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Letters

SAM, RALPH ET AL.

Re: Robert Greene’s “Sam [Wal-Mart] and His Pals” [October 10–16]. When I moved to Los Angeles this summer from Georgia via Arizona (two “right to work” states), I hoped to find a more progressive sensibility. On October 13, however, local law enforcement mistook me for an Orange County Republican out of her regular neighborhood.

It happened on the Oxford Avenue sidewalk between Seventh Street and Wilshire Boulevard, at the scene of organized union dissent near the Ralphs grocery store. Wearing “lockout” signs and corralled by police, the union members tried to march, chant and picket in the pathway where I often take a late-afternoon walk. I held a “thumbs-up” in approval of their wanting to stop Wal-Mart’s incursion into the major grocery market with nonunion, low-paid workers. The line of passing cars, seeing my thumbs-up and my support for the strikers, began honking in solidarity. In this context, I began — with the strikers’ smiling approval — to make my way down the western portion of the sidewalk toward Wilshire, until a policeman blocked my path.

“Ma’am,” the officer with the short-cropped sandy-brown hair said, “there’s been a gas leak on the street, so you can’t go down this side.” I asked, “Isn’t it really about this grocery-store strike and not a gas leak?” Here’s the part where he apparently mistook me for a Republican. “Well, that’s right,” he said with a grin, as if I’d naturally join him on the corporation’s side.

Admittedly, I have the white-girl-next-door-grown-up-to-midlife look of an Orange County Republican. And police officers take pride in their profiling abilities. The officer’s chummy demeanor and behavior changed suddenly when I said, “So the public isn’t supposed to see this?” With a great display of zeal, and physical movement close to my person, he directed my retreat to the Oxford/Seventh Street crosswalk, then to the opposite side of the street.

Having met the face of covert authoritarianism in reform activities outside California, I know the beast who readily turns and rends the citizenry. The beast didn’t gore me on October 13, but then, it wasn’t my fight.

The right to assemble, to protest, to strike — how important is the right? Thomas Jefferson, founder of my law school (the University of Virginia), championed dissent as integral to democracy. But it’s now a brave new wage world, isn’t it? Freedom? When it comes to the prevailing privileged social forces, and the guards hired to protect the status quo, you have only as much freedom as you’re compliant enough not to exercise.

—Ruth Sproull Los Angeles

ADD YELLOW

In “Blue Tuesday” [October 10–16], Steven Mikulan captures the hue (and cry) of that one day only, a day of mourning for all progressives, but mispaints the color of the Green Party’s steady and sustainable growth. Peter Camejo got more 2002 California votes than Nader in 2000, and in my own 2002 re-election I polled over 1,000 votes more than in 1998. The Green trend is up, with the sole exception of the progressive defections to stop Schwarzenegger.

Eventually it will all come down to issues like corporate abuses and fair taxes. Camejo’s debate successes opened voters’ eyes to the marvels of multipartisanism. C’mon, L.A. Weekly, don’t give up on the Green Party!

—Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McKeown Santa Monica (Green Party)

JUST CALL HIM THE ENVIRONMENTOLATOR (ON SECOND THOUGHT, DON’T)

Bill Kelly wonders why the candidates have so little to say about the environment [“The Silent Campaigns,” October 3–9]. Because they don’t have to. Because enviro liberals have ceded any power they might have held over their elected officials by relentlessly supporting Democrats regardless of actual progressive environmental accomplishments. This “Democrats good, Republicans bad” mantra has had the doubly negative effect of encouraging Democrats to take their votes for granted while allowing Republicans to strategically turn a deaf ear to their pleas. The fact is that many progressive journalists — the Weekly’s own Marc Cooper for one — have admitted that Schwarzenegger’s stated environmental goals are to the left of Davis’, despite the embattled soon-to-be ex-guv’s predictable support from environmentalists. The ironic thing about liberals in California is that they seem to accomplish far more when they are in the minority than they do when they control all three statehouses. Maybe a Republican governor is exactly what they need to get back on track.

—Tony Blass Winnetka

WALKING THE TALK, AND VICE VERSA

Re: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “Black Like I Thought I Was” [Cakewalk, October 3–9]. As an American of African heritage, I have known some very “black” white folks, and by the same token (pun intended) I have known some very “white” black folks. What makes you who you are comes from how you see yourself and your world. The way we walk, the way we talk, ‰ the way we choose to enjoy life and the way we dress are all part of who we are. Wayne Joseph’s ancestors made a choice of who they were based on what they believed and what they saw, and made a choice to live in a way that they found reflected the place they found most comfortable. Blackness — or, for that matter, whiteness — is not a matter of pigmentation, but a state of mind.

—H.L. Warren St. Charles, Maryland

 

I continue to be impressed by the writers for the L.A. Weekly — Ernest Hardy, Harold Meyerson, Steven Leigh Morris, Derrick Mathis and now Erin Aubry Kaplan. In “Black Like I Thought I Was,” she writes, “Race is still America’s bane, and its fascination,” and I couldn’t agree more. America’s relationship with the concept of race is a complicated issue, and Kaplan delivered an insightful article.

—Joe Hernandez-Kolski Los Angeles

 

HEY, THAT’S LESS THAN A DOLLAR AN INCH!

I appreciated Allan MacDonell’s evenhanded take on the lurid life of John C. Holmes [“In Too Deep,” October 3–9]. I also appreciate saving the nine bucks I was going to spend to see Wonderland.

—Lisa Jenio Los Angeles

BRONCOS, RAMS AND OTHER PRE-HUMMER EUPHEMISMS

In “Connecting the Dots” [October 3–9], Bill Bradley, writing about Arnold Schwarzenegger, states there were no SUVs in 1978. The Chevy Blazer, GMC Jimmy, Ford Bronco and Dodge Ram Charger all instantly spring to mind. A small point I know, but I’m a car guy. I can’t help it.

—D.K. Williams San Antonio

MORE TROT THAN HOP

I recently moved from L.A. to northeast Mississippi, and was getting all wistful about L.A. while reading your 2003 “Best of” lists [October 17–23]. Then I noticed that you were recommending the creepy miniature museum on Wilshire Boulevard as one of the hoppable galleries in the LACMA area. Hmmmmm. That struck me as strange, since when I first moved to L.A. in 2000, I found those museum doors already very closed, with a big “For Rent” banner hanging outside. For a moment, I thought that the museum might have resuscitated itself, but quick research reveals that it was just wishful thinking on the part of your writers. The collection is now in Naples, Florida, and I’m guessing it’s been there for some time (see www.barrykaye.com/museum.html). Surely your fact checkers should be able to do a better job than someone who now lives thousands of miles away.

—Megan Bean Starkville, Mississippi