Sad, Scary and
Just Plain Alarming
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Thank you for Steven Mikulans chronicle of the CBSReagan miniseries debacle [Open City, The Big Chill, November 1420]. Mikulans piece was a gold mine of laughs for a centrist like myself. The extremists, left and right, of this country may be taking us to hell, but at least Ill be entertained along the way. Consider:
The crybaby right-wingers bully CBS into not airing a movie about their flawed hero. God forbid Reagan be portrayed as anything less than a mythical and almost God-like figure.
And as for the whiny lefties . . . Elizabeth Egloff, whose teleplay was the source of frustration from the right, reveals her bias in her assertion that the left doesnt have a machine like the right. The left doesnt have a machine? O-kay. Was that the Republican National Convention protesting Eminems so-called hate speech outside the Grammys a few years ago? To think that the extreme left doesnt have a political machine is beyond absurd, and to say it in a publication that is a part of that machine is insulting.
Still, in the end, I would have liked to have seen the movie myself, rather than have some politico in Orange County decide for me that I shouldnt see it.
Its sad, scary and just plain alarming how Orwellian the extremists on both sides can be.
Credit Long Overdue
I greatly enjoyed Steven Mikulans Open City column titled Where Credit Is Due [October 31 November 6] about the way the Writers Guild of America is correcting the records of blacklisted writers. Its a shame that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences doesnt take action the same way; they seem to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to correcting major mistakes of the past, especially when it involves the blacklisting of nonunion people who worked in Hollywood in the 1950s. Im a writer, and had written on the Disney film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While researching my article, I came across one of the greatest errors in Academy history and since then have written to the Academy no less than four times, requesting them to look into and correct this error namely, the awarding of the Oscar for 1954 color art direction to the wrong person on 20,000 Leagues. Harper Goff was the true art director who created the stunning, Academy Awardwinning Nautilus and the submarines interior sets. But because he was a nonunion worker (Disney was an independent studio at the time), the Academy ignored him and instead gave the Oscar to Goffs assistant on the film, a card-carrying union man Disney hired just to placate the association. During this time in history, the Academy only recognized (and gave Oscars to) union art directors, a nasty little secret theyre not too fond of the public knowing. So Harper Goff was blatantly, deliberately ignored and passed over in favor of his assistant. Crazy, isnt it?
I talked to Goff before he died, and he was deeply saddened by the Academys disregard of him, and the finest work he had ever done. Maybe someday the Academy of Motion Pictures will do the right thing and fix the historical record. In the meantime, their silence on Mr. Goff speaks volumes to me.
More on Nature
I enjoyed your article Get Me to the Church on Time and a Half for Overtime: The state of marriage, gay and straight, in a heterosexual dictatorship by David Ehrenstein [November 1420]. His humor and juxtaposition of comments support his ideas very well. The only thing I could add is from my current reading on genetics (Genome and Nature via Nurture by Matt Ridley) that indicates that a gay lifestyle has about a 50 percent basis on genetic development, determined in part by the wombs environmental response to the fetus inside it and the subsequent effects in brain development.
Vernon, B.C., Canada
Give The Peace Candidate
In response to Marc Coopers column Iraq Spins Out of Control: Where are the Democrats and the Peace Movement? [Dissonance, November 713], a partial answer is: Many of us are working our butts off to elect Dennis J. Kucinich for president in 2004. Mr. Cooper would serve the very causes he rightly addresses if he would work with us to elect the candidate who consistently and unflinchingly stands up for peace and justice at every turn. Kucinich prominently voted against the $87 billion war/occupation package; he will eliminate the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy and cut our grossly overblown war budget by 15 percent; and he is the only candidate with a detailed exit strategy for Iraq (see www.kucinich.us/statements. htm#100903). Mr. Cooper, get with the plan! Work for our man! The REAL peace candidate: Dennis J. Kucinich 2004!
Susan F. Reed
Boone, North Carolina
Whats new about what Marc Cooper is writing? He still likes to beat up the liberals and will beat up the Greens if they attempt to educate the voters and give them an honest alternative candidate. Why isnt he supporting Kucinich? Theres a Democrat who states solutions. I assume Marc will only support a Democrat if he perceives that candidate will win. I detect a shrill whine in his writing. Am I wrong?
East Los Angeles
Discordance About Disney Hall
Thanks for Greg Goldins and Jonathan Golds articles on Experiencing Disney Hall [October 31November 6]. I gave up on the L.A. Phil years ago when the Disney Hall was first announced because to me the Phil was consciously turning its back on L.A.s rich history rather than incorporating it into the citys cultural future. I look at the amount of money finally spent on Disney Hall (thanks to all the delays, attitude and cost overruns), and then look at the historic buildings on Broadway, in particular the Los Angeles Theater, and think about what could have been done with that same money dont get me started. In the end, Disney Hall is another example that this is and has always been about what is best for the rich, white subscriber bases who are scared shitless to venture off Bunker Hill, not what is best for the city as a whole.
Im writing because I just got off the phone with a friend who teaches at L.A. Trade Tech downtown. She has spoken with four separate students, all of them Latino, each of whom had managed to get a cheap-seat ticket to Disney Hall during its opening week. Each one of them was looking forward to the experience a first for a couple of them. And each of them was harassed at the door about his/her attendance and ticket. I wanted to tell my friend to let it go, it was just an unfortunate byproduct of the overhyped, over-the-top publicity of opening week. But I couldnt do it, because thats not what is going on, is it?
You, Sir, Are No Jean Genet
Regarding Sam Slovicks The Geography of Hustling [November 1420]: What were you thinking? Sees himself reincarnated as Jean Genet or Iceberg Slim, does he? He couldnt hold their underwear. Sorry, no Pulitzer for him. You should have farmed him out to The New York Times or the Washington Post. Isnt that their thing? His self-centered pseudo-raw realism swathed in traces of fiction really was a downer. The message: Go out, live the wild life (even get to meet some movers and shakers), find and rescue your real self, then become a famous/published writer like me. Yeah, right. I found his glorification and romanticizing of tragedy nauseating. He even trots out those old misinformed saws about making more money ($100,000 a year) than hard-working middle-class people (a police officer). Such illogic possibly appeals to middle school juveniles, but they dont read the Weekly.
So I would appreciate a little more editorial introspection when green-lighting such narcissistic ego-tripping. In this day and age there are a lot more inspiring personal stories that need exposure. Amy Motevalli and her students certainly was one of those this year, and I only heard and read about it in the Weekly.
F. Daniel Gray
Article by Sam Slovick is fabulous.