CAROUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT
Tom Robbins's articles "The Lush Life of a Rudy Appointee" [April 16], "More Lush Life of a Rudy Appointee" [April 23], and "Party Harding" [April 30] were superb pieces of investigative reporting. I am particularly in awe of his persistence over time in pursuing these elusive records.
The brazenness of the alleged pillaging by Russell Harding, former head of the Housing Development Corporation, was breathtaking.
As for the remarks of former mayor Rudy Giuliani in defending his appointment, it was the standard arrogance of our new national hero. [Giuliani adviser] Ray Harding and his phantom party with the attractive voting name go on untouched.
As a small thank you, may I offer a limerick in return:
Russell Harding, Rudy's head of
View'd his job in a manner quite
Lavish trips ev'rywhere,
Gourmet dinners to spare,
And Agency paid for carousing!
Thank you again for a superb job!
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
Katie Worth's story "Emergency Room Help: For English Speakers Only?" [May 7] reminds me of the truth of the old dictum, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."
In 1986, when I served as chair of the Committee on Health in the City Council, I introduced and the council passed a bill requiring city hospital emergency rooms to provide English language interpretation services in every community where language minorities represent 10 percent or more of the population. The measure was signed into law by Mayor Koch that year.
You'd think the city would enforce its own law in its own facilities where the ability to understand and be understood in an emergency medical setting can mean life or death.
Congratulations to Councilmember John Liu and Ms. Worth for a timely public service.
Fernando Ferrer, President
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
OFF THE PEDESTAL
As members of FIERCE!, we would like to commend Richard Goldstein and The Village Voice for his article "Street Hassle" [April 30]. We were heartened by its coherent analysis of the racist, classist, and transphobic politics of the city's "quality of life" initiatives in Greenwich Village.
However, we were seriously concerned that the Voice chose not to print the statements given by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth of color, who are most negatively affected by "quality of life" policies. The article instead focused the most individual attention on the only white male active in FIERCE! Although he was recently arrested, it is lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth of color, as a group, who experience systematic targeting, harassment, and violence by police and residents. Of the seven people who were individually photographed for the group shot on the cover, the only white male was superimposed front and center. Transgender women of color are among the most criminalized, but none of the trans-women who were interviewed or photographed for the cover were included.
Were we surprised? No. As residents of the United States of America, we are all too familiar with media filtering liberation struggles through the eyes of white male "heroes." The Green Mile, Amistad, and A Time to Kill (among other portrayals) are extremely damaging to real work being done by people of color and our white allies. To publish an article about racism in the West Village and then to position the only white male front and center is extremely problematic. It puts white men on a pedestal, trivializes the genius of young queer people of color at the forefront of the struggle, and ultimately undermines our social justice movement.
Laura Melendez, Jesse Ehrensaft-Hawley, Gabriel Martinez
Re Richard Goldstein's article "Street Hassle": I agree with Aubrey Lees, chair of the community board for the West Village. All the problem areas mentioned in the article are, as she said, "cesspools." Crime, drugs, prostitution, street harassment, and panhandling have skyrocketed and are disrupting our quality of life. The police claim "murder, assault, robbery, and rape dropped 12 percent last year" and "quality of life arrests were down 22 percent"? That's not good enough! I'm sure the cops wouldn't tolerate these violations in other areas.
Additionally, I've never seen the Village so dirty and full of panhandlers. The streets are filthy; corner trash cans overflow with garbage spilling onto the sidewalks.
Where are the cops?
The most relevant point I found in Richard Goldstein's article "Street Hassle" was that he referred to the West Village as a neighborhood. It is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Manhattan, which is why I moved here more than eight years ago. It was predominately gay, racially diverse, less commercial, and much safer then. Today the reality is that there is a nightly street element of pimps, pushers, and prostitutes that hassles the residents of this neighborhood.
I don't usually find book reviews to be worthy of their own review, but I must say that, subject matter aside, Ed Park's review of John M. MacGregor's book on Henry Darger was nonpareil. It illuminates author, subject, and the surrounding intellectual reaction ["Making Sense of Henry Darger," April 23]. That Park does this without any trace of the self-aggrandizement so common to reviewers and critics only makes it more remarkable. The more I pondered this, the more I realized what a rarity it is.
Kudos to Mr. Park, and to your newspaper for utilizing his talents.
Salt Lake City, Utah
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Thank you for Christian Hoard's objective review of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot ["Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)," April 30], which refused to join the competition of countless others who seem to only want to become part of the hype by outdoing the review before theirs. Although I read other good reviews, Hoard's was especially refreshing. As most other reviews left you feeling that what you read was self-serving, at times even disgustingly so, Hoard's piece gave a sense of being grounded in 2002 with a real perspective on where this album fits in, rather than just reaching back for a superlative comparison to outdo the last review.
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