What is it with the Weekly? A cover story on "Inside Agitators" [October 2-8] "committed to making the city a better place" - with a red-and-black banner, no less? As with any type of Top 100 list, there is room for honest disagreement about who also should have been included or excluded. But how could the Weekly possibly list Alice Callaghan? The fact is, Callaghan's noxious campaign against bilingual education is racist and classist in its impact. Rather than make Los Angeles a better place, Proposition 227 exacerbated its racial divisions, contributed to its anti-immigrant climate, and, most important, seriously harmed the educational future of hundreds of thousands of mostly Latino and Asian children - thanks, in large part, to "inside agitator" Alice Callaghan, who provided Ron Unz with a bogus "grassroots" cover for Proposition 227.

Good going, L.A. Weekly. You've showed your true colors once again. And they are not red and black.

-Bill Gallegos
Los Angeles

This letter is in response to the paragraph about Harm Reduction Central that was published in your "activists" issue. I am certain you can understand the sensitive nature of our business, so I hope you see the need to clarify some points made regarding our agency.

First, our agency does not give away "free" syringes; we exchange clean, unused syringes for old, used syringes. Second, we do not refer to our clients as "addicts." That word has a very negative connotation. We refer to our clients as "substance users." This term, we feel, provides our clients with the dignity they deserve, as not everyone who uses our agency is an "addict."

-Tony Espinosa
Director of Peer Projects,
Harm Reduction Central
Los Angeles

While I appreciated the resource of your issue on L.A. activism, it left out one crucial element: contact information. For those of us who might want to get involved with one of the organizations you listed, there were no phone numbers, or snail or e-mail addresses, listed. This would have been a great service to the community.

-Jeff Park
Los Angeles


I don't agree that "[Ruth] Galanter has been going to bat for another development," as referenced in your October 2-8 OffBeat column. Rather, she's been listening to the community and has gone to bat for it. I distinctly recall a series of forums held in Westchester to determine the type of retail business Westchester residents would like to see in their community. The overwhelming response was for a well-managed theater complex, quality retail stores and more nice restaurants. At numerous neighborhood meetings over the last decade, Councilwoman Galanter has echoed her community's sentiment for more family-oriented activities. If Galanter was able to wrangle concessions from the Howard Hughes Center retail-entertainment complex, which bring much-needed amenities and traffic mitigation to Westchester, more power to her.

This thinly veiled attack on Galanter's leadership is a political ploy, and it smells of a fringe group composed of Westchester residents and nonresidents. It's rumored they are plotting to push forward their own candidate in the coming election - if they can find one who's capable of capturing more than 5 percent of the vote.

-Bob Smith


Re: "The Atrocity Exhibition," Manohla Dargis' review of the Todd Solondz film Happiness [October 16-22]. I have read this review several times and still cannot decipher the secret code that would tell me why one should not see the film (which I did, in fact, see this past weekend, and loved). Maybe the answer can be found in the last few lines of the piece. To paraphrase: I want certain filmmakers to make the things I, esteemed critic, deem worthy of their time. Otherwise, cinema as we know it will perish!

Maybe it's time for Dargis to finally admit that she hates what she is doing and try to decide why she wanted to do it in the first place. Maybe it's time for her to show a little pity and leave us alone.

-Peter Avellino
Los Angeles

No matter what one thinks of Happiness - or Armageddon, for that matter - it seems ridiculous and perverse to compare Todd Solondz, an independent writer-director with a $2 million budget, to Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of the flashy, vacant, expensive event movies America holds so dear. On what grounds are the two men similar? Because they both work in the same medium? That's like equating, say, a talented, thoughtful, unselfindulgent writer with Manohla Dargis solely because they both use the written word.

-Brian Padian

Wow! Manohla Dargis breaks ranks with her fellow critics by daring to call Happiness "dead inside." That is news, and her legitimate longing for fun in indie films suggests the L.A. Weekly may truly have an independent and alternative voice. While I respect the sad personal experiences that inform filmmakers' "sado-cinema," I'm tired of paying for that experience as a moviegoer. Yes, Manohla, I too am bored by the endless parade of "serial killers, warped incest victims, angry cops and gangbangers."

This "numbing progression of human frailties" is nothing new. It's not brave. It's not daring. It's obvious. Thank you for encouraging independent cinema to tell deep, dark, personal stories that offer hope, redemption - and maybe even genuine happiness.

-Craig Detweiler
Culver City


Re: "What Makes Ben Stiller" [October 9-15]. What is wrong with that Hollywood casting agent who was quoted as saying, "Ben doesn't have matinee-idol looks, but he thinks he's sexy . . . I haven't polled a lot of women, but I think there is that appeal even though, on top of everything else, he is a neurotic Jew." It is quite unfortunate that such people are making all the casting choices in this city, choices obviously fueled by ignorance and anti-Semitism.

-Ella Seton
Los Angeles

Manohla Dargis' no-depth interview with Ben Stiller brought to mind a central edict of show business: "There is nothing funny about nepotism." What makes Ben Stiller run? His insatiable desire for fame, money and power, that's what.

-Mark Groubert


Has the L.A. Weekly abandoned all moral boundaries? The theater listings on your Web page announced the opening of fofo: EchoGreco as a production in the style of Cirque du Soleil, based on Greek mythology, "a one-ring circus with clowns, magic, dance, masks and even striptease." Misled by the mildness of this characterization, I took my mother to see a show that was, in fact, offensive and sexually explicit. Puppets with giant phalluses, a topless trapeze artist, "myths" that portray rape and bestiality - in a show that your critic called a "colorful theatrical spectacle."

-Monica Miller
Los Angeles


I found your Web page quite by mistake, and I must congratulate you. It is so refreshing to find something that emphasizes the arts and culture instead of the usual trashing and dehumanizing of the city, with a constant emphasis on violence, corruption and negativism. Keep up the good work.

-Victor Hazan
Apple Valley

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