Hallelujah! Erin Aubry Kaplan and her salon friends have finally stumbled upon one of the major problems plaguing the black community: black-on-black violence [“Kill Will,” April 30–May 6].

I am a young black male, the product of parents who both came from the inner city. They taught me that if you want to get ahead in this world, you have to do three things — sit your ass down in school; do what the teacher tells you to do, so that you can get a good job; and stop hanging around people who look for trouble. Unfortunately, many in the black community these days view the pursuit of education as trying to be “white.”

I am in an age group that doesn’t live in fear of white people. Whites are often much more afraid of me. However, I have to guard my back against other black people who will potentially assault, or worse, murder me. Jesse Jackson even admitted to this fact several years ago, much to the dismay of many in the black community.

It is not enough to refuse to talk about a problem because of embarrassment, and hope that it will just go away. Until black people confront the issue of black-on-black violence, the extinction of the black family, and the preference to be a victim instead of taking personal responsibility for the poor choices that we make in our lives, the violence will only continue with more bodies piling up on the streets.

—G. Gilliam


What happened to the Cakewalk column? As a white male reader, I find that Erin Aubry Kaplan’s column gave me access to an otherwise unconsidered point of view. Rather than simply reporting on black issues, or representing the “black” angle of an issue, her column personalized human issues generated from her own experience as a black woman in Los Angeles. As a columnist, Ms. Kaplan is a writer who is a black woman, whereas her more recent assignments have cast her in the role of a black woman who knows how to write.

In the past 50 years, our country has gone from one that was openly and legally segregated to one that is primarily culturally segregated. Putting black writers exclusively on black stories is one example of such cultural segregation. To further the ideals of integration, it is more important than ever to voice the human side of the black experience rather than simply the politics. Columns that touch on body image, shopping habits, male-female relations, etc. provide an important cultural bridge that initiates political discussion. Without such cultural bridges, the black community and other minority communities will always be effectively segregated.

—John McLaughlin


This gray-haired former mommy — now grandma — is enraged with Amy Alkon’s child-rearing opinion [A Considerable Town, “Spoiled Mommy,” April 23–29]. Obviously, Amy has not raised any young, yet she feels qualified to determine who should raise them, based on an encounter in a coffee shop in Santa Monica.

It is rare that pregnant women, even terrible mothers, have much interest in coffee, so it might well be the case that the poor mother was getting food for her hungry children, who might have been cranky because they were hungry, not because they are spoiled. Toddlers act out for a variety of reasons, in a variety of ways, and, as adults, it behooves us to respond with patience. A child reprimanded by a stranger is likely to be silent out of fear, and not out of longing for a disciplinary adult.

—Kathryn Wright
Los Angeles


I love Amy Alkon’s report of her encounter with a screaming toddler. “Mommy” could obviously benefit from the advice of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said, “Discipline your children, or the world will do it for you.”

—Michael Lifton


As a longtime fan and fellow foodie, I’d been wondering when Jonathan Gold would get around to pork-bone ramen, a personal favorite of mine [Counter Intelligence, “Lost in Tampopo,” April 30–May 6]. Over the years, I’ve come to admire his expertise in many types of cuisine, but have always felt I had the higher degree when it comes to slurping Japanese noodles. Which is why this had to make me laugh: “If Daikokuya is the Asian equivalent of a neo-retro burger stand . . . I don’t really want to hear about it. Because from this end of things, the restaurant feels exactly like Japan.”

Indeed, few outside of that country know that pork bone, or tonkotsu ramen, is a southern Japanese specialty that evolved parallel to the shoyu, shio and miso versions found in most L.A. ramen joints. Fewer still are those that realize ramen is considered one of the newer cuisines.

In actuality, Daikokuya’s offering is considered a shoyu-tonkotsu hybrid, which combines the pork-bone soup with a more common Tokyo shoyu base. I could be wrong, but if Jonathan doesn’t already know, he might want to check out Hakata Ramen in Gardena. They serve a Hakata-style noodle named after the city in Kyushu in which the pork-bone soup was born.

By the way, Jonathan’s writing has inspired my own career as a part-time food writer; it’s my review of Daikokuya (for the Japanese/English Rafu Shimpo newspaper) that hangs in the restaurant’s window.

—Rickmond Wong
Los Angeles


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