By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
RECALLING HAROLD MEYERSON
Re: “The Recall Is Not Our Friend” [July 25–31]. With friends like Harold Meyerson, Gray Davis can expect little success in his attempt to recast himself as a progressive in order to save his political hide. True, Davis gave tepid support to some legislation favorable to labor and the environment. But he is also an unswerving advocate of California’s prison-industrial complex, a helpless bystander watching an archconservative law firm defend the state in a suit brought by inner-city students demanding educational equity, and a shameless self-promoter who has failed to provide fiscal leadership while his party holds legislative majorities. This is a progressive? Meyerson never misses a chance to nag at those who sought an alternative to the choices provided by the two major parties in 2000 and 2002. Seeing himself as a pragmatist, he condemns us as hopeless idealists for our desire to create a multiparty system.
Left to the pragmatists, humankind would still be living in caves. At this historical moment, the pragmatists defend the Electoral College as a democratic institution and are satisfied with pathetically low voter turnouts. The recall is a clumsy, costly vehicle brought about in part by people who believe government is unresponsive. Want something better? Support the idealistic notion of electoral reforms like instant-runoff voting and proportional representation, breaking the two-party monopoly and bringing more people into the political process.
I have to give Harold Meyerson credit for consistency, if nothing else. He sees that Davis has bankrupted the state and who does he blame for the recall? “One of the only two state constitutions in the U.S. that requires a two-thirds vote for enacting a budget. And . . . a president who doles out trillions to the rich but essentially nothing for states in budget crisis.”
Sorry, but this doesn’t wash. The constitutional constraints were clearly known to Davis when he took office, and they weren’t going to go away just because he wanted to spend more than the state was taking in. George W. Bush didn’t force Davis to increase spending while revenues were dropping, and neither did the state GOP. In fact, they opposed most of it, and they aren’t obligated to abandon their principles (some people besides “progressives” have been known to have them, too) to bail out a governing party with whom they profoundly disagree.
Davis is in this position because he spent other people’s money at a rate faster than they would have allowed him to had they known what he was doing, then lied about it until after he was re-elected and finally tried to impose draconian tax hikes on a state that is already rated last in the nation in services and business climate. A recall is a totally unpredictable event that may make matters worse in the long run, but the outrage among the electorate at Davis and Sacramento is genuine. The state’s power establishment ignored it at their peril. They deserve whatever they get.
P.S. In “What Would Satan Drive?” [July 25–31], Steven Mikulan’s reply to the question “What would Jesus drive?” sort of misses the obvious. Every carpenter that I’ve ever known drove a long-bed pickup truck. Ever try to get a sheet of plywood into a Honda Prius?
BEDTIME FOR BANZAI
Re: Brendan Bernhard’s article about the TV show Banzai [Box Populi, “Paradise Glossed,” July 25–31]. I’m half Japanese and half Caucasian, and have lived in both Japan and the United States. I have seen many Japanese TV shows comparable to Banzai, but some of the games on Banzaiare too tasteless even for Japan. In my opinion Banzai is the pseudo-Asian version of a blackface coon show. The show is racist, and I don’t understand why it is still on the air. Many Asians are outraged.
I was disappointed to see this article in the L.A. Weekly. I guess Banzaiis funny if you don’t know or care about real Japanese people and their culture.
Re: “Steam Dream” [Live in L.A., July 25–31]. With great respect to Jay Babcock — and to Spaceland, hands-down the best venue in Los Angeles — a band like the Hiss, compared in the article to the Beatles derivatism of Oasis, the Zeppelin derivatism of the White Stripes and the Iggy Pop/Lou Reed derivatism of the Strokes hardly qualifies as a much-needed industry wake-up. Maybe when artists realize there is no need to re-create the careers of artists who have come before — and labels cease to reward it, in an effort to duplicate the generous return on investment generated by some other clone in the last quarter — art will improve.
—P. Auberjonois Brazil
DAY FOR NIGHT
I know news publishing ain’t baseball, but did the L.A. Weekly and L.A. Timesconduct a trade recently?
We know the Timesgot perennial sourpuss Manohla Dargis. But who is Scott Foundas? Scott Foundas seems to approve of just about everything. Newspaper ad–ready quotes for such stellar summer treats as American Wedding (“crescendoing farce and superb comic timing”), Bad Boys II (“the movie works . . . the apex of ‰ Bruckenheimer’s brand”) and the obvious consensus best release of the season Terminator 3 (“the summer movie the audience has been waiting for . . .”). Please, L.A. Weekly, come clean! Is “Scott Foundas” really Kevin Thomas (long the Hollywood critical community’s Mr. Easy) using a pseudonym? If so, the Weekly came up short in the trade.
Re: Your review of the movie Camp [“Summer Stock,” August 1–7]. I attended Stagedoor Manor with writer-director Todd Graff, so I feel compelled to assure Scott Foundas that never even once did the flamboyant drag queens ride skateboards, nor did any acne-stricken minority kids turn out to be smooth-talking Lotharios. In fact, I think Todd was trying to be more inclusive of “normal” kids with the Vlad character — I never saw anyone at Stagedoor with a skateboard, certainly not the flamboyant drag queens. And I loved Camp. It captured the essence of Stagedoor perfectly.
SOME OF US, ANYWAY
Re: the editor’s response to the letters run two weeks ago [August 1–7] in response to Russel Swensen’s review of the Trachtenburg Family performance at the Fold [Live in L.A., July 11–17]. What’s more morally suspect — the dribble that Russel Swensen passes off as pseudo-postmodern bravado or the fact that the Weekly has sanitized the whole thing? No more child-porn insults on the Web cache? Hmmm . . . Are you going to disappear the corresponding letters to the editor next? You should fire Russel Swensen not because he’s got bad taste, but because his writing fucking sucks. (Congratulations, Russel — we’ve all read Baudrillard.)
Your editor states, in response to the letters about Russel Swensen’s article about the Trachtenburg Family, that the Weekly does not condone making sexually suggestive remarks to children. Yet the Weekly had the audacity to print the column. Same thing, in my opinion. Remember, 9-year-olds can and do read your paper — especially articles written about their favorite performer! So, before you are so quick to let yourselves off the hook, think of all your readers.
Due to an editing error, a story about the Simple Living Festival by Alan Rifkin (“So Simple,” August 1–7) misidentified Discover Long Beach Parks director Tanya Quinn’s boyfriend as being in the band Delta Novae. In fact, he’s in the band Circle.