I was saddened to hear of the death of Voice letters editor Ron Plotkin [obituary by Tom Robbins, August 14-20]. Though I never met him, I talked to him on the phone before he printed my letters. I always got a kick out of this guy in New York who would bother calling me out here in "flyover land" just to read back to me some words I had clumsily thrown together in reaction to an article. "Who is this guy?" I would ask my friends. We would speculate on his appearance, the state of his office, the nature of his job. He even inspired the short film we are now working on, about the letters editor of a big-time weekly paper. After reading his obituary, I see that his life was even richer and more interesting than the ones my friends and I had invented for him. God bless him.
Re Tom Robbins's obituary for Ron Plotkin: In my former capacity as intern director at the Voice, I'd always ask interns their opinion of the people they worked alongside of. Everyone who assisted Ron Plotkin would tell me he was a great teacher and mentor, and taught them what so many writers don't know shit about: editing. He was one of the best at it. Say hi to Elvis for us, Ron. A-wop-bop-a-lu-la.
Glen Gardner, New Jersey
I disagree with Adamma Ince's comparison of Jewish slave labor reparations and the reparations sought by many African Americans ["Getting Back on the Bus," August 14-20]. Nazi Germany was generally united under Hitler and there was little opposition to its oppression of the Jews. In America, not only was there widespread opposition, but an outright civil war during which whites gave their lives, all or in part, to free African Americans.
Should the white descendants of these Civil War soldiers pay for reparations? Doing so would be an insult to their memory and result in them paying twice: first with their lives, and then through a bill handed down to their kin, simply for being born the color they were.
B. Thomas Hayden
Las Vegas, Nevada
JUSTICE FOR ALL
Re the article "Getting Back On the Bus": Reparations? Well, it's a good idea. I wryly wonder how much the Buffalo Soldiers owe Indian peoples? However, there are just a few hundred Indian treaties that need to be honored first, as long as "justice" is an issue.
John D. Berry, Choctaw
It's nice to see a good Canadian band like Sloan getting some ink in your great city [The Sound of the City, August 13]. But, puhleeze, if I read another American or British music critic trotting out the same tired old stereotypes about the frozen north, I'm going to go outside and kick my sled dogs. Bad enough Darby Saxbe led her review of Sloan's recent show by bringing up the predictable references to free health care and tidiness. But enough of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Rush (what, no Loverboy?) cross-references, as if they are the only Canadian artists to ever make it out of Moose Jaw or Buffalo Dung. Has Saxbe never heard of the Band, Neil Young, or Joni Mitchell? Or Sarah McLachlan or Rufus Wainright? I shouldn't have to remind Saxbe that for every Dylan and Wilco that America produces, there are many more Britneys and Slipknots. But somehow that's never worth mentioning.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
BEARING THE BLAME
The recounting of what happened to Georgy Louisgene by Jess Wisloski and Martine Guerrier ["Another 'Justified' Homicide?" August 13] is eerily reminiscent of similar events here in Toronto. Whether Louisgene was truly disturbed or temporarily disoriented, the fact remains that law enforcement is called to deal with more and more incidents involving distraught citizens who are not criminals. Nevertheless, the police are not prepared for these cases.
We send a wildlife officer into the bush correctly equipped to bring down a bear safely and, later, to release it into the wild unharmed. We provide a policeman with just a gun, which is potentially lethal at all times, and a nightstick, which is useful only at close quarters. This is a mystery to me. Are we surprised when the policeman panics and makes the worst of the few choices offered him? As Louisgene proved, the bear has the better deal.
Re the dance review "Looking Back With Love" [August 13] by Deborah Jowitt: As grateful as I am to have watched Merce Cunningham's extraordinary dances (and dancers) over the years, I have been equally thankful to have been reading Jowitt's insightful, moving commentary on his work (in addition to that of countless other choreographers).
Now that I have regretfully moved from the city, I no longer have the great pleasure of witnessing an event like the Cunningham 50th anniversary at Lincoln Center. How grateful I am to still be able to read Jowitt's reviews online, which bring me so vividly to the moment when there is "nothing in the world but that gesture."
I hope you know how much your continued coverage of dance by the indefatigable Jowitt (and her colleagues) means to dance lovers worldwide. Thank you, thank you, for continuing to provide this critical column to the community.
Allyson Green, Professor of Dance
San Diego State University
San Diego, California
In Sylvana Foa's Letter From Gaza ["No Exit," August 14-20], she writes, "And women, whether Arab or foreign, no longer dare to appear on the beach in a bathing suit."
Actually, Gazan women have never gone to the beach in bathing suits, but always fully clothed. Partially clothed Arab women can be found, in the Middle East, only in Lebanon or Morocco.
IT'S ONLY A NORTHERN SONG
Chanel Lee mistakenly said the song "New York City," which she mentions in "Close-Up on: Co-op City" [August 14-20], was "by the Brooklyn-based band They Might Be Giants." TMBG's version is a cover; it was originally penned and performed by the Vancouver-based band Cub.
What an enchanting portrait of Bud Selig by Ward Harkavy ["Once a Car Dealer . . . ," August 14-20]. How can a man be raking in so much money and be such a buffoon? When Max Patkin [Bill Veeck's contortionist-cum-baseline coach] died, I thought baseball had lost its last clown. Not so, we found out at the 2002 All-Star (tie) game.
Lake Mary, Florida
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