Articles like Joanna Cagan's "The Second Sex and SI: Women Models Win Out Over Women Writers" [February 23] pop up every couple of years, and make the same mistakes every time.
It must seem like an easy example of gender wrongdoing the exposure of beautiful women in skimpy swimsuits in exotic locales. However, such protest pieces are sheer, lazy opportunism, written without careful journalistic investigation or a considered analysis of the facts.
Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue is a phenomenon somewhat in the tradition of the Miss America contest. However, though logic would dictate that these parades of female pulchritude are designed for and principally consumed by men, the swimsuit issue is edited by a woman, and read by over 19 million women. It's about fashion. Men who buy stroke books want nipples and pussy conspicuously absent from the swimsuit issue.
Just as I don't know a male who watches the Miss America contest, the swimsuit issue despite TV comics using it as a punch line is actually a woman's idea of a man's idea of sexy women. For men, it's nothing more than snooty models posing in places no one has the money to go to. The fantasy is all female, the tacit fulfillment of which is the purchase of a new swimsuit.
If Sports Illustrated were trying to attract a large female readership, it would feature women's sports and, one would assume, have a sizable contingent of women sportswriters.
As Dylan once said, "Take the rag away from your face, now ain't the time for your tears."
The lack of any real design critique in Steven Johnson's article, "Urban Prophets" [VLS, February 16] resulted in a very limited review of John Hannigan's and Bettina Drew's books, Fantasy City and Crossing the Expendable Landscape, which explore the form of the contemporary American city.
Johnson posits the simplistic and reactionary notion that any expression of the marketplace on the built environment must be okay since, after all, isn't New Urbanism just a form of nostalgia for those marketplace- derived urban spaces of the 19th century? Yeah, just give those malls another 100 years to mature and we'll be waxing poetic about them too. As if! The miraculously transformative effects of time and nostalgia do have their limits. Ever been to a Wal-Mart?
The multinational superstores, today's most ubiquitous marketplace manifestation, will never achieve the status of landmarks, since they are typically disposable cinder block boxes at the edge of enormous parking lots, not meant to last more than 20 years. Sort of the architectural equivalent of Pampers or Bic pens. These sprawl- inducing strip boxes represent egregiously bad architecture, landscape architecture, and planning, with an appalling lack of connection, community, permanence, human scale, sense of place, environmental sensitivity, or regional awareness.
Registered Landscape Architect Manhattan
James Ridgeway, in item in Mondo Washington headed "Hill of Beans" [February 23], lists a number of reasons why Hillary Clinton's possible run for Pat Moynihan's seat in the Senate won't work.
Perhaps Ridgeway should consider the enormous advantages that a Senate win by Hillary would give New York State. Even as the junior senator, she would attract media coverage far above the more senior members of both political parties. Her contacts within the international community would be continued through the UN, helping to maintain New York's status as one of the world's great cities.
Hillary Rodham Clinton's intelligence, energy, creativity, and dedication to the rights of women and children could make her an exceptional public servant despite much of the press trying to smear her with Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, and even Monicagate which most voters consider over-the-hill issues.
George A. Dean
Time for a Change
Re James Ridgeway's evaluation of Hillary Clinton's possible run for the New York Senate: As far as Giuliani is concerned, don't bet on him drawing big numbers in a statewide run. His doctored figures on the crime rate just don't wash anymore.
Hillary would clean his clock.
Middletown, New Jersey
Why is the Jockbeat column worrying about the treatment of women by the IOC [Laura Robinson, "IOC SOBs," February 23]? I could understand the outcry if such sarcasm and rudeness took place at a UN General Assembly meeting, but the Olympics is no longer about healthy amateur competition.
Since professional athletes (many of them corporately sponsored) are now allowed to compete, the Olympics is about showcasing the world's corporate giants. Real news would be that the Olympics was once again about unifying the world through sport, and that the postCold War IOC was staffed with earnest individuals doing their best to move the population's ignored half women toward the level of respect enjoyed by the exalted half.
Kenneth G. Corwin
It is ironic that the market in Sara Delano Roosevelt Park , once reviled by vendors, is now embraced by vendors [Andrew Hsiao, "Chinatown Take Out," February 23].
I was a member of the Grand Street Task Force in 1993, when the idea of moving vendors into the park was first discussed. The vendors, along with their lawyer, Jennifer Lim, were adamantly opposed to it. The vendors wanted to continue peddling on Grand Street; they believed their businesses would suffer in the park, and they claimed the proposal was a form of discrimination against them because they were Chinese.
Now, once again, accusations of racism have surfaced in an effort to thwart the dismantling of the market. However, the actual reason the vendors are being evicted is deliberate noncompliance with regulations.
Andrew Hsiao replies: Chinatown vendors recently staged a series of protests against their own community leaders, as reported in my article. It is ironic that longtime vendor critic Glasson was touting the Dragon Gate market as an alternative to street peddling only last year, long after vendors built the stalls the city now cites as a reason for their expulsion. What's sad is a vision of New York City that has no room for street vendors.
Michael Musto's judicious article about Tinky Winky ["Purple Passion," February 23] illustrates how far the Christian Right will go to spew its venom on unsuspecting parents.
I was working at a toy fair when the scandal du jour broke. Our press office ran all over the place trying to assess the impact of the damage. Suffice it to say, Falwell has strengthened Tinky Winky's marketability!
For all we know, Falwell may have a hit list of toys he wants to out. Who's next, Lamb Chop?
Ray Acevedo Flores
Tess and Jerry
I loved Michael Musto's "Purple Passion: Jerry Falwell Outs Tinky Winky!"
Jerry Falwell strikes me as a linear descendant of the 19th-century hellfire preachers who left messages of doom and damnation painted on walls and gateposts in rural Britain (there is a reference to one in the Thomas Hardy novel Tess of the D'Urbevilles). However, those preachers didn't have the sound bitefixated mass media at their disposal.
Stephen J. Bunting
The Mugger in the Mirror
When I noticed Sharon Lerner's "My Mugger, Myself" [February 23], I hoped it wouldn't turn out to be one of those predictable pieces in which a white bleeding-heart liberal or worse, a caricature of one ends up condemning the hate-filled racist police and urging solidarity with her black mugger (who is, after all, "a victim himself").
Alas, it did.
The dead have been put down once again in the Voice, this time by Patrick Carr in "Sugar Magnolia" [February 9].
Don't you think that least some of the kids in the many jam-band groove rock groups Carr reviewed are Dead heads? And that Dead music is a huge inspiration to most of these bands?
Carr writes,"The Dead, rhythm-impaired to begin with, lost the trail for good when Pigpen took the dirt nap." Gimme a fucking break. If Carr can't find a danceable rhythm in any of the Dead's improvised jams, he must have no backbone, no soul.
What do you think kept us going back all that time, peer pressure?
In all my years of reading the Voice, I have never read a kind word for the Dead.
Northport, New York
Swelling & Spelling
The anti-inflammatory drug that Cynthia Cotts refers to in Press Clips ["Smart Pills," February 23] is Celebrex, not Celebra. Celebrex does seem to work well, although it is new and relatively expensive.
Celebra is an antidepressant, the use of which would have explained the ebullience demonstrated by the author of the piece cited by Ms. Cotts.
Dr. Jim Karegeannes
Cynthia Cotts replies: The June 15, 1998, New Yorker article I cited referred throughout to Celebra, which, it reported, was then under development by Monsanto. Searle, a division of Monsanto, is now marketing the drug as Celebrex, as Dr. Karegeannes notes.
I loved Scott Seward's hip, rap-centric article, "Beats Below the Street" [February 23]. It was fresh and full of the rhythm that has been lost in the world of alternative rock and indie mush.
Mark Schoofs's "The AIDS Race: Can New Drugs Keep Up With the Wily Virus?" [February 16] captured in a properly nuanced manner the complex set of feelings that scientists and activists are experiencing as a result of data on HIV treatments. The article was well written, engaging, and accurate. I wish I had written it.
Search for a Cure
My respects to Sharon Lerner for her thoughtful obituary on needle-exchange activist Rod Sorge [February 16]. It was wonderful to see Rod's life so eloquently encapsulated.
Thank you, Sharon.
Benefit For ABC No Rio
A six-hour pan-arts program to benefit ABC No Rio arts center will take place on Thursday, March 4, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Educational Alliance, 197 East Broadway, Manhattan. Performers will include members of the Living Theater, bassist William Parker, saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, the Bindelstiff Family Cirkus, countercultural icon Tuli Kupferberg, Dar Ting, Spin 17, Kenta Nagi, Tatsuya Nakatani, Jane Wang, Mammals of Zod, God Is My Co-Pilot, and poet Steve Dalachinsky. Admission is $10$20, based on a sliding scale. For information, call 212-539-6089.
Irish Writers at Algonquin
Writers Frank McCourt, Edna O'Brien, and Colum McCann will read from their work and participate in a brief question-and-answer session at 8p.m. Monday, March 15, at the Algonquin Hotel, 59 West 44th Street, Manhattan. Admission is $25. The event is part of The Atlantic Monthly's "Spoken Word" series. For information, call 212-840-6800.
Eric Weisbard's article "Conjuction Junction," in last week's issue, stated that editor Jas Obrecht had worked at Musician magazine. Obrecht worked at Guitar Player magazine. In addition, journalist Thom Jurek's first name was misspelled.
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