Echo Park Is All Right With Me
Ben Ehrenreichs wonderful tale [Jesus of Echo Park, July 1521] really captured the spirit of what Echo Park symbolizes to many Angelenos. Physically beautiful and culturally diverse, this park has that certain something that keeps drawing me back. On my daily extreme commute (Palmdale to my night-shift job in Huntington Park), I find myself leaving a little earlier than necessary on some afternoons. These are my Echo Park days, and for all the reasons mentioned in Mr. Ehrenreichs story. I get Echo Park, and so does he.
Thomas K. Leonard
Palmdale in Development
Right on, Ms. Aubry Kaplan, for going deeper into the issue of Vermont Corridor development [Bamboozled in South L.A., July 1521]. I am a resident of South Vermont Avenue, Vermont and 42nd to be exact, right by Ms. Burkes alma mater Manual Arts HS. There was a DPSS facility off of King and Vermont that got relocated recently a couple of blocks down; now with that facility gone, the surrounding areas improved dramatically. So to say that a DPSS facility would be an economic generator is pure balderdash.
I can see many things that would work as an economic generator for the Vermont Corridor. Extend the Red Line from Wilshire Boulevard to the South Bay, to serve the 55,000-plus transit-dependent riders with quicker access to higher-paying jobs, instead of more Rapid buses that get stuck in the same traffic as automobiles. Promote private mixed-use housing/retail development that is going on in other parts of the city like downtown, Koreatown and Hollywood along with simple streetscape and utility relocation improvements that will encourage small businesses and better retail establishments in this patchwork of ethnic and social groups to form into a cohesive and thriving part of town. Transform vacant parcels of land into playgrounds and parks. Methinks that Councilmember Parks, Supervisor Burke and Representative Waters dont want any of that so they can keep the area as a ghetto, so that they can maintain their political control over the majority of residents, and they can blame the White Man. Jim Hahn is out of office now, so there are no more excuses.
The main root of the problem is Representative Maxine Waters. She has antagonized and bullied the very people who would have helped in the rebuilding. One example is during the 1992 riots when she blamed the Korean small-business owners for the problems, instead of bringing both sides together and working it out to use that as a model of unity. How can anyone want to do business with a person who spews that kind of nonsense?
South Los Angeles
Well Miss Ya, Mike
Mike Farkash would have been surprised and perhaps even pleased by the content of his obituary, The Playwright Who Fell Over the Edge, in the July 15 issue of the Weekly. Hank Bunker wrote an appropriately unsticky sendoff for a funny, complex guy who like his plays mostly defied understanding. For all of the words that have appeared about Farkash in the L.A. Times, The Hollywood Reporter and elsewhere over the last few weeks, this one hit the spot. Mr. Bunker gave us the gift of understanding why Mikes colleagues and fans appreciated him, and it isnt so different from why I loved him as a friend: He was exactly who he wanted to be good or bad and he didnt apologize. Thanks, Hank.
But Is It Art?
Scott Foundas review of Wedding Crashers [July 1521] is so shallow and serious that I had to mention the smiles on the faces of the audience as I left the theater, validating the scores of crack-up laughs I heard during the movie. Vince Vaughn is a genius, quick, glib, filling the screen with his infectious smile and irreverent pokerfaced comments. Props to Steve Faber and Bob Fisher for supplying the Crashers with hilarious lines about life, love, death, sex, old age, wacky single life, smug privilege, divorce and loyalty between friends. Lighten up, Scott, its only the smartest and funniest movie of the year.
The Union Label
In regard to Steve Mikulans Beggars Banquets column from the week of June 17: He writes Aramark . . . is the nonunion, Wal-Mart-like giant of the custodial industry. As far as I can see from the most recent 10K report Aramark filed with the SEC, it in fact have over 30,000 unionized employees. I am curious, as someone whose job involves researching labor relations of public companies, if Mr Mikulan knows something I dont or if it was merely a reporting error. I would really appreciate if someone could get back to me on this matter. Thank you for your time!
South Bend, IN
Mikulan replies: While Aramarks eight service divisions do indeed employ many union members, the specific context of my article was custodial services in Los Angeles aerospace industry. There, at the time of my writing, Aramark had no unionized employees working for it and no collective bargaining agreement with the Service Employees International Union, allowing the company to underbid unionized firms. Since publication, Aramark has signed a contract with SEIU.
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One for the Book
Congratulations to L.A. Weekly writer Erin Aubry Kaplan, who was a contibutor to Rise Up Singing: Black Women Writers on Motherhood, which recently won an American Book Award for 2005. In the apt words of the anthologys editor, Cecelie Berry, This is more proof of the truism: You just cant keep a good woman (women!) down.
Not Little Stevens Brother
Last week we misspelled filmmaker Gus Van Sants name on the cover, mistakenly implying this was a profile of the little-known missing member of the E-Street Band.