MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY
I was deeply moved by Michael Kamber's portrayal of heroin addicts in his article "Heroin (and Heartache)" (July 16). It's so real and close. When I was in New York, I was amazed to see so many socially rejected people who were totally forgotten. They are like bumps on the roadyou see them, but you do your best to avoid them and when you meet them, it hurts. In a society that pretends to grant happiness and material security a "traveler" has no place.
SAME OLD JUNK
I'm shockednot at the young junkies in the East Village, but at Michael Kamber's incredible naïveté. Has he been living in some kind of Rip Van Winkle coma? Otherwise, how can he explain his claim that the couple is unique?
Since I was shooting dope, there has been a steady stream of kids just like me doing the samethousands, millions of them. As sorry and pathetic as these two kids are, in the context of their relationship they are no different from me and my boyfriend in the early '70s, and all our friends at that time, and no different from that famous junkie couple, Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. All junkies in love are the same. The point of addiction is that the addict lives in a very, very small world: It's all about getting the stuff. Relationships must fit within these narrow parameters and become necessarily simple.
Couldn't Kamber come up with a fresh angle? I believe heroin addiction is a tragedy, but recycling the same old sob stories trivializes these kids as if they were starring in some reality-TV soap opera.
UNDER COVER OF NIGHT
In his article "From the Cradle to the Street" (July 23), Alexis L. Loinaz seems to offer little hope for a real solution to the problem of child prostitution in New York when this is not the case. I wrote a similar story in 1983 for Us magazine focusing on Children of the Night, a nonprofit organization based in the L.A. suburb of Van Nuys that houses street children from across the U.S. in a caring environment and gives them rigorous, individualized schedules of counseling, education in a fully accredited on-site school, and job placement. Pioneered by Los Angeles area sociologist Lois Lee, the program has become a model for dealing with child prostitution. Lee has shown that with the proper care abused children who escape dysfunctional homes for the streets and resort to prostitution can be rehabilitated successfully.
Vicki Jo Radovsky
Los Angeles, California
Re the article "From Cradle to the Street": When I read about Peaches who said she "was trying to think of . . . being somewhere in a happy place" while she turned a trick in a strip club I cried. Loinaz asks why more girls are "choosing to sell their bodies at such a young age?" I don't think it is a conscious choice. They are victims of demand. As long as there are men willing to pay for sex, there will be work for girls who see no other options for making a living. Perhaps an appropriate follow-up story would be interviews with the men who choose to pay for sex with young girls.
San Francisco, California
Alexis L. Loinaz' article "From the Cradle to the Street" hit close to home. As a teacher in a rural high school in Georgia I know that the teenage prostitution problem is not exclusive to New York. For years it has been unspoken knowledge that many young girls in our area prostitute themselves, in some cases for little more than trinkets. At least New York is trying to deal with the problem. Here, too often problems that involve sex are swept under the rug because they expose the hypocrisy of the moral code that many southerners would rather believe is still in effect.
Scott Seward's review of El-P's Fantastic Damage ("Tigers in a Spotlight," July 16) is the most interesting heap of steaming bullshit I have ever consumed. I appreciate the Voice's printing something different, especially a review by somebody who shows he recognizes the possibilities of rhyme in rap by writing in a skeleton of the style. But if Seward knows anything about hip-hop, he should hear at least a little something worthwhile on the album. "The Hang, the Front, the Bush and the Shit" is full of army references that parallel the music industry, and "T.O.J." is a glorious love song. Did El-P piss in Seward's milk in third grade or something? I've rarely read such grand, sweeping judgments that ooze with such proud ignorance.
After reading Scott Seward's El-P review I wondered how such an absolute farce of an attempt to communicate anything, other than a masturbatory fascination with words and the self speaking them, got printed in the Voice. One would expect a reviewer to offer something more tangible than useless literary name-dropping and meaningless pop-culture references like "El-P's sound tries to come across like some William Burroughs cutup of the B-boy's Bhagavad Gita but turns out more like Nabokov's Lolita holding down a slab of Velveeta so it can get fucked by Chester Cheetah." The point of a review is to express cogent thoughts about a piece of work, not rhyme one's way through a gleefully nonsensical diatribe against music one clearly has not taken the time to listen to closely.
UP IN THE ATMOSPHERE
Re Scott Seward's review of El-P's Fantastic Damage: Wow. Did El-P sleep with someone's girlfriend? To whoever is responsible for handing out records to the writers who review them: Thank you for not letting Seward come near anything my band Atmosphere released. I don't know if my mind is complex enough to understand what he's talking about, much less emotionally stable enough to endure the way he attacks the albums that he doesn't like.
Sean ("Slug") Daley
When Geoffrey Gray interviewed me about his article "War of the Gardeners" (July 23), I told him then that I was not the "primary author" of Intro 206, the bill pending in City Council that would create an inclusive planning process for balancing the city's need for both community gardens and housing. And the bill, which was not accurately explained in the article, was not a "secretive" effort.
In the aftermath of Giuliani's 1999 threat to auction off over 100 community gardens, a diverse group of greening groups, which did not include the Municipal Art Society, gathered to draft legislation to ensure more community input into the future of garden sites and to create a mechanism to preserve many gardens permanently. The MAS was invited into this coalition in 2000 and was an ardent advocate of the bill then and again when it was reintroduced recently as Intro 206 in a slightly modified but substantively consistent form.
More Gardens, which claims to have been excluded from the legislative drafting, was invited to participate in 1999 but ultimately withdrew because the coalition's bill did not guarantee that every community garden would be preserved. More Gardens' decision to split with the coalition for philosophical reasons was perfectly legitimate, but it is disingenuous for them to claim that the bill was done secretively simply because they disagreed with its approach and removed themselves from the coalition.
Holly M. Leicht,
Director of Design,
Planning & Advocacy
Municipal Art Society
THE GROUND BENEATH HIS FEET
Wayne Barrett's ironic reference to Giuliani and McCain as "two national war heroes" ("The Reflective Rudy," July 23) is representative of the inconsistency between the mass adulation Giuliani has received and his actual job performance. Is he being deified because he was at Ground Zero and then shed tears at the funerals of firefighters and police officers? Isn't that what he was paid to do? Is it because he told the city and the country that New Yorkers were stronger than any terrorist attack? With an army of police to protect him, he reminds me of Roosevelt telling us we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
During his tenure I complained in vain when I choked on the stench of garbage on Burnside Avenue and again when a local disc jockey played music so loud I had to shut the door to talk to my family. My son had to attend private school because the local schools are a failure.
This illustrates beautifully what H.L. Mencken once said: "No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people."
Nathan F. Weiner
As a woman who had an abortion in my fifth month of pregnancy I read with disdain Jennifer Block's article on second-trimester abortions ("Emergency Landing," July 9). In my personal experience, I was coaxed by someone to abort my child. Contrary to the idea of free choice, I believe many women abort because of outside pressures.
Block can call the founder of Haven Coalition "the patron saint of abortion access," but many of us who had abortions believe we were deceived and not properly prepared for the possible physical, spiritual, and psychological consequences. As I interpret the July 9 cover, Dorothy is living a nightmare in OzI think that sums up abortion for a great number of women.
Harrison, New York
The commotion caused by Amy Phillips' review of Sonic Youth's Murray Street ("Sonic Euthanasia," July 16) is funny. The article appeared so inarticulate, poorly written, and cute, I assumed it was a bad inside joke. After reading the letters it attracted and re-reading the review, I still believe this. There's no way Phillips could have written a line like "The noisy parts aren't noisy enough and the pretty parts aren't pretty enough" with a straight face. If I am correct in my assumption, I salute her for pulling the best prank I've encountered in a long time.
Trenton, New Jersey
END OF THE INNOCENCE
In "Summer of Love" (July 9), Judith Levine states that her erotic awakening to a camp counselor (in 1967) would not be viewed as innocent today. True, because today's Western societies have decided to protect the minority of weak and vulnerable people at the cost of denying the majority of resilient, aware people the kind of experiences which enable them to grow as human beings. Some may call it political correctness, but I call it appropriate care in a civilized society.
Maclean J. Storer
Thank you for Judith Levine's article. I knew she had to have some positive early "sexual" experiences for her to be as open-minded about sexuality as she is in her book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex. This article should be read by all people, especially those who cry "molestation" or "rape" every time sex between an adult and a minor is mentioned.
Russell T. Kinkade
North Hollywood, California
DEFINITELY MAYBE NOT
In the review "Who Needs Eminem?" (July 23), Christian Hoard doesn't do a bad job capturing the downfall of New Musical Express and proper Brit rock, but his review seems somewhat misguided. Not that one band can save a country's music, but his failure to mention great British bands like Clinic or the Cooper Temple Clause makes him as neglectful as NME. The fact that British bands aren't selling well here hardly means bad news for Brit rock. Blur, one of England's biggest bands from the '90s, never sold that many records in the States, not to mention the Manic Street Preachers or the Charlatans UK. Also, "The Hindu Times" was the first single released from Oasis's new album Heathen Chemistry, not "Stop Crying Your Heart Out."
In Geoffrey Gray's article "War of the Gardeners" (July 23), the Municipal Art Society was incorrectly cited as the Municipal Arts Society. Also, their spokesperson's name is Holly Leicht, not Leight.
A July 9 Stage Left item about the New York International Fringe Festival could be read to imply that John Clancy, former artistic director of the festival, had resigned his position because of the World Trade Center attacks. His resignation was publicly announced on August 26 and was unrelated to the events of September 11.
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