When Jack Black Fans Attack
Poor Armond White, holding his nose while slurping down a Jack Black movie ("Film," 10/15). What, you were expecting maybe a John Saylesian meditation on the soul-deadening pitfalls of ambition?
Hey, man: It's a moo-vee! "Praise for School of Rock's shallow myths proves how gullible and naive the media has become toward the entertainment industry." Shallow myths? What? For two hours Jack Black made funny faces and imparted silly, mossy rock platitudes with vigor and glee-an infinitely more entertaining spectacle than, oh, say, Spielberg's bloated, precious A.I., which White praised as equal to Kubrick's finest work. Bah-ha-ha!
That School of Rock is a shamelessly conservative flick, a praise-grubbing blowjob for (white) middle-aged movie critics, is obvious. But White's bleating about its cynicism? Now that is high comedy.
"Where is the humor in the plot of a teacher encouraging kids to screw off?" Armond, baby, you're breakin' my heart!
Ben Cosgrove, Manhattan
And We, You
I wondered where New York Press was going with the sale by Russ Smith. He left it in great hands. And God bless Celia Farber ("P.C. R.I.P.," 10/15). I despise Political Correctness for what it is: plain and simple censorship. It is ironic the leftists use the rubric of PC to control any expression of incorrect thinking according to their philosophy, but are first to scream bloody whatever when they feel they are being censored. PC squelches the true expression of a free people, and it is unforgivable to allow the professors in their ivory towers of learning to censor free thought.
Ms. Farber, I love you.
Bert Zackim, Manhattan
New Mexico Spleen
I haven't been in New York since January; I just checked in to see what's going on. Glad to see "Maakies" went to greener pastures. He was all that was worth reading. Laughable is this: The Village Voice has something relevant and the Press is as useless as your pumping the River Run. Hope they've gone out of business. Hope you do too soon. J.R. was funny when he wrote about music. Now he's just as sick as you are.
Jim Harford, Medanales, NM
Another Alternative: A Nice Herbal Tea
Signorile: Just read your little rant regarding treatment and Rush Limbaugh ("The Gist," 10/22). Unless you have been there, don't comment. Walk a mile in his shoes (or spend a month in treatment) before you deign to destroy. One alternative is suicide.
William Roberts, Blanco, TX
Signorile: Someone said there are issues so unwholesome that they can only be handled effectively with humor. You really outdid yourself this time with the Rush New Age-anti-people-equine-loving-psychodrama-word-therapy piece ("The Gist," 10/22). Hypocrisy a go-go.
It's such a shame I only read your always insightful, humorous and perspective enhancing columns on Buzzflash or some other straight news outlet. I wish the Times or Washington Post would reprint all your stuff. Keep up the good work, you're a breath of fresh air.
Chris Mayka, Rutland, VT
Yes, Even Nipples
Celia Farber will have to take on faith that I really think any excoriation she might have been subjected to was bad for her and wrong on the part of those performing it. Similarly, no one's freedom of speech should be curtailed just because their speech is unpopular ("P.C. R.I.P.," 10/15).
However (you saw that coming) that doesn't mean that those in power-financial, academic or star-are lily-white sinless when they use that power to get away with mockery or sexual exploitation (yes, even a little nipple-play, if unwanted and unasked). Much should be expected from those to whom much has been given, and a greater level of circumspection should be some of that. Too much of the "anti-PC" I read boils down to something akin to Nietzsche's critique of Christianity as slave revolt. That is to say, "These are whiny inferiors arrogating power above those Nature has placed above them."
I agree, the Left should ditch political correctness in favor of destroying the power relationships that make some propositions more threatening than others, and allow someone to believe that he has a right to anything he can, well, "grab."
Michael Turyn, Watertown, MA
MUGGER: Maybe your troop master should have given you the more conventional advice that no one likes a "sore loser" (10/22). You say that you were open to taking the abuse for the Red Sox loss, but really you just redirected your anger onto a pretty damn good manager (when is the last time the Sox even got that close to the World Series?) and a grammar-challenged person (most likely a hardworking first or second generation Hispanic immigrant trying to learn the language) merely exercising his opinion against a "media-icon." Take it like a man, Russ!
Roberto Cruz, Manhattan
Art Director: Stroked! (Finally!)
Seems like Nick Bilton's covers have been getting better lately. Great Arnold art (10/15). Keep it up.
Edward T. Giuliano, Manhattan
Brodeur Uber Alles
Concerning Nathan Weiner's letter calling some of my political ideas "impractical": name one ("The Mail, 10/22). Even my most ambitious ideas are ten times more practical than other historical innovations such as indoor plumbing. (Now that was an impractical plan! But I think it may have worked out in the end.)
One of my biggest flaws is that I'm not very infantile: People who dislike me do so because I'm too serious an individual (as exemplified by my constant bashing of Jeff Koyen for not having enough real political insight in this rag). (In my defense, I did shoot spitballs at an acquaintance last year, and wanted to drop water balloons on passersby during the Republican-created blackout but couldn't find any.) I'm going to make the subways free (which will save us over 300 million dollars a year) with or without your help.
Christopher X. Brodeur, Manhattan
Jim the Gem
Regarding reader James O'Meara's truly offensive remarks about Jim Knipfel's talent ("The Mail," 10/15): Jim has more heart and soul and humanity in every single sentence he has ever written than this fatally toxic individual can ever comprehend. Knipfel sits like a little jewel, a gift in the middle of this newspaper. Writing any book when you are broke and unsuccessful is a brave and terrifying experience. How many people have the guts to put themselves, their feelings, out there for this kind of feelingless "hack" to tear apart?
"New scumbag" is too good a description for this wannabe reviewer, who thinks clever writing is stringing together the most mean-spirited words he can conjure. He reminds me of some of the loser freelance music reviewers I rejected when I was the editor of metal music mags in the 80s. Those who can, create. Those who envy are doomed to a lifetime of bile. Keep your day job, Jimmy Boy, Jr.
Pat Vitucci, Staten Island
Like a Twinkie
Taibbi: The Curse is only for a century ("Cagematch," 10/22) and expires in 2018. So just be patient. By that time, Steinbrenner will be enjoying the fiery fruits of the deal he made with the devil, and the Yankees will regularly finish in the cellar.
As a Met fan, I couldn't bear the thought of that national treasure, Fenway Park, being razed. After all, that's where we began our great World Series comeback in 1986!
Tom McArdle, Pleasant Ridge, NY
After reading the article about those three idiots in Flushing ("Trees Falling in the Forrest," 10/8) I almost swore off reading your paper. While they might believe it's an art form to copy street signs and put them over real ones-guess what? It's not. They are nothing but bored vandals who can't get the guts to commit a real crime (and therefore should not be given an inch of publicity). I have lived in Flushing for a better portion of my life and I will say that there are not too many folks there that know how to drive properly. Replacing the signs without a reflective will only cause more accidents in a town where tires screech on a daily basis.
Andrew M. Pucek, Astoria
That "Extreme Makeovers" article was great ("Cage Match," 10/15). Funny, funny stuff. And you never know: Some idiot just may start doing it. Excellent!
Nancy J. Diemer, Cleveland
The Mail Abides. The Mail Abides.
"The Mail" remains the same. It is still one of the most freewheeling readers' forums around, with the good, the bad and the ugly on regular display. A few examples of the latter two:
There are letter writers who defend titty bars ("The Mail," 10/1) by declaring that no rapes have been committed in them, unlike in "Giuliani's" Catholic Church. Yes, and titty bars have also done more good than the 2000 years of love and aid to millions of the worldwide poor as sponsored by the Catholic Church in obedience to God and Christ, right?
But of course it's true that no crimes occur because of titty bars. Unless you count the one in the Bronx that was shut down for featuring underage teenage girls as dancers, and the one here in Queens that served a psycho before he went home with and sliced up a dancer and her roommate and the ones where illegal drugs are routinely used by customers, owners and dancers alike, etc.
There are also letter writers, very regular ones, who revel in their outsider and gadfly status as brave "fighters of City Hall," ("The Mail," 10/8) only to announce their own ill advised candidacy for the establishment position of mayor a few paragraphs in, and to begin calling for support to boot.
And there are letter writers who defend their fraternal organizations by stating that they are well liked by the Hell's Angels. This no doubt impresses those easily awed by phony "romantic outlaws." But it will strike any half-intelligent individual as the equivalent of saying, "We're supported by a bunch of quasi-Satanist, neo-Nazi meth dealers with aversions to hygiene!"
But that's "The Mail," with all its warts, so keep up the good work of printing every opinion imaginable. You even give a voice to the truly voiceless, like people who live in places like New Hampshire.
Jack Seney, Queens
Celia Held High
It is not every day that I read and re-read an article and again, and my joy increases with every reading-but this was the case with Celia Farber's masterpiece ("P.C. R.I.P.," 10/15). (Besides: from her pen to God's ear!) The lady is brilliant, the kind that reaffirms one's faith in the indomitability of human spirit on one hand and keeps the flame of contempt toward the hyenas and vultures, the scumbags and the rest of that PC crowd. I hope that her "writer's block"-to which you refer in the blurb-is gone forever and she will keep on writing and elevating our spirit as she has done in the piece now printed.
R.P. Held, Manhattan
Mr. Levine's Opus
Regarding Armond White's review of Richard Linklater's film, School of Rock ("Film" 10/15): Did he even watch the film? He may have seen it with his eyes, as it is his job, but did he really watch it before he bashed it to tiny bits of geek-smoked bacon? From the looks of it, he wasn't able to comprehend the potential influence this film could have on society. I'm no film critic, and I may not be able to tell you whether it was a good thing that Jack Black screamed his way through the film, but it was the Mr. Holland's Opus of Rock 'n' Roll, teaching us to appreciate the art and the escape of it.
White opens his review with, and I quote, "Rock is dead." Although, it is true that rock 'n' roll is currently in a slump, as is the entire music industry, this film plays an integral part in the comeback of rock 'n' roll and the preservation of the music industry as a whole. If rock truly was dead, your review might have some staying power, but it can never die. It is too powerful, too important and it's a wonderful tool of expression, and escape.
This film should have been a nice escape for the critic. I was truly impressed with the comedic efforts, and the performances, especially of the kids. Did White know that it was those kids who were actually playing, and not a band behind the curtain? All the personalities were true to character depending on the player's instrument of choice, (drummer was a slacker, keyboardist was super smart and shy) Every scene with Tomika, the shy back-up singer, gave me chills. Here's a little girl, shy and insecure in the world because of her weight. But the first time I heard her belt out "Chain of Fools," you knew she was going to come out of that shell and show us what she had by the last song. Every time she was on the screen, I got choked up. To watch this little girl gain such confidence through music, is what this film is all about, and that's what music does for me.
Rock 'n' roll is nearly 60 years old. I think it's time we start treating it with the respect that we offer classical and jazz. Many classify the Beatles along with John Coltrane, even Beethoven. Don't forget, the Beatles are a rock 'n' roll band. The idea of having an actual "School of Rock" program should now be welcomed just like any jazz program, or Juilliard summer program.
As I said before, the music industry is currently struggling to stay afloat. The downfall is affecting many people. I just lost my job this week at a mid-level recording studio in Manhattan because business is too slow. Many other studios are closing, as are independent record labels, and nightclubs. Growing up in the city, I've seen the nightlife industry slowly fold, and watched clubs close such as Chicago B.L.U.E.S., Wetlands, Coney Island High, Elbow Room, Max's Kansas City, etc. Who's next? CBGB, the venue that gave birth to punk rock? Or will it be the Bottom Line, where Springsteen got his start? Well, if they don't win their lawsuit against their landlords, the evil communist dictatorship that is NYU, the Bottom Line will fall.
I gotta say, though, folks, it's not just Armond's fault. It's really that you, the people, just don't care anymore, and that's sad. Many of you blame your current depression on the state of the world, the war in the Middle East, and of course, 9-11. (I remember when 9-11 was just my favorite Porsche.) I don't blame you for being afraid, the government and the American news media keep reminding us of how horrible that tragedy was so we stay afraid. If we stay afraid, we are under their power, and we buy more newspapers. But rock 'n' roll is trying to help us "Stick it to the Man" and say, "Hey! We're gonna live our lives and love it, whether you like it or not!" I mean, isn't that why rock 'n' roll was so important in the 60s? Well, here we go again! And current affairs are a perfect excuse to rock the fuck out. We cannot be afraid anymore of terrorist attacks.
Take an example from our friends over in Israel. Here is a country that faces a daily threat of terrorist attacks. True, they do not compare to the scale of 9-11 where we lost 3,000 lives, but people are still dying almost every day because of terrorism. And yet, Israel is one of the leading countries in nightlife culture. The nightclub industry, along with restaurants, bars, radio and music, is at an all-time high. Despite what the news media shows you, people in Israel actually live their lives happily, and to the fullest extent of freedom. Why, they face death in the eye every day. Myself, I have a father and two kid brothers living in the heart of Jerusalem, and their lives are wonderful and full of friends and family. I wish I was there with them. The Point is, America, especially New York, should take a lesson. Our terrorist attack was two years ago. With all due respect to those who lost their lives, get over it, and come out to play!
I thank the filmmakers, Jack Black and the kids for making School of Rock. I hope it opens some eyes. To all the Armond Whites of the world: Get over yourselves. To the hardest working men and women in show business, and of course, for those about to rock: I salute you.
Ariel Levine, Manhattan