SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
Thank you for Michael Kamber's article about homeless punk junkies in New York's Tompkins Square Park ["Terry & Juliet: An East Village Love Story," July 16].
In the '80s, I was homeless, and I hustled in the streets of a major city. I never had much interaction with the punks, though. I didn't know them, so I couldn't understand them. I simply thought that they were the lowest of the low, barely surviving in an urban jungle where Darwin's theory was proved daily. Kamber's article showed them to be real peoplepeople I don't agree with, but nonetheless people.
I guess it's true that we only take the options we see.
In response to the cover article in last week's issue of the Voice: Wow. Making heroin use seem romantic.
OK, so I'm a little bitter after losing my home, business, and Porsche due to my ex-husband's heroin use. My son lost a dad for the most important years of his life. So much pain.
Well, years have passed and life is good for my son and me. But we will always carry those ugly secrets and memories.
You know how many bridge-and-tunnel kids live by your words. Please think before you publish such articles.
Massapequa, New York
As Jennifer Block's article "Emergency Landing" [July 9] illustrates, while abortion is legal, the myriad obstacles to abortion access, particularly restrictions on public funding for poor women's procedures, make it impossible for many women to get one.
The National Network of Abortion Funds estimates that as many as one in three poor women who want an abortion are forced to carry the pregnancy to term because they cannot afford a safe, legal procedure. Those women who are determined and resourceful enough to raise funds are often forced to have abortions later in pregnancy. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, 48 percent of women who had abortions after 16 weeks' gestation reported "trouble making arrangements for the procedure," including trouble raising the money, as the primary reason for their delay.
The New York Abortion Access Fund grants financial assistance to women who are unable to afford their abortion procedures. Where the government has failed to protect the comprehensive reproductive health needs of women, dedicated volunteers from groups such as the Haven Coalition and the NYAAF fill the void.
Lauren Porsch, President
New York Abortion Access Fund
It was heart-wrenching to read Jennifer Block's story "Emergency Landing". The women of the Haven Coalition are doing heroic work. However it struck me as a bit flippantand potentially dangerousfor Jennifer Baumgardner to imply that political efforts for choice are somehow secondary to direct help for women in need. To downplay the role politics plays is to court disaster.
Access issues are central to the delivery of abortion care only if you accept legal abortion as a given. The fact that New York State is a haven for women seeking abortions is due to the strength of the political movement here. Groups like the New York State National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League are essential in protecting Medicaid funding for low-income women, defeating waiting periods and parental-consent laws that are introduced each legislative session in Albany, electing pro-choice candidates, and replenishing the aging population of abortion providers.
Political work may lack some of the personal satisfaction of direct help for women in immediate need, but without defending and expanding the reproductive health rights that keep New York State the refuge that it is, it would be impossible to find safe and affordable abortion care.
Fortunately, no trade-off is necessary between direct help for women and the political process that creates the conditions wherein this can take place. We should challenge efforts to imply one.
Eric Alterman, Membership Director
New York State National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League
Bravo to Gary Giddins for eulogizing the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band so eloquently, and for pointing out the mind-numbing folly of Carnegie Hall's decision to cut this extraordinary ensemble loose [Weatherbird, July 9]. I was at the band's JVC Jazz Festival concert, and like Giddins, I was struck by how much the jazz world stands to lose. But who says we have to lose them? OK, so Carnegie Hall doesn't want them, and presumably they can no longer call themselves the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band (nor should they want to, after the way they were treated). But it seems to me that there's no reason they have to die.
New York's jazz nightclubs have a long and proud tradition of giving big bands a weekly showcase. The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, rightly cited by Giddins as one of the CHJB's few peers, has been a Monday-night fixture at the Village Vanguard, under one name or another, since the mid '60s. Birdland currently presents three big bands every week. Surely one of New York's jazz clubs can find one night a week for this remarkable collection of musicians and arrangers to continue the work that, as Giddins notes, was just getting started.
A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME
Re Celeste Doaks's Close-Up column on Norwood [July 9]: The Williamsbridge Reservoir keeper's house is not a private home. It houses the Mosholu Preservation Corporation, the Mosholu-Jerome-Gun Hill Business Improvement District, and the Norwood News. Also, although Montefiore Hospital was mentioned, North Central Bronx Hospital is adjacent to it. Finally, there aren't many Jewish people left in Norwood, but there is a substantial Albanian, Bangladeshi, and Filipino population to accompany the existing Latino, African American, and Irish populations. Otherwise, a fine and positive article for a great neighborhood.
James Rausse, Project Manager
Mount Hope Housing Company
HENTOFF WINS COLUMN AWARD
Nat Hentoff has been awarded first place in America's Best Columns 2002 in the category of general interest for newspapers with circulation over 100,000. The contest is sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, which last year named Hentoff the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award.
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