Re: Marc B. Haefele’s “Guarding the Pound” [November 2–8]. Thank you for covering Mayor Hahn’s mysterious firing of the city shelter’s head, Dan Knapp. I voted for Proposition F, and was encouraged by what seemed to be progress toward more adoption-friendly shelters in Los Angeles. My greatest hope was that the pound would get a make-over to attract adopters, rather than continue to be a jailhouse and death row for animals.

As it still stands, most animals, even the highly “adoptable” purebreds and puppies, are given only two to four days to be adopted, then they’re killed. I shudder to think what Hahn’s “different direction” might be, when a more humane and adoption-oriented progress seemed to be making headway under Mr. Knapp. The former head of the Sonoma County Humane Society did indeed seem to do what hadn’t been done in the past — give the humane community an ear, and a seat at the table.

—St. Teresa Stone




In his “Back to the Future” column on the L.A. History Project [November 9–15], Steven Leigh Morris refers to the water that William Mulholland “lifted” from the Owens Valley. Please note the Los Angeles Aqueduct is a gravity aqueduct; it’s lower down here than up there. So he should have claimed (not said, since the statement is debatable no matter which way it’s written) that Mulholland “drained” the Owens Valley.

—Abraham Hoffman
Canoga Park



When are we going to get to read some new columns by Eddie Little?

—Dr. Jason W. Smith, Ph.D.
Rancho Cucamonga


THE EDITOR REPLIES: “Outlaw L.A.” is no more, but funny you should ask. See the cover story in this issue.



In response to our Letters-page invitation to make linear sense of David Lynch’s new movie, Hollywood’s Kent Beyda cut right to the chase (SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen Mulholland Drive, you may want to stop reading NOW.):

The whole movie is a dream until the dark-haired woman looks into the box. After this, the aspiring-actress character wakes from her dream, and the rest of the movie is flashes of what her life is really like until her hopes overwhelm her.

Pasadena’s Vince Mannings saw it the other way ’round:

The principal female character falls asleep during the scene that divides [the final third from the first third of] the film. She seems to awaken, but she is in fact continuing a long sequence of dreams . . . a myriad of short acts, all of which incorporate and modulate various characters and locations encountered during the earlier, conscious part of the movie.

Madison, Wisconsin’s Andy Ross referred us to his column in flakmag, where he fills in Kent Beyda’s outline:

Diane (Naomi Watts) wins a jitterbug contest in Deep River, Ontario, then follows her acting aspirations to Los Angeles. Camille Rhodes (Laura Harring) beats her out for a movie audition, but the two become friends and later lovers. Diane watches Camille start to drift away and become involved with her director, Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux). Camille starts refusing Diane sex, then invites her to a dinner party thrown on Mulholland Drive by Adam. At the party, Camille and Adam announce their engagement.

Diane’s obsession with Camille deepens. She goes to a restaurant named Winkie’s to pay a hit man (Mark Pellegrino) to kill Camille. He tells her he will drop off a blue key when the contract has been fulfilled. Diane takes to her bed and goes into a deep depression . . .

There she dreams up an elaborate fantasy in which Camille, identified as Rita, is involved in a car accident on Mulholland Drive (the same location as the party) and loses her memory. She takes sanctuary in an empty apartment, in a complex run by Coco (Justin’s mother at the dinner party).
Betty (Diane’s alter ego) arrives in Los Angeles and goes to stay at that same apartment, left vacant by her aunt. There, she meets Rita and decides to help Rita get her memory back. They find money in Rita’s purse (just as we had seen it in Diane’s when paying the hit man) and a strange key (similar in color, but not shape, to the hit man’s) . . .

After an eventful day following up on various clues to Rita’s identity and yielding the sound stage to various subplots in Diane’s dream, Betty and Rita go home, awkwardly admit an attraction â to each other and make love. Rita cries out, “Silencio,” in her sleep, insisting they go to a performance-art theater downtown. There, Betty weeps as a woman sings beautifully, but the evening’s performances imply that nothing they see is real. Upon finding a strange blue box in Rita’s purse, they rush home.

Once home, Betty disappears and Rita opens the box with the blue key, only to be sucked inside. The dead Diane of the dream is told to awaken by a Cowboy who has also appeared as a character in one of the dream’s most prominent subplots, about film director Adam Kesher, and as a guest at the dinner party. Betty returns to her physical body.

Now, the dream is over, and Diane wakes to brew some coffee. Later, she brutally masturbates on her couch while flashing back to her experiences with Camille: making love, going to the party, visiting her on set as she flirts with Adam. Her short scenes in the apartment are the only ones that we can take as happening “now,” unclouded by Diane’s memory or fever dream. At the end, regret and hallucinations overcome Diane, and she shoots herself. [For the whole Ross treatment — subplots and all — visit the flakmag article at www.flakmag.com/film/mul hollandwalk.html.]

Meanwhile, Altadena’s Ralph Goldstein questioned the wisdom of getting too specific about Mulholland Drive:

When the Mulholland Drive credits rolled, the guy behind me exclaimed, ‘What the fuck was that?’ and angrily stormed out of the theater. Before the film began, he’d been confidently preaching about cinema to an appreciative group of friends, but now he was stumped. I thought about chasing after him with some explanations, but I didn’t want to violate Lynch’s final admonition (“Silencio!”), and I doubted the guy would’ve understood anyway. Since your paper has given me hours of pleasure over the years, I offer them to you.

It’s unpleasant to think about, but have you ever considered the possibility that your life might end in a cheesy Hollywood apartment, your corpse going undiscovered for days? . . . Ever dreamed of being in a theater in the middle of the night surrounded by strangers witnessing a performance of unspeakable profundity only to wake up to its daylight meaninglessness? Have authority figures ever blocked your strongest hopes and desires without you knowing why? There is a point where reason doesn’t make a difference, where the lines of dream and reality blur, where meaning is tentative, where identities cross, where beauty and terror mix. There are only possibilities; yes, possibilities, the impetus that sends countless thousands westward to become film stars or waitresses, accomplished filmmakers or disgraced failures . . .

Still hungry for clarification, specificity, resolution? Waiting for someone to tighten the plot elements in Sears Craftsman–like fashion, using a pre-modernist toolbox? Sorry. Let me exclaim that David Lynch mounted on a screen something more vividly delightful and horrific than any
surrealist painting. One final word to the wise: Silencio!


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