Volume 79, Number 29 | December 23 - 29, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Letters to the Editor

Lederman earned every cent

To The Editor:
Re “A use for Lederman’s lucre” (letter, by Lawrence White, Dec. 16):

I don’t think Robert Lederman needs to put the money he wins in a lawsuit into a trust fund. He is earning every bit of it. If Larry White wants to put money in a trust fund, let him get his own handcuffs and file his own lawsuit. Andy Warhol never put his money in a trust fund for other pop artists. Why do we always want to share and socialize other people’s money?
Thelma Blitz

Nature is its own art

To The Editor:
Re “Parks reverses its tracks; Now lets artists sell on the High Line” (news article, Dec. 16), an important topic for much discussion, I thank The Villager for providing a forum. We all appreciate free speech, but I would hope that regardless of the law, there is a time and place for everything and a sense of appropriateness. Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City is designated for art. But as for regular parks, commercializing our public parks doesn’t agree with the sensitivity of many a fine artist. We are bombarded with visual information in this city — images, signs, ads, words and more words, everywhere you look. Our minds are filled with thoughts, hurled at us, thoughts we never would have thought — or would have wished to think! I need a quiet respite from that, to rest my eyes and mind on nature — what little there is here. Let me experience it fully for the brief moments I have to sit in a park. Let it be free of visual clutter, propaganda bombs and the constant bustling commerce of the city.

Having studied art history at George Washington University and fine art at School of Visual Arts, I’m an art lover. I do collage. But I don’t want to impose my vision on unsuspecting others who have come to a park to enjoy nature and each other. There are myriad art galleries in the city, and in the interest of free speech, the artists in question could sell their art in the streets near parks. But please don’t disturb my precious valuable time with nature

Then again, the medallion guy works his magic on the sidewalk in front of Washington Square Park Arch. I do love that because it’s more like performance art that he makes happen before our eyes as we watch his brilliant, multicolored image in sand come to life. We are invited to participate or not — the watching part of the process

But then again, last year there was the gigantic silver tree in Madison Square Park. That gaudy, shiny, fake tree rudely demanded my attention, preventing me from really seeing real trees; no rest for the weary. Living in the busiest city in the world, we need to rest our minds — feast our eyes on a real tree, take in the green, breathe in the oxygen that real trees release. But don’t force my eyes to wander over to yet another mortal’s vision of this or that. Let me feast my eyes on the handiwork of the greatest artist of all.
Sharon Woolums

Traumatic tree scene

To The Editor:
Re “The root of the matter at Washington Square Park” (talking point, Dec. 2):

Ever since I read the informed piece about the trees of Washington Square, I have been really upset. Sharon Woolums writes in heartbreaking detail about the miserable, ignorant husbandry of the trees in this treasured park. One can only wonder at the waste of resources, and can well understand the overall disappointment of the people of Greenwich Village whose wishes were ignored from start to finish.  
Cynthia Crane Story

Stuyvesant’s poison legacy

To The Editor:
Re “Dutch remember Stuyvesant in ‘Year of the Hudson’” (news article, Nov. 25) and “Dutch tree courage” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Dec. 9):

I’ve been following your reports on the saga of the struggling Japanese snowbell tree planted in the St. Mark’s Church courtyard commemorating the 400th year of Henry Hudson’s sailing up the Hudson River, as well as the reign of Mayor Petrus Stuyvesant. The liberal, laissez-faire attitude of the original Dutch settlement — in opposition to the Puritan witch burners in New England — certainly set the tone for the future of our multicultural, mostly progressive-minded, “fun city” that we still enjoy today. Stuyvesant is another story.

His 17-year (1647-1664), seemingly endless term as mayor did bring a sense of order to the settlement, but not without a high price. It was a reign marked with endless decrees, edicts and orders. He was the son of a stern Calvinist preacher and was a virulent anti-Semite. He attempted to exclude Dutch Jews from New Amsterdam as well as Quakers and Mennonites. Those who celebrated ancient pagan rituals could be jailed or flogged. In 1660, he had a “sodomite” soldier’s arms hacked off, tied in a sack and cast into the East River.

Most heinous was his ardent support of making New Amsterdam a direct port of entry of slaves from Angola. A slave owner himself, he “owned” 40 human beings, more than anyone else in the settlement. These slaves labored in the fields of his bouwerie, the location of the current East Village. Much of the land was acquired by taking over by fiat the land of former slaves.

It is most likely that the poor tree’s demise is resultant from the bitter, blood-soaked ground of Stuyvesant’s that its roots must draw from.

(All historical references can be found in “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898,” by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace.)
Carl Rosenstein

Editor’s note: The most recent report was that the tree is, in fact, believed to be alive and is expected to bloom in the spring.

Cops block hydrants

To The Editor:
Is it possible to compel the New York Police Department or the Department of Transportation, or both, to do what is mandated concerning cars parked in front of fire hydrants?

On my corner — the southwest corner of E. Fifth St. and Second Ave. — employees and patrons of Sin Sin bar/Leopard Lounge flagrantly violate the no-parking ordinance and park in front of the hydrant almost nightly.

The Ninth Precinct hung up on me a couple of times; other times, I was put on hold for so long that I gave up. When I called 311 to complain about a police car blocking the hydrant on the corner — it had been parked there for almost three days — the 311 operator told me that 311 does not accept complaints against the Police Department. He told me to call the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

One time, I asked two police officers who were sitting in a double-parked patrol car in front of Sin Sin bar if they planned to give a ticket to an unoccupied car that was blocking the hydrant on the corner. The cops’ response? “Get a life.”
Bill Koehnlein

Thanks from Canada

To The Editor:
Re “Lora Hays Spindell, 99, film editor and professor” (obituary, Dec. 9):

Thank you so much for printing the obituary for Lora Hays Spindell in The Villager. Sharing the news of her life, death, memorial and contributory opportunities is important to those in the Greenwich Village community. And for me, living in Toronto — in a most Village-like part of the city — being able to find the link on your home page and then spread the word farther is much appreciated.
Kate Hays

Shami’s other brother

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

Thank you for a thorough article. But one thing you missed: Shami also has a brother, Ben Chaiken, in Phoenix. Ignore the Chaikin and Chaiken difference — my father spelled it wrong years ago and it stuck.
Rebecca Chaiken

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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