With regards to Ben Sullivan’s article “Music Industry Puts Troops in the Streets” [January 9–15], I find it interesting [that] the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is defending its actions by stating, “Its investigators do not represent themselves as police, and that the incident reports vendors are asked to sign, in which they agree to hand over their discs, explicitly state that the forfeiture is voluntary.”

Funny, this kinda sounds similar to how Mafia guys go around to local businesses asking for “protection” money. All voluntary, of course. All in the best interests of the businesses in question, of course.

I hope Ben Sullivan continues to write more investigative articles about the quasi–sovereign state status the RIAA seems to think is its right (things like issuing subpoenas that bypass the court system, and now quasi–police raids).

Neal Stephenson was writing science fiction when he wrote Snowcrash a number of years ago, but there’s a telling scene in the book when the mobsters go around town wearing jackets with “MAFIA” in FBI-style lettering. Funny how truth is stranger than fiction, or is this a case of life imitating art?

—Paul Lee Richmond


Having read Robert Greene’s misguided piece [“Face of a Protester,” January 9–15] on the proposed ban on ski masks and protective eyeware at demonstrations, I’m shocked that this has not come about sooner. After the Miami riots of late last year and the Seattle WTO riots of 1999, law enforcement needs to have the ability to control riotous crowds.

Mr. Greene seems to overlook the fact that most of the violence perpetrated at these demonstrations/riots is by masked young anarchists and radical environmentalists, such as those responsible for last year’s terrorist attacks in West Covina and elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. We have a group of young thugs who are using a political agenda as an excuse for violence. Mr. Greene and the ACLU should take this into account before assailing the police and the means they use to protect us.

—Brian Chandler Pasadena


As an activist who has been protesting since the war in Vietnam, I have to agree that the wearing of facemasks is a risk today, unlike the risks of the past. Perhaps, since 9/11, our innocence has been lost, but the type of people who are involved in protests usually wear masks not to protect themselves from tear gas or rubber bullets, but to hide their identity. Since the late ’60s, I have never been a victim of gas or rubber bullets, and feel that this is just an excuse to allow vicious acts to take place without fear of retribution. The wearing of masks really is used not only to intimidate the opposition, but to hide from victims who want to identify their attacker. If you feel the need to act in such a way, be a real grown-up, suffer the consequences and stop whining like a baby.

—Allyson Rowen Taylor Los Angeles


The decorating advice Ron Meyers offers at the end of “Thoroughly Modern Living” [January 9–15] was entirely sensible. I tell my customers almost exactly the same thing — that they should surround themselves with things that they need and like, and not be afraid to indulge in eclecticism outside of the supervision of a licensed interior designer. I have even recommended IKEA to my customers when it was appropriate.

Unfortunately, Mr. Meyers’ article strained to make any sort of useful critique of the prevailing “Modernism” phenomenon. The legitimate enthusiasm for the best objects produced in the middle of the last century hardly needs defending, certainly no more so than the objects themselves do. That not every buyer of an Eames plywood chair has immersed himself/herself in the true Modernist canon does not mean that they are somehow implicated in an empty pursuit of fashion.

An Eames chair is not a cliché. Its ubiquity today is no less respectable than its ubiquity in the 1950s. It is a completely valid object, something that manages to be at once expressive, comfortable, experimental and beautiful. It is precisely the fashionable who wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near an Eames chair. I started hearing things like “If I see another Eames chair, I’ll scream” three years ago. (By the way, I doubt that the newfound popularity of George Nelson benches would be at all distressing to George Nelson; he was the designer-for-industry par excellence.)

Of course there is a faddish element to all of this. Of course many people place objects in their homes to signal to others that they have money and taste. Of course there are those (as a dealer, I wish there were more!) who make their homes into museums of the stuff. I think Mr. Meyers is bothered by all this. How else to explain his use of the expression “prayed over” to describe the attention accorded to what even he must admit are fascinating, historically significant, beautiful things. Mr. Meyers knows we’re not talking about Bakelite drawer pulls.

The substance of Modernism is far more widely understood today than it ever was. Does Mr. Meyers think that the first generation of buyers of Nelson benches and Mies van der Rohe chairs had a more genuine connection to these things than people do today? I buy and sell ‰ the artifacts of Modernism, and I can assure Mr. Meyers that the lovely old people who patronized Modernism at the beginning, the “original owners” from whom I buy, were no more sincerely passionate (and, I might add, no less driven by fashion) than are the young people to whom I sell.

A final note, on IKEA: Whatever its considerable strengths, IKEA is not the avatar of Bauhaus Modernism Mr. Meyers would have us believe. Without getting into a debate over the precise nature of the Bauhaus ethic — I’ll just remind Mr. Meyers that the handcrafting of luxurious objects for the elite was an important part of the Bauhaus curriculum — IKEA fails most spectacularly in that an alarming number of its cheap and cheerful products derive rather obviously from well-known designs of the ’40s through ’60s. Whatever the Bauhaus stood for, it was not plagiarism.

—Sam Kaufman Sam Kaufman Gallery Los Angeles


A hundred posies in praise of Ron Meyers’ “Thoroughly Modern Living,” his thorough dissection of the vanity of contemporary style. This morning’s headlines are reporting that upward of 30 percent of Earth’s species will likely be extinct come 2010 as a result of global warming. As ol’ Japhy Ryder once said: “Register your absence with the Null and Void Trust Company.” In the face of such catastrophe, it truly is time for a rucksack revolution in America.

—John Crandell Paradise


I congratulate Steven Mikulan for his fair and accurate report about my wife’s (Sue Smethurst) ordeal at LAX as a working journalist entering the U.S. from Australia [“Coffee, Tea or Handcuffs?,” December 19–25]. The good news is she now has an I-visa for foreign news media, and hopefully not only will there never be a repeat incident, but the two of us can again holiday in the States at the end of the year!

—Ralph Horowitz Melbourne, Australia


Don’t know whether Mr. Howard Blume lived in L.A. in 1973, but I did. In the December 12–18 issue [“The Mayor Who Made L.A. Big”], he stated: “Sam Yorty . . . the race-baiting reactionary Republican.” Yorty’s campaign signs (he was a Democrat, if in name only) blared “Yorty, THE Democrat.”

—Roy Colegrove Northridge


Blume responds: Yorty was indeed a registered Democrat as mayor, until near the close of his career in 1972, when, according to his obituary, he changed to Republican after the Dems nominated McGovern for president. So, technically, Tom Bradley defeated a Republican Yorty in 1973.


L.A. Weekly film critic Ella Taylor was awarded a fellowship with the USC Annenberg Getty/Arts Journalism Program’s “New Perspectives for Mid-Career Arts & Culture Journalists, 2004.” The fellowship is an enrichment-and-training program for distinguished midcareer arts reporters and editors from print, broadcast and online journalism.



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