Volume 78 / Number 17 - September 24 - 30, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower
East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Paints an (un)Rosie picture

To The Editor:
Re “Box gets knocked by nabes on noise” (news article, Sept. 17):

Here’s a perfect example of what many of us find lacking in our councilmember, Rosie Mendez:

On Mon., Sept. 15, the S.L.A. Committee of Community Board 3 met at the JASA Residence. Hundreds of residents attended. Many waited for more than five hours so that they could speak of the problems caused by the proliferation of bars, such as noise, garbage and violence. Almost no one spoke out in favor of a new bar.

Rosie attended this meeting to speak about a bar that is near where she lives and causes problems. As an elected official, she was able to speak immediately — out of order — said her piece and left. Not once did she offer support to the many, many people there. Not once did she acknowledge the communitywide issue. Not once did she offer to assist her constituents.

I think that is bad governing.
Susan Leelike

We must heal humanity

To The Editor:
Re “‘RENT’ and ‘Hair,’ how history repeats” (editorial, Sept. 17):

I was deeply and profoundly moved in my heart by the social conscience expressed here. The social ills laid out: lack of affordable housing; homelessness; being bogged down “in another quagmire war”; issues of patriotism, and drug addiction are very real.

The editorial ends stating “…all the more reason to fight for change.”

The root cause of these symptoms is that society has an infection. That infection is the set of values, priorities and attitudes adopted by the vast majority of our citizens. These values focus on hardened materialism; callous and ruthless indifference to the plight of the weakest and most vulnerable members of society; the belief that the ends justify the means; personal desires and personal pleasure; the cynical belief that it’s every man for himself; a predatory belief in exploiting others, etc.

The cure for this infection? A combination of primal therapy to open up hearts encrusted with cynicism and a regimen of consciousness expansion, including meditation, dream work and affirmations.

There is no other way. I appeal to The Villager to print this.
Michael Gottlieb

‘The Curfew Chronicles’

To The Editor:
During the past festivities marking the 20th anniversary of the Aug. 6-7, 1988, Tompkins Square Park riot, I became aware of the confusions and lack of knowledge about some of the key events leading up the notorious occurrence.

Since the summer of 1985, I had been a member of Friends of Tompkins Square Park, a group recognized by the Parks Council of New York City. The goals of our organization included improved park maintenance and keeping the park open at night. By 1988, I was also a member of Community Board 3 and had been appointed to the Parks Committee. For many years I have kept a daily journal, the entries of which I will quote in this letter.

The first inkling of a proposed nighttime closure of the park that I heard happened on June 13, 1988: “As I was reading, Betsy [Newman, chairperson of Friends of Tompkins Square Park] telephoned in response to the message I had left on her answering machine. Right away, Betsy agreed to come to the Seward Park rally. A woman from Avenue A is coming to the [June] C.B. 3 Parks Committee meeting to get support for a Tompkins Square Park night closing [, Betsy added].”

Though Avenue A Block Association members came to the June 15 C.B. 3 Parks Committee meeting, since the item had not been calendared and was handled as new business, no vote was taken by the committee on the block association’s proposal to have a night closure.

Much to my annoyance, no members of the Friends of Tompkins Square Park were present to oppose a closing at night. Because I was a Parks Committee member, I could not speak for the group.

In the Aug. 14, 1988, issue of The New York Times a reporter wrote that C.B. 3 had voted on June 28 to close the park. Though I have not seen the article, I am told that this error was repeated by that newspaper on Aug. 2, 2008.

By June 28, 1988, the proposal to close the park at night had morphed into having an 11 o’clock p.m. noise curfew. At this meeting, Anne Johnson was elected C.B. 3 chairperson. My journal entry reads: “Not long after her election as chair[person], Anne gave the Parks Committee report. Her rambling presentation included comments about the Saucer Park design revisions and cited the appearance of Jim Power at the June 15 Campos Plaza meeting. As Anne read complaints from the Avenue A Block Association, because of the end of meeting hubbub, I had difficulty hearing her innocuous recommendations [about Tompkins Square Park]. In response to Anne’s request to approve the report Carol [Watson] made the motion. Though I tried to be recognized [to clarify the vote’s intent], Carol said, ‘They’re not going to close the park.’ I sat down.”

“Park Closes at Midnight” had been painted in dim, brownish-orange paint on the pavement inside the park gates by early July. Since confusion exists to this day about who was responsible for having these rules painted, I hope the following part of my July 12, 1988, journal will be illuminating. On that day, Betsy Newman and I toured the park with Pat Pomposello of the Parks Department and Mr. Nader, Parks superintendent for Lower Manhattan. “As Betsy brought up the schedule of the overworked park gardener [with Mr. Pomposello], I got into a conversation with Nader about the park closing. He insists that closing at midnight will cut down on refuse in the park. The signs painted at the entrances were suggested by Captain McNamara, Nader contended.”
“That’s history,” my friend Joey said with a tone of disdain and disparagement when I told him last month around the time of the park riot’s 20th anniversary that I had journeyed up to Fordham University in the Bronx to take part in a panel on WFUB about the riot. Despite this view, even though I have not been able to touch on all the areas of controversy, by citing these brief segments from my 1988 journals, I hope to have provided some understanding of the circumstances leading up to the Tompkins Square Park riot of that year.
Philip Van Aver

Billy and the dancing Fox

To The Editor:
There is hope again in America, children. A revolutionary event that might be likened to the Boston Tea Party, or publication of Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” has occurred. Reverend Billy, the supremely talented performance activist, who espouses the best tradition of radical politics one associates with Greenwich Village at its best, somehow, miraculously, managed to infiltrate the high temple of the right-wing propaganda machine, better known as Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. 

As I beheld in wonder the Rev’s remarkable media coup last month, my heart was filled with the same intensity of joy, political hope and, yes, even love that I experience during irregular “services” of the Church of Stop Shopping at St. Mark’s Church. I marveled as the Rev electrified this stodgy, soulless cathedral of network gloom — an intellectual dungeon divorced from any meaningful search for truth — delighting as he got the normally robotic Fox News anchor to…dance!

Might America be on the verge of dancing again?

Our unhealthy addition to consumerism — and the soul-killing work routines and wars that are the symptoms of this disease — might destroy our planet if we’re not careful. Which is why the Democratic Party must free itself from the toxic influence of corporate power, and become once again the party of the people it was under F.D.R.

Barack Obama would do well to tap Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping to entertain — and edify — at his inaugural ball.
John Bredin
Bredin is an executive board member, Village Independent Democrats

Part of forum formula

To The Editor:
Re “Retail report and film focus on fighting formula stores” (news article, July 2):Thank you for your coverage of the Preserving Local Retail event held at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery on June 12. We greatly appreciate Heather Murray’s in-depth coverage of the event, which I believe has generated further interest in supporting local business in our East Village neighborhood. We were disappointed, however, that the article did not mention the sponsoring organizations or, in general, provide a context for the event. The Neighborhood Preservation Center, which is a project of the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund, was the leading organizer and sponsor of the event.
Jean Tanler
Tanler is an associate, Neighborhood Preservation Center (a project of the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund)

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