Letter of the Week
Good article by Nat Hentoff on this administration's secrecy ["Black Site for Justice," Liberty Beat, June 713]. The fact that they shut down an investigation by the Justice Department at the request of Congress should be chilling to all Americans. However, most Americans will never know about it or think about what it means. Folks care more about American Idol than what their government is doing, and this makes me wonder. What would I have done during the rise of Hitler? Would the propaganda have overwhelmed me since the Nazis did control most media, or would I have thought it through and attempted to save the German republic? We are currently finding out what we would do in the situation and it is not even close to an overstatement to say this: Welcome to the Fourth Reich.
Jarrett Murphy's "Test Pattern" [June 713] describes the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's initiative to establish fewer entry points to its Early Intervention programs for developmentally disabled children. By reducing the number of community-based Early Intervention agencies, the city intends to shift the cost of services provided to Medicaid, thus enabling the city to receive third-party payments as reimbursement for services rendered and to reduce its share of city tax levy dollars paid to service providers. While the initiative has a positive fiscal benefit for the city, it will have a negative impact for consumers. The proposed initiative violates basic programmatic tenets that services provided by the city should be universal, accessible, community based, and culturally and linguistically sensitive to ensure access for all New Yorkers whose children are in need of Early Intervention evaluation and treatment services.
Upper Montclair, New Jersey
Hold dem tears
Re Tom Robbins's "Dem Party Animals" [June 713]: I totally agree that the Democratic Party long ago abandoned its mandate as the party of the people. But before you have your readers blur the print on their latest copy of the Voice with tears streaming down their cheeks for Jonathan Tasini and Tom Suozzi, do some fact checking. I attempted three times to contact the Suozzi campaign with issues regarding the MTA that would make Suozzi look like a god to working grunts; each time, I was rebuffed. Regarding Tasini: He was president of the National Writers Union at the time I joined. I e-mailed Tasini three times about issues I was having; he didn't respond to one of my e-mails. This is a candidate who is supposed to be different? If Robbins had dug a bit deeper, something he rarely fails to do, he would have given us negative opinions on Tasini and Suozzi as well as positive.
I dare you
As a serving soldier who has been in Iraq and Afghanistan and watched many flag-covered coffins pass by me, I cannot convey my loathing for Mark Fiore's cartoon "Listen Up! Core Values Training" [villagevoice.com, June 8]. Oh by the way, you sent them to Iraq and if you are paying taxes, then you agree. Have some balls and don't pay your taxes or start a revolution over your beliefs. What a joke . . . like lefties would sacrifice anything for their so-called beliefs.
As I'm a 30-year-old arts journalist with five years of sobriety, Tricia Romano's article "The Sober Bunch" [May 31June 6] provided an amazing take on life without intoxicants. Not only is the article perhaps an eye-opener to people who might be reconsidering their own aging and party lifestyle, but it also reminded me that my choice was not some freakish anomaly and had benefits besides saving my ass from misery, unemployment, etc. When 99 percent of what I read and hear about sobriety comes either from 12-step meetings or my own cursory explanations to co-workers and peers about my life without alcohol and drugs, Romano's article was a blast of fresh air. All too often when I tell people that I don't drink, they assume that I'm a Mormon or a straight-edged dick. "The Sober Bunch" was a nice little reminder about the track that I'm on.
I'm grateful for Romano's article. I drank myself senseless from ages 11 to 21 and have been sober for the last 11 years. Romano's article echoed every thought, feeling, and fear I've had and continue to have about being hip and sober. While the article was powerful for me, its words may be even more powerful for young hipsters just getting sober or thinking about it. I can't imagine how comforting and inspiring this article would've been for me 11 years ago.
"The Sober Bunch" was of particular interest to me because for the past 15 years I have been producing and promoting alcohol-free entertainment/social venues in the metro area. When I got sober 19 years ago, one of the first things I realized was that there was no place to go to listen to live music, socialize, and dance without alcohol being present. So I created a group called SATORI. Our main goal is to establish a permanent, creative alternative to the bar scene. Promoting partying without booze to the general public is not easy. One big obstacle has been the media; they do countless stories on college binge drinking, underage drinking, drunk driving, etc., yet they will not make one point: that alcohol-free social venues do not exist. I wonder why?
North Bergen, New Jersey
What a hottie
In "USC's Topless Professor" [Lusty Lady, May 2430] Rachel Kramer Bussel wrote, "With my own nude photos online, I can relate to Blaine's situation. Attempting to be taken seriously while also publicly claiming one's sexuality means we walk a tricky line. Too many people look at the nudity and never read on to see how the choice to show our bodies relates to the rest of our lives." May I say to Bussel that it may depend on the artistry of the photographer and the subject. Bussel's pictures online are not only tasteful, they are beautiful, complete with a gentle and erotic narrative yet glistening with a power and comedic subtext that make her just a little bit too sexy to also be such a fine writer and intellectual.
Earl Hazell Manhattan
In his article "Progressive Scan" [June 713] Michael Atkinson pans my film Iraq in Fragments and states: "Of course it won three prizes at Sundance, where audiences are yet learning about cinematic syntax versus the possibility of truthfulness." In fact the three prizes my film won at Sundance were not awarded by the audience at all, but rather by a jury composed of filmmakers Andrew Jarecki, Zana Briski, Joe Bini, and Alexander Payne. Atkinson would do well to correctly address his insults.
Nat Hentoff's column last week, "Black Site for Justice," gave the wrong surname for the former head of the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility. His name is Michael Shaheen, not Sheehan.
In Michael Atkinson's obituary of Shohei Imamura, ["New Wave Master," June 713], the suggestion that Imamura directed the 1958 version of The Ballad of Narayama is erroneous; it was directed by Kinoshita Keisuke.
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