Letters to the Editor, May 31

‘Death of a Salesman’ still relatable today

Arthur Miller’s greatest and most venerable play has returned yet another time to Broadway. Along with Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill and Edward Albee, they represent the iconic American playwrights of the 20th Century.

“Salesman” opened in 1949 and has been revived via stage and film many times. I first saw it as a film with Lee J. Cobb when I was in college in the 1960’s on WCBS-TV’s then “Late Late Show.” I was blown over by its theme and aesthetic quality.

The protagonist, Willy Loman, now in his sixties, has returned from yet another canceled sales trip. He’s become exhausted from his many unrealized attempts to reach the attain his dreams, and one of his two sons, Biff who had shown great promise in high school is also going nowhere.

He goes to his company’s office and speaks to his former boss’s son and asks for improved assignments. His new employer, now a wealthy man, cannot understand Willy’s plight and reduces his schedule. Loman loses his temper and shouts, “Promises were made here!” He is now fired and depends on a friend to supplement his loss of income. (His friend’s son is seen as heading to Washington to argue a case before the Supreme Court. This is juxtaposed to Willy’s son, Biff who, well, is going nowhere.)

This play is now especially salient today, as many due to the economy (yes, even recent college grads) attempt in vain to achieve a dream they thought was theirs. Then, there is serendipity. Timing and just plain luck – at times out of our control – are important factors.

I have seen many versions of the play. I found Frederick March and Dustin Hoffman to be the best. Now the present incarnation: director Mike Nichols chose another Hoffman – Philip Seymour Hoffman. Both Nichols (who has directed many plays and films) and Seymour Hoffman are masterful in their artistic roles. Philip Hoffman doesn’t play his characters – rather, he becomes them. When I saw his film, “Truman Capote,” I didn’t know who the actor was until the final credits.

Then there is Mike Nichols. I saw an hour interview with him on the TimesTalks series. During Nichols’ closing remarks, he commented that Willy Loman was redeemed in the final moments of “Salesman.” Since it had become impossible for him to achieve the American Dream, his death at least brought him peace. And his son Biff was now liberated from Willy’s pressures and now had the potential to be liberated.

David Chowes, PCV

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Letters to the Editor, May 17

In defense of squirrel and bird feeders

Re: Letter, “The scoop on bird poop,” Apr. 19
Dear Ms. Mollot,

I do not understand why you have space in your newspaper dedicated to letters from people who just complain and complain about anything and everything.

Last month it was a letter from a person – who I bet is a miserable old lady of Stuyvesant Town — complaining about feeding birds and squirrels. What is wrong with feeding squirrels? Doesn’t this person eat as well? I have had several unpleasant run-ins with old ladies complaining about the squirrels.

The person wrote asking us not to feed pigeons and squirrels and saying that poop from pigeons will hit kids and older people. Are you kidding me? Maybe this complainer should never leave his/her apartment. There are thousands of pigeons in NYC, not only in Stuy Town.

I am a mother of three small children in Stuy Town and I am teaching my kids to love and care about animals. We walk around Stuy Town every day and enjoy feeding the squirrels.

I think it is beautiful to have squirrels in your yard. After all, they are part of Stuy Town. I couldn’t imagine Stuy Town without squirrels.

There are more important quality of life issues in Stuy Town than squirrels and pigeons: empty beer bottles on the grounds, noisy weekend parties by college students, drug addicts on 14th street and First Avenue, low-class high school students from Brooklyn that attend classes nearby and use our grounds as picnic tables and to smoke marijuana.

Alice Malhotra-Freeman, ST

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Letters to the Editor, May 10

Community can’t be pigeonholed

Re: Letter, “Enough complaining about ST/PCV,” T&V, Apr. 26
While I agree that the nasty complaining on this page has often been excessive, one letter writer last week chose to see the nasty and raise it, by stereotyping all who complain, and by incorrectly claiming that market rate rents subsidize stabilized rents.

Increasing the number of market rate rents was a relatively recent move intended to “subsidize” the coffers of Tishman Speyer, and now those rents partially subsidize things like constant horticultural work and Oval Amenities.

Having lived here for ten years here (not long by Stuy Town standards), I have things in common with both the older and newer generation of residents, and I know not to pretend that either generation all thinks the same way. I have learned more than once here that it’s best to reach out to others to try to work out the problems that our close quarters can cause.

It works well that Al Salame’s letter was printed so close to the anniversary of Rodney King’s famous quote!

Al Salame should consider that angry or lamenting letters printed on this page are from real individuals, and should also realize that those letters are rarely as angry as Salame’s own.

David Dartley, ST

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Letters to the Editor, May 3

How is ‘special event’ in ST/PCV defined?

To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that Council Member Garodnick has gone along with CW and Rose in sidestepping the zoning rules (and apparently ignoring the “clearly incidental” and “customarily found” requirements found in the Zoning Resolution definition of Accessory Use) to allow the return of the greenmarket to the Oval under the pretense that its availability will be limited to “residents and their guests only,” and the return of food trucks at “special events.”

Notably, “special events” are not defined so, presumably, anything that CW and Rose declare to be a special event, perhaps even the greenmarket, will qualify.  By agreeing to this pretense, the Council Member has ignored the primary complaint about the greenmarket – its location on the Oval – and opened the door to CW and Rose further exploit the Oval as a commercial and event space, without limit, merely by claiming the activities are limited to “residents and their guests only.”

According to the Council Member, management has agreed to add language to its perimeter sidewalk signs and on any of their materials referencing the market that the market is for “residents and their guests only” and are in the process of correcting any outstanding public references to the market being open to the public.   While GrowNYC has removed the reference to the market being open to the public, it contains a map of the market’s location and a link to management’s website for more information and, as of April 29, one week before the market’s opening, neither that site nor management’s own site has added the language for “residents and their guests only” or any other language that would indicate that it is not open to he public.

During his tenure, Council Member Garodnick has, generally, represented the ST/PCV community well and has done many good things on behalf of it.  His acquiescence in CW and Rose’s charade to continue the presence of the greenmarket on the Oval is not one of them and will only embolden the property’s current mercenary management to create more Oval annoyances, of course — wink, nod – for “residents and their guests only.”

James J. Roth, PCV

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