Volume 77 / Number 49 - May 7 - 13, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the editor

Keep up the great work!

To The Editor:
Publishing a newspaper for 75 years in New York City is an enormous achievement. Congratulations for continuing to publish a strong and independent voice in the community. In today’s society of megamergers and conformity this is no small task.

It takes dedication, courage and passion to publish an independent newspaper; to air opinions on issues that are important for the community and sometimes to endorse an unpopular point of view; to practice journalism with a capital “J.”

In 1992, when Tom and I took on the challenge of reviving a venerable but, alas, defunct newspaper, we made a pledge to adhere to the highest journalistic standards. For us, reviving The Villager, was not just a “must save” project but also a labor of love.

In addition to covering major issues affecting the lives of people in the community, we expanded coverage of the arts and especially focused on emerging local talent.

It gives me tremendous satisfaction to see The Villager grow and continue to garner major editorial awards from the New York Press Association. In community journalism, where making money is not the driving force, applause is a great sound.

My warmest congratulations to John Sutter and The Villager staff.

Elizabeth Margaritis Butson
Butson is publisher emeritus of The Villager

O’Neill theater’s a ‘dump’

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. would drop curtain on O’Neill’s Playhouse” (news article, April 23):

Two weeks ago in The Villager, there was a front-page article on the possible replacement of the Provincetown Playhouse. I would welcome that.

This theater is among the most uncomfortable I have ever had the opportunity to be in. I attend many Off- and Off-Off-Broadway productions around the city and have gone to the O’Neill play festival at Yale for several years. The MacDougal St. theater is not accessible with steps, and the players have no access from dressing rooms to the stage without going through the audience. The stage is tiny — a postage stamp — and lacks backstage amenities necessary for most productions.

While the theater is of historic note, there is no reason at all to preserve this dump. I will look forward to a new theater on the site that will meet the needs of players and audience alike. In fact, replacement will expand the accessibility to a wider audience who cannot negotiate the steps.

Carol Reiss

Playhouse drama

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. would drop curtain on O’Neill’s Playhouse” (news article, April 23):

New York University recently signed onto the Stringer N.Y.U. Task Force planning principles, with university President Sexton proclaiming “a new and harmonious relationship between N.Y.U. and its neighborhood.”

“Trust has begun to develop,” Sexton added.

How then can N.Y.U. break its agreement before the ink is dry, with a decision to demolish the world-famous Provincetown Playhouse? O’Neill’s “The Hairy Ape” was the theater’s first hit in 1920. Some of us who have lived for decades in the Village will never forget seeing Beckett’s amazing “Krapp’s Last Tape” there in 1960, paired with Albee’s “The Zoo Story,” nor the shock of seeing our first Sam Shepard play there. And the site, still used as a theater, was always a cheering sight with so much else eradicated.

The 3.6 million square feet of new space N.Y.U. says it must have in this neighborhood in the next 25 years is mind-boggling. No way can it get that footage — from the East, West or Central Village — without wiping out everything. N.Y.U. must go outside the area, to Long Island City, for instance.

If John Sexton can create an entire duplicate campus on a desert island in Abu Dhabi, he can surely provide real plans for moving some of N.Y.U.’s 14 schools to Long Island City or Wall St. If he chooses not to, and tears down the Provincetown Playhouse, that will speak far louder than a signature on a document thereby rendered meaningless.

Barbara Koenig

Try Sixth Ave. high-rises

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. would drop curtain on O’Neill’s Playhouse” (news article, April 23):

N.Y.U. is like the La Brea Tar Pits: trapping, swallowing and killing everything in sight — and all made possible by its tax-exempt status, the monies of which are used to buy up more property.

What can be done to rescind the university’s tax-exempt status? At least how many full scholarships should N.Y.U. have to offer? How much property should it be allowed to buy before its status changes? When is the city going to start to take control over N.Y.U.’s tax-free land grabbing?

Imagine what those extra taxes could be used for? A Second Ave. subway, new schools for children, new playgrounds, middle-class housing perhaps?

If N.Y.U. wants dorm and classroom space for its students, might I suggest the luxury buildings recently constructed on Sixth Ave. north of 23rd St., many of which appear to be largely unoccupied. These buildings are ready and waiting, and Greenwich Village historic sites do not have to be destroyed to offer class and dorm space. Why not take advantage of what is already there?

Ruth Kuzub

L.E.S. poop predicament

To The Editor:
I’m in third grade and I’m 8 years old. I go to school at P.S. 134 on the Lower East Side.

I really like the Lower East Side. I’m writing to you because I have a problem: People should clean up after their dogs.

This is a problem for many reasons. It is a problem because it stinks. If there’s poop on the ground, people will say the Lower East Side doesn’t know how to act. If people are dribbling a basketball on the sidewalk and there’s poop on the pavement, the ball will get dirty. It is important to me because the whole world could be dirty if people did not clean up after their dogs.

I have lived on the Lower East Side for a long time. I want this neighborhood to be a good place to live. If it stinks because of all the poop, people are going to move away. It is unhealthy. You could get sick if people don’t clean up their dogs’ poop.

You need to make people aware by writing articles about it. Then the people will start cleaning up after their dogs.

Steven Koh

Shlock as free speech

To The Editor:
Regarding the many letters to the editor recently in The Villager about Councilmember Alan Gerson’s proposed legislation to reform the rules governing street vendors:

How did the street vending of banalities that turns large swaths of public space into a free-for-all kitsch-mart become a “free speech” issue?

Whether literal speech, as in “Impeach so-and-so!” or “Free Tibet!” or symbolic speech, as in flag burning or the wearing — or not wearing — of “patriotic” lapel pins, the freedom stated in the First Amendment is of expression, not commerce. Today such “expression” can be by words (written, spoken, YouTubed, whatever), images (big-eyed dolls, beatific landscapes, slash-and-splash abstraction, etc.) or actions (marches, performances et al.). But no discussion of the First Amendment that I can find includes sales, either explicitly or by implication.

Now however, one letter writer claims that Gerson’s proposals for controlling the chaos “are an insult to free speech.” Besides displaying the grandiosity nourished by this mob’s success to date, this statement insults American history and the community at large — as well, of course, as common sense.

That the occasional artist of actual talent graces this scene is, of course, a relief, but beside the point. If sales weren’t siphoned into that curbside kitsch-mart, galleries could support talented unknowns, even offer them a larger future.

Judy Seigel

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel.



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