Re: Douglas Foster's "Being Ron Unz" [cover story, November 26December 2]. Mr. Unz's claim to have eliminated bilingual education through Proposition 227 is a grandiose exaggeration. According to the California Department of Education's language census report, during academic year 1997-98 there were 400,000 students enrolled in bilingual classrooms throughout California. In 1998-99, a year after passage of Proposition 227, there were 170,000 students in bilingual education -- down 58 percent. But according to the June 25 L.A. Times, waiver requests from parents for bilingual instruction doubled in Los Angeles Unified between October and May, from 11,000 to 23,000.
The "try-it-you'll-like-it" rule that requires 30 days' enrollment in sheltered English immersion hasn't worked to change parents' minds about the benefits of bilingual instruction for their children while they are acquiring English. These parents are unconvinced that English immersion is a better plan for their children's future when bilingualism gives decided advantage in competing for jobs in the global marketplace.
Even the READ institute, proponents of 227, speculate that only 15 percent of the 1,000 California school districts are in full compliance with the anti-bilingual-education law. If Ron Unz and his followers believe that a drop in enrollment in bilingual education and limited school-district compliance is a victory, no wonder he is dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate. Ron Unz's dabbling at politics is evidence of the vast difference between political ambitions and genuine leadership.
--Jill Kerper Mora
This is the portrait of a guy who is running for U.S. Senate: He's aloof, doesn't have interpersonal skills (people who have worked with him don't talk to him anymore), does the same things every day, sleeps on a mattress on the floor . . . Excuse me, but he sounds like a nut case to me.
Ron Unz a "genius"? Sure, like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, complete with bad acting.
As a former campaign manager for several high-profile Conservative Party Parliamentary candidates in the United Kingdom, I believe Ron Unz should be encouraged that his competitors for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate were talking so much about him and so early.
DEAD, OR JUST MORIBUND?
Re: Judith Lewis' "What To Do When Your Career Is Dead" [cover story, December 39]. The argument over the corporate music industry is old and tired. Music as big business is based on trends. Like it or not, this is how the industry has chosen to sustain itself. In a world where people are constantly outgrowing their tastes, it seems that rapid-fire reinvention is necessary to hold anyone's interest for any significant length of time.
Enter White Trash Wins Lotto. Andy Prieboy's play, which he considers an "anti-industry piece," is anything but. With White Trash, Prieboy is not telling the music industry to fuck off, as he wants us to think. He's joining it. To put it in his own words, he is helping to "clean the barn" by offering a disparaging view of another's success. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this called envy? This would make White Trash an all too cathartic work in which a character by the name of Axl Rose must bear the brunt and frustration of Prieboy's misgivings about the music industry.
Andy Prieboy has landed a comfortable position within the music industry's deconstruction department. Pick a band, preferably one whose front man wore a kilt. Demonstrate, through parody, how ridiculous it all seems in retrospect. Help create that "What was I thinking?" feeling among your audience, who are the ones who listened to Guns N' Roses in the first place. Get a buzz going. Play to execs at Largo. Take your show to Sunset Boulevard. Send a clear message to musicians everywhere what can happen if and when you make the wrong moves. The result? CD bins full of safe, generic, homogenized shit. White Trash isn't so much about Axl Rose as it is a blatant threat to anyone, anywhere, who dares try anything different.
Perhaps one of the reasons there is such a dearth of charismatic anything in (commercial) music these days is because people don't want to take the risk anymore. And who can blame them? People like Andy Prieboy are going to be waiting for you at the bus station, preparing you for the end before it ever begins.
--Josh E. Zuboff
NEWS FLASH: If you are doing musical theater and you are, or were, any kind of artist, your career is dead.
While I can understand the need to have "catchy" copy to lure readers, what's the benefit to anyone of the snottiness exhibited on the cover? The come-on for "What To Do if Your Career Is Dead" suggests that waiting tables at Miceli's is for losers. What a self-satisfied crock that is, and how unfair to the fine men and women at Miceli's (for example). I am a frequent patron of that Hollywood landmark and consider the people who work there a credit to their trade -- and one of the reasons that I enjoy eating there. I suggest that you temper your need to be glib with some kindness and consideration. Why not put that on your New Year's resolution list?
THE BUS TO BALLONA
Kudos to Bill Gibson for his thorough article on the status of the Playa Vista debacle ["Road to Nowhere," November 1925]. The Coalition United To Save All of Ballona scored when the Bus Riders Union joined them. It is a major advancement, illustrating how the proposed development is no longer seen as a Westside issue. Not only are Playa Vista developers cheating other parts of the city out of truly needed tax dollars, but all the citizens east of the Westside will bear the burden of the pollution Playa Vista will generate. How generous of Playa Vista to give jobs to the folks whose neighborhood air their development will, ultimately, be fouling. It does cause one to wonder how Santa Barbara Plaza, a relatively tiny development in Baldwin Hills with substantial community support, can be indefinitely stalled by the city when Playa Vista, a huge development with so little community support, has a red carpet to the city's coffers rolled out to it. I understand that the potential taxes the city can collect from those who move to Playa Vista are significant compared to those from Santa Barbara Plaza. However, I thought the business of the city is looking after the welfare of all its constituents, not aiding investment bankers in making a profit at the expense of other parts of the city, much less so when it will significantly degrade the environment and the quality of life for all.
Re: Dave Shulman's "Athens of the Antelope Valley" [Sitegeist, December 39]. As I read through his article, he had me smiling with his descriptions of the A.V. I nearly died laughing when I came to his comments about my Web site, the Palmdale Cam. It's closer to the truth than even his readers may have imagined!
L. RON STAMMERS
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I was interested in the OffBeat item "L. Ron Speaks!" [November 26December 2], which indicated Mr. Hubbard's inexhaustible capacity for using a verbal sledgehammer to drive home the obvious. To fully appreciate his inept grammatical phrasing, look at his philosophic gem above Scientology's Christmas display on Hollywood Boulevard.