Letter of the Week

It's a hard knock . . .

I appreciated Tom Breihan's glowing review of the Jay-Z concert ["Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt Anniversary Show at Radio City: Really That Good," Status Ain't Hood, villagevoice.com, June 26]. However, as a member of the bass section at that show I feel compelled to set his one disparaging remark about the show straight. He referred to the bass as "too wobbly" on "Ain't No . . . " but as a matter of fact there was no orchestra at all on that tune. In response I couldn't resist my own version of Jay-Z's "22 Two's": Too much Village Voice bass knockin', and too many writers on a mission doin' your best Jay-Z rendition. Too many rough grammaticians. I got my suspicions that you're just a fish in a pool of editaz. Too many reviewers wanna be poets, so if you a Poe I'ma call you a Poe, too many reviewers are shady. Too many writers wannabe musicians don't know what music is. Too many writers stuck up from too many cash advances. No question, we got too many answers. I been around this block, too many times rocked, too many rhymes, raved, too many times, too. I don't follow any guidelines 'cause too many writaz ride mine so I change styles every two rhymes, hah, what the fuck.

Chris Marolf

Unemployment benefits

After reading Neil DeMause's article "Out of the Shelter, Into the Fire" [June 21–27] I realized that the government does not want to face the facts about homelessness and how some of us can become homeless. Why haven't they changed the income requirements for the public assistance program or at least for food stamps? The income requirements have been the same since the 1970s. Hasn't the cost of living increased since then? I will become homeless soon because I cannot afford to pay both rent and child care. When I do my monthly budget I never have money left for food. However, the government says I make too much money and can feed five people. Ha! If that's so, how come my fridge is bare and I can't even feed my own daughter? I don't even qualify for WIC. I can't find affordable housing nor do I qualify. So, I figure going back to school will boost my income. But wait, the loans from my last school are killing me. My whole paycheck goes toward rent, child care, and debt. I am figuring that working is more expensive than not working. I would qualify for every program out there including affordable housing if I didn't work.

Elle Pena

Gangsta chronicles

I just read "Still On the Waterfront" [June 28–July 4] by Tom Robbins and wanted to praise him for such a well-written story. As a new resident of Bayonne, New Jersey, from Milwaukee (by way of the Upper East Side), I often wondered what the history of organized crime was in the area. The article presented a very informative account of what has happened in the past and what the possible future might be.

Charlie Lembach
Bayonne, New Jersey

Patriotic standoff

Re Nat Hentoff's "Bound and Gagged" [Liberty Beat, June 21– 27]: Where is your compassion and support for the two U.S. soldiers who were kidnapped, tortured, and beheaded? Where is your outrage over the enemy's brutal treatment of America's finest? I believe your lack of outrage over these and other brutal acts of inhumanity is because you have a political agenda of your own, i.e., to hate America and to hate the military. If your boy Bill Clinton were in office you would be singing his praises for using every means available to secure America's freedom and avoid a repeat of 9-11. So just shut up. If the victim in this situation is telling the truth eventually our justice system will root it out.

Jerry Vogler
Normal, Illinois

Nat Hentoff replies: Mr. Vogler apparently has not seen several columns in which I supported the war in Iraq as a humanitarian intervention because no one else, including the U.N., was willing to stop the mass graves and the torture chambers. I certainly do not approve of the way the war was conducted. As for my "boy" Clinton, I not only was in favor of the articles of impeachment, but I still believe he should have been impeached because he committed perjury in a federal-court trial.

Them, or us

Aina Hunter's story about SHAC ["Targeting the Testers," June 21–27], the group that conducts protests against Hun-tingdon, a firm that does product testing using animal subjects, didn't mention that such protests tend to rouse feelings against the use of animals in scientific research. These feelings might lead to suppression or even the prohibition of use of animals in medical research. As a result, progress in developing treatments and cures for human illnesses might be slowed or curtailed. These potential treatments would likely reduce human suffering and prevent fatalities. Protesting the use of animals in product testing constitutes a real threat to human health and welfare.

David Ferrier
Edmonton, Alberta


Julia Reischel's article "See Tom Be Jane" [villagevoice.com, May 31] makes it seem like there are no other kids with gender identity issues. At age four my daughter asked, "Mom, what if there was a girl and, just pretend, there was a boy living inside her body?" At five years old, when she refused to wear girls' clothes, I said to her, "You know you're a girl, don't you?" She answered back, "You don't know me: You don't live inside my body." After that she started dressing like a boy— short, boy-style haircuts—she hates anything girlish. Now, she's eight years old and I tell her to grow her hair long and keep it in a ponytail so she can feel like a boy inside, but kids won't make fun of or bother her. She gets made fun of and she doesn't feel like she fits in with boys or girls. She gets depressed and once or twice said she wanted to kill herself. I guarantee you there are many children out there whose parents are not allowing them to express their feelings. How many times do we have to read about adult homosexuals or transgenders who say that they knew their sexual identity at age three? Why don't parents address the issues when they are first presented and then support their kids at an early age so they don't try to commit suicide or abuse drugs and sex later on? There are so many kids out there in this situation. Parents just need to admit that something is different and be OK with whomever their child decides to become.

Gina Sanabria

American sexpots

Re Corina Zappia's "Beyond Gay Marriage" [June 21–27]: In a society where sex is taboo it's no wonder why people experiment with sex rather than look for love and sex. If you're a teenager with family issues you try to escape by experimenting with sex, drugs, alcohol, etc. What do you expect in a society where a man has to be a marine, a football player, or a cowboy and where any form of physical contact between men is not approved of, or where a woman has to be in a beauty pageant and think about her life as a continuous makeover? In a society where being different in school causes isolation and sometimes physical humiliation, sex is liberation. In places like Scandinavia and the Mediterranean, sex is not such an issue and people really try to find love. These societies still have issues with gays but try to solve them. In the United States sex is a paradoxical sin, looked at with hatred and intolerance, and this freaks me out, especially when we want to teach democracy to other countries.

Massimo Mascoli

What's the idea?

The Voice still has openings for staff writers. We're looking for journalists who understand the difference between magazine-style reporting and the hurried factoid-finding of daily papers. Ideal candidates must be able to create in-depth and compelling stories that explore issues, events, and people. We want to see examples of not only your past work but also your current story pitches. We offer competitive salaries and benefits.

Send cover letter, resume, clips, and pitches—via e-mail, if at all possible—to:

Ward Harkavy
Interim Editor in Chief
The Village Voice
36 Cooper Square
New York, NY 10003

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