Letters, Week of Aug. 22, 2013 | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Letters, Week of Aug. 22, 2013

Some odd criticisms of Corey…

To The Editor:
Re “Corey Johnson crafts a Council bid; C.B. 4 leader vies to succeed Quinn” (news article, Aug. 15):

I am a Corey Johnson supporter because, as a member of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, I feel he has Westbeth’s best interest in mind in terms of maintaining its affordability, and he strongly believes in affordable public housing, being a product of it himself.

I was really irked by the article by Duncan Osborne. It was so skewed against Corey, and had some very odd criticisms of him that were not very newsworthy, or helpfully informative to this voting district.

Why was Duncan so concerned with Corey’s “artfully trimmed” beard and “neatly pressed” suit? Should Corey have worn jeans and a T-shirt…or something more working class?

As for Corey not handing over his schedule, this seems trivial. Does the newspaper have the right to a campaign schedule?

Even more ridiculous was a reference to a 2001 profile in a San Francisco magazine — trying to catch Corey in a disingenuous position of praising both cities.

To call Corey’s revealing his H.I.V. status to The New York Times “choreographed” to maximize attention is just downright disgusting. It’s a revolutionary act of bravery to expose oneself to the stigma of being H.I.V. positive, and for this reporter to be suspect of that act is deplorable.

The campaigns are aggressive, that is true. But it is the Kurland campaign “whispering to voters that Johnson has no college degree,” and sending surrogates out to the major voting areas with smear letters distorting Corey’s record.

Furthermore, it is only the Kurland campaign that has an active charge against them for violating city campaign finance laws. Mr. Osborne should have seen those complaints filed on the Crain’s New York Web site.
Roger Braimon
Braimon is admissions chairperson, Westbeth Artists Residents Council

Sensationalism and gossip

To The Editor:
Re “Corey Johnson crafts a Council bid; C.B. 4 leader vies to succeed Quinn” (news article, Aug. 15):

A picture speaks a thousand words: Jerry Nadler and Jonathan Gaballe pictured marching at Pride with Corey. That’s enough to convince me.

Beyond that, I needed to sift through the sensationalism, gossip and lazy reporting to see some facts buried in this article:

“He was well-versed in the intricacies of city laws on housing and development. …

“He has served on Community Board 4, which covers Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan, since 2005 and has wrestled with some controversial development projects. …

“He increased affordable housing units in that project [Hudson Yards] from 20 percent to 26 or 27 percent. …

“Johnson emphasized plans to build more affordable housing, reduce class size in city schools, increase parks in the district, and bring a hospital to Lower Manhattan to replace the now-closed St. Vincent’s Hospital. …

“He is an advocate for affordable housing.”

I’m a Corey fan because I look beyond the hyperbole.

Let’s focus on issues rather than mudslinging. Building affordable housing, expanding classroom space and finding a location for a new hospital are the issues — not whether Corey once did some work for a real estate company or whether someone has filed a campaign finance complaint against Yetta Kurland.

I want a city councilmember who will look forward to building a new hospital rather than a candidate who’s only claim to fame is a failed fight to keep a hospital open.
Jim Connolly

Face the issues — not facial hair!

To The Editor:
Re “Corey Johnson crafts a Council bid; C.B. 4 leader vies to succeed Quinn” (news article, Aug. 15):

Duncan, it sounds like you are voting for Yetta? You seem to really have an issue with Corey’s grooming habits. Are these important enough to lead with?

Also, have you interviewed Yetta? Can we expect to see a piece dissecting her campaign and highlighting her gaffes? It seems to me you are pretty “anti-Corey.” If H.I.V. is a hot-button issue for you, will you offer insight into what Yetta Kurland has done for AIDS?

I am astonished, as a gay man, at how many other gay men have found fault with Corey for things ranging from his beard to coming out as H.I.V.-positive to not being outspoken enough about H.I.V. Is it that you really have issues with his politics — or are these meaningless criticisms a reflection of your own self-hatred and internalized homophobia?
Dana Steer

Clearly, pro-Kurland

To The Editor:
Re “Corey Johnson crafts a Council bid; C.B. 4 leader vies to succeed Quinn” (news article, Aug. 15):

This is a very unfair and biased profile of Mr. Johnson. Obviously, the author is a Kurland supporter. To point out that he has no college degree reeks of elitism and class discrimination. I have known Corey since 2002; I am impressed with both his intelligence and his ethics.
William Stricklin

Ouch! Review a Trav S.D.

To The Editor:
Re “ ‘Zipper’ stops short at exposing the whole story” (arts article, Aug. 8):

I am the producer and director of “Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride,” now playing at the IFC Center, at W. Third St. and Sixth Ave. The film’s run there was recently extended through Thurs., Aug. 29.

I am a longtime Greenwich Village resident and reader of The Villager. I sit down and read it cover to cover as soon as it arrives because it’s the one place where I get the news about the things I care about most in my community. In recent years I’ve read intelligent, balanced and thorough coverage of everything from the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital (right down the street from me) and Jefferson Market grocery, the potential privatization of Washington Square Park, REBNY’s Jobs for New York PAC, the 150 Charles St. development, the Schnabel tower, air-rights issues and everything else having to do with Pier 40, the loss of our Food Emporium, the N.Y.U. 2031 expansion, and the list goes on.

For the reasons stated above, it was a no-brainer for me to ask my publicist to submit “Zipper” for review. It’s my neighborhood paper, it’s my neighbors’ neighborhood paper — everyone I know reads The Villager. And my film is playing at one of our neighborhood theaters!

While I freely admit, respect and accept the fact that critics have opinions, I was very disappointed when I read Trav S.D.’s review of my film. A simple fact-check would have answered some of his questions, such as why we did not include the New Luna Park, make mention of a recently announced (and not yet built) rollercoaster or any of the other additions and enhancements made “since 2010.” We stopped filming more than three years ago! Furthermore, It was not my intention to compare the old rides that left to the new rides that replaced them! I have nothing but best wishes for anyone who operates amusements in Coney Island.

“Zipper” chronicles the massive rezoning of the Coney Island amusement district that was conceived by the Bloomberg administration’s Economic Development Corporation and carried out by the Department of City Planning. On a micro level, it examines the impact this rezoning had on many of the small businesses that were forced out as a result of the land grab that took place after a certain city council member “had a cup of coffee” with his developer friend. Eddie Miranda owned and operated a Zipper on one such plot of land.

“Zipper” examines the way in which the Bloomberg administration has “upzoned” neighborhoods in order to encourage private investment. This economic development policy has resulted in many casualties, namely mom-and-pop businesses. It happened in Coney Island, just like it happened in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Willet’s Point. Your critic wrote an entire review without mentioning Mayor Bloomberg, the City of New York, E.D.C., Department of City Planning, land use, public hearings, Amanda Burden, Domenic Recchia, Thor Equities — easily 70 percent of the film’s content. Again, his prerogative, but not an honest examination of the film’s message.

We have received dozens of great reviews from the likes of the New York Daily News (five stars), The New York Times, Time Out New York, indieWire, Variety, New York Post, Hollywood Reporter, L Magazine, the New York Observer, etc. The critic for the RealDeal — a real estate industry blog — while disagreeing with my feelings about the rezoning, gave an accurate accounting of the players and the process involved, before characterizing it all, sadly, as “city politics as usual.”

“Zipper” will not end here and now with our run at the IFC Center, but it makes me so sad to think that the same people (your readers) who feel so passionately about the changing landscape of our communities, brought about by the economic development policies and public-private partnerships pushed by the Bloomberg administration, will read your review of my film and have no desire whatsoever to see for themselves what really happened in the rezoning of Coney Island.
Amy Nicholson

They panned Moore, too

To The Editor:
Re “ ‘Zipper’ stops short at exposing the whole story” (arts article, Aug. 8):

What would I do without The Villager appearing every week in my mailbox? I read it cover to cover soaking in the news and events of the neighborhood and environs. It’s rare these days to find news and opinion so perfectly aligned with doing “what’s right” for New York and New Yorkers like me.

However, I couldn’t disagree more with the review of “Zipper,” the Coney Island documentary now playing to wide acclaim at IFC Center in the West Village. The reviewer was seeking a “fair and balanced” documentary, and clearly missed the point of the film.

While I don’t personally know Amy Nicholson, the producer and director of “Zipper,” I do know that a similar type of review plagued a filmmaker I do know well — Michael Moore. He made a film about my hometown of Flint, Michigan. Yes, “Roger & Me.”

Harlan Jacobson, then editor of Film Comment here in the city, wrote a negative review of “Roger & Me” and, even more, a personal attack on Michael Moore himself. Harlan clearly missed the point, seeking a “fair and balanced” film about the plight of the working class.

The documentary genre up to that point was rather staid and boring. “Roger & Me” was an op-ed piece. It was meant to inspire and motivate and make you mad as hell. Some people — like Harlan — just didn’t get it.

But Vincent Canby of The New York Times did get it: “Mr. Moore makes no attempt to be fair. Playing fair is for college football. In social criticism anything goes.”

“Zipper” probably doesn’t play fair. And it shouldn’t. It has something to say. It is no less a document of fact, but it presents those facts with entertainment and attitude, which is why it’s playing in theaters and not on PBS.

If you’re reading this, you’ll probably get “Zipper.” Go see it. A fantastic film.
Shawn G. Chittle

We love our Greyhounds

To The Editor:
Re “A racing school dropout, Lancer loves his new life” (Pet Set, Aug. 8):

I will tell you, I have lots of dogs that I have a “relationship” with. My dogs love me, and anyone else they see at the track. They are a very loving breed. We feed them.

Why would you think they don’t love us or have a relationship with us? We are their owners and handlers from when they are young. We make them the animals they are.

God, I pity your view of greyhounds and greyhound racing.
Kayla Bennett

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