Re: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “Thoroughly Modern Mammy” [Cakewalk, December 6–12]. As a struggled-to-become-middle-class, middle-aged Jewish man whose partner is a struggled-to-become-middle-class, middle-aged black woman, I too am shocked — and somewhat mortified — by the acceptance of mammys and a nostalgia for Amos & Andy, both of which make me cringe. My partner, on the other hand, looks back at Amos & Andy on television and radio with fondness. (I guess we’re no longer middle-aged; we’re old.)

Why do so many black Americans embrace such insults? Perhaps it’s the absence of other antique representations about which to be nostalgic. People have told me about their experience of the early days of television. There would be a hue and cry when someone in the living room called out, “Come in here! Colored man on the television!” It didn’t matter what or why. His mere presence made him worth watching.

I hope Erin Aubry Kaplan finds the answer. And I hope she shares it.

—Tuva Spalding New York City


Erin Aubry Kaplan’s piece on black memorabilia is one of the bravest I have seen recently. It points out the pain of living in a society where everything is for sale and therefore, seemingly, justified by its value. That then is used for such excuses as “If I don’t peddle it, someone else will” or “Everyone’s doing it, so it must be okay,” etc. But worth differs from value, when one bothers to think. Thanks, Kaplan, for bothering to think.

—Rex Styzens Long Beach



I just wanted to drop you a line regarding Nikki Finke’s hilarious op-ed “The Bully Pulpit” [Deadline Hollywood, December 20–26]. The idea that the Republican right is “bullying” actors from voicing their views represents exactly the sort of sanctimonious self-martyrdom upon which the right thrives. Far from wishing to censure Hollywood, the right embraces every occasion to connect the Democratic party with these outmoded, deluded voices. Finke admits as much with her relation of the succession of Democrat losses, yet refuses to acknowledge the essential message: It’s the people who vote, and they’re voting no.

Personally, I vote Democrat whenever my conscience allows it, but I’m certainly not voting for the hypocrisy of the Hollywood left. Siding with these “artists” in any discussion about class warfare is tantamount to championing the merits of a “cake-distribution program” penned by Marie Antoinette. And if the people’s revolution ever does come, don’t be surprised if Tim Robbins is the first to be stood up against the wall.

—Blue Sullivan Sherman Oaks



In your end-of-the-year list issue [December 27–January 2], Marc Cooper wrote that “momo” was the lowest nickname possible, created by Lefty Rosenthal. This was obviously a dig at Sam “Momo Salvatore” Giancana, the head of the Chicago mob, which controlled Vegas. You will note that this quote didn’t come out until long after Giancana got whacked in the basement of his home. Lefty never would have said this when Giancana was alive, as he would have been whacked. But then, Giancana once was caught saying this on a FBI wiretap: “We’ve been whacking a lot of the wrong people lately.”

—Garry Jaffe Chicago


A note of congratulations and thanks for Ron Athey’s wonderful fashion article [“Living Dreams of Visions,” December 13–19]. The photos were great, too. What’s remarkable about someone like Wong was that his “art” clothing was in fact extremely wearable, and on almost any kind of body. He worked with scissors the way Michelangelo worked with chisel and stone.

—Ezrha Jean Black Los Angeles



Re: Deborah Klugman’s review of Teahouse of the August Moon [New Theater reviews, December 20–26]. She failed to answer the one question that all professional critics must ask: “Did I like the show?” Instead, Klugman focused exclusively on racial issues of stereotyping, clichés, anachronisms and ethnocentricity. Reviewing any show through a racial lens — especially a show like Teahouse, which makes no issue of such matters — is unfair. ä A theater critic has a responsibility to present their professional opinion based on what is on the stage, not based on ill-fitting measures of political correctness.

—Keisuke Hoashi Los Angeles


For his list of the 10 best films of 2002, John Powers writes: “After decades of movies about older men bonking much younger women, the genders finally flipped roles. Diane Lane in Unfaithful, Jennifer Aniston in The Good Girl, Catherine Keener in Lovely & Amazing, Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, Maribel Verdú in Y Tu Mamá También — they all got it on with young fellas.” Point taken, but note that Diane Lane is one year older than Olivier Martinez, and nothing in the film suggests any larger age discrepancy between them. Does being married just make a woman seem older?

—Scott Ferguson Gardena


I am writing in response to the article “The Cute Ones” by Ernest Hardy [December 13–19]. Hardy made huge assumptions about the lives of these two adults. He has no idea what type of childhood they lived. Does he hold the same opinion regarding black opera singers? Are they “posers” because they’re doing what most people would view as “white” music”?

People are who they are; the way they talk or act is a part of them, not a fashion trend. Unlike the word wigger, which not only is disgusting and racist but is also very immature. But then again, maybe Mr. Hardy is showing us his true colors.

—D.J. Blake Murfreesboro, Tennessee


Jeffrey Vallance’s “Santa Is a Wildman!” [December 20–26] was such an intelligent cryptozoological-anthropological essay that I shared it with about 3,000 people around the globe. My Swedish and Norwegian friends and colleagues said it was the best treatment of the subject they had ever read. Well done!

—Loren Coleman Cryptozoologist and author Portland, Maine


Thanks for Doug Harvey’s story on the ECF Art Center [“Outside in L.A.,” December 6–12]. Loved the artwork, and though I missed the sale this time, I’ll be calling about future sales. So much talent! Thanks for sharing it with us.

—J.A. Cole La Crescenta


I don’t know if I did this already or not, but I only have this to say about your picking up “Tom Tomorrow”: Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. And thank you.

Thanks very much.

—Bruce Terrence Los Angeles

P.S. Thank you.


The photo accompanying the review of James Baldwin: Down From the Mountaintop (January 3–9) should have been credited to Vaughn Hart.


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