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MOSTLY ALWAYS RIGHT
Re: The Greenberg Factor [Powerlines, September 1521]. Harold Meyerson has it right (as usual), but not exactly. In my estimation, W. has a theme, and it is a traditional Republican theme, and it is a loser because it is right on the money tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts. Whatever the blather about compassionate conservatism, he is rerunning the Dole campaign invest in your own Social Security, get a rebate on your taxes, never mind that the tycoons get a stupendously bigger rebate. Not inspiring, and almost certainly the loser that the Republicans deserve.
Todd Gitlin Professor of Culture, Journalism and Sociology New York University
ASK NOT WHAT LOS ANGELES CAN DO FOR YOU . . .
Re: What I Hate [Best of L.A. issue, September 2228]. Like Paul F. Tompkins, I am tired of hearing complaints about Los Angeles from people who moved here and arent happy. A city is what we make it, and if you want better air, I suggest you contact TreePeople (818-753-4600) and help out with a planting. If you want less traffic, get involved with transit advocates (www.exporail.com). If you want better scenery, spend a cleanup day with Heal the Bay (800HEAL BAY) or Friends of the Los Angeles River (800LA RIVER). As for real people, there are millions of them here Ginger Varney could always find them but youre not likely to find them if you only sniff around industry hangouts, are you? Try the L.A. County Museum of Art on a Friday night. (Bet you didnt know they had free jazz concerts on the plaza.)
But if you just want to bitch and moan, please feel free to leave and go somewhere where youll be happy.
Phyllis Elliott Santa Monica
NEW HIPPIES, AGING PUNKS
With Heliocentric Worlds [September 814], Brendan Mullen finally, if inadvertently, cleared up a matter that had been nagging me for well over a decade, which is: I could never understand why so many referred to the MC5 as the godfathers of punk. I had always considered Ig and the Stooges to be. But when I read Mullens encapsulation . . . most of whom had only one honest agenda: sex, drugs and living out some mythical doof-headed rock & roll fantasy without the musical chops or the material to pull it off, well, that nailed it, describing nearly every punk band Ive ever heard. Ive always contended that punks were the New Hippies, just a good deal more retrogressed, and Mullens observation added another brick to the foundation, albeit coming from an angle Id never considered.
Ol Brenny was on the mark when it comes to the Arkestra, although his constant need to carry the white mans burden by denigrating the MTV vision of the hippies hes been fed (and obviously bought into) was not only old, lame and tiring but, as with Dave Marshs similar attempts, Im not sure black musicians are much complimented by his condescension.
In sum, although I broadly disagree with the MC5 premise, I now understand the validity of the perception. And I think Mullen could do much better than the Marsh-Hilburn school of criticism he seems to be aping; perhaps a foray into the Christgau-McKenna mindset would be to his benefit.
Marc S. Tucker Manhattan Beach
BANGS, YOURE DEAD
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Re: Manohla Dargis review of Almost Famous [Gonna Make You Groove, September 1521]. As a former New York Cityarea rock journalist, I was deeply offended to hear that Lester Bangs has apparently been depicted in the film as some kind of avatar of integrity. By only a few years after the time in which Almost Famous is set, Bangs had become notorious for dictating opinions to his writers, e.g., I need a rave for the Johnny Thunders album, Get me somebody to slam the Tull tour, etc. I suspect that Cameron Crowe, whos such an admirer of Billy Wilder, might have done well to take a page from the masters book of moral courage (not to mention dramatic irony) and incorporate Bangs heinous flaw into the narrative of the film.
Tom Silvestri Sherman Oaks
In the October 612 issue, the photo of the mature Charles Lloyd is by Dorothy Darr.