PLAYA VISTA'S CROCODILE TEARS
DEAR EDITOR:Re: "Brinkmanship at Ballona Creek" [July 10-16]. Ever since the federal court handed down the order for Playa Capital to cease and desist in the destruction of the Ballona Wetlands, Playa Vista's would-be developers have been tying themselves in knots trying to explain how their wetlands "restoration effort" could be illegal - after years of peddling the glories of Playa Vista's promised freshwater marsh, riparian corridor and sundry other environmentally nice-sounding things.
The developers are omitting to note the opinion of biologists that Playa Vista's "freshwater marsh" would require the demise of existing, restorable coastal salt marsh, and that it is, in fact, nothing more than a catch basin for flood control and the cleansing of street runoff from the proposed development. The "riparian corridor" is a drainage ditch that would run from the planned urban-residential area into the catch basin. The court has now confirmed that the "freshwater marsh" plan is deeply flawed as restoration, and the impacts of its high pollutant load are fundamentally unknown and insufficiently studied to permit its construction.
The developer contends that there is no contradiction between the soothing words they have been saying all these years and the desolate sight now on view east and west of the intersection of Lincoln and Jefferson boulevards, because, in the words of company president Peter B. Denniston, "restoration is often done with bulldozers . . . channels must be reconstructed . . . underground pipes must be installed," etc. In fact, both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency have agreed that the construction of artificial habitat within the proposed Playa Vista retention basin is insupportable as a mitigation measure for Playa Vista's inevitable destruction of wetlands and loss of natural habitat.
Yes, Playa Vista's opponents - even the poorly dressed ones, the ones with long hair, the ones who have chained their necks to bulldozers in an attempt to stave off the criminal destruction of an irreplaceable resource for one more day (or a few more hours), the ones who were sneered at and dismissed as wild-eyed troublemakers with questionable motives - have been telling you the truth about Playa Vista for the last four years. And yes, the developers - well-dressed, well-spoken, firm of handshake, clear of eye - have been less than forthright.
And yes, Los Angeles, you have been had.-Andrew ChristieSierra Club Ballona Task ForceSanta Monica
SAME OLD BALLONA
DEAR EDITOR:Re: J. William Gibson's "Split Decision" [July 17-23]. Congratulations to the Wetland Action Network, and to CalPIRG and the Ballona Land Trust: They've finally managed to screw things up. In their zeal to stop the Playa Vista development entirely, all they've managed to do is halt the first phase of wetland restoration while giving Playa Vista's residential and commercial development the green light. Nice going, guys.
The freshwater marsh being constructed (with stringent environmental safeguards) as part of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands' legal settlement agreement with Playa Vista could have been the first step toward desperately needed restoration of the entire wetland - at a cost to the developer of over $13 million. The marsh would have replaced abandoned agricultural fields in an area only partially designated as wetland. Before the Friends rescued it, it was slated to be filled with 10-to-12-story buildings. We knew that, once returned to wetland, it would be forever protected from future development by law. Now, thanks to these ill-informed zealots, restoration must wait while Playa Vista gets built.
To paraphrase old Pyrrhus: One more such victory and the Ballona Wetlands are lost . . . forever.-Ruth LansfordPresident, Friends of Ballona WetlandsPlaya del Rey
NO REPRESENTATION WITHOUT TAXATION!
DEAR EDITOR:Re Mary Moore's article "Higher Calling" [July 10-16], which challenges not only health care based on religious bias, but the whole concept of representation of Catholic interests without taxation, it is important to note that abortion is not the only reproductive issue. There is also contraception, sterilization (both postpartum and in the interval between pregnancies) and all manner of assisted reproductive technologies. The bottom line is that all taxpayers are subsidizing all religions that are tax-exempt. This is a choice we may elect to have, but if we truly are to have separation of church and state, I would submit that the churches of this nation, especially as long as they benefit from tax-exempt status, should be banned from any lobbying efforts that attempt to influence our laws - such as the efforts subsidized by millions of tax-exempted Catholic a Church dollars that go into sponsoring measures to oppose legally sanctioned abortions.-Sylvain Fribourg, M.D.Panorama City
SWEET & SOUR GRAPES
DEAR EDITOR:Re: Steven Leigh Morris' "Noises Off" [July 17-23]. When I heard about the consumption of Drama-Logue's carcass by Back Stage West, I must confess to high-fiving my cat. For years, this propped-up cadaver caused me nothing but sciatica. Time and again, actors, directors and technicians would be compensated for their noncompensation by "winning" the all-important Drama-Logue awards. Who needs shekels when you can have your own personal Hollywood Tony? For my money - or lack of it - Rob Kendt, editor of Back Stage West, has brought some progressiveness to trade-ragdom. His days at the Downtown News, entrenched in the historic Al's National Theater movement, bring a welcome relief from Drama-Logue's casting-director journalism and borscht-belt politique.
And no, I never won one either, damn it.-Tony ForkushLos Angeles
DEAR EDITOR:I would suggest that to take actors and their art seriously on the West Coast involves more than reviewing their work at sub-100-seat theaters in Los Angeles and bestowing awards on them. The editorial coverage that Back Stage West has offered, and that Back Stage West/Drama-Logue continues to offer, does include theater reviews of Equity shows all along the West Coast - but also includes in-depth features on performing careers, from independent film to voice-overs to regional theater; listings and leads for actors seeking employment and representation; advice and warning to neophytes, with frequent scam exposes; coverage of the performers' unions; and authoritative analyses of the art of acting and approaches to its training.
The new Back Stage West/Drama-Logue will never have the mom-and-pop charm of the old Drama-Logue, and that will be duly missed. But if "heart" means caring about actors - what they do in their art, and what kind of information and support they need to achieve it - then I would humbly suggest that ours is in the right place.-Rob Kendt, EditorBack Stage West/Drama-LogueLos Angeles
DEAR EDITOR:When you take a piece of poetry like Alicia Madrid's Shame on the Moon, poetry with a universal message, humor and richness of culture, and have it performed by young, vibrant, talented Latino actors, and you offer this to the L.A. theater community, and what you get back is a review from Tom Provenzano that refers to "Charo" and "exaggerated Latino accents," I begin to lose hope that those who profess to be theater critics will have the insight to know the difference between their view of a production and their personal ignorance about the lives, beliefs, views, worlds and passions of persons other than themselves.- Marian JonesFounder and Artistic Director, Ivy TheaterLos Angeles
LESS BEING MORE AND ALL
DEAR EDITOR:Early in her review of Saving Private Ryan [July 24-30], Ella Taylor mentions how the first 24 minutes of the film contain some of its most dramatic moments, which she then proceeds to describe in excessive detail. Ms. Taylor should recall from Movie Critique 101 that an important factor in making a scene "dramatic" is that the audience does not know what is going to happen beforehand!
To be honest, I stopped reading the review right there. Fearing more brilliant revelations, I could not continue. I would suggest to L.A. Weekly that someone review Ms. Taylor's reviews before they go to press.- Todd GrovesSanta Monica
TONGUE IN CONCRETE
DEAR EDITOR:With respect to the historic preservation of the Cinerama Dome, I offer the following suggestion: JUST BLOW IT UP! The major studios would pay a small fortune to film an explosion like that. Plus, we could easily tear down the Chinese Theater, and have a huge sledgehammer party in the forecourt to pulverize all those cheap, old-looking hand- and footprints. The City Council would give its wholehearted support and approval, I'm sure. Hollywood is extremely proud of its culture, and deservedly world famous for having some of the finest parking structures on the planet!- Ted OtisHollywood
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DEAR EDITOR:In the article "Brill's Discontent" [July 10-16], Jim Crogan and Steven Brill both get it wrong. It really doesn't matter if an occasional reporter is incompetent or crooked. There are far larger forces corrupting and distorting the media in this country. Chomsky and Herman, in Manufacturing Consent, tell us that media are not simply in service to big business, but are big business. While Crogan and Brill rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, working- and middle-class people receive almost no information about larger structural issues having to do with labor, class and the imperial tactics of large Western-controlled financial and capital institutions.
Perhaps the L.A. Weekly should examine its own position as part of an alternative-weekly syndicate (oxymoron!), and as regards its allegiance to good and salient reporting versus the bottom line.-Robert LiptonVenice