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NADER’S RATERS

DEAR EDITOR:

You “conditionally” endorse Nader [election endorsements, October 27–November 2]? I would say you have removed the coeur from the cri. To do what is right even in the face of danger is what gives the act nobility. Imagine the L.A. Weekly in the shoes of the patriots: “I regret that I have but one life to give to my country . . . and given the choice of death or capitulation, I shall choose the latter.” Or “Give me Liberty or give me 5-to-10 years in minimum security.” Such bravery!

If Bush wins, then, dammit, the body politic will have to be vigilant for four years to prevent the evils that may come. God forbid that, following four years of sloth and gluttony, citizenship and political participation be something other than a futile exercise regimen.

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The failure of influential people and institutions, including your paper, to take Nader and his campaign seriously for so long has undermined the effectiveness of the campaign and given new meaning to the word impotence. If you don’t think he’s qualified or prepared to govern, fine. If you disagree with him on the issues, fine. But to use your powers of free speech for this . . . “endorsement”? This is a spit in the face.

—Robert Saunders

Nashville

DEAR EDITOR:

The Weekly says vote for Ralph Nader only when it is clear, by more than a 5-point margin, that the Green Party candidate will not spoil Al Gore’s White House bid. “Flexibility in the cause of progressivism is no vice,” you say. Wake up. The Democrats are not “progressive.” Clinton’s 1996 election-year embrace of so-called welfare reform is evidence enough of the Democrats’ craven politics. Al Gore, don’t forget, championed that particular hammer-blow to America’s underclass. As for health care, the ranks of the uninsured have expanded on Clinton’s watch, and he and Hillary have smothered — in the sludge of “managed care” — any hope for universal coverage.

The time to vote for Nader is when that vote counts the most, and not, as the Weekly urges, when it counts not at all. Give the Democrats the shiv they richly deserve. Or vote for Gore, and toss away your franchise and weaken the possibility of a future in which meaningful distinctions among candidates might help rebuild a genuine democracy.

Don’t validate the corporate kleptocracy. Vote Nader unconditionally.

—Greg Goldin

Los Angeles

DEAR EDITOR:

How dare you endorse Ralph Nader, even conditionally, at a time like this? I am disappointed, disheartened, shocked. Voting for Ralph Nader is not a protest vote; it will not be “a knock upside the head to the Democratic Party”; it will not demonstrate anything other than a willingness to sacrifice the well-being of many for the ideals of few. The only thing voting for Ralph Nader will do is help elect George W. Bush.

How dare you be so irresponsible? It is ludicrous to recommend that Nader supporters check the polls and switch to Gore at the last moment if Bush is ahead. This is not a time for games — too much is at stake. It would have been much more effective to seize the opportunity and wholeheartedly endorse Gore.

Ralph Nader has stated that he would rather see Bush win — he seems to think this would inspire a great uprising. But at a cost to whom? Nader has proved himself to be a self-serving hypocrite who cares more about his own name than the true welfare of others. He’s done his job; he’s raised his issues. Now he needs to put his money where his mouth is and release his supporters to vote for Al Gore.

If the L.A. Weekly was truly committed to the most realistic fulfillment of its own ideals, it would have done the same. You blew it!

—Denise Duffield

Santa Monica

DEAR EDITOR:

We all know in our heart of hearts that there is a world of difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. They appear so similar because their shared tactic is to play to the center. That’s how they get elected. That’s how the game is played. I look to politically astute journalists to delve deeper than this superficial gamesmanship.

If I could I’d cancel my subscription to the Weekly. But what I can do is refuse to hire the thousands of prostitutes who fund your paper. It’s my own form of trickle-down (as it were) economics.

—Mitchell Rose

Los Angeles

SUN LIGHT

DEAR EDITOR:

Re: “Heliocentric Worlds” [September 8–14]. I was out of the country when Brendan Mullen’s story on Sun Ra ran in the L.A. Weekly, and I’d like to bring to light (albeit belatedly) a number of facts.

It was John Sinclair and the MC5 who were responsible for bringing Sun Ra to the Detroit area to perform. The Stooges were ã not involved. My band, the MC5, played with Sun Ra numerous times in the years ’67 to ’69, including shared bills at Community Arts Auditorium, the Grande Ballroom, Ann Arbor Armory, and the first Detroit Rock & Roll Revival Festival at the Michigan State Fairground, in June 1969.

I spent time with Sun Ra and discussed his ideas and principles in depth. At the time, and despite the age difference (he was in his mid-50s, I was in my early 20s), Sun Ra took the time to explain who he was and where he was going. He was a mentor and guide for us, and was always open, generous and patient with me personally. About the MC5, he told me, “I got to be careful with the MC5, because you guys are trying to catch up with me.” It was true then, and it’s true today. I’m still trying to catch up with him.

Sun Ra and the Arkestra would have been considered unlikely audience pleasers in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area in 1967, and in fact, the first show we did with them, at the Grande Ballroom, was a little strained at first. The crowd was used to the MC5 spacing out at the end of a hard-rocking set, but these folks (the Arkestra) started where we ended, and the greaser/factory-rat contingent was baffled, to say the least. Fortunately, the power of Sun Ra’s message overcame the resistance, and the crowd loved them. From then on, Sun Ra was acclaimed just like any other great traveling band of the day.

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra never deserted the foundation they built in the Midwest, and they returned to perform at the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival in 1972. On a night that featured artists like the Siegel-Schwall Blues Band, Detroit’s CJQ, Junior Walker’s All Stars and the great Howlin’ Wolf, Sun Ra and His Solar Myth Arkestra stole the show. John Sinclair captured those performances, and has released two wonderful CDs on Total Energy records, Life Is Splendid and Outer Space Employment Agency. Over 12,000 music lovers were transported to outer space that night. I was among them.

For accuracy’s sake, I’d also like it to be known that both the bassist and the drummer of the MC5 actually took a college course or two. And I myself took college classes while serving time at that esteemed bastion of higher learning known as the Federal Correctional Institution at Lexington, Kentucky.

—Wayne Kramer

Los Angeles

CORRECTIONS

Due to an editing error, the wrong review of a Jackie Chan movie was run in New Releases in the last issue. We ran a review for Drunken Master rather than Drunken Master II (a 6-year-old film newly dubbed and re-released as The Legend of Drunken Master).

Two corrections from our endorsement last week of County Measure A on next Tuesday’s ballot: The three county supervisors who ran unopposed in the March primary were Yvonne Burke, Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich; second, campaign-finance limits are in place at the county-government level.

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