Letter of the Week
Falling short on long war
Re Tim Heffernan's "The Measure of War" [villagevoice.com, March 19]: I am a right-wing-Republican guy who thinks this war is the right thing. Having said that, I couldn't agree more with Heffernan. There is something fundamentally wrong with going on with life as we know it when we have men in the field. Paris Hilton, Bush, Clinton, March Madness, and all the rest of it is astounding in its trivial nature when we have forces engaged in battle. I find it disconcerting to be in a country engaged in an existential struggle, where the average person knows the name of rap stars but not any of our generals or soldiers. I voted for Bush twice and would do it again, but when you contrast him with Lincoln, who waited overnight at the war department for the reports on casualties; or Roosevelt, who served pound cake in a room at the White House at his inaugural because we were at war and it was not the time to have a galaBush falls incredibly short.
I am disappointed in the angle of Kristen Lombardi's article "Gay and Proud" [March 22-28]. My experience is that the loud social disruption in the Village comes from excessively drunk adults and not solely from the youth making their way to and from the pier or hanging out. I believe that Lombardi didn't accurately report the situation. I have experienced firsthand the work done by FIERCE! They have been doing much more than the article claims. Through their presence and organizing skills they are actively trying to work with residents and engaging LGBT youth in political processes in the West Village. FIERCE! is trying to come up with solutions that don't rely on driving individuals out of a neighborhood. The piers are community property . . . The streets belong to the city . . . And public space belongs to all of the public.
I have experienced this issue with queer teens in the Village for the past four years. Since the majority of the West Village is inhabited by gay or gay-friendly people this is not a gay issue. It's become a serious matter of safety. This problem has taken a violent turn. Not one, but three people in my building have been attacked and mugged. These so-called troubled queer teens use their unpleasant upbringing, rejection from their parents, and bad neighborhoods as an excuse to completely ruin our neighborhood. A woman in my building was attacked outside of an ATM. A 16-year-old girl kicked her in the back and stole her wallet. The teens play victim "poor us, we grew up in the ghetto." Well, not only do they piss on our doorsteps, screw openly on parked cars in daylight, but they sell themselves and drugs on the street corner. I only wish they had to pay the rent we do to live in the trendy West Village.
The West Village as a bastion of racial tolerance? The Voice is so funny. As a black man, I have never felt so discriminated against as I do just walking down the streets of the Village. Don't let me walk into an upscale boutique in the West Village. We'll see how racially tolerant they are as they get their black guard to stare me down during my entire visit. I even get uncomfortable stares when I enter art galleries in the area, or at least a condescending, dismissive tone whenever I ask for literature pertaining to the artist. And as for racism within the gay "community": It's no secret that most white gays don't want anything to do with black gays outside of the occasional "big black dick" fetish. Please, if you're not black, don't make assumptions about what areas are "racially tolerant" and which ones aren't.
Greenwich Village residents have a right to peace and quiet. The perception of the Village as a gay mecca has been increasingly inaccurate since the onset of AIDS. The virus claimed the lives of many longtime gay residents there, which freed up housing. Gentrification has transformed this so-called mecca into just another yuppie enclave. Gay youth going there from other parts of the city and metropolitan area in search of what once was are sadly misinformed. "The Pier" of the '70s and '80s has given way to what is now just a city-run park. But those who wish these kids would go home need to understand that for most of them there is no home to go to. This is not just a gay issue but also a citywide issue. Parents must learn to stop kicking their kids out into the streets just for being gay. If gay youth felt comfortable traveling about and congregating everywhere in the city, they wouldn't feel the need to gather in any one place all the time.
Re Sarah Ferguson's "Flunking a Bar Exam," March 2228: It sounds like the Dorrian family's moral and ethical compass needs a complete overhaul to point them in a better direction. I am appalled that Daniel Dorrian did not give police info when they asked for it, and then gave them incorrect info. Why would the family want to defend a convicted felon over a student/customer? I do criminal background checks for job applicants and it only takes a minute. I am thankful for Jeff Ragsdale's protest and commitment to getting the Falls shut down. I wish I could be there to join him. In the end, I really hope the Dorrian family doesn't get off lightly, legally or publicly, because of its connections.
Re Karen Tucker's article on tall-bike culture ["Mutant Bike Gangs of New York," March 2228] and the defacing of the shop using them for commercial display: I say, "Get off it!" This is a free countryyou're free to build your bikes, you're free to ride your bikes, you're free to think anything you want about the culture, but you're living in a society that was built on freedom of speech, and that includes advertising. If you don't like the commercialization of tall bikes then don't patronize any of the shops. It's what you're doing that's importantand you can organize a boycott if it's of such great concern. That is your right. You do not have the right to limit their expression. That's called censorship.
In J. Hoberman's review of V for Vendetta ["Anarchy in the U.K.," March 1521] the line of dialogue "people shouldn't be afraid of their government, the government should be afraid of its people" that Hoberman describes as "a Cracker Jack box restatement of Negri and Hardt's notion of democracy for all" is, in fact, a paraphrasing of Thomas Jefferson's famous remark that, "When a government is afraid of its people, you have a democracy. When a people are afraid of their government, you have tyranny." Perhaps Negri and Hardt aren't so radical after all.
Pittsboro, North Carolina
Regarding James Ridgeway's article "Moussaoui's Guilt: Less Profound Than Airline's Own Incompetence?" [Mondo Washington, villagevoice.com, March 3] : Boy, are the airlines a piece of work. Hijackings have been occurring since the '60s, yet the airlines have done virtually nothing to make their product safer for the public. The airline industry is one of the most ardent and vocal opponents of government oversight and regulation, yet it was the first to line up for a taxpayer bailout when business went bust following 9-11.
Re Jessie Pascoe's "Three Years Later" [villagevoice.com, March 17]: Protesting the war (occupation) is a futile waste of time and energy. The '60s are over, the last time I checked. Until Americans wake up and smell the oil and systematically vote out a government owned and operated by the military industrial complex, the "wars" will continue. To quote an old Voice hero, Phil Ochs, "I ain't marchin' anymore."
Way to Go, Syd
Former Press Clips columnist Sydney H. Schanberg has won the 2005 Bart Richards Award for Media Criticism, given by the College of Communications at Pennsylvania State University for "distinguished contributions to the improvement of print and broadcast journalism through responsible analysis or critical evaluation." The award carries a $1,000 prize.
The photo in last week's dance review "Dual Glories" shows Craig Biesecker with Amber Darragh, not with Bradon McDonald as the caption stated.
In last week's issue, the photo of a Black Label bicycle rider on the contents page should have been credited to Ray Lewis.
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