LETTER OF THE WEEK Keen for Dean
You are NUTS! Dean is exactly what this party needs. If you want to be like the Republicans, then just become one [James Ridgeway, Mondo Washington, January 26February 1]. The reason the Dems dont win anything is because they cant make a stand on anything and they dont stand together. For example: Rice and the Ohio votes. You cant change anything when all the Dems vote with the Republicans. If Dean doesnt make chairman, then I think he and Barbara Boxer should can the Democratic Party, become Independents, and let the Democrats be the Republican Lite that they are now. Because thats what I am getting ready to do. I am tired of them not having a backbone and not fighting for us.
Arroyo Grande, California
Art of the deal
Thank you, Jerry Saltz, for your analysis of the new MOMA ["A Modest Proposal for a Better MOMA," January 26February 1]. I love the building, which gave me shivers from time to time as I felt the spirit of the old MOMA (or the even older MOMA) in one or another gallery. And yes, please, fewer German titans of today, more drawings (maybe even with the paintings they inspired?), and more from the marvelous depth of the collectionsuch as the fabulous Gunther Uecker White Field piece from 1964. Which brings me to the strictly chronological exhibition idea, which would be a revelation; it would turn our conceptions about isms and movements upside down. The best show I ever saw at the Whitney was a small exhibition in the lobby gallery a number of years back that simply showed all the works that entered the collection in a particular yearmaybe 1955?and had a young Rauschenberg next to a mature Hartley. I suddenly realized they were both painting in the same city at the same time, which simultaneously compressed and expanded my understanding of each of their work.
Director, the Aldrich
Contemporary Art Museum
Jerry Saltz misses the essence of the new MOMAMore is More! The new space is the point. Walking around is the fun . . .
People-watching is the fun.
The paintings? Who cares . . . the kids can bring their iPods and play "Starry, Starry Night" in front of the van Gogh . . .
Enough already on the "Schvanceleckers School of Giant German Photos" . . . the whole art game is put together by gallery dealers, curators, and auction houses. Good thing there are no drapes to match the paintings . . .
Upper West Side
Don't be modest, Jerryyou've pitched an excellent idea for MOMA. A "75 Years" time-stamped retrospective would certainly teach us a lot about how we got from then to now. But I want to offer an addendum. Why not two or three such "75 Years" shows? Surely there is more than one path from yesteryear to the present. What's a museum for if it can't show them to us?
Theodore D. Kemper
On the same page
"Looking for Vonnegut" by David L. Ulin [January 26February 1] is a very strange message to access over the Internet. I am one of the new generation of used-book sellers who sell over the Internet. I don't usually imagine any connection with my customers but I sometimes do have a warm feeling when I ship off a book that I know to be exceedingly rare (which Canary in a Cathouse is not) to someone who could, under the old system, probably never have found a copy. I don't have rare or old books in the antiquarian sense, but sometimes acquire odd books that never circulated in any quantity, and occasionally someone in another corner of the world wants one. To me this is a miracle to be celebrated, not something to grouch about.
There's nothing like serendipity; I recently found, after 20 years or so of running my fingers across spines in used bookstores, a copy of volume one of the long out of print and so-called "fabulously rare" Ballantine Adult Fantasy edition of William Hope Hodgson's The Night Land in a romance bookstore in Silver City, New Mexico. There was indeed that little spine-tingling epiphanic thrill of recognition that is so irreplaceable, that the book clerk so rarely seems to understand; simultaneously an instant of crushing disappointment that volume two was not beside it. . . . Then going to Amazon and finding, of course, that its "fabulous rarity" has been downgraded and cheapened by the Internet, I ordered the two-volume set on special for $9.95. . . . Should I have waited another 20 years for the second volume to be found in an abandoned trailer in Pascagoula? You can bet I'm going to buy it if it's there, and leave the cherished "$1.00" white sticker on that special copy of volume one.
Gallup, New Mexico
James Ridgeway may understand the Democratic Party machinery, but he doesn't understand us "red-state conservatives." The idea of red and blue states is simplistic and ignorant. The fact is, rural and small-town people think, live, and vote differently than big-city dwellers. Even in blue states like New York, it was the urban dwellers who voted for Kerry, while most everybody else voted for Bush. I think Howard Dean understands this. That makes him very different from the Democratic Party elite, and they don't understand him any more than they understand us. They despise and ridicule him just like they do us. Unless the Democrats have a revolution and replace the Clintonians with somebody like Dean who has courage, passion, and who understands people outside the big cities, they will continue their decline. That's really unfortunate, because I think the Republicans are taking us for granted. There was a time when they stood for limited government, low taxes, individual freedom, and responsibility. Unlike the Democrats they still at least talk about those things. But they are also devoted to the big corporations and their bosses, they don't give a rat's ass about the environment, and they aren't going to lift a finger to fix the health care mess.
Tijeras, New Mexico
More life aquatic
I enjoyed the recent Voice essay about the trials, tribsand perksof fish-keeping, metro-style [Sloane Crosley, "Heavy Petting," The Essay, January 1925]. It was funny, entertaining, and gave me some idea of what it's like to own pets of any sort in a big city. Even though I live on five acres in Georgia with dogs, cats, goats, and ring-necked doves (relatives of your citified rats with wings), I can relate to your fondness for fish. My wife and I have a tank in the living room, where bala sharks, silver dollars, and an algae-eating catfish provide a lot more entertainment than prime-time TV.
I'm sorry Sid and Nancy/Fish died on you. You seem like you'd be a good fish parent and I hope you try again. Here are some suggestions if you do. Goldfish aren't as low maintenance as they seem. A lot of people think they're a good starter fish, but they create a lot of body trash (poop and ammonia), so you need to do partial water changes at fairly frequent intervals. And contrary to the "bowl world" image, they do better with at least a little filtration. By the way, the ones you see with bugged-out eyes and oddball shapes are often the results of Dr. Moreau style crossbreeding. This means their insides haven't totally "evolved," making them even trickier to keep.
But here's the good news. There are plenty of hardy breeds out there that only need a little bit of upkeep. Tetras, White Cloud minnows, and danios are some small fish that do well in a basic tank setup. And you can find aquarium "starter kits" that include tank, filter, and other helpful stuff. They range in size from 2.5-gallon desktop units (I keep a betta in one) to five- and 10-gallon tanks. Average prices range from $25 to $50 (at least they do down here). You can also find some deals online. Fosterandsmith.com is pretty reasonable and reliable. I've ordered from them a couple of times and been pretty satisfied with what I got.
All in all, keeping fish is a pretty cool pastime, especially for busy folks. Just feed 'em once or twice a day, change a little water every couple of weeks (not all of it: Believe it or not, they need some of the bacteria that's in the old water), check/change the filter periodically, and you're most likely good to go.
John J. Harlan
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