Letter of the Week
Tricia Romano's "The Next Brooklyns" [July 28-August 3] was terrific and important. There need to be more stories about the deteriorating New York City art world. As a visual artist, I feel outpriced and incapable of surviving in post-9-11 New York, and I question why I should stick around for an increasingly generic, Friends- style city that doesn't support its young artists. This city is losing the culture that made it special and replacing it with Starbucks, Subways, and homes for the super-rich.
I want more like this from the Voice in addition to your excellent political coverage. Keep up the good work.
Laughter in Scotland
Re John Powers's "Bush's Big Number Two" [July 21-27]: It's been years since I've read such a well-written piece. If only the rest of the world could learn from Powers. I love the imageryalways potent, always incisive, but never inappropriate or excessive. My favorite part was when Powers writes, "He's the military-industrial complex made flesh." I'm still laughing!
New York state of mindful talent
Re Tricia Romano's "The Next Brooklyns" [July 28-August 3]:
I find it hard to believe that the city is fading when it comes to electronica and dance. Despite the fact that we are hit with stinky laws and overbearing rules, DJs still make their way to New York from all parts of the world. As a matter of fact, this past June and July were storming months for the likes of many headliners that have graced the tables in New York: Tiesto, Oakey, PVD, Sasha, Armin, and also up-and-comers like Zabiela and Levelle. There are events now that run during the summerCentral Park's SummerStage and Cooper-Hewitt's Summer Sessions that featured Josh Wink recently. How is this bad? Inflation is bound to happen, but the talent is still thereor shall I say here, in New York City.
Tricia Romano replies: All the names listed are huge, international DJs who play massive events that charge over $25 to attend (even the Central Park gig is pricey), and they are not the ones who form the backbone of the local dance music scene. Small clubs and bars that feature the local DJs are what makes the local scene strong and keeps things interesting.
The local DJs are usually the ones who push more forward-thinking music, while the big DJsbecause they are playing to the massesmust play less exciting stuff.
Re James Ridgeway's "Walking the Planks" [Mondo Boston, July 28-August 3]:
Does Ridgeway really believe what he is writing, or is he just a left-wing propagandist, much like James Carville? He and the other reviewers of the DNC seem to be desperate to get a grasp on some new life in the planks of the platform. They are certainly not aloneI see the same problem with the RNC. Both parties seem to have lost their souls.
Blairstown, New Jersey
Re "Walking the Planks": I like the part about Michael Moore's most recent docu-fiction being the replacement for the party platform. Here's another suggestion. Let M.M. do the ads for the Kerry campaign. He could star in some of them. I can see him sneaking onto the Bush ranch and running up to the Satanic Liar with a question about why the twins have not been put in a combat unit in Iraq. Of course, the body-block and handcuffing would all be on film. This would certainly convince swing voters to choose Kerry. And after his incalculable contribution to victory, why not M.M. for Kerry's secretary of state?
Re Richard Goldstein's "Dust Raking" [Press Clips, July 28-August 3]:
Michael Petrelis has it all wrong. The real problem with journalists is what they do while they're at work, not in their spare time.
Instead of making rules against employees contributing money to politicians, newspapers should require their journalists to ask politicians tough questions and write hard-hitting stories about themand forbid kissing their asses and reprinting their press releases.
Reporters should be judged on the quality of their work, not what they do with their money. If they were, a lot more of them would be looking for jobs in other fields.
Re George Smith's "Pick Hacks" [July 28-August 3]:
Bad Religion are a consistently exceptional punk band renowned for their political, social, and environmental insight in the form of punk music. The Empire Strikes First is a masterpiece of punk and politics. Clearly Smith didn't bother to trouble himself with anything more than a cursory listen before writing this article. The article is vague, arrogant, and extremely briefplus he insults the band.
Mill Valley, California
Smith begins his review of Bad Religion's The Empire Strikes First by claiming, "Greg Graffin writes a banner song . . . I think he knew 'Los Angeles Is Burning' would stick out." He describes this song as "like something you'd expect from Tom Petty's Heartbreakers," with "a lyrical solo played by someone imitating Mike Campbell."
"Los Angeles Is Burning" was in fact written by Graffin's much better-known bandmate and co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz (the head of powerhouse Epitaph Records), who by his own admission has tended to pen the band's poppy hits for 24 years. Furthermore, if that guitar solo strikes Smith as being imitative of Mike Campbell, it's because it's played by Mike Campbell. I'm not sure if Campbell can imitate himself, but apparently Smith thinks so. Lastly, the photo you used includes ex-drummer Bobby Schayer, who has been out of the band for three years and two albums now, whereas bassist Jay Bentley totally fails to appear!
Is it too much to ask that prior to assigning a review about one of the inarguable godfathers of the '80s, '90s, and current punk rock scenes, The Village Voice find out if the writer actually respects such records and knows what the hell he's talking about? As well, does this sort of sorry fact-checking (and photo checking) characterize the rest of your music coverage?
George Smith replies: I don't have a copy of the album. I had a promotional copy, with no additional information. There were no songwriting credits on it, alas.
And, OK, I was wrong about the solo on "Los Angeles Is Burning." It is my shame. But it's also indicative of a good ear.
I honestly did not know Mike Campbell played the solo. There was no credit on the promotional copy. It was merely a CD in a nondescript red cardboard sleeve with the album and song titles. And no mention of this solo was on the band's website back when I received the album for review. Still, it is also my shame not to have gone to the store and bought a retail copy of the CD just to check.
However, good for Campbell. I thought "Los Angeles Is Burning" had an excellent guitar solo and still do, naturally in the finest Campbell-esque tradition. It adds much to this great song. Upon further listening, the rest of the tunes on The Empire Strikes First still bite it, no matter who wrote them or who played the guitar solos.
Re Nat Hentoff's " 'Just Give Me My Son' " [Liberty Beat, July 28-August 3]:
Hentoff writes that "if the Supreme Court is to be these prisoners' last resort for their reappearance from invisibility, the Court must mandate, if Congress doesn't, what Human Rights First" calls for: an official accounting to Congress. Here, Hentoff demonstrates what so many others have shown: a complete lack of understanding of the doctrine of separation of powers.
According to the Constitution the commander in chief's power is vested in only one person. Therefore, once Congress declares war, as it has done in empowering the president to invade Iraq or to invade Nazi Germany and Japan, the Congress and the Court have no further constitutional role to play.
And so it seems clear that Hentoff and his fellow sympathizers had better reread the Constitution before spouting off on what should be done about Abu Ghraib or anything else concerning the conduct of the war in Iraq, unless and until Congress un-declares that war.
Del Ray Beach, Florida
Nat Hentoff replies: Caplan has failed to read the Supreme Court's June opinions in the Hamdi and Guantánamo cases, which make clear that as commander in chief, the president is not above the Constitution, laws that Congress has passed, or the international treaties we have signed. By the way, the congressional resolution for the use of force after 9-11 was not an official declaration of war. Even if it had been, the president is not our king.
In Ed Park's "The Edge of Reason" [August 4-10], the photo of Meredith Brosnan should have been credited to Shana Sobel.
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