Lucy Herschel, NYC Coordinator, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Manhattan
Purrrrrge Him! Mumia may sicken Marc Cooper, but Cooper sickens me. He doesn't like Mumia because he doesn't like MOVE. That's a political reason. And he lies to back it up.
The bullet that killed Faulkner did not come from Mumia's gun. Mumia's gun had not been fired. The police have no evidence that Mumia fired a gun. If they did, they would not have had to pressure witnesses. They could have had the witnesses tell the truth. They wouldn't have had to pull Sabo out of retirement. Any judge could have seen the evidence. But they didn't have it, and still don't, even after lies by slimy people like Cooper.
If you like him, you slip on the same slime he does. He can't get away from the idea that Mumia should have a fair trial, because he didn't get one; but he can't say it outright, or forthrightly. He has to put in his little denigration. That's the old Roy Cohn stuff.
Corporations get off polluting the planet. Funny how so many pretend leftists get off on their own conceptual pollution.
Steve Martinot, Berkeley
Marc Cooper replies: I am pleased that Lucy Herschel has broadened her focus from merely Mumia to other death row inmates. That is exactly the position I am arguing. I fail to see how I am calling for Mumia's death when I clearly state I am opposed to capital punishment for even those guiltiest of the most heinous crimes, and when I endorse a new trial for Mumia. There is also no doubt that Mumia has been spared execution by the fervent activity in his favor. I merely suggest that it is time for Mumia supporters to do the same as Ms. Herschel has?start paying some attention to the other 3500 death row inmates?innocent or guilty.
As to Mr. Martinot: After his blood pressure recedes I suggest he calmly reread my column. I clearly state three compelling reasons precisely why I think Mumia should get a new trial. Perhaps then we will know better whether or not the bullets did or did not come from Mumia's gun.
An Aching in His Heart Given the relatively abundant space given to "The Mail" in the printed edition, why are so few letters published on the website? Just moved to California and, goddammit, I want it all!
Josh Tate, Los Angeles
The editors reply: Yearly subscriptions to New York Press can be had by sending a check for $75 to "Subscriptions," New York Press, 333 7th Ave., 14th fl., New York, NY 10001.
Crabtree & Grovelin' How nice of you to add an editorial page. Too bad the examples so far are poorly reasoned and poorly argued, and reflect severe immaturity and an irrational and exaggerated hatred of Bill Clinton. In other words, they reflect Russ Smith.
Clinton "the most divisive and Machiavellian president since Nixon" ("Opinion," 12/29)? Huh? I remember Nixon. The guy very openly demonized a large portion of the population?war protesters, students, leftist think-tank types, unfriendly editorial writers. In modern times, Nixon's still in a league by himself. What's "divisive" to New York Press about Clinton is the fact that despite the best efforts of an overzealous right wing, the man didn't go away. If there is divisiveness, blame it on the likes of William Bennett, Paul Weyrich, Bob Barr and Rush Limbaugh, who are, plain and simple, anti-patriotic. As for Clinton's "hiring thugs to physically intimidate opponents," there remains no evidence of that, except in the wild imaginations of less-than-reliable sources like Kathleen Willey.
This moralistic shit?this tilting at an admittedly imperfect man whose sins you and other conservatives have greatly inflated?gets tired. Especially from New York Press, a paper that owes its financial success to its golden- and brown-shower and she-male ads.
What a world the right has created. Yeah, I guess we really need three virtually simultaneous books attacking Hillary Clinton by three insipid conservative blondes (Olson, Coulter and Ingraham).
By the way, Alan Cabal's reference to Joe Gallo's "lawn jockeys"?is that anything other than pure unadorned racism ("First Person," 12/29)? No, it's not. And you know it. You guys are stooping lower than ever.
On a positive note, thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz for pointing out the extent to which lazy movie reviewers are now relying on plot summaries to fill their word counts ("Film," 12/29). At least when your guys do that, they tip us off with a warning in advance. Seitz is right. Not only is the spilling of so many details irresponsible and unimaginative, but it does reveal contempt for the audience.
I see that you permitted Seitz, Armond White and Godfrey Cheshire to vote in the year-end Village Voice critics poll. That was gracious and magnanimous.
Gary Crabtree, Manhattan
The editors reply: Idiot. So it's "anti-patriotic" to dislike Bill Clinton. And the White House is a more credible source than Kathleen Willey.
But more to the point, Crabtree's a bad reader. We didn't write that Clinton was the most Machiavellian president ever, as he implies in defiance of the quote he includes. We wrote that he was the most so since Nixon. Which means from the field of Ford, Carter, Reagan and Bush. Any thinking person really have a problem with that? If you were reading carefully, Gary, you'd have seen that we were neither defending Nixon nor denying the possibility that he was "in a league by himself."
But of course Crabtree knew all that, and was being dishonest in order to make a cheap point and call attention to his own political virtue.
By the way, what has Crabtree gotten for his devotion to Clinton? He's gotten a right-leaning yuppie president who?as we wrote in the editorial Crabtree's complaining about above?has sold out his own party and the left in general at every turn. Clinton has been incredibly prone to using the military, bombing Third World civilians for his own political gain and motivating 27 large military deployments since his 1993 inauguration, at a cost of at least $20 billion; sold out the environmental movement by supporting the salvage timber rider; signed the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill, to the chagrin of leftists; supported the death penalty (even for retarded men like Rickey Ray Rector, whom Clinton killed in 1992 to help himself get elected); peddled White House access to the rich; been a draconian law-and-order type, even to the point of supporting roving wiretaps and the restriction of habeas corpus; and in all ways has been a lackey of the corporations. According to news reports last week, Clinton might be bound for a Wall Street career at Lazard Freres after his term ends. And he's a devout Christian who likes to get photographed walking into church holding his Bible.
Such is the left-wing hero Crabtree defends and places up against such familiar demons as (yes, them again?trot them out) "William Bennett, Paul Weyrich, Bob Barr and Rush Limbaugh."
Crabtree's such a thoroughly conventional group-thinker that you want to believe that he's getting something out of writing us such dumb letters. But that's not the case. He's just a yuppie follower, and can't help himself. If it wasn't Clinton, Crabtree would be thoroughly conventional about something else.
Lastly, Hillary Clinton is herself an "insipid conservative blonde" in the opinion of several of us here who contribute to the editorials.
Alan Cabal replies: My reference to Crazy Joe's "lawn jockeys" was hardly "unadorned racism." Calling them "gangsta niggas" would have been "unadorned racism," but I'll leave that sort of language to Puffy Combs.
Prosody and...Parody? Philip Guichard, in his 12/22 piece, declares that the future of Poetry (capital P) is dead. Then by logical conjecture the Poetry that we have now is either dead or dying at an appalling rate.
Well, obviously we have some serious issues here that I, as a concerned poet, journalist, performance artist and college student, wish to address. First issue: Philip Guichard is reading the wrong anthology of poetry. Second: He undercuts himself frequently. Third: He smokes too much pot. (The happiest moment in November was when he smoked as many bowls as there were days in that month? "It's sad" is an understatement, Phil.) Fourth, and most important, Guichard is making no effort to save what he's interested in, but quickly condemns it as a waste of time. That is Poetry, in all its forms. In summation, part of your theories on poetry are intelligent, but they get hogwashed back with all this excess garbage, most of it subjective and most of it needing a nice scrub-down with the facts.
Let me clarify my "wrong anthology" comment. Clearly, not all poetry is the same. It varies from school to school and there's a major (never-ending) argument within poetry about punctuation: is it a necessary device or a hindrance to the pure flow of ideas? We have different theories about literary devices, literary methods, metaphors and inherent symbolism. Enjambment, rhyme schema, etc. All of this just proves that if John Q. Idiot wants to read poetry then he will get a different feel from the love sonnets of the classical Romanticist Elizabeth Barrett Browning than from the sex-drinking-and-gambling ditties of the great Charles Bukowski. The "Pope Poems" by James Tate will not be found in the same collection as the absinthe poetry by Rimbaud, and the slam poetry of Marc Smith might not be found in the same collection as the wonderfully naturalistic poetry of Walt Whitman.
Secondly, let's count the number of times Mr. Guichard undercuts himself in this article. There are the choices he uses for poetic role models and the junior high-school insults he flings at them; the constant use of bubblegum rhetoric ("And I got to thinking, like, if you..."; "Like if Beck were wearing a beret..."); the useless comparisons of poets to rock gods; his obsession with the image's meaning more than the word; and, finally, his generalizing claim that our generation and society doesn't want to do anything about this death of poetry. Philip, open your eyes, why don't you.
These men whom Guichard attacks with too many hyphenated insults are men who are for the most part absolutely brilliant. They are literary-world shifting poets and playwrights, novelists and authors. We all go through the Ginsberg-is-God phase, but then we grow up and realize that his message is true. Life is about love and experiencing it as an immediate sensation, not retroactively. Have you ever heard Leroi Jones reading live? In Harlem? One of the most original and vehemently angry pro-black, pro-anger, pro-revolution poets alive today, period. Where life is about starting shit up and getting in peoples' faces, with an intelligent political point to make. Corso and O'Hara and Snyder have all actualized concepts in the literary world that we as active/passive readers don't even realize.
Matt Levy, Brooklyn
Soup Bones I laughed at John Strausbaugh's comments about David Bowie ("Publishing," 1/5). You would think Bowie would be a pretty interesting guy, but listening to him I invariably find myself thinking, "What on earth is he talking about?" Around 1969 he gave a great interview to Rolling Stone. He talked frankly about himself and (as far as I know) refrained from making things up, as he was wont to do in those days. Since then, I don't know what's happened. The quote Strausbaugh gave is utterly typical. He tries to sound deep, but what comes out is nonsense. At the same time he seems to be under the impression that people are hanging on his every word.
He sure jumped on to the Internet thing in a big way, but that's been a complete dud as far as I can see.
On to the millennium "news story." Twenty-eight hours or whatever of that fathead Peter Jennings, not to mention every other pea-brained "news" anchor you can think of. What a nightmare. Happily, I didn't watch a second of it.
When does the new millennium start, anyway? There was no year 0, so in fact the millennium doesn't begin for another 12 months. Of course, the media is completely unfazed by that, and continue to hoot and cheer even though a few of them who can perform simple arithmetic must have noticed that the popular view is wrong.
Why the big deal over 2000 in the first place? This is only year 2000 under some numbering system. The number itself is a completely superficial attribute?it bestows no special quality on the year. It's like being the 100th person to be admitted to a club after 9 p.m. So what?
The "Christian era" system of numbering years that is in common use today was invented by a sixth-century monk in Italy named Dionysius Exiguus. He was trying to orient things around the birth of Christ, which he thought was just before the beginning of 1 A.D., but according to the Gospels, Christ was born a bit earlier. The exact year is in dispute, but Dionysius' date is definitely wrong. Nor was he very bright at arithmetic: he left out year 0 between 1 B.C. and 1 A.D. What else did that idiot have to do all day but get this right? Nevertheless, our calendar is still founded on his mistakes.
What makes people think that the year should begin on Jan. 1? After all, if time revolves around the birth of Christ, why not juggle the calendar to make the year start on Christ's birthday? The reasons for this are historical and entirely arbitrary. January has only been the first month of the year since 153 B.C. The Romans of the period took the beginning of the year as the date that new consuls took office; in 153 B.C. that date was changed for some reason from March 15 to Jan. 1. Through the changes of subsequent calendars, the beginning of the year was retained. So there's nothing cataclysmic about Jan. 1.
Even if Christ was born at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1, 0 A.D., and there had been no subsequent monkeying with the calendar (in fact there has been a lot of monkeying), this past New Year's would still have been overlooked but for the fact that we use base-10 numbering.
There's nothing special about the number 10. The Mayans used base 20; the Babylonians base 60; several others have been used as well at different times and places. Vestiges of other base systems survive in the English words "dozen" and "gross" (base 12) and "score" (base 20), and in the French "quatre-vingts," which means 80 (four 20s). If we used base 8 this would be the year 3720; if base 12 or 16 (all perfectly logical choices), this would be year 11A8 or 7D0, respectively. In everyday life base 10 has supplanted other bases (I understand base 20 is still used in Mexico and Central America), but for reasons that had nothing to do with mathematics. In electrical engineering bases 16, 8 and 2 are still widely used (welcome to Year 11111010000).
So despite what Time and Barbara Walters and the rest of the morons tell you, this year will be pretty indistinguishable from last year and next year. Cheers.
Joe Rodrigue, New Haven
He Wants the One He Can't Have MUGGER: I am a big fan of the Smiths, too, but no "How Soon Is Now?" in your Top 65 list? Or is it because it's now being used in a car ad campaign?
Gordon Smith, Pleasanton, CA
The Earth's Flat In Kaintuck MUGGER: Couldn't disagree with you more, though I understand your perverted views regarding Bush, Gore, McCain and even the President, God bless him, who has still managed to accomplish wonders under the most difficult circumstances for this country and the world in the seven years he's been in charge. I doubt that any of his predecessors could have accomplished nearly as much under similar circumstances.
To say that Sam and Cokie are liberals is a real hoot. George Stephanopoulos is the only liberal of the three, and perhaps more balanced and fair in his assessments than the rest.
As for the new kid on the block of This Week, time will tell. The show's ratings were sagging. All of America is waiting to see if he is the breath of fresh air the show so badly needs. George Will has his place, but they needed more balance. I commend Westin's decision.
The attitudes in evidence over the past two years on This Week have been a profound turnoff to every thinking American, the majority of whom remain decidedly liberal, your attempts to undermine political choices and influence the electorate to the contrary.
I can understand your frustration with the Democratic administration's accomplishments. It's hell to watch the enemy doing good things in spite of all your efforts to discredit and sabotage them.
Question: Why do the Republicans seem to shoot themselves in the foot every time they try to outmaneuver their opposition? Can you imagine the frustration level in the Bush camp? With all that power, money and unlimited talent, they couldn't make a good decision to save themselves.
George W. Bush couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the directions were written on the heel.
You predict a Bush victory. This suggests that you're either part of the Bush clan, on their payroll or dreaming of a miracle that will never happen.
Bush doesn't have the sense to fool all the people long enough to attain the Oval Office, and all of Daddy's dollars will not be able to put him back together again, once he falls off the wall. They have the manpower to run the world, but Bush doesn't have what it takes to follow their orders long enough to get to the top. They picked the wrong puppet to win the big game, so I predict the Democrats will grace the White House again in 2001, after the Clintons depart, and the world will breathe a sigh of relief.
J.M. Prater, Grayson, KY