Comment: People Like Us
Last week was our annual People issue! And so, last week, we heard from a bunch of fanboys and -girls who were thrilled with the personalities we'd profiled and with Kevin Scanlon's glorious photography. Fans of Adam Lambert tied up the phone lines, begging us to send them copies. Fans of YouTube star Jenna Marbles nearly crashed our website. And fans of Dodger slugger Matt Kemp — well, we're not sure what they were doing other than standing around drooling. We hate to objectify a professional athlete and all, but have you seen the guy?
Speaking of the objectification of men, some readers took issue with writer Lina Lecaro's observation that Adam Lambert's most rabid fans — the Glamberts — are females who respond to the singer in a decidedly nonplatonic way, even though Lambert is a proud gay man.
"To say we have a 'nonplatonic' love for him is crazy," Chica writes. "Adam is gay, we know this, we embrace it, we wouldn't have him any other way. Doesn't mean the man isn't sexy as hell, though! He gets us. That's all that matters."
"Well of course it's platonic," adds Ali Goria. "We may have met him on Idol but we got to KNOW him through his open heart. We are his figurative sisters, daughters, lovers, mothers, lawyers, dog walkers, bakers and plumbers — the (mostly) women who are birthing, raising and guiding the postgay generation. Adam Lambert did more for the LGBT movement in five minutes on TV in 2009 than any other person in entertainment history.
"Adam forged his own path, using our shoulders and encouragement to gain his footing in a homophobic industry intent on making sure he 'knew his place.' Work that Billboard chart, Adam! You just may finally be the first openly gay person to top it in 60 years!"
Chiri Cheruiyot writes, "Adam's message transcends age, race, orientation or any other social barrier. I am writing this as an African who once had some pretty conservative views about homosexuality, but thanks to the beautiful man that is Adam, I now have a more open mind in general.
"He did amazing with this album and I couldn't be more proud of him if I tried. I hope he comes to Africa. I will break the piggy bank just to go see him live. Will forever be a fan of Adam, and if he wants to make a reggae album tomorrow, I will bring out my dreadlocks hat and get down to his music!"
Valley Girls (and Boys)
Two weeks after we published writer Adam Gropman's defense of life in the San Fernando Valley ("Eight One H8," May 11), your responses are still pouring in. Some of you love the Valley. Some of you hate it. And we're thinking there's not a summit in the world that could bring these warring factions to a peace accord.
Writes Valley defender Owl, "This kind of myopic mindless snobbery goes on in every region of Southern California. I see it every day. Whether it's the Coachella Valley, Inland Empire, Orange County or Greater L.A., there are always people under these retarded delusions that certain areas are 'undesirable.' And lo and behold, the people spewing this nonsense are always ass-hats from some other part of the country, like your New England friends at the cafe. They really need to fuck off. They can have fun living in Hollywood and Silver Lake and Santa Monica and wherever else, paying outrageous rents and having nowhere to park."
"Say what u will about the valley," writes Kari Gibson, "but where did Obama visit [May 10]? That's right, my hood, Studio City. I love it here; I won't leave."
Adds Dude, "We need to keep up our horrible image to protect the Valley from outsiders!! I like the Valley the way it is now: not too much traffic, ample parking and tons of hot moms."
But then we got a very long, very pointed letter from T. Pascal, who describes himself as a resident of "Franklin and Orange." It's the most thorough rebuttal to Gropman's piece that we've seen, so we decided to publish it in full. What's good for the goose, right?
Writes Pascal, "Your writer Adam Gropman has some valid points, but misses some big ones that make the Valley a third-class citizen in L.A.:
"First, the temperature is always 20-30 degrees hotter and 20-30 degrees colder than L.A. proper. I don't even know why they report the Valley temperatures on the news; nobody that I know cares. We know it's going to be hotter or colder.
"Second, traffic on the 101/134 makes driving on the Westside or in Koreatown look like a walk in the park. It is the worst piece of freeway IN THE WORLD. Also, as for traveling back and forth, there are only four routes to the Valley that I know of: Cahuenga/101, Laurel Canyon, Coldwater Canyon and the 405. Each of these is a fun drive once or twice in a lifetime, but as a daily commute -- just kill me.
"Third, the Valley was indeed as bad as its reputation as little as five to 20 years ago. I grew up in the Valley and left about 20 years ago. It was truly a horrible place to live. It is possible that it may have improved somewhat since then. I don't know because I haven't been back to check it out. You can't outgrow that history and right all those wrongs in only five years. Maybe in 50 years it will improve to a slightly habitable level on par with the rest of L.A.
"Fourth, any place in the Valley that is a '15-minute' drive from Hollywood, aka Studio City, is not really considered the Valley proper. I have some cities that I can list that are 'real Valley,' and they rank as some of the lowest places on Earth: Burbank, Sun Valley, Tujunga, Van Nuys and Pacoima. Yes, Woodland Hills, Thousand Oaks and Studio City may technically be part of the Valley, and they may be somewhat borderline 'nice.' But they are not really the Valley proper.
"Fifth, the more your author protests and feels the sting of the insults, the more true they must be, yes?"
Shadows in the Night
On the subject of insults, some readers thought film critic Nick Pinkerton was a bit too harsh on both Bobcat Goldthwait's God Bless America and Tim Burton's adaptation of Dark Shadows ("Vampires, All of Them," May 11).
Writes Dale Winogura of the Dark Shadows slam, "Since when was a TV show so sacrosanct? When your so-called critic refers to Dark Shadows as a 'clumsy desecration,' that must mean the series was somehow holy and untouchable. I'm not saying the movie is perfect, since the script is basically warmed-over hash and a flimsy conceit at best. But the fluid artistry, exquisite design and sophisticated wit of Tim Burton ultimately triumph."
Of Goldthwait's film, Stevie Mack adds, "I watched this movie tonight with my dad, and it was one laugh-a-minute contradiction after another. A cross between Idiocracy meets Natural Born Killers, this movie seems to serve as a platform to voice all that Bobcat hates and seeks to blast it, literally, into a fictional oblivion via rapidfire verbiage and bullets. Kudos to him for continuing to push the envelope."
Finally, Undergraduate writes, "Speaking of 'douchebag,' how about the idea of Hollywood as an arbiter of social justice? I mean, wow. The only thing more douchebag than the very idea of a Bobcat Goldthwait as social commentator is the idea of a Hollywood critic passing social judgment on his movie."
Our April 19 profile of Bobcat Goldthwait credited the wrong photographer. Goldthwait was photographed by Stephanie Diani. We regret the error.
Gendy Alimurung recently won first prize from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists in its general-interest category for large publications, beating out scribes from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Boston Globe. Alimurung's winning columns looked at a teen-party expo, a rehabilitation program for combat veterans and the pleasures of playing a CSI corpse.
The judge wrote of Alimurung's work, "Gendy Alimurung is a wonderful writer and storyteller. She also is a smart reporter with an eye for detail and empathy for her subjects. All of those talents come through in her pieces. For a columnist, she is also modest. She lets her subjects come to the fore and presents them with flair. Excellent pieces through and through." We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
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