Thursday, January 1, 2009

Nat Hentoff Disappears like Ebbets Field

I've followed the antics of the Village Voice for about 40 years because of the writings of Nat Hentoff. His columns introduced me to Jazz, the Civil Rights movement, the exhilerating night life of New York (which did me no good living in Madison), and a whole lot of heady stuff that prevented my brain from turning into a turnip. As he got older, some of his more conservative leanings towards abortion and the Iraq Invasion left me yawning for air, but his continued barbed-wire grasp of politics and civil libertarian issues, especially columns on America's fearful and dangerous rush to gut the Bill of Rights after 911 are de rigueur reading.

Now he's gone . . . no, not dead . . . but laid off from the Voice after about 50 years of copy. I know the paper has had financial difficulties over the last couple of years (like who hasn't), but heaving Hentoff off the masthead for some cheap up-and-comer (if the paper can even afford that) is like replacing the Louvre's Mona Lisa with my chicken scratchings. He still writes columns for other publications, but for me the Voice is no longer worth listening to.

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