Volume 79, Number 10 | August 12 - 18, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Hill’s Bill dilemma

To The Editor:
So the North Koreans love Bill and hate Hillary. Who doesn’t?

I hope when she married him, Hillary realized what she was in for.  

The man spends 24 hours in North Korea and walks away with two freed American journalists and a new diplomatic channel for preventing nuclear proliferation.   

There’s Bill on the front page of The New York Times in a formal state photo with Kim Jong-il. Apparently Kim Jong-il really likes Bill. He sent Jong-il a condolence letter after his father died and the North Korean leader was just returning the “humanitarian gesture.”

Now I don’t know about the Clintons, but in my marriage I’m the one insisting my husband send condolence letters. Was Hillary behind that too?

The poor thing. She was working very hard (what else is new) trying to send someone — anyone but Bill — to get those two women out of North Korea. Al Gore is their employer for heaven’s sake, couldn’t he go? Bill Richardson?  Who doesn’t like Bill Richardson? Nope, they only wanted Bill.  

The North Koreans were also really, really nasty about how much they do not like Hillary. I think I speak for every middle-aged woman in America when I say that if the following were said about me I wouldn’t leave the house.  

“She’s a funny lady. Sometimes she looks like a primary-school girl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping,” said a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Ouch! That’s cattier than anything coming out of my son’s middle school. It’s ironic that this quote comes in a front-page New York Times article about Bill and his smashing, unprecedented success on a diplomatic mission. Hillary, who, lest we forget, is the secretary of state, is off to Africa for 11 days. You can bet that she spent weeks preparing for the trip and will schlep from country to country, keep an exhausting, grueling schedule and maybe someone will notice.  

Bill will be back home, resting after his 24-hour jaunt, drinking a beer and fielding all his congratulatory phone calls. 

Jane Flanagan

Important life chapter

To The Editor:
Re “Village author mines humor from misery” (arts article, July 29):

Thank you for the beautiful piece about my new book, “Speed Shrinking”! Alas, there was one mistake that was probably my fault. Anybody who ever met me knows I’m a motormouth who speaks a mile a minute. So somehow when I was listing all the great Downtown Village bookstores I frequent, St. Mark’s Bookshop was left off the list. I should have insisted it go first, because when I moved here from Michigan in the summer of 1981 it instantly became my favorite bookstore in the world!

I actually had an important routine after my N.Y.U. classes. I would get stoned, then go to its location when it was in the middle of St. Mark’s Place, buy one poetry journal upstairs (because they had the coolest inexpensive poetry journals) and then I’d go across the street to read it while eating $3 yakimeshi at Dojo by myself. My idea of heaven.

I even have a love story set at the store. When we were courting, my husband and I often went there to shop and hang out after dinner Saturday nights. Then we split up — for three years. When we remet, he  told me he’d been haunting the St. Mark’s Bookshop looking for me, hoping to bump into me in front of the poetry section. That melted me and we wound up back together and married in 1996. And we still hang out at the wonderful St. Mark’s Bookshop all the time!

Susan Shapiro

S.V.A. rebels against Scoopy

To The Editor:
Re “Can’t say no to Stonewall” (Scoopy’s Notebook, July 29):

Scoopy’s Notebook has been distorting the truth about the Stonewall Veterans’ Association for years. This latest accusation questioning whether Williamson Henderson, a regular at the Stonewall and the founder of S.V.A., was at the Stonewall Club (no one called it “Inn”) during the first night of the Stonewall Rebellion is simply unfounded and ludicrous. 

This uninformed writer has apparently never bothered to interview people like the well-known singer/performer for the Jewel Box Review Storme DeLarverie, who actually had to, in his own words, “pull a cop off of him” while Williamson lay on the ground after being jump-kicked by this “bully law enforcement officer.” Why weren’t well-known Cristina Hayworth, Patti Stone, Reverend Magora Kennedy, Mary S. Twist and so many others who were actually there by happenstance that night on June 27 interviewed? Get your facts correct before you print this misinformation.

If any real person actually had a real question, they would have been at one of about 500 monthly meetings that S.V.A. has diligently held for the past 40 years since 1969. The next meeting is Sat., Aug. 29, at the L.G.B.T. Center at 4:15 p.m. Did you notice that Scoopy’s writer never puts his name in the column? Why would anyone believe anything from somebody who thrives on gossip about others yet hides his own identity?

Ruthybird M. Campbell
Campbell is recording secretary, Stonewall Veterans’ Association

Stick to it, drummers!

To The Editor: 
Re “Park neighbors want drummers to just beat it” (news article, Aug. 5):

Cheers for the drummers. What exactly is unreasonable, Mr. Castro? Pre-rehab, at least since the ’60s, Washington Square Park has been a gathering spot for artists in many forms and media. The dance of people in the old fountain was a delight that any French Impressionist would have adored to paint.

Apparently, the regimenting property owners have moved the fountain, with the help of the city and Bloomberg, and are now attempting to redefine this space as Gramercy Park — private property — with, eventually, locked gates. 

Washington Square is a public park, owned by the citizens of this city. The local neighbors have no right to launch private security forces or infringements of the public use of this space.

Katerina Velikova 

They showed no sympathy

To The Editor:
Re “Tea & Sympathy’s owner tees off on Quinn while Bill blushes” (news article, Aug. 5):

When I read about the nasty and rude behavior of the owners of Tea & Sympathy at the merchant gathering, I was not surprised.

In January 2007, my mother stopped at Tea & Sympathy on her way home from a doctor’s appointment, and called to tell me they’d found a tumor in her back. (She died from this malignant tumor three months later.) My mother was terrified, and I came running over to Tea & Sympathy to talk to her. The owner, Nicola Perry, would not let me join my mother at the table without ordering something, though there was an empty chair across from her, because this was her policy. My mother had already ordered so I had to leave her there alone with her cancer diagnosis.

I e-mailed Tea & Sympathy afterward about how my mother had just received this horrible diagnosis and I was not allowed to join her. Did I get an apology? No, I got back a very nasty e-mail that ends with this: “I have taken note that you will not be setting foot in our establishment. That is your right, just as it is our right to refuse service to people who are rude, and do not observe a simple set of rules that from our experience are only a problem for the sort of people that we would prefer didn’t come in in the first place.”

Small business owners in the Village have many legitimate complaints, but Tea & Sympathy is one small business that doesn’t deserve anyone’s patronage. I hope you print this letter.
Sheryl Canter

Anti-bike spin is untrue

To The Editor:
Re “Tea & Sympathy’s owner tees off on Quinn while Bill blushes” (news article, Aug. 5):

Every time we lose a local business, our whole community suffers a loss, and this economy has been terribly unkind to our local businesses.

However, claiming that the loss of the pizzeria on Greenwich Ave. is the result of a bike lane seems a bit specious: Greenwich Ave. lacks a bike lane.

But perhaps that was exactly the point that was being made by the commenter in the article. See, among my wife and myself, and our friends and neighbors, no one could recall driving a car to a neighborhood restaurant. We walk, ride the bus or subway or take our bikes, such as last night when we got dressed up and cycled to the Meatpacking District to meet guests from Germany for dinner.

Perhaps contributing to the loss of this pizzeria — and other businesses in our neighborhood — was the fact that we have not yet really done enough to make some of our blocks safe and welcoming to pedestrians, the real source of traffic to our local businesses.

Ian Dutton

Tosses his cupcakes

To The Editor:
Re “Magnolia’s making a mess” (letter, by Frances Genovese, July 29):

Isn’t it time for retaining cupcake enema Villagers to stop complaining about the Magnolia Bakery?  Wake up, you crab cakes!

Roy Nagakubo

Keep up foie gras fight

To The Editor:
Re “ ‘Hey, Momofuku, the pâté’s over!’ foie gras foes warn” (news article, July 29):

I am glad someone is standing up against foie gras in New York City. It’s about time. Kudos to the activists! Foie gras is one of the cruelest and most unnecessary foods out there.

Joanne Chang 

Vending ideas are ‘elitist’

To The Editor:
Re “Lederman’s legacy” (letter, by Lawrence White, July 29):

Lawrence White should be ashamed of himself for criticizing Robert Lederman. White’s record shows him to be a supporter of an elitist and judgmental program to determine who should be worthy of vending art in public spaces. Under White’s proposals, I doubt I would be able to sell my father’s photographic work, since I am not the “original artist.” Extending Mr. White’s theories, sellers of other First Amendment-protected materials, i.e. written matter, would have to be the “authors” of books offered for sale. Preposterous, indeed.

The two-dozen pieces of legislation now before the City Council are anti-artist, anti-veteran and anti-immigrant. Destruction of artists’ rights is the real Gerson agenda. I know hundreds of street artists, and not one of them supported a single Gerson proposal.

The legislation “appears to be going nowhere,” as White says, because of the efforts of the A.R.T.I.S.T. group. And just for the record, Robert Lederman does not fight my battles for me. Hundreds of our A.R.T.I.S.T. members state our position via testimony at City Council hearings, in letters and e-mails and at protests. We are artist activists.

Ned Otter

Art war getting surreal

To The Editor:
Re “Gerson a friend of artists? Ha!” (letter, by Robert Lederman, July 15):

Mr. Lederman is a sad, sad, sad man. In your July 15 issue, he writes to complain about ABC No Rio getting funding to replace their building. As usual, he twists the facts to his own point of view, claiming that the only reason why Mr. Gerson helped ABC No Rio was because they are a “landlord.” It couldn’t possibly be because they are a fantastic organization advocating for artists and helping them with their work.

He goes on in his rant to complain that the funding “…has zero to do with the arts and everything to do with real estate.” Anyone who knows Mr. Lederman knows why those words are so hypocritical. He has consistently claimed that he is fighting for artists’ First Amendment rights, when everyone knows that it “has zero to do with the arts and everything to do with real estate.” If the illegal vendors can’t put their tables all over Lower Manhattan sidewalks (where they don’t pay any rent) then they are in trouble.

Mr. Lederman has moved from advocating for the removal of trees from Soho sidewalks to allow more illegal vending to now advocating that artist groups shouldn’t be getting funding because they are “landlords.” How sad.

Timothy Clark 

Why we do it this way

To The Editor:
Re “N.Y.U. watch: Interfaith filings” (Mixed Use, Aug. 5):

I want to clarify a few points relating to your article on N.Y.U.’s recently proposed Center for Academic and Spiritual Life. 

To be crystal clear: N.Y.U. plans to move forward with the building proposal we have shown to Community Board 2 and posted on our Web site. Our proposal received preliminary endorsement at Community Board 2’s Institutions Committee and we will be before the board’s Zoning Committee in September to discuss the application that was filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals requesting the variance.

One of the peculiarities of the city’s approval process is that it requires our application to show both the “as-of-right” building (more square footage and more F.A.R. than we propose to use), as well as the structure we intend to build: The Department of Buildings needs to officially recognize that our proposed plan is not as of right in order for the application to be passed to the B.S.A. for review.  Moreover, because both the as-of-right plan and our intended building require the same excavation and foundation work, by filing an application which includes plans for both, we are able to move this aspect of the project forward a bit. (Construction on the proposed building itself must await approval of a variance by the B.S.A.)

Once again, here is a link to our proposed/desired building:www.nyu.edu/construction .
Alicia D. Hurley
Hurley is vice president for government affairs and community engagement, New York University

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