Lenny Kaye's obituary for Joey Ramone [April 24] was beautiful. Very well written, and it summed up Joey's contribution and the importance of the Ramones. It seemed like his death came at a strange time. At 49, Joey was too old to die young and too young to die. Just as the Ramones made a career out of threatening the status quo, Joey managed to take us by surprise in death and do things his own way.
Like many Lower East Side aficionados, I saw him often around the usual drinking holes. His death really affected me, as I'm sure it did everyone who runs in that pack. His presence will be sorely missed, but never forgotten. Thanks, Joey, for paving the way for all the misfits around the world.
Thanks for Lenny Kaye's obit on Joey Ramone. I saw the Ramones perform in the U.K. 11 times. Great gigs, great fun. The Ramones (Joey's lyrics in particular) somehow got me through hard times. A euphoric chant was heard in the chorus of nearly every song. I used to lie in bed thinking of when they would be back. I never thought Joey would die so young. A feeling of togetherness and anti-violence pervaded at their gigs, but now loneliness prevails once more.
Re the piece on Joey Ramone: I can't remember ever feeling so sad about the loss of someone I didn't know, despite in some ways feeling as though I did know him. Joey Ramone was rock! Unfortunately this will only be recognised by the masses after he is gone. But for those who grew up to da bruddas, this may have been the best way to have it.
As the student from Brown University who spoke at the International Socialist Organization meeting at Columbia University and who was quoted in Nat Hentoff's column last week ["Ruffian Fake Radicals"], I have to say that Hentoff's column was completely off the wall. A Colombia student told me that The Village Voice had printed David Horowitz's ad [questioning the idea of reparations for slavery], and I said that it was shocking that the Voice did so. I never said anything about wanting to shut the Voice down. Hentoff is the one who needs to get his "facts straight."
If Hentoff actually knew what I said, he would not have demonstrated his ignorance of the situation at Brown. I must have said more than 10 times that copies of The Brown Daily Herald were not confiscated just because students found the Horowitz ad offensive. The very same day that Horowitz's ad appeared, a student column with the headline "Homosexuality Inherently Destructive to All Societies" was printed. The outrage boiled over because accusations of racial bias in the Herald were haughtily snubbed by the newspaper and ignored by the university.
All Hentoff is defending is the "right" of a few students to abuse people with their media monopoly. The students who took those newspapers rebelled against this unjust system, and pointed out that what goes on at Brown (and in the corporate media outside Brown) is not free speech. It is might-makes-right speech.
Providence, Rhode Island
Nat Hentoff replies: I did not write that Brian Rainey said the Voice should be shut down. A Columbia Spectator member who was at the meeting told me an Asian female student wearing a blue shirt, who would not give her nameand who may not have been a Brown studentcalled for closing down the Voice. A second Columbia Spectator columnist present said that Brian Rainey did not object. No matter what a newspaper prints, stealing its entire press run is not only a crime, but is also contemptuous of other students' rights to read and respond. That is might-makes-right.
I was disappointed that Chisun Lee, in her article about the difficulties women face running for citywide office in New York, chose to give voice to only one of the two women currently brave enough to do it ["The Curse," April 17].
As Lee demonstrated, it's a battle every step of the way for these womenand the battle to have your voice heard amid the cacophony of men's voices is one of the hardest tasks. Lee spent 30 minutes on the phone with my boss, public advocate candidate Betsy Gotbaum, and I was dismayed that she chose not to include a single word of that conversationwhile giving valuable ink to Gotbaum's opponent and to an unnamed source.
Jennifer Bluestein, Communications Director
Betsy Gotbaum for Public Advocate
WATCHING THE WATCH POOCH
A bull's-eye for Tom Robbins's deft account of attorney Thomas Puccio's personal enrichment as a nonperforming watchdog over Teamsters Local 295 ["The Clean-Up Man," April 24]. Puccio came close to bankrupting the local by spending far more than the members paid in dues some years. Federal district judge Eugene Nickerson should end this boondoggle.
The late Murray Kempton, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and erstwhile labor reporter, was congenitally suspicious of all nostrums. Kempton sagely observed: "To be in business is generally to find out that reformers cost you more than extortioners. Every Mafia don has to envy any former U.S. prosecutor who commands a $250,000 annual retainer for languidly supervising the purgation of a mob-controlled local labor union."
Thanks for Robbins's excellent reporting about matters that are important to workers and their unions.
James F. McNamara, Research Director
Association for Union Democracy
HOUSE OF THE DREAD
Jennifer Gonnerman's "Anatomy of a Prison Murder" [April 10] was excellent. Last fall, as a member of the Correctional Association's Prison Visiting Committee, I toured a "special housing unit" like the one featured in the article. Such units were built to separate the most violent prisoners from the general prison population, but as Gonnerman notes, they are occupied mostly by prisoners who aren't major threats. The vast majority are confined for minor infractions of prison rules. The aim is to cut costs by replacing prison personnel with high-tech security devices and to house as many prisoners as cheaply as possible without triggering riots or lawsuits.
As a former prisoner, I know that being incarcerated has a damaging effect. The loss of individuality in an atmosphere of oppression, violence, and racism has a negative effectand a prisoner with a mental illness confined in a special housing unit will further deteriorate. My visit left me with a deep concern about our future as a country. In the words of Dostoyevsky: "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons."
Romeo Sanchez, Cofounder
Alliance for Inmates With AIDS
Jennifer Gonnerman's "Anatomy of a Prison Murder" could have used more research. There are reasons correction officers don't go into a cell when inmates are fighting. It could be a setup. Without enough response, an officer could be hurt or held hostage.
The officers who were mentioned in the article did not face charges because they followed policy. To those who haven't worked in a correctional facility, it may seem that the way things happen is unjust. But prisons are violent places. Just think what it must be like to be in a place like the Upstate Correctional Facility, with about 1500 of the state's worst felons.
Glenn Sampson, Correction Officer
Mohawk Correctional Facility
Rome, New York
Thank you for Rita Ferrandino's excellent account of her time in the customer service department at AOL ["Terms of Service," March 27]. I'm part of the CS department at a very well-known Internet retailer. I handle the most highly escalated customer contacts. I'm the end of the line as far as handling upset customers is concerned.
Ms. Ferrandino's narrative struck a chord with me. Like her, I've seen the effects of combining an unstable or abusive personality with the almost anonymous forum of the Internet. In the course of my job, I've been threatened and harassed more times than I can count. Ms. Ferrandino's experience is not singular. In darkened cubicle farms across this country, there are people tasked with keeping order on an unruly and hostile frontierthe Internet. Thank you for bringing one small part of that world to light.
I have noticed the decline in classical music reviews in the Voice, and wish to remind you that there is a considerable public that has relied upon your paper to provide an alternate view to the establishment press like The New York Times.
As a composer of concert music, I have always been gratified to see that your critic, Leighton Kerner, arrives at a premiere of a new work with a score (he is the only critic who can read a scoreand does). He provides New York with a truly intelligent viewpoint, one that we desperately need.
'GIRLS' NAMED SUE
Re "Twilo's Gender Gap" by Tony Phillips [April 10]: We transsexuals in the club scene don't always get treated properly, but the way Amanda Lepore and Sophia "La Mar" Munoz were fired from Twilo was disgusting. I used to work for a marketing agency as a cigarette girl, and was told I couldn't work at the leading clubs because they wanted "real" women. Like Lepore and Munoz, I could have sued for many work-related situations. But I didn't think it was worth it. Nevertheless, we in the transgender community do not have to put up with this.
BORDERS OF OUR LIVES
Thank you for Michael Kamber's series on Antonio Gonzalez's journey from Mexico to New York [A Link in the Chain," April 17; "Deadly Game," April 24]. Marvelous insights into the ramifications of this dynamic. Awaiting the next installments. Thanks for this window into another worldso close, yet so far away.
St. Louis, Missouri
Re Norah Vincent's "You're an Animal" [Higher Ed, April 3]: I am a recovering ex-zoophile who used to engage in bestiality. After receiving help, I founded a group devoted to the issue of sexual abuse of animals. I have been on both sides of the fence and am familiar with all aspects of zoophilia.
Zoophilia nearly ruined my life, as it has others, and to see this paraded in the media as another sexual orientation sickens me. This is animal abuse. As Vincent indicates, Princeton professor Peter Singer has previously voiced the opinion that "defective" babies should be euthanized, a stance which rightly angered disability-rights advocates and pro-life groups. Singer's outlandish comments about bestiality followed.
Bestiality is a sign of low self-esteem, social inadequacy, and possible childhood sexual abuse being acted out on an animal that cannot consent. Half of 116 sexual offenders on parole or probation who were studied in Missouri admitted to having engaged in sexual intercourse with an animal. Bestiality is illegal in 24 states and many countries. No one is born to have sex with an animal. What on earth can Peter Singer be thinking?
Mike Rolland, Founder
Animal Sexual Abuse Information &
Resource Site (ASAIRS)
JUDGMENT @ NUREMBERG
I read Sharon Lerner's "The Nuremberg Menace" [April 10] with dismay. The article came across like a press release from an abortion-advocacy group. Had Lerner printed reaction from legitimate pro-life groups, your readers would have been aware that the Nuremberg Files Web site is run by one wacko vigilante who is condemned by 99.9 percent of the pro-life community.
Steven Ertelt, Executive Director
Montana Right to Life
Sharon Lerner replies: It was exactly my point that the Nuremberg Files Web site is run by a wacko vigilante. Nowhere did I say or imply otherwise.
A photo of the wrong restaurant appeared with Robert Sietsema's review of Arunee Thai Cuisine in last week's issue.
COLUMNISTS HONOR HENTOFF
Nat Hentoff is the recipient of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' Lifetime Achievement Award for 2001.
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