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LABOR’S LOVE LOST

I would like to know who fed the Weekly that cock-and-bull story about the teachers’ union rank and file forcing the union leadership to endorse David Tokofsky for re-election to the school board [Election endorsements, February 28–March 6]. What actually happened (I was there) was that the Tokofsky endorsement was railroaded through by United Teachers of Los Angeles’ elite PACE committee, of which the union president is a member. This committee interviewed each candidate, including Tokofsky and his principal opponent, Nellie Parra, and was supposed to give a numerical rating to each one. Strangely enough, the committee did not reveal Parra’s score. Perhaps they were embarrassed by the fact that Parra is more pro-teacher than Tokofsky.

The UTLA did not vote to endorse Tokofsky out of genuine enthusiasm or affection, but rather out of resignation and fear of the future. There is a genuine morale crisis among L.A.’s teachers. The UTLA recently took a survey that found that two of the rank and file’s top five concerns are loss of local decision-making power and loss of academic freedom. (Class size is the No. 1 concern.) Tokofsky has shown zero leadership on these issues, while Parra has promised to give teachers and parents a bigger say. He is also hostile to bilingual education, and shows no enthusiasm for anything but standardized testing and the L.A. Lakers. He even links them metaphorically. In fact, he has wasted so much time in board meetings and candidate forums talking about the Lakers that one might wonder what job he thinks he was elected to.

I for one am thrilled that Nellie Parra was able to get the Riordan-Broad money without sacrificing her principles. This L.A. teacher can’t wait for “regime change” to come in District 5!

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—Tom Louie Los Angeles

AN ACUTE CASE OF THE BLAHS

Dear LAWeeklyWriters/ ArtCriticCocksuckers (not that there is anything wrong with sucking cock, but other pejoratives like SnideSycophantSnakes and BlackHoleSouled-OverIntellectuals just don’t quite convey exactly how much I was upset by your articles [February 28–March 6] on the Lucian Freud exhibit at MOCA and the Aaron Rose–curated show on the Westside. (And don’t even get me started on that Harvey Pekar Sundance comic thing . . . BLAH!!!!!!!!!!! (And especially don’t get me started on how depressing it was reading your negative review of Chan Marshall’s live performance . . . Mean! Mean!! MEAN!!! Blah! BLAH!! BLAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!))

You (L.A. Weekly writers) should be ashamed of yourselves and your apparent desire/need/ obsession with being perceived as young, hip and in the know. There’s no reason to gush about BarryMcGeeAndCompany as if they are TheShit . . . (Which of course they are. And have been for years and years and years.) But then to turn around and give Lucian Freud backhanded compliments suggesting that he’s a decent enough painter for an old British representationalist? And why knock MOCA’s permanent collection? And why knock Lichtenstein and Twombly and Durant and that neohippypainter who was cool a few years ago for being the ElephantShitGuy?

“What in God’s name are you trying to tell me in this babbling letter here son?” you might ask. “Just spit it out.” All I’m saying is that a lot of your writers seem to be sorely lacking the ability to differentiate trends of what’s cool from true soul/talent/beauty in art, in music, in film, in life. And this is a very sad thing.

—Hal Haberman Echo Park

UNHOLY ALLIANCES

Re: Frank Smyth’s “Iraq: Telling the Left From the Right” [February 28–March 6]. Oh no! Not another “friend” of the left slamming the peace movement for supposedly being a Saddam fan club. But this one has an unusual twist: Smyth informs us that Iraqi leftists want “the international community to back an Iraqi-led military uprising,” or, short of that, that they “would most likely support multilateral military intervention.”

Well, the Iraqi people certainly need to organize for a democratic alternative to Saddam, and the peace movement would do well to make common cause with the Iraqi left. But Smyth imagines — do I have it right? — our allying with Iraqi leftists in a joint call for multilateral military intervention in the anti-Saddam cause.

This would be a dangerous scenario, especially at this moment when the terms of any military action would be completely in Bush-Powell-Rumsfeld’s hands. And, despite what Smyth claims, such is not what the Iraqi Communist Party is calling for. The ICP’s posted statements (at www.iraqcp.org) are clearly opposed to military intervention of any kind. Rather, they are ä “considering responsible approaches to enable our people to avert a devastating war.”

—Howard Ryan Los Angeles

 

What the hell is Frank Smyth talking about? Who are all these American leftists who support Saddam Hussein, or confuse him with a liberal democratic regime? Where did Smyth get the idea that the American left doesn’t support the United Nations, multilateral disarmament or the Iraqi opposition? Is he living under a rock? Has he ever read The Nation, Z magazine — or even the rest of the L.A. Weekly? The left was all over Saddam Hussein back when Rumsfeld was shaking his murderous hand and Bush Sr. was sending anthrax to Iraq. Does Smyth think a military coalition sent by the Western capitalist nations is the same thing as the global people’s army desired by the Iraqi Communist Party?

If the left spends more time attacking Bush than it does attacking Hussein, it’s because Bush is more likely to listen, and because, as Americans, our primary responsibility is to keep watch on our own government, and because there is plenty of criticism of Hussein coming out of the White House. It’s not because we like Saddam, or fail to recognize his brutal, anti-democratic behavior. That I even have to explain this is just amazing. I can only assume that Smyth and Marc Cooper do a lot of drinking together, because they seem to share the same utterly unreal ideas about the anti-war movement. Please replace them both with someone — anyone — who knows what she’s talking about.

—Dan Brezenoff Long Beach

NOISY NEIGHBORS

Re: “Clouds and Cuckoos” [A Lot of Night Music, February 21–27]. Caught the pic of Gyorgy Ligeti in the last ish and thought to read up on the gent. Instead, I got a chronolog about Alan Rich’s decade-backdated earlier review, Alan Rich’s bootlegging of a concert, Alan Rich’s noisy box-seat neighbor and Alan Rich’s transliterations of foreign-language misnuancings, amongst myriad other pettishnesses. The most common pronoun: I, I, I, I, I . . . ad infinitum. Is there an editor overlooking the writers up there in the Weekly offices? Oh, and could you one day do an article on Ligeti? We already know plenty about Alan Rich.

—Marc S. Tucker Manhattan Beach

PECULIAR HABITS OF SOUTHWESTERN REPTILES

Re: Dave Shulman’s “The End of the Fucking World Survey” [Sitegeist, February 21–27]. I loved that article. It is work like Shulman’s that gives me hope in this fucked-up world. When I was growing up in the ’50s and the ’60s, I never imagined it would get so bad and cracker-ass. Bush is a scum-sucking Texas snake. Keep up the excellent work, and resist evil.

—Felicia Butler West Hills

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