The Next Big Thing

We are pleased that reviewer Greg Goldin read and enjoyed the first half of The Next Los Angeles: The Struggle for a Livable City (University of California Press, 2005), but he seems to have ignored or misread the second half, which focuses on the present and future of progressive politics in Los Angeles. In his review [“Waiting for Lefty,” February 4–10], Goldin praises the book for bringing to life many of L.A.’s progressive activists from the early 1900s to the early 1970s. Goldin notes that their movements, “founded on principles of fairness, decency, equality, and justice,” won many important victories that made L.A. a much better city. But then he claims that “these lofty ideals” have been “largely eclipsed” and that the L.A. left has become “balkanized” and “ruefully plagued by identity politics.”

Goldin misstates L.A.’s progressive history and its contemporary political scene. For most of the 20th century, L.A.’s civic left was fragmented, able to win occasional victories but unable to unite around a common vision and strategy. But, as The Next Los Angeles recounts, there were key moments when the mosaic of movements came together to change the public debate over the city’s future.

Similarly, progressive politics in L.A. since the early 1990s has been a painstaking process of coalition-building. As we recount in the second half of The Next Los Angeles, unions, immigrant-rights groups, gay-rights activists, feminists, Westside liberals, Boyle Heights organizers, South L.A. community groups, environmental crusaders, school reformers and housing advocates have nurtured and developed important coalitions and policy changes.

Goldin praises earlier generations for having a broad vision. They did, but so do many of their contemporary counterparts. L.A.’s progressive movement has catapulted many activists — like Jackie Goldberg, Karen Bass, Antonio Villaraigosa, Gil Cedillo, Sheila Kuehl, Gloria Romero, Tom Hayden, Martin Ludlow, Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes and others — into public office, where they provide a voice for progressive ideas.

While there are clearly reasons to be depressed by national and state political realities, there is also a vibrant bottom-up movement that has the capacity to change Los Angeles for the better. But significant change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why our book is called The Next Los Angeles.

—Robert Gottlieb, Mark Vallianatos,
Regina Freer and Peter Dreier

Coauthors, The Next Los Angeles:
The Struggle for a Livable City


They Beg to Differ

Regarding the Weekly’s endorsement in City Council District 9 [February 25–March 3]: We have been privileged to work with Councilwoman Jan Perry since her election to the Los Angeles City Council four years ago. During that time, she has helped to facilitate the development of safe, decent and affordable rental housing for families with children throughout the 9th District. She has at the same time helped to direct much-needed funding to programs and services helping to alleviate poverty and provide jobs and hope.

Those of us working for years in the district know firsthand that she deeply cares about the issues. From her first days in office, she has helped to support programs and services benefiting all residents of the community, particularly disenfranchised and often forgotten low-income families and their children. Not only has she been a strong leader for all residents of the district, including the homeless in Skid Row and the growing Latino population in South L.A., but she has been a strong supporter and advocate of affordable housing and neighborhood services throughout her district. She has been a vocal and proactive advocate for investment in new housing development, retail/commercial development and other services. Jan Perry has done a great job of representing all residents of the 9th District, and promoting improvements in the community at all levels. We are shocked and dismayed that some individuals with hidden agendas are trying to drive a wedge and be divisive. These tactics only show that their candidacy does not have any substance and that they are missing the full picture.

—Tanya Tull, president/CEO
JoAnne Yokota, executive director
Beyond Shelter Housing Development Corp.


Phyllology Lesson

I am not sure that Steven Kotler intended to trigger a ferocious yen for honey-drenched, walnut-laden phyllo pie in at least one of the readers of his memoir of Hunter S. Thompson [“Dr. Thompson, I Presume,” February 25–March 3]. I suspect that he meant to refer to the “balaclava” ski mask seen much more often on the slopes than at the beach.

—Geraldine Johnson
West Hollywood


Unconfounding Commentary

Re: Steven Leigh Morris’ reviews of The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? and Love Tapes [“Beastly Men,” February 25–March 3], I want to thank Mr. Morris for illuminating a play that has frustrated me endlessly since I saw it in previews at the Taper last month. It has been almost impossible for me to get my head around Mr. Albee’s true intentions with The Goat, as it seems silly (and illogical, frankly) to suggest the play is merely allegory or social commentary about, as Albee has put it, “the limits of our tolerance.” Morris writes with an intelligence and specificity that I’ve yet to find in other examinations of Albee’s confounding piece of theater.

—Kyle T. Wilson
Los Angeles


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