Re: "Lost Soul: A Lament for Black Los Angeles" [December 410]. Erin Aubry's soft-news article is too little, too late. How about the hard-ass whys and wherefores of our 34-year-long local black "diaspora"? "Lost Soul" alludes to, but does not articulate, many of the realities of African-American life specific to Southern California: the failure of banks to make equitable home and business loans, and to set mortgages at reasonable interest rates and terms; the complicity of realtors in preventing blacks from leasing or renting viable property; scams to trick elderly black owners out of their property; auto-, life- and home-insurance redlining; inferior goods and products sold at inferior chains, with few accessible shops and stores; the sociopathology of local law enforcement and the devastation wrought by the criminal-justice system on black youth . . . ad infinitum. Black Los Angeles never had the support of the larger city's business, legal, entertainment or cultural institutions. Local black artists couldn't get their shows reviewed, and local black authors couldn't get their books reviewed. Easy enough for the Weekly to publish Aubry's excellent lament, but in the first dozen-odd years of its 20-year history, the Weekly editorial staff gave short shrift to L.A.'s black community and took on its first black staff writer, Lynell George (No Crystal Stair), only after a number of black writers, including myself, came into the office and complained. When I asked why the Weekly wasn't distributed in South-Central, I was told, "Sorry, Wanda, we can't move enough papers down there." As if to say, "What's to read in the L.A. Weekly that would be of interest to African-Americans?" Other than obituaries for our part of town. Give me an effing break.
With what equanimity the editors of L.A. Weekly present us with "Lost Soul," by Erin J. Aubry, who laments, "The seven-square-mile Crenshaw district is the only predominantly black area of Los Angeles left, and the strongest argument against cultural annihilation." Just for the hell of it, I'm going to ask the Weekly and its readers what your reaction would be to an article lamenting the loss of white-only areas.
"That tired old reactionary question?" some will complain. Well, how about answering it?
The Weekly is fortunate to have a professional like Erin Aubry on staff. Her exposé is where the rubber meets the road. Her passion helps put a new perspective to the word "community" without intimidating those who live outside the community. A great article that deserves acclaim.
In "Playa Vista Revisionism" [December 410], Marc Haefele attacks wetlands hero Marcia Hanscom for her campaign to expose DreamWorks' role in the destruction of Ballona. He claims that, while the rest of the proposed megadevelopment would indeed be right on top of the last coastal wetlands in Los Angeles, the DreamWorks section would be on an area that has already been destroyed. So what? Anyone who has followed this issue even tangentially knows that the entire proposed Playa Vista megadevelopment hinges on DreamWorks' involvement. The permits, the city and state subsidies, and the sycophantic greenwashing by some in the media would not have been possible without the willingness of DreamWorks' Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen to maintain their involvement. If they walk, the development dies and the wetlands live. They know this. So does Marc Haefele.
National Director, Sierra Club
What a load of baloney! The DreamWorks movie-studio complex includes more than the vacant Hughes hangars: Two areas of wetlands will be destroyed to build the new complex. And sorry to tell, Mr. Haefele, but DreamWorks is an integral part of the entire Ballona development -- the reason our city, MTA and state politicians have offered the rest of the Ballona development $115 million in corporate welfare, so they can house and employ another 50,000 people on this rare patch of green soil in the city.
President, Save All of Ballona
Re: Michael Collins' "Rocketdyne's Red Glare" [December 1117]. Our laws, which so resolutely punish smalltime criminals after three strikes, become less decisive when faced with rogue corporations that blight our valleys with stealth toxins and promote carcinogenesis among our children. Such aberrant behavior is no more representative of American business than gang activity is representative of neighborhood charity. Rocketdyne's management and major shareholders may not wear the baggy insignia of gang affiliation, but their deeds make them equally dishonorable.
--Ali J. Naini, M.D.
MORE LIKE RED IN THE FACE
I have taken offense at the review of Orpheus Descending by Paul Cohen [New Theater ä Reviews, December 1117]. I do not disagree with the review; in fact, I found most of what Mr. Cohen observed to be true. But when he used the adjective "sallow" to describe actor Alex Liu, who is obviously at least part Chinese, I found it racist and insensitive. I think Mr. Liu deserved more than being called "of sickly, pale-yellow hue" (Webster's New World Dictionary) -- or why mention him at all, or why not "He sucked" or anything but "yellowish hue"? If it was an honest mistake, i.e., using the wrong adjective, where was your editor? We live in a multiracial city. Liu is Asian. I cannot believe this appeared in the L.A. Weekly.
THE EDITOR REPLIES: The unfortunate association of the word "sallow" with an actor of Asian extraction boils down to a quality-control issue in our editorial department. No racial slur was intended.
LIKE A ROCK
Just writing to say how much I love the Rockie Horoscope. I'm an astrologer too -- I write for Citysearch -- and I always enjoy Rockie's accuracy, insight and just plain talent. Hope you are paying her well.
Love my Rockie Horoscope. Thank you so much for going online.
Oak Park, Illinois
Rockie Horoscope is usually a nice, entertaining break from the B.S., but lately there's been just too damn much about Clinton and crap like that, which I couldn't care less about.
Make it stop.
WHERE THERE'S A WILL
I have read and enjoyed the L.A. Weekly for many years, and the only question I have is: Why does your publication have to rely on the advertisements of plastic-surgery vultures and 1-800 hookers?
No offense to them as individuals, but every page is plastered with "Oriental Masseuse," "Breast Augmentations," "Vaginal Reconstruction" and "Sizzling, Busty Latinas." How sad it is that this is the only way readers like myself can get such an informative and provocative publication for free.
Due to a last-minute editing change in "Jeremiah Among the Palms: The Lives and Dark Prophecies of Mike Davis" (November 27December 3), Mike Davis' quote "I was stunned to find out that something I said turned out to be true" could be construed as a comment on his research methods rather than his inability to recall details of his personal life. In fact, his comment came as part of a response to Davis' second wife Jan Breidenbach's saying of him that "He couldn't remember to buy mayonnaise, but he had a photographic memory for great blocks of information." I regret any misunderstanding that may have arisen from the juxtaposition.
In last week's Scoring the Clubs, Satan's Cheerleaders were erroneously ballyhooed for an appearance at Bar Deluxe. In reality, the band was Satan's Pilgrims. We apologize for any deviltry this may have caused.
Send letters to the editor to: L.A. Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, L.A., CA 90078. Or fax us at (213) 465-3220. Or e-mail us at email@example.com. Letters, which must be typewritten and include a daytime telephone number for verification, may be edited for purposes of space or clarity.