By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
In your January 29February 4 issue, you published in your [Theater] Picks of the Week column a review by Deborah Klugman of the Colony Studio Theater's production of Anthony Clarvoe's plague drama, The Living. The review was in your standard one-paragraph format for that column and was uniformly laudatory. I attended a performance of the play and am in complete agreement with Ms. Klugman's assessment.
But then, in your February 1925 issue, there appeared a second review of the play, this one by Steven Mikulan, occupying a full page and under the headline "The Pest Years of Our Lives." (I often wonder which comes first, the review or the cutesy, aren't-we-clever title.) Mr. Mikulan's opinion was diametrically opposed to the earlier review. The main thrust of his complaint seemed to be that Mr. Clarvoe had written a Very Serious Play about a Very Serious Subject, when he should really have written a comedy or farce.
Leaving aside my specific disagreement with Mr. Mikulan's analysis of both play and production, this seems to raise wider questions for your readers regarding the review policies of the Weekly. Are you now going to double-review all plays? All plays that make Pick of the Week? Or all plays reviewed by Ms. Klugman? Does the Weekly have some sort of ranking system for its reviewers? ("Listen to A, B and C, but ignore D -- he's the publisher's nephew and we had to give him the job.") How can the reader be sure you've made up your minds about a production? How long should one wait for the other shoe to drop? Is the second review a disavowal of the first review, or simply an equally valid, competing opinion?
Mr. Mikulan is certainly entitled to his opinion, and Ms. Klugman hers. (And I mine.) But when your reviewers disagree, your readers really shouldn't have to make choices based solely on which issue of the paper they happened to pick up off the curb.
Thank you for printing Greg Burk's down-to-earth testimony on Horace Tapscott, one of the major African griots in America, much deserving of Burk's praise ["Dirt and Sky," February 26March 4]. The Artist of the Millennium Award (presented to Horace by Build Crenshaw Arts at the Vision Theater in Leimert Park on the occasion of Freddie Hubbard's 60th birthday) "for artistic excellence, for mentoring an entire army of community artists, and for his uncompromising commitment to bring the highest quality of cultural experiences and awareness to community people in underserved areas where public-art funds have been historically inequitable" is far more important to Horace than any Grammy award from Tinseltown.
POT AND KETTLE
I wish Sandra Tsing Loh would turn her considerable critical facility onto her own condition. In "Against Writing" [February 26March 4], she correctly points out the foolish confessional motivations behind much contemporary fiction. People are easily lost looking for an authentic self in their own biography (or fiction based thereon). Yet Loh fails to notice that her oeuvre rests entirely on pointing out such bourgeois machinations, and then implicitly raising herself above the silly masses of the TV generation.
Being a writer and novelist myself, I can certainly sympathize with Sandra Tsing Loh. However, much of the problem of too few fiction readers lies in the literature itself, which has become stale and useless. However, purchasing nihilistic, insipid little fiction mags won't solve this problem. What we are seeing is Darwinism at work, weeding out the garbage. "The people" aren't wrong. It's the fault of our so-called creative artists, who, in reality, are conformists more interested in toasting themselves and their ilk than in using their gifts to fathom, and dramatize, the tremendous changes taking place in the world today.
With all due respect to Jonny Whiteside as regards his professional accomplishments as a music journalist and author, his recent slanderous characterization of L.A.-based country & western artist Cisco as a "ludicrous faux-country payaso" [Other Country and Folk, Calendar section, February 1925] was inaccurate on every level. More, it was mean-spirited and insulting to the reader. To define the man who has penned such tunes as "San Joaquin," "Can't Take This Anymore" and "The Bum You Say I Am" as a simple clown of little significance is sheer ignorance and folly. Cisco's rise and evolution â as an artist of note make him an easy target, as does his unique individuality and bold onstage flair. He makes people uncomfortable because he is not afraid to look them in the eye and say what is on his mind. The music he creates is edgy, intimidating and not for the weak of heart.
Big thumbs up on the Jon Ginoli/Pansy Division interview by Vaginal Davis ["Myth Master," February 1218]. Actually it was thanks to P.D.'s link from their Web site that I found the L.A. Weekly online -- now I don't have to regret moving to San Diego! I'm not sure how often Mizz Davis writes for you, but let's hope it's a lot. I've been a big fan of Vag since she co-emceed the benefit concert for Craig Lee with Phranc some seven years ago, and I'm way pleased she's segued from her zines into higher-visibility journalism.