Roots Hoots

If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Robert Christgau [Consumer Guide, March 23] prefers for most hip hop to be as ignorant as he is about our band, the Roots. Until now, he was a hero of mine in the writing world, but I can't help but read between the lines of his remark that "maybe they've gotten more intelligent." Can't he just say that our shit is dope, and give us the fucking "A" we deserve? He is on some "Rolling Stone gave 'em four stars, Spin gave 'em a 9, and everyone is riding the dick, so I'll go against the grain and roast 'em" trip. I refuse to believe he listened to our album more than three times before passing judgment. It seems that all rap niggas must be dangerous and brainless in order to get his stamp of approval.

?uestlove (Ahmir Thompson)
Drummer, the Roots
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Robert Christgau replies: There is no worse critical sin than panning (or praising) something to be different, especially with a band as likable in principle as the Roots. I have listened at least seven or eight times to each album. Only the third reaches me— just don't like the keybs. Sorry.

Fiddle- Faddle

Dennis Lim, in his review of The Red Violin ["A Life on Strings," June 15], describes as "ridiculous" a scene in which someone "heroically saves the instrument from a Cultural Revolution burning."

Don't laugh. I lived in China and taught at a Chinese university. A friend and colleague told me that during the Cultural Revolution one of his students denounced him for owning a violin. The violin was found and destroyed; my friend was sentenced to be "re-educated."

Those who wish to control thought and create a new and better human spirit fear music and try to eradicate it.

George Jochnowitz
Professor of Linguistics
City University of New York
College of Staten Island

Dennis Lim replies: I wasn't making light of violin burning, or of the Cultural Revolution for that matter. As depicted in this overblown film, the events were ridiculous.


I am a survivor of 17 years of battering and 30 years of domestic violence of one kind or another. After reading Karen Houppert's "Victimizing the Victims" [June 15], I am glad I'm not a resident of New York City. I can't imagine how much more traumatized both mother and children must be when children are taken from women who are trying to protect themselves and those children by the very agency that's been funded to "help" them.

When I finally became strong enough to leave my husband and sought help from a domestic violence shelter, my daughter was grown, and there was no issue of whether she could be taken away from me for "failure to protect."

And people continue to ask, "Why did you stay?"

Name Withheld
Los Angeles, California

Cheap Shot

I was shocked to see the Voice cover stating "WOMEN ARE EASY" in big, bold letters [June 8], with an explanatory line below in quite small print. Can't you come up with something creative and eye-catching without relying on archaic gender stereotypes that guys snicker over, but that make women feel like shit?

Kaerensa Craft

Go Vest

Thanks to Jason Vest for having the intelligence to recognize truth and the courage to uphold it ["Human Shields for Clinton," June 15]. His article hit the target exactly (without use of any Apache helicopters, I might add)! As a Greek-American, my experience with this region— and with the appallingly misguided foreign policy of the U.S.— fills me with disgust and anger at how NATO (read the U.S. and Great Britain) has railroaded a small nation into giving up its sovereignty.

Given most Americans' lack of knowledge about the region, the Clinton administration knew they could get away with murder, as long as it had a good media spin. But there is more here than meets the eye. Why is Turkey's ethnic cleansing of Kurds ignored, with some Kurdish leaders declared terrorists by the U.S., while the K.L.A., which has committed similar acts of ethnic cleansing against Christian Serbs, is lauded as a group of freedom fighters?

Mary Frangakis Clark
Baltimore, Maryland

Jason Vest's "Human Shields for Clinton" was a breath of fresh air amid the "stenographers for the government" journalism that pervaded the reporting on Kosovo. Thoughtful, honest, well-argued, and eminently rational.

Marios Agrotes
Albany, New York

Liberals Pressed

Jason Vest had lots of words but absolutely no solutions in his article "Human Shields for Clinton." The problem with American liberals is that they lead cushy lives outside the jungle of the real world.  

Three members of my family were "cleansed" by the Serb army in ways too horrible to describe. Diplomacy doesn't work with murderers!

Nadja Drago

Insurance Adjustments

Re: Sharon Lerner's "Uncovered Sex" [June 15]: I guess insurance companies think paying for childbirth is cheaper than using practical measures to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. I think if they did cost analysis for childbirth and health care until these babies become adults, they'd realize it's cheaper to pay for the pill. So what if women use the pill for contraception in pursuit of sexual pleasure? I don't see how a man's sexual satisfaction, as in the case of Viagra, is more important. NOT!!!

Kimberly Tye
Covington, Kentucky

Birth Rights

I appreciated Sharon Lerner's article "Uncovered Sex." Like many women, I take birth control pills for medical reasons.

When my HMO told me all I needed to be reimbursed was a note from my doctor stating that I was on the pill for medical reasons, I was thrilled. But after I sent in the letter, I never got a response. I wrote again and again— a total of seven times. Like so many people, I gave up.

To the insurers, I say, "Women put you in the world. Treat us right."

Rachel Gleicher

Future Fest

Amy Taubin's piece "Fest Forward" [June 15], on digital video at the Cannes Film Festival, was exactly right.

As the official representative for the International Market of Technologies and Innovations in Cinema, and one of the Franco-American team responsible for formulating this year's DV theme, I can tell you that this was the most exciting year of the five that I've been in Cannes. The seminars we put together on digital filmmaking and digital cinema were groundbreaking. Taubin's piece captured the sense of something new in the making.

Rex Weiner

no holds bard

Regarding the critical overview "Rockin' in Rhythm" in the Voice jazz supplement [June 15]: Kudos to Nat Hentoff for reminding us of the immortal Fargo sessions. However, as both a musician and an amateur Ellingtonian, I was baffled by the absence of Ellington's nearly perfect New Orleans Suite from the "favorite" lists of most critics.

This LP beautifully balances Duke's lush romanticism with thoroughly modern composition. Between four musical portraits of Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Wellman Braud, and Sidney Bechet, Ellington defies the oft-implied notion that his final years were marked by diminished creative genius.

If George Kanzler or Gene Seymour are right in comparing Ellington to Shakespeare, then New Orleans Suite may be likened to the latter's Tempest.

David Alonzo-Maizlish

City Scope

Kudos to Leslie Camhi for her snappy style in "Art of the City" [June 15]. Having read New York Modern: The Arts and the City, I enjoyed her take. I was delighted by the detail "zigzagging" through the chapters— each dedicated to another art form. I also liked the fact that the book focused on the radical; longer would have not been better.

D. Elder Stewart
Akron, Ohio


I found Jeff Salamon's review of Absolute Hardcore 2 ["Chirpy Cheap Cheese," June 15] most intriguing. I myself am a happy hardcore DJ and found Salamon's article to be very true. I know out in California the scene is a little different, since people have to choose between going to a hardcore party or a happycore party.

Here in the Midwest the only place hardcore is played out is in Wisconsin, and by the occasional Chicago DJ, but happycore is starting to take off.

Brian Kaser
West Lafayette, Indiana

Voice From Down Under

As an Australian who reads The Village Voice online every week, and who plays soccer at an amateur level, I found Matthew Yeomans's criticisms of the Australian team a little rough ["Women of the World: The Class of '99," June 22]

Sure, Matildas is a poxy name for our women's team, but if Yeomans got off of his Manhattancentric ass and looked at what passes for culture in this country, he would quickly discover the anthem of Oz is a timeless little ditty about the sheep shearer pouncing on the ram at the lake, Waltzing Matilda.

Actually, I'm sure he knew. I visited New York last year and love the Voice. I'm a journalist, and your paper is one of my top five favorites in the world. Keep it up!  

Stacy Farrar
Adelaide, Australia

Downtown Auckland

I love Michael Musto's weekly gossip column, La Dolce Musto. He's so funny, always poking fun at himself and at the whole hysterical hype machine that surrounds movie stars these days.

Besides the amusing Musto, I like the very serious stories about gay rights and anti-gay violence, and if I had to choose a statement to describe your paper it would have to be "brilliantly researched and written." Well done, and keep up the excellent work!

J. Anthony Hall
Auckland, New Zealand

He, She-It

In the recent uproar over Jar Jar Binks and his sexuality, I can't help but think it's kind of funny that we automatically assume Jar Jar is a "he" because of the limited ability of our language to deal with sexual nomenclature.

What if the Gungans are actually all strong females, or androgynous and able to procreate by themselves? I didn't see any Gungans that looked to be of an "opposite sex," so I'm not even convinced that they have two sexes. Why must their actions correlate with anything common to human experience?

Lynette Ferenschak
Boulder, Colorado


Due to a layout error, the third paragraph of Jason Vest's article "Stand-up Conspiracist," about actor/author Richard Belzer, which contained a "refrain" by Belzer referred to in the following paragraph, did not appear in last week's issue. It should have read: "Catching sight of mother and child out of the corner of his eye, the Man in Black glided over and gently lifted the kid out of the harness binding him to maternal breast. In two seconds flat, banshee-like wailing commenced. But rather than carry him off to some X-Files­esque government complex, the darkly clad interloper began to delicately sway and pirouette as he crooned a subversive lullaby: 'Question authority, question authority,' he cooed into the tyke's ear. 'JFK was murdered by a conspiracy, JFK was murdered by a conspiracy.' "

Ballgirl, -Boy Tryouts

Tryouts for ballboys and ballgirls ages 16 to 90 will be held, starting at 4 p.m., Thursday, July 8, at the U.S. Tennis Association's National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, Queens. The 1999 U.S. Open will be held at the Center from August 30 through September 12. For further information, call 718-760-6213.

Letters should be brief, and phone numbers must be included. All letters are subject to editing for clarity, legal, and space considerations. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, The Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003 Or fax to 212-475-8944 or e-mail to editor@villagevoice.com. E-mail letters must include phone numbers.

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