EDITOR’S NOTE: Chuck Stephens is a freelance film writer and occasional contributor to the L.A. Weekly.
PREDICTABLE IF JUSTIFIED
In “The Grim Weeper” [A Lot of Night Music, March 8–14], Alan Rich, justifiably perhaps, disparages the overuse of the somewhat indelicate term “slush pump” by a former L.A. Times music critic in reference to the work of Tchaikovsky. He tags him with the cardinal fault of “predictability.” Yet Martin Bernheimer, it seems to me, like his estimable successor, Mark Swed, largely reviewed each piece of music on its own terms and rarely revealed his own predilections, whereas Mr. Rich has never had any compunctions about letting us know which composers are among his favorites — Mozart, Schubert, Adams, Ligeti, etc. — and rarely has positive things to say about others, such as Brahms, Bruckner, Glass, Carter, etc. In that sense, the general tenor of his reviews can often be seen as quite “predictable” (and often, too, they may be just as negative as those of Bernheimer, whom he regularly criticized for hypernegativity).
Still, the enthusiasm and perceptiveness Mr. Rich brings to his work are evident week after week, and a delight to many of us who read him.
Regarding Brendan Bernhard’s Considerable Town item on the effects of advertising and poetry [“The Poet and the Ad Man,” March 15–21]: Rex Wilder is blowing it out the ptootie hole. Two years ago, a giant billboard on Lincoln Boulevard in beachside Los Angeles with a quote from Charles Bukowski in simple black and white resulted in the sale of hundreds of Bukowski’s books. The billboard was paid for by a group called Poets Anonymous. The advertising of quality literature can work when the advertisers believe in the product and present it in an intriguing manner.