A VISION THING
What an exception it was to read Greg Burks piece about Michael Sigman [Weekly Publisher Departs, January 2531] and Sigmans reply to being asked what he will do next. None of the usual bluff about lots of things in the pipeline, being head-hunted as we speak, etc. Just meditating and improving his piano. Something tells me that this kind of man survives longer than the rest and will re-emerge in any way he chooses. It is only congratulations I offer him.
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HOW GREEN (AND WET) WAS MY VALLEY
I just finished reading Barry Lopezs article on the Valley [A Scary Abundance of Water, January 1117], and I cant stop crying. It brought back a lot of memories. (I lived in the Valley from 1979 to 1989, ages 9 through 19.) What an amazingly well-written article!
I sat down to read Barry Lopezs memoir of growing up in the San Fernando Valley with casual interest, because I too grew up there in the 70s, and now teach there. I was hardly prepared for an essay so profoundly world-shaping that it has actually changed the way I look at the landscape of home. In this one essay, Lopez has made a contribution to the written history of L.A. that is on a par with that of Rayner Banham or Carey McWilliams (or maybe John Fante, since Lopez writes nonfiction in a novelists voice). It is wonderful to live in a place where a newspaper actually puts great literature on the cover.
7 . . . 11 . . . ITS A TOSS OF THE DICE
John Powers states in his piece Rank and Yank at Enron [January 1117], The right fulminates endlessly about liberalisms moral bankruptcy, but its own penchant for the ideological blame game is the intellectual version of Chapter 11. Chapter 11 is protection from creditors prior to a major reorganization of your finances. The object is to keep the business going. Perhaps he meant Chapter 7 dissolution of the bankrupt firm and paying the creditors a fraction of money that is owed.
Paul D. Motzenbecker Jr.
University Park, Maryland
TIME WOUNDS . . .
As the daughter of a retired cop who infiltrated and was later hunted by the SLA, I commend Greg Goldin on Guilt Trip [cover story, January 1824]. In spite of what Sara Jane Olsons supporters say, I recall having to leave the only home and friends I knew, learning to look over my shoulder and that evil does exist in the world. I was 6 years old. Many others who came in contact with this group also suffered and continue to in various ways. Time doesnt heal everything. As their victims continue to suffer, these people need to pay for their actions, no matter how long ago they occurred. Thanks again for the great article.
GOOD NEWS, BAD THEODICY
In Happy Land Jubilee [January 1117], Clarence Fountain ascribes the massacre of 9/11 to the fact that The United States has to pay for some of the wrongs its done down through the years. God allows certain things to happen because man just dont want to live right. To which Kristine McKenna replies, Its hard to argue with that.
Wrong, Kristine. Its very easy to argue with that. Just what were the wrongs that all those people did? Individual people suffered and died that day, and other innocent people suffer still, mourning them. Unless you know for sure that each and every affected person did wrongs that would require divine punishment, you not only can but must argue with Mr. Fountain and anyone else who comes up with such specious reasoning.
Joan F. Kaufman
AS MOOT AS IT GETS
Re: A Killer Job [January 2531]. While I appreciate the effort and intent of Sara Catanias article about Stephen Wayne Andersons incompetent attorney S. Donald Ames, I am concerned about a few factual distortions in the article: One, Anderson was not a homeless wanderer when he killed Elizabeth Lyman; he was a prison escapee. Two, the transcripts of Andersons interviews when he was first arrested indicate that he confessed to the Utah crimes of his own free will, with full understanding of his Miranda rights. He was held for three days without being â arraigned not so the authorities could nefariously pressure him to confess, but so that an official from Utah, whom Anderson had requested contact with, could have time to travel to California and speak with Anderson.
Clearly Ames was an incompetent attorney with a horrible track record, and Anderson should never have been sentenced to death. However, distorting the true facts of the case was not the way to go about proving this.
HOLD THAT OBIT
Re: New Ax To Grind [January 1824]. As Oliver Wang mentions, David Axelrod has been in the L.A. music community for over 30 years. Perhaps Oliver is right in stating Davids career peaked lo those many 30 years ago. And yet there is another powerful composition of his, from 1993, Requiem The Holocaust, after David watched the trial of white supremacist Tom Metzger on TV. Co-produced by Earl Palmer and featuring sax solos by Ernie Watts, this requiem is an important part of the David Axelrod story.
Dr. David Robbins
Re: Jonny Whitesides Bamboozled [January 1824]. That Mr. Whiteside could get through the book at all is a marvel. Nick Tosches is right up there with Greil Marcus in terms of pop-critic pompous unreadability, though Mr. Marcus has a more interesting mind.
THE INTENTIONAL FALLACY?
Did F.X. Feeney write his Revival Pick review of Rodgers and Hammersteins Flower Drum Song [January 2531] in a fit of nose-tweaking sarcasm? For starters, Flower Drum Songs wholly Asian cast included the African-American actress Juanita Hall as Madame Liang, a role that she originated in the musicals 1958 Broadway production. Also, not only are the songs Limehouse Blues and Chinatown, My Chinatown not in the film, they werent even written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Nancy Kwan plays the role of a Chinese-American nightclub star; the part of the mail-order bride is played by Miyoshi Umeki, and the character comes from Hong Kong, not Formosa. James Shigeta plays a Chinese-American law student, not a two-bit thug. Finally, since Flower Drum Song was made by Universal and recently marketed on video by MCA, Id be interested to know how MGM acquired the distribution rights.
Why do I get the idea that Feeney made all of these mistakes intentionally, just to see how many hairsplitters would write in correcting him?
DEAD MAN SCHMOOZING
Imagine my surprise to open the Weekly and read in the Slush column [January 2531] that making the rounds on the current social circuit was none other than actor Dack Rambo. You must admit, this is some feat for a man who died in 1994.