Michael Feingold's review of Annie Get Your Gun ["Diversion 2.0," March 16] left me feeling very uneasy, specifically his statements concerning the Native American element in the show.
Feingold writes: "Maybe when the Pequots buy back Manhattan, they can restore authenticity to Annie by having the Weisslers (the producers) scalped onstage at every performance." Mr. Feingold needs to know his history if he wants to write topical jokes. Every fourth grader knows that the Pequots never owned Manhattan. Furthermore, I thought we all knew that scalping was imported to these shores by the Europeans.
I tend to think Mr. Feingold knows these things I think he was simply taking license in order to make a joke. Sadly, his cheap joke is as misguided as this unfortunate revival.
American Indian Community House
Michael Feingold replies: I am sorry Mr. Elm finds my joke cheap, and grateful that he suspects me of knowing better. The menace of scalping was a standard feature of the Wild West Shows whose content Annie Get Your Gun now circumvents, a fact that might cause Mr. Elm more unease, but at least belongs authentically to the work's own time. The prosperity of the Pequots who, as we all know, never owned Manhattan of course belongs to our own time; I erred in trying to make the joke face both ways.
Head Two Head
Vince Schleitwiler's review of Heads by Harry [March 9], was schizophrenic and racist. Although Schleitwiler praises Lois-Ann Yamanaka's "wisdom and humor" and "courage and grace," he uses most of his review as a soapbox to rail against the "tired conventions" of the multicultural novel and the evils of assimilation (his pet peeves: The Joy Luck Club and "the god-awful . . . assimilationist extravaganza Flower Drum Song").
Schleitwiler writes that Heads by Harry contains some of Yamanaka's best work, then urges her to write "less predictable material." Yamanaka grew up in Hawaii and mines her own experiences to create uncommon and specific characters; the only reason Schleitwiler urges her to turn her considerable talents elsewhere is because he has decided that Asian Americans should write a different type of book. Echoing dialogue in Heads by Harry, Schleitwiler claims that he, "like most Asian American readers," has "grown tired of waiting for the hundred mirrion mee-ra-culls hawked by publishers in the aftermath of the Amy Tan craze."
Well, I can't comment on what most Asian American readers are waiting for, but I appreciate the fact that Yamanaka tries to tell the truth as she knows it. Such truth is one of the hallmarks of our best writers surely it should be an option for our Asian American writers too?
Vince Schleitwiler replies: As a biracial person, I'm used to being accused of schizophrenia, but the racism charge baffles me. Have I no right to argue that Yamanaka's talents are superior to her chosen form the offbeat, coming-of-age family drama so beloved by the big presses? The polite applause offered to everyone's multicultural novel is stifling Asian American literature. I hope it's not offensive to want "our best writers," and particularly the Asian Americans already among them, to do better.
'Bill' Of Wrongs
Richard Goldstein, in "Just Our Bill?" [March 23], mistakenly states that I "felt compelled to defend [Clinton]" and based such a stance on the historical experience of fighting fascism. Goldstein quotes me as saying, "One error was not taking fascism seriously and another was not uniting with a segment of the ruling class to defeat these fascist forces."
With regard to the second error, I said just the opposite. The error was relying on a section of the ruling class a mistake that has been made many times historically and is still being made today, frequently in the form of supporting the "lesser of two evils." I said that what was needed in this situation was not to defend Clinton but, rather, to oppose the Washington inquisition as part of building mass opposition to what Refuse & Resist! calls the "politics of cruelty" that Clinton and the Democrats have done so much to advance.
Mary Lou Greenberg
New York City
I have one quibble with Michael Atkinson's excellent recap of Stanley Kubrick's career ["Path of Glory," March 16]. Kubrick may have been "megalomanic," as Mr. Atkinson writes, but even so, he only wanted to control his artistic creations, not his audience.
Kubrick had enough confidence in his work to let it do the talking for him. Today's directors trained not in life but in film school view movies as tools with which they can draw attention to themselves and their own jejune philosophies. This behavior is far more megalomanic than Kubrick's.
How can a man who never granted interviews "overshadow" his films, as Atkinson states? Atkinson missed one crucial distinction: Kubrick himself was not famous. His films were.
Michael Atkinson's "Path of Glory" was admirably written, but I feel obliged to get another opinion of the late Stanley Kubrick onto the letters page.
Kubrick was one of our few cinema masters. Looking at his later films (the ones that Atkinson is so quick to dismiss), one sees that they remain as creepy and terrifying as they were when first released, Barry Lyndon in particular. As for Atkinson's contention that Kubrick "abandoned" films rather than "finishing" them, it's difficult for me to think of films that are more finished.
What has not been acknowledged enough is Kubrick's showbiz genius. He may have been an intellectual, but he was also a supreme entertainer who wanted to give his audience something dazzling each time out.
Michael Atkinson replies: I was paraphrasing Valéry, for whom no poem was finished but only abandoned, and it still seems to me that Kubrick's films were often "finished" in surface only. And yes, the man was media shy, to his credit, but as with Garbo and Pynchon, reclusivity is its own special brand of public statement.
As a former New York City resident now living in Texas, I read Frank Owen's article about the Limelight club with great dismay ["Gatien-Gate," March 19]. The quality-of-life witch-hunts sweeping Manhattan have got to stop.
Politicians like Giuliani and community activists like Laura Michaels need to understand that nightclubs and bars do not cause drug-abuse and crime any more than flies cause garbage. It will be a great relief when these loudmouths have used up their brief period in the limelight and New Yorkers can go back to enjoying their freedoms.
Frank Owen's article "Gatien-Gate" omitted a very important point: According to McKinney's Consolidated Laws of New York, as decided in Belden v. State of New York Liquor Authority and Rios v. State Liquor Authority, there is no inherent right to a liquor license, inasmuch as it is a matter of privilege, which is afforded only to those of high standing and character.
I do not believe that Mr. Gatien deserves this privilege.
Marcia H. Lemmon, Chair
Ludlow Block Association
Allen Barra's article, "Legend in the Gray Flannel Suit" [March 16], was an odd read. I enjoyed it yet felt that it was so impartial as to be verging on pettiness. Even though I never had the privilege of watching Joe DiMaggio play, I respected and admired his legend. Barra was meticulous in recapping DiMaggio's professional highlights. Why did he switch to the lows when discussing Joe's personal life?
Out Of The Park
Allen Barra's DiMaggio eulogy was right on the money and light years ahead of the soporific drivel of his competition. Even-handed, level-headed journalism.
Madison, New Jersey
RE Peter Noel's article "Raising Patrick Bailey" [March 9]:
Patrick Bailey was my best friend. I was supposed to be in his basement the night he was killed by police, playing music and hanging out like we usually did on weekends. Instead, I went to a Halloween party with my girlfriend. I was supposed to go over to Patrick's house after, but I didn't because I was tired from partying. None of us wanted to be on the streets that night because we knew about gang-related problems and that extra police were on patrol.
I would like some justice for the friend I lost to the brutality of the police officers from the 75th Precinct. I still don't sleep right knowing that this is not solved.
I was outraged to discover that the cop who killed Patrick Bailey has struck again. I knew Patrick from the time we were in high school together. He was a hard worker with a bright future not the woman beater that city officials alleged.
Patrick could never hold someone hostage, as the police charged. I'm convinced that was just an excuse by the NYPD.
It is hard to understand how Kenneth Boss, one of the officers involved in the killing of Patrick Bailey and now in the Amadou Diallo shooting was allowed to remain on the force.
Jason vest's article about the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan was excellent ["The Nose Knows," March 16]. This is the real impeachment issue that everybody should be discussing. I cannot believe the lack of attention to this outrage, and I hope Vest continues to pursue this story.
I appreciated Barry Walters's tribute to Dusty Springfield ["Dusty in Heaven," March 16]. What a star Dusty was, and all the more interesting for being difficult.
And hey, what a look she had! Even to the end Dusty was obsessive about her appearance, appearing, as time went by, more and more the dignified but still glitzy, mature dyke. Barry Walters's article wasn't just a tribute to Dusty, but all the magic and wonder of pop music that sends us, on occasion, to a higher plane.
Thank you for Barry Walters's article "Dusty in Heaven." As a heterosexual, I assure you that she was held in high esteem by not only gays and lesbians. She transcended all boundaries, and her voice was timeless.
Los Angeles, California
Re Austin Bunn's article "Beware All Ye Who Install Linux Here" [March 23], I've installed three different versions of Red Hat on a half-dozen machines, and it is a hell of a lot easier than installing Windows!
Bunn's problem sounds like a hardware-compatibility issue. That's Linux's real Achilles' heel right now it won't run on any Intel box. But Linux runs, and runs damn well, on the vast majority of PCs. Moreover, once you get up the learning curve a little way, it is far easier to configure, operate, and maintain than any Microsoft operating system. In all fairness, Bunn should consider installing Linux on something other than a ThinkPad and writing about that.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Jewish Day of Disobedience
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice will stage a "Jewish Day of Civil Disobedience" on Wednesday, March 24, at One Police Plaza, across from City Hall. The group will begin demonstrating at noon with Reverend Al Sharpton and members of the National Action Network. For further information call 212-647-8966.
Women of Great Esteem
Kingdom Ministries, an interfaith group led by Bishop Sylveta Hamilton-Gonzales, will hold its annual "Woman of Great Esteem" award ceremony on Saturday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at the United Nations. For information, call 718-467-0055.
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