West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 13 | Aug. 29- Sep.04, 2007

Letters to the editor

Moe, U-boats and Mike

To The Editor:
Re “Moe Fishman, Lincoln Brigade veterans leader, 92” (obituary, Aug. 15):

Albert Amateaus’s obituary of Moe Fishman is a good one. I got to know Moe at meetings of Veterans for Peace. I would like to add a note of clarification, if you please: Amateau writes that after Moe returned to the U.S.A. after the Spanish Civil War, he joined the Merchant Marine. That was an act of high courage because U-boats were sinking merchant ships at a steady rate — almost defeated the U.K., indeed!

I sailed from Halifax to Liverpool in 1941 and we were dropping depth charges halfway across the North Atlantic to fend off U-boats. We were only two weeks at sea and I was glad to land in England and not have to sail back till after the war.

I enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Montreal in ’41. There were some 9,000 Yanks in the R.A.F. in W.W. II prior to Pearl Harbor.

Regarding socialism and Henry J. Stern’s piece (“HUAC to Hudson Park: A brief history of socialism,” talking point, Aug. 15): How can anyone write even the briefest of histories of socialism in the U.S.A. without making at least a mention of Michael Harrington, who was the face and voice of socialism in the second half of the 20th century — and for many years a Villager? It’s like mentioning the invention of the phonograph and not mentioning Edison.

Mike and I were both at The Catholic Worker and the White Horse Tavern in the mid-to-late 1950s — during which time we both became ex-Catholics after both of us got our degrees from Catholic colleges, he from Holy Cross, I from Villanova. I attended my first C.P. meeting in Bolton, Lancaster, U.K., in 1942, while on a radar course there.

Mike died leaving a wife and two young boys in 1989. He was born in 1925, seven years my junior, but far more accomplished. It’s not permissible to write more than three sentences on socialism in the U.S.A. without at least giving a nod in the direction of Mike Harrington — and, of course, Norman Thomas.

Finally, I am an outpatient at the V.A. Hospital at 423 E. 23rd St. and have been for decades. It would be good if you could do a piece on them and say how good they are because the V.A. gets such a bum rap in the U.S.A. press.
You do good work.

John Stanley

Gottlieb ‘ghost town’

To The Editor:
Re “Mollie Bender, 85, of Gottlieb real estate family” (obituary, Aug. 1):

Can anyone tell me what’s so “wonderful” about leaving dozens of buildings and storefronts in the Village and Chelsea vacant for years on end? Some areas of the West Village are beginning to look like the abandoned ghost towns of the Wild West. Maybe someone can prevail upon Mrs. Bender’s son to begin the process of rehabilitating these eyesores into the vibrant life-affirming buildings they were designed to be and allow us long-suffering Village and Chelsea residents to feel pride in our neighborhoods again. 

Carol Dougherty

Roach’s spirit beats on

To The Editor:
Max Roach is gone from this life, but still lives through his music and his deeds. I recall when he first showed up at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe to see my production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” set in Africa with one of his daughters. He liked the production so much, he came back to see the show a second time, only this time all my drummers were out gigging and I had to play drums (not one of the best drummers). So, naive me, I asked Max if he wanted to play the djembe drum with me in the show. He kindly said he didn’t play that type of drum. After the show, I asked him how did I do and he said I did well.

He came to see other shows I directed at the cafe. However, it was when he came down to see Laurence Holder’s “Monk” that he and I really hit a cord. I remember him telling me that my performance was “primo” and that he knew Monk, he played with Monk and that I was Monk up there. Needless to say, from that moment on, I had no doubts about my performance as Thelonious Monk.

Then there was the time when he invited Laurence Holder and me to his home to hear Laurence read his one-man play about him entitled “The Gospel According to Max Roach.” It was on his birthday and people like Phil Schapp were calling to wish him happy birthday and he wouldn’t answer until the reading was over and we had left.

I am sad that Max has died. However, there is a light in my heart that shines when I think of the time we shared engulfed in the art of theater. This was a man!

On Sept. 9 at 4 p.m. at the Indian Cafe at Broadway and 107th St., award-winning actor Alvin Alexis will read Laurence Holder’s one-man play “The Gospel According to Max Roach.”

Rome Neal

C’mon Jerry, impeach Dick!

To The Editor:
As a longtime Manhattanite, longer than I care to remember, and a longtime constituent of Congressman Jerrold Nadler, I was dismayed to learn that H. Res. 333, the bill calling for the impeachment of Dick Cheney, is sitting in the committee our congressman chairs — and that it may continue to sit there until it dies. Our congressman is the chairperson of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (all of which have been trampled by Cheney) of the House Judiciary Committee.

Nadler, who generally has been a real representative of the Upper West Side, is not backing this bill. He states, through his office personnel, that the bill does not have enough congressional backing. But if he came out for it, pushed for it, he would bring a lot of other congresspersons along with him.

I must ask Congressman Nadler, when will Congress say enough to an executive branch run amok?

When lies and deceptions have led us into an illegal and immoral war with Iraq that has already maimed or killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and Iraqis?

When the dictum of a “unitary executive” allows the administration to flaunt its power over the Legislature’s branch initiatives, established law, constitutional guarantees and historical precedent?

When torture and extraordinary rendition are established as legal practice and the right of habeas corpus is abolished at the whim of the executive branch?

When the American people are wiretapped and spied on without cause?

Or will it take:

A war with Iran?

The appointment of another ideologue to the Supreme Court?

A national emergency that allows the president to declare martial law under his recent executive order?

I ask you, West Siders, to join with me in calling on Congressman Nadler to sign on to H. Res. 333, press for a hearing on the bill in subcommittee and hold a vote to pass it; and to press for adoption of H. Res. 333 in the Judiciary Committee as a whole and move it out to the House of Representatives.

I am disappointed by the Democrats who were swept into office by the voters in November 2006. I am disappointed that the war is still funded. Let’s call, e-mail and visit our representative in his office to demand that he use his power.

Sharon Pavlovich
Pavlovich works in the national office of World Can’t Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime.

Festival ripped me off

To The Editor:
I have still received no reply from Clearview Festival Productions to this complaint, which I first sent to them Aug. 1, and re-sent again on Aug. 17.

Perhaps Clearview is waiting until the festival season is over, so its vendors can sell as many shoddy goods to my neighbors as possible.

Two months or so ago, during the West Village Festival on Bedford, Christopher, etc., I bought a lighted magnifying glass. The lighted section was basically nonfunctional.

During the BAMRA street fair, I found the vendor, whose tent was marked “Interesting Items,” and complained about it. He offered a replacement, but when he put the batteries in, it didn’t operate at all. It was obvious this was a piece of junk.

I demanded my money back or a different product. He refused. I asked him his booth number. He claimed he didn’t remember.

I did complain to some Clearview staff nearby, but I want Clearview to know my extreme displeasure. Imagine — bringing into my neighborhood a vendor who sells shoddy goods to people he doesn’t expect ever to see again. How much junk has he sold to my neighbors?

I know there’s a lot of resistance building to these “festivals” which feature few local people and are just composed of the same professionals who migrate from festival to festival. What’s the point?

Incidents like this do not endear these festivals to the neighborhood, believe me.

Gene Borio

Shades of Walter O’Malley

To The Editor:
My children and I were watching an HBO Sports documentary, “Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush,” when this spooky image from an old newsreel appeared on the screen. Walter O’Malley, with Mayor Wagner’s support, wants to build a new stadium in Brooklyn near the L.I.R.R. Flatbush Ave. station, but Robert Moses insists that the new stadium be built in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Meanwhile, Los Angeles politicians are offering O’Malley 352 acres for free. The citizens of Brooklyn are rallying; one sign says, “Brooklyn is the Dodgers - The Dodgers are Brooklyn - Keep It That Way.” The other sign says, “Our Answer to Queens & to L.A. is NO! They Stay in Brooklyn.”

The result? The L.A. Dodgers, Shea Stadium, the destruction of Ebbetts Field and O’Malley is wrongfully demonized for the move, although he did everything he could to keep the Dodgers in Brooklyn.

The only reason the aquarium was not built at Pier 40 was because of the opposition of the Brooklyn borough president. Where are the powerful political voices today? When Cirque du Soleil mobilizes its earsplitting piledrivers to build their monstrosity on Pier 40, when CampGroup takes its place on Randall’s Island, when the president of the Hudson River Park Trust is wrongfully demonized for the decision, remember the powerless leaders who told you that “No” was the answer.

Barry Drogin

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