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Letters

REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

I arrived on the L.A. Weekly scene in October 1979. I moved from Springfield, Massachusetts, where I had been an advertising manager for a 5-year-old alternative weekly called the Valley Advocate. I decided to move after meeting with Jay Levin in his office on Sunset Boulevard while on vacation in L.A. I accepted a position as advertising director at our first meeting.

Working at the Weekly was an incredibly fun experience. Yes, as Laurel Delp remembers in Kristine McKenna’s interview with Levin, the Weekly was run by people with little business experience [“In the Beginning,” December 12–18]. What is wrong with that? We learned and innovated as we went, and we learned fast. Jay Levin’s presence at the paper was nothing but inspirational. His work ethic was as strong as I’d ever seen. It had to be; we all wore several different hats.

Laurel Delp had been there as an editor, but I remember she’d been encouraged to leave because the job was just too big for her. She was really not up to the job at all. There is a sense from her nasty statement about Jay that she is a disgruntled former employee who has not come to terms with the consequences of her own limitations. When I read her insulting remarks about Jay Levin, I wanted to go on the record refuting them.

We grew the paper fast in the first four years. Maybe too fast for our inexperienced styles. But we were profitable and making money by the third year — a remarkable business achievement that Delp and your writer give no credit. We worked for a cause, and Jay personified it. And the idea that Jay was socially inept is just another cheap shot from a former editor.

Laurel Delp misses the mark when she states that Jay Levin was very smart but had never run anything before or that he didn’t appreciate the enormous feat of starting a paper. Jay understood the enormousness of what he was undertaking. More than once, over dinner, he would ask me, “Is this the greatest adventure you’ve ever been on?” The early years were the most spirited and by far the best years of the Weekly. When the corporate types came in, the spirit was pretty much killed.

In further defense of Jay’s instinctive business acumen, let’s not forget that the Weekly was founded with a mere $250,000. Two previous attempts at launching a weekly alternative paper in L.A., in the mid-’70s, had failed. Also, the fancier, high-financed competition, The Reader, was marginalized by our passion to win this newspaper war and by our successful business strategy and tactics.

I only wish your writer had spoken to those of us who worked at the Weekly and had a very positive experience. Even better would have been to ask Jay for his response to these most untrue statements.

I learned a lot from those years I worked with Jay. I now own nine newspapers in Northern California, and ideas developed back in the early L.A. Weekly days are still valid 25 years later. Thanks, Jay!

—David Cohen Publisher/CEO, Silicon Valley Community Newspapers

DOPE RHYMES

I am eager to commend you on a fabulous anniversary issue, particularly Jonathan Gold’s article about the birth of gangsta rap [“Eazy Does It,” December 12–18]. Mr. Gold has beautifully given a basis for a discussion on where pop music would be without L.A.’s contributions.

Whether you love or hate it, are offended by its stereotypes or feel that it glorifies your lifestyle, nearly everyone has an opinion on rap, and the gangsta genre in particular. Without the groundwork laid by Dre’s beat structure and the ferocity of Cube’s lyrics, brought to us by releases initially funded by Eazy-E’s drug-dealing escapades, popular music wouldn’t be the same. Gangsta rap and all of the related new sounds that came from Los Angeles continue to reverberate not only in modern hip-hop, but through R&B and into pop, and have laid the basis for the freak hybrid of nu-metal. Who would’ve believed in 1998 that rap, then a dense field of frequently comic performers, generally not even regarded as musicians, would change the face of modern music? That such a “sedate artist” as Elton John would share a stage with someone whose violent vitriol was born of the same rage shown by N.W.A and the other ranking elder statesmen of gangsta rap? That there would be subcultures devoted to turntableism and elevating it into an art form? That suburban white kids across America and beyond would identify with tales of such a harsh environment and bob their heads to it? That artists would come out and tell stories of their experiences, both honest and fictional, and be so open about their anger and all of its causes? So much in music has changed, and in no way should the contributions of gangsta rappers be overlooked.

—Tiana Norlemann Pasadena

He’s Not Our Champion

I just happened upon Michael Hoinski’s article “Manic Monday” in your 25th-anniversary issue [December 12–18]. What the heck are you talking about? On Page 66 of your walk down (faulty) memory lane, I read this in a description of the crowds outside the Democratic National Convention: “Greens exalted Nader. Libertarians championed LaRouche.” Huh?!? Libertarians WHAT?! That’s slander, sir. I regret I did not take time off from work to join the protests downtown in the summer of 2000, so I don’t know if anyone was canvassing on behalf of Libertarian Party presidential candidate Harry Browne. However, I am quite confident that no libertarians, whether party members or “vote is a four-letter word” anarcho-romanticists, would have been “championing” LaRouche. To say so is either an indication of extreme ignorance or just a G— D— lie. LaRouche runs for office (every four years) as a Democrat. You can’t pawn him off on us.

—Edward Bowers Chair, Libertarian Party of the San Fernando Valley

 

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