By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Send letters to the editor to: L.A. Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, L.A., CA 90078. Or fax us at (323) 465-3220. Or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters, which must be typewritten and include a daytime telephone number for verification, may be edited for purposes of space or clarity.
MOURNING BECOMES ELECTORAL
We were outraged and sickened by Erin Aubry’s “Damn the Eulogies” article [April 14–20], about the memorial service for Fifth Street Dick’s owner Richard Fulton. As a journalist and as an invited speaker, she might have taken the time to investigate Fulton’s relationship with the politicians who attended the service. It is no secret that Fulton (along with other merchants) had differences of opinion with City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas over the installation of parking meters in the Leimert Park Village parking lots a few years ago. (It must be stated here, however, that within the last year there had been a rapprochement between Ridley-Thomas and Fulton.) County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke has always been supportive in sharing resources with the Village community. Assemblyman Rod Wright, who delivered a magnificent and touching tribute, is known to have been a supporter of, and a visitor to, the coffeehouse. State Senator Kevin Murray was recently the recipient of an award from Mothers in Action and the Leimert Park Merchants Association, of which Fulton served as second vice president. Mr. Danny Bakewell, community leader and activist, and a frequent visitor to Fifth Street Dick’s, gave a stirring and beautiful elegy. Mr. Clarence Harris, 30 years a businessman in the Village, a friend of Fulton and also a frequent coffeehouse visitor, spoke as a friend and as a representative of Councilman Ridley-Thomas.
It is also obvious that Ms. Aubry is totally unaware of the process of planning a memorial service. Program protocol allows for those with prescheduled events — in this case, for community leaders — to be placed first in the program and seated in the front rows. This is done as a courtesy so that they may move in and out with as little disturbance as possible.
Ms. Aubry’s skewed point of view is incredible. We can’t believe we attended the same service. The fact is, people have come to us — as the planners of the service — to say that it was one of the most moving ceremonies they have ever attended. The written and floral tributes to Richard that were pictured in the article were given in the same spirit of love and remembrance with which we planned the memorial service.
Michael Simmons’ review-article about the Grateful Dead [“American Beauty,” April 28–May 4] was right on the money. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to get across to so many, for so long. There’s musical genius to be found in many places, but for me, it was most often witnessed while I was watching the Dead . . . and I’ve seen a ton of live music before and after I became a fan. Thanks for publishing this beautifully written, evenhanded review.
My most enthusiastic congratulations to the music editor of the L.A. Weekly for using Michael Simmons’ piece as the lead article in that edition’s music section. Given the anti-hippie punk/post-punk dictatorship that predominates in most alternative-press music departments, it was an unexpected pleasure to read such an insightful critique of this significant retrospective collection, a project that establishes beyond argument the contribution made by the Grateful Dead to American popular music.
As a very public Deadhead (I’m the host and producer of KPFK’s psychedelic program The Music Never Stops), I’ve grown accustomed to abiding the jokes and the snipes and the unprovoked disdain that the ultrahip illuminati heap on the Dead — on their lack of concision; their rambling, meandering jams; their glassy-eyed, undiscriminating worshippers; etc. And though inured to the razzing I’ve received over the years, I remain bothered by snide dismissals of the Grateful Dead’s repertoire as essentially irrelevant Muzak for people on drugs. Simmons does a very nice job of pointing out that these guys were not merely indulging in four-hour wank fests every night. And despite the usually ignorant depiction of Dead concerts as being mostly social events for a bunch of pathetic tie-dyed losers trapped in the ’60s, I would contend that the music of the Grateful Dead never carried with it any overriding tendency toward nostalgia. They existed always and utterly in the continuous Present. Their vast repertoire of songs was constantly growing and evolving, avoiding both trendy hipness and archaic mummification. Simmons really captures this aspect of the band’s timelessness when he writes, “The ability to write and perform new songs that sounded a hundred years old was one of the great legacies of the Dead . . .” I would add that they were also capable of performing songs that were a hundred years old and making them sound brand-new.
KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles
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