By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
ODE TO BILLY JOEL
Charles Rappleye’s ACcount of his encounter with a street musician on the Red Line [“Hidden L.A.: Underground Sound,” A Considerable Town, February 28–March 6] really struck a chord with me. I’m a born-and-bred Angeleno, but I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to spend most of my formative student days getting a taste of life in other world capitals. Foreign languages and cultural quirks aside, one common thread in any great cosmopolitan center, be it London, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong or Sydney, is the entertainment you see in the subways. Guitar players are standard fare, but I’ve also seen accordion players, jugglers, magicians, and even actors putting on a puppet show behind two people holding a curtain. Though such entertainments often are not technically legal, the local police usually turn a blind eye to anybody who has any talent at all, knowing that such artistic expression adds to the charm and character of the city, and also because these impromptu performers are a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
I’ve also seen the police harassing street musicians, flower vendors, pantomimes and sketch artists in tourist areas, where they are most appreciated and needed. Because of the film industry, L.A. has some of the best local talent around. Let them perform (and for free yet)! I went to Hollywood & Highland last Friday evening and noticed all the balloon-tying clowns, yo-yo trick artists and breakdancers had already been chased away by the cops. With absolutely no street life (i.e., character) in the area, I got bored after about 10 minutes and left — and every single penny I took to Hollywood & Highland that night came right back home with me.
Please, let the people of L.A. express themselves freely, or our town will never be as inviting a place to live in or visit as San Francisco, Paris or New York. Street performers and vendors add character and vibrancy to our city, something that L.A. desperately lacks. Crumbles the clown, Juanita the flower lady and the guy strumming “Allentown” on the subway are not criminals; they are the pulse and lifeblood of the great city of Los Angeles.
WHERE THERE’S A WAY, THERE’S A WILL
I can always count ON Marc Cooper to almost, but not quite, grasp the big picture, which is perhaps why I find him so infuriating. In “Headlong Into a Tar Pit” [Dissonance, February 14–20], he correctly chides the anti-war movement for its refusal to recognize that Saddam Hussein is evil, rather than just “a bad guy.” What he doesn’t get, however, is that when he demands “the introduction of . . . permanent international human-rights monitors . . . the freezing of financial assets of anyone connected to the ruling crust, and, last but not least, a call for the convening of a Bosnia-style international tribunal that would indict and try Saddam and the hundreds of other vulture henchmen who compose his execrable regime,” he’s assuming that these events will just come to pass without a sustained application of American firepower. Just out of curiosity, does Mr. Cooper think that the Peace Fairy waved her wand and Slobodan Milosevic got a sudden urge to trade in his presidential palace for a prison cell? We had to bomb him out of power, after a sustained round of debate from our European “allies” which produced several years of intense hand wringing, but nothing that actually saved any lives.
ON AND OFF THE MENU
Re: John Powers’ “Shock and Awe” [On, February 28– March 6]. Is it really propaganda, or is it just liberals who can’t admit that it’s being told like it is? Finally someone has had the intestinal fortitude and good sense to stand up to the arrogant French. But the House cafeterias shouldn’t stop with freedom fries and freedom toast. From now on, our representatives should be dining on Wounded Knee white asparagus with peppered .balsamic glaze, duck l’agent orange, My Lai Maine lobster, Patrice Lumumba pâté de foie gras, Pinochet porcini-crusted sweetbreads with spring onion relish and roasted bell pepper coulis — and let them eat death by depleted-uranium chocolate cake.
THE KEY TO LONGEVITY
Re: Paul Malcolm’s review of the documentary film Fidel[New Film Releases, March 7–13]. Hello! Earth to unreconstructed com-symp: Has it ever occurred to Paul Malcolm that perhaps Mr. Castro has survived so many U.S. presidents chiefly due to the fact that we hold elections every four years? Thanks for the glowing review of the loved-by-the-left dictator Fidel. What next, a boot-licking look at the handsome devil Saddam Hussein in his private life as a harem studmaster? Give me a break.
nice work if you can get it
Re: “The Reformers Are Dead, Long Live the Reformers” [March 14–20]. Howard Blume has a better understanding of school politics than many education policy makers. Given current student values, the restrooms will not be clean if the janitor is assigned to a single restroom for the total of his/her eight-hour shift.