Reading Lenora Todaro's "Prague Diary: Report From the Barricades" [October 10], I was deeply concerned with her repeated depictions of violent anarchists. It appeared that the stone-throwers and window-breakers were categorized as anarchists purely by virtue of their destructiveness, a dangerous generalization that anarchist activists have labored under for the better part of a century.
Were the stone-throwers Todaro saw confirmed members of anarchist groups? Certainly any number of peaceful protesters in Prague were diehard activistsas is the case at solidarity actions all over the world. Anarchist activists have made use of virtually every form of radical action, from union organizing to street theater. Conflating anarchism with violence is a tactic the authorities have used for decades to avoid addressing the real issues anarchism raises.
Regardless of how one defines violence (and which act is more violent, breaking a store window or teargassing a peaceful crowd?), the distinction between rioters and peaceful anarchist organizers is one that a left-identified paper like the Voice would do well to study. Glossing over that difference only strengthens the position of the capitalist authorities.
Lenora Todaro replies: Many of those throwing rocks and gasoline bombs and setting fires did indeed identify themselves as anarchists, both verbally and with the clothes they wore (the anarchy symbol stitched, stuck, or spray-painted on) or flags they carried. Henne is right, of course, that not all anarchists are violent. Nor in this situation were all rock-throwers anarchists. I thought I made that distinction clear.
Rap On Russell
In response to Chisun Lee's article on the hip-hop exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum ["Roots, Rhymes, and What?" October 10]: When it comes to the culture of hip-hop, Russell Simmons has no clue how to separate the commercialization of his personal projects and opinions from what is real. The exhibit should reflect everything that is the foundation of hip-hop and what makes it a culture. At the same time, the focus should be the origins in the Bronx and how the pioneers brought around the world before the RUN-D.M.C. era.
Although police brutality is a very important part of what goes on in our streets, that doesn't make it a hip-hop issue. Things like that have been going on since this land was conquered.
Hip-hop evolved because of the lack of social and community-based programs for the youth in the Bronx. It became our ghetto game and a way for us to express ourselves while gaining respect from our neighborhood for being creative and talented.
I wish that Russell Simmons would sincerely acknowledge that there are four basic elements of hip-hop (B-boyingnot breakdancingMC'ing, graffiti, and DJ'ing), not just the things that he touches.
I hope he will become a true supporter of hip-hop culturenot just rap.
Richard "Crazy Legs" Colon
Rock Steady Crew
Someday, when The Village Voice's progressivism is more fully realized and its readership is genuinely sophisticated and enlightened, and no doubt hipper, your "Best of NYC" food picks [October 3] will ignore such abominations as "a burnished-skin half-bunny," "a whole baby pig, roasted to perfection," "thin slices of veal roast served in a creamy tuna sauce . . . bravo!" and endless takes on beef and chicken.
When will the progressive community in New Yorkone of the world's most dynamic citiesstop living in denial, acknowledge the obvious, and accept its responsibility to effect change in its eating habits and in an immoral system that is dependent upon the constant and vile torture of beings wholly aware of their existence and fully capable of feeling their suffering?
Meanwhile, those people who refuse to deny, rationalize, or sanction atrocities involved with the food they eat will cry in anguish and in anger and marvel at the causes you champion over the likes of pork chops, chicken wings, and burgers "consistently big, moist, pink in the middle."
Lot To Complain About
Regarding the cover for your recent "Best of NYC" issue, which featured the category "best vacant lot":
Once it is named "best vacant lot," it's not really the best vacant lot anymore, is it? It's a once vacant lot that is newly populated by Village Voice readers who wish to hang in the best darned vacant lot out there.
Another irritant: the excessive use of the term "dotcommers" as a derogatory label indicating boring, smug people.
I shall boycott your "best vacant lot," as it will now undoubtedly be chock-full of dotcommers and annoying humanoids representing a myriad of occupations.
Diamond in the Rough
Thank you for "Toni Schlesinger's New York Obsession" ["Best of NYC"]. I was a volunteer at the Museum of Natural History until a year ago. The dioramas of African mammals that Schlesinger described truly are the best.
I was lucky enough to get into the museum before it opened and could wander the halls alone. My imagination ran wild.
Lauren J. Diamond
Thanks for Wayne Barrett's powerful exposé of State Senator Roy Goodman's artful two-step on legislation, presenting one face to the district voters in New York and another to his legislative peers in Albany ["Senator Straddle," October 10].
Solidly researched journalism like the Barrett piece helps us to see a politician's legislative record whole. And that record is disgraceful: halfhearted sponsorship of legislation in the city and abandonment of it in Albany. Thanks to Barrett, a titanic upset of Goodman by Liz Krueger and a move toward progressive, principled representation of New York's East Side in Albany just took a big step forward.
Linda Stone Davidoff
I agree with Dan Savage's comments on the recent breakups of Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche and Melissa Etheridge and Julie Cypher [Savage Love, October 3]. If you are compelled to carry on publicly like you are in love forever, who are you trying to convince? Sure, I'm a little jaded, but at 33, it's just common sense.
I'm kind of relieved at the demise of these lesbian supercouples. Even though they made some of us feel more connected to popular culture and Hollywood, and for a brief time even inspired us with the possibility of healthy, stylish, highly visible lesbian love, there's also some relief that comes when the bubble bursts. Even supercouple icons need grounding.
Ward Harkavy's article "Hollywood Babble On" [September 26] contained a graphic that suggested Disney, through its ownership of Miramax, was responsible for the release of the film Kids. That is untrue. It is common knowledge that Disney wanted to sanitize the film to a degree unacceptable to both the director and Miramax executives Bob and Harvey Weinstein.
Rather than submit to Disney's demands, the Weinstein brothers assembled a group of investors to buy the rights back from Disney. The original cut of the film was released independently.
Paul D. Addis
San Francisco, California
Jerry Saltz ["Babylon Calling: Thoughts on Newness for the New Season," September 19] brought up many good points regarding the current state of the avant-garde. I would like to offer two additional perspectives, which are interconnected.
The cost of real estate in New York has risen to such a high level in the past 20 years that virtually the only kind of gallery that can survive is the big-bucks, no-risk type. Thus, the venues left are small, fleeting, and often off the beaten track. The days of a general art-world awareness of new art by people like Beuys, Nauman, and Serra have given way to pluralistic legions of challenging works hidden away in garage-studios and basements.
Until publicly funded spaces are made available, there will be many more trees falling silently in the rarefied world of advanced ideas.
Cortlandt Manor, New York
Lost in Translation
I was surprised by Daniel Handler's article about Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood ["I Love Murakami," October 3]. While I agree that this is a great novel and that Murakami is, on the whole, a great author, Handler is off-base in saying that Norwegian Wood has been inaccessible in English. The Kodansha release of this book has been readily available at the Kinokuniya bookstore here in New York City for years.
Daniel Handler replies: The Kodansha edition is hardly accessible. It was pulled from circulation years ago by Murakami himself, who disapproved of the translation. A copy turns up on eBay now and then, but a phone call to Kinokuniya revealed that the only English version they carry is the Vintage edition I reviewed.
In response to Douglas Wolk's article on Radiohead ["Like Our New Direction?" October 10]: I'm tired of hearing and reading about how incredibly wonderful Radiohead is, even though I thoroughly believe that they are, in fact, incredibly wonderful. So it was nice to read a review that wasn't totally positive or negative, even though I was a bit annoyed at the comment that Radiohead were one-hit wonders prior to OK Computer. They were one-hit wonders in mainstream America only. I understand that "Street Spirit" and other tracks off The Bends were huge hits in other countries, especially in Canada and England. Furthermore, I don't believe that Kid A is meant to be a "go-fuck-yourself" album. I think they had to make this kind of an album to remain at least somewhat genuine in creating music.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
As a young American living in the 11th District in Brooklyn, I was disappointed to see Una Clarke lose to Major Owens ["BrooklynRATS," Peter Noel, September 26].
I had supported Owens since I had been eligible to vote. But he has never supported my community directly. I have seen Clarke at rallies, funerals, and celebrations.
District 11 is one of the most diverse communities in the United States. Una Clarke would unite usnot divide us.
Mark Winopol's article on the New York MetroStars and U.S. soccer was, in a word, beautiful ["Metros and Soccer Look to Advance," October 10]. In the words of a song we sing in the supporters' section:
This is what we like!
This is what we like!
Simple as soccer, but simply true. Up the Metro!
Howard G. Brown
Hentoff Named Journalists' Fellow
Voice columnist Nat Hentoff has been named a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists for "extraordinary contributions to the profession."
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