mean." How did we get to this point?
While it is true that Hunter S. Thompson had more in common with the tradition of muckraking journalism from an earlier century, as Jarrett Murphy points out [Press Clips, "The End of Gonzo," March 2-8], it is not quite true that no one has emerged as an inheritor of the style of confrontational New Journalism he invented, which came to be known as gonzo. While he's not quite as inebriated, I nominate the ever irascible Christopher Hitchens, in support of which I present as evidence his book The Trial of Henry Kissinger.
His is one of the only major (widely circulated) voices in the new New Journalism that commands time on the pundit roundtable among TV's talking heads, space in the "alternative" newsweeklies, and columns in the so-called long-form monthly magazinesas well as enough clout with good, old hardcover publishers to get a book like Kissinger published.
His abandonment of dogmatic left-wing positions with his support for the war in Iraq was very Thompson-esque, and his discomfort among those on the right with whom he found himself allied makes him an inheritor of Thompson's all-inclusive distrust: of the media-ocracy, political class, and self-appointed social critics, all of whose ascension in the culture Thompson witnessed from his Colorado bunker, the final blow to which came, ironically, from within its very own walls.
Reporter, Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Our back pages
The legacy of Hunter Thompson lies with the efforts of the rare journalist-author-songwriter, armed only with the truth (and possibly enough mood-enhancing resources to make it entertaining), to report firsthand from the front lines of the American dilemma, wherever that may be. Hunter made his name taking on the traditional political-journalism machine back in the '70s, but evidence of his significance has always been out there. As a matter of fact, the Voice used to run terrific articles on the back/sports page that shed light on some underexposed topics begging for attention, like rattlesnake hunting in South Carolina, cockfighting in Louisiana, and dog racing in Florida. In retrospect, and also in tribute to those authors, those stories were truly Hunter-esque.
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
An experiment in luxury
Re Joy Press's "The Last Days of Loserville" [March 2-8]: Whatugonna do? The Bowery has been transforming and reinventing itself for centuries, and what is happening now isn't a surprise. It's had its high times and low times. The more we romanticize it, the more the true reality of this venerable street eludes us. When I first moved to the Bowery in the early '80s, and before we opened our restaurant, Marion's, in 1990, you had to look both ways before exiting the building. When we told people we were going to open here they thought we were crazy. Back then there was CBGB and Phebe's, and that's about it after dark. Well, we did open, and the Bowery grew back all around us into the kind of entertainment street it has always been best at. So what's next? Better housing, good hotels, designer shops, trendy restaurants and bars? The Bowery has seen it before and will welcome it again. And a hundred years from now, it all will be another paragraph in the "History of the Bowery," which is a never ending story.
Richard S. Bach
Hey! Ho! Let's go . . . to S.I.
Re the gentrification of the Bowery:
That's OKthere's plenty of grunge left on the Staten Island north shore. Maybe CBGB can relocate there? Grunge, projects, abandoned industrial waterfront, abandoned rail right-of-way . . . low rents . . . sunlight . . .
St. George, Staten Island
All the right moves
Kristen Lombardi's piece on Hillary's move right ["God Is a Centrist Democrat," March 2-8] was good, but in fact, she has lurched rightward since coming to New York. During her first-lady years, she was a strong supporter of her husband's Middle East peace moves. But not since coming here. Today she is about as far right on Israel as any member of Congress. She has supported actions taken by the Sharon government more than the Bush administration hasrefraining from criticizing even settlement building and home demolitions. She's only hesitating now, when Sharon is actually trying to leave Gaza. With her eye on the crazed-right segment of the Jewish community (e.g., Mort Klein's Zionist Organization of America), her support for Sharon's peace moves is tepid. As for Palestinians, their role in Hillary's worldview is to secure Israel. They have no rights, just obligations.
Does she believe any of this? Doubtful. She is a very cynical politician who does not merit the support of those of us desperate to see "two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security." Those are George W. Bush's words, but they are just too dovish for Hillary (or Chuck Schumer, or Jerry Nadler, for that matter). I wish she had been elected from Arkansas. If she had, she might have kept her conscience, at least on this issue.
I am an upstate conservative and an evangelical Christian and probably don't have a lot in common with the typical reader of The Village Voice. However, I am appalled at what happened to Elena Sassower ["The Scourge of Her Conviction," February 2-8]. No American should have to go through what she has gone through. There are too many laws in America and too many corrupt politicians and judges, so that even hardworking, law-abiding citizens have to worry about being thrown in jail. True conservatives want as few people in jail as possible. A big prison system is part of big government, and prison should be primarily for the violent. I hope Elena Sassower will finally get her day in court and that her judge will not be on a power trip.
Amsterdam, New York
In last week's Letter of the Week ["P&J's Painful Irony," March 2-8], Margaret Dodger stated that a lot of critics polled for the Pazz & Jop issue chose musicians and music that are "apolitical." So? Must everyone and everything be political? Must all music say something very controversial? OK, our most modern music often offers social or political statements, yet what's wrong with expressions of cause for the sake of art, rather than the other way around?
True, today's music industry is more than ever before about big profits rather than musical talent, style, originality, and creativity. And some of yesteryear's artists became today's legends because of political stances, but to condemn apolitical art and artists is like saying "one size fits all" and "free speech is for everybody except those who disagree with us." Can't people and processes be different? Choosing not to have an agenda can be a statement of its own.
Margaret Dodger is rightnot many of Pazz & Jop's top 40 albums had much progressive political import, although I would argue that this isn't true of leaders Kanye West and Brian Wilson. In fact, I did argue itin a Pazz & Jop essay, most of which was devoted to precisely the issue Dodger raises. How flattering it would be to believe that she had read it.
The photo of Ruth Kligman on Tear Sheet (March 2-8) should have been credited to Jonathan Cramer.
The cover of last week's Choices section should have read, "Asia Argento's The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things." JT LeRoy is the author of the book from which the film was adapted.
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