Volume 79, Number 50 | May 19 -25, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Put new hospital at old site

To The Editor:
Re “From grassroots, with suit, fighting for a new hospital” (news article, May 19):

I was at Ms. Kurland’s second St. Vincent’s hearing, on April 30, and I saw the outpouring of support and hope for a hospital in the vicinity of the former St. Vincent’s. As a former resident of the West Village, living at 11th St. and Seventh Ave. until age 16, this is an issue I care deeply about, and there is still a way to place a hospital at the old St. Vincent’s site.

Without a new Village-area hospital, nearby hospitals will be clogged with people no longer able to be cared for by St. Vincent’s. As a member of the Health, Senior and Disability Committee on Community Board 6, I was able to hear testimony from a member of Bellevue Hospital. Even she said that her own hospital would be significantly impacted by the closing of St. Vincent’s, as many people living on Broadway, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Aves. would have to go all the way to First Ave. to receive care. Having a new hospital all the way over on the Hudson River — as some have proposed — would do little to aid that problem.

Furthermore, having a hospital on the West Side Highway would be extremely inconvenient for people living in Chelsea or the West Village but not near the river. Why abandon Seventh Ave. and 12th St. (about 20 minutes east of the highway, if there’s traffic) when there’s still a strong possibility to save lives in a much more effective manner?
Dodge Landesman

Hungering for cafe, kiosk, cocoa

To The Editor:
Re “Pavilion cafe R.F.P. is served” (news article, May 19):

It’s about time! We’d love to see a cafe back in that spot now that the pavilion is restored. I’m happy to see the emphasis right up front in the R.F.P. on using Greenmarket produce. It would be great if it became a true “Greenmarket Cafe,” showcasing the best of seasonal and local produce. 

I also love the idea of a year-round kiosk, especially if it sold hot beverages in winter. I’ve spent countless winter hours freezing in the playground while my kids are getting heated up running around. How about a pass-through into the playground for hot cocoa! 

There’s also an emphasis on having a menu with affordable prices and family-friendly offerings. My family really misses going to Luna Park and being able to relax right in the middle of the park and enjoy a good meal. We hope that a concessionaire is chosen quickly so that the pavilion doesn’t stay empty for long.
Susan Kramer

All right, Yvette! ... Umm, Yetta

To The Editor: 
Re “From grassroots, with suit, fighting for a new hospital” (news article, May 19):

Yvette [sic] Kurland is the most intelligent, respectful and inspiring leader I have met in this community. It is because of her work that there was a meeting on May 21 about the need for a full-service hospital on the Lower West Side.
Jane Korczynski

Diana Kan, a true original 

To The Editor:
Re “Diana Kan, 84, renowned landscape painter, teacher” (obituary, May 12):

By virtue of the fact that Ms. Kan and my father, Lawrence Ketover — who attended the Art Students League during the same era — adopted each other early in “Aunt Diana’s” Village days, she was always like a fragile, delicate lotus blossom to my family and me. 

Her husband, Paul, yet another Art Students alumnus, would often arrange large dinner parties where I spent many an evening listening to their mostly fast-talking, New York-type friends — including my own restaurateur parents, a sports writer and his wife, and a former stand-up comic turned salesman and his wife. 

Diana was as wise and refined as one would imagine, having been shaped to be the elegant artist the world knew. Yet, her total involvement in her creative process often meant she missed the most obvious of current events going on around her. One such story she retold on numerous occasions was an early appearance by her on BBC TV in the early 1960s. As she entered the studio to prepare for her interview, she heard a commotion and people running down the halls screaming, “The Beatles are coming! The Beatles are coming!” Having endured real plagues in early childhood in China, she naturally took this at face value and ran for her personal safety — to avoid the dreaded beetles. 

Additionally, her grasp of the New York humor thrown about during these dinners was similarly shaped by her own experiences. She took things as she saw them, perhaps the very trait that made her the preeminent artist and teacher that she became.

One joke that she eventually did understand and was her all-time favorite is shortened for the sake of brevity here. A young man had an unfortunate accident and lost an eye. His parents, of meager means, did the best they could to make him feel whole again. They found a wonderful craftsman and artist who was able to craft a wooden eye that looked remarkably lifelike. Regardless, this teenager felt self-conscious and rarely socialized with the opposite sex. No amount of urging from his parents would get him to go out. Finally, a group of his friends succeeded in dragging him to a class dance. However, he just sat in a corner all evening long, watching his friends enjoy themselves. Time and again they would urge him to get up and have some fun. Hours passed and there he sat. As the evening neared its end, his friends had noticed a shy girl sitting across the room — she apparently also had some self-esteem issues. Finally, they got him to go over and ask her to dance. As he got closer, he noticed she had a harelip. Funny enough, this made him feel a bit more confident, seeing they shared something in both being different from the rest. Boldly, he stepped up and asked, “May I have this dance?” She immediately replied in her Brooklynese, “Oh wood’en I,” to which he shouted back “Harelip! Harelip!” 

That is for you, Aunt Diana. May you enjoy eternal peace and harmony as you have graced us with all these years!
Philip Ketover

Holiday evokes primal pain

To The Editor:
For me, Memorial Day weekend does not mean vacations, beaches and travel.

There’s a photo of my biological dad hanging in my kitchen — the last photo of him still alive, taken during his basic training in South Carolina in late 1943. I feel like I’m looking at a total stranger. I was a baby when he was killed in World War II. Often I cannot bear to look at the photo because it’s too painful.

Dr. Arthur Janov (“The Primal Scream,” 1970) says that, “Many people would rather die than have to feel their pain.” This is borne out by the suicide rate of W.W. II “orphans” and by my own feelings.

I do fight self-pity daily. But there is an emptiness, a vacuum in my chest.

Do I prefer to die rather than feel my own pain? There are many ways to die, to “kill my pain.” Some use alcohol, drugs, sweets, cigarettes, etc. I use food as an overeater. Part of me does not want to die.

I guess I’ll have to use Dr. Janov’s therapy if I want to live.
Michael Gottlieb

‘Send Clayton up here!’

To The Editor:
Re “Newark gangs (tried to) work it out on the court” (notebook, by Clayton Patterson, May 19):

I am encouraged to read that The Villager has a writer with inquiring vision and subsequent insight. Please come visit and write about Albany, the capital of New York. The subject needs to be understood by all of our society.
Reverend Joyce Hartwell
Hartwell was the director of the former All-Crafts Center, on St. Mark’s Place

On that note...

To The Editor: 
Re “Farewell to Lena Horne and some songbirds of color” (talking point, by Jerry Tallmer, May 19):

Jerry Tallmer quotes a lyric (from “Cabin in the Sky,” by Vernon Duke and John Latouche) sung by Ethel Waters: “Here I go again…falling in love with love.” But “Falling in Love With Love” is a Rodgers and Hart song. The correct lyric is “Here I go again…taking a chance on love.” 
Michael Mooney

No gold star for Gold

To The Editor:
Re “Koch: Angry Man… Why he’s slamming Bam on Mideast” (talking point, by Ed Gold, April 28):
Ed Koch is right to be angry about the Obama administration’s treatment of Israel, and everyone concerned about Israel’s survival should be equally angry. Unlike Mr. Gold, Mayor Koch is not laboring under the illusion that President Obama is the Messiah who will undo 3,000 years of history with a charming grin. Nor does he delude himself that the Arabs want peace with Israel, at least not a peace that will leave Israel a viable Jewish state. The difference is that Hamas wants all the Jews dead or gone right now — Fatah is more patient.

Of course, a liberal talking point like Mr. Gold’s has to have the obligatory slam of President Bush, who, unlike President Obama, did not attempt to settle the Arab-Israeli dispute. Gold conveniently overlooks the facts that during Mr. Bush’s terms, Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon and out of Gaza. And what did Israel get for these territorial concessions? Hezbollah kidnappings of Israeli soldiers, leading to the second Lebanon War, and years of unrelenting rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza, leading to the self-defensive Operation Cast Lead.

One wonders why President Obama will undermine a key U.S. ally and friend for building homes for its citizens while he does nothing — absolutely nothing — to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Secretary Clinton talks about “containment” when Iran goes nuclear.

It is clear from the recent spectacle of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the U.N. Nuclear Proliferation Conference here in New York — where he put the onus on the U.S. for nuclear proliferation — that he is a lot more clever than Obama and Clinton. The man Mr. Gold calls a “pipsqueak” is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Hamas to Hezbollah. If he gets nukes, forget about world security.

Mayor Koch understands this, and his anger at the administration is justified. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand understands it as well, and she has called for hearings in the Senate Homeland Security Committee to investigate all companies that do business with Iran. She is showing strong leadership while Obama shows only weakness.

How can Mr. Gold talk about a two-state solution when the Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank are so mortally divided? How can he think that President Obama, who listened to the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel vitriol in Reverend Wright’s church for 20 years, has Israel’s best interests at heart? To convince American Jews that he does, the administration is about to commence a “charm offensive.” It would be wise to be very skeptical about overtures from a president who, as evidenced by his appeasement speech in Cairo, does not even know the history of Israel.
Allan Tannenbaum

Rebuild the Village left

To The Editor:
As America continues its frightening drift to the right, with near complete corporate hegemony over the media and both major political parties — and a decimated 7 percent union membership, down from its historic high of 35 percent in the 1950s — what’s clear is the desperate need for a resurgent left.

Stanley Aronowitz, in his prescient lecture at the V.I.D. (Village Independent Democrats) last fall, pointed out that the highly developed left structures that fed progressive political change through the 1970s are today virtually nonexistent. Kim Phillips Fein, who spoke at V.I.D. this February about her new book, “Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal,” explained how conservatives triumphed through superior organizing and the creation of a vast network of think tanks.

As the progressive movement plots its comeback, Greenwich Village — with its proud tradition of intellectual, creative and political ferment — offers a historically significant space for dialogue and action toward engineering a resurgent left. While the Village itself continues to gentrify into a playground for the economic elite — who are deeply conservative — kudos to organizations like the V.I.D. and Judson Church for keeping radical hope alive and the Village politically relevant.

Connecting the dots to local issues, such monstrosities as the N.Y.U. Law School/dorm — which ruined the beautiful view of Judson through the arch — might be fought as part of a larger, transformative movement for justice and, at this point, the survival of American democracy. Now, let’s get to work and build.
John Bredin

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