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Letters

BEYOND ENRON

Charles Rappleye’s story on Enron’s impact on the California energy market and vice versa [“High-Wire Dreamin’,” March 15–21] is one of the finest examples of reporting yet produced on the Enron fiasco (and believe me, I’ve read almost all of it). For too long now in America, Milton Friedman–esque ideologues have wreaked havoc on our nation’s consumer-protective regulatory safety net. The end result? Unsafe airlines, thinly disguised advertising posing as children’s TV programming, skyrocketing bank fees, corrupt and greedy telecommunications giants that sacrifice service to emphasize sales, California blackouts . . . the list goes on and on. In general, the loss of quality, service and choice (the record clearly shows that, in the long run, deregulation means less choice) has led to a significant decline in the quality of life for ordinary Americans, all so a handful of multinational monoliths can afford to pay top executives obscene salaries, bonuses and stock options, while mid- and lower-level employees slog longer hours for less pay. Now if only the fourth estate would get off its duff to look beyond Enron to what’s occurring at other sacred-cow corporations.

—Sandeep Kaushik
Cleveland, Ohio

 

THE CONTINUING FEUD

Ella Taylor’s article “Family Feud” [March 22–28], published by the L.A. Weekly under the guise of journalism, reeks of supremacist apologia, and my pre-publication letter to the editors of the Weekly articulating her unprofessional actions in “reporting” the piece can be found at www.la.indymedia.org. Here’s the facts. After we threw the doors open, KPFK raised more money in our last fund drive than ever before in its history. The preliminary structures we’ve proposed (see www.kpfk.org) around programming councils, collective formation and internship/volunteer programs hold forth the promise of unprecedented community involvement. And while the prospect of community radio seems to terrify Ms. Taylor, it’s too bad she spent her research period refusing my entreaties to come to KPFK, to see these possibilities for herself.

As for her bizarre characterization of me as being in “over my head,” I’ve run far more complex operations than KPFK in my career, and have more than 25 years of experience in creating/managing/developing many forms of media, including radio. I’ve not, however, despite Ms. Taylor’s assertions to the contrary, ever worked in PR.

I walked into a station ruled by fear and intimidation, controlled by an exclusionary management team, with a staff under siege and drive-time hours controlled by a few white programmers. I’m leaving KPFK, 68 days later, with a far more diverse staff in control of its own destiny and featuring drive-time voices that begin to actually represent the diversity of Los Angeles — not to mention a community of deeply engaged volunteers who have been welcomed back into the building. I urge your readers to come on down to the station and see for themselves. And sure, there’s a great deal more work to be done. But KPFK, and Pacifica in general, has been liberated into the possibility of its own future, and I’m deeply proud of the results of my brief tenure.

—Steven Starr
Former interim general manager KPFK

STOLEN HEARTS

John Powers writes in “Winona Forever” [On, March 22–28], “People ask why a ‘millionairess’ like Ryder would shoplift, but the real question is why Saks’ staff would make it a news story.” The drastic step by Saks may indicate that Ryder had a reputation for shoplifting at Saks, and that the store let her get away with it for a while. Ryder may have gotten too bold, or maybe Saks decided it was tired of being ripped off by the privileged set, with its sense of entitlement. Or maybe Saks had to make a big deal of it in order to send a message to others with the same predilection, to limit its losses and prevent further incidence of serial celebrity shoplifting. I doubt whether they would have pursued this unless they had hard evidence of Ryder’s guilt.

—E. Sands
New York City

 

While I wholeheartedly agree with Paul Cullum’s assessment of Jennifer Connelly’s talent [“Museum Piece,” March 22–28], I was a little surprised by his failure to mention her finest performance to date. Months before she “finally broke a sweat” in Requiem for a Dream, she gave the performance of her career (hell, of anybody’s career) in Keith Gordon’s underrated Waking the Dead. This movie, a combination romance, political commentary and ghost story, provided Connelly with one rigorous scene after another, and she played every emotional note in the book perfectly. Failing to mention this role in an appreciation of Connelly’s range and depth is like writing a piece on Brando that forgets to reference A Streetcar Named Desire.

—Jim Hemphill
Los Angeles

 

Wow, not one but two actual, old-fashioned, unapologetic fans’ homages to the actresses they love in the same issue of the Weekly — Paul Cullum on Jennifer Connelly and John Powers on Winona Ryder. Of course, this being the Weekly, you were obliged to print a lead-footed “rebuttal” by some doctrinaire feminist academic right next to Cullum’s piece. Too bad. Looks like it will be quite a while yet before any of your film critics can escape the long reach of the P.C. drones and backbiters. Until then, there’s always the lone voice of F.X. Feeney.

—Patrick Perry
Los Angeles

ROQUEROS

Re: Joseph Treviño’s “Unchained Melody: Roquero Heaven” [A Considerable Town, March 29–April 4]. Great article! As kids, my friends and I used public transportation to get us around downtown Los Angeles. We would attend Mass at Olvera Street, then head over to Clifton’s Cafeteria for lunch. I’m now 23 and proudly work downtown. Despite some of the remarks I hear, the neighborhood has very much improved. I often catch the Dash on my lunch hour, and love to explore places I frequented as a child. I actually walked into the old location of La Cara and was shocked to see that it was gone. (Luckily, it has relocated.) La Cara was a very important local stand. It kept the Hispanic community in touch not only with Spanish rock but also with good ol’ classic rock and even hard rock. I live rock music day in and day out, and I’m glad that La Cara has been around so long and was able to find a new home.

—Erika Gallo
Los Angeles

 

PUNKS

Some nights I’m in no mood to see a punk show. Other nights I simply can’t afford the single-digit cover charges and three-buck bottles of beer so common to such gigs. But even if I found myself forever fired up and decently funded, I’d still have a rough one deciding which hardcore bands to check out. You see, this city’s loaded with them. Often, two or more great bands will play on the same night at different venues, and I’m forced to flip a coin. So, of course, I found it borderline pathetic that Alec Hanley Bemis and his hardcore-seeking buddy [“Looking for Hardcore in an Emo World,” March 22–28] settled for some emo-influenced band, math-rocking under spotlights that blinded the crowd, with “definite hardcore potential.” C’mon, Bemis, real hardcore isn’t too tough to sniff out in this town. Oh, and by the way, it’s called “slamming,” not “moshing.”

—Keith David Hamm
Hollywood

 

PICTURE THIS

Cool (not): an article about celebrity look-alikes [“Hollywood at the Edges,” A Considerable Town, March 29–April 4] without a single photo so we could see them. Jesus, people, wake up down there.

—Drake Stern
Seattle