Volume 79, Number 24 | November 18 - 24, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

8th Ave. bike lane horror

To The Editor:
Re “Woman clings to life after city truck crushes her in bike lane” (news article, Nov. 11):

It is just unbearable that Shami is now breathing with a ventilator, lying with broken ribs and collarbone, smashed organs and God knows what other damage. 

She is such an exceptionally warm and giving person, with an infectious sense of humor. It was so cool to see her tootling around the Village in her motorized chair, usually with a big grin, so happy to be mobile again. 

Shami also is a wonderful actress, with her own peculiar blend of power and vulnerability. And now this! I send you a lot of love, Shami. 

Trucks and cars are always invading the bicycle lanes in the West Village, especially on streets without the protective lane of parked cars — and in particular on streets such as Greenwich St. and Washington St., where the bike lane has reduced car traffic to a single lane. This was a catastrophe waiting to happen. 

Of course the driver didn’t mean to smash Shami to pieces. Drunk drivers don’t mean to kill people, either. The point is that this driver had no damned business being in the bike lane. 

By the way, Joe Chaikin didn’t die of AIDS. He had a damaged heart and had had a major stroke. A few months before he died, he had an operation from which he never regained his strength. I still miss him.
Eileen Blumenthal

Vehicles on greenway must yield

To The Editor:
Re “Woman clings to life after city truck crushes her in bike lane” (news article, Nov. 11):

I’m outraged by the recent accident in the Village involving a disabled person who was severely injured while riding in a protected bicycle lane.

I commute four times a week to work at City College in Harlem and College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, and use the Hudson River greenway. As happened in the tragedy on Eighth Ave., I’m continually lulled into a false sense of protection, and see many abuses of our rights to the lane. Cyclists using the greenway have died under this illusion of a false sense of protection, one being a respected physician.

I would love to see legislation that reduces the speed of motorized vehicles on the greenway and other protected lanes, or bans them altogether. Many times, I need to navigate speeding vehicles on the greenway, including Parks Department, N.Y.P.D., Chelsea Piers and Hudson River Park Trust vehicles. In other instances, the vehicles are parked on the greenway itself, causing me to go into oncoming bike traffic, or onto West St. itself. 

Several times I have asked officers — Port Authority near the George Washington Bridge and Parks Enforcement Police officers in Chelsea — to slow down. In one instance, I was threatened with arrest for merely saying this.

The greenway was created as a respite from the motorized world and, as such, I believe motorists — whether or not from government agencies — when crossing or entering onto the greenway, must yield at all times to pedestrians and bicyclists. 

If places such as Massachusetts can require motorists to yield at all times on all roadways, New York City can do the same for a thin strip of supposedly protected bike space.
Josh Gosciak

What about ‘uncivil cyclists’?

To The Editor:
Re “Woman clings to life after city truck crushes her in bike lane” (news article, Nov. 11):

This horrific accident was highly predictable and there will be many more involving automobiles, bikes and pedestrians. All three groups need to be held acccountable for observing the law. That includes cyclists who ride the wrong way in the bike lanes and go through stop signs and red lights. 

It is time The Villager acknowledged the lack of civility of most bike riders. This poor woman didn’t deserve to be hit, but believe me, many others in the bike lanes do!  
Lois C. Schwartz 

Shami is a treasure

To The Editor: 
Re “Woman clings to life after city truck crushes her in bike lane” (news article, Nov. 11):

Shami Chaikin is one of New York’s treasures. This is a tragedy!
Patricia Fieldsteel

Mendez isn’t term-limited

To The Editor: 
Re “Locally and nationally, too, making our voices heard” (Progress Report, by Arthur Schwartz, Nov. 11): 

Arthur Schwartz, in his “Politics” article, mentions that Rosie Mendez will be term-limited this term. Since this is her second term, and all terms were extended to three, thankfully, Rosie will hopefully be with us for eight more years, if she so desires.
Anne Johnson  

Editor’s note: The letter writer is correct. Mendez will be allowed to run for a third term in 2013 unless the mayor — as he has pledged to do — convenes a charter commission, which could propose to amend or repeal the term limits section of the City Charter, after which the matter could go to the public for a referendum.

Bugle Lady hits right notes

To The Editor:
    Re “5 bugles for ‘Motherhood’” (letter, by Hester Brown, Nov. 4): I’m a very longtime Villager and reader of your paper. I enjoyed the Bleecker St. Bugle Lady’s letter to The Villager in praise of Katherine Dieckmann’s film “Motherhood.”
How about more from Bugle Lady, maybe as a frequent contributor?

She’s certainly a good writer and smart and funny. It would be nice to look forward to Village savvy and cleverness in each issue.
Beverly Maher 

Mike would owe a park

To The Editor:
Re “Adding to holdings, mayor buys City Hall, pays cash” (talking point, by Daniel Meltzer, Nov. 11):

Alienation of public access to City Hall Park is possible by a vote from the New York State Legislature. In that case, Mayor Mike must provide equal acreage of parkland nearby to a neighborhood that already has a severe shortage of green and recreational space. That will cost Mr. Bloomberg another billion bucks here in overdeveloped Lower Manhattan, where there is no open space, even parking lots are rare and the real estate is probably some of the most expensive around.
Skip Blumberg
Blumberg is president, Friends of City Hall Park 

Lots of paving at

To The Editor:

Petrosino

Re “Soho square named for hero officer doubles in size” (Progress Report, Nov. 11): 

Having worked with Councilmember Kathryn Freed in an attempt to renovate Petrosino Square in the mid-1990s, I was delighted when Councilmember Alan Gerson finally fully funded the idea, which also expanded the square’s area by taking back Lafayette St. asphalt for more greenery.

Living in Soho for decades, a neighborhood with virtually no greenery, I watched the project develop with great anticipation. F.Y.I.: The plaza falls within the Little Italy zoning district but is bounded on two sides by Soho.

With great fanfare, this so-called park was dedicated with legions of cops and Italian dignitaries in attendance. By Webster’s definition, a park is “an area of land, usually in a largely natural state, for the enjoyment of the public.”

If you look at the photo in your own article, what’s missing? Trees, grass and shrubbery. Please, don’t call it a park. It is rumored that “Mayor Bloomingdale’s” Parks Department, consistent with its mission to commercialize public park space, has cleverly swapped asphalt for paving blocks, developing a plaza that is mostly bare of greenery but ideal for the placement of tables and chairs that are sure to follow next spring for use by restaurants that ring the plaza. It is also rumored that, to pay for plaza maintenance, Muni-Meters will soon be in place for the use of the handful of benches, none of which face south. Bloomberg rules.
Carl Rosenstein

Honor Soho’s art heroes

To The Editor:
Re “Soho square named for hero officer doubles in size” (Progress Report, Nov. 11):

I was very pleased to read of the dedication of the Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino Square Park in Soho. This heroic officer is an inspiration to us all and it is a righteous honor that this small park was named after him.

However, we in the arts community have our heroes, as well, yet we have never been given the opportunity to recognize them by naming a park in their honor. 

I refer specifically to the triangle park on Broome St. and West Broadway that locals refer to as Bob Bolles Park in honor of the artist who first placed public sculptures on that spot many years ago. In 2002, the Parks Department removed all of the artwork he placed there and planted dense foliage with no mention of the history of art that is our heritage. The only reflection of the great artists who lived and worked in our area are the names handwritten in the cement curb that surrounds the park. You have to look hard to see the names, such as Shel Silverstein, Robert Frank, Paul Taylor, Miles Davis, Anais Nin, Odetta, Marlon Brando, Bob Dylan, Robert DeNiro (Jr. and Sr.), Georgia O’Keeffe, Keith Haring and Basquiat. What a shame.

So while I appreciate and pay honor to the many dedications our civic and military heroes have received, it puzzles me why there is still no mention of our rich artistic heritage in Bob Bolles Park. Until this is accomplished I am afraid that Soho is missing the point.
Lawrence White 

Column was offensive

To The Editor:
Re “The hounding of Polanski” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, Nov. 4):

Let me point out what should have not gotten through your critical read. How about Tallmer’s questioning if sex with a 13-year-old is really sex? How about equating that crime with fantasizing about it, and therefore claiming we are all a bit guilty? 

Why would you print this bulls--t? Actually, I don’t even give a s--t why you thought it was O.K. to print this — I am taking great delight in canceling our subscription. Please pass this on to your subscription cancellation desk.
Mike Kramer

Editor’s note: Truth be told, our first instinct was not to run Tallmer’s Polanski piece, based on the points the letter writer mentions, among others. However, Tallmer, pushing for us to publish the column after we had held it awhile, wrote us an e-mail stating: “I’ve always thought a newspaper — a good newspaper — was an open forum. I would defend to the death your right to say something I disagreed with.” Not wanting to be accused of stifling free speech and out of deference to Tallmer as a veteran journalist, we relented — though anticipating some responses such as those of the above letter writer.

Polanski is a rapist

To The Editor: 
Re “The hounding of Polanski” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, Nov. 4):

I would like to express my deep and utter dislike for the distasteful and irresponsible tone that this article adopts. I am writing as a volunteer of an anti-human trafficking charity that deals with many cases of child abuse, and as a politics graduate who dislikes the irrelevant and nonsensical connections the journalist has made in this article.

Are you questioning whether it is a crime to use one’s position of authority to encourage a vulnerable and easily influenced 13-year-old girl, who he had hired for a photo shoot, to consume alcohol and pain killers prior to asking her questions about whether she was on oral contraceptives — to which she answered, “No, I’m 13” — so he decided to sodomize her instead?

His defense was that she was “not unresponsive.”

Is it really repulsive that people demand accountability?

Whoopi Goldberg was pursued relentlessly by celebrities and the public after creating the false distinction of “rape rape.” Quoting her adds nothing to your argument. “Rape rape” does not mean by force. “Rape rape” means nothing. Rape can be by force, coercion, manipulation, trickery, drugging — any number of things.

Are you surprised the victim wants the case dropped? When journalists such as yourself are picking apart and blaming her for what was clearly a traumatizing experience?

Your statement about which of us has not fantasized about sexual pleasure with an underage person is utterly unbelievable. I cannot believe this has been printed. Are you condoning such fantasies? Are you encouraging us to relate to the actions of Polanski? What is the purpose of this?

Genius or talent do not take away from the crime — we are all equal under the law, remember?
Georgia Bea 
 

Divided, artists will fall

To The Editor: 
Re “Artistic differences” (letter, by Lawrence White, Oct. 14):

I am a member of A.R.T.I.S.T. and can confirm that we neither condone nor defend vendors who sell bootleg or copyright-infringed material.

Lawrence White, of all people, should realize that without unity it is extremely unlikely artists’ voices will be heard. The A.R.T.I.S.T. group is the only unified group of “public fine artists,” and as such, our voice has been heard loud and clear by members of the City Council and by the mayor.

I do agree with Mr. White on one point — winning full First Amendment rights for visual art and fighting for artists’ rights for 15 years is indeed radical.

No other group has ever done it.
Ned Otter

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. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

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