Nelson George ["All Eyez on Spre," February 9] might turn out to be right that Latrell Sprewell's arrival in New York means the Knicks have "crossed to the dark side," but he misses a crucial point that Sprewell is on orders from the Knicks to light up the darkness with a warm glow that is racially unidentifiable.
This charade of Sprewell as a changed man plays well in the media, where it has been overlooked that Sprewell has not dropped his $30 million lawsuit against the NBA for depriving him of his civil rights.
For all the remodeling, Sprewell seems no less hostile, and if he's blamed for the Knicks losing, that's when fireworks might erupt. I also wonder how Sprewell's game will be affected by his employers' mainstream plans for him. Personally, I think he'd be better off if he unclasped his hands from around his own throat and unleashed his dark side. Worked fine for Dennis Rodman, whom the Knicks couldn't have painted off-white which is probably why Rodman's not in New York, although his addition probably would've had a greater impact on the team than Sprewell's.
Woon With A View
I am greatly in debt to Edie Meidav for her wonderful and accurate review of my book The Truth in Rented Rooms [January 26]. I thank Ms. Meidav not only for my own vindication, as it were, but also for the people without voice whom I have met or lived with in my journeys from rented room to rented room, in addition to the asylums and the homelessness.The simple answer is that mental illness was and is the culprit. However, mental illness has many parameters, not the least of which are medical, sociological, and political.
When I think back to how I lived my first nine years in a village without electricity or running water and then reflect on the present state of cyberspace, I marvel at how the world has progressed. Yet in some ways, the world has improved very little and perhaps not at all.
Congratulations to Guy Trebay for his passionate article "Wrap Sheet: The Bloody Trail of This Year's Fashion Must" [February 16]. Trebay does a brilliant job of exposing the fashion industry's complicity in sending the rare and beautiful Tibetan antelope to the brink of extinction through its lust for scarves made from the wool of these animals. Trebay also makes the essential point that it is not only the Tibetan antelope that is threatened by the demand for shahtoosh wool scarves; since black marketeers in India trade tiger and bear parts for the antelope wool, these already endangered species are part of the bloody shahtoosh trade as well. All to satisfy the cravings of rich Westerners for the latest fashion craze.
Trebay mentions a report on the shahtoosh trade by the Wildlife Protection Society of India. Anyone who wishes to read that excellent report in full can find it on the Web at www.5tigers.org/shaconts.htm.
In response to Michael Musto's comments in his February 9 column regarding a public service announcement for God's Love We Deliver:
We are delighted to learn that Mr. Musto feels we're doing "incredible work." However, his comments about this client-outreach commercial suggest a disregard for gay men who have children and for heterosexuals who have AIDS. The mention of the client's children in the announcement was simply to illustrate the fact that we deliver meals not only to people with AIDS, but to their dependents as well. God's Love We Deliver understands how difficult it is for our clients to support their families when they cannot shop or cook for themselves.
Based on Mr. Musto's brief remarks, it seems that he does not believe that gay men can be parents and/or that heterosexuals should be targeted for our services.
Incidentally, the number of new AIDS cases in the heterosexual population is currently rising at a faster rate than in the homosexual population. Let me assure Mr. Musto that God's Love We Deliver did not "take great pains" to point out that the client in the PSA is not gay, as he suggests.
God's Love We Deliver continues to reach out to the gay community through events, presentations, and media campaigns.
God's Love We Deliver
Delay And Destruction
I have long admired Nat Hentoff, a beacon of principle and iconoclasm whose opinions, nestled within the rather pious pages of The Village Voice, have the agreeably disruptive effect of a baby wailing in church. It surprises me, then, to find Hentoff making such a careless remark about the House Republican Whip, Tom DeLay.
In his February 9 column ["Will the Right Rule?"], Hentoff, with a clear tone of disdain, informs us that DeLay was "a professional exterminator of rodents before he entered public life." This brand of snobbery is surprising coming from Hentoff, making him sound a bit like an upper-caste Hindu, quavering at the prospect of being governed by the untouchables (who do such sanitation work in India).
I, for one, am glad to know that there are authentic workingmen in Congress. That many of these people are Republicans should give leftists pause for thought.
Of course, Hentoff may have intended the reference as a sly but uncharacteristic joke. After all, who better to bring down Hentoff's bête noire, Bill Clinton, than an exrat killer?
Nat Hentoff replies: Tom DeLay was not a working-class exterminator of rodents. He was management. He ran the company.
Regarding Karen Houppert's cover article headlined "NYPD Rude" [February 2]:
I have many family members and friends who are New York City police officers. They are hard-working civil servants who are up against the scourges of humanity 365 days a year. Can this allow the seeds of embitterment to breed? Hell, yes. Does it justify the classic cop attitude? Definitely not.
Supposedly, the officer hired today is college-educated and open to diversity and, with proper training, will keep a cool head. Instead, more often than not, it's a white guy from the 'burbs who thinks everybody is a potential perp, and wouldn't give you the time of day. Yes, this is a broad stroke.
However, if we want good cops from the city who can empathize with the people, we need to root out the problem where it begins: in the city schools truly the fountain of mediocrity.
Voice & The Stars
Rob Brezsny's "real" astrology, Greg Sandow's little green men from Mars, Nat Hentoff's Clintonian conspiracy theories . . . Three cheers for The Village Voice and its steadfast refusal to let rational thinking get in the way of a good read.
I think everyone should back off on their criticism of Nat Hentoff. He is following in a grand tradition of alleged leftists who have been wooed by the right. If Mark Lane can defend the racist right's Liberty Lobby and Steve Allen can front for Brent Bozell's morality police, the Nat Hentoffs of the world have every right to defend Bob Barr, anti-abortionists, and the Clinton haters.
Marc Weissblot's review of M.O.T.'s 19.99 [February 16] reinforced my conviction that mere wordsmiths should not be reviewing the works of word crafters. M.O.T.'s new album is not only lyrically the most wicked use of the mother tongue (mama-loshen, here) since Gilbert and Sullivan, but the music is eminently catchy, hard, and adventurous. I am weary of self-loathing Jews dissing their Hebros out of some sense that a little pride in the Tribe might cost them their assumed credibility in a gentile world. Please tell Weissblot that the nice Jewish boy from Nazareth was right when he admonished not to throw pearls before swine.
Los Angeles, California
In my review of the Pearl Theatre Company's production of The Country Wife ["Lust Horizon," January 19], the play's leading male character was erroneously referred to as "Mr. Homer." The character's actual name is Mr. Horner, which, as a Voice reader rightly pointed out in the February 2 letters section, is a Restoration pun on cuckoldry. However, I cannot take responsibility for this mistake, as it was in fact an editing error. Horner's my main man, not Homer at least according to the review that I wrote. My thoughts may have strayed beyond cuckoldry, but not quite as far as the Iliad.
One and Lonely
Ed Morales's reviews of Mike Albo's Spray and Jonathan Ames's Oedipussy ["Monomania," February 16] were the 10,000th and 10,001st invectives I've read against one- person shows. Before the trend burns itself out and no one cares about them for another five years, I would like to invite Mr. Morales to come to my show, Blood in My Coffee even if just to make it the final word on how bad one-person shows can be. I can't wait five years for the damn genre to revive and for people to decide that maybe it's okay to go to one again. If Morales hates it and writes a terrible review, I promise to write a letter to the editor in support of his opinion. It will read, "Ed Morales is right on the money. I blow." Or something to that effect.
I enjoyed the dialogue between Lisa Jones and Barbara Chase-Riboud ["A Most Dangerous Woman," February 9], which offered new insights into issues of publishing and filmmaking. Is the presentation of a dual "history" to go on forever?
Johnstown, New York
A Teletubby is the Antichrist
Gay Teletubbies? Is Jerry Falwell joking? No, it's just his publicity stunt of the month.
Last month Falwell outraged good people everywhere by declaring that the Antichrist is probably alive today and is a male Jew.
This offensive paranoia is what passes for "morality" and "family values" among right-wing religious conservatives?
The fact that they hold great influence within the present Republican Party, and therefore in government and over our personal lives, is no laughing matter.
William C. Stosine
Iowa City, Iowa
Philippine Film Festival
"Empire & Memory: Repercussions and Evocations of the 1899 Philippine-American War," a film and video series examining race, nationalism, history, and identity, will run from Wednesday, February 17, through Saturday, March 13, at the Guggenheim Museum. Tickets are free with museum admission and for Guggenheim members. For information, call 212-360-4321.
Women And Money
Legal scholars, economists, and activists will take part in an all-day symposium on women, equity, and federal tax policy on Thursday, February 18, at the New York Law School, 47 Worth Street, Manhattan. The event will begin at 8:45 a.m. For information, call 212-431-2109.
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