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READING RAINBOW

The Weekly’s May 7–13 issue was one of the most enjoyable issues I have read in the 11 years since I became an L.A. transplant. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Dave Shulman’s article on Andy Kaufman [“Uncle Andy’s Fun Afterlife”] is a keeper. It not only answers a few questions I had but also raises some. In fact, I think there’s a possibility of a death hoax. I remember when I was younger, seeing pictures of Andy in the midst of chemotherapy — his head was bald as an egg, while the rest of him was hairy as a monkey. That seems impossible.

I was then treated to articles about Richard Pryor [“Pryor Uncut”], Mitch Hedberg [“Petting the Koala”], Don Herbert (a.k.a. Mr. Wizard) [Considerable People, “The Whiz”], Mark E. Smith of the Fall [“We Are the Fall”], the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (featuring faves the Pixies) [“Live in L.A.”], as well as the hysterical Courtney Love comic strip by Ellen Forney and David Schmader [Pulpit, “Memories of Love: Courtney Through the Ages”]. Jerry Stahl’s tribute to Hubert Selby Jr. [“Dark Angel”] also was a touching read.

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Thanks for the memories and for showing such respect to some of the people whose adventurous spirit provided inspiration for me as a child of the ’70s and ’80s.

—Jaye Barnes Luckett
Los Angeles

BUFFOON ON THE MOON

Andy Kaufman is overrated, obnoxious, cruel and unfunny. Why should we care about him now? I didn’t 20 years ago. Kaufman and Zmuda were overgrown delinquents who treated those they worked with poorly and their fans worse. Zmuda should find a real job and stop pushing this dead act off on the public.

—Brian Chandler
Pasadena

 

Dave Shulman’s article on Andy Kaufman is as much a lame attempt at comic mendacity as it is a shameless promotion of Zmuda’s overpriced event at the House of Blues. He should have done some research and come to the conclusion that faking one’s death is next to impossible, and Kaufman, unfortunate as it may be, is pushing up daisies. Also, Shulman’s assertion that there is a real Tony Clifton is simply bizarre. As any Kaufman fan knows, Tony Clifton is a character created by Kaufman and Zmuda. (The Clifton interviewed by VH1 was actually Zmuda in costume, and one assumes that the man Shulman interviewed over the phone was also Zmuda). Either Shulman knows this and is simply acting as a shill for Zmuda’s event, or the writer is extraordinarily ignorant.

—Jon Thibault
Los Angeles

LEGALIZE IT

Regarding Doug Ireland’s story [“Royal Coke,” May 7–13], if all drugs were made legal, it would take all of the money out of the dealers’ pockets, and then the Saudi Prince, the CIA, the DEA and other agencies would have to get real jobs. Wouldn’t that be nice? Even some of the police forces would have to go back to working on real crimes. It is time for the public to stop believing all the crap about the phony drug war; it is really about competition and who gets to sell the garbage to the users. Often, the only people to get punished are the small independent dealers or the producers or those who won’t play ball with the CIA.

—Shannon Taylor
Holualoa, Hawaii

SEEKING CLOSURE

Last June, Elliott Smith won the L.A. Weekly award for the songwriter category. A year later he is gone, and a lot of questions about the circumstances surrounding his death are left unanswered. There is still an investigation going on, from what I’ve heard, but after 6 months it seems to have gone nowhere.

Back in January, the Weekly published several articles by Christine Pelisek about Elliott’s death [“The Elliott Smith Mystery,” January 2–8; “The Final Moments of Elliott Smith’s Life,” January 9–15; “Another View of Elliott Smith,” January 16–22]. Does anyone know what’s going on? Elliott was living in L.A.; he was certainly the most important songwriter in the local music scene; numerous musicians have praised his talent after his death. I really think that the Weekly should continue to report about this tragic story. Everybody needs an answer and closure.

—Laurence Laneque
Los Angeles

The Write Stuff

Work by L.A. Weekly reporters, columnists and reviewers has been nominated in eight categories in the 46th annual Southern California Journalism Awards, a contest sponsored by the Los Angeles Press Club. Michael Kaplan was nominated for Best News Feature for “Dealing With the Master” (May 15, 2003), a profile of professional gambler Men Nguyen; Jeffrey Anderson was nominated for Best Investigative/Series for “Ghost in the Machine” (July 4, 2003), part of the Weekly’s “Taking Liberties” special issue on civil liberties, also nominated for Best Special Section News or Features. Erin Aubry Kaplan is up for an award as Best Columnist for her Cakewalk column; and John Powers for Best Entertainment Reviews/Criticism/Column for his On column. Three Weekly writers had work nominated for Best Entertainment News or Feature: David Chute for a cover story on Bollywood movies (March 6, 2003); Doug Harvey for a critical essay on video artist Bill Viola (January 24, 2003); and Steven Leigh Morris for a feature on the residents of Sunset Hall (April 17, 2003). Winners will be announced on June 12.

CORRECTIONS

On last week’s contents page [May 14–20], a photograph taken by Ali Farboud ran without full credit information. The model in the photograph was Robert Sherman, who appeared courtesy of Dragon Modeling Agency.

Our film capsule review of Wasabi Tuna [Calendar, May 7–13] incorrectly states that Celia Fox is the director. Celia Fox is the writer. Lee Friedlander is the director.

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