Merrily We Cycle Along
Bicyclists and urban boosters alike thrilled to last week's cover story, "Viva CicLAvia!" Writes DrDaleDC, "Kudos to Hillel Aron for a well-written story on how CicLAvia successfully transforms L.A. into a 'human scale'! It accurately captures how CicLAvia can have a positive effect on L.A.'s collective senses: the quiet of rolling conversations on bicycles, the scents and odors of the city, the taste of restaurants you'd otherwise just drive by, and seeing the infectious smiles had by everyone at CicLAvia."
John Huan Vu adds, "I live right on the route, and the thing that I love the most about CicLAvia is just how quiet it is, just like a Sunday morning should be. Here's to more quiet Sundays and all the much-needed public space the event brings."
It wasn't all unmitigated praise. "This event might have some traction if the unpronounceable foreign title didn't make me, as an English-speaking American, feel excluded," writes Bo Rainer. "U.S.A.!"
Then there's Jack Bartlett, who writes, "Wow! L.A. Weekly surprises me with a pro-alternative transit article. There was a 50 percent chance the article could have been titled 'Zealous Bicycle Activists Seize Downtown' and written as a sob story about how one person has to walk to the corner store." One person? Mr. Bartlett underestimates us — for a story like that, we'd require at least two people to be inconvenienced!
From Beer to Eternity
Jason Bernstein's piece on L.A.'s burgeoning craft-brewing movement continues to draw praise ("Beer and Now," March 29). Writes Peter "Grizzbar" Sheppard, "As someone who has been a home brewer since the early '90s and a member of America's oldest home-brewing society, the Maltose Falcons, I greatly appreciate Jason's love and knowledge of the craft brew scene. After suffering through the 'mixologist' craze of the 2000s, it is truly refreshing to find a voice for good beer.
"I will also remind Jason that there have been two other craft brew movements in the last 20 years, one of them featuring Wolfgang Puck's Eureka Brewing Company. However, unlike San Francisco, L.A. has always had a problem with craft beer consumption — until now. Part of this problem stemmed from a lackluster alcohol distribution system that all but ignored the L.A. market. But, let's face it! Angelenos just didn't stop off at the local bar for a mug of suds at the end of the day! And since they didn't get a good selection of brews from all over California, they really couldn't develop a taste for fine beer. That's where home brewers step in.
"We home brewers have been drinking classic brews and incredibly hoppy and malty experimental beers since the early '70s, even before it was legal to make it in the home.
"Bravo also goes to Jason for pointing out to wine snobs that beer — believe it or not — is a more complex beverage than wine! It's the malts, it's the hops, it's even the water ... and a whole lot more. Thanks and keep up the great work!"
In Defense of Playwrights
Reader Matt Nelson promised us a "brief and friendly" rebuttal to our March 29 cover story, "We Don't Need No Playwright," by Steven Leigh Morris (who, for the record, is himself a playwright). Since our incoming correspondence could rarely, if ever, be described as "brief and friendly," we thought we'd let him have at it. Here goes:
"While all the ensemble companies you profile in your piece clearly exhibit exciting and innovative ways to collaboratively generate content for their shows, you use traditional page-to-the-stage dramaturgy as a contextual contrast to these methods....
"At several points in your article, you refer to scripted theater as 'merely having actors recite lines.' And a lot of the development strategies these ensemble troupes are employing, that you describe as being so 'inventive,' have mostly to do with staging, blocking, research and rehearsal: processes that are inherent to theater and fluid from the written word, regardless of how collaboratively or independently those words are written. Your tone toward written theater in this article is consistently deprecating.
"As a playwright (and even more so as an audience member, for that matter), I expect no company to 'merely have actors recite lines' instead of using new and innovative ways to perform and create fresh and exciting experiences in the theater. Whether a company begins with a script, or generates one together, or creates a performance without one at all, theater can still be (and needs to be) surprising and progressive.
"There is awesome merit due to the performers and creators you profiled in your piece and I mean in no way to dim the light you shine on them. But conversely, your praise for them does not necessitate casting shadows on us playwrights.
"Your headline is sound; you indeed do not need no playwright. But don't forget that sometimes, you may want one."
In our listings last week, we wrongly described James Garner as "the late actor." We're happy to report rumors of Garner's demise have been greatly exaggerated; he's still kicking at 84. We regret the error.
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