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Letters

Educating Artists Let me reassure Mr. Rose, whatever problems exist in art today, over-education is the least of them [“The Kids Aren’t All Right,” October 28–November 3]. Indeed, the quickest survey would reveal that the pithy rebels and dumdums the author craves, the art world accommodates quite gladly, for nothing can be so well-marketed and institutionalized as defiance. No surprise, then, that what Rose sees as an independent rebuke to soul-crushing, hegemonic theory-mongers, a bit of anti–Mike Kelley graffiti, is as lame and insidious as anything exhibited by the shallowest hack. Odd, given the 18 years of education under the average MFA’s belt, that Rose would not think such stupidity and infantilism an insufferable put-on; odder still that he believes this merely academic truculence exemplary of the “heart” presumably lacking in contemporary aesthetic practice. Even if we’re gullible enough to believe that genuine personalities would produce such artificial work, are we to forget that this impossible, romantic, thoroughly enshrined idea of the resistant, pure soul has long been the artistic standard of elitists, nostalgic fools, sectarian fucks and cultural reactionaries?! Crazy, right? But in this world, Rose’s world, art is a reflection of individual character and anyone who might demand more is a corrupting intellectual, who, unlike the untutored, perennially engaged, even savage artist, is aloof from and hence complicit in the supremacy of “Bush’s America.” Even crazier, right? I don’t know why anyone would expect local art-school kids to be the frontline of attack against Bush, or what skills artists, of all people, would bring to such a fight, but if they must, then let them first target the inane pieties and speculations underpinning Rose’s lament. Maybe they’ll find handy the French theories he deems irrelevant. They could point out that if ideas of spectacle overtaking and exterminating reality, of subtlety mocked and reduced, of nihilism passing as optimism, are not ideas relevant to America today, then they never were and never will be relevant anywhere. Really, the problem in the art world or Bush’s world is hardly an abundance of rigor, but is rather the solution Rose himself proposes: a preference for the overambitious, compulsive, opinionated gesture transparent to its illiterate heart, thin-skinned, and hence invulnerable to critique.

—Ed Johnson Highland Park

Merge Ahead I’ve been reading about New Times’ purchase of VVM, L.A. Weekly’s parent. N.T. state that they are apolitical and don’t endorse candidates. Presumably, they don’t take a stand on ballot issues either. I really hope that doesn’t affect the editorial policy at the L.A. Weekly. I value these endorsements at election time — especially when they are different from the L.A. Times’ endorsements. I may not always agree, but I am more informed by reading the Weekly’s arguments. I hope that the Weekly will be able to keep its local personality and local coverage, even as it becomes part of a national media company. That’s what makes it valuable to those of us who pick it up every week.

—Julie Ryan via email

Double Standards I’ve been around Jews all my life, at family, social and religious gatherings, and never heard the word “schwarze” used [“Schwarze in the Family” October 14-20]. I was on a bus when I heard a black man loudly explain to his friend that the recent crash of a small plane piloted by a Jew onto a Jew’s house was God’s punishment for the wickedness of Jews. When I called him on his racism, another black man repeated the old canard that all Jews are wealthy and obtained their putative wealth in an underhanded manner. However, we will never see a discussion of that sort of thing in your newspaper, not the use of the terms “hymie” or “goldberg.” Black anti-Semitism won’t be discussed, due to your own left-wing racism and anti-Semitism.

—Richard Sol Los Angeles

More Awards! “Time of the Session,” our cover package on session musicians, primary writer Robert Lloyd, has won this year’s ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism. Other winners this year include Bob Dylan for his book, Chronicles. The award ceremony will be held in December at Lincoln Center. Also, Jonathan Gold has won first place in the Association of Food Journalists’ competition for restaurant criticism (papers with 150,000 - 350,000 circulation). Jonathan has won everything he’s entered this year — the James Beard award, AAN, and now the AFJ. Credit Where It’s Due In last week’s Art Issue, we erroneously omitted Kim Bockus’ credit for the photo of Julie Joyce.