Volume 74, Number 10 | July 7 - 13, 2004



Letters to the Editor

Villager photos by Bob Arihood

Won’t HOWL!, but eats woof!

To The Editor:
Re “Why Mosaic Man hates HOWL!” (letter, by Jay Wilson, June 30):

I read Mr. Wilson’s letter to the editor today and felt that I had to respond with these latest pictures that I have of Mosaic Man. As you can see, both he and Jesse Jane, his brown dog, share a taste for the same cuisine.

Bob Arihood

Better lawns and G.O.P. gardens

To The Editor:
Your recent editorial, “Open Central Park to the protestors!” (June 30), addressed an important issue: the democratic nature of Central Park and of all public parks in New York City.

Parks are meant to provide relief for every single New Yorker, to offer respite for everyone from the sound and fury that comprise city life — they are innately democratic. As such, it is important that they remain green — that is one of their chief allures. The lawns quite simply cannot support the stress of the rally. It has nothing to do with politics — it has to do with the laws of nature and the practices of horticulture. No one wants to return to the days of the dustbowl.

The Parks and Recreation Department has already issued eight permits for groups to hold rallies in parks during the Republican National Convention, including one in Central Park. In each case, we considered carefully the impact on the parks and surrounding neighborhoods and judiciously gave permits weighing the time, place and nature of the activity being considered.

The city of New York has demonstrated every willingness to facilitate United for Peace & Justice’s First Amendment rights. Parks and Recreation has offered U.P.J. more reasonable sites for their protest, sites that could accommodate busloads (and trainloads) of protestors without causing irreparable harm to parks. U.P.J. should be mindful of the rights and needs of all New Yorkers.

Adrian Benepe
Benepe is commissioner, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation


Mayor can’t buy the park

To The Editor:
This morning I read that Michael Bloomberg, who is our mayor (and a very rich man), paid $500,000 in city taxes. Could it be, therefore, that Mr. B. believes he “owns” every blade of grass in Central Park? Perhaps he doesn’t understand how beautiful a spectacle 250,000 gentle, gallant antiwar protesters would be in our park on a lovely summer day.

During the Vietnam War, my favorite poster was: “Suppose they gave a war…and nobody came?!”

As we celebrate Independence Day 2004, I ask you, Mayor Bloomberg — wouldn’t it be wonderful it we had a rally for peace…and EVERYBODY came?!

Joan Lang


Getting a read on book festival

To The Editor:
The Greenwich Village Block Associations is a coalition of neighborhood organizations dedicated to preserving and improving the quality of life for residents of our historic neighborhood. G.V.B.A has learned that a proposal to move the New York Is Book Country Festival to Washington Sq. Park and to nearby Village streets was recently opposed by Community Board 2. Although G.V.B.A. represents an appreciable part of the residential Village community, we were unaware that this proposal was under consideration until after the fact. Villagers had little opportunity to voice an opinion about its ramifications before the community board made its judgment.

G.V.B.A. explored the possibility that a smaller book fair might be accommodated without using Washington Sq. Park. We understand, however, that the organizers cannot compromise the size and scope of the festival to an extent that might make it endurable. Upon examination of the festival Web site we discovered that Washington Sq./New Yew York University campus site was presumptuously given prior to assessing community receptivity or receiving approval. We understand that dissention exists among the participating booksellers; the Antiquarian Booksellers evidently do not wish to relocate to the Village. It seems that this proposed change of venue was precipitous, ill advised and discourteous to its participants and its unsuspecting hosts.

It has been longstanding policy that Washington Sq. Park be unavailable for commercial affairs. G.V.B.A. believes that no exception to this policy should be made for the festival. To permit a commercial enterprise to intrude upon our historic central green space would create a controversial precedent. Washington Sq. Park is the site of several large events that the community accepts with forbearance but little pleasure. The park’s use by New York University is often the subject of community discourse and distress. N.Y.U.’s unfortunate role in the festival proposal will serve only to exacerbate its troubled relationship with its neighbors.

As taxpayers we are sensitive to the fiscal concerns of the Parks Department but we do not believe that “leasing” our parks — particularly one as heavily used as Washington Sq. Park — in exchange for financial consideration is a management policy that should be fostered. The prestige of the New York Is Book Country Festival and its sponsors may suffer as a result of negative publicity and hostility that will be engendered if it imposes itself upon an unwilling host. We trust that the Parks Department will respect C.B. 2’s rejection of the application for the New York Is Book Country Festival to be moved to Greenwich Village. Since the new “vision” for the festival conflicts with residents’ abiding “vision” for their community, G.V.B.A. suggests that the Parks Department persuade the organizers to seek a more receptive venue and to act in the festival’s own best interests. Since the permits are already in place for the event to be held where it has traditionally occurred for the past 25 years, G.V.B.A. believes that it may be inappropriate to alter the venue at all.

Marilyn Dorato
Dorato is secretary and presiding officer, Greenwich Village Block Associations


Falun Gong doesn’t stress him

To The Editor:
Re: “Meditation group gets worked up over parade” (news article, June 30):

I’ve met with members of the Falun Gong. They were polite, intelligent, peaceful people whose fellow practitioners back in China are being persecuted. Their growing numbers scared the Chinese leadership and, apparently, a failure by founder Li Hongzhi to show careful deference to Communist leader Jiang Zemin brought down the roof. The Chinese government doesn’t trust the Chinese people: Who is not trusted must be controlled. Who cannot be controlled must be suppressed.

I, too, have heard rumors about “hidden” Falun Gong agendas and antigay sentiment. But I’ve not seen anything concrete to bear out those claims. Falun Gong has gay practitioners. In fact, I’m openly and proudly gay myself and I was invited to join, too. But I declined. Give up my scotch, my Frenchie fries, my bacon cheeseburgers?

Ne’er!

As with any group from our area that has something to tell or ask Community Board 2, they are welcome to come and be heard.

If there is a reticence among Falun Gong about homosexuality that is regrettable.

I hope in time they will evolve toward greater serenity on the matter. We help that evolution by offering civility and amity. Gay people and our straight supporters are powerful enough and secure enough to be able to do that.

We fight hatred and oppression. But friendly, well-meaning people who may be wary about homosexuality and our celebratory gay life? Patience and increasing familiarity is the answer there, I think.

Let’s face it. Reservations about gay people are still widespread and disfavor pops out where you least expect it. Sometime back a couple of guys asked that great man of peace and former Apple computer pitchman, the Dalai Lama, for his benediction on gay sex. He pointed to his crotch and said: “Blow here? No. Wrong.” When he saw that his visitors were crestfallen he modified his comments but that was probably more out of kindness than conviction.

Even in C.B. 2 I’ve had members set me back. An incident that comes to mind happened a few years ago. The assignment list for our L.G.B.T. Committee had gotten short. I asked a straight board member who has many true, deep friendships with gay people to join up. The answer? “I’m not like that!” Yeah and I’ve never been homeless and I’m not yet a senior citizen but that didn’t keep me from serving on the Social Services, Homeless and Senior Services Committee. Ah well.…

We can’t afford to put aside friendly, peaceable people solely because they may have a gut unease about gay sex or gay life. There are too many of them. We wouldn’t isolate them — we’d isolate ourselves.

Jim Smith
Smith is chairperson, Community Board 2


Garland-Stonewall double whammy

To The Editor:
Re “ ‘I’m sorry,’ says inspector who led Stonewall raid” (news article, June 16):

Thanks for reporting on the David Carter book launch on June 2. I’m sorry to have missed the event.

I have a small correction, though. The article says, “Also, perhaps further stoking indignation was the fact that Judy Garland had died that Friday.” However, she didn’t die that Friday, rather, she died the previous Sunday, June 22. Her funeral, however, was that Friday, June 27 at Campbell’s on upper Madison Ave.

Rob Selden


AIDS treatment is also a killer

To The Editor:
Re “Once again with feeling: ‘Kathy and Mo’s Greatest Hits’ dominates Second Stage” (arts section, June 23):

In her review of “Kathy and Mo’s Greatest Hits,” Winnie McCroy expressed surprise that the comediennes have included in their new material a man dying of AIDS: “Adding a lover dying of AIDS seems strange given the advances in H.I.V. treatment….”

Obviously, Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney realize, even if the reviewer does not, how many people continue to die from AIDS each year, and right here in New York City where they presumably are able to take advantage of those treatment “advances” Ms. McCroy mentions. They die mostly from organ failures caused by toxicity of the 20-30 pills they take each day to prolong their lives.

The notion that AIDS is now a “manageable” disease is a false and misleading one, fostered by a proliferation of expensive and glossy pharmaceutical ads purporting to show how people living with AIDS are having a great time. The people I know who are living with AIDS struggle to get through each day; many of them are on disability because they are too weak to go to work, much less climb mountains, shoot rapids or party hearty.

If the pharmaceutical giants, who reap huge profits by selling these drugs at exorbitant prices, spent more of their profits on AIDS research rather than on misleading advertisements, they might find a cure for AIDS. Until that happens, there will be nothing strange or unusual about a lover dying of AIDS.

Margaret L. Shields
The Open Door AIDS Ministry
St. John’s in the Village Episcopal Church


Not done knocking Abingdon

b As Scoopy predicted, The Society for the Preservation of Old Abingdon Sq. Park does not care for the elaborate and expensive garden masterminded by George Vellonakis.

We are distressed that a 200-year-old park that was listed on the National Historic Register was trashed to create a small-town, high-maintenance garden. Considering the Parks Department’s record on maintenance, we question how long those plantings will last. Is a knoll with knee-high grass in the master plan? As I predicted, dogs with inconsiderate owners love it.

All historic Abingdon Sq. needed was replacement of that awful asphalt and more plantings. As I told Christine Quinn, she should have been ashamed to frivol away so much money on a park when Senior Lunch programs and other vital programs were threatened. Her gay response was “Oh, we found the money!” Yeah, by raising taxes.

The old park was fully handicapped accessible, and there was room for my friends in wheelchairs to move about freely. Such is no longer the case.

Paige, while I enjoyed the letter written by your committee [“Abingdon, by George,” letter, by Paige Jordan, June 6], I have to disagree with the premise. I still wonder why you just walked away from your gardening. And you must be talking to utterly different people. One of my friends thinks it’s adorable, but most do not. Nor do they enjoy sitting in the blazing sun.

As I said, it’s a pleasant, expensive, small-town garden, and I just hope those London plane trees survive. You do realize that they are the most effective removers of pollutants?

Betty Rinckwitz
Rinckwitz is a former member, The Society for the Preservation of Old Abingdon Square Park

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