WHOSE FIASCO IS IT ANYWAY?
In "A Choir of Angels" [June 25July 1], Alan Rich writes, "In Pasadena, the Ambassador Auditorium was lost to a fiasco of mismanagement within the controlling powers." I would like to clarify what Mr. Rich has so typically left murky. One could infer from the above that the "mismanagement within the controlling powers" was from within the Ambassador Performing Arts (APA) administrative team.
As director of marketing/publicity and promotion at the Ambassador from 1990 to 1995, and as acting director of the Ambassador through its closing and subsequent mothballing, I am very well aware of what transpired. The Ambassador Auditorium functioned under the auspices of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG). In December 1994, WCG leaders announced to its membership a major shift in its doctrinal beliefs, in effect a 180-degree turnaround from core fundamentalist beliefs to mainstream Protestantism. This sent shock waves through that organization, and, in one month's time, the church saw a worldwide drop in contributions of 40 percent.
Until as late as Tuesday, January 24, 1995, APA was under the impression that it would be presenting a 21st concert season. In fact, only the week before, APA had been working under the premise that it would have until June 1996 to find alternate funds to cover its operating deficit. It was on January 24 that APA learned its subsidy from the Worldwide Church of God would not extend beyond the 1994-95 season. It all happened literally days before contracts were to be signed with some 120 acts for the upcoming 1995-96 concert season.
With no certainty that funds to cover the operating deficit would be available, coupled with the short window in which to secure those funds, and no support from the WCG, the APA team couldn't, in good conscience, sign contracts with artists many of whom had long relationships with both the venue and its staff knowing full well that the possibility of actually meeting those contracts was highly questionable. The decision was taken by the APA administrative team to put our collective energies into closing the facility in the manner in which we had run it with style and grace. It was both a pragmatic and a very emotional decision.
--B. Douglas Russell
DON'T SKIP THE HIP-HOP
Lina Lecaro's story on the L.A. club scene ["Time After Time," June 25July 1] started off as a nice piece of journalism. She painted an effective portrait of L.A.'s club scene in the '60s, the '70s, etc., so much so that I even read the info on the clubs I had no intention whatsoever of attending. I anticipated that Lecaro's treatment of the '90s would include an equally informative and succinct breakdown of the best weekly hip-hop events in L.A. Surprise! No hip-hop clubs/nights mentioned. Not one!
Instead, I get Ms. Lecaro's drivel about the importance of the electronica scene, with a thinly veiled diss of hip-hop-heads as unfashionable, baggy-pants-wearing unsophisticates. Never mind that hip-hop is the most influential music culture in America, if not the world. (Check the baggy pants and the old-skool clothes most of the electronica kids are wearing.)
Hip-hop is responsible for the celebration of the DJ as artist. Hip-hop is responsible for acceptance of combining various seemingly unrelated music styles into a new, seamless whole. Hip-hop DJs perfected the use of computers for sampling and complex drum-machine programming before electronica was even thought of. Listen to a Mantronix record circa 198688, and tell me that's not the precursor to electronica!
Ms. Lecaro, like so many other trendy electronica types, wants to conveniently forget that hip-hop influenced jungle, trip-hop, acid jazz, drum 'n' bass, and almost anything else that falls under electronica's umbrella.
Don't disrespect the originator! Hip-hop is not going anywhere. I've been a "hip-hop" fanatic since 1979. I just graduated from law school, and I plan to listen to hip-hop till the day I die.
Vaginal Davis is the best thing to happen to the L.A. Weekly music section since, um, ink! The 400 Blows interview ["Blows Against the Empire," July 915] proves both my central thesis, and its corollary: If you're not a 6-foot-4 cross-dressing black hunka-hunka burnin' love diva, then I just don't care about your musical tastes! I like a bit of performance mixed in with my art criticism, thank you veddy much. Go, Vag!
THE PHARMACIST'S DAUGHTER
In reference to the article written by Louise Steinman ["The Pharmacist's Daughter," July 28], I met her dad in the '50s, and he was a pharmacist's pharmacist. We all had a kind word for him, and he for us.
Reading "The Pharmacist's Daughter" tonight, I had a lump in my throat as I shared Ms. Steinman's remembrance of past times. Her words perfectly describe my memories of Los Angeles in the '50s and '60s. It was an excellent piece of writing.
--P. Ann Hanson
Re: "Summer of Spike" [July 28]. It's a pleasure to read an article on a celebrity that doesn't pander. Nor does it have an ax to grind. Erin Aubry's insightful piece on Spike Lee lets us sense the man and the artist in the context of our society (black and white, hip-hop and jazz, gold standard and gold chains), but also as a unique individual artist who hears his own voice and insists on sharing it regardless of how he is regarded. I particularly appreciate that Aubry resisted just transcribing dialogue, but rather went into her craft, proving a truly good writer.
WILD, WILD SHOT
In regard to your Wild, Wild West review ["Black Like Who?," July 28], please tell Manohla Dargis that readers are more interested in how much she enjoyed the film and why, rather than a long-winded essay on Hollywood filmmaking. Having both is acceptable, but leaving out the "review" part simply leaves us with a tedious rant.
Marina del Rey
Re: Manohla Dargis' review of Wild, Wild West, please find a reviewer who does not take herself or her politics so seriously. It is very rare that Hollywood gives us a cast as racially diverse as Wild Wild West's; unfortunately, Dargis only sees black and white.
Last week's review of the movie Dead Dogs (Special Events, Calendar section) was misattributed. The writer was John Patterson.
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