Letter of the Week
Re "The End of Democracy" [October 2026]: Rick Perlstein's piece was indeed spooky, especially seen from outside the country. It's odd, of course, that the media people haven't picked up on this fact of American life, or when they have, as Jeff Greenfield apparently did, they take a rather cavalier attitude toward it. "Follow the money" is the old exhortation: Many media workers have become jobholders and would rather not lose their cushy pay.
They should all read Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Hereperhaps not his most famous novel, but certainly one that bears reading in these trying times.
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Sleeping on the job
Vince Aletti had it exactly right about the late Richard Avedon [October 1319]. Avedon relished the challenge and rose to it time and time again.
While working as his assistant on In the American West (2003), I watched as he bounced around the studio like a kid in a candy store. I asked him what his secret was and he just laughed and said, "Catnaps!"
I'm going to take mine right now!
Los Angeles, California
Rick Perlstein's "The End of Democracy" [October 2026] states that George W. Bush is not a fascist. How does Perlstein reach that conclusion? When I look up the word's meanings, I see that Bush's actions match up with fascism. What does your dictionary/encyclopedia say?
Richard A. Gilmore
Franklin Soults's "A Swinger's Diary: Stars Descend on a Dying Town in Hopes That Cleveland Rocks the Vote" [October 2026] gave this old Midwesterner hope. A great piece! I felt I had actually been in Cleveland, rockin' with the locals. Guess I'll be reading The Village Voice more often. Thanks.
Kansas City, Missouri
Everybody loves Raymond
Re Curtis White's essay on the success of The Da Vinci Code ["Faith Off," VLS, October 1319]: Perhaps this is all only as it should be in a culture that believes it can learn about theology by reading a pulp novel. Assuming that a "culture" can believe (or disbelieve) anything, why shouldn't it learn through pulp fiction? Shades of Raymond Chandler!
Tunbridge Wells,Kent, England
Goddess only knows
Re "Faith Off": Only a man would find something new and heretical in The Da Vinci Code.
Feminists have always known that the church has usurped the place of the Goddess and the sacred feminine. This is old news! But I'm glad that Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code. It's about time the men in this world think about an alternative to "the Truth" as they see it.
The whole thing is over
Re Luc Sante's "Eyes Wide Shut" [VLS, October 1319]:
"Hip" died the year David Byrne was the coolest guy in the country. There are no secrets for the cool folks anymore.
Sante seems to have missed an earlier history of hipness, Richard Miller's Bohemia: The Protoculture Then and Now (Nelson-Hall). Miller tracks the history of hip back to the Parisian garret, the Germanic protoBoy Scouts, and, later, the Beats. As in punk North Beach, San Francisco, where Miller wrote the book, there was in these garrets (and other "hip" locales) a spirit that caused a decline in the value of real estate, derided the values of the bourgeoisie, and celebrated the spontaneous and polymorphic.
Miami Beach, Florida
Follow the money
The line Sante wants to draw between advertising and art doesn't hold entirely true today. There is a lot of art being made, especially at the very center stage of the art industry, that conflates completely the art product and its own built-in market-aware pitch.
Some would call this just more "postmodernism." Whatever it is, it sure generates a lot of cash and market expansion.
Los Angeles, California
I'm pleased the Voice has created a new review format for jazz and jazz-related recordings, as seen in Tom Hull's pleasurable and informative article "The Caribbean Tinge" [Jazz Consumer Guide, September 29October 5]. Hull and Francis Davis are emerging as real surrogates for Gary Giddins.
I've been impressed with The New Republic's David Hajdu's the "A" Rotation, in which he describes his current favorite recordings; Hull's Voice article rivals that. Thanks.
Joy Press wonders how anyone could believe the New Yorkbased media could have an urban, middle-class, liberal tone in their journalism ["Liberal Comforters," October 612].
This comes after the CBS forged memo scandal in which a leftish producer, Mary Mapes, working for a network run by Clinton friend Leslie Moonves and owned by Viacom, a corporation stuffed with Democratic fat cats, works with Democratic operative Joe Lockhart to plant evidence on a guilty man, for nonpartisan journalistic ends, I'm sure. Press has nothing in the way of an analogous scandal involving a Democratic politician and the "nonpartisan" establishment media to cite.
Mollie Wilson's "Second Spin to the Right" [The Essay, October 1319] was awesome! The Family Feud scenario is the perfect analogy, as it describes the whole "wish it so" phenomenon. "I do believe in fairies, I do, I do, I do . . . "
Long Beach, California
James Ridgeway's Mondo Washington articles are the best of the best. No one compares to him. His writing is frank, simple, free of big words, informed, relevantin other words, straight to the point.
Ridgeway's an unusual journalist. All the others confuse the issues with side comments and opinions, but Ridgeway sticks to the facts and then asks the hard questions. If Bush doesn't get beaten, Ridgeway can make a difference by holding Bush's feet (and boots) to the fire until he gradually gets out the truth. Still, I have my doubts about this because Bush seems from his addiction days to have the character residuals of denial, fabrication, win-at-any-cost, and training by his father in politics, with a touch of warped religious belief that allows him to do anything in the name of Jesus and God.
Al S. Morrison
Silver Springs, Texas
I found Mike Phillips's characterization of the Living Museum as having "New York's kookiest artists" [Best of New York, October 612] to be distasteful.
I am a person with a psychiatric disability and find the term "mentally handicapped" to be outdated and condescending. Some of the people in that museum have displayed in Soho, and I feel they deserve their respect as outsider artists.
Chronicle of deaths foretold
Re Ta-Nehisi Coates's "Black, White, Read: News Orgs Are Serving Up the Sudan Conflict as a Race War. Sadly, It's Not That Simple" [Press Clips, September 29October 5]: The unfolding tragedy in Sudan is ethnic cleansinggenocide, plain and simple. Fifty thousand people are dead, and many hundreds of thousands of lives are threatened. Who cares whether it's portrayed in the media as a race war or a color war?
The bigger story is why we're letting it happen once again.
Upper West Side
Thank you, Ward Sutton, for your latest in a series of brilliant cartoons ["A Culture of Life," Sutton Impact, October 2026]. I was really hoping someone would make the connection between Bush's vaunted "culture of life" and his practice of promoting death all around.
You left out the job he has done on the environment, and his enjoyment of killing helpless animals when he was a kid . . . but who knows, maybe another time.
In Charles McNulty's "Greek Love" [October 13-19], it should have been noted that The Antigone Project was conceived by Chiori Miyagawa and Sabrina Peck.
Hillary Chute's "Everybody Slept Here" [Best of New York, October 612] incorrectly stated that the Hamilton Grange Library is on the site of Alexander Hamilton's historic home, called "the Grange." The Hamilton Grange Library was named after Hamilton's nearby, historic home at 287 Convent Avenue.
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