I agree 100 percent with Lynn Yaeger's article "Lifestyles of the Rich and Heinous" [September 11]. The fall fashion magazines are sickeningand I believe they are way out of step with public attitudes on social issues. You can promote style and fashion without celebrating prostitution, animal abuse, human exploitation, sweatshops, and fur everywhere. I am not amused.
On the positive side, the issue of W I bought was so revolting it inspired me to write some checks to animal- and human-rights groups. Screw you, W, et al. I can be stylish without your crap advice.
When I started reading Lynn Yaeger's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Heinous," I thought, "This is laughable. Someone complaining about the vapidity of fashion magazines?" Empty affection for the leisure classes seems harmless enough.
But the author saved her ammo for the end of the piece, where it was revealed that W uses images of prostitution and sweatshops in Thailand to sell haute couture. Hmm. Any 13-year-old knows that cruelty and beauty go hand in hand. But does anyone look to these magazines for examples of social responsibility? The answer most probably is yes.
However, you can't legislate against idiocy. You can only write shaming Village Voice articles about it. So I have come full circle in my opinion of this article.
Many thanks to the author.
'TIS PITY, SHE'S A HO
Kera Bolonik, in her review of Tracy Quan's sharply observed comic novel, Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl, dismisses the book because she sees its narrator as shallow and opportunistic ["The Ho Truth," September 4]. I thought readers had long been disabused of the notion that a novel has to be about characters they admire. New Yorkers who perhaps move in different circles than Bolonik does will find much in Quan's novel that they laughingly recognize.
Since the back of The Village Voice is full of high-revenue sex-work ads, I find Kera Bolonik's judgmental and "whorephobic" review of Tracy Quan's novel about a sex worker's life a bit odd.
Research and Policy Coordinator
North American Task Force on Prostitution
DEATH OF THE COOL
I relish Ted Rall's cartoons for their pointed political and social commentary. But as a jazz musician based in New York, I question the point of the one titled "19th Century Fox" [Search and Destroy, September 4].
Successive frames present a young woman, Belinda, who has a taste for "antique entertainment," finally enhancing her amorous prospects by showing a taste for jazz"Isn't Miles just the most?" she asks in the last frame. The irony would then lie in the fact that Miles peaked 35 years ago, making his a "dead and irrelevant" form of expression like the ones in earlier frames.
OK, so there's no "new wave" in jazz today (tell me some branch of the arts where there is one). But that doesn't mean jazz has spent itself. I think what's really going on is that the corporate media machine, which once marginalized jazz, figured out during the last two decades how to standardize and commodify it. To say that nothing new is being done in jazz, if that's what Rall intends, is to chime along with the cant of youth-marketing moguls themselves. They try to transmit the idea that our culture must undergo a thorough makeover every five or 10 years or so, but they really just want turnover to make way for their latest product offering.
Ted Rall replies: Shull understands my cartoon only partially. The piece is about irrelevant and outdated forms of expression. Examples include opera, theater, and poetry. Jazz, which peaked during the last half of the 20th century, is another.
DARK AND STORMY
Thank you, Jane Dark, for exposing New Yorker pop music critic Nick Hornby as the out-of-touch dilettante that he really is ["How to Be Smug," September 4]. As one of the inexplicable minority who found his novel High Fidelity exasperatingly wrong and wholly undeserving of the attention it received (I used to work in the same kind of indie record store as the one portrayed in the book), I am not surprised to hear that his foray into the field of pop music criticism is equally hollow. Anyone who truly luxuriates in the constantly morphing world of pop music would be as prone to enjoy today's gems as yesteryear's chestnuts.
On a different note, I do like The New Yorker, and their recent music issue had some good stories in it. Too bad they just seem to be looking for recognizable bylines when hiring new writers.
EVERGREEN AND BLACK
During a two-minute phone interview I had with Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson, I was not told that the article she was writing was about "The Building of a Blacker Green Party" [August 28]. I thought I was being interviewed on my run for City Council in District 20 in Flushinga district that is 37 percent white, 35 percent Asian, 22 percent Hispanic, and 6 percent black.
"What have you done for African Americans in your community?" Anderson asked.
"I'm working on housing and tenant issues," I replied. "Blacks are being affected by the gentrification in Flushing, and I want to see that they are able to stay in this community."
Housing wasn't black enough. I was asked again what I had done for African Americans. As a delegate in the Service Employees International Union, I've advocated for African American workers. I've worked with African Americans on police brutality; but this was working with them, not doing "for" them.
My wife, Day Starr, and I lived in a black community in Flatbush for several years. I saw what it was like to go without heat in the winter and to wait for eight hours in the emergency room to see a doctor. Black people did not own the businesses in their community, teachers did not look like the students they were teaching, and young black and Latino boys were the only ones in the special-ed classes.
As I told Anderson, I don't have to "study" the issues of black people. I know injustice when I see it.
Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson replies: Although I was thankful for Chou's response, I never asked him what he has done for African Americans. I asked him, as my notes show, how he planned to reach African Americans, which many see as essential to the success of the Green Party. After he told me his concerns about housing, I asked whether he felt he has been successful in his outreach. I do not doubt his intentions, but I was struck by his need to defend his relationship with African Americans rather than to call for the Green Party to seriously take a look at their issues.
Thanks for Eric Laursen's article on Social Security, "The Battle of 2016" [September 4]. However, there are a few statements that I believe deserve a closer look. The first is the allegation that "Bush's commission is charged with developing a solution to this problem." In fact, the commission's true goal is to eliminate the Social Security program, just as most other social service programs have been gutted in the last 30 years. Mr. Laursen actually alludes to this hidden agenda when he writes, "Even experts who endorse Bush's private account scheme admit that he can't implement it and still keep Social Security fiscally solvent. . . ."
As to the statement that "supporters . . . say it would help working-class Americans share in the wealth that Wall Street creates": This is a blatant fallacy constantly promoted by the media. Wall Street never has created wealth. All wealth is created by those who do the work of this great country, not the parasites on Wall Street. A truck without a driver is a hunk of metal and rubber. A factory without workers is just a pile of bricks. A farm without farmers is a field of weeds. And a hospital without nurses is a place of sickness, not of healing.
NO BARS TO RIGHTS
While not as sensational as the actual event, the creation of Prisoners Legal Services of New York was one of the most important results of the riot that Jennifer Gonnerman wrote about in "Remembering Attica" [September 11]. A partially state-funded program that seeks to head off the exact problems that led to the riot, Prisoners Legal Services has struggled to stay afloat since Governor Pataki took office.
This program is a vital part of the prison system because it addresses prisoners' real concerns and acts as a protector of these incarcerated citizens' civil rights, which, needless to say, are not in the forefront of most New Yorkers' minds. Nevertheless, prisoners deserve basic human rights, which the system on its own has no intention of providingas was amply proved by the riot at Attica.
It's no surprise that there has been zero press coverage of Prisoners Legal Services' struggle to exist, but I find it unfortunate that Gonnerman's article did nothing to rectify this lack of information, especially in light of the fact that the Voice is so consistently and essentially the Voice of the Unheard.
Re Rebecca Segall's "The Rael World Comes to New York" [September 4]: Back in the early '90s, when I lived in France, you could see Rael, now the leader of the Raelian UFO sect, on TV every other week. He was a frequently invited guest on talk shows, where he appeared as a harmless, crazy guy in fun attire. In everyone's mind, he was a (side)showman, and the way he used to smile made me think maybe he didn't really believe his own UFO story.
Well, 10 years later the fact that his followers are trying to set up a human cloning lab makes the joke much less funny. It's not surprising that they moved out of France. That country has set up anti-sect laws (although there is no such thing as "an anti-cult ministry," as Rael was quoted as saying). I question these laws since they do counter individual freedoms. After all, why should we prevent weak people from ruining their lives in dead-end cults if it is their own decision? And what are the exact criteria to differentiate a sect from a religion? But on the other hand, if such laws can help control really dangerous groups, maybe they are worth it.
SKI TERROR WORLDWIDE
Jet ski attacks on kayakers like those described in Erik Baard's article "Collision Course" [September 11] aren't limited to New York. I was dumped into 40-degree water last spring by a bozo on a jet ski on an Indiana lake. Fortunately, we were able to get the young punk's number, and he wound up doing 30 days in the local slammer.
Manitou Beach, Michigan
Just read your story on jet ski terrorism. I write from Sydney, Australia, and can tell you similar stories abound here as well. So much so that the State government has banned them from Sydney Harbour. Of course, this has resulted in an outcry from the boofheaded jet ski owners, who delight in calling them "smaller pleasure craft."
Small yet lethal.
'E' AND MY SHADOW
Incredible article on Ecstasy ["The People's Prozac," Carla Spartos, September 11]. As a self-medicating Ecstasy antidepressant patient, I feel that this side of the war on "E" should be researched to the fullest extent. I was given Ritalin, Prozac, Zoloft, and other drugs to overcome major depression with suicidal tendencies, borderline personality disorder, and other emotional "chemical imbalances," but until I started taking Ecstasy on a regular basis (from age 16; I am now 21), I didn't feel that most of my problems in life had been lessened to an extent. Thanks for the update.
Please, please, please, quit using the phrase "at the end of the day." It is so overused and meaningless. Please be more creative. Thanks.
In Carla Spartos's article "The People's Prozac" (September 11), Dr. Charles Grob was wrongly identified. He is the director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
In Anderson Tepper's review of Bait by David Albahari ("So Long, Serbia: An Exile's Solitary Tale," August 14), the translator of the book was misidentified. Bait was translated by Peter Agnone.
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