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A CERTAIN RATIO

Re: “The Writing on the Wall” in the Weekly’s March 14–20 issue. I assume Doug Harvey was simply setting up his assault on a bunch of disappointing shows when he whined that he gets out to galleries “at least once a month,” that he only goes to galleries when an out-of-town friend is visiting, and that he can “hardly make it to the galleries anymore.” Still, taken at face value, it’s an appalling, pathetic, snobbish and cheesy complaint to hear from a weekly art critic. If he really means it, he should consider quitting. Give someone with more energy and enthusiasm a chance. Looking endlessly at art — good, bad and indifferent — is his job. Not only that, it’s how a critic gets good at his job.

Harvey snivels, “How much crap is one expected to endure and keep coming back? One good shot out of 20?” In the 20 or so years I’ve been in the art world, I’ve found that the ratio of crap to non-crap has remained pretty consistent. Harvey writes as if Los Angeles were in some sort of dismal, dark age for art. If he thinks things are so bad and boring there, again, he should leave immediately, go someplace where the art is better. Or maybe he should get away from art altogether . . .

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Let’s make a deal. The L.A. Weekly borrows me from the Village Voice for four months, preferably winter months. The Weekly pays me a ridiculous amount of money, puts me up in an apartment and provides a car. I’ll go to 20 galleries a week and I’ll write about what’s good and bad out there. And I won’t whimper.

—Jerry Saltz Senior Art Critic, Village Voice New York City

 

It's sad to read that your arts writer can't be bothered to actually go to the galleries in L.A. unless prodded, and even sadder that he has resigned himself to believing that the art scene here is an exercise in futility, dominated by crap. Sure, not everything you see is stellar, but the defeatism implied in Mr. Harvey's analysis is a body blow to those of use trying to run art spaces in L.A.

Mr. Harvey should find another job, and leave art writing to those who take joy in the adventure of discovering art worth writing about, which if he even bothered to look for it can be found all over this city. Sure, there's crap out there, just like in every other field, but keep looking: There's is no shortage of worthwhile art to write about.

Bert W. Green Los Angeles

THEOREM INCOMPLETE

Margaret Wertheim should have checked her references a little more closely when she quoted mathematician Kurt Goedel in her article “To Infinity and Beyond” [March 7–13]. Goedel’s theorem does not say that every mathematical system contains paradoxes (propositions that can be proved both true and false). If this were the case, then our systems of mathematics would be useless for describing the world around us. Rather, Goedel’s theorem states that no sufficiently developed mathematical system can be both paradox-free and completely provable. What this means is that there are mathematical statements which cannot be proved or disproved, a quite different affair from what Margaret describes.

—Daniel Rizzuto, Ph.D. Pasadena

ROUND AND ROUND WITH MOTHER THERESA

It was wonderful to finally read a simple and complete condemnation of Christopher Hitchens’ recent about-face in Doug Ireland’s “Getting Bush Whacked” [March 14–20]. What, one wonders, would Hitchens’ self-annointed patron saint George Orwell think of his backing of the despotic Bush regime? Orwell must be turning over in his grave to find that Hitchens thinks the best way to deal with the Fascists in Spain would have been to invade Angola, a rough analogy to the present plan of the Bushites to invade Iraq as a means of dealing with Osama & Co.

Hitchens deludes himself if he thinks Bush actually hopes to get rid of the “terrists.” The Bush goons have been masturbating to dreams of a Global American Empire (a U.S. Army/Halliburton Joint Venture) since childhood and have now found the perfect umbrella to cover all contingencies at home and abroad. The neocon (and old-con, I suppose) hawks have always been hunting for new enemies to justify reductions in our civil liberties and increases in our martial proclivities. Now they have the perfect enemy, an enemy (Iraq today, Iran tomorrow, Yemen the day after) to which they apply their fuzzy logic and justify any defense budget, any degree of secrecy, and a series of calls to arms discreetly timed to affect elections appropriately — a state of governance of which I have a hard time imagining Orwell approving.

—Yetsuh Frank New York City

 

As Doug Ireland “talks” to Christopher Hitchens, it’s easy to notice that Hitchens isn’t always listening. In fact, Hitchens isn’t always talking. I’m glad that Ireland has such famous friends, but it’s also a shame that no one would listen to his drivel except in the context of interviewing someone of renown.

—Max Wyeth St. Joseph, Missouri

ENVOY VEY!

Re: Harold Meyerson’s “On the Brink” [Powerlines, March 14–20]. Just a couple of corrections to an otherwise very fine analysis: George H. Bush the elder was never ambassador to China. He was “envoy” — ambassador status was given China in 1979 by Carter. George W. Bush did visit China briefly while his father was envoy; it was a short “holiday” visit in which W. hardly ventured outside the U.S. Embassy compound. That detail can be checked, and I think it further reinforces the thrust of Meyerson’s article. Also, the “envoy” versus “ambassador” rank is an important distinction because Kissinger and Nixon “demoted” Bush’s active foreign-service-rank billet while getting him far away from the stormy GOP political scene — and any opportunity to make a play for one of those “resignation” offices (V.P. or president) that were looming on the horizon at the time.

—Michael Murtaugh Long Beach

DUMB BOMBS AWAY

I must take issue with the 1,400-word dumb bomb John Powers dropped on President Bush in his article “The Big ‘What If’” [On, March 14–20]. I’m nauseated by the traitorous bands of self-righteous protest pansies and peace posses who have surfaced amid the Iraq debate. On the brink of global unrest, our fighting forces are about to demonstrate to the world why fist-fucking violates decency laws. Semper fi, you filthy bastards. The only reason half of L.A. is able to sit on its collective ass all day nursing $5 coffee Slurpees while I fix toilets is that America already rules the world. The only reason bubble-headed Hollywood pill poppers are able to complete a yoga session without having their chakras suicide-bombed by some terrorist scumbag is because the United States has been doing shit right for two and a quarter centuries. Amen.

While many see Iraq as nothing more than a wasteland of mud huts and concertina wire, I see a posh desert oasis in the embryonic stage. In five years’ time, I hope to be sitting poolside while Sean Penn serves me mai-tais and Martin Sheen adjusts my chaise longue and rubs Coppertone on my back. Of course, I’d prefer Jessica Lange, but she’ll be too busy doing my laundry.

War is not the answer. It is the question. Yes is the answer. And to all of the Islamic extremists planning the Big One, you can run your jihad up my fucking ass. I’ll leave the light on for you.

—Everett “Jack” Falconer Santa Monica

S.O.B. STORIES

The “Two Police Stories” in your March 14–20 issue, by Celeste Fremon (“Out of Time”) and Charles Rappleye (“The Silent Squad”), should have been titled “Two Anti-Police Stories.” Taking the side of these criminals is irresponsible and encourages thuggish behavior. You should show the fine work of law enforcement, not write sob stories about dead lowlifes.

—Brian Chandler Pasadena

 

CORRECTION

Last week’s Calendar theater review of the play First Love, at the Odyssey Theater, erroneously credited Ron Sossi as the director. Allan Miller actually directed the production.

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