Volume 80, Number 36 | February 3 - 9, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Letters to the Editor

Festival critics are snobs

To The Editor:
Re “Effort to shorten San Gennaro Fest falls short” (news article, Jan. 27):

The San Gennaro Feast was forced to accept vendors of other backgrounds than Italian and Italian foods and merchandise by the city of New York. That decision was out of our hands. As for public drunkenness, there is absolutely no alcohol sold at any of the stands during the feast. Restaurants with liquor permits are allowed to sell alcohol within the confines of their stands, which they pay handsomely for. If any of these patrons happen to act stupidly and raucously once they leave these establishments, how is San Gennaro responsible for that?

I’m sure Nicolas Dutko from Tartinery has seen more than a fair share of stupid behavior from drunken patrons who got that way after drinking at his establishment. Is he going to blame San Gennaro for that during May, June, July and August when the bars and restaurants along Mulberry St. are jampacked? For Mr. Dutko to say that “the people are very rude that come” to the feast is showing his stupidity and his biased attitude. How in the name of God can anyone make a public statement like that? Who is he to paint everyone who visits the feast with the same brush? Are all those hundreds of thousands of people rude, yet all the people patronizing his establishment perfectly mannerly and respectful of others? Who is he kidding?

Many of us have dealt with snobs like this who think they are better than the rest of us. That attitude alone speaks volumes about how delusional they are regarding their own importance. And by the way, why is he in business if not to make money? Why is it O.K. for him but not for the vendors of the San Gennaro Feast? As for the boutiques who blame the feast for their lack of business and customers during San Gennaro, how do they explain their empty stores throughout the rest of the year? Why are their businesses empty for 351 days when there is no feast?

Julie Dickson from Fox & Boy hair salon speaks about the feast and “the dangerous element it attracts.” Really, Julie, you’re embarrassing yourself. San Gennaro is one of the most well-known and beloved feasts that exists today. It is a secret to no one that it takes over Mulberry St. for 11 days every September. Rather than have these elitist snobs move in, then try to force us to change for them, why can’t they be good neighbors and respect an 85-year-old neighborhood tradition that they knew existed before they ever moved their families and/or their businesses to the area? I, for one, am a lifelong Little Italy resident.

One more thing I’m curious about: Are any of these boutiques participating in the upcoming February Fashion Week since there is no feast around to get in their way? Just asking.
Emily DePalo
DePalo is a board member, Figli di San Gennaro

The Feast of ‘San Generic’

To The Editor:
Re “Effort to shorten San Gennaro Fest falls short” (news article, Jan. 27):

They say the feast is for everyone. That’s the problem. A generic street fair should not get a permit for 11 days. If they made it authentic and local, they might get more support. I haven’t heard Italian spoken in Little Italy since I was a kid.
Davide Gentile

Church was a spiritual oasis

To The Editor:
Re “Lady of Vilna appeal goes to state’s highest court” (news article, Jan. 27):

I am the vice chairperson of the Save Our Lady of Vilnius Committee. I am a second-generation Lithuanian-American whose grandparents were among Our Lady of Vilnius’s first parishioners. It is the mission of the committee to revive the parish. It is our hope that the litigation will lead to a dialogue that, unfortunately, was not initiated by the archdiocese when discussions about closing the parish were begun with the Lithuanian clergy.

Back in 2006 when parishioners were first told about the possibility of closing the church, The Villager published a moving and accurate portrait of the parish, “Lady of Vilnius and ‘Pretzels’ and ‘Provolone’ may lose home” (news article, Aug. 23, 2006).

In their press releases, the Archdiocese of New York has presented Our Lady of Vilnius as a Lithuanian cause. They refer only to the Lithuanian parishioners, and vaguely direct them to the archdioceses of Brooklyn and Newark to worship. They fail to mention those who worshiped there, not because they were Lithuanian, but because they found a community that helped them feel closer to God, feel fortified in their daily lives by His presence and by the support of each other.

The parish was a spiritual oasis and an anodyne to the Catholics and local working-class residents that have not yet been gentrified out of their lifelong homes or workplaces. Our Lady of Vilnius was the “old country” to my family. My father and aunts were working too hard to commute to Mass there every week, but it was where they would have been if they could manage it. It was a place to go for important feasts and momentous events like baptisms and funerals. It was our St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Our Lady of Vilnius was not an exclusively Lithuanian parish. The Villager’s inaugural article spoke of “Pretzels” and “Provolone,” not “Kugelis” and “Cepelinai.” I am urging anyone who loved this place to jump onboard — all of you Hallorans and Dolans with no Lithuanian heritage, all of you Piros, Passarellis, Tangredis and DeLorenzos with Lithuanian grandmothers, all of you who were strengthened for your workday by Father Sawicki’s noon Mass, all of you sitting in your cars waiting to get into the tunnel who are heartened by the sight of Our Lady of Vilnius as a symbol of God and old New York — we are trying to reconstitute this place so that it continues to inspire.
Christina Nakraseive

Praying for a miracle

To The Editor:
Re “Lady of Vilna appeal goes to state’s highest court” (news article, Jan. 27):
I hold fond memories of Our Lady of Vilnius Church. I was baptized there and regularly attended Sunday Mass. It is a beacon for the faithful. It feels good to see the church as I come home each day. However, I am inevitably reminded of the callous manner in which its doors were suddenly shut, without consideration for Father Eugene Sawicki and the church family; without notice, without a care.

Many of Our Lady of Vilnius’s displaced congregation regard its closing as a heartless undertaking. Throughout the past four years, the Lithuanian supporters remained undaunted in their goal to worship at Our Lady of Vilnius Church, albeit, outside on the church steps. In rain, snow and sunshine, they practice the Roman Catholic faith with song, candles, words of scripture and prayer. The service always culminates with delicious Lithuanian homemade food and inspirational discussion. The spirit of the faithful remains, to love and serve the Lord.

There is still a strong parish here, and the parishioners remain steadfast with their goal of reclaiming their church. Miraculously, St. Brigid’s Church was saved. The hope is that a similar miracle can happen here, too.
Linda L. Sousa

Teen torn by church’s loss

To The Editor:
Re “Lady of Vilna appeal goes to state’s highest court” (news article, Jan. 27):

It’s religion. People should respect that. The church should be considered a landmark, not only because it’s been here a long time, but because it’s here to serve people of faith. People now and in the future could learn to respect the efforts of a dedicated community in their effort to preserve their church and to practice their faith.

I was baptized at Our Lady of Vilnius Church 14 years ago. I don’t want to only keep the church’s “memory” in my mind, I want to see the structure and its beauty — not only on the outside, but inside, as well. I yearn to enter Our Lady of Vilnius because I would be surrounded by historical, sacred walls. People who have a say-so in these matters should respect that.
Lauren J. Sousa

Missing Grandpa Bruno

To The Editor:
Re “Olindo Bruno, 88; Worked in the garment industry” (obituary, Jan. 20):

Thank you for writing this about my grandfather. We miss you very much, Pop! Rest in peace.
Anthony Bruno

Soho’s zoning is failing

To The Editor:
Re “Non-artist residents feel like ‘criminals’ in Soho, lawyer says” (news article, Jan. 27):

The real issue as I see it is live-work space for actual working artists. Soho inspires the heart of the artist in many ways. The low roofline and the large windows create a neighborhood awash in light. The legacy of art in Soho is impressive, to say the least.

Yet it seems as if the link between civic and artistic is not as strong as it needs to be to meet the real needs of living, working artists. Not many career artists can afford the space rates, and so they are forced to move their studios elsewhere.

Sadly, it is clear from this article that many of the live-work spaces that were once set aside for artists are not housing artists at all. With all the creativity at hand in Soho, it amazes me that a more effective plan has not been generated to assure the continued existence of artists and their neighbors in Soho. Since successful art district plans have been developed in other neighborhoods in other cities, one must wonder why it is that Soho cannot get it straight.
Lawrence White

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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