From Echo Park to MacArthur Park: Neighborhood Noise
In Steven Leigh Morris’ story on Mark Murphy [“The Wizard of REDCAT,” August 1-8], it is said that I have “expressed open contempt for most theatrical activity here.” The fact that I have voiced dismay in the past at the lack of quality work is a reflection of what I viewed as the overall scene, and not the excellent artists of Los Angeles.
As the first presenter to put the Watts Prophets on a Westside stage, I am eager to support local performers in all genres. In theater, I have initiated and commissioned works by L.A.-based artists ranging from playwright Heather Woodbury to the experimental performing entity Osseus Labyrint. In dance, our Design for Sharing outreach program has presented demonstration performances by Lula Washington, and we are very pleased to have co-commissioned another piece of dance theater by L.A.’s own David Roussève and his outstanding company for our ’08-09 season.
We have also provided a platform for many local musicians, from Nati Cano and Perla Batalla to Dengue Fever, along with two 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2008 of such unique institutions as the Ash Grove in April and McCabe’s Guitar Shop in October.
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I wish to reply to David Futch’s article “Echo Park’s Gentrification Woes” [June 27-July 3]. Futch began by characterizing a position in the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council as a “job.” To me, being a member of this council has been my way of contributing to a community that I have been a part of for more than 65 years. Also, I did not say that the location was not safe now. I said that at one time, Echo Park had a lot of trouble with gang activity, which it did.
Futch also said that I don’t seem to like my neighbors. I don’t know how he got that false impression. If I did not like my neighbors, why would I live in the neighborhood for 65 years? I am happy and excited about Echo Park and deeply appreciate my neighbors.
Mr. Futch quotes me as saying I spent “five arduous years on the council.” Please notice that I said “arduous,” not “onerous.” Sure, it’s been work. What worthwhile effort is not work? I have worked since I was 15 years old, and I am not one bit sorry about it. Many of the members of the Neighborhood Council have worked much harder than I. They are to be commended. All of the infighting made being a council member a lot more work than it needed to be.
It is not true that I went with Mr. Kayser and the others to lodge the complaint about the way the city clerk conducted the elections. I do, however, wholeheartedly agree with the complaints and support them. For me, this is not just about this Neighborhood Council, it is about running a properly regulated election.
With regard to Larry Pickens’ election to the council, here is what actually happened: Larry died about three weeks before the election. The choice that the council had was to either cancel last October’s election entirely or simply to go ahead and have the election, in which case the runner-up would become the alternate and take his seat. This alternate was Ida Talalla, who has held the seat in Larry Pickens’ stead.
In my years on the council, I have promoted greater outreach to the neighborhood. I have repeatedly asked, since it seems that around 60 percent of Echo Park residents lack computers, that bulk mailings be sent to everyone in the neighborhood at least four times a year, stating what the Neighborhood Council is, its purpose, how it can benefit the individual stakeholder, the place and times of the meetings, and how to contact the Neighborhood Council. I hope that the new council will implement these measures in order to bring about more diverse community participation.
No Picnic Living Next to Park
Tibby Rothman’s article on the Grand Avenue park [“Rolling Out the Cement Carpet,” July 25-31] hit close to home with the mention of “a current fad ... to host ‘urban activities’ rather than allow for quiet open space.” In the six-and-a-half years I have lived across from MacArthur Park, I have watched as the city has gradually turned it into the municipal amusement park, closing down Wilshire Boulevard sometimes every other summer weekend for traveling carnivals and creating massive traffic snarls on Sixth Street. And last year came Levitt Pavilion, which batters apartments across the street with Hollywood Bowl–level noise five nights a week, three months a year. (When confronted about the noise residents across from the park must endure at the Pavilion’s opening this year, Councilman Ed Reyes told me, “You knew you moved across from a park, right?”) But at least the massive patch of bare brown earth at the center of the park will be taken care of: The city plans on covering it in AstroTurf. If MacArthur Park is any indication, a park in L.A. consisting of four blocks of concrete and noise would not be the exception but the rule.
I congratulate L.A. Weekly on publishing the splendid article by Philippe Garnier, who is absolutely the best film and music journalist working in Hollywood today. Alas, his work is generally accessible only to those who can read French, but apart from his consistently fascinating articles in Libération, he has written the best history of early Hollywood screenwriters (the well-researched Honni soit qui Malibu), as well as a study of classic Hollywood character actors (Caractères). Then there’s his definitive biography of David Goodis, the enigmatic pulp novelist who wrote the book on which François Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player is based. The biggest mystery to me is why Garnier’s books are unavailable in English! It’s time to brush up on your high school French — if only to be able to read Philippe Garnier in the original.
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