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
Your open support of striking workers — food drop-offs, strike updates, etc. — was noble, but it wasn’t good journalism. You crossed the line between reporting the news and participating in it.
FULL OF . . . WHATEVER
Regarding Carol Lynn Mithers’ review of Full of Life: A Biography of John Fanteby Stephen Cooper [“A Walk on the Wild Side,” April 7–13], I can’t believe a paper which takes itself as seriously as the L.A. Weekly would allow a review to appear by a “critic” who is so shallow, dense and self-serving. When Mithers claims in her article that “it’s also unclear how much active interviewing or digging Cooper did,” it is embarrassingly apparent that Mithers did not really read the book. If she had, she would have noticed over 50 pages of notes and the names of more than 300 people whom Cooper acknowledges at the end of his book.
As much as I hate to say so, I’m afraid Thom Jones (The Pugilist at Rest), Jay Martin (Nathanael West: The Art of His Life) and the growing number of others who’ve endorsed my biography of John Fante will only shake their heads in derision at the botched assassination attempt upon Full of Life. “The problems start with structure,” declares the matter-of-factoid Ms. Mithers, whose first shot at faulting the book (for allegedly “laying out Fante’s story along strictly chronological lines”) fatally wounds her in her own foot. I understand how an occasional contributor anxious to please this or that editor might skip words, even paragraphs, as she speed-reads her way toward a deadline. In her rush to discredit my five years of work on the book, however, Ms. Mithers surrenders all claim to credibility, for she has vaulted over far more than mere paragraphs. For example, she fails to notice nothing less than the whole of Chapter 1, which starts in 1960, flashes back through the eras of Hannibal, Ovid, and Fante’s 19th-century ancestors, then forward to the 1990s before arriving at the year of Fante’s birth, 1909 — hardly the strict chronology that Ms. Mithers misrepresents as underpinning the structure of the book. Yet it’s on this muzzy premise that Ms. Mithers props up the rest of her rant. Reasonable readers will decide whether Ms. Mithers’ subsequent points, including one touching attempt at personal slur, meet the minimum critical standard of intellectual honesty.
As for the mysterious “local writer” whom Mithers hides behind her skirts even as she accuses me of being “just plain lazy”: The ventriloquist act is most unbecoming for a man in his position. Reputable newspapers print clarifications. If readers of the L.A. Weekly can’t count on getting a responsible review of my book, they at least deserve to know who is saying what.
California State University, Long Beach
NOTE:The “local writer” referred to is Weekly arts editor Tom Christie, whom Cooper places in Fante’s presence in his book but failed to interview. As for the charge of ventriloquism, Weekly editors facilitate opinion, not write it. The opinions expressed in Mithers’ review were her own.
Carol Lynn Mithers’ potshots at Stephen Cooper’s research were not only inaccurate, they were mean-spirited. Cooper did a fine job. His examination of my father’s past was meticulous to the point of annoyance. He became a Fante-family stalker and spent years plodding through interviews and poring over file cabinets full of coverless screenplays, cast-aside correspondence and unsifted junk. His biography of John Fante is first-rate in every regard.
POINT TAKEN, BUT SHOULDN’T THAT BE “WHASSUP”?
Re: “Welcome to the Nuttwerx” [April 14–20]. Yo, why you always gotta have a white guy writin’ about a brother? Your boy Frank Meyer made my bros in Fishbone sound like monkeys who can never “just get along.” What’s up with that?
This cover story on Fishbone was the bomb! I got turned on to Fishbone in the early ’90s and have often wondered why they haven’t blown up à la No Doubt. Anyone who has seen one of their live shows knows that these boys are (were?) bad! I wish them all the success they can stand.
WITHOUT POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE
Besides working on the film Ready To Rumble, I actually think it’s a great underdog comedy. Dave Shulman is entitled to his own opinion [see Calendar Film, Current Releases], but only if he has the professionalism to watch the entire film. Would you print a review by someone that only saw half the pieces at an art show? Or only read half of a book? Since he did not see the entire film, he is hardly credible on the subject. You should not have published that review.
I’m not saying that Ready To Rumbleisn’t a bad movie (it is, although Mr. Shulman’s description of wrestling as “softcore gay porn” implies that he may be the wrong person to review a wrestling movie to begin with). But given that some people actually pay to see these films, and that others scrub urinals for $6 an hour, is it really so hard for Shulman to do what he’s been paid to do?
—Luke Y. Thompson