By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
ROCK & ROLL VALUES
Russel Swensen’s appalling, morally torpid write-up of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players [Live in L.A., July 11–17] was the most offensive and despicable thing I have ever read in your fine publication. A reviewer is entitled to his opinion — Mr. Swensen apparently feels that the Slideshow Players’ productions are offensive to the ordinary, often deceased people they feature in their songs and on their found-art slides. Still, no matter what his opinion of an act, shouldn’t a journalist strive for some sense of decorum while judging the performance on its own merits?
Mr. Swensen did neither. Instead he harassed the band, badgering the drummer, 9-year-old Rachel Trachtenburg, to “show her tits” and later bragged of repeating the affront to her father while the band performed. What a colossal asshole Mr. Swensen is! I invite him to repeat his performance at a future TFSP show, where I’ll be happy to introduce his teeth to the back of his throat in a properly awestruck, somber fashion.
Your newspaper and radio station KXLU have had a long and good working relationship together. Every DJ on our station reads our concert calendar on air, which ends with “For more information, please check the L.A. Weekly.” After looking at your July 11-17 issue, I was ashamed that we had directed the people of Los Angeles to your publication. The object of my — and the station’s — disgust was the decision to print such an offensive review of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. Russel Swensen was way out of line. He is so far up on his existential horse, using flowery language, he failed to write a review with any substance, and instead decided to just venture into the realm of the offensive.
The Trachtenburg Family buy slides from people who no longer want them. They sing songs about what the people are doing in the slides. I fail to see how that “is worse than distasteful in regard to the human condition: immoral, an insult to whatever exists.” Furthermore, I do not understand how Swensen feels that it warrants his behavior at the concert. At no time should anyone be treated the way he treated the Trachtenburgs.
Printing this was a poor judgment call on the part of your paper, and it displays even worse judgment on the part of Mr. Swensen. If I was in the bar that night, I would have taken on him, his Salvadoran friends who wanted to “throw down” and any others who would even dream of saying something like that to a defenseless little girl. It sickens me that our listeners were directed by us to your publication, and to this article. I hope that you will use better judgment in the future. If articles of this nature continue to be printed in the Weekly, we will have to sever a long-standing relationship.
KXLU General Manager
It is extremely difficult to understand how a paper with an editor could let such mean and unwarranted remarks make it into print. Russel Swensen seems to be one of those reporters who still harbors rock-star fantasies and holds himself up as an arbiter of “rock & roll values.” It is unfortunate that he needs to display this adolescent bravado at the expense of a young girl’s self-image. I wonder if he would have said the same thing if the drummer had been a grown woman or man. Swensen needs to step out from behind his defense of “rock & roll values.” Sexism is sexism, whatever key you play it in.
THE EDITOR REPLIES: Due to an editing error, the writer’s remarks appear to have been directed at the Trachtenburg Family’s young drummer, when in fact they were spoken privately out of earshot of the 9-year-old girl. Contrary to the impression given by the article, the L.A. Weeklydoes not condone abusive, sexual language directed at children.
In reference to Ben Ehrenreich’s article on non-lethal weapons in crowd/riot control [“Weapons of Mass Compliance,” July 4–10], he’s way off base. After seeing the Seattle WTO rioting in 1999, I feel the need is great for law-enforcement to have tools to control out-of-control mobs. There’s an element in this country that uses political demonstrations as a cover for rioting; Seattle ’99 showed that we need to give our police and others in law enforcement the means to combat this form of terrorism. The use of non-lethal weapons to control rioters is necessary to protect lives and property from the violent, anti-capitalist mobs we saw in Seattle, in San Francisco and in other cities during Operation Iraqi Freedom. We live in dangerous times, and those who protect us need our backing, not irresponsible writers attacking them.
In “You Gotta Fight for Your Rights” [On, July 4–10], John Powers mentions that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia believes that we enjoy civil rights in excess of the minimal level assured by the Constitution. Apparently one of these excesses is the right to vote directly for presidential candidates, or at least for their electors. Buried in the Supremes’ decision in Bush v. Goreis the statement that “The individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the president of the United States.”
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