Letters to the Editor

‘Where’s the apology?’ 

To The Editor:

Re “‘Writer is the hater, not me’” (letter, by Marlis Momber, March 3):

In Ms. Momber’s written diatribe of distortions, her vitriolic response to my notebook column, “Sidewalk swastika solution; Trying to pave over hate” (Feb. 17) for her “rude Jews” insult, nowhere did she deny her slur, nor take responsibility for it, nor offer an apology. (Note that I did not use her name, and I doubt that most Villager readers knew who she was until she outed herself.) It speaks volumes that she has taken the lowest of roads, and in defense of her thoughtless remark, she has opted to go on the attack, twist my words, call me names, victimize the victim anew and add further insult to injury. How unfortunate and sad.

The fact that Ms. Momber is German and a photographer is circumstantial and incidental. She could have been blue and a skydiver (my apologies to the Na’vi and skydivers in advance) and I would have reacted the same way and written the same story. But precisely because of her nation’s history, she should have checked her words at the door. I can still feel their sting and the look on her face as she thoughtlessly uttered them. That she says she hardly knows me is irrelevant. What is more acceptable, to insult an acquaintance, a stranger or a friend? For the record, Ms. Momber and I have exhibited together in several group shows, often showing our photographs side by side, and although we are not B.F.F.’s, up to now we have had cordial relations. Enough so that at her last group show (of which I was not part), she came over to me and greeted me warmly. We did not have “issues” before this, as a friend of Ms. Momber’s suggested.

That she decided to drag her previous good works into light as some sort of defense for hateful language is just wrong. And to compare herself with Jacob Riis, one of the nation’s greatest writers of social reform and important photographers of life in the Lower East Side tenements, well… . The clueless Ms. Momber states that Riis “built his reputation documenting ‘poor Jews.’” (Her quotes around “poor Jews”; what is she now implying?) In his book “How the Other Half Lives,” a well-worn copy of which I have on my bookshelf, he chronicled all the destitute of the L.E.S., which included Native Americans, Greeks, Italians, Bohemians (Czechs), Germans, Chinese, blacks, Irish, English and Jews, among other nationalities. My putative elitist roots are here.

My column has been read by people of all backgrounds and in several countries, and they have all told me how moved they were by what I wrote. They get it. Not one person mentioned Ms. Momber’s nationality. It is not about one swastika or a person of a particular ethnicity on either end of the exchange. It’s about any person of any background being verbally assaulted. Some related their own experiences and how they responded or were too shocked or timid to say anything. But all felt upset and violated.

Instead of a rant directed at me or The Villager, I think the mensch course of action should have been for Ms. Momber to have issued an immediate mea culpa and apology to me and to all those who she says e-mailed her, stopped her on the street and phoned her, instead of enlisting people to defend her and to slam me. Everything else is just pissing into the wind.

I did not intend to write such a long reply, and I do not wish to issue another statement on this painful and distasteful subject. 

Bonnie Rosenstock

Defends photographer

To The Editor:

Re “Sidewalk swastika solution; Trying to pave over hate” (notebook, by Bonnie Rosenstock, Feb. 17):

I was outraged after reading Bonnie Rosenstock’s column connecting Marlis Momber with swastikas, hate and anti-Semitism. I am a Jewish man who has been good friends with Marlis for more than 10 years. Marlis is nothing short of an amazing, kind, loving woman — passionate about social issues and caring deeply about injustice everywhere. 

I think that Bonnie Rosenstock needs to take a stern look into her own heart, locate her own fear and hate, and make a sincere public apology to Marlis.

Who knows what Ms. Rosenstock’s motivations were for writing this article? Ultimately it doesn’t matter. To put it mildly, her article was totally irresponsible, mean-spirited and simply false. It was the absolute worst and most dangerous form of journalism. Indeed, the ignorance displayed by Ms. Rosenstock is at the very root of the hate that she claims to abhor. I say to her, “Look inward, and heal thyself.”

John Mazlish

‘C.B. 3 was AWOL on trials’

To The Editor:

Re “Board 3 slammed for ‘silence’ over terror trials controversy” (news article, March 3):

Let’s get the story straight. David McWater and Community Board 3 claim that the federal courthouse for the proposed terror trials location is in Community Board 1. That is total B.S., it is simply not true. The federal courthouse at 500 Pearl St. is located within the C.B. 3 boundary. 

To Board 3 Chairperson Dominic Pisciotta: It makes all the difference where the courthouse is located — which is within the C.B. 3 boundary. Why? Because it is the responsibility of C.B. 3 leadership to monitor what goes on within C.B. 3 boundaries, especially in the case of Chinatown, which is still enduring the tribulations of post-9/11 security measures to this day. 

Let’s get the story straight. C.B. 3, in fact, would not have made a resolution to move the terror trials location, at this very late stage, if Jan Lee did not say that C.B. 3 leadership was AWOL since November when the issue surfaced and the community was threatened. Suffice to day, without this supposed “outing” of C.B. 3 leadership by Jan Lee, C.B. 3 would still be sitting on their hands and there wouldn’t be any resolution by the board to move the terror trials’ location. 

Let’s get the story straight. Look for C.B. 3 in the media, in print, anywhere, anytime in the last few months on the issue of opposing the terror trials location. There simply is no documentation showing that C.B. 3 opposed the location of the terror trials because, in fact, C.B. 3 really was AWOL.

Geoff Lee

‘Another good man gone’

To The Editor:

Re “James McCaffrey, seaman, housing activist, dies at 86” (obituary, Feb. 24):

Thank you for the obituary on James McCaffrey.

I am not as adept at getting about as I once was, and I was wondering about Jimmy for some time now, unable to get him on the phone, and unable to go see what had happened to him.

Jimmy was an unfailing activist for tenants’ rights and always in trouble with his landlord. The times I spent with him — listening to his stories about the merchant marine and his unusual family history — were rich and valuable. How I admired him. Another good man gone.

Juanita Owens

St. Vincent’s care is tops

To The Editor: 

I am a registered professional nurse (Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, Class of 1964) and a resident of Chelsea. I am a Vietnam-era veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps from 1966 to 1968, and have worked in many of the major medical centers in New York City. I have also been treated at St. Vincent’s Hospital on numerous occasions over the past few years.

I can honestly state that I have never experienced or witnessed a higher level of medical and nursing care than that rendered by the staff of St. Vincent’s.  The esprit de corps that exists there, including all ancillary staff, is unparalleled anywhere: respect, integrity, compassion and excellence.

There is no other hospital in New York that compares. While the East Side has “bedpan alley” (N.Y.U. Downtown, Beth Israel, N.Y.U. Hospital for Joint Diseases, Bellevue and N.Y.U. Langone and Rusk Institute for Rehabilitative Medicine, along with the V.A. Medical Center) the West Side’s mainstay is one hospital, St. Vincent’s. Where is the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in the 21st Century when you need them?

Peter J. Ungvarski

Articles become real

To The Editor:

The series of articles and letters in The Villager about St. Vincent’s Hospital over the past few weeks became personal on Sunday morning Feb. 21, when I had to be taken to the E.R. at Beth Israel Hospital by ambulance, suffering pain in my abdomen. The staff and care was excellent, but it took seven hours to get a diagnosis — colon infection, colon pouches, cyst in my pelvic bone — and prescriptions. The sheer number of E.R. patients required long periods of time waiting for each test to be conducted and getting the results. 

My point is that if the E.R. at St. Vincent’s is closed, the crush and burden on the E.R. at Beth Israel would be huge! Instead of seven hours, it might take 10 hours, 12 hours or even longer!

There seems to be a common thread running through many of the articles appearing in The Villager and other media: bus and subway cuts, medical-care cuts, etc. It seems that our society rewards Wall St. executives with billions while cutting vital human services. 

Those people who have the money travel via personal car or cab. Those people with money enjoy private medical care. The poorer people use mass transit or bicycles and public medical clinics and hospitals.

What The Villager is reporting, including the closing or threatened closing of so many mom-and-pop businesses (Ray’s Candy Store, Aphrodisia spice shop, etc.) is driven by powerful but unseen forces.

Michael Gottlieb  

It’s called a bike path!

To The Editor: 

The beautiful Hudson River Park is amazing, and I am thankful every day for it. Amazing gardens, walkways, piers and a bike path. I commute with my bike. 

I am puzzled why those who can, i.e. those on foot, do not choose to use the beautiful walkway right along the river, to walk, run, jog, walk their dogs, converse with their friends, walk to the ball fields, etc., but instead walk and jog right along the West Side Highway on the bike path — often two, three and four abreast, taking up an entire lane. This is dangerous. I have witnessed many collisions and hundreds of near collisions.

The bike path is meant for wheels — bikes, scooters, rollerblades, roller skates — for all of us who wish to use wheels: seniors, middle-aged, teenagers and, yes, children too. It is dangerous to walk a dog on the bike path. 

I have also seen the serious bikers go way too fast. It is not a race track but a bike path. Please slow down and bike safely, stopping for pedestrians crossing and little kids learning to ride.

Schools, please teach your students who are walking up to the fields to walk safely, on the walkways when possible, and to stay to their right when the bike path is shared because of construction.

Pedestrians and joggers, if you must use the bike path, please stay to your right, so that we all can enjoy and be safer. 

Allison Schoen

The straight poop on park

To The Editor:

As anyone who frequents Washington Square Park in the mornings knows, the park is quite often strewn with garbage. There are not nearly enough trash cans, and trash is not picked up at the end of the day, only the following morning.

This morning, March 7, the park was covered in garbage as trash cans overflowed and visitors attracted by the beautiful weather yesterday had nowhere to dump their trash. 

Yet, despite the garbage all over, I passed Officer Dorosant of the Parks and Recreation Department patrolling the park like his private cell block as he does each morning when I walk my dog. He was giving a ticket to a young woman whose puppy had pooped for a second time but who had unfortunately only brought one bag to clean up after her dog. The ticket was for $250.

Dog owners need to be responsible, but accidents happen.  

In the context of how filthy the park was

this morning, there was absolutely no reason for the young woman to be ticketed. But if you’ve ever tried to speak with Officer Dorosant in a rational way, you know that’s impossible.

At the very least, the city needs to put more trash cans in the park and add a second trash pickup late in the day. After all the money that will be spent to renovate the park, the fact that it is quite often covered in trash is just pathetic.

John Huttlin

Lithuanians built church

To The Editor:

Re “Keeping faith, Lithuanians pray church will reopen” (news article, March 3):

Our Lady of Vilnius Church is a cherished monument to Lithuanian immigrants and an adornment to Manhattan. The hierarchs did not build the church and should not be allowed to sell it for financial gain. 

Saulius Simoliunas

Glad for coverage

To The Editor:

Re “See ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ before it has to” (arts article, Feb. 3):

I am the press coordinator for No Longer Empty, an organization that temporarily places site-specific, curated art exhibitions into vacant spaces around New York City.

A couple of weeks ago, Scott Stiffler reviewed our latest exhibition, “Never Can Say Goodbye,” which was at the former Tower Records store in the East Village. The article was published in The Villager and your sister newspaper, Downtown Express. 

We are very proud and happy about the exhibition’s success both in the public attendance and the press/media. We want to thank those who made this happen by spreading the word to the local community. Thank you.

As a relatively new organization, being featured in these notable and popular publications is very important to us. We were thrilled to see the exhibition mentioned as a recommended event and later reviewed.

N.L.E.’s mission is to engage the community that our exhibition is located in and to bolster the local businesses through the increased flow of visitors and publicity that our events attract. This is why being present in the area’s press was important to us.

We will keep the newspaper’s arts editor updated with our events.

Jodie Dinapoli

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 145 Sixth Ave., ground floor, NY, NY 10013. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.