Thank you for publishing such a great article about the life of Jam Master Jay [Harry Allen, "Jam Master Jay, 1965-2002," November 6-12]. I have read articles by other newspapers that were mediocre to the point of absurdity. I appreciate that Allen's well-written article included facts about Jam Master Jay's life, and detailed his influence on hip-hop. Nothing upsets me more than an article written by someone who knows little or nothing about hip-hop and calls mixing a "swishing" noise, as The New York Times did.
Jam Master Jay will be greatly missed.
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Richard Goldstein's indignation toward Eminem is such a farce ["The Eminem Consensus," November 13-19]. Like so much of the white gay establishment, he is largely ignorant of hip-hop culture and the black community. There are plenty of hip-hop groups who spit anti-gay and misogynistic lyrics. Goldstein is only concerned now that the suburbs are tuning in and hip-hop is a mainstream cash cow. Besides, If he knew anything about the culture, he would know that Eminem earned his stripes in the hip-hop underground and is a gifted wordsmith in a long tradition of gifted wordsmiths. He stands on their shoulders, not Elvis's. Goldstein needs to learn a few things before he criticizes a culture he knows nothing about.
THE WRONG REMAINS THE SAME
It's pretty convenient that Richard Goldstein wrote an article on what a woman-hater Eminem is, on-screen and off-, but forgot to include any mention of his relationship to his daughter, or his female co-stars in 8 Mile. He loves his little girl (listen to "Hallie's Song" on his latest album) and seems to be a wonderful father. He has also been described by his female co-stars as gentle, kind, humble, and respectful.
Eminem doesn't hate or bash all womenhe's just angry at the bitches and 'hos that have done him wrong. And what's wrong with that?
Richard Goldstein replies: I've written frequently about sexual bigotry in rap music, so I'm aware of how common it is. But there are many attitudes in hip-hop. The question I raise is why performers who specialize in misogyny and homophobia are so amply rewarded. The answer lies not in black culture but in the culture. As for the belief that Eminem hates only "bitches and 'hos" who have wronged him, consider that he has never written a love song to a grown woman. Doesn't that tell you something?
Joy Press's critique of Vice magazine ["Vice Bust,"November 13-19] may be this year's most inessential read. Did the author actually think that pointing out Vice's tendency to commodify "subversive" culture was some kind of revelation? No shit, Joy! Besides, I defy you to point out a "bohemia" that isn't resolutely self-aware and in danger of losing its "edge."
That a healthy chunk of its moronic readership doesn't pick up on Vice's co-opting of the words niggas and faggots is less than surprisingand certainly doesn't constitute a criticism of the publication itself. Far be it from me to defend the magazine, which carries with it the nauseating reek of unchecked stylishness that already permeates most of Williamsburg. The problem is that once you break out tired (and in this case, totally inappropriate) associations (e.g., "frat-boy"), your criticism loses a lot of its edge as well.
As a journalist, a Montrealerhell, as just someone who enjoys a fine media smackdown now and againJoy Press's recent piece on Vice certainly made for some juicy reading.
Just one thing: Vice's initial backer was not "a dotcom millionaire" (for the record, you're thinking of Richard Szalwiniski, who made his grizzilions dreaming up the hardware that powers Lucas and Spielberg's fantasias), but that legendary divining rod of street cred and backer of the DIY punk aesthetic, the Canadian federal government.
Back then, Vice was called The Voice and got its initial seed capital from a federal fund for young, schooled, unemployed anglophone youth in Montreal. (It might even have come from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, but the brain falters.) Strangely, you didn't mention why they changed their name from The Voice to Vice and the starring, if unwitting, part played by a certain Manhattan-based alt weekly.
As an attendee of the Reputation's CMJ show, I found Nick Catucci and Christian Hoard's capsule review a bit absurd [The Sound of the City, November 6-12]. Their backhanded compliment that lead singer Elizabeth Elmore "was truly on top of her game" was tempered by the rest of the review, which focused almost entirely on Elmore's appearance and sex appeal. Maybe all the men in the audience (and what about the women?) were rapt because the band rocks and the show was charged, fun, and showed the band to be a truly talented group. This focus only on Elmore does a disservice not only to the rest of the band but also to female musicians and audience members; I had fun at the show not because of Elmore's looks or "thrusting hips," but because of her singing, guitar playing, and the band's overall rocking out. And for the record, my hips were thrusting during the show tooit's called dancing.
Rachel Kramer Bussel
As a high school teacher on NYC's Lower East Side, I am profoundly concerned by the Voice's decision to publish "Close-up on Chinatown" by Francine Russo [November 6-12]. The article's language is appallingly reminiscent of the anti-immigrant rhetoric of proponents of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, who argued that the Chinese, because of their "indecipherable," "foreign," and "peasant" culture, as Russo described it, were inherently incapable of acculturating and becoming American. A closer look at the act reveals that the country, having recently completed the transcontinental railroad, needed to distract European immigrants from their ongoing poverty in the face of industrialization.
Russo's article similarly assuages the consciences of young, middle-income apartment seekers, who needn't feel so bad about displacing non-English-speaking "peasants."
The tagline for Ian Urbina's "Broadcast Ruse" [November 13-19] incorrectly stated that the writer is based at the Middle East Institute in Washington, D.C. Actually, Urbina is based at the Middle East Research and Information Project in D.C.
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