The Harvey Pekar Issue
Re the letter in last week's issue from Gary Groth, founder and editor of The Comics Journal, which mentioned me:
Groth tries to have it both ways, claiming that I've been pestering Art Spiegelman for 10 years and that I'm an "embarrassment." However, virtually everything I've written about Spiegelman was published by Groth in The Comics Journal in issues that appeared in 1986, 1989, and 1990; that's far from 10 years. If Groth thinks my pieces are so embarrassing, why did he solicit me to write about Spiegelman, and then run my pieces repeatedly? He's hypocritical.
Like Groth I'm obsessive and combative, but I'm right about Art being overrated. I've gone into minute detail to criticize Spiegelman, who confuses arty and artful. His fans, however, rarely refer to my analyses. Instead, they claim I'm jealous as if Spiegelman were above criticism.
Groth was once an enthusiastic supporter of mine, even labeling one edition of The Comics Journal a "Special Harvey Pekar Issue." Spiegelman should watch his back if he falls from the icon category, i.e., if Maus stops being regarded as a recently discovered portion of the Torah. Groth has been known to switch alliances.
In response to William Bastone's "Colombian Coke Caper" [August 5]: As a Colombian, I'm not really surprised when somebody falls into the temptation of attempting to smuggle cocaine into the United States. If, as alleged, Laurie Hiett, the wife of the colonel directing the anti-narcotics war in Colombia, could not resist the temptation, imagine the thousands of Colombians who live in extreme poverty and who do not have much to lose by giving it a try.
I am used to seeing this kind of corruption at all levels of society. It's the reality of a sinking country. Events like this confirm just how difficult it is to escape from the claws of drug money in Colombia.
Are you people for real? I am speaking of Scott Seward's article on the impending doom of the world as we know it, and his reference to Prince Michael Jackson Jr. being the Antichrist ["Armageddon It," August 10]. If there is not a formal apology in your paper within the coming week I and many others will have no use for Seward or the Voice. The journalist should have had the decency to leave an innocent two-year-old child out of such nonsensical comments.
Rochester, New York
Scott Seward replies: Sorry. I didn't really think my wild-ass theory would be taken seriously. Besides, everyone knows that Celine Dion is the God of Hellfire.
No Direction Home
Regarding Amy Taubin's rant about The Blair Witch Project ["Spelling It Out," August 10]: The reason that the "most horrifying aspect" of this film which Ms. Taubin calls "a cautionary tale about what happens when a woman directs a movie" "escaped notice" is that it is not there.
Taubin, it seems, is resorting to inventing feminist issues regarding The Blair Witch Project. She seems to be saying that Heather, the slightly hardheaded leader and director of the film, is somehow at fault for failing to "bring her boys home." However, it is a supernatural occurrence that screws the three filmmakers from the get-go. They are fucked the minute they enter the woods, and nothing that Heather can do can save them. It isn't her mistakes that kill the trio; it is the freaky witch/spirit/curse.
One male character kicks the map into a creek and spends much of the film screaming for help while Heather tries to remain calm and in control. They all lose it by the end; even (gasp) the boys! Everyone is crying in this movie, not just Heather.
Does being pro-feminist in a film mean that the female always has to be smart, in control, and tough? Should Heather have become some kind of action hero, kickboxing her way out of the forest, taking out ghosts left and right with grenade launchers? How would the movie have been if one of the guys had been in charge of "the project"? Pretty much the same. The evil presence in the woods was what finished them not a strong female getting her "comeuppance."
Wood-Ridge, New Jersey
Amy Taubin replies: My problem with The Blair Witch Project is unrelated to the particulars of Heather's behavior. Given that in going up against the supernatural, humans, regardless of their sex, are bound to lose, isn't it curious that the filmmakers chose to make the instigator of this doomed adventure a woman? Especially since, in the real world, which the film claims to reflect, women directors are a tiny minority. Like all horror films, Blair Witch is a cautionary tale. Its lesson to aspiring filmmakers is: don't get in over your head. But ambitious women have been told that all their lives. Most of them are cautioned away from filmmaking before they even begin.
I loved the piece by Greg Tate about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band in New Jersey ["Tear the Roof off Jungleland," August 17]. It's one of the best reviews of a Bruce concert I've ever read. Tate captured the emotional content the way it feels to be at a Bruce show. I'm really impressed, and grateful to read such a perfectly realized account.
Just a quick note to correct Michael Atkinson in his review of The Sixth Sense ["The Uninvited," August 10]. As the editor of the film, I can assure Mr. Atkinson that none of the visible breaths were accomplished by using computer-generated effects. We built a "cold room" (as The Exorcist did) so that all the breaths were real. In fact there was only one computer-generated effect in the entire film (the hanging ghosts).
Larchmont, New York
In reference to Mark Boal's article "Surveillance Sorority" [August 10]: Although I do not fully condone "voyeur" Web sites, the people who create them are marketing geniuses! Producers of TV ads and movies rack their brains, spending millions of dollars on test-marketing the twentysomething market. Then, some average slob in Florida comes along and gets filthy rich in a few months because he or she figured out a cheap and legal way to get drunken frat boys in colleges across the country to slap down $34 a month to stare at images on their computer monitors of girls prancing around in their panties, using the toilet, and baking cookies half-naked. (Hey, its harmless and more ethical than the tobacco industry!) Hats off to the Internet! Now some people can stay at home and make a lucrative career out of taking a dump live!
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