Volume 18 • Issue 18 | September 23 - 29, 2005

Letters to the editor

Don’t silence families

To The Editor:
Re ”9/11 art flap on 9/11” (news article, Sept. 16 – 22):

Tom Healy of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council says, regarding their exhibition, “A Knock at the Door,” that “arts don’t flourish with an official story. The arts flourish with debate.” Debate? What debate? Every piece, every show hits the same targets with the same message — which amounts to an official story, only this one is dictated by them. What is the likelihood of anyone running a show or displaying anything that does not fit in with their “official story” of 9/11? Doesn’t that have a “chilling” effect on the arts?  

And apparently the defense of freedom of expression used to defend the placement of just about anything at ground zero as long as it does not actually have anything to do with the attacks, does not extend to the infamous “9/11 families.” Your writer Ronda Kaysen notes, “the families that until recently restricted their criticism of art content to the 16 acres … have now extended their discussion to envelop a much wider swath of Downtown.” No family member that I know called for censoring of Mr. Healy’s sophomoric show, but evidently we are not even allowed to criticize. or “discuss.” So much for debate, unless you define debate as allowing only the comments you choose, from the sources you choose. So, Healy is correct: arts do flourish with debate, which certainly explains the quality of his show.

Why can’t these artists, supposedly sensitive to the human condition, take one weekend a year to forget their self absorption, put aside their potshots at Bush and find inspiration in the events of 9/11? In fact, I would suggest that if the events of 8:14 a.m., when the first plane was hijacked, to 10:29 a.m., when Tower 1 collapsed, don’t move you as artist, (and I have seen comparatively little indication that it does) it’s time to find another line of work. 

The climate for genuine works of art is difficult today; shows like this only add to that. If an artist were to present a real work of art, seeking to express the humanity of 9/11, free of cheap political commentary, it might actually be accepted for ground zero, or at least generate genuine debate. I, for one, would like to see Eric Fischel’s “Tumbling Woman” somewhere there.
Michael Burke
Michael Burke is the brother of Capt. William F. Burke, Jr., Eng. 21, who was killed at the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001.

Uneasy about riders

To The Editor:
I would love for someone to explain to me how “honoring the dead” on 9/11 has come to include thundering unmufflered motorcycles roaring through our neighborhood at dawn setting off car alarms. It is time for our local elected officials to insist on active enforcement of city noise ordinances against these thoughtless riders in the days leading up to and including our solemn day of remembrance. Manhattan, home of the highest population density in the country, is no place for such public displays of ego by (what I have noted to be mostly) out-of-towners. Some well-publicized handheld noise level meters at bridges and tunnels might limit the tide, but if these offenders make it to ground zero they should be stopped from so rudely disturbing our peace.

Nathaniel Hupert

Original letter

To The Editor:
Re Andrei Codrescu’s recent submission entitled “After the deluge: A letter to America” (Penny Post, Sept. 9 – 15):

One reader’s initial, raw, off-the-cuff, first impression: Without a doubt one of the most interesting, original, thought-provoking letters I have ever read in my entire life.

Aydin Torun

Guilty of guilt

To The Editor:
I was deeply moved by Andrei Codrescu’s poem and “New Orleans confessions” in the Penny Post (Sept. 16 - 22), but dismayed by his view of guilt as the dominating response when for many people it has been a call to respond, despite the abject failure of officialdom, and their hindering the efforts of independent helpers.

Our city, particularly Lower Manhattan, is vulnerable to hurricanes. And according to Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, “The plan the city has is replete with failures, gaps, and unanswered questions . . .” City officials denied Brodsky’s claims, saying New York is prepared – which we are not.

To the extent that the public is inured to official mendacity we become apathetic, rather than active supporters of programs and projects that are for the welfare of the commonweal. And not public officials or corporations.

We cannot afford the luxury of guilt feelings or tolerance of official duplicity, masked as religious piety. The damage to the environment and the trillion-dollar deficit incurred by George W. will be paid for by the next generation. It is incumbent on us to refuse the lies of public officials, and act in the interest of our children, and grandchildren.

Shelly Estrin

Buying Independence

To The Editor:
Re “Owner must offer better deal, I.P.N. leaders say” (news article, Aug. 5 –11): 

The city of New York should purchase Independence Plaza under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment.

The knife should cut both ways. Our neighbors in Brooklyn know full well what the city and state are capable of when the “need” arises to make way for a sports arena. Even the U.S. Supreme Court, in the matter of the city of New London, acknowledged that the theory of eminent domain has its foundational basis in being rationally related to a conceivable public purpose. The public purpose here as it relates to Independence Plaza North is that the residents of I.P.N. have a proven track record of civic accomplishment and should the apparent master plan of the new owner succeed in displacing many of the residents, irreparable harm to our community would result.

Lest we forget, before Tribeca had Robert DeNiro, it had the pioneers of I.P.N. These brave folks endured years of substandard city services all the while paving the way for what Tribeca would become. Every individual, including myself, who has watched their property values skyrocket owes a debt of gratitude to those who staked claim in Tribeca long before it was a fashionable place to be. Our community board and local and state elected officials should immediately put forth an agenda to reclaim I.P.N. Tribeca’s future depends on it.
Pete Gleason

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