Mr. Repsher begins his very long piece on Bruce by informing us that he, Repsher, attended a recent Springsteen concert in New Jersey, but makes no reference to any aspect of the significance of these shows, i.e., the reunion of the E Street Band, the record-breaking run they enjoyed, the overwhelmingly positive reactions of the sold-out crowds. Instead, he dismisses Springsteens major career themes of darkness and dreams and desperation as–and hows this for a critically sophisticated analysis?–"all this malarkey." This bit of brilliance is followed by a claptrap session of navel self-contemplation best summed up by the single word "DUH!" Mr. Repsher: "I wondered how I fit into all this" (sic; the grammatical lapse here an ironic subjugation of the language to form-fit concept into physical action–the very thing he accuses Bruce of trying to do, but thats another article–a real article. Very briefly, he means into all of this, and then the question is, all of what? The malarkey? The Continental Arena? Rock? His jeans?).
Like so many amateur music critics–and God help us, theres no shortage there–Mr. Repsher glides oh so easily into his favorite (and only) subject, himself, and gives us one of the dullest glimpses into a life utterly without interest to anyone except, apparently, himself and your editors. Here is a load of such mediocre horseshit fustian about his early days trying to make money in the 1980s, the same time he was fetishistically attaching his own lack of personality onto the super soul of the Boss. But, ho, he then does an instant 180 and dismisses Born in the U.S.A., one of the most compelling albums of its time, a document that burst forth during the height of the disco domination of rock, a statement about the long-simmering neuroses of the Vietnam War generation, that finally put Bruce Springsteen, after a 13-year struggle to make a living as an uncompromised rocker (no commercial endorsements, no commercial tour support), at the top of mainstream charts. Mr. Repsher first admits to "being nuts" about the album, and the Boss, until he confronts some fellow construction workers, a couple of obviously low-witted, gay-bashing, highly insecure, angry and jealous ignoramuses who respond to Mr. Repshers gushing lunchtime praise of Bruce by telling him that Springsteen "...aint nothing but a million-dollar faggot." This ignorant, hate-filled, ugly and troublesome statement is followed by a bit of simplistically expressed rage: "Hes a millionaire. And I bet hes never worked a day in his life in a place like this...fuck Bruce Springsteen...all that shit about darkness..." These comments by his coworkers, according to Mr. Repsher, cause him to experience a critical and emotional epiphany of sorts. In his own words, "a rude awakening." What follows is something unfortunately stretched out over several hundred words of mind-bogglingly boring prose, during which Mr. Repsher abandons Springsteen entirely in favor of giving us the sad saga of his own nothing life. Finally, Mr. Repsher brings us up to speed 12 years later, to let us know his career, unlike Bruces, was so worthwhile, and, hey, even profitable. Mr. Repsher: "Ive floated from one low-level corporate job to the next, writing all the while and making fairly good money." (God, I hope those coworkers dont get a hold of this. What ever will they think of Mr. Repshers sexuality!) Wow, Bruce gets reamed for making money through self-expression, but its okay for our hero, Mr. Working Man Repsher himself, to justify his own career with a "fairly good money" pat on his own back. Unbelievable! Finally, astonishingly, he winds up praising Springsteen for "beating the system," the same evaluation that, 12 years earlier, caused him to turn away from Bruce-in-the-USA.
I have to say, in all my years of writing about rock n roll, and reading its followers forever in search of the next great voice of critical insight and awareness, this dribble of Mr. Repsher is about the absolute worst. When someone sets about to criticize a concert, a career, a theme (all of which are approached and then abandoned in this hodgepodge of self-indulgent pisspot of Me-ism), its often a good idea to actually write about the subject, rather than the self. Otherwise, why bother to put down the thoughts youve already had, and then, who else should possibly care?
For the record, I wrote a biography about Bruce Springsteen in 1993, working closely with his first manager. It was called Down Thunder Road, and, in a development that might shock Mr. Repsher, it was actually about Bruce Springsteen.
Memo to NYPress: get some writers who can, you know, write, instead of incoherent self-important boneheads who prefer to attach themselves to iconic figures in order to elevate their own miserable, meaningless and anonymous lives. The icons, love or hate them, deserved a little better than this.
Marc Eliot, Manhattan
William Repsher replies: Im sorry you didnt like my honest appraisals of my factory coworkers; if you want, I can arrange for you to meet with a few of them so that you can directly convey your heartfelt emotions to actual working-class people. Whom do you think Springsteen is writing about in those songs?
As for your insulting blather, its just another tribute to the maturity level of "established" music critics. Ill gladly accept being an "amateur" if "professionalism" means writing letters like yours. Whether or not youve written a Springsteen biography is irrelevant, and mentioning that youve done so only emphasizes your obvious insecurities.
My piece was meant to be a recollection of my working-class experiences. I didnt set out to review a concert, comment on Springsteens recent music (I still love his recordings, by the way, and the recent show of his that I saw was one of the best live performances Ill ever see) or otherwise approximate the inane writing of obsequious music critics like yourself, who wouldnt know what a shovel was if they were hit over the head with one.
Your closing sentence, by the way, is a real winner. What exactly do icons deserve? Maybe you should treat Springsteen the way you treat me–it just might make you a more interesting writer. You make a living at this? I might as well go back to treating telephone poles.
Talkin NYPress Blues
Mean Mr. MUGGER
Never shuts his trap
Writes a bunch of crap
And he wastes paper
Its free by the side of the road
The rag in which he blows his load
Aint no prince inside this toad
Such a mean old man
His writer Amy
Just switched her john
She likes to cop
Shes a cock-teaser
Shows men things that theyve never seen
Shell even suck then swallow their cream
Always writing something obscene
Such a dirty little mind
Oh look out...
Name Withheld, Manhattan
Going Sub-Sohnic My condolences to MUGGER. How like a serpents sting it must be for that woman Amy Sohn to leave NYPress for not the Village Voice, not The New York Times, but–worse–the New York Post! What a joke! The once one-dimensional Ms. Sohn has surprised us all by being not only a sexual slut in every sense of the word, but by transmogrifying into a career whore as well. Good riddance, I say. Let the unwashed masses have her. The fit will be good.
Serg Kravanovich, Manhattan
Golden Shower The appropriate title for your pointless article "Dont Call Me Nigger, Whitey" ("Publishing," 9/1) is "Dont Call Me Nigger, Kike."
But of course NYPress would never run a headline using the word "kike," even though the newspaper finds it perfectly acceptable to use the "n" word without any thought being given to it–just as do whites who fit the description of "cracker," be they "kike crackers" or just "plain ol crackers."
What trash your paper is.
P.P.W. Golden, Manhattan
333 X 2 Lets see, I write a letter suggesting that the secretaries at NYPress are the spawn of Satan, and the next week...my letter does not appear in "The Mail" (9/8). Hmm.
There is, however, a love note from Rebecca Davidge, who regrets only that she "cant hear [me] when [my] mouth is full of bullshit!" Such an eloquent young lady, my lovely Rebecca. And what prompts such friendly sentiment? Merely my suggestion that commuters contribute more to the prosperity of New York City than the cost of services they consume and that, therefore, the commuter tax is bad policy.
Note, reader: My criticism of the commuter tax is a matter of policy–issues–a subject upon which liberals loudly insist they wish to debate their opponents. And so, when one takes up the gauntlet of "issues," what is the reply? Profane personal insult. Fairness, tolerance and civility are hallmarks of liberalism, you see.
When I suggest that suburban commuters who are the objects of the commuter tax are not criminals, Miss Davidge responds with a completely irrelevant comment on the (so she says) verminous denizens of the subway. But Miss Davidge must realize the "the citys petty criminals, drug dealers, gangsters and junkies" are the intended beneficiaries of the revenue to be extracted from the pockets of the suburban commuters who, apparently, are entering the city via some other mode of transport. These subway thugs are the "poor" on whose behalf the "Robin Hood" commuter tax wishes to take from the "rich" suburbanite. To demean these poor people as undesirable riffraff hardly constitutes an argument in favor of such a policy.
Miss Davidge also appears to argue that successful black people do not wish to live in majority-white communities. I say "appears" because she is so busy naysaying me that she neglects to make any real arguments of her own. But federal housing policy seems to be based on the idea that the well-being of black people is enhanced by their moving to majority-white neighborhoods.
There are entire offices of bureaucrats in the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development dedicated to ensuring that black people who can afford homes in majority-white communities are not denied the opportunity to purchase those homes. Other HUD bureaucrats are tasked with implementing so-called "Section 8" policies that subsidize the cost of housing in majority-white communities for inner-city blacks who otherwise could not afford to move there. If black people have no desire to reside in majority-white communities, then obviously HUD is just squandering the taxpayers money on such programs, which would not surprise me in the least, you understand, as squandering money seems to be the raison detre for HUD. If Miss Davidge is arguing, then, for the repeal of equal opportunity housing laws and shutting down the Section 8 program, perhaps she should write to her congressman. As it is, I am content to suppose that these policies, however misguided they may be, are aimed at meeting the housing preferences of their targeted constituencies.
Miss Davidge writes, in her peroration, that she will admit not knowing what the problem plaguing black communities is, and wishes that I, too, would admit similar ignorance. But if she would refer to my original letter, she would find I only argued that white racism does not seem sufficient to fully account for all the problems of the black community. This simple assertion is a long way from "blowing your shit all over everybody," as Miss Davidge daintily asserts I have done.
What I was arguing against was the tiresome mau-mauing of "race hustlers" (to borrow Thomas Sowells apartment term) who have made racism the one-size-fits-all explanation for every ill ever suffered by any "person of color" anywhere, any time in the course of human history. This is exactly what causes Jack White to feel obligated to call David Horowitz a "bigot" ("Publishing," 9/1). What was Horowitzs offense? He suggested that black criminals, rather than gun manufacturers, are to blame for the high rate of black-on-black crime. In doing so, Horowitz disagreed with the NAACP. Thus Horowitz committed two "racist" sins: (a) suggesting that black people are responsible for their own actions; and (b) criticizing a prominent black "civil rights" organization. You can criticize Serbs or Texans or Catholics, but not the NAACP. One can freely argue that the two teen killers at Columbine High School were autonomous individuals who were responsible for their own actions, but to make the same arguments about Colin Ferguson is "racist." Guess Horowitz was "blowing shit all over everybody," too.
I am perfectly willing to admit that I have no policy quick-fixes for what ails black America. But I am absolutely certain that a continuation of the doomed liberalism of LBJs "Great Society" is not the answer. Like Ronald Reagan said, government isnt the answer, government is the problem.
Come to think of it, the clerical coven at NYPress did me a favor by trashing my last letter. Please dont ever print that letter. If the Rebecca Davidges of the world are so disconcerted by ordinary conservatism, they would positively freak out over my making an analogy between homosexuality and child prostitution. A clever analogy, I thought, and funny in a sick, twisted South Park way, but just so damned intolerant. Devil ladies of the typing pool, I thank you.
R.S. McCain, Gaithersburg, MD
20,000 Make a Coat RE: E.P. Albertines and Mark Trares letters ("The Mail," 9/8).
Brian OHara is a pig, and I highly disapprove of any sort of abuse of small, furry animals. However, and I believe this strongly, it is time to grieve over this loss and move on. These gerbils are now happily playing on Busy Wheels or running through tunnels in Gerbil Heaven. I know it is upsetting, but at present it is a moot point. Even a thousand angry, pain-wracked letters concerning the loss of these poor innocents cannot bring them back. The gerbils are no more.
I know how you must feel. I also have issues with the deliberate eradication of animals. I think it unfair, for example, that this city has an obsession with destroying what are insensitively termed "rodents." These creatures did not create the urban blight that makes them the disease-infested, disgusting, dirty, child-biting, nightmarishly voracious scavengers that they are today. And were it not for this urban blight, I would happily let them scamper across my countertops or run among my canned goods and major appliances, instead of setting down traps to snap their skinny little necks–but you see the problem. And your gerbils, too, to return to my earlier point, did not choose to be actors in Rock n Roll Frankenstein. Rather, they were kidnapped. Unlike the "latent thespian" Mark Trares, they could not walk off the set or call their agents when they found themselves trapped in a "bad contract."
I admire your love of animals and it is nice to know that there are people out there who see the beauty of Gods creation even in His smallest creatures; please do keep fighting for the rights of animals. But for heavens sake, please choose your battles very carefully. Right now youre fighting for dead gerbils. What about the plight of killer whales or Bengal tigers or even Alaskan salmon? They are all still living, and Im sure could use all the indignant letters you could write. If you feel that you still need closure, perhaps you could take up a collection fund to buy special "dead gerbil" effects for low-budget filmmakers in order to avoid a repeat of this sort of catastrophe. Or maybe make a nice memorial to their memories, or a little gerbil-related artwork to purge your anger (little crosses constructed of their food pellets, and so forth). There are many ways to commemorate the passing of loved ones; you must find your own. But for now, I think that youve come to a stage in your grieving that has surpassed the limited healing powers of an indignant letter to a struggling filmmaker. Now I need to make a request of all gerbil lovers: Please do not continue to write these silly letters. You are wasting your and everyone elses time. Brian OHara will not change and does not care what you think! Im sorry to yell, but sometimes one must be cruel to be kind.
Rebecca Davidge, Brooklyn
Reply to Sender I feel the need to defend myself regarding a letter published in last weeks NYPress ("The Mail," 9/8) in which I am called "pitifully arrogant, sadistic and egotistical." Ouch! E.P. Albertine writes in that letter that anyone who knows animals "knows and enjoys their compassion and love." Reminds me of an uncle I had who liked to manually relieve his basset hound of "hormonal tension," as he called it. Now, Im not accusing E.P. of being an advocate of handjobs for hound dogs. But I do have to wonder where he/she draws the line regarding animal companionship.
As for my own culpability in the deaths of gerbils during the making of Rock n Roll Frankenstein, Im reminded of an incident from the career of the late, great film director Sam Peckinpah. In his film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid there was a scene where live chickens buried neck-deep in the sand had their heads blown off (in lovely slo-mo) by gunslingers engaging in a bit of target practice. At the time, Peckinpah received quite a bit of flak for using real chickens in that scene. His response was that he was going for realism, a sentiment I can appreciate.
In the film I directed, Roll n Roll Frankenstein, we have a scene in which a gerbil gets his head bitten off. I was likewise striving for realism (and on a low budget, your options are limited). Lest the reader think Im the type of person who as a youngster stuck firecrackers in frogs asses and blew em up, I must state that I didnt enjoy being a part of what happened to Gus (we even named the furry little guy), but it was a case of the ends justifying the means.
Since art (i.e., entertainment) is a major factor in keeping people sane, I dont think its that big of a deal if from time to time an animal or two is sacrificed in the course of creating that art. Consider the butchered bull (or was it a water buffalo?) in Apocalypse Now, for instance. Of course, animal rights activists will balk at this notion. But these are the same leaf-eaters who would rather let a cure for cancer go unfound than sacrifice a few lab specimens.
Although as advanced homo sapiens we are no longer forced to hunt down and slaughter wildlife for sustenance, we have found other uses for animals, and if they were capable of cognition Im sure they would understand their place in this scheme. And oh yeah–were only talking about a gerbil here. Gimme a break.
Brian OHara, R&R Productions, Manhattan
Wrestling in Sodom R.S. McCain is a big crybaby. In column after column, McCain spews out his vindictive hatred for gays, fornicators, liberals, Madonna and anyone else who doesnt fit into his idealized vision of an ultra-conservative Christian society. But then when someone has the nerve to criticize him and challenge his self-anointed omnipotence, he whines, acts hurt and makes himself out to be a victim.
In his 9/1 letter, McCain calls me intolerant. Apparently, in McCain-talk, those who speak out against the bile and bigotry of the conservative right-winger hatemongers are themselves labeled as intolerant. If that is the case, I wear McCains scorn as a badge of honor. I guess that according to McCains definition, the Jews in Nazi Germany were intolerant, since they dared to speak out against Hitlers murderous tyranny. We already know that McCain shares Hitlers views on homosexuality. I wonder where McCain stands on the Jewish Question.
McCain then whines that "...[Dempsey] heaps odium upon myself and my children in a rancorous stream of ad hominem insults..." Well, if McCain cant take criticism, he shouldnt write essays for NYPress. No one forced him to publish his articles in a public forum. If McCain doesnt think that his extremist views are likely to draw criticism, he needs to get out of his cave a little more often (thats probably the same cave where abortion clinic bomber/terrorist/murderer Eric Rudolf is hiding). And as anyone who read my 8/25 letter knows, I did not insult McCains children. I merely expressed to them my sympathy and pity that life has dealt them the horrendous blow of having R.S. as a father.
The rest of McCains letter is indecipherable. His rant deteriorates into the ultra-patriotic lingo of the Republic of Texas separatists or the Montana Militiamen. McCain writes, "But no lie lasts forever and no tyranny is permanent, so long as truth lives in the hearts of men who love liberty." He continues, "Tell us to make bricks with no straw, command the slaughter of our firstborn, force us to hide in catacombs and communicate by the ikhthus. Nothing new. Quarter your troops among us, levy new taxes upon us, disperse our assemblies, overturn our laws, shoot us down in the streets. Nothing new." And then: "And liberalism is doomed, Dempsey, doomed beyond hope of repair or salvage." Huh? Tyranny? Bricks? Catacombs? Slaughter of your firstborn? Jeez, R.S., take a chill pill. I think McCain must have spent too much time this summer watching the Gaithersburg Theater Companys revivals of 1776 and Godspell. And its probably a good idea to lay off the History Channel until the nightmares stop.
Truth be told, McCains bravado-laced rant sounds like a 1970s Fantastic Four comic book. Of course, I doubt McCain would ever let his children read the Fantastic Four, since hes surely convinced that the Human Torch is gay. After all, the guy is always flying around screaming, "Im flaming! Im flaming!" And by the way, since McCain seems so overly preoccupied with my reading list, I hope hell make a note of my propensity for Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, et al.
And concerning Joe Conasons 9/1 "In Rotation" piece about the 1999 Million Youth March, and its organizer, Harold Moore Jr. (these days, Moore goes by the name of Khalid Abdul Muhammad. But considering that Moore is hateful and disrespectful to whites, Jews and virtually anyone else who is not African-American, he does not deserve the respect that comes with being addressed by his adopted name): Conasons description of Moore as a "reverse-racist" is too generous. A racist is someone who hates a person or group of people solely because of their skin color. By that definition, Harold Moore Jr. is not a reverse-racist; he is simply a racist.
S. Dempsey, Manhattan
Radical Cheep Why is there such an uproar over the release of the FALN terrorists? The U.S. tells Israel to release Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Israelis. The U.S. also tells England to release IRA members who have committed murder. And the U.S. has even told China to release political prisoners, in addition to telling other countries what to do.
So why shouldnt the U.S. release these terrorists after theyve served longer sentences than what the crime called for? After all, none of these particular terrorists were charged with or convicted of murder. And they were only trying to gain freedom for their country at a time when the U.S. was too arrogant to consider granting it.
We demand that other countries make friends of their enemies, yet our hearts are hardened against our own. The times have changed, and its time to send these people back to their homes. Besides, the FBI will keep a close look at them anyway–let them go home!
Henry M. Valdes, Ridgewood, NY