DEAR EDITOR:Celeste Fremon's article "The Baptism" [September 4-10] was a very insightful and important piece. But I was appalled by Anne Fishbein's accompanying photographic images. I have had the opportunity to meet Erica Parra and would not for a moment have recognized her on your cover, where she looked like the antithesis of who she really is. I think you did her a great disservice by publishing such a stereotypical drugged-out, barrio-gangbanger image.
-Liza Hennessey BotkinStudio City
DEAR EDITOR:I was raised and spent most of my life in Pico-Aliso. I'm familiar to some extent with most of the characters in "The Baptism." In the article's final image of the baptism, I don't see any "new hope," or new beginning, or anything of that nature. On the contrary, I see a tragic beginning for a child who will have to grow up with a parent who will be spending most of his time in and out of prison.
Until apologists like Father Boyle and Celeste Fremon wake up and stop making excuses for these dope-dealing gangsters and start demanding they take individual responsibility for their actions, no one should be surprised the next time one of these cute little thugs "gets himself" killed.
-Jacinto TrellesLos Angeles
ALL PROPPED UP AND READY TO GO
DEAR EDITOR:Just as the "No on Proposition 9" disinformation media blitz blankets the airwaves, Michael Collins' balanced article, "Pricing Prop. 9" [September 4-10], appears, exposing shameless backroom utility-company payoffs and indirect campaign donations. The article fills a conspicuous media void in our dollar-driven democratic process: Informed voters now have the power to reject a $28 million bailout by voting "yes" on Proposition 9.
-Ed MarkarianVan Nuys
DEAR EDITOR:Michael Collins' article describes another con game by corporations to get the taxpayers to subsidize them. It's the same old story: Generously reward your executives and stockholders when you make a profit, then ask the public to bail you out when you make a mistake. In this case, ratepayers are forced to bail out the poor investments made by the utility companies so that these corporations can compete in a deregulated market.
Proposition 9 would eliminate this ratepayer bailout of a private corporation. But apparently the feudal system is alive and well in the USA: Whatever crumbs a corporation throws to a nonprofit organization or local government, the recipients blindly support that corporation's interests - regardless of what that corporation does to subvert the democratic process.
-Mark LamanaCulver City
OR WHAT ABOUT NAKED BOYS WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR?
DEAR EDITOR:I read Michael Kearns' piece on nudity in gay theater ["Getting Undressed for the Theater," September 4-10], and my first reaction was . . . Enough already! As the author of the gay play Party, I have been mentioned in three articles in L.A. magazines in the past few months, and they are all about the same thing - nudity in gay theater. Is there nothing else to discuss about gay-themed work? Does it really take all this analysis to realize that nudity exists in gay theater because we want it to? As long as sexual celebration exists in the lives of gay men, it will exist in our work. Further, the theater is the only art form in which we can claim any true ownership. We certainly haven't seen our lives truthfully portrayed in film or television. So we've taken gay theater as our own and make no apologies as to whether or not it suits Middle America.
The notion that my play - or any of our plays - is compromised by nudity is indicative of either oppressive puritanism or internalized homophobia. Personally, I look forward to Naked Boys Dancing, Naked Boys Acting, Naked Boys Bending Over To Pick Up a Paper Clip . . . because it is all part of who I am as a gay man, and thank God the theater allows us to be us.
-David DillonLos Angeles
MURDER, THEY WROTE
DEAR EDITOR:As authors of Death in Paradise: An Illustrated History of the Los Angeles Department of Coroner, we were amused by Steven Mikulan's blatantly vindictive and generally absurd book review ["Death Takes a Meeting," August 28-September 3]. Amused because, although we had unprecedented access to coroner files, including autopsy and police reports, correspondence and newspaper clippings, Mikulan asserts that we somehow got scores of dates wrong. (Well, okay. You know that 300 B.C. date for the development of medical science in Alexandria? We may be a year or two off there.)
It was especially shameful for Mikulan to criticize us for listing the address and phone number for the Skeletons in the Closet gift shop, which provides proceeds for numerous L.A. Coroner programs, such as the Visiting Physician Scholar Program and the Youthful Drunk Driver Visitation Program. Still, that's his prerogative. So, apparently, is totally ignoring Death in Paradise's emphasis on forensic science, often pioneered by the LAC. And we're terribly sorry we didn't include his favorite deaths, or cite his favorite books. Finally, as for those "few unshocking archive photos" - which actually occupy dozens of pages and include everything from the 1910 bombing of the L.A. Times building to a magnification shot from the groundbreaking scanning electron microscope - it seems they were just not lurid enough for Mikulan.
We don't really care whether he likes our prose style or the pictures we've chosen. But Mikulan's vitriolic piece denigrates the archivists, researchers and cited authors who contributed to our pop-culture exploration of fame, forensic science and the crucial services provided by the Coroner's Office. Where's his hometown pride?
-Brad Schreiber and Tony BlancheLos Angeles
DEAR EDITOR:I appreciated F.X. Feeney's intelligent and thoughtful memorial to Akira Kurosawa [September 11-17], but he is in error when he describes Rhapsody in August as Kurosawa's first woman-centered film. The protagonist of The Most Beautiful, made in 1944, is a woman worker in a defense plant (Yoko Yaguchi, later Mrs. Kurosawa), and No Regrets for Our Youth (1946) stars the luminous Setsuko Hara as a privileged young woman who marries an anti-fascist student and eventually joins the peasantry to help rebuild a democratic postwar Japan.
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-Richard ModianoSherman Oaks
DEAR EDITOR:In advance of the 60th anniversary this November of Kristallnacht, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is seeking to hear from Holocaust survivors who experienced Kristallnacht in Germany and Austria. For more information, please contact the Public Relations Department at (310) 553-9036.
-Avra ShapiroDirector, Public RelationsSimon Wiesenthal Center