Letters to the Editor
Bikeways and Means
Thank you for bringing attention to the damage that was caused to our bikeway infrastructures [“Burlington-Area Bike Paths Are All They’re Cracked Up to Be,” April 25]. Yes, the spring flooding and Tropical Storm Irene caused major upheavals in Vermont’s transportation corridors. However, I agree, too, that not enough attention has been given to our “active transportation” corridors. We lost a half-mile section of the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail here in Rutland and Bennington counties. State departments responded quickly; however, we all should be bringing awareness to these vital parts of our communities. They provide alternative ways to get around, economic benefits to small and large towns alike, as well as recreational opportunities that Vermont is known for. Contact your Vermont representatives and let them know these trails are important to you and the community as a whole. Without support from citizens and community leaders such as Burlington’s mayor, our bikeways will be all cracked up.
Young Women’s Debt
Kathryn Flagg is right to question whether we, the next generation of women, will rally to Madeleine Kunin’s “new” feminist agenda [“What Women Want Now,” May 2]. We have only recently realized that rights we take for granted — access to contraception and abortion, escape from subservience to husband or father, being welcome at historically male-dominated institutions — are in danger. It is time to reclaim our voices.
I am part of the generation of strong, well-educated women who experienced “feminism” as a dirty word. In college, my friends distanced themselves from the very struggles that allowed us to attend an Ivy League school. It was cool to discuss gender theory, to assess the political system, to talk about societal power structures. It was not cool to be feminist. We somehow thought we were above the movement.
We were wrong. We need the movement to defend against the recent, severe attacks on our reproductive freedom. We need the movement to take our seats at the decision-making table. We need the movement to ensure that women are taken seriously in our society. Talking to our friends, family and neighbors can go a long way to dispel the feminist stigma.
We, the next generation of Americans, are the new generation of feminists. We have the audacity to believe that women are people, and as such deserve equal rights and consideration. Is that so radical?
Beautiful quality to this piece [“Dude North,” April 25]. You slowed me down. Thank you.
The ultimate argument against hate-crime laws is simply “crime is crime” — we should all be protected equally, whether you have group or individual identity — and when a crime occurs, people should be punished equally no matter how debauched the crime. I wonder if the woman on the cover of Seven Days [“What Women Want Now,” May 2], whose sign says, “Enough Is Enough” would take a stand against hate-crime laws?
“Queer” Is Demeaning
Your use of the word “queer” in last week’s [Poli Psy, April 25] is about the same as if you had used the n-word to define people of color. Queer was, still is and always will be a derogatory, demeaning word. During the civil-union debate in the Vermont legislature, the people against any recognition of gay and lesbian people used the term “queer” as a derogatory word. I heard this word many times. Stop using this word in your print columns. You do not want to be associated with the people who hate gay and lesbian people.
Michael C. Vinton
All the World’s...
As an avid theatergoer, I was delighted to read the article about Burlington and the effort to make it a haven for dramatic arts [“Setting the Stage,” April 25]. I am puzzled, though, about one quote: “Seeing theater is the ultimate way to interact with other humans.” How about simply talking to another person?
Call of Keewaydin
Great story on the Keewaydin trek to James Bay [“Dude North,” April 25]. It brought back only wonderful memories, because I, too, experienced a similar trip with Keewaydin in 1963. At the time, the camp was running out of wilderness canoeing and hiking options for the campers because both the Adirondack and northern New England regions were becoming overrun with too many people. The leadership felt an arrangement with the provincial Québec authorities might be constructive, so a trip consisting of nine 16-year-old campers, two staff members and a Cree Indian guide was formed to explore all points west of Chapais, Québec, for eight weeks. Chapais, which was only five years old at the time (copper was discovered nearby), sits quite north of Québec City. It was a two-day drive from Lake Dunmore. The trip was a profitable one, because every year since, Keewaydin organizes several extended canoe trips to the region.
Keewaydin is a very special place.It certainly had a profound effect on my life. And, by the way, I know all the songs this current group sings on their trip each day. Thanks for shedding light on them.
Three Kicks in the Coriolanus
I’ve never commented on any of the film reviews offered up in Seven Days, but this time I feel compelled by Rick Kisonak’s review of the modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus [Movie Review, April 25]. He denigrates the film and Shakespeare together by noting Coriolanus is considered one of the Bard’s lesser-known plays, and the film does nothing but perpetuate its flaws in new garb. The character developments are considered inferior to Shakespeare’s other greats, but a little history lesson will go a long way here.
The popularity of Shakespeare’s plays and the pecking order of what are considered to be his greater and lesser works are ever shifting with the tastes of the time. Yes, this tragedy differs from the likes of King Lear and Hamlet, with their self-reflecting, brooding characters, but Coriolanus delivers us archetypal characters more characteristic of the Greek and Roman tragic heroes — singular in vision, without doubt in their convictions, and utterly devoted to their values and ideals above all else, including death.
I agree with the reviewer that, if done poorly, modern adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays are merely a way to attract a dumb-downed audience. In Coriolanus, the modern set passes muster by laying bare the fact that our culture’s ethos has changed little at all. The inner drama remains intact; only the modern set has changed, and the two coalesce seamlessly. The fact is, I remain in awe of this film. Ralph Fiennes’ performance is astounding; his delivery of Shakespeare’s lines will rip you asunder.
It’s worth noting that the Coriolanus [April 25] Rick Kisonak dismisses as the Bard’s flop and beneath serious consideration was the work that T.S. Eliot preferred over Hamlet. As for his bewilderment “why anyone felt the need to perform it in our [lifetime],” Rick needs to include the likes of Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Paul Scofield and Ian McKellen, as well as Ralph Fiennes, in his query. What’s bewildering to me, by contrast, is Rick’s claim that the film doesn’t “yield meaningful parallels or insights with respect to the present-day world stage.” Really? If only we lived in a world where the public wasn’t still the pawn of politicians, where war and warriors were no longer valorized, and in which war-ravaged landscapes like that of modern Serbia, where Coriolanus was filmed, had disappeared forever!
I guess Laurence Olivier, Anthony Hopkins, Paul Scofield, Richard Burton, Ian McKellen, Christopher Walken and Morgan Freeman must all be idiots for taking on the role of Coriolanus, since it is such a “dud” of a play [Movie Review, April 25]. Not to mention that fool Brecht for staging his version of it… Yes, Coriolanus is one of the more opaque Shakespearean characters, but that makes him more, not less, interesting. How can you miss all the inner conflicts of this mother-dominated, sexually ambivalent man, flawed by his pride? He rudely repudiates the masses, not because he is an egoist but out of respect for the dignity of his profession. Because of his innate nobility, he abjures veneration; he refuses the accolades tendered to him, or to bare his war wounds for the public — anomalous as it is in modern politics — Coriolanus is not playing the sympathy card.
As for the film itself, I can’t think of a more appropriate version for the world as it is today with echoes of Afghanistan, Serbia, etc. And to completely overlook the brilliance of Vanessa Redgrave in one of the greatest women’s roles in Shakespeare, Volumnia, is beyond me. Ralph Fiennes is probably one of the most brilliant, riveting and intelligent actors of his generation. There are very few who have the innate understanding of what great film acting is, plus the sinuosity of a tiger, the magnificent voice and a presence that sucks you in like some kind of ectoplasm. History had a lot to do with why Coriolanus was not performed during Shakespeare’s lifetime — not because it was a bad play, but because it was so inflammatory.
There was an editing error in last week’s story “You Can’t See Mac Parker’s Film, But You Can Read His Book.” There was no attorney present during Parker’s interview with Seven Days; Parker met with associate editor Margot Harrison alone in his attorney’s office …
Last week’s story “Nuke of the North: Québec’s Gentilly-2 Reactor Faces VT Yankee-Style Closure Fight” included two minor errors. The story stated that Canada’s “emission standards” for radioactive releases from nuke plants are much higher than those in the European Union or the United States. It should have read, “emission limits.” Also, the article mistakenly identified Gordon Edwards as a “nuclear physicist.” Though Edwards holds degrees in physics, math and chemistry, he is not, technically speaking, a “nuclear physicist.”