Volume 18 • Issue 11 | August 5 - 11, 2005

Letters to the editor

Cultural arrogance

To The Editor:
Re “Art groups back Drawing Center at the W.T.C. site” (news article, July 22 –28):

Why shouldn’t the Drawing Center be moved from its present location on Wooster St. to a taxpayer-funded spot inside a towering museum that will dominate the last quarter of the World Trade Center site left for a memorial to the 9/11 attacks?

The Drawing Center has featured “art” such as “Homeland Security,” which, inexplicitly, is a drawing of a naked woman with her legs spread and four planes aimed at her. “Their shows are always so thoughtful,” said Cheryl Pelavin, owner of “Cheryl Pelavin Fine Arts” on Jay St. It’s loss she said, would be “heartbreaking.”

“The 9/11 victims are incredibly important,” Holly Block, executive director of Art in General said generously, “but I don’t think people should be dictating who gets that space.” She didn’t mention who should be deciding it. Perhaps her cats.

“Eighty percent of Downtown residents cited cultural institutions as the No. 1 priority.” I know that was on my brother’s (Capt. Billy Burke of Eng. 21) mind as he raced to the W.T.C. the morning of Sept.11. I’m sure he was thinking, “if I die here today, at least they’ll remember my sacrifice with a nice, thoughtful institution that features drawings of naked women with planes aimed at them.”

I realize that Downtown New York artists have a well-earned reputation for narcissism and shallowness, but this bunch have outdone themselves. Those incredibly important 9/11 victims did not die to provide an opportunity for a handful of self-absorbed artists to get a great big place for their silly art; nor did they die so Downtown residents could use the space they died in as some sort of vast urban improvement plan. It comes across as appalling that they list “culture” as their Number 1 priority for the site.  When the towers collapsed, burying hundreds of their brothers, the surviving firefighters, still covered in the dust from the towers, went to work saving residences of Battery Park from fires caused by the attacks.

And I don’t what to hear that we celebrate their lives by exercising the First Amendment at ground zero; that’s just a poor excuse and it has nothing to do with 9/11; the terrorists did not attack to take our freedom; they attacked to take our lives.

However, let’s forget what happened there. Let’s forget our responsibility to those who died and those who sacrificed. Let’s forget our responsibility to future generations. It’s inconvenient, it’s unpleasant, and that bare patch of land is such an opportunity for — culture. Of course, that brings up the question, of what use would the culture of such people be? 

“We’ve totally lost contact in what it is to be human,” Pelavin said. She got that right, anyway.
Michael Burke

Southbridge defense

To The Editor:
Re “Downtown needs density” (Letters, July 29 – Aug. 4):

Firstly, Larry Gould is incorrect in saying that “Southbridge turns inward”.  Most of the buildings that comprise Southbridge Towers face the streets they are built on. Having a little green space in front of each building or behind several of them, hardly means that those buildings are inward.  Even if they were inward – so what? 

Also, the Associated and Jubilee “supermarkets” that he speaks of are hardly more than large bodegas in any other neighborhood.  The east side of Lower Manhattan below Pike Slip has no supermarket.  Not one in the 33 years that I have lived Downtown.  How do our city planners expect thousands more people to reside in our neighborhood without any real services such as supermarkets?  I might be wrong, but I do not even see any garage space Downtown for people to keep cars so that they can leave town to shop for food.   

Karen Pearl

Libeskind Studio responds

To The Editor: 
We wanted to clarify elements of two recent articles that appeared in the Downtown Express.

The first regards David Stanke’s assertion that the original concept for the Freedom Tower was “unworkable” (Talking Point, July 15 –21, “Changes for the worse at the Freedom Tower”). The design process has obviously been complex. Balance must be struck among a number of different and often competing issues — with security paramount among them. The Freedom Tower’s redesign addresses these security concerns in conformity with the original master plan. The tower has had to reduce its footprint; indeed, it is now closer to the original design of February 2003. This allows for a 90-foot setback, one which is much safer by police standards. While the shape and details of buildings may change, the intent, spirit and direction of the master plan remain intact, providing a unifying framework that allows the public process to continue to move forward successfully.

The second relates to the incorrect assumptions about the Wedge of Light (UnderCover, July 15 –21, “Burying a Wedge Issue”). The grand public plaza of the Wedge of Light is defined by two moments in time on September 11th at 8:46 a.m. when the first plane struck and at 10:28 a.m. when the second tower fell. Contrary to your item, Santiago Calatrava’s brilliant design for the transportation center doesn’t diminish the experience, but rather heightens it. The new station is designed axially along the wedge so that at 10:28 a.m. on September 11th the station’s roof will open, allowing daylight to reach the platform and tracks below. The design enhances the concept and gives it even greater power.
Amanda Dahlquist
Studio Daniel Libeskind

Herbal medicine

To The Editor:
We at Serving Those Who Serve are very grateful for the interest shown by the Downtown Express and your reporter Lauren Dzura in S.T.W.S. (news article, July 15 – 21, “Group recommends herbs for 9/11 health problems”). While our program budget allows us to offer S.T.W.S.’s Holistic Herbal Cleanse free of charge to ground zero workers and volunteers, we are grateful this article publicizes our offer to give the program at our cost-price of $30 to Downtown workers and residents.

There are two things in the article I would like to clarify. We did not say the herbs relieve Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (implied in the first paragraph), or nervousness, fear and depression. We said the herbs get rid of metal toxins in the body which often have the same symptoms as the above. We urge everyone to seek professional help for depression and P.T.S.D.

Finally, I was paraphrased saying the herbs don’t work as quickly and as strongly as Western medicine which isn’t quite what I said. What I said is that the herbs work gradually and gently with no side effects, so they take longer to work than Western medicine.

Jose Mestre
Executive director, Serving Those Who Serve


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