La Dolce Paolo

I suddenly found myself crying after reading Doug Ireland’s piece on the death of Pier Pasolini [“Restoring Pasolini,” August 5–11]. As a half-Italian gay man who grew up reading the history of this famous and infamous director, it was with great sorrow I read about his murder by political thugs rather than the juvenile who was charged with the crime 30 years ago. How often is history around a gay figure, even in this last century, so clouded and murky — leaving new gay generations to dig deeper for truth. And how sad that this revelatory information comes out now — decades after the director’s final film. As a performer and writer who explores gay history, it is with a heavy heart I read of a manipulated murder and cover-up of this artistic mentor. How much queer history is bathed in secrecy, blood and shame that only the evolution of time can bring forth the honest story of one man’s artistic and political struggle against a national machine determined to silence him. How many others could there be?

—Federico Hewson
Los Angeles

What the hell did Doug Ireland think when he wrote that oh-too-loving tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini? Should we love him because he was a great cinematic genius? Or should we love him because he was a troubled gay artist? One thing is clear: Signore Pasolini had a weakness for young boys. Regardless of my own appreciation for his impressive body of work, I remain unconvinced that Pasolini’s death needs revisiting. His dalliances with underage minors, as well as his volatile political activities, led him to the fate he so richly deserved. If only modern geniuses (ahem) such as Michael Jackson could be “rewarded” in a similar fashion.

—Joe Rourke

Up on Compton Creek

The folks concerned with Compton’s future [“A Creek Flows in Compton,” August 5–11] might consider looking 3,000 miles east for inspiration and ideas. The historic Anacostia River in Washington, D.C., which flows through lower-income, minority neighborhoods in northeast and southeast Washington, has suffered many abuses over the years very similar to those of Compton Creek — and despite the abuse, nature still abounds, from blue herons to wild turkeys. In the midst of it all, the Earth Conservation Corps, begun more than 10 years ago by film/TV producer Bob Nixon, has led the way in re-connecting the local youth with their river, helping them become stewards of the natural environment in their back yard, while also ushering in progress. The ECC was highlighted recently in the August 1 issue of People. I was lucky enough to work with the ECC for two years and can’t help but hope that the folks in Compton seriously consider creating an ECC-type program and re-connect with their piece of nature. This lily-white girl would absolutely be willing to venture to Compton if there was a mall that looked out over a natural creek with egrets to boot. You’d get my money, Compton!

—Lara Day
Los Angeles

What an asset a restored creek could be to that beleaguered community. What a special place it would create for that projected shopping mall. How can water-thirsty Southern California ignore the natural waterways we have? Compton must latch on immediately to county Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke’s $3 million for creek beautification. That should make even shortsighted developers happy.

We must all be strangely blind to the few water spaces we do have, not to cherish them. I’m going to an open house being hosted by the Gabrielino Tongva Foundation, on the grounds of University High School, where a natural spring has been the center of Native American life for centuries, but currently is used by Uni for horticultural classes. It is recognized as a California Historical Site, and the Native Americans still living in the area (many of them alummni of Uni) would like to have a shared museum and classroom on the site, to restore the spring, the little stream and pond (and the wildlife that frequent the tiny spot). At least, they did stop a developer who wanted to pave over the area for a parking structure. It has taken them 10 years, but they have finally built a tiny amphitheater on the space. Interest from the powers that be, former Senator Tom Hayden, current Senator Sheila Kuehl and school-board member Marlene Canter, is all well and good, but no one seems to have money available for projects. School classes do tour the area, with guides who bring their own family artifacts to display. This is part of the California curriculum.

I’m so glad some school kids planted trees. And that there is a bike path. And wouldn’t Compton like some positive publicity for a change?

Thanks for a beautifully researched piece. Save the water. Save the whole river.

—Marty Rauch


In our cover story on Compton Creek [August 5-11], journalist Sarah Ruth Van Gelder was misidentified as psychologist Reneé Solis.

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