Thank you for your excellent coverage of the murder of Matthew Shepard ["Beyond the Fence," November 3].
Guy Trebay, Alisa Solomon, Austin Bunn, and the eyewitness testimonials from the march in Manhattan put the events in perspective in a sensitive, thought-provoking way.
Fence To Stonewall
Why were images of a second Stonewall used throughout Alisa Solomon's article on the political funeral march for Matthew Shepard ["Back to the Streets," November 3]?
Was it because there were injuries and arrests? Why do so many of my gay brothers and sisters need to be battered by police before becoming active queers? It's sad that we're awakened only when we are victims of brutality. We seem to have given the police power over our politics.
Ithaca, New York
Reading Brian Parks's "Facts in Trouble" [October 20], about why he killed a piece on Rent playwright Jonathan Larson's alleged plagiarism of Sarah Schulman's novel People in Trouble, reminded me of my theory of where Larson could have got the idea of a performance piece sparking off a riot other than from Schulman's novel.
In June 1989, I was part of a series of street theater pieces created by the Radical Faeries during the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. In one piece, the Faeries emerged from the former Stonewall (at the time a boutique) and staged an extremely silly send-up of the riots. The piece inspired the large crowd to occupy Seventh Avenue for several hours, coming into conflict with motorists and police.
I don't know if Larson was there, but he could have read C.Carr's detailed description of the event in the Voice [On Edge, July 4, 1989]. It seems more likely that Larson was inspired by this incident than by the scene in Schulman's novel where a visual-art piece catches fire.
Maybe the Faeries should claim credit for this scenario!
As a longtime reader of the Voice, I would like to commend J.A. Lobbia for her excellent coverage of the changing face of New York City.
Lobbia's article "Hell's Kitchen Is Burning" [September 8] on gentrification and overdevelopment, and her Towers & Tenements column on the merciless displacement of poor and elderly residents from SROs on the Upper West Side ["Down in the Old Hotel," October 6] motivated me to wander through these neighborhoods and survey the "improvements" firsthand. As a native Manhattanite, it's good to know I'm not alone in mourning the loss of affordable housing in this borough.
I only wish Lobbia's column would run every week and that the Voice would provide more features about our endangered neighborhoods. An occasional housing supplement would be good, too. Aside from that, I have no complaints.
Jay White Feather
My teenage daughter and I have been reading The Village Voice since moving to New York two years ago. We find out who is performing in town, and I enjoy J.A. Lobbia's Towers & Tenements column.
But I must say that stumbling onto Nat Hentoff's columns has been the most delightful discovery of all. Hentoff's views on the Clinton-Lewinsky catastrophe ["The Glitterati Attack Ken Starr," October 27] convinced me that whether you want him impeached or not, Bill Clinton did commit perjury.
Nat Hentoff may have a point in "The Glitterati Attack Ken Starr".
You can split legal hairs all day over material facts, perjury, and a politically inspired lawsuit by Clinton haters, but anyone who read the Starr Report knows that Mr. Clinton lied and that he tried to influence Betty Currie.
Still, what Barbra Streisand and Toni Morrison and the rest of "the glitterati" fear is another round of McCarthyism in Hollywood.
If you live in New York City, you really have no clue as to the rising fascism in the conservative South. PBS is still thought to be a Communist plot, even though the most controversial program they run is about Chinese cooking.
Fine, impeach Clinton. Now tell me who will stop the fascism of the right?
Thanks to Jason Vest ["Human Rights 'Miracle'," November 3] and Andrew Hsiao [Press Clips, November 3] for their coverage of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet's arrest in London.
However, one important element of the story has escaped editorial comment in most of the U.S. media: the Spanish investigation was partly prompted by the fact that during the Chilean phase of the CIA-backed "dirty war" against leftists, 79 Spanish citizens disappeared and were never heard from again. If something like that had happened to 79 U.S. citizens in a left-wing country during the Cold War, large portions of that country would have been flattened in retaliation.
William F. Buckley and The Wall Street Journal keep editorializing on the aging dictator's behalf, with absolutely no sense that the Spanish people have a specific and legitimate complaint against this murderer another example of the right's willingness to invoke the otherwise despised "moral relativism" whenever it suits their purpose.
'Boys' & The 'Hood
Michael Musto's examination of hate crimes in the U.S.["Hate of the Union," October 27] was commendable. As a recent victim of homophobic harrassment a friend and I were caught unawares while conversing and verbally abused for our lack of "manhood" it seemed to me both timely and insightful.
However, I question Musto's reference to Khallid Abdul Muhammad as someone "who riles up African Americans with his distaste for Jews and gays."
Muhammad only riles up the bigots i.e., those who are already converted. Black Americans are not a bunch of patsies waiting for the right demagogue to "rile" them up. That implication has as much validity as the view that gays and lesbians recruit.
Robert K. Lightning
In response to David L. Ulin's "Boyle Wonder" [November 10]: True, like many current writers, filmmakers, and musicians, T. Coraghessan Boyle often settles for highlighting the "absurdities and petty hypocrisies that motivate so much of modern daily life."
And while Boyle's high-trajectory stories sometimes fall short or ultimately feel vaguely unfulfilling, the ride never lacks in glitter and showmanship. Boyle is glam-rock literature.
Lets face it, as easy as it is to criticize Marilyn Manson's moderately successful stab at glam rock, it's more enjoyable and refreshing than the alternative (insert any band that reminds you of Matchbox 20).
So, too, is Boyle. Sure, sometimes the artifice outshines the content, or the ego is too large, but in a crowd of mild, overly folksy writers, Boyle is loud, bold, and obnoxiously exhuberant. Hip to the shortcomings of modern fiction, he casts himself as the hero, putting on the biggest, glitziest show he can.
If T.C. Boyle Stories doesn't put him in the pantheon of contemporary literature, we'll find a place for him in rock & roll, somewhere between David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
Westfield, New Jersey
In Rob Sheffield's review of R.E.M.'s new CD, Up ["38 Special," November 3], he writes that "R.E.M. floundered big-time with their Not Terribly Good Trilogy of 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant, 1987's Document, and 1988's Green."
While Lifes Rich Pageant is not R.E.M.'s strongest CD, I disagree with the assertion that Document (and Green for that matter) was a big-time flounder. Many critics believe that Document is R.E.M.'s best album.
Although Sheffield calls the aforementioned CDs a "trilogy," actually, Fables of the Reconstruction should be part of the trilogy, not Green. Critics often lump Fables and Lifes Rich Pageant together, but not with Green. Also, Green was the band's debut on Warner Brothers Records, which was when the band started to move away from their previous work and become the R.E.M. we know today.
Michael Feingold's review of the Judy Garland reissues ["Pure Presentation," November 3] was the most honest, objective, and perceptive review of Garland's work that I have seen.
After reading Feingold's review, we see the simple truth: that Judy Garland was one of the most talented vocalists of the century.
Chuck Eddy was a little late jumping on the nine-year-old bandwagon, trashing Vanilla Ice's show at CBGB ["The Iceman Cometh Back," November 3].
Never mind a sellout show credit is due to Vanilla for showing his face!
I guess Chuck Eddy was upset that he couldn't sell back his copy of To the Extreme, because the show wasn't half bad.
Thanks to Amy Taubin for her article on Todd Haynes, the director of Velvet Goldmine ["Fanning the Flames," November 3]. I appreciate her insights, and Robin Holland's photos were fabulous. I'm too young to have lived the glam lifestyle, but I admire Todd Haynes for his ability to bring that era alive again. Damn they look good!
San Diego, California
Rx For Death
Regarding Jennifer Gonnerman's article "The Terrorist Campaign Against Abortion" [November 10]: It is the abortionists who are doing the killing.
People used to call the nonviolent demonstrators who prayed and sang hymns outside abortion clinics terrorists. Maybe the abortion cabal's histrionics have resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy. If nonviolent demonstrators had not been restricted from protesting in traditional ways and exercising civil disobedience, a few wouldn't think their only recourse is to fight a war of last resort.
Although I understand their anger, I know that this is counterproductive to our cause. This only garners sympathy for people who don't deserve any. And it diverts attention from the debate about the butchering of the innocent to more histrionics about conspiracy.
Rocky Point, New York
Sonnet On It
Enclosed is a modern sonnet for a modern scandal. I wrote it for an assignment given in my English class at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Cold winds blow early up on the hill now.
Slick ice of lies is causing him to slip
Upon the ground, could this be his last bow
In part due to the hidden trap of Tripp?
A child is caught with hand in cookie jar,
His desires indulged in spite of risk.
The mother knows not whether she should bar
Divulged indulgences or say ''tsk, tsk!"
People on edge as parties point across
The partisan gap, neither sure of crime.
All with one thought: Should we fire the boss?
We don't think on the importance of time.
Attention spent that might be better paid
Than thinking on Bill Clinton getting laid.
Coetzee To Read
South African author J.M. Coetzee will read at NYU's Bobst Library at 4:30 p.m. on November 20. The event is free and open to the public.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail letters must include phone numbers.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.