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A VISION THING

What an exception it was to read Greg Burk’s piece about Michael Sigman [“Weekly Publisher Departs,” January 25–31] and Sigman’s reply to being asked what he will do next. None of the usual bluff about “lots of things in the pipeline,” “being head-hunted as we speak,” etc. Just meditating and improving his piano. Something tells me that this kind of man survives longer than the rest and will re-emerge in any way he chooses. It is only congratulations I offer him.

—Peter Chelsom
Los Angeles

 

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HOW GREEN (AND WET) WAS MY VALLEY

I just finished reading Barry Lopez’s article on the Valley [“A Scary Abundance of Water,” January 11–17], and I can’t stop crying. It brought back a lot of memories. (I lived in the Valley from 1979 to 1989, ages 9 through 19.) What an amazingly well-written article!

—David Joseph
Sunnyvale

 

I sat down to read Barry Lopez’s memoir of growing up in the San Fernando Valley with casual interest, because I too grew up there in the ’70s, and now teach there. I was hardly prepared for an essay so profoundly world-shaping that it has actually changed the way I look at the landscape of home. In this one essay, Lopez has made a contribution to the written history of L.A. that is on a par with that of Rayner Banham or Carey McWilliams (or maybe John Fante, since Lopez writes nonfiction in a novelist’s voice). It is wonderful to live in a place where a newspaper actually puts great literature on the cover.

—Richard Elsky
Ventura

7 . . . 11 . . . IT’S A TOSS OF THE DICE

John Powers states in his piece “Rank and Yank at Enron” [January 11–17], “The right fulminates endlessly about liberalism’s moral bankruptcy, but its own penchant for the ideological blame game is the intellectual version of Chapter 11.” Chapter 11 is protection from creditors prior to a major reorganization of your finances. The object is to keep the business going. Perhaps he meant Chapter 7 — dissolution of the bankrupt firm and paying the creditors a fraction of money that is owed.

—Paul D. Motzenbecker Jr.
University Park, Maryland

 

TIME WOUNDS . . .

As the daughter of a retired cop who infiltrated and was later hunted by the SLA, I commend Greg Goldin on “Guilt Trip” [cover story, January 18–24]. In spite of what Sara Jane Olson’s supporters say, I recall having to leave the only home and friends I knew, learning to look over my shoulder and that evil does exist in the world. I was 6 years old. Many others who came in contact with this group also suffered and continue to in various ways. Time doesn’t heal everything. As their victims continue to suffer, these people need to pay for their actions, no matter how long ago they occurred. Thanks again for the great article.

—Venessa Verdugo
La Habra

 

GOOD NEWS, BAD THEODICY

In “Happy Land Jubilee” [January 11–17], Clarence Fountain ascribes the massacre of 9/11 to the fact that “The United States has to pay for some of the wrongs it’s done down through the years. God allows certain things to happen because man just don’t want to live right.” To which Kristine McKenna replies, “It’s hard to argue with that.”

Wrong, Kristine. It’s very easy to argue with that. Just what were the wrongs that all those people did? Individual people suffered and died that day, and other innocent people suffer still, mourning them. Unless you know for sure that each and every affected person did wrongs that would require divine punishment, you not only can but must argue with Mr. Fountain and anyone else who comes up with such specious reasoning.

—Joan F. Kaufman
Los Angeles

 

AS MOOT AS IT GETS

Re: “A Killer Job” [January 25–31]. While I appreciate the effort and intent of Sara Catania’s article about Stephen Wayne Anderson’s incompetent attorney S. Donald Ames, I am concerned about a few factual distortions in the article: One, Anderson was not a “homeless wanderer” when he killed Elizabeth Lyman; he was a prison escapee. Two, the transcripts of Anderson’s interviews when he was first arrested indicate that he confessed to the Utah crimes of his own free will, with full understanding of his Miranda rights. He was held for three days without being â arraigned not so the authorities could nefariously “pressure” him to confess, but so that an official from Utah, whom Anderson had requested contact with, could have time to travel to California and speak with Anderson.

Clearly Ames was an incompetent attorney with a horrible track record, and Anderson should never have been sentenced to death. However, distorting the true facts of the case was not the way to go about proving this.

—Loretta Notareschi
San Leandro

 

 

HOLD THAT OBIT

Re: “New Ax To Grind” [January 18–24]. As Oliver Wang mentions, David Axelrod has been in the L.A. music community for over 30 years. Perhaps Oliver is right in stating David’s career peaked lo those many 30 years ago. And yet there is another powerful composition of his, from 1993, Requiem — The Holocaust, after David watched the trial of white supremacist Tom Metzger on TV. Co-produced by Earl Palmer and featuring sax solos by Ernie Watts, this requiem is an important part of the David Axelrod story.

—Dr. David Robbins
Stevenson Ranch

 

LABOR-INTENSIVE

Re: Jonny Whiteside’s “Bamboozled” [January 18–24]. That Mr. Whiteside could get through the book at all is a marvel. Nick Tosches is right up there with Greil Marcus in terms of pop-critic pompous “unreadability,” though Mr. Marcus has a more interesting mind.

—Richard Wells
Seattle

 

THE INTENTIONAL FALLACY?

Did F.X. Feeney write his Revival Pick review of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song [January 25–31] in a fit of nose-tweaking sarcasm? For starters, Flower Drum Song’s “wholly Asian cast” included the African-American actress Juanita Hall as Madame Liang, a role that she originated in the musical’s 1958 Broadway production. Also, not only are the songs “Limehouse Blues” and “Chinatown, My Chinatown” not in the film, they weren’t even written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Nancy Kwan plays the role of a Chinese-American nightclub star; the part of the mail-order bride is played by Miyoshi Umeki, and the character comes from Hong Kong, not Formosa. James Shigeta plays a Chinese-American law student, not a “two-bit thug.” Finally, since Flower Drum Song was made by Universal and recently marketed on video by MCA, I’d be interested to know how MGM acquired the distribution rights.

Why do I get the idea that Feeney made all of these mistakes intentionally, just to see how many hairsplitters would write in correcting him?

—Robert Payne
Studio City

 

DEAD MAN SCHMOOZING

Imagine my surprise to open the Weekly and read in the Slush column [January 25–31] that making the rounds on the current social circuit was none other than actor Dack Rambo. You must admit, this is some feat for a man who died in 1994.

—Erika Hamilton
Los Angeles

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