Steven Mikulan’s piece about L.A. before dawn [“Hurry Sunrise,” December 14–20] was exquisite. Rare is the journalist nowadays who’ll give us an experience rather than a medley of clichés. Well done!

—Brian Geary
Columbus, Ohio


The Hollywood-by-night story was a lovely idea, but overwritten. And why didn’t Steven Mikulan talk to anybody? As a consequence, the story failed to get behind the images with which we are all familiar. Good effort, though.

—Joe Bullman


Re: Steven Mikulan’s piece “The Gloves Come Off” [December 7–13]:

1) The military is doing more than we see on TV, and it involves greater risk than a sore lower back. The fact that Mr. Mikulan can’t see it suggests that operational security is working to some extent.

2) The problem with the al Qaeda prisoners after the fall of Kanduz was best summed up by historian John Keegan: “Large-scale surrender on the battlefield, even between sovereign states within the framework of international law, is always fraught with difficulty. In this case neither party to the conflict, the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, is sovereign and neither is bound by the Geneva Convention or the normal rules of warfare.”

3) Is the Northern Alliance our “proxy army” or are we their “proxy air force”? That depends on who ends up with the country.

—Bill West
Los Angeles


In the course of their year-end list making [December 28–January 3], the Weekly’s writers twice lionized Christopher Hitchens and dismissed Alexander Cockburn and Noam Chomsky for their respective stances on the U.S. war on terrorism. Steven Mikulan, in “War Diary: Collateral Damage,” and John Powers, in “On: The Crash of Civilizations,” paint Hitchens as “the second coming of George Orwell” (Powers) and “the reasonable leftist who knows the difference between imperialism and self-defense” (Mikulan). More reasonable leftists have noticed that, in fact, Hitchens has rather hysterically sought to reframe the concerns of his opponents in order to make them appear unreasonable. The arguments of Chomsky and Cockburn have not differed substantially from the analysis of no less reasonable a personage than L.A. Times staff writer David Lamb, who quietly opined in the January 6 edition of that paper that Islam’s millions “hate U.S. policies they see as based on arrogance, self-interest, military aggressiveness and a willingness to inflict harm on Muslims in the Middle East, and, now, Afghanistan.” These are fertile fields for the growth of terrorism, both in terms of new recruits and financial support for Osama bin Laden and his theocratic fascists. Mr. Hitchens has become the darling of the New Right due to his determined failure to grasp this point.

—Andrew Christie
Los Angeles


Re: “Tiresome Things 2001 & Beyond” [December 28–January 3]. I agree with all but one of John Payne’s list of tiresome annoyances. Item number 20, however, does perplex me: “White people trying to act black — a perennial favorite. It makes me sick.” As in Elvis singing Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog” or Leiber & Stoller (Jewish kids from Brooklyn) writing it? Or Jagger’s double negatives in “can’t get no satisfaction”? Could Coltrane cover Rodgers and Hart’s “My Favorite Things,” or is that trying to act white? Or is it white suburban kids listening to hip-hop and calling each other “nigga” that makes him sick? Was it acceptable for Hendrix to try to act like Dylan? I’m sure Dylan picked up a lot of Lonnie Johnson’s mannerisms, as well as his guitar licks, back in the ’60s. Where you gonna draw your line in cross-cultural influences?

I’m a lot older than Eminem, but probably fit into Payne’s “makes you sick” category. People either think I’m from abroad or from the South. Abroad because I was raised in Chicago by Irish (grandparents, aunts, uncles) as well as black folks (favorite baby sitter), and that rubs off, and the South (read: black talk) ’cause I was a 15-year-old musician hanging in the blues bars and R&B venues and was declared a “bad nigga” or “blue-eyes soul brotha” by Junior Wells, Left Dizz and Mighty Joe Young.

Mixing standard English with “street talk” is American, yo.

—Rollin Dexter
Toluca Lake


Re: “John Payne’s 20 Superior Discs” [“The Year in Music,” December 28–January 3]. Thanks, John, for mentioning Holger Czukay’s Linear City. I was involved in that unique project, and I think it’s a great piece.

—Drew Kalapach
Houston, Texas


An article about the Jewish Defense League, “Three Guys and a Megaphone” (January 11–17), misidentified the city where a massacre of Muslim worshippers took place. The attack occurred in Hebron. Also, parts of two sentences about recent JDL activities were deleted. It should have read: “The JDL also lobbies to roll back gun control and to win freedom for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. This fall, Rubin pursued litigation to prevent the Burbank City Council from opening its gatherings with a sectarian prayer.”


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