Volume 19 Issue 36 | January 19 - 25, 2007

Letters to the editor

World is watching

To The Editor:
Re “Is calligraphy art? The N.Y.P.D. says no” (news article, Jan. 12 – 18):

Calligraphy takes years of study and practice — hangs in art galleries all over the world — and is the foundation of the lettering form in our history. It is becoming a lost art due to the computer age. Societies, associations and guilds all over the world will “say” the policeman doesn’t know anything about art if he thinks calligraphy isn’t art. Many calligraphers paint and letter an art piece in various inks, watercolors, acrylic, gouache, etc. My art mixes pointillism (drawing with ink dots — perfected by some of the most famous artists in our history) with lettering and it is definitely art.  

The article has opened a can of worms in the art communities around the world.   

Jackie Jones
Scotland Neck, N.C.

Chiming in

To The Editor:
As a long-time change ringer (since 1968) I read with interest your article in Vol. 19, issue 34, Jan. 5 - 11, 2007 (“A literal ring to the New Year”). Change ringers across the country and even in England have been following the news about Trinity’s new ring of change ringing bells with excitement.

Jefferson Siegel’s article is nicely written, and hopefully will attract people to sign up to learn change ringing.

However, Mr. Siegel needs to learn something about proper change ringing terminology. It is not appropriate to say “change bells” — rather the correct term is “change ringing bells” (or “change-ringing bells,” as used in the first paragraph). On the other hand, the proper term for those who practice change ringing is “change ringers,” not “change bell ringers.”

Change ringing is an old art, dating back to the 17th century, and it has its own language. As another example, change ringers do not “play” the bells, rather they “ring” bells, or “ring changes.”

Thanks for an interesting and informative article.

Elisabeth Trumpler
Bensalem, Penn.

Weiss let us down

To The Editor:
Re “Backup — Verrazano’s toll change gets worse with time” (editorial, Jan. 12 - 18):

While you recount the history of the establishment of the one-way Verrazano Bridge toll in 1986, you omitted mention of our then-five-term representative in Congress, Ted Weiss. The two people who steered it through Congress were Republicans: Congressmember Guy Molinari and Senator Al D’Amato. Although having a Democratic Congress in office, Weiss was impotent in his efforts to stop this bill. This despite the fact that his district was the only one which was negatively affected by the change. Weiss was so far left of even the most liberal Democrats that he was powerless to affect any legislation.

Harry Malakoff

London calling

To The Editor:
Re “Jews gone wild: Book explores pun’s kosher roots” (news article, Dec. 29 – Jan. 4, 2007):

I loved Bonnie Rosenstock’s article on Jews in music, since it mentioned a lot of my musical heroes. But, since I live in London, can I just put one thing in perspective about its geography? Islington is in the N1 area of London, is pretty exclusive and has been for the last 40 years or so. Tony Blair has or had a house there and it’s home to many actors and people in the media; it boasts cafes, bookstores, designer couples with designer babies and some great pubs.

The real East End of London is around the areas of Whitechapel, Bethnal Green and Hackney. Being a descendant of Sephardic Jews who settled in that area, I’m fascinated by the cultural changes that have taken place in those areas and how each immigrating group left its mark. The crime for which these parts were so notorious in the ’50s and ’60s — the Kray brothers and other gangs — is not just relegated to these places but is now part of the big city as a whole. Islington and crime were never synonymous, as were Hackney and crime, for example.

If in doubt, ask Lenny Kaye what he thinks. He’s a big fan of the soap “Eastenders.”

Barbara Lee-Jones

Clearing the smoke

To The Editor:
Re “Sex, smokes and civil liberties at the community board” (news article, Dec. 29 – Jan. 4):

The issue of smoking in movies may seem controversial to some; however, to Reality Check, a youth-led anti-tobacco industry movement within the State Tobacco Control Program, it is very simple, remove smoking and tobacco product placement out of G, PG and PG-13 movies and save youth from future disease and death.

According to the Smokefree Movies Action Network, it is estimated that smoking in movies accounts for 390,000 new teen smokers each year. These are the children of our community. According to a Philip Morris market research report, “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer.”

Reality Check believes that in order to combat this mindset, it is important to pass smoke-free movie resolutions in community boards, parent associations and other organizations. The passing of these resolutions will send a strong message to Hollywood and the tobacco industry that it is immoral to use movies as a vehicle to push cigarettes on youth.

Having said that, I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to Community Board 1 for hearing our cause and receiving the Reality Check youth as well as they did. Although the resolution was not passed, a great debate occurred. Apart from having a resolution passed, it is Reality Check’s goal to educate and inform the community on how the tobacco industry uses manipulative marketing practices to entice youth to start smoking. While some may see giving an R rating to movies with smoking as censorship, Reality Check sees this restriction as a way to protect youth from the ills of tobacco use.

Ayokari Hoyes
Manhattan county coordinator of Reality Check

Southbridge responses

To The Editor:
Southbridge privatizer Jesse Mandel asks why people opposing privatization “begrudge” shareholders access to their equity (Letters, Jan. 5 - 11 ).

Actually, we don’t begrudge anybody anything. Rather, we know that if privatization occurs many people now beguiled by the scent of money would find that after paying a 20% flip tax, probably a 6% brokers fee, closing fees, a 15% capital gains tax on all profits over $250,000 for a single person and a 15% capital gains tax on all profit over $500,000 for married couples – there wouldn’t be enough money left to acquire a home equivalent to the one that they now own here.

On the other hand, under privatization after a number of years when many apartments have already been sold, the flip tax generated each year would diminish greatly – while real estate taxes and operating expenses would continue increasing.

Under Mitchell-Lama we could continue to live here paying affordable maintenance for the rest of our lives.

In another letter in the same issue, Michael Wishner claims that if we stay in Mitchell-Lama “continuous major repairs will cause skyrocketing rent increases.”

The truth: Under Mitchell-Lama we will be eligible for enhanced J-51 and should we ever need them, Housing Preservation and Development 8a loans and long-term low-interest Housing Development Corporation loans that would be payable without large maintenance increases.

Mr. Wishner claims that “going private opens the avenue to raise funds to make necessary repairs for Southbridge.” Presumably he means that flip taxes would enable us to pay for these repairs. However, most of the flip taxes generated by apartment sales would be needed to make up for the greatly increased real estate taxes that we would owe under privatization. Little money would be left to pay for repairs and increased operating expenses.

Michael Altman

To The Editor:
Re Letter by Jesse Mandel (Jan. 5 – 11):

It must have come as a great surprise to Goldman Sachs as it did to me to find my Southbridge Towers middle-income home in a class with Goldman Sachs’s billions.

I can’t say it is a fitting comparison, it’s too ludicrous; and does Stuart Saft’s expertise include trying to find suitable homes for the beleaguered middle class? Accomplishing that would make Stuart Saft’s expertise worthwhile and appreciated.

Geraldine Lipschutz

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