Judith Lewis lays out the crisis in the San Pedro Bay right [“A Heavy Load,” July 27–Aug. 2]. Kids are dying from diseases caused by dirty air. Therefore, the ports cannot expand to meet growing trade needs until they fix the trucking system that causes the pollution. The solution lies in an ambitious plan to free some 16,000 underpaid drivers from the burden of retrofitting their own rigs by putting the responsibility on the backs of those who profit from the deadly status quo: the trucking companies who hire the drivers, and the big-box giants they move goods for. Lewis raises two valid questions: Do the drivers support the Clean Trucks Program, and is anyone talking to them about how it will improve their working conditions?
As a former port truck driver who left his job seven months ago to talk to other drivers full time about the issues at stake, I can assure Lewis much has changed since she began going out to the yards in 2006. Just last week the Teamsters presented petitions signed by 5,000 drivers — nearly 30 percent of the workforce.
A stable workforce is critical to the program’s success, and environmentalists in all shades of green agree: Employing the drivers is the only way to make the companies responsible for clean trucks. The Teamsters are proud to work in a rare blue-green alliance to lift standards for the drivers, their families and the harbor communities affected by this public-health crisis.
Judith Lewis of L.A. Weekly has grown up and done an indepth article on port trucking unequaled in recent memory. There were a few factual errors that were immaterial but nothing that undermined what was obviously a lot of hard work: mornings at trucking companies, terminals and public meetings. What was captured was the human aspect of individuals, actual drivers, their moods, feelings, fears and hopes. Also, her reporting on the boy cutting his dad in half and how it affected her attempted ride to the harbor captured the moment.
This article doesn’t seem to have been an attempt to report regulation or politics. If so, I would be slamming her again. This article seemed to have been about troquero emotions — an excellent portrayal.
Port of Aztlan
Regarding “Mahony’s Tainted Legacy” by Jeffrey Anderson [July 20–26]: For those of you who don’t understand why the authorities have not arrested, tried, convicted and sent Cardinal Mahony to jail, I will give you five reasons: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General Jerry Brown, Mayor Antonio Villagairosa, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton. All are Roman Catholics and have already kissed His Eminence’s ass . . . er, I mean his ring. Nuff said?
Pretender to the Throne
There is little irony left in the fact that during the same week in which Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni both passed onto the next world, the L.A. Weekly cover story — and a long one at that — centered on the supposed merits of a “director” who made Rush Hour 3 [“The Popcorn King,” August 3-9]. In our bloated and gormless culture, which glorifies success by any means, it is only appropriate that we sink further and further into a black hole. The deliberate manipulation of a medium with endless potential into a miasma of mindless juvenalia is something that needs to be addressed, and it doesn’t help to glorify rubbish. Mass art has always had its place; it has arguably never been more stupid. “Why you should take him seriously anyway” reads the subhead. There is absolutely no reason, and I think your publication should leave rubbish in the bin. Now, I fully expect the next Weekly cover story to glorify the merits of Transformers or whatever toilet activity is sprayed across the public’s face du jour.
Not to demean Brett Ratner or Jackie Chan, but it’s hard to take Scott Foundas seriously when he claims that Chan is “the most physically gifted screen actor of the sound era.” More than Peter Sellers, Jim Carrey, Steven Martin, Nicolas Cage, Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Robert Downey Jr., et al? Foundas is so impressed by contacts with Paris and Lindsey that this article seems more suitable for a fan mag. Not up to his usual standard.
Foundas replies: Actually, I wrote that Chan was “the most physically gifted screen comedian of the sound era,” and while I wouldn’t deny Sellers, Ball and Lewis, for my money the only serious challenger to Chan’s throne is Jacques Tati. As for Nicolas Cage, I fear I remain oblivious as to where or when he has dazzled us with his comedic gifts.
We’ve got more letters at laweekly.com.
Surely I can’t be the only local cinema fan who noticed the sad irony of hearing news on the deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni and then seeing Brett Ratner’s impish face splashed on the cover of the L.A. Weekly just a couple of days later, with an accompanying Scott Foundas story about how Ratner should be taken seriously as a filmmaker.
To many of us, Bergman, Antonioni and their compatriots — Fellini, Godard, Buñuel etc. — defined taking the cinema “seriously.” How times have changed.
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This Just In (But Better Late Than Never)
Jeffrey Anderson’s piece on Cudahy [Feb. 23–March 1] is outstanding. Journalism at its best.