Missing Heath; on Randall Roberts' "Masses" Feature 

Also, comments on Scott Foundas' "Bud, Wiser" and Daniel Heimpel's "Mold Rush" feature

Wednesday, Aug 6 2008

Missing Heath

Among the comments to laweekly.com about Randall Roberts’ cover story “Port in the Storm: Heath Ledger’s L.A. Days Among the Masses” [July 11-17], Alexa B. wrote, “Sensitive and beautifully written article. Thanks for giving us another glimpse into Heath Ledger, a true talent who will be forever missed.” From Luciana: “This is ­definitely the best article I’ve ever read after Heath’s death. My heart goes with his friends who are missing him dearly right now.” And Sara wrote, “Thank you for this article as it embodies the spirit I always believed Heath Ledger to have. It is also refreshing to hear the good after the tabloid frenzy to find and exploit the bad!”

Great Minds

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Scott Foundas claims that the filmmaker behind Swing Vote is an obvious student of Capra and Sturges. That may be, but it strikes me that he must be an even more obvious student of Garson Kanin. The whole premise of Swing Vote is an unabashed replica of Kanin’s movie starring John Barrymore, The Great Man Votes.

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Molded Story

Regarding “The Mold Rush” [July 25-31]: I believe the author showed two extremes of the issue without touching on what I feel is the truth — somewhere in the middle! Ms. Kramer, indeed, seems like an overzealous “nut.” On the other hand, to say that mold is “harmless,” as scientist [Bruce] Kelman claims, seems absolutely wrong and irresponsible as well. Might the truth, as usual, lie somewhere in the middle of these two extremes? I happen to have had my own terrible — and real — experience with toxic mold. When my daughter was a sophomore in high school, we moved into a cute old Victorian in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Our landlord mentioned that the house had had a severe flood, and, only briefly, I thought it a bit strange that the second bedroom was painted dark green. Not until my absolutely normal child became (almost) deathly ill that winter did I wonder why. And not until we were moving out the following summer, and a neighbor, in passing, told me that “every child that’s ever lived in that bedroom has become ill,” did I realize there was probably toxic mold in the dry wall that was covered up by the dark-green paint. Once we moved out, she and her immune system returned to normal, and she hasn’t had any problems since. We never sought compensation, but I did warn the new residents of the possible issue.

So, scientist Kelman, I disagree that it’s in one’s imagination and/or affects only fragile, ill people. My strong, athletic, healthy 15-year-old can tell you differently! To Ms. Kramer, you need to get a life! You’re hurting this all-important cause more than helping it! Unless your house is infested — as only happens in severe flood situations — get out the Clorox and wipe it up! And, L.A. Weekly, next time, report not only the extremes of a situation, but also a “rational” viewpoint — your article will be more interesting and helpful to your readers.

Michelle Wagner
Los Feliz

I was disappointed by the article about Mrs. Sharon Kramer and the mold issue. Your reporter seemed to have a very noticeable bias against her personally and against the “mold as health threat” position. There is a huge amount of hard scientific data and literature that invalidates the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine’s position statement. What if it were your loved one who suffered through serious health maladies with no relief or correct diagnosis, only to find that the culprit was something relatively well-known and simple to find? My life was changed beyond recognition due to this contaminant in my home. I spoke out as loudly as Sharon for as long as I could, and when I couldn’t keep it up anymore, Sharon picked up and carried it to Congress and The Wall Street Journal.

Deborah Daniels Davitt
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Daniel Heimpel’s cover article on mold was interesting reading, but he oftentimes resorted to unnecessary ad hominem attacks on Ed McMahon. For instance, Mr. McMahon’s new lawsuit with Robert Day is characterized as bizarre. How so? Negligence lawsuits like this happen every day, and Heimpel and L.A. Weekly editors supplied no facts to bolster their hasty characterization. On a different note, why did the week’s cover depict a naked woman with “toxic mold” written on her back? I know, I know ... sex sells.

W. Henry Gambill
Pacific Palisades

I am usually in strong agreement with the viewpoints of L.A. Weekly, but I was very disappointed by Daniel Heimpel’s article. Rather than admit that the proverbial jury is still out on the mold issue, the headline “Moms aren’t always right” positioned Sharon Kramer and other mold activists as crackpots. The tenets for his argument against the validity of mold toxicity were that the “studies have been inconclusive” and that a writer for King of the Hill made fun of the idea on the show. The article did what he accused mold activists of doing — taking a stance before all of the information was in. The only difference is that mold activists have their ailing health as empirical evidence.

Matt Amsden
Santa Monica

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