Letter of the Week
Stewing in Evanston

Re Anya Kamenetz's "Bright Lights, Big Rent Check" [Generation Debt: The New Economics of Being Young, August 18–24]: For many years the leftist press has favored rent control. The result? No one wants to build rental housing and New York housing sucks. It's expensive, and I wouldn't house a dog in such places. New York is the laughing stock of the country because its middle class—complete with its delusions of grandeur—lives in what would be considered slums anywhere else.

So what has rent control gotten you? Just the opposite of what the left predicted. As usual, there is no free lunch.

Neil Elliott
Evanston, Illinois

String theory

Re Abby Ellin's "The String That Binds" [August 11–17]:

The Kabbalah cult is just another twist in a long, tedious tradition of what happens when pop psychology meets the power of suggestion.

First hint: Celebrities don't have time to actually "observe their own lives and work on correcting their problems"—this takes immense focus and commitment and sucks up a lot of time in their busy, dramatic, celebrity schedules.

One can be sure that whatever the Rav is feeding his celebrities is mainly a heavy dose of attention and personal praise. The Rav doesn't have to work too hard to extract money from his less than spiritually perfect star disciples; they give up the coin for another hour of time on the meter of spiritual blessings.

All people may read and study the (Holy) Kabbalah on their own. There are many great books and metaphysical writings on the subject. I used to study Kabbalah years ago—believe me, whatever the Rav is selling to his flock is not anywhere near the truly unique, esoteric teachings of the (Holy) Kabbalah.

Devin Howard
Los Angeles, California

The accidental tsuris

As an Orthodox Jew, I am truly frightened by the pending Chillul Hashem—the defamation of G-d's name that the Center will cause (and is already causing).

Kabbalah isn't meant to be mass-marketed to unrefined people who do not practice modesty in their lives. Eventually Madonna will move on to the next fad—and she will become an antagonist of Kabbalah, and Jews. We have enough problems. We don't need tsuris (problems) from Madonna.

"Simon W."
Cleveland, Ohio

Hare we go again

Re "The String That Binds":

The Voice should know better than to group the Hare Krishnas with Scientologists and Moonies, insinuating that they improperly seek to manipulate gullible people and enrich their leaders.

As an American of Asian Indian ancestry who attends Hare Krishna services, I can attest that what has come to be called the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), often known by its great mantra "Hare Krishna," is a legitimate, five-centuries-old Indian denomination. Most American Hare Krishna devotees today are Indian immigrants and their children. The non-Indian converts are sincere spiritual seekers, and the leaders are at least as selfless in their service as the leaders of any religion recognized as "mainstream" in America—probably more so, because Hare Krishna leaders live in monastic poverty. Hindus worldwide recognize ISKCON's authenticity. American public perceptions of ISKCON are distorted by prejudice against unfamiliar immigrant traditions and by memories of abuses by some 1970s American ISKCON leaders who were ousted long ago.

Jai Chandrasekhar
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Sign language

Congratulations on your long article about Kabbalah. As a Jew, I find their corruption of millennia-old teachings reprehensible and damaging to the reputation of my friends and family.

I live across the street from their center. I have found them arrogant, with little knowledge of basic Hebrew philosophy. They park their cars wherever they want, since they have a DOT permit to park in specific locations; they put up an illegal No Parking sign because they convinced the DOT that they are a religious institution entitled to privileges. I presume they pay no taxes either.

Maybe if you guys turn your magnifying glass onto how they are behaving as members of the Manhattan community, you might have a sensational follow-up. Good work!

Perry Luntz

Week-end update

Sloane Crosley's piece on the white girl butt ["Butt Seriously," The Essay, August 11–17] is the funniest thing that I've read in 20 years. It's hilarious. I'm rolling in the aisles. August 11–17 should be declared White Girl Independence Week throughout the land, for all time, and celebrated yearly, just like the Fourth of July; and Crosley's essay should be framed and put in the National Archives, next to the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, it's just that important.

Leon Nick
Phoenix, Arizona

I would just like to say thank you for the article about white girls with big butts. I am one of those girls. I was cracking up at your story 'cause I actually know how true it all is. You made my day. Thanks!

Helen Burkett
Kensington, Brooklyn

Berlin point

I found Tricia Romano's "The Next Brooklyns: New York's DJs flee overseas to Berlin and Barcelona" [July 28–August 3] interesting, but would like to know how the New York DJs (and musicians) who have been heading to, e.g., Berlin are able to make money while staying under the radar of the German immigration authorities, given that the country's unemployment rate exceeds 10 percent. Aside from which, I'm told Germany has quite stringent employment regulations for non-EU foreigners.

Michael Kraft
Upper West Side

Free DJ Wendella, Volume 1

I enjoyed "The Next Brooklyns." As a struggling DJ here, I have often thought of fleeing for greener pastures, and it was interesting to read that others are doing just that.

Between my being thrown out of Pianos bar last year for dancing (yep, still can't believe that one, but it sure does make a great story to tell non–New Yorkers!) and having my favorite little DJ-friendly bars and lounges close down one by one, New York isn't really the starving artist's paradise I'd envisioned when I moved here two years ago. I know top-rate DJs here that have been doing this their whole lives and are barely even able to make a living now. And a little hobbyist DJ like myself—I can hardly get gigs anymore—finds it even harder to connect with the lovers of music out there in the sea of overwhelming choices that is New York nightlife.

So the article tempted me. . . . But it failed to touch on how these DJs are able to live and work in Europe. Are they just overstaying their tourist visas, leaving the country every three months to renew their visas?

Living in Barcelona in a big apartment with a thriving nightlife scene eating paella and tapas until the wee hours does sound very appealing, but living in secret, illegally, without the national health care benefits that many offer their citizens sounds . . . less appealing.

Come November, if the masses in America choose to keep the current administration, I may follow suit and pack my bags. Perhaps there are enough answers out there to warrant a sequel to this story, to help those of us daydreaming of flamenco dancing decide if it's really as dreamy as it sounds.

Wendy Sharbutt,
a/k/a DJ Wendella

Librarians in Iberia?

I've been waiting for an article like "The Next Brooklyns" for a while. In it Romano notes that New York's dance music scene is undergoing a brain drain. But it's not just that scene which is fed up with the new conservatism in this country and is jumping ship. I've talked to people across the country in their thirties and forties—librarians and teachers and social workers (like myself), some with children—who say they'd seriously consider moving to Germany or Spain if they could find a legal way to do it. They're tired of trying to live in a country where fear has supplanted freedom and quality of life is being held hostage by ignorance, intolerance, and greed.

I wonder if we're facing a time when, like Paris in the '20s, some Americans found the atmosphere at home too stifling and left. Except this time, it won't be just the artists.

Renata Marinaro
Sunnyside, Queens


Lyle Derek was misidentified in Tricia Romano's "Moonlighting" [Fly Life, August 11–17]. He was not the "man behind" Squeezebox. During the party's heyday, he actually worked as a go-go dancer. Martin Belk, Michael Schmidt, Patrick Briggs, Miss Guy, Misstress Formika, and Steve Trask were the primary promoters. And in last week's Fly Life [August 18–24], the event that police busted at Volume was thrown by Indymedia, not Madagascar Institute, as Volume employees told the Voice.

Two listings in the RNC guide, "State of Emergency" and "Stand Up! For Choice!" [August 25–31], were misattributed to "Drew Stillman." The writer is Drew Tillman.

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