CUT TO THE QUICK
What's with Sara Catania's cover story ["I'm Bullshitting As Fast As I Can," April 1622] on this marginal artist who can turn a couple of cool phrases, lives in some rat-infested theater and has a groovy bus? I smell sitcom. I almost thought it was a delayed April Fools' gag. If this is all it takes to get on the cover of your birdcage liner, I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille.
--Michael T. Jarvis
Why on earth would you give the cover of the L.A. Weekly to Beeaje Quick? Angelyne is a more deserving "artist." What's the point -- that there are no-talent poseurs in Hollywood? I am disgusted that the Weekly would waste its readers' time on this asshole, and that I'm wasting my time and energy writing about him as well.
You have something special in Sara Catania. I knew Mr. Beeaje Quick many years ago and was terribly impressed with Ms. Catania's dead-on portrayal of the "situation." (It really hasn't changed all that much.) Truly insightful and well-written.
THE MAYOR AND
Sara Dunn's potshot at Mayor Riordan's effort to reconstitute the ossified Los Angeles school board [OffBeat, April 2329] may as well be an LAUSD press release. How dare the mayor do something about L.A.'s dismal public schools besides just shaking his head? Get real. The mayor's effort to redirect the visionless school board is the only thing anyone in the city has done to improve the schools in 25 years. It may have more long-term benefits than all the nonsense now being bandied about by City Hall. The money could have been spent on computers and books? Please. Anyone who's lived here since 1975 knows where LAUSD would have spent the money -- rent for their extravagant offices, air conditioning for administrative offices, studies to "confirm" that no tests for contaminants were needed at Belmont, and raises for administrators.
IF THE MONOMETHYLHYDRAZINE DON'T GET YOU . . .
I just finished reading Michael Collins' piece on his conversations with Bill Webber ["Rocket Man," April 2329]. I worked with Bill for many years at Rocketdyne and have the utmost respect for him as a propulsion scientist. However, I believe he is completely wrong in his assertions about the dangers of testing rocket engines with the two propellants mentioned (nitrogen tetraoxide and monomethylhydrazine) and in saying that Rocketdyne purposely sent workers into harm's way. I too worked for Rocketdyne for 16 years and ran thousands of tests using these same propellants. Rockwell safety policy in handling these propellants was extremely well-established and strenuously enforced.
In my 16 years of testing at Rocketdyne, I estimate that I ran somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000 pounds of these same propellants through engines at El Segundo, Santa Susana and Edwards Air Force base. I handled the propellants themselves and hardware that had been exposed to them. I have suffered no ill effects, and never saw anyone hurt by them. However, I can cite all sorts of examples of aerospace workers actually dying within minutes (by asphyxiation) from inert gases like helium and nitrogen.
I believe that while Bill is intelligent and well-intentioned, my own experience and the test data gathered over the past several years say that he is wrong about the dangers he was exposed to.
--David E. Crisalli
Re: Robert Lloyd's "Gone North" [April 2329]. A fantastic opportunity to do a meaningful interview with one of the more important artists of our time, Tom Waits, was wasted by yet another writer satisfied with becoming enmeshed in the banality of pop-culture bantering. Either hire smarter writers or please give them more direction: 87 percent of the story was meaningless bullshit that told me nothing about the man or his music.
--Percy Howard III
UNSCRIPTED . . .
As producer of L.A. Theatersports' Shakespeare Unscripted, now playing at the Globe Playhouse in West Hollywood, I write to correct a couple of mistakes made by Neal Weaver in his review [New Reviews, April 2329]. He writes that the cast "works from a prepared ã scenario" and that the show is "basically sketch comedy." Both statements suggest that the show was written or preplanned, and this is false. The show is completely improvised each Monday night. The actors do rehearse in Elizabethan language and have worked hard to learn Shakespearean idioms, but there are no prepared scenes whatsoever.
The fact that Mr. Weaver thought our show had been prepared could be interpreted as a compliment.
I find it curious that while Danny Feingold's "Requiem for an Activist" [April 30May 6] readily casts aspersions on Occidental Petroleum, it does not probe into the true motivations of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), except to note that the three progressives murdered "embraced many of the . . . principles espoused by FARC." It has been a long time indeed since FARC has espoused any principles, except for the kind of greed and ruthlessness commonly associated with criminal syndicates. Simply put, FARC is an army of bandits whose prime motivation is to make money through criminal enterprises such as kidnapping, extortion and drug smuggling. The fact that there are indications that the kidnapping of the activists was not a renegade operation but an action directed from the highest levels of FARC's leadership indicates that FARC had some motivation to clear these activists out. FARC may have felt the activists were interfering with current and future smuggling operations.
It seems obvious that Mr. Feingold hesitated to explore the true criminal nature of FARC and, hence, the real reason behind the tragic murders. I can only surmise this is because he has sympathies with FARC's stated Marxist goals. I would advise that, in FARC's case, those stated goals are in fact a cover for their true goal, which is to establish a large criminal enterprise.
I was saddened to read Danny Feingold's article concerning the deaths of the three activists in Colombia. I was especially shocked to see that Ingrid Washinawatok was one of those killed. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Ingrid briefly many years ago in New York City. Decades later, I still remember her as one of the most impressive persons I have met. She was a leader at the heart of the community of American Indian persons in New York and, through her work with the United Nations, at the heart of those fighting for indigenous rights throughout the world. She was a co-chairwoman of the Indigenous Women's Network and worked with the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples, the International Treaty Council and the American Indian Community House, as well as other organizations in New York. She leaves behind many friends and colleagues, as well as a husband and a 14-year-old son.
Funds for all three victims have been established. More information about them, and the issues, is available at www.alphacdc. com/ien/colombia.html.
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"Great God Pan," a song on the Mondo Hollywood soundtrack and the title of a magazine reviewed last week, was produced by but not written by Mike Curb. The "zompy, zappy, ziggy" lyrics were penned by Murray Schwimmer and Herman Flammerman.