SALT AND PEPPER
Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “Thoroughly
Modern Mammy” [Cakewalk, December 6–12]. As a struggled-to-become-middle-class,
middle-aged Jewish man whose partner is a struggled-to-become-middle-class,
middle-aged black woman, I too am shocked — and somewhat mortified — by the
acceptance of mammys and a nostalgia for Amos & Andy, both of which
make me cringe. My partner, on the other hand, looks back at Amos & Andy
on television and radio with fondness. (I guess we’re no longer middle-aged;
Why do so many black Americans embrace such insults? Perhaps it’s the absence
of other antique representations about which to be nostalgic. People have told
me about their experience of the early days of television. There would be a
hue and cry when someone in the living room called out, “Come in here! Colored
man on the television!” It didn’t matter what or why. His mere presence made
him worth watching.
I hope Erin Aubry Kaplan finds the answer. And I hope she shares it.
New York City
Erin Aubry Kaplan’s piece on black memorabilia is one of the bravest I have
seen recently. It points out the pain of living in a society where everything
is for sale and therefore, seemingly, justified by its value. That then is used
for such excuses as “If I don’t peddle it, someone else will” or “Everyone’s
doing it, so it must be okay,” etc. But worth differs from value, when one bothers
to think. Thanks, Kaplan, for bothering to think.
LET THEM EAT CROW
I just wanted to drop you a line regarding Nikki
Finke’s hilarious op-ed “The
Bully Pulpit” [Deadline Hollywood, December 20–26]. The idea that the Republican
right is “bullying” actors from voicing their views represents exactly the sort
of sanctimonious self-martyrdom upon which the right thrives. Far from wishing
to censure Hollywood, the right embraces every occasion to connect the Democratic
party with these outmoded, deluded voices. Finke admits as much with her relation
of the succession of Democrat losses, yet refuses to acknowledge the essential
message: It’s the people who vote, and they’re voting no.
Personally, I vote Democrat whenever my conscience allows it, but I’m certainly
not voting for the hypocrisy of the Hollywood left. Siding with these “artists”
in any discussion about class warfare is tantamount to championing the merits
of a “cake-distribution program” penned by Marie Antoinette. And if the people’s
revolution ever does come, don’t be surprised if Tim Robbins is the first to
be stood up against the wall.
In your end-of-the-year list issue [December
27–January 2], Marc Cooper wrote that “momo” was the lowest nickname possible,
created by Lefty Rosenthal. This was obviously a dig at Sam “Momo Salvatore”
Giancana, the head of the Chicago mob, which controlled Vegas. You will note
that this quote didn’t come out until long after Giancana got whacked in the
basement of his home. Lefty never would have said this when Giancana was alive,
as he would have been whacked. But then, Giancana once was caught saying this
on a FBI wiretap: “We’ve been whacking a lot of the wrong people lately.”
THE ORGANDY AND THE ECSTASY
A note of congratulations and thanks for Ron Athey’s
wonderful fashion article [“Living
Dreams of Visions,” December 13–19]. The photos were great, too. What’s
remarkable about someone like Wong was that his “art” clothing was in fact extremely
wearable, and on almost any kind of body. He worked with scissors the way Michelangelo
worked with chisel and stone.
—Ezrha Jean Black
Re: Deborah Klugman’s review of Teahouse of
the August Moon [New Theater reviews, December 20–26]. She failed to answer
the one question that all professional critics must ask: “Did I like the show?”
Instead, Klugman focused exclusively on racial issues of stereotyping, clichés,
anachronisms and ethnocentricity. Reviewing any show through a racial lens —
especially a show like Teahouse, which makes no issue of such matters
— is unfair. ä A theater critic has a responsibility to present their professional
opinion based on what is on the stage, not based on ill-fitting measures of
For his list of the 10 best films of 2002, John
Powers writes: “After decades of movies about older men bonking much younger
women, the genders finally flipped roles. Diane Lane in Unfaithful, Jennifer
Aniston in The Good Girl, Catherine Keener in Lovely & Amazing,
Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, Maribel Verdú in Y Tu Mamá
También — they all got it on with young fellas.” Point taken, but note that
Diane Lane is one year older than Olivier Martinez, and nothing in the film
suggests any larger age discrepancy between them. Does being married just make
a woman seem older?
IN DEFENSE OF THE BALDING?
I am writing in response to the article “The
Cute Ones” by Ernest Hardy [December 13–19]. Hardy made huge assumptions
about the lives of these two adults. He has no idea what type of childhood they
lived. Does he hold the same opinion regarding black opera singers? Are they
“posers” because they’re doing what most people would view as “white” music”?
People are who they are; the way they talk or act is a part of them, not a
fashion trend. Unlike the word wigger, which not only is disgusting and
racist but is also very immature. But then again, maybe Mr. Hardy is showing
us his true colors.
“Santa Is a Wildman!” [December 20–26] was such an intelligent cryptozoological-anthropological
essay that I shared it with about 3,000 people around the globe. My Swedish
and Norwegian friends and colleagues said it was the best treatment of the subject
they had ever read. Well done!
Cryptozoologist and author
AT THE ECF
Thanks for Doug Harvey’s story on the ECF Art
in L.A.,” December 6–12]. Loved the artwork, and though I missed the sale
this time, I’ll be calling about future sales. So much talent! Thanks for sharing
it with us.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
I don’t know if I did this already or not, but
I only have this to say about your picking up “Tom Tomorrow”: Thank you. Thank
you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank
you, thank you. And thank you.
Thanks very much.
P.S. Thank you.
The photo accompanying the review of James
Baldwin: Down From the Mountaintop (January 3–9) should have been credited
to Vaughn Hart.