Re: Sara Catania's "Saving Ricky Tovar" [October 23-29]. Thanks so much for a very moving article. I've seen a few cases myself of the "justice" system sinking its teeth into people, chewing them up and swallowing them. A courtroom can be the nastiest place in this country - and the starkest example of de facto apartheid. I'm enclosing a check for Ricky Tovar's college fund.
If Ricky Tovar makes it through this year in school, I personally pledge $100 toward his college fund. This kid deserves a chance at college, and it saddens me that the money that had been set aside went to an attorney who seemed more concerned with money than he was about a child locked up in prison.
With mountains of evidence against UNOCAL, it's pretty amazing that the best a senior corporate lobbyist like Jack Rafuse can do is issue a volley of flat denials ["Burma Plan Gets Past Holden," October 23-29]. Not only is it a weak response, it's a contemptible one - contemptible because it tries to erase all the suffering that took place in the Burmese pipeline region. Thank you for setting the record straight.
-Allan P. Taylor
Former UNOCAL employee
Councilman Holden has shown his support for democracy in Burma by forwarding the Burma resolution from his committee to the City Council. Now it's time for the people of Los Angeles, through the council, to vote for democracy in Burma and send a message to companies like UNOCAL that ethical behavior really does matter.
Yours is probably the last paper I thought would need to be straightened out about prostitution, but a paragraph in Benjamin Weissman's review of Nerve: Literate Smut ["Smutology," October 16-22] infuriated me. Referring to "hustler" Aaron James, Weissman stated that James' perspective is "quiet and devoid of violence. This, of course," he continued, "is unexpected . . . " Get a fucking clue! I happen to be one "hustler" (which, by the way, is often used as a degrading term for men in the sex industry) who started sex work after three corporate careers and four years at a university. Additionally, I wrote several cover stories for national magazines, produced a documentary film, and helped co-found the International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture and Education - all while "hustling." My work has been incredibly therapeutic, both for my clients and for myself.
While I understand (painfully) the all too common association of street prostitutes with drugs and violence, for most sex workers this industry is a choice, and many of us choose sex work to finance our creative endeavors.
So maybe Mr. Weissman needs to widen his own perspective before he reviews another book that deals with sex work.
Thank you for the wonderful article by Greg Burk, "Don't Wake Me: A Dream Week of Jazz in L.A." [October 16-22]. I would like to make the following suggestion: It is time for the L.A. Weekly to utilize the talents of Mr. Burk and Bill Kohlhaase in a regular, weekly full-page column along the lines of A Lot of Night Music by Alan Rich. Including a range of jazz and world music would broaden your readership, open doors for both audiences and musicians to one another's cultures here in multiculti L.A., and bring national attention to the many deserving artists based here.
How dare Greg Burk claim that jazz pianist Brad Mehldau is from this tainted town! (I must say that, until this egregious error, I was thoroughly enjoying Burk's article.) Mehldau may call L.A. his home now, but he isn't from L.A. He's from a little suburb in Connecticut called West Hartford. I grew up there; I watched Mehldau tear up keyboards at about the same time he began to realize that he could grow sideburns.
Anyone tracking musical talent coming out of high schools nationwide will immediately recognize Hall High as the epitome of jazz excellence for over a generation. Keep your ear to the ground, Burk: Garret Sayers (bass), Kris Allen (alto sax), Jason Berg and Josh Wittenberg (trumpet) are on their way.