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We received a pretty strong reaction to last month's Sex in the Sub-City Article in regards to the author's scathing attack of 11211 Magazine. Here are some of your letters:

Dear Free Williamsburg,

Fuck him if he can't take a joke.

Breuk Iversen
11211 Magazine, Inc.

Dear Free Williamsburg,

Just when I thought only MTV could guide me on my quest for hipness, what with its 'bedford avenue' subway sound bites reassuring me that my choice of neighborhood was the right one, along comes 11211. thank god i know before my friends in missouri that illiteracy is the next cool thing. i just read your article on your experience with 11211. I just want to say fuck yes, thank god someone had the opportunity and guts to tell the people who put out that "magazine" that it's a piece of shit. I am a designer and my roommate is a copy editor at a daily newspaper, and we have always been annoyed with the editorial policy of 11211. If it takes very much time to decipher the meaning of a sentence/article that is poorly written or edited, then i just give up altogether. Who has time for that shit?

I know the editor thinks spelling mistakes preserve the writer's content and intent, but i think many writers are just bad spellers who spent too much time daydreaming in 8th grade English and would like to have their copy cleaned up a little bit. Being a journalist myself, i applaud people who start up their own publications. but touting a hands-off editorial policy is just a cover-up of how apathetic, uneducated and ridiculous these people are. if they fuck up then they are not accountable. it's all part of the 'style', man. and i think thats part of the reason small mags fail. because people get tired of the same old shit that is half-assed and poorly executed.

You also made a great point about the reviews in that rag. we all know people cruise for girls/guys at the stinger club, the tavern has cheap beer to go. (of course, I will never forgive that mag for its negative words on my favorite haunt, Union Pool.)

Anyway, that sucks you didn't get the opportunity to put out an issue. New York Times article or not, I think the guy knows you would have shown him up, and he was just saving his own ass. people like that like to throw out the empty challenge of "well if you can do it better, then why don't you?" so that they can balk when people, naturally, dont take them up on it. yea for them.

But you were right on all counts. The magazine is a disgrace to our neighborhood, minorities or not, and is insulting to our intelligence. and the design is terrible. Now i am rambling. thanks for reading my thoughts.

- kasey

Dear Free Williamsburg,

I just finished reading Russ Joseph's attack on 11211 in his monthly .... column .... and was appalled at his words. Well, that's not that unusual really. He mentions that the writers at 11211 can't write beyond a 5th grade level, and while he is entitled to his opinion, he at least can recognize writing that is still a few grade levels above his.

I would like to start by stating that I was part of 11211's staff that objected to Russ handling a whole issue. His initial emails were rude and full of obscenities because he didn't agree with the magazine. Poor baby. I guess we should appoint him Grand Censor and let him rate every publication in the world before its printed. I'm sure we'd all be a lot better off for it - we could have Sex in the Sub-City printed all over the world. Of course, it would eliminate the need to make toilet paper.

His big complaint was that 11211 didn't represent the zip code and how dare it call itself after the area. Yes, whoever does that without everyone's permission is absolutely incredible. (Note to self: contact and inform New York Times, New York Post, freewilliamsburg.com, etc. that they are violating someone somewhere in the area they claim in their name.) You mean that some publications aren't loved by every single person in the area it serves? Nonsense.

Russ also said that just because the magazine printed a mission statement in several different languages does not make it multi-ethnic. He is absolutely right. However, if we printed his columns in several different languages they would still be just crap. His writing style is pathetic and his column is merely a soapbox he can moan from and bitch about everything he thinks is wrong with the world. And as a side note, I don't ever recall seeing anything that he wrote trying to celebrate (or in his usual style bitch about) the diversity of the neighborhood.

So, he didn't get to do the issue he was told he could. Too bad. I for one am glad the publisher of 11211 woke up and realized who he was exactly giving the reins over to. It's like the President of the United States saying to a protester, "Oh, think you can do better? Here, you're president." Yeah.

Now Russ and his friends are going to put out their own magazine. There's one good thing about this. One: Maybe he won't have any more time to write his freewilliamsburg.com column anymore which would make the site infinitely better just through its absence. As it is, the site contains wonderful articles and reviews - that are all being dragged down by being near Russ's .... um .... column.

Now, to be fair, just as I am entitled to my opinion, Russ is entitled to his. The same goes for free speech. So now after reading Russ' opinion, you have read mine. And the country goes on.

P.S. I not only have written for 11211 (and I believe way above a 5th-grade level and definitely above Russ' at the very least) but for freewilliamsburg.com as well.

- Grant

Dear Free Williamsburg,

I remember when I saw my first issue of 11211 ... I groaned. Here was a cute thing about Williamsburg, it's symmetrical zip code, hipsterized. Then I actually read the magazine, and I almost fell out of my chair. Or lets say I did fall out of my chair, it was so bad. Beyond bad. Bizarre. The product of a confused mind. But printed on such heavy stock. In color. Obviously a lobor of love, it got worse in later issues. The emphasis on being multicultural, published by a guy whose name seems made up, his cool/uncool detector seriously out of wack ... he dissed the Pool Bar (obviously doesn't appreciate rockabilly), while letting far worse offenders off the hook. Maybe having a crazy mom gives me special insight, but I can't believe that Russ Josephs didn't figure out the truth about the publisher right away, just from reading the magazine: He's crazy. He's flushing his money down the toilet publishing dreck and feeling righteous. You, my hipster friend, were not nearly cynical, ironic, and suspicious enough. If I had done what you had I'd be too embarrassed to talk about it. You were had. Anyway, I hope your mag is actually good.

Yours, Will Hunter

Dear Free Williamsburg,

I just read Sex in the Sub-city, and can I say "way to stick it to the motherfucker." This is coming from a person who spent the last hour bitching at the top of my voice about people in a high position who forget what it's like to be us. Broke, but hard working with good intentions. Why do the dumb, lazy shites get all the breaks? I hope your magazine more than kicks ass, but destroys ass. Levels it. Send me some info on when it appears.

Maurice Downes

Dear Free Williamsburg,
An idea, does this human wedgie own the name 11211? If he doesn't, why don't you copyright it? Then the Times can do a story on YOU, and YOU can get the investors. Ah! Revenge is sweet!


Dear Free Williamsburg,

Right on! That guy is a cock and his magazine is a fucking embarrassment. Tell him when I come back I'm gonna go into that fuckin mini mall and throw the whole stack of rags into the street!

Ben Bartlett

Dear Free Williamsburg,

I just discovered freewiliamsburg and I really enjoyed your piece about 11211. I concur that it is a piece of crap. I went through something similar - - its always the underground folks who screw you the worst. I spent almost 5 months working on an "alternative" guide to NYC for some up-and-coming young publishers. My content was taken, then never used. They pretended not to know me. I interviewed Luc Sante, Alana Heiss (PS1 founder), and other luminaries on DAT for online use. Then publisher/editor sold out to Houghton Mifflin and Playboy.com and traded it all for more pieces on -- Galapagos!

Oh yeah -- the reason my stuff wasn't usable? It covered actual issues - Latino v. Satmar, garbage and toxic sites in Williamsburg, a guide to Sunnyside and Woodside, etc.

Most of these hipster-publishers are just yuppies in training. Look at 11211 -- glossy paper. Who's trust fund paid for that? Most couldn't give a rat's ass about real issues in NYC. Most wouldn't recognize good writing if you stuffed it up their noses. Anyway, enough ranting. I can relate to your anger and frustration. Nice work.


Dear Free Williamsburg,

I am ashamed of you. Too afraid of going into the Goodtimes Bar & Grill. You missed out on some of the best Shrimp this side of Brooklyn. Joe the owner, has lived in the neighborhood all his life. I should know, we been running buddies till I moved. Remember the phrase, 'don't juge a book by it's cover' and give it a chance. You won't regret it.

- Name Withheld

Dear Free Williamsburg,

First of all I'd like to say thanks for an informative site. The restaurant
reviews are very useful since Williamsburg is so bereft of good places to

However, on the all important topic of pizza, you have erred greatly. Anna
Maria's on Bedford is an abomination of all that is good and decent with NY
pizza. It gets everything wrong.

-Oily cheese
-Sickeningly Sweet Marinara, tastes like Ragu spaghetti sauce.
-Limp, floppy crust.
-Crappy canned toppings. You mentioned this.

This place is only a viable option once the others have closed, including
the Charleston, which has by far the best pizza in the area if not greater

And, horror of horrors, you state that Driggs Trattoria is good pizza IF YOU
TIRE OF ANNA MARIAS!!!! What could be further from the complete objective

When you go to Tony and Conchetto's you get a real slice. It's fresh, made
with quality ingredients. It doesn't flop down like an limp, oily disaster.
The vegetable offerings are covered with Fresh veggies. The cheese is
delicious and soft. The marinara is zesty. What's more, one can sample
traditional Italian offerings like the Spingione or tricolore pizza. Its a
damn fine pizzeria, not to mention the wide variety of other Italian cuisine
offered by the kitchen in back.

That said, I hope you revisit this neighborhoods pizza establishments and
realign you views. There will always be a drunken slice of Anna Marias
waiting for us after the proper pizza artisans in the neighborhood have gone
home to their families.

Thank you for your time.


Dear Free Williamsburg,

It sounds like your anthrax story is a joke, so CUT IT OUT. it's not funny.

- Name Withheld

Dear Free Williamsburg,

Rock on to Maurice Downes for his article on "gentrification guilt." I, too, am tired of the posers complaining about how it all used to be so cool. one can't really stroll past the verb without getting assaulted by the collective bellyaching.

I'm by no means an oldtimer (more a carpetbagger than anything else) but I still remember when the only nightlife was at Planeat Thai (on the shopwworn corner, before they moved into the art-filled cavern) and the only drinks were at the bodegas. it kind of sucked. i'm glad there's more than one place to eat around here, and i can finally get a decent cup of coffee without getting on the subway.

I'm also sick of the privileged bitching about the burdens of privilege. I made a pile of money before I was 30 and I'm not ashamed of it. It kicks ass to be rich and white and over 21. Of course I wish the playing field was more level. of course i wouldn't wish a ghetto lifestyle on anyone. But the backwater depressed southern california suburb i grew up in is far behind me and I couldn't be happier.

- Love,
Rich Girl gone too far

Dear Free Williamsburg

Maurice Downs is my fucking hero. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

- Sincerely,
Cindy Price

Dear Free Williamsburg,

Whassup yall? I'd like to compliment Maurice for being a true critic. I'm sorry he didn't like the album but at least he didn't do what other "critics" do. You know they try to totally trash something they don't understand. To Maurice I say "maybe next time bro" In defense of my effort I will say this. The album is meant to be more simplistic than my previous works. The album as a whole is a throwback to original,well mixed, head bop hip hop. While it is simple, there is more going on than you notice on just the initial listen. But thanks for not being a dick!


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Opinions addressed in Free Williamsburg are not necessarily our own, godammit! HOMESend Us Mail