Thanks to Paul Ciotti for an amazingly written, fascinating and of course disturbing and tragic story ("Beheading on Mount Baldy," May 13 — 19). All I can say is wow — now that's storytelling.

— Jason Mandell
Los Angeles

One Thumb Down

Only congratulations were printed in your last two issues about readers' delight with the redesign of L.A. Weekly. However, my puzzled question resulting from the redesign is: Who decided to hide completely Alan Rich's precious music reviews under Stage instead of leaving them easily findable under Music?

— Hendrik C. Stooker
Los Angeles

Blowback on Blog Wars

"Arianna's Blog Blows" [Deadline Hollywood, May 13 — 19] is an amazing piece of work! Nikki Finke can pronounce a brand-new Web site — only hours old — a total failure, a flop, an embarassment. How can that be? How could she possibly know? Can we give Arianna Huffington a few more days — a week, even — to prove her stuff? After all, Drudge took two or three years to become widely read. Please! Use some reason. Don't be absurd.

— Hattie Falin
Kingsport, Tennessee

Embrace Urbanity

Your special issue on apartment living in L.A. was right on target [April 29— May 5]. You covered the topic with analysis, experience and humor and provided historical and environmental perspectives. This approach is long overdue in Los Angeles, since the majority of housing in the city has been multi-family since 1970. The Los Angeles urbanized area is the densest in the country. The fabled "collection of suburbs" need no longer search for a city — it is all around them.

To me, one of the chief attractions of L.A. is the urban vitality of neighborhoods like Hollywood, Pasadena and Santa Monica (among others). You want to be in these places, real places made possible by their thousands of apartment-dwelling residents. But Angelenos — perhaps still caught up in the bucolic myth that Robert Greene wrote about — have often seemed slow to recognize and embrace their city as a vital urban place. This has generated an inordinate amount of moaning about L.A. as a fallen paradise, a vast literature that looks back to an idealized suburban past. Meanwhile urbanists elsewhere in the country look enviously at L.A.'s urban possibilities. I hope L.A. Weekly can continue to highlight and support those possibilities.

— Nathan Landau

Two Old Dames? For Shame!

Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are possibly our two greatest living actresses, and film reviewer Scott Foundas should be ashamed of himself for referring to them as "two old dames" and "hammy actresses" with "brittle bones" (see his review of Ladies in Lavender in your April 29 — May 5 issue). He even insults older moviegoers by referring to them as "the Geritol set." A good film reviewer can write a negative review without stooping to cruel (and juvenile) remarks such as these.

— Dale Booth
Los Angeles

Good as Gold

Where do I begin? In "Stiffed and Miffed" [April 22— 28], Steve Mikulan is wrong on so many points. First off, "union representatives weren't impressed with [99 Cent Stores founder Dave] Gold's rags-to-riches sermon" at the Los Angeles Athletic Club recently.


So, Mikulan and union reps in attendance weren't impressed with Gold? What a shame that your left-wing, workers-as-victims-like mantra so completely clouded your own thinking in preparing to write this article that you completely lost your ability to take in one of the best rags-to-riches stories ever told.

That's right. This rags-to-riches story is true and truly awesome. I should know. My family knows the Gold family personally and has for over 30 years. Most of those years, before the 1990s, when the 99 Cent Store concept finally took off, consisted of Dave Gold and the rest of the Gold clan toiling away seven days a week, 12 hours a day, in just one retail store here in Los Angeles, just trying to earn a decent living.

My family did the exact same thing here in Southern California from 1949 until 1983, right alongside the Golds and all the other mom-'n'-pop discount store operators, seven days a week, 12 hours a day, through good times and bad ones.

I tell all poor, hardworking immigrants today to follow in the footsteps of past immigrants coming here for a better life in the post-agrarian American era! Work hard, stay focused and work a little harder! You are capable of earning your own little piece of the American dream. We did it. You can too! And throw away your L.A. Weekly. Trade it in for a free read of Forbes at your local Barnes and Noble.

You will be glad you did.

— Hye Larson

The Apartment As Object of Debate

Re: “The L.A. Dream Revisited: Beyond the House and the Yard, the Apartment as Object of Desire” [April 28–May 5]: This excellent issue profiling apartment living (slumming) and high rents in Los Angeles should have been titled “The Plague Revisits L.A.: Non-affordable Housing’s Nightmare.”

Loft apartments in downtown L.A. for a “mere” $1,295.00–$3,000+??!!! On the outside, it would appear the good ol’ boys and girls downtown gave some people an opportunity of a lifetime and helped make them rich while teaching them that the very place that they were supposedly helping is killing itself slowly.

Come on, people, wake up! Every time we have affordable housing, it’s about living with drug dealers in some nice area out there, somewhere away from the “good people.” There are hundreds of apartments I wish I could “afford” to move into as more buildings shoot up, all at New York prices. As my friend Hubert Selby, Jr., the late American novelist, humanist and ahead-of-his-time thinker, said, “In my lifetime, there hasn’t been one single bloodthirsty, murdering head of state that we haven’t helped for the most part” (December 2002). Whom are we helping now?

Would someone please help us raise our children in an atmosphere with some human values attached? I can barely afford what I pay now as a single parent. Would just ONE person who is racing off to another country to help “those poor people in need” take a good look around before getting on their private jet? Your country NEEDS you! This IS what Selby wrote about for decades: the moral decay and decline of the American culture.

—E.M. Fredric
Studio City . . . on the edge, not “in”

As a small Venice property investor for over 30 years, I am appalled to know that the complexion of this wonderful community continues to be assaulted by developers who simply want to make big bucks near the ocean. As a European immigrant who values the retention of older edifices as well as the history of a city, I find those sensibilities are continuously defiled by the American way of building, destroying and building again — particularly in Southern California, where it was only about 20 years ago that someone had an epiphany about preservation.

The Lincoln Place apartments is a location where such a history needs to be preserved, and I was disheartened to learn that in your current issue on L.A.’s housing shortage, it wasn’t even mentioned as a place that had afforded housing for working people. It is putting up the fight of its life now with the remaining 200 residences (formerly accommodating 790 families) against the latest owner.

We need the city, the state and all people to take pride in our city or it will truly become lost Angeles.

—Miriam Meyer
Pacific Palisades

Safran Foer, Illuminated

If Jonathan Safran Foer were completely oblivious of realism in his writings [“Some Stuff Illuminated,” April 22], he would write that Oskar Schell, the hero of his second novel, has an Italian name, wears shorts the whole year in New York City, believes that the Big Apple has as many ancient building as Rome, says that he never met a Jewish person in a city that has a large concentration of Jews and a Jewish mayor, and does not know that many firefighters died trying to save his father and other people trapped in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Such an image of the hero of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close would be as believable as the Ukrainian hero of Everything is Illuminated, who has a Russian- or Bulgarian-sounding last name; wears a fur hat all year in the main resort city in Ukraine; says that he never met a Jew in Odessa, which has a Jewish mayor and one of the largest Jewish populations in Ukraine; and states that Lviv, whose architecture is similar to the architecture of Vienna, is like New York.

Furthermore, this best-selling book and an upcoming movie, which portray the search for a possible rescuer of Foer’s grandfather in Ukraine, fail to mention his real rescuers. During the course of my research project examining the politics of mass terror in Ukraine and dealing with the area depicted by Foer, I discovered that less than 200 people survived the mass execution of Jews in Trochimbrod in the Volyn Region in 1942. Ukrainian partisans from a neighboring village provided protection and food to more than 150 survivors of the Nazi massacre. It is extremely likely that Jonathan Foer’s grandfather was rescued by these partisans. In a reprisal for their actions, the Nazis executed 137 residents of the village. It is difficult to understand why Foer and his incarnation in the movie are never questioned about this aspect of his story.

—Ivan Katchanovski

It’s All Relativity

David Ehrenstein has it wrong [A Considerable Town, “David Ehrenstein, Meet David Ehrenstein,” April 22–28]. Einstein’s special (not “first”) theory of relativity concerned the relative measurement of space and time by different observers moving at constant though different velocities, necessary so that the laws of physics and the speed of light would not vary from one reference frame to another. E=mc² appeared in a different and later paper in the same year (1905), and was a consequence of but not the main point of the special theory.

Also, he was not a “janitor” but a technical clerk with a college diploma reviewing patent applications in the Swiss Patent Office.

—Jeffrey S. Lee
Newport Beach


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