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Letters

FRANKLY

I am flabbergasted that L.A. Weekly published Steven Leigh Morris’ ill-informed and offensive article [“America’s Children,” April 16–22].

Joe Frank was fired in a rude and repugnant manner after a 15-year relationship with KCRW and just hours after he had been released from the hospital in mid-February 2002. At the time, his show, “The Other Side,” was about to return to the air after a six-month hiatus. In fact, KCRW ran a press release announcing the return of the show.

Mr. Frank’s program was among the most popular at KCRW and the only show honored with major American broadcasting awards, including a Peabody. Further, Mr. Frank’s firing had nothing to do with the quality of his work but was motivated solely by Ruth Seymour’s personal animus, the result of a failed friendship. Unwilling to acknowledge the truth, KCRW continues to state that Mr. Frank has a “strong” relationship with the station.

For two years, Mr. Frank remained silent about what had happened to him. After the recent Sandra Tsing Loh firing, however, he decided to go public and submit his story to L.A. Weekly. When the paper learned about the Evidence Room event, Mr. Frank was informed that they had decided to “pass on the article since the performance would be covered.”

To suggest that Mr. Frank was in any way whining about his fate, and miss the wild and often self-deprecating humor of his theater piece, is astonishing. There was nothing self-pitying nor mean-spirited in Mr. Frank’s performance, although Ms. Seymour certainly gave him a lot of material he could have chosen to use so that the public might sample the true character of the station manager of KCRW.

—Michal Story Los Angeles

 

Michal Story is Joe Frank’s assistant manager.

GEHRY’S DOWNTOWN

Nothing scares me more than the realization that bulldozers may yet again go through communities in Los Angeles in an attempt to create another city center, as Greg Goldin alludes to in his article “Bunkum Hill” [April 16–22].

I am embarrassed that Frank Gehry and his group of celebrity cohorts have not emphasized the need to keep existing communities intact that are north of Cesar Chavez. Instead, they have prioritized more tourist attractions and entertainment centers. There should be a realization among city planners, architects, and religious and civic leaders that there is a vibrant community that inhabits downtown. This precious community will be adversely affected by the ill-conceived plans of creating a business corridor, tourist traps, and places for people to hang out and party after work.

I am especially fearful that the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles will destroy the ethnic working class community of Chinatown that is directly north of the project area. This pedestrian community is a tight-knit group of neighbors — from new immigrants of Latin America and Asia to African-Americans, Chicanos and other ethnic groups. We walk to the supermarket, go to churches, read books at the branch library and eat dim sum together.

Already I have seen houses and apartment buildings in need of inspection that are up for sale. Longtime friends and neighbors are being evicted or forced out because of high rents and other forms of progress. The seven-member review committee, Supervisor Gloria Molina, Councilwoman Jan Perry, the CRA and the architects need to tread carefully and not re-create another corporate wasteland and destroy the environs.

—Vi Thuc Ha Los Angeles

IN DEFENSE OF DARWIN

Steven Kotler’s story “Oh So Natural” [April 16–22], which reviews Joan Roughgarden’s book Evolution’s Rainbow, can only be intensely irritating to any student of Darwin and natural selection. The article states that homosexuality clearly has no selective advantage. Not true. A case can be made that gay family members contribute to the survival of their siblings’ offspring, thus increasing the number of copies of the childless gay persons’ genes in the next generation.

Worse, the article makes the same mistake that a lot of gay-identity theory makes — it ignores bisexuality. Kinsey 6’s are rare compared to those of us who are attracted, at least somewhat, to both sexes. In fact, many if not most gay people do reproduce. Bisexuality is enough to account for a gay trait persisting in the gene pool (if there really is a gay genetic trait).

It is possible to draw two conclusions when someone observes a trait that they can’t account for by natural selection: One is that Darwin is wrong and the other is that the observer isn’t bright enough to figure out the trait’s selective advantage.

—John Ullman Seattle, Washington

 

I was very annoyed at how blindly Steven Kotler bought into the nonsense that Joan Roughgarden was handing out about evolutionary theory and homosexuality. If this interview is any indication, her book appears to be a classic example of skewing the facts to support a previously conceived notion.

A case in point is her discussion on sex. According to natural selection, the main purpose of sex is the transfer of sperm. She counters this fact with the statement: “Humans have sex all the time, but produce very few offspring during their lives.” She then goes on to say that this proves that sex is inefficient as a means of reproduction. She doesn’t consider the possibility that in most cases people have only a few children because they choose to, not because sex is inefficient. If the couple in her example did have sex once a week for 50 years, without any form of birth control, chances are they would end up with more than two children. Sex may have other purposes (she raises tactile communication as a possibility), but its primary role in nature is still to transfer sperm.

Her discussion of sexual selection is equally inane. Males employ numerous strategies to attract females, and females choose their mates based on various criteria, not just one or two traits. It is also important to understand that the female does not choose the male that has the best genes; the female chooses the male that she thinks has the best genes and will produce offspring that will survive and reproduce. The difference is subtle, but significant.

Evolutionary theory does not say that homosexuality is wrong or unnatural. Homosexuality, on its own, is just not a good strategy for continuation of the species, and it is in this context that it is sometimes referred to as a biological dead end. On the other hand, diversity tends to make a species stronger, and it is quite possible that homosexuality does have a role in society. I hope Ms. Roughgarden continues to look for answers to the important questions she is asking; I just feel that these answers will be found within the context of natural selection. I don’t believe it is time to throw Darwin in the dumpster.

—Bob Wieder Silver Lake

HEALTH-CARE SCARE

Rick Kennedy’s article [“Demands of Independence,” April 16–22] perfectly states the health-care crisis, as our current generation of spoiled, indolent, over-indulged baby boomers ages. The health problems of baby boomers will be exacerbated by their addiction to gas-guzzling Hummers and SUVs whose pollutants will cause baby boomers to need health care sooner, not later. Furthermore, in the face of rising medical costs caused by increased pollution, private medical insurance companies are likely to either jack up rates to prohibitive levels or simply cancel all California policies.

If baby boomers expect the next generation to subsidize their medical care, they had better guess again. The next generation will be too busy paying off education loans resulting from Schwarzenegger’s relentless cuts on higher education, medical bills, health insurance (if they can get any) and private school tuition (assuming that the public education system has tanked). They won’t be able to spare a dime to help aging baby boomers who should have known better to begin with, and who should have made the appropriate investments and sacrifices when there was time to do so rather than electing a brainless bodybuilder to lead them.

—William Joseph Miller Los Angeles


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