And by the way, what the fuck does it mean?
Well, sir, it means nothing. It's like bad Andy Warhol, squared. Welcome to the bottom of the indie film barrel: a filmmaker willing to let us suffer for his misrepresentation of art. Do you actually think you're the first film movement to try to discount "interpretation"? That's inherently impossible?you influence the outcome (the meaning) by the very setup of the situation, and by the perception you impose upon it by the use of your camera, your rhythm and by what you choose to leave in or out, the same as every filmmaker. If you were to take Dogma to its logical extreme, you'd shoot 160 hours of film and then you'd release 160 hours of film. It's bullshit.
You pretend to be a revolutionary, but you're just another self-serving egomaniac. You can't even kiss Allen Funt's dead rotting ass, much less John Cassavetes', though I'm sure you'd love to film yourself doing it.
Harold Courtney, Manhattan
We All Puffy I wish to thank you for the Robin Quivers interview (9/29). It was a respite from the usual liberal puff pieces and MUGGER's diary of tax deductions. I hope to see more out-of-the-ordinary pieces like this in the future.
Otto Avila, Manhattan
Hey Production: Do Not Cut MUGGER: You're brilliant. If I were an editorial columnist I'd have to kill you, because you take the words right out of my mouth. How do I subscribe to your non-virtual publication, by the way?
Frank Turk, Baden, PA
Pope Nope Taki seems awfully nostalgic these days. First it was his memories of British soldiers cheerfully giving their lives to protect his father's fleet of Rolls Royces from the Greek communist rebels ("Top Drawer," 7/21). And now it's Nazis bouncing baby Taki on their knee (9/29).
And to what end are we treated to these remembrances? Why, Taki's justifying his support for Pope Pius XII and Pat Buchanan! Hasn't it occurred to him that those with fond memories of Nazi occupation might already be well-disposed toward Pat? But Buchanan aside, it's most depressing to see Taki, normally a moderately independent thinker, embrace the Catholic right's fiction that the Pope was held in high regard until the appearance of Hochhuth's play in 1963. What nonsense. Controversy about Pius XII goes back at least to 1942, when even some of his staff became concerned by his indifference, and when the Bishop of Munich's pleas were being ignored.
Pius XII was not a Nazi, nor did he actively aid Hitler's cause. What he did do was decide that it was best to be on the good side of the victor, and he anticipated a German victory. He was not a monster, but neither was he a hero, and Taki should know better than to join with those who are now seeking to beatify him.
Seth Armus, Astoria
DC Walk MUGGER: Re: your 9/29 column. You know as well as I that the Secret Service makes the call on what kind of transport the President and Vice President use. You also know as well as I that when they are together, as they were in the case you cite, the security is going to be extraordinary. I am certain you also would make the claim that "we" pay for the President's political trips, when you know as well as I that the Democratic Party pays most, if not all, of the expense.
Same thing went for every Republican president. Did you ever complain about security precautions taken for Republican presidents? Sort of shreds your credibility, doesn't it? Why believe anything else you say, no matter how attractive it might be? Do you have any editors checking facts at your paper?
Steve Parker, Los Angeles
Someone Say Balls? Interesting to hear that Ted Rall, apparently not content with making a petty fool of himself by trying to litigate Danny Hellman to death, has threatened further legal action after being described on a website as "a jealous, self-aggrandizing careerist." Given that this is more or less the same way Rall described Art Spiegelman in the Village Voice article that started this whole brouhaha, Rall's clearly scaling new heights in chutzpah here.
Paul Lukas, Brooklyn
Soup Bones Much as I sympathize with Robert Waters and Dan Quayle in their search to find publishers, R.S. McCain was way off base last week ("In Rotation," 9/29). "Quite frankly, they don't like Quayle's ideas, they don't want those ideas to reach readers and, as this executive's comment suggests, they certainly don't want to do anything themselves to help Quayle's ideas reach readers." Yes, and? You talk as if there's something wrong with that.
Of course a publisher can publish anything he likes. That's because he pays the bills. If Russ Smith chose not to run your article, he wouldn't. That's not censorship, dummy. Censorship is when you're prevented from publishing what you want. There is no coercion going on here.
Your complaint about your local Borders bookstore being "hostile to traditional religious belief" is even sillier. Maybe the books they're giving better placement are there because they're new and therefore unfamiliar and the store wants to draw attention to them. Maybe the others don't need that push because they represent a point of view that's been beaten to death for 2000 years, that is available everywhere and that isn't particularly hot here anyway. This is New York, you know. Most customers in a bookstore are there looking for new ideas, not to replace their grandmother's worn-out copy of Emily Post.
Same with Rudy Giuliani withholding public funds from the Brooklyn Museum over that stupid exhibit. The museum has no right to the money; it's at the discretion of the Mayor. So what's the problem? If they really want to go to the wall on this they can surely find some liberals who are impressed by this totally derivative crap to foot the bill?if they have anything left over after taking care of Bill and Hillary, of course. As it is, thanks to Rudy every moron in Manhattan is fighting to see it. They should give him a kickback. They have no grounds for complaint.
Joe Rodrigue, New Haven
Comparing Sizes In response to Alan Cabal's review (9/29) of the book Hitler's Niece, by Ron Hansen: Yes, your review of this book was interesting, insightful and intelligent in itself. I'm glad I made it up to there... Because your opening was... Well, let's see:
Where do you come off seeing Hitler as a bully and hero combo? Well, lucky us, you give us an explanation: "He pulled himself up out...of the most desperate poverty, grabbed the world by its ears and shook it until it bled." Is this a hero? If so, then how come you see people of his caliber (Mussolini and the Italian fascists) as "almost too whimsical to be taken seriously"? Do you know what they did to Italy?
If I thought this was the frog to swallow, I just wasn't noticing the whale coming down upon me. For you continue: "Trustfund circuit Hindu mystic Savitri Devi identified him as Kalki, the final avatar of Vishnu, come to cleanse the world and prepare it for the dance of Shiva..." I wonder if Ayn Rand wasn't right after all in claiming that many mystics are seeking death, and not "eternal life." Cleanse the world of whom? Babies? Children? Or maybe intellectuals like yourself and me, Mister Cabal?
But here comes the Big One: "He transformed himself from a wretched, starving, louse-ridden tramp into a wrathful, vengeful God, not very different from that Old Testament deity he despised."
Aha. Mr. Cabal, please put down your "blackberry tea," finish swallowing your "figs and cheese" and let's open this up: By definition, the "Old Testament Deity" (called God by those who believe in Him/Her) is the center and source of one-ness, of all-ness, of all Being. By definition, God creates and sustains all that is. Deity? In sane Hinduism, deities are explained as aspects, as manifestations, of this one wondrous creator.
Yes, God exercises justice/wrath. Yet let's remember, all of us who have a beef with God: By definition, if it weren't for Him/Her, then no existence at all, and no life for us either. Did I miss Adolf Hitler accomplishing anything comparable to all this? Is this really an intelligent comparison? And should I add that one cannot passionately deny God, put down God or be pissed at God unless one believes that God exists?
Do you really think that by taking Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and other monsters unseriously, by ridiculing them, by analyzing and "deconstructing" them, they will disappear? Do you fear, and hence avoid considering, the possibility of real evil. Do you hide behind the claim that all values are subjective? Is your paycheck subjective, my friend? And why do you think heroes are a bore? People doubt God's existence because he lets evil happen in the world, not realizing that maybe dealing with our own personal evil is our part in creation. Maybe that means being a hero. Yes, I agree with you that Hitler and his like have humane sides. They can love their families, make jokes. They are an exaggerated cartoon of evil that nabbed power. But they are also a mirror for us. You don't have to kill a person to murder him. Don't we do it every day?
If you wonder why Hitler is on a different level of evil from Stalin, who supposedly killed more millions, then this is my thought for you: Stalin, Mao, Mussolini?all based their regimes on their own personalities. Therefore, once they died, their regimes started dying with them. It is quite possible that there will not be any more deaths caused by them.
I wish we could say the same about Hitler. He based his rule on a system, a scientific blueprint for rising on the waves of frustration, fear, hurt, injured pride and the yearning to hide from oneself. His system is studied today by all candidate-monsters around the world. Studied and implemented. He left a theory and an example. So all cowards can become bullies and gang up to murder the hero inside themselves.
You say: "Reading this book, I was transported, I was there."
No, Mr. Cabal. You may have felt or sensed some of it, but you and I were not there. Lucky us.
Let's hope we can take the past seriously, so that people will not write these books again, and about us.
Hillel Elkayam, East Rutherford, NJ
How About Longhorn Dung, Tex? MUGGER: Got a giggle from your 9/29 column, but had to comment on a couple of things.
Why do you have such a boner for Rudy Giuliani? Because you find him obnoxious? It's been a few years since I've been to New York City, but by all accounts he's improved the quality of life there by orders of magnitude compared to any of his predecessors in the past 30 years or so. And remember, one man's demagogue is another man's great orator. Hell, your job is to be obnoxious, too.
Speaking of boners, you still have one for John Podhoretz, I see. Hate to burst your bubble, but your Pod was dead-on with his comments regarding that "disgusting pile of crap," assuming you quoted him accurately. You are both quite right in that government, whether local, state or federal, has no business subsidizing "art," whatever kind it may be. However, in the case of the picture of the Virgin Mary with elephant shit on it that has caused such a furor, he is exactly right (although I agree his verbiage was a bit extreme), and you have your head up your ass. Objects like this, or the jar of urine with a cross in it (if I recall correctly, the maker's name was Andres Serrano), are not art. I mean, how much "talent" does it take to dream up something like this?
While the term "pornography" may be a bit much, what this sort of artifact represents is nothing more than a very public method for pissing off Christians and/or Catholics. The Pod's point was quite clear to me, although you seem to have missed it. However, I don't think you have to worry about New York going up in flames over this, like you would if the picture getting the treatment was of, say, Martin Luther King or Muhammad (assuming anyone knew what he looked like). And I'll bet the Beatles, Nirvana, Warhol and Mamet would be offended that they or their work should even mentioned in the same article as something so incredibly lowbrow as the artifact in question. Bottom line: You dropped the ball on this one. If you're going to skewer the guy, do it for a valid reason, not because you just don't like the guy, which is how it appears.
Pat Myers, Houston
Cross Him Off MUGGER: I was just about to write and ask you why you wasted so much of your 9/22 column on Pat Buchanan, but I decided to read the mail before I wrote, because you'll find some of the best and worst writing that NYPress has to offer in the mail section. (I'm sure I fall into the latter category.) I was amused to read Duane Cooley (also a Midwesterner) assert there ("The Mail," 9/29) that Buchanan has many more people agreeing with him than we think. I simply do not believe this is true.
Pat embodies the angry white male image that the Republican Party should shed in almost any way it can. For all his years on tv and his 3000-plus Crossfire shows, have you ever heard any of your friends say, "Hey, did you hear what Pat B. said last night?" I doubt it. I know that I have never, in 50-plus years, heard anybody I know personally quote Buchanan. He even has to make some rather ridiculous claims about Hitler's intentions in his book in order to get press. If Pat really wants to do something good for the Republican Party, he should follow in Dan Quayle's "I'm out of the race" footsteps. John McCain drives me nuts with his condescending manner of speaking, but I agree with him completely on this: The Republican Party does not need Pat Buchanan.
Steve Hume, Canton, MI
Re-Buched MUGGER: I believe George W. Bush has utter contempt for the Constitution, as do McCain, Gore, Bradley and the rest of the self-serving, ego-driven avatars of the political establishment. All I desire is a lawful government, and I believe Buchanan is the only candidate who has a clue what that means.
But I have to admit: The latest establishment propaganda against Buchanan is a masterful example of "the dehumanization of dissent," as Buchanan called such deception in his Feb. 8, 1999 column. I am far more suspicious of those who have the power to deceive the whole world than those, like Buchanan, who threaten that power.
Regarding protectionism: I seem to recall that at the turn of the century the liberals were the so-called "free-traders" and the conservatives were the "protectionists" (e.g., the conservatives supported tariffs similar to those Jefferson supported, and were protective of U.S. industry). Therefore, neoconservatives come from the same mold as the liberals. Correct me if I am wrong. Anyway, Buchanan's position is this:
"Use the trade laws of this country and the power of my office to protect the jobs of our workers, the standard of living of America's families, the independence of our country and the sovereignty of the United States. Impose tariffs on cheap foreign imports?the same taxes imposed on goods made in the U.S.A.?and use the revenue to slash income taxes for all Americans. Prioritize the American economy before the global economy by withdrawing from international organizations that imperil our financial stability and economic independence. Open foreign markets to American products by requiring reciprocal trade policies. Protect vital American industries by passing tough anti-dumping legislation."
I haven't a clue why any honest, patriotic citizen would oppose that position. Fill me in.
Regarding affirmative action: I believe your understanding of Pat's statements regarding quotas in the Ivy League is weak. I read the article, and it sounded very much like a satire to me. Buchanan's stance is this, in his own words:
"You do not alter the evil character of racial quotas by changing the color of the beneficiary. No government in the Land of the Free has the moral or constitutional authority to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin, and government-sponsored prejudice?no matter how benign its original purpose?belongs in the same graveyard as the late Jim Crow. A true respect for civil rights requires that we put an end to all racial, ethnic and gender entitlements. No quotas, no set asides, no forced busing, no mandatory hiring, no affirmative action. As President, I will eliminate all forms of discrimination in federal agencies, including reverse discrimination. And I will push for passage of a colorblind civil rights bill that ensures equal justice for all and special privilege for none."
Sounds pretty fair to me. Please explain why you oppose his stance.
Now, regarding immigration: Buchanan states:
"This year, 1.3 million more immigrants will pour into the U.S.-400,000 of them illegal aliens. If America is to survive as 'one nation,' we must take an immigration 'time out' to mend the melting pot."
"Halt illegal immigration by securing our porous borders and strengthening internal enforcement. Stand with the three-in-four Americans who agree that mass legal immigration must be reduced by restoring the 20th century average of 250,000 to 300,000 immigrants per year. Support a national campaign of assimilation to teach newly adopted Americans our culture, history, traditions and English language. To do otherwise cripples American cohesion and keeps the newest members of the American family from full participation."
Sounds pretty logical to me. Again, I would most certainly be interested in why you oppose him on that issue.
Dan Ellenburg, Collegeville, PA
Duck Pool MUGGER: Re: "The Donald" (9/29) The only Donald I know of who needs no further identification is Mr. Duck.
Israel Keller, Manhattan
Polls in the Vault MUGGER: You shouldn't spend too much time "evaluating" the inherent political bias in the media. We know it and of its evil propaganda. You'll just give yourself an ulcer.
Take solace in the fact that Clinton's polls are dropping faster than his pants.
Michael Burkhart, San Dimas, CA
Whitey Brode Sings the Blues Re: Your giving me the "Best Cellblock Girlfriend" award, 9/22.
1) Have I mentioned already what a bunch of shitheads you are?
2) I resent the term "grunge whitey" as applied to me. "Grunge" connotes flannel-wearing slackers or a certain slovenliness, and even when I was homeless, living in a bush by NYU, I was quite stylish. And I was the only bike messenger in the early 1990s who wore a jacket and tie every day. My attire is indeed cheap, yet it is still quite sharp?I call it Casual Formal: an intelligent balance, fitting for a Libra like myself. And while I may go two days without showering, it is due to my timeless and cultured French heritage?and nothing else.
The term "whitey" is equally inappropriate when used to describe me. I have been a genuine minority starting at birth and marginalized ever since. Besides this, I have very little in common with privileged and uptight quiche-loving whitefolk like you pricks at NYPress.
3) "Bohemian hijinks"? Do you guys have a chart on the office wall with baggage-laden descriptions you choose by throwing a dart? FYI: most card-carrying bohemians dislike me as much as you anuses do, and as far as what most Manhattanites care about, let me remind you that the jurors from my most recent trial all loved my Rudy cartoons and posters, so there goes your whole argument again. (And when I was on the Jay Diamond and Alan Colmes radio shows, 90 percent of the callers said they support what I'm doing and appreciate my "hijinks.")
Furthermore, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. were both troublemakers pissing off the government. But you don't call their hunger strikes or civil disobedience "bohemian hijinks." Would you use that tag to label Rosa Parks' refusal to sit in the back of the bus? Of course not. In other words, fuck you.
4) Robert Lederman is not even a bit more articulate than I , but he may be more effective, if only for the fact that he can go after the Mayor full time and I cannot. And Robert is able to be arrested more frequently than I because he is always released after only a few hours in jail, whereas I always spend a couple days to a couple weeks in jail each time I'm locked up. Of course, if Robert is truly more effective than I, then why does he have to commit civil disobedience to be thrown in jail? I don't! He goes to the cops, but the cops come to me! Rudy has spent a lot more money to railroad me than he's spent on Lederman. I got my own special prosecutor for chrissakes! Four 90K detectives don't keep coming to Robert's house, or getting a bogus search warrant to trash his home.
You also got it wrong when you wrote that Robert stole my "thunder." He and I are both fighting the Mayor, but on very different fronts. He hits Rudy in the streets and on topics like artists' rights and such, while I hit the Mayor on his sacred radio show and on more meat-and-potatoes issues. I aim for the conservative housewife in Queens who doesn't give a fuck about food vendors, sex clubs or the First Amendment. But she sure is going to be pissed when she realizes that the 380 million bucks City Hall paid last year to settle lawsuits because of police brutality, et al., could've bought a lot of computers for school kids or reduced class sizes.
This is why Rudy hates me more than he hates Lederman. I turn right-wingers and middle-of-the-road people against our lazy and self-serving fraud of a mayor. From potholes to overflowing garbage cans to scratchiti to bike theft, and a thousand other problems this Mayor has been incompetent on, I expose Rudy as the biggest charlatan in American history. (Heck, I'm living proof that even his tough-on-crime pose is totally fake. Remember, the original reason he sicced New York's Dumbest on me was because I begged him to help me after I'd been the victim of so much crime! He sent cops after ME instead of investigating the crimes I complained about!)
Additionally, Robert makes his living from this stuff, but I don't. I can't even capitalize on my notoriety to get laid! (Integrity SUCKS!)
In other words, fuck you.
5) You guys don't listen to my voicemails anymore? That's funny. At last year's "Best of" party John Strausbaugh referred to me as "Mr. Delete Button." When did you ever listen to anything I've ever said?
6) I didn't flip off any judge, you fucking idiots! Get it straight!
7) You think it's easy getting laid in jail? I bet if any of you went to Rikers for 17 days you still wouldn't be able to get a date on Saturday night.
8) My iffy court-appointed attorney did in fact file an Article 78 and a state judge let me out 13 days early. Get it straight, assholes!
9) I phoned you assholes up MORE when I was in Rikers! Get it straight!
10) You've "sympathetically publicized" my "struggle against Giuliani's goons for years"? What bullshit! Where were you when they did the first search warrant in history to "find copies of an order of protection"? TOO BUSY WRITING ABOUT QUICHE. Where were you when they arrested me for declaring my candidacy for mayor and locked me up for 28 hours? TOO BUSY WRITING ABOUT QUICHE. Where were you when they had four detectives hunting me for two weeks because they wanted to arrest me for the "crime" of two lousy phone calls? TOO BUSY WRITING ABOUT QUICHE! (May I suggest a name change to Quiche Weekly?) And when you did write about my struggles, you printed horrible pictures of me, mocked me and usually sided with the government!
I'm not an ingrate?I'm an honest person who doesn't like bullshit.
Even when you dolts praise me you can't get it right. When you gave me $300 for my second-place essay in 1993 it was the worst piece of writing I ever sent you! When you awarded me "Best Posters" in '92 you got that wrong too: There were a number of far superior poster campaigns that year, like the Absolutely Bald series. And in 1995, you had the gall to award me "Best Letters" while you were censoring almost every one of them! Do you really think you clods deserve my respect or thanks?
Geeesh! What a bunch of assholes!
Now, what was that MUGGER piece (9/29) about Rudy being right regarding the Brooklyn Museum brouhaha?
a) If you think Rudy's anger at the museum is because of public money being spent, then you've certainly been living under a rock. The tax money is just a convenient leverage for our censorship-loving cretin in City Hall.
Robert Lederman holds up privately funded art?Robert's posters?that ridicule Rudy, and Rudy responds by spending tax dollars to lock him up! (And Rudy lost in court!) The Mayor was upset by Spencer Tunick's privately funded art (nudes on empty city streets) and spent tax dollars to lock him up! (And Rudy lost in court!) New York created privately funded bus ads that mocked Rudy, and Rudy spent tax dollars to stop them! (And lost in court!) I declare my candidacy for mayor and have a Rudy piñata?privately funded?which the cops stop us from beating and Rudy spends tax dollars to throw me in jail! (And he lost in court!) Do you see a pattern yet?
How can you trust this Mayor when he says this is about saving the taxpayers money? MUGGy, you're the second dumbest person in this city. (Behind only the Mayor.) Do you think Rudy's crackdown on dancing in bars has anything to do with dancing in bars? It was just a device used to harass businesses the Mayor and his goons dislike. Try reading between the lines, genius.
b) This proves that I was right all along and MUGGy was full of shit all along when he would halfheartedly denounce Giuliani. MUGGy loves Rudy. Period.
c) Why does MUGGy still avoid answering this question: If Rudy has anything to do with improvements in New York City (and 95 percent of the evidence says he does not) then shouldn't MUGGy give Clinton the credit for America's "prosperity"? And why is MUGGy afraid to debate this topic? FYI: Politicians almost never deserve credit for social or economic changes. Check their itineraries. Most of what they do is symbolic crap like marching in parades, cutting ribbons and appearing in photo ops. An example: Graffiti tagging is not as huge as it was in the 1980s. And neither is breakdancing! Is this because of Rudy? Or because of social changes? Police stations and court buildings are still covered in graffiti. So how can you pretend that the Long Arm of the Law hinders crime? Every time I go to court I photograph traffic gridlock in front of the building, and people littering in front of the building! If people will commit violations in front of the courthouse, then that's proof that law enforcement is a joke. Wake up! We live in a country where half the prison inmates are in for drugs. And yet they can get all the drugs they want while in prison!
All cops are Keystones, and our courts are a retarded mess. (O.J. goes free, yet 75 people on death row later proved to be innocent?) Stop with your ignorant reverence for the government!
d) I have already laid to rest the comparisons between Herr Giuliani and Mussolini. RUDY NEVER GOT THE TRAINS TO RUN ON TIME AND NEVER WILL! Remember how the FDR Dr. was closed due to flooding after a short rain? So why was it closed a month later when it flooded again? Is that your definition of draconian success?
e) You failed to make the analogy that Rudy denouncing this "sick" art smells remarkably like Hitler denouncing modern art like Picasso as "degenerate."
f) Why are you afraid to debate the topic of government funding for art? Half the great symphonies you'll ever hear were funded with tax dollars and would not exist otherwise, assholes. Don't chicken out of a debate!
g) Rudy has never cared about the taxpayers and never will. From his record-breaking corporate welfare (he cuts the arts but gives the New York Stock Exchange a $600 million tax break?) to the massive pay raises for himself and his staff, it's undeniable that Rudy is a living caricature of a sleazy, out-of-touch politician. But apparently his bad acting has gullible people like you fooled.
You're probably upset that Keanu Reeves hasn't won an Oscar yet.
Why not debate me, hmm?
Christopher Brodeur, Manhattan