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Car Talk

In last week's First Person column, contributing writer David Futch explained what he has learned driving an ancient Toyota Corolla in this car-obsessed, wealth-conscious city ("Love Me, Love My Car"). The responses to his column were, in a way, as revealing as the looks he believes he's getting on the road. One reader actually uses the phrase "rolling garbage scow"; another, "full-grown parasites." Pull up a chair and enjoy the fisticuffs.

Writes Bob Fately, "Allow me to edify Mr. Futch as to why drivers of 'nice' cars keep their distance from a clunker such as his: It is to reduce the chances of trading paint with a driver who, from all outside evidence, is both uncaring and likely uninsured. This is just an extension of the mindset that causes owners of brand-new cars to park at the outskirts of large parking lots to avoid potential dings from shopping carts left by inconsiderate morons who let them roll down inclines.

"In general, the formula might be 'newness/value of my car' divided by the 'apparent value of other car.' The closer that ratio is to 1, the more at ease I will be. If my car is worth 100 times what some piece of shit approaching me in the next lane seems to be worth (and of course this is all book-cover assumption), then I will give wide berth to that rolling garbage scow. If the other car is a $100,000+ Lambo, I can be pretty certain that that driver will be careful of his own accord.

"If Mr. Futch wants to take umbrage at his perceived slighting, let him at least understand what he is talking about, rather than make a retarded statement like, 'contracting that dreaded disease called Poor,' which only serves to incite the ignorant masses — something I thought the L.A. Weekly is above."

Reader TrueBlue also is not impressed. "So — what????" TrueBlue writes. "All of us who drive Beemers or better are supposed to feel ashamed at our good fortune?"

"Good fortune?" responds WhoCares. "Good fortune? Yeah. I bet it took a lot of hard work for you to inherit wealth. I hope this guy Futch with the old Toyota runs into your precious Beemer. Get a clue. The 99 percenters are watching you and your entitled 1 percent buddies."

Nancy Pants is mostly chagrined that Futch presumes his car is on its last legs. "Don't be too sure about your Toyota not passing its next smog check," she writes. "My boyfriend's '94 Toyota pickup just passed. He took the advice of my old mechanic, who told him to let it run for a while before taking it in. And re: 'The Look,' all I will say is consider the source. Most of these folks are either full-grown parasites who've never had to pay their own way and/or people so desperately insecure they will quite literally drive themselves into debt or bankruptcy to gain the acceptance of random people they don't even know. Trust me, in the Darwinian scheme of things, you're way ahead of the game."

Office Politics

We got yet more feedback on Gene Maddaus' April 20 investigation into trouble at the Los Angeles County Assessor's office ("Let's Make a Deal"). Dean Wahls writes, "As a former appraiser with the Los Angeles County Assessor, I found your article to be extremely well-researched. During my 17 years with the assessor, I worked with most of the people mentioned in the article. Appraisers are trained to fairly and impartially determine market value and to defend those values upon appeal, but are then undercut by management. I was often put under pressure to reduce values substantially below what the market indicated.

"Like Sharon Moller, I was a target of a very violent outburst by Mark McNeil over his imaginary clothing requirements. McNeil concocted this to get me out of the board room, leaving him free to cut values. And like David Zoraster, I was occasionally taken off of appeals cases when honest market data indicated a value too high for someone's liking. Tax agents routinely use 'comparable sales' that are actually nowhere close to being comparable, but assessor management gives away the store, ignoring genuine comparables found by their own appraisers. My experience at the assessor was that honesty is a career killer, and doing good, honest appraisal work does not pay."

Fish Tales

We also continue to hear from readers who enjoyed "Sushi Stars," Garrett Snyder's April 20 compilation of the 10 best sushi restaurants in L.A. Writes Richard Dwan, "Thank you for a beautiful article. This is the first time I've seen Go's Mart reviewed; your description is perfect. Wonderfully pithy writing. I'm reading less because of the unnecessary fluff that so many writers use. Keep up the good work." We're pleased to report that you can read much, much more of Snyder's "wonderfully pithy" writing, as we've hired him to be our food blogger. Check out blogs.laweekly.com/squidink for daily updates.

Self-Congratulations

L.A. Weekly was named best in its class — "Best Tabloid/Consumer Publication" — by the Western Publishing Association at its annual Maggie Awards ceremony last week. So, yep, we rock, although we'll try to leave our bragging at that.

You Write, We Read

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