State of the arts

Letters to the Boston editor, February 29, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  February 27, 2008

Your recent editorial on the Bush administration’s attempt to slash the federal arts budget was excellent, poignant, and keenly well put. As a former art-history major, many of these notes strike close to my heart. I can hardly imagine what our country might be like if not for arts and culture. You’d think after all the decreased popularity with the war, President Bush would try to avoid another turn toward the fascist- and military-state side of things. We might as well just go ahead and do away with the First Amendment, anyway. Perhaps it might save someone from having to express in some form or another that which has been done to us.

Alyson Fletcher

Life on Planet Bush — well, it’s not as bad as Nazi Germany; unless, perhaps, you’re Iraqi. Line by line, comparing Bush with Hitler, the latter seems to come out ahead. For example, Hitler had an appreciation for art, and he was nice to animals. To give Dubya his due, though, despite his terminal BS degree, we can survive him without permanent trauma.

Gordon Marshall

Old heritage, new New Zealand
I am Maori and am very proud of my heritage. I have lived in Boston for 20 years but travel back to New Zealand four to six times a year. “Skin Deep” is an excellent article, which, apart from raising the awareness that ta moko is sacred to Maori and has significant spiritual meaning, also reveals that Maori culture is re-emerging and is very much defining a new and distinctive culture that is New Zealand in the 21st century.

For too long New Zealand was depicted mostly as a British Colony, which it was, with largely a “borrowed” British culture. When most New Zealand people, including Maori, speak, they are often mistaken for British. It has been the young Maori, some two-and-a-half centuries later, who have re-discovered the power of their ancestry and brought it to the forefront, in art, theater, film, community, education, politics, and government at home — and more recently onto the international stage.

Maori of the past were from a warrior nation. They went to war against the red-coat British Army, like the colonials in America did, and never surrendered. Peace only came at the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. As a result, New Zealand became one of the few countries where natives and European settlers evolved together, with Maori and Pakeha (white settlers) living largely in harmony. Now young Maori are recognizing the power and strength of the customs and culture that their ancestors lived and survived by, and they are finding inspiration in rediscovery and a “re-birth” that is shaping the new New Zealand. There is much to be proud of about this tiny South Pacific country.

Dennis T. Gain (a/k/a Takiau)

That sucks
If Lenny Kravitz sucks, I wish I sucked as much as him. If selling 33 million albums worldwide makes you suck, I’d like to suck too. If getting four straight male rock vocal Grammys means you suck, I’d like to suck too. If having the number-four album in the nation means you suck, I’d like to suck too. If dating super models means you suck, I’d like to suck too. If having homes all around the world means you suck, I’d like to suck to. Honestly, the only thing around here I see that sucks is David Thorpe’s writing in his first and hopefully last article. If this is the best the Phoenix has to offer, there must still be a writers’ strike. Stick to the coloring books; crayons are really more your style.

Michael Gunter
Hopatcong, New Jersey

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