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
Deputy Editor, Club magazine
Evan Wright’s “Scenes From My Life in Porn” was great! I have friends in The Biz (as they like to call it), and his reportage struck me as very right on. While not everyone in porn is a dirtbag or a freak, the industry is a magnet for the odd and the idiotic who, like the butchers and tanners in Buddhist Japan, are driven to create their own little world, in which they incestuously gossip, fornicate, and congratulate themselves on how cool and cutting-edge they are, at the same time that they suffer a lonely and even tortured exclusion from “normal” life. For me, as a spectator, it has made for fascinating, repulsive and often tiresome people-watching. Nevertheless, as a microcosm on the fringes of everyday society at the same time that the triumph of so-called “free enterprise” has made the world safe for porn, the convergence of sex and capitalism remains fascinating for what it reveals about the economic forces that shape our world and our self-understanding, about the power of human vanity and delusion (among producers and consumers both), and about what passes for satisfaction, happiness and intimacy in the world at large.
Good for Evan Wright, intellectual giant, who abruptly ended his career in porn “not because of any sort of moral awakening, but because I found a better job.” God, would it kill you to display just an inch of depth? Why do I find it hard to believe that this experience had no effect on you — else, wherefore the thousands of words you’ve written on the subject? The story, while very interesting, reads about as 2-D as a Hustler pictorial.
New York, New York
I am disturbed by the increasing amount of nudity and explicit sexuality in your newspaper. Take, for example, this week’s feature article “Scenes From My Life in Porn,” with a headline graphic of multiple exposed breasts while describing in grossly explicit detail the writer’s experiences as a Hustler magazine employee at a “gangbang” where a woman has sex with over 100 men.
What concerns me most is the fact that your newspaper is freely and readily available to children all over the city. If you are going to continue to plumb the depths of depravity in the guise of news reporting, could you at least put “R-rated” stickers on your papers before you disseminate them on our city’s street corners?
In “Size Matters” [April 7–13], Ben Ehrenreich cites research showing that class-size reduction has resulted in an increase in emergency-credentialed teachers in the inner city, but he cites no research showing that instruction from new teachers results in lower achievement by inner-city students. The fact is, there is no research indicating this. Ehrenreich might have mentioned Kelso and Bennett-Kew elementary schools in Inglewood, which have a high proportion of emergency-credentialed teachers, but scored as high as, or higher than, many affluent suburban schools on the state’s recent Academic Performance Index. High expectations from the principals and teachers is the only explanation anyone has come up with. In other words, nobody told the new teachers they weren’t good.
Ehrenreich might also have considered that over 90 percent of L.A.’s low-performing schools are implementing the Open Court reading program at grade levels K–2, which involves many more hours of training in reading instruction than colleges of education ever offered. Studies are showing that new teachers are more amenable to the rigors of Open Court than veteran teachers.
And, finally, Ehrenreich might have pondered that many of today’s veteran teachers were part of the huge wave of emergency-credentialed hires in the early ’80s. Those new teachers held the system together then, with much less training than new teachers have today.
Not surprisingly, “Size Matters” blamed the wrong culprit for why California has a serious problem educating its young folk. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that between 1997 and 2007, California will account for half the total increase in U.S. school enrollment. No wonder our state educational system can’t keep up. This is but one manifestation of California’s horrendously rapid rate of population increase. Sprawl, traffic congestion, loss of farmland and general environmental destruction are other examples.
In the next 25 years or so, when California’s population is projected to surpass the 50 million mark, there will be more people per square mile in California than currently live in China. This is the same China that, careless about its high rate of population growth, belatedly saw the light and desperately, and not very successfully, has tried to institute a one-child-per-family policy. Indeed, China’s population continues to grow rapidly. But at least China finally understands, whereas the L.A. Times, the L.A. Weekly and all the rest of our shortsighted, agenda-driven media still have not learned how to count.
Should we maintain business as usual, California’s population will continue to rise like a rocket even as it soars past the 50 million mark. For those who truly care about California’s distressing educational situation, there is one essential component to any solution: We must insist that the U.S. government rationalize U.S. immigration policies so that the total immigration level is not much different than the level of emigration.