Last week's cover ["Diallo: The City Will Never Be the Same"] was chilling, and perfectly complemented your special section on the Amadou Diallo killing.
At first, all I noticed was the blood and bullet holes. Then, while counting the holes, I realized they spelled out "I [heart] NY." As a photo researcher, I deal with images every day, and recognize a powerful one when I see it. The factors that went into your cover made an extremely strong statement, encouraging people to think about the serious situation that has begun to unfold in New York City. Great job!
Leslie De La Vega
Equality Of Life
Your special section "Diallo: The City Will Never Be the Same," on the citywide effect of the Diallo killing, was outstanding, especially in explaining Mayor Rudolph Guiliani's reaction to the protests. Visiting New Yorkers are always telling me how the city has changed in recent years. Now I have some idea about what they failed to tell me.
After reading Guy Trebay's article, "Disobedience Training" [March 30], I've decided that, although I am 64 years old, I would join those who are protesting the killing of Amadou Diallo if I lived in New York. It is a shame that some members of the New York Police Department are so brutal. Keep protesting!
Los Angeles, California
Revved Up Protests
Peter Noel's "Father of the Movement" [April 6], with additional reporting by Karen Mahabir, was excellent! I've always loved Reverend Al Sharpton. While I am extremely sorry it took the cold-blooded murder of a young African immigrant to galvanize New Yorkers against police brutality, I am pleased that Sharpton is finally getting the credit he deserves.
In response to Peter Noel's "Father of the Movement," explaining how Reverend Al Sharpton rose from "racial arsonist" to "racial healer": Sharpton ought to go a step further and remove himself from the foreground of the protests. Although the demonstrations have taken on unexpected proportions, I have heard many a friend say that but for Sharpton's notoriety in the Tawana Brawley fraud they would have also joined in the civil disobedience protests at police headquarters.
Brawley is Sharpton's albatross. Unless he acknowledges his folly in the Brawley case, he has no credibility to many people, notwithstanding the participation in his demonstrations of Susan Sarandon, Jesse Jackson, David Dinkins, Charles Rangel, and scores of rabbis.
Alisa Solomon's "A Dream Detained" [March 30] did an excellent job communicating the sadness and depression of immigrants awaiting permission to officially enter the U.S.
Many of these refugees come to America thinking their problems will be solved upon arrival, not realizing they are going to get caught up in the immigration system. There must be better legislation that protects not only the immigrants, but the taxpayers, who provide the wherewithal to house all these refugees. The U.S. causes its own problem by not clarifying its laws and regulations to potential immigrants before they arrive. By the time refugees are here, what can be done? Their cases must be heard, and they must be housed. When finally they are deported or released into society, a lot of taxpayer money will have been spent.
Reading Alisa Solomon's "A Dream Detained," I was struck by the hypocrisy of U.S. condemnation of China for human rights violations when this country sanctions INS detainment of immigrants under such awful conditions. If we read of this behavior in Beijing instead of Queens, we'd be outraged at the disregard for human rights.
Eric Weisbard, in his article, "The Graying of Indie Rock" [March 30], quotes former indie rocker Xtal's lyric: "What you gonna do for an encore/Now that you're not so young anymore?"
You know, indie rock only got unseemly if you cared whether anyone listened. The indie milieu wasn't about youth, beauty, or power, it was about finding something to do with your friends other than watch TV. Most of this music will never be heard. It rusts away on countless cassettes in the attics of 80,000 indie band members who couldn't be bothered with sending out demo tapes.
Paul Westerberg, Thalia Zedek, and Steve Shelley were straight-up rock stars with tours and managers, videos and albums on the charts. Real indie rock stars never get old because there aren't any. What are we gonna do for an encore? Who invited you to the fucking show?
San Jose, California
Playing For Keeps
As a 36-year-old veteran of about half a dozen indie bands that all went nowhere, Eric Weisbard's article "The Graying of Indie Rock" brought a tear to my eye and a stomp of my foot on the floor. Now where in hell did I put my Rickenbacker?
Barry Walters, in "57 Hatreds" [He's Got Your Disease, March 30], seemed interested in understanding Eminem and his music, even though he wasn't able to fully grasp it which was a pleasant surprise.
Walters wrote, "This loser plays his trailer trash persona for laughs, but also pathos, and his ability to switch back and forth in the course of a single rhyme is what some people even I find upsetting."
Upsetting is the point, and you don't have to be trailer trash to understand that. As for the switching, Eminem's lyrics don't surprise me or anyone like me (stupid-looking, poor kids whose intelligence is often underestimated), because they are reiterations of trailer-trash personas put on display. It's reality mixed with an exaggeration that creates hardcore sarcasm. Who knew all that high school dirty-talk would one day make it into a hit song, and people outside of trailer parks would actually listen?
Kearny, New Jersey
Finger On the '50s
Amy Taubin wrote an excellent review of Hilary Brougher's The Sticky Fingers of Time ["Show Time," March 30]. As Taubin notes, the film was witty and accurate in re-creating the 1950s.
Brougher is a great director who reckons with some serious issues here: e.g., what could be in light of what has been, what women find important, even where the soul resides.
Taubin is also right about the cinematography by Ethan Mass it really evokes the mysteries of the sci-fi genre.
Marlena F. Lange
Middletown, New York
It was nice to see a paramedic featured in Toni Schlesinger's Money column [March 30], except that she didn't come close to conveying what paramedics really go through.
There's nothing fun about this job when you have to tell someone a loved one has died. Or when someone you're trying to help gives you no respect because they assume you're merely an ambulance driver. As the paramedic quoted in the piece says, doctors do set up protocols for us, but we have to have a lot of medical and pharmaceutical knowledge, as well as psychology and street smarts.
Cynthia Cotts, in Press Clips [March 30], confirms what so many of us already knew: that marijuana isn't addictive, isn't a "gateway drug," and can ease the suffering of some people with cancer and AIDS.
Painful and hazardous side effects occur with many of the powerful, man-made drugs we currently use to fight illnesses, yet the FDA continues to approve them. It is despicable that the government delays legalizing marijuana for medical use.
Fly in the Ointment
In Amy Taubin's article about the Sundance Film Festival ["Slippery Slopes," February 16], she briefly mentioned a short film about basketball and attributed it to Tony Bui, a Vietnamese American director.
There is no short film by Bui that matches that description, although there is a film named Fly that does. Fly was directed by Abraham Lim, a Korean American filmmaker, and is in no way related to Bui's work.
I believe Taubin confused the directors.
Peter X. Feng
Amy Taubin replies: I apologize for crediting Abraham Lim's fine and moving film to someone else.
Bravo to David Kushner for his excellent article, "Joystick Nation" [March 30], about the booming business of vibrators on the Internet. Good writing, and interesting assignment. Keep him going . . . so to speak.
St. Petersburg, Florida
Get Your Kicks
Denise Kiernan's article about Mike Petke and the MetroStars ["The Chemical Brothers," April 6] was great. There are lots of all-American soccer fans out here who live for this sport, despite the lack of attention it gets from the mainstream media. In the aftermath of the Final Four hoopla, it was a relief to read some soccer news!
Los Angeles, California
Tom Tomorrow's cartoons in This Modern World are happening! I've been offended in the past by some of his material (who hasn't?); nevertheless, I really enjoy his candor. He thinks that he leans to the left, but I'm a populist/libertarian, and I agree with about 85 percent of his stuff.
I particularly like how his cartoons point out that we worry about inconsequential things (like sexual stories) when the real issues include matters such as illegal campaign funds, IRS audits, Whitewater, Lippo Group involvement, perjury, and the murder of 76 people at Waco, Texas.
In Jane Dark's Sugar High column [March 23], which referenced a Volkswagen ad, she should have written about the commercial as it is rather than as she remembered it.
It is hard to follow a line of reasoning when the premise is skewed. The sounds in the ad that Dark referred to are not synchronized to external events alone; they start with the car's windshield wipers, move to the street, then go back to the car.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but when one builds an argument about how racism is inherent in the advertising world, one should be careful about the accuracy of what one builds the argument upon.
Jane Dark replies: The factual touches you note are just so, but I never argued about racism being "inherent in the advertising world" (it's too obvious to debate). I'm interested in the anxieties about race and music and their arrangement in America: anxieties which result from unpaid debts. The VW ad is a 60-second piece of ethnomusicology, which strips bare those anxieties and debts so precisely I can only bob my head in admiration.
A memorial service for Rafic Azzouny, owner of Rafik's Film and Video Supply Store, who died on February 27, will be held at Millennium Film Workshop, 66 East 4th Street, at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 9.
Due to an editing error, the March 23 Jockbeat column erroneously reported that Jake LaMotta threw a middleweight title fight to Billy Fox in 1947. The bout was not for the middleweight title.
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