RAGE AGAINST THE REVIEW
I think Greg Tate is out to lunch with his recent musing, "Probably Not" [January 15-21]. Tate reviews the debut album of the Rage Against the Machine/Soundgarden love child known as Audioslave and promptly trashes the band for, well, sounding exactly how people imagined they would sound. The combination of Chris Cornell's haunting howl and Tom Morello's spine-crushing riffs proved to be both predictable and successful.
I was disappointed that Tate didn't delve into any specifics concerning the album. It was as if he listened to the first 30 seconds of each track, read the liner notes, and wrote the album off as "insignificant" because it lacked political banter and antagonism. The album succeeds because it doesn't delve into the realm of politics or hate. Instead, it's an introspective piece with a positive outlook that is more revealing than macho.
Morello himself said that it is harder to write this material because it's "much easier to be angry." God forbid, in the post-9-11 world, musicians produce something that isn't leeching off the current political environment.
Leave the battle against Big Brother to Nat Hentoff.
Re "Probably Not":
At a time when "honest" rock criticism is taboo, Greg Tate does a good job of not reinforcing the new millennium's rock and roll blandness that most people unthinkingly give in to. Zach De La Rocha was a wack MC by rap (or any) standards, but he was a wack MC with a message and fire-and-brimstone urgency. Audioslave has neither.
I must take umbrage at Christopher Borg's comments regarding J. Hoberman in last week's Voice [Letters, January 15-21].
Hoberman is one of the best film critics around (if not the best, in my humble estimation), and he shouldn't have to dumb down his vocabulary just because some bozo on the Upper West Side is too lazy to scoot his khakied ass over to the dictionary every once in a while. Vive le Hoberman!
ONE STEP BEYOND
Great piece by B. Kite on Daniel Paul Schrebera very sensitive introduction to the story of that troubled man ["Miracle Legion," Education Supplement, January 15-21].
I think there's something very helpful in regarding schizophrenia as "a way of seeing that spreads tentativeness both toward the delusional and the real, both treated with a certain detachment and irony." It certainly humanizes the condition and paves a path toward understanding.
I'm sure it's not a new thought, but it reinforces my personal conviction that the way from "sanity" into "madness" is an uninterrupted (if circuitous) ridethere are no Grand Canyons to be jumped between here and there.
Jess Wisloski's article "Bye Bye Bowery" [January 8-14] was full of inaccuracies. Here are a few corrections:
1. The development plan was approved by the community board 28-0, with several abstentions, on October 4, 2001hardly the "slim majority in favor" claimed in her article.
2. The 42-unit building is to be built on 1st Street and the Bowery. It will be a 100 percent low-income building with studios and one- and two-bedroom units, not an SRO for the homeless and ill.
3. The Cooper Square Mutual Housing Authority is a nonprofit housing company, not a for-profit company.
4. The "plan toyed with under Dinkins in 1991 for 50 percent low- and 50 percent moderate/middle-income housing" was actually a Cooper Square Committee plan endorsed by the Dinkins administration that would have included 60 percent low- and middle-income housing.
Unfortunately, the earlier Cooper Square plan was killed by our former councilman Antonio Pagan, which led to the creation of the Task Force plan in the late 1990s. Despite Pagan's efforts to push for an 80/20 development and keep the Cooper Square Committee off the Task Force, we participated and succeeded in raising the low-income percentage from 20 to 31, and got a new 54-unit supportive housing project, a 42-unit low-income building, and a new 38,000-square-foot community center.
Wisloski's article appears to have been written by Lisamarie Dixon, a project opponent quoted in the piece, since it repeats many of the false statements she has been making at public meetings. It would have been nice if an effort had been made to get the facts straight, and include the viewpoint of one of our low-income members rather than that of an "on-and-off community resident."
Jess Wisloski replies: To describe "Bye Bye Bowery" as "full of inaccuracies" is more a dispute of interpretations. The vote of 28-0 in favor of the project took into account the 50-member board that normally votes on such projects, 22 members of which voiced no opinion. Again, the initial and educated vote, taken by a summer-session executive committee, was touted as "unanimously" supported by the previous CB3 chairperson, though it had abstainers and "nay" votes.
The 42-unit building is, in fact, low-income housing, as Herrick sayswhich contradicts the Department of Housing Preservation and Development's promises that low-income units would be spread throughout the luxury complex. It has been deeded to Phipps Houses and is therefore not connected to the larger plan. But it will stand back-to-back with the 54-unit "supportive housing" unit on Second and 2nd, which was the SRO in question: This facility will treat and assist those who were previously homeless or may be mentally ill, providing them with their own studios.
The Cooper Square Committee's own press release refers to "54 low-income units," falsely suggesting that the housing is available to anybody, when in fact it is a home-care facility. The committee has regularly taken credit for every aspect of the urban renewal area, and as early as 1970, City Planning had approved a 50/50 housing development of low- and middle-income units. The mid-'90s negotiations were interrupted by the protest of Councilmember Antonio Pagan, who justifiably protested and filed (along with CB3) the Community Board 3 Cooper Square Report that, to this day, has received no response from HPD. Based on a history of complaints to the board, Pagan accused the sponsoring organization of "collusion, deceit, and double dipping," which he wanted addressed before any land disposition was approved. I suggest the same.
Re Hua Hsu's "Foucault's Turntable" [January 8-14]:
I'm frustrated by the continuing need of scholars to define and dissect hip-hop music as a culture in and of itself. These scholars feel so "out" of the "movement" (if one exists) that they must write about it, to hold on to a semblance of their pre-ivory-tower selves. I find it very disheartening, because I don't think that hip-hop is any more a culture than jazz or rock.
There's a fine line that these hip-hop scholars walk, because the study of hip-hop music indeed belongs in the academy (as all forms of art deserve contextual analysis). But the current approachinventing a culture based on breakbeatsis plain wack.
Maori Karmael Holmes
US AND DEM
Re "George W. Bush's Constitution" [January 8-14]:
I wanted to know what Nat Hentoff meant when he said, "It's a pity the Democratic Party cares much less about civil liberties than about Bush's tax cuts."
Is this a response to the party not releasing a published opinion about Mr. Hamdi's plight? In which case, why did he single out Democrats? Why not make the same observation of all our political parties and the rest of our "public" new media?
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nat Hentoff replies: Neither Tom Daschle, Dick Gephardt, nor Joe Lieberman, among other leading congressional Democrats, has said anything about the Bush administration's attacks on civil liberties. I doubt that the administration believes that The Village Voice is afraid of it.
I ME LYNNE
Phil Dellio's lovely piece about George Harrison ["Shiva Shiva Y'All," January 1-7] contains two points I wish to contest: first, that the lyric "five Hail Marys" in "Last Saturday Night" (from the new Brainwashed album) sounds like "Hail Murrays" and thus is a sly reference to "Murray the K"; second, that "Marwa Blues" contains a deliberate quote from "Within You Without You." "Mary" sounds like "Murray" because of Harrison's lingering trace of Scouse accent. If Harrison wished to pay winking tribute to his Fab years, I doubt he would have done anything so incredibly obscure. "Murray the K" was not likely to have been in the forefront of his thoughts, at least not since about 1964.
As for "Marwa Blues," the alleged quote is in the Indian instrumental backing. The passage is a common enough device in Indian music. The only obvious reference to the Beatles on the album is the vocal "shh!" bit on "Pisces Fish," deliberately recalling "Come Together," and almost certainly added by producer Jeff Lynne after Harrison had passed away.
Los Angeles, California
NO GURU, NO METHOD, NO TEACHER
Eva Yaa Asantewaa did an excellent job of reviewing the three books about gurus ["For Adults Only," Mind Body Spirit, January 8-14].
Even in the Bible Belt city of Atlanta, there are gurus of various stripes claiming to have "the answer." The caveats mentioned concerning giving up personal power to Eastern-style gurus also apply to the leaders of some of the area's Christian mega-churches. Often members speak more of "my pastor" than God.
I've really enjoyed the last couple of stories Wayne Barrett has done, "2002 Wacko Awards" [December 25-31, 2002] and "Bestselling Bigotry" [January 8-14]. I agree with awarding Ray Harding the Custer Scalp, but what about his son Russell? Shouldn't he have been given some kind of award too? Why not bring up Rudy's connection to Russell Harding? Barrett should go after them and expose all their misdeeds before Rudy's able to win any other political office. Harding should be made to serve time. It's bad enough that he spent city money on himself and others, but that he made light of people he was supposed to be helping makes me see rednot only at him, but also at Rudy and Ray.
Upper East Side
SALTZ . . . AND PEPPER
Re "Looking Back" [January 8-14]:
As longtime Voice readers, we were somewhat puzzled at Jerry Saltz's disclaimers as to his journalistic role within the art system.
He doesn't care for artists, art critics, curators, and dealers; curiously, he doesn't mention collectors. Who, then, is the mythical reader he is writing for? The respect and power that writers acquire derive from the originality of their ideas, projected writings, and the risks they are willing to take.
As far as we can gather, the only thing Saltz seems to be pushing and believing in is Jerry Saltz.
Re "End of the Experiment" [VLS, Fall 2002], on recent poetry titles by John Ashbery and others:
Joshua Clover may be a trifle tenfingeredblockchordarpeggios and too hip by twice, but it sure is a pleasure when the review is as rich as the music it plunders.
Thanks for pulling my coat to some poetry I could easily have missed.
Re "Close-Up on Bayonne" [January 15-21]:
I grew up there, and Josh Saltzman nailed the feel of the place; Bayonne somehow has always had a weirdly small-town atmosphere.
Classic Bayonne: On my grandmother's 80th birthday, we had a dinner for her at a local restaurant, the Chandelier. I went into the lobby a minute ahead, and was easily able to assemble a chorus of 15 complete strangers to sing "Happy Birthday" to her when she came in.
My ex-wife, from a much more repressed south Jersey town, thought I was insane, and courting rejection or worse. But a crowd of strangers wishing my grandmother a happy birthday was a quintessentially Bayonne moment.
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