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
—Christopher Wheat Cambridge, Massachusetts
Ernest Hardy is a fucking genius, and he is the only film or music critic I know of that has the fucking guts to tell the truth about race, sex and politics in America. His latest article, “Same Old, Same Old,” is amazing, truly amazing.
—Bill Brown New York City
Send in the Koalas
I just read the piece in OffBeat about the L.A. Zoo cutting down eucalyptus trees and how a local resident was pissed off about it [“Ecocide,” January 26–February 1]. He should know that eucalyptus trees are non-native trees that totally destroy the chances for any native plant life to thrive. I completely support the zoo in trying to restore the natural habitat of Griffith Park.
Celeste Fremon’s whiny article about having to get the tires changed on her Ford Explorer [“The Big Blowup,” January 12–18] conveniently fails to consider the danger and inconvenience Fremon is causing everybody else’s children by driving an SUV in the first place. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics, in case of collision, the driver of an SUV is vastly more likely to kill another motorist than the driver of a more responsible vehicle is. It goes without saying that the Camry drivers about whom Fremon complains spend significantly more time dodging low-visibility traffic conditions, bypassing crowded-out parking spaces and having 3-foot-high dings removed from their car doors than SUV owners do getting their tires replaced. The SUV debacle will end when the families of the real victims (responsible drivers killed to satisfy other drivers’ moronic desperation to be trendy) start suing the real villains (cavalier idiots like Fremon).
—Josh Arneas Los Angeles
Simply, if Not Succinctly, Put . . .
As Harold Meyerson tries to bring order to the confusing political morass that is the current election for mayor of Los Angeles, he trades succinctness for comprehension. He is not wrong to focus on labor’s role and importance, but he misses the point in what he perceives as the disjunction between the new progressive coalition that is forming and the disjointed reaction of labor to it.
What other reason — besides simply being captured by the weight of outmoded convention and a conservative outlook — could explain, for example, how the constellation of SEIU locals can face an obvious progressive option with different and seemingly contradictory endorsements? This fit of conservative myopia is what Meyerson says SEIU Local 347 is guilty of in having endorsed James Hahn, as opposed to Antonio Villaraigosa, for mayor. This is supposed to be a clear choice. If it’s not clear, then it can only be that we are victims of conservative malaise — or we have just been bypassed by the times.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Meyerson’s characterization of the process is incomplete and reductive, the description of Local 347 is inaccurate, and the choice for Angelenos is anything but this simplistic.
While it would be preferable to speak with one voice in the Joint Council of SEIU locals, the individual SEIU unions respond to different points of reference, and do so quite unequivocally, all of the time. More important, they do so without any of them sacrificing the hard-won mantle of progressive unionism. It is precisely because the largest progressive union bloc in L.A. has such a varied outlook that Mr. Meyerson’s observations seem relevant. This points only to the contradictory nature of the process. The County Fed — itself not exactly a bastion of conservative politics — may end up uncommitted in the race. More to the point, there is a sea change occurring just beneath the surface of L.A. politics that will produce cataclysmic change in the coming decades. Different sectors of Los Angeles’ working class are demanding that their voices be heard, and a new progressive force is assembling to reflect that change. This shift is at the core of Meyerson’s criticism and of his failure to understand the conditions.
Simply put: As the unions rooted in different and transmuting parts of the class formation move, with time, to a newer configuration, they will do so at different paces, reflecting different specific weights of the elements of that social shift. Second, the newly emerging progressive movement has not yet sent forth a leader from within its ranks to represent that shift — Gil Cedillo is a good example of such a natural leader — in this race for mayor. Cedillo’s campaign, as an example, for the state Senate seat of Richard Polanco should receive near-unanimous support from all the players in this local scenario, Antonio Villaraigosa included.
Villaraigosa’s personal politics are not the issue. His commitments are real and admirable. Had he opted to run for the City Council rather than mayor, this conundrum would never have been aired. Our support would have been absolute, and we would have campaigned tirelessly to count votes for him to become the next council president.
He did not choose to do that. Moreover, we do not believe he can successfully win election as mayor this year.