The Critic So Boringly Gray

One of the many tricks of the critic, when at a loss for comparatives, barren save for years in tiresome lit classes spent cataloguing hoary clichés institutionalized by English majors, is to reach across the gulfs for analogues so baffling that the reader assumes he missed something in his own perusals. Steven Mikulan ["Chattering Class", December 17–23], grasping to find a way to rip both Bennett and Wilde in the same sentence, unfortunately revealed his hibernations through the college days his parents went broke procuring him. At a loss amongst Wilde’s several bricks, he flummoxed and chose The Importance of Being Earnest, citing it as one of many that stand as a "critique of superficiality by superficial plays." Well, excuse we poor groundlings who actually read the damn thing and beg to differ.

Some of most any writer’s best work is when he excuses himself from the vanity of his quill and mercilessly portrays the reality that so oft eclipses art’s best efforts. Earnest was just such a gift. Its very brilliance lies in the fact that the author deftly just piled up the silo of sophistries, empty gestures, pedantries and babbling which the "gently born" practiced in lieu of productive endeavor, collecting hereditary rents while diverting one another with the day’s version of MTV or West Wing, then scripted by actual wits rather than brainless college grads who now mine the lowest common denominator for modern "gems" void of intelligence and redolent of briny class marketing.

Not content to come a cropper in dragooning Wilde, Mikulan then proceeds to lay in the circus surrounding John Kerry and the feeble Rona Barrettisms of The National Enquirer as superseding evolutions. What next, George Bush as Congreve reincarnate? Can’t the Weekly find a critic? Someone not a middle-class welfare case who spent his arrested-growth years in academe, sopping up the drivel of a klatch of tenured ninnies for later regurgitation? The beauty of Wilde’s Earnest is not hidden, "semioticized," nor encrypted, and is plain as the sun rising in the east. It’s right there in the play . . . hence his UCLA professors, and Mikulan himself, never saw it. Earnest’s bottom line was not the further self-lionization of Wilde but the transcription of the bourgeoisie’s everyday.

Now, if he wants a reference for terminal contrivance, inform him that the mick wrote an absolute snoozer entitled The Picture of Dorian Gray, as masturbatory a piece of fiction as has ever blotched forth from pen. But, of course, that would mean he’d actually have to read the damn thing, rather than crib from Cliffs Notes. Hopeless.

—Steven Francis
Manhattan Beach

¡Viva la Musica!

Regarding "Mex 2 the Max" by Ben Quiñones [December 17–23]: I remember at 5 years old hearing the loud music coming from the family room while mi papa practiced with his band every Saturday afternoon. That was the beginning of my fascination with musica latina. However, as I got older I was laughed at for loving cumbias, corridos, rancheras and the ever-popular baladas from groups like Los Bukis. We, as Latinos, have come a long way. Our traditional music is being more appreciated by the younger generation and people from other ethnicities. The crowds at events get larger and larger.

It is a proud moment for me as a Latina and a musician to see that there is a television station that the Latino community can relate to. I’m a 24-year-old Latina who doesn’t go out and buy $200 bags from Louis Vuitton or huge sunglasses from Gucci. I’m a Latina who enjoys her rock en español, who loves the sound of the trumpets when a mariachi comes in the room. I cannot relate to the glamorous lifestyle of the regulars on MTV. I can relate to the parties and the gritos from the audience. It’s just like at my house! Thank you to LATV for bringing to the Latino community pride in our culture, and as Flabio says, "Let everyone know it’s cool to be Latino!"

—Maria A. Gonzalez
Canoga Park

Not Time to Moveon.org

Rarely do I read the L.A. Weekly as I find most of the writers are pushing some sort of biased agenda . . . how refreshing today while eating lunch when I grabbed the Weekly and happened upon Marc Cooper’s article about the election and Moveon.org’s response. You have hit the nail on the head with this piece and it is something I have tried to articulate (rather poorly, I confess) to my in-denial, election-disgruntled friends. Did anyone see Michael Moore’s latest posting on his Web site? It’s the same sort of in-denial and ridiculous response . . . I have grown so weary of this kind of banter. It is so unproductive and will indeed lead to another Democratic defeat. I have hope now, armed with Mr. Cooper’s piece — maybe I can spread the wisdom.

Keep up the great work, Mr. Cooper!

—John Mueller
Sherman Oaks

Tangled Webb

Regarding Gary Webb’s "suicide": It seems an odd coincidence that a week or so prior to Webb’s death, Fred Thompson of the Heritage Foundation dissed Webb on Law & Order. I wonder what put Webb in Thompson’s mind at this point in time. Who had been discussing Webb with Thompson? I’ve seen enough to know that there are no coincidences where fascists are concerned.

—Marty Bluestein
Portland, Oregon


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