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Out of the Past

Out of the Past I started reading the article about coroner David Campbell [May 6–12] and was stunned to find his description of a suicide note that was simply a stick figure under a house. That person was the son of a family friend. After seeing the note, my mother crawled under the house and found his body. Out of respect for the family I won’t mention his name, but he was a very sweet and loving person, the middle child of five siblings, in his early 20s. He had a great heart and good sense of humor and he has been greatly missed these past two decades by the people who loved him. Apparently he was at a crossroads in his life and was overwhelmed by problems none of us fully understood. By no means did he seem suicidal; whatever troubled him then would have likely been resolved long ago. As is the case for so many who have lost someone to suicide, those of us who are left behind grieve the loss and wish we could have said or done something, anything to let him know how much we loved him and how profoundly he touched our lives. What stunned me in reading this article was that though Mr. Campbell never knew this young man, he too was affected, enough to remember the note after all this time. If only people knew this when they were alive, perhaps we as a society could put Mr. Campbell and his fellow coroners out of a job.

—Melanie Chapman Studio City

Royce Rolls! I feel compelled to address an arbitrary, surprising and certainly incorrect gibe Alan Rich managed to insert into the middle of his recent “A Lot of Night Music” column about LACMA’s recent decision to curtail activities in the Bing Theater [“A Deaf Ear,” May 27–June 2]. Rich should support the fact that UCLA Live, among few other organizations in Southern California, continues to provide dynamic and high-quality programming not only in the classical and new music genres Rich clearly prefers, but in jazz, world and popular music, international theater, dance and spoken word. Instead he writes that Royce Hall goes “sadly underused,” and implies that the priorities of UCLA Live, and of myself personally, have strayed from “serious music” and are exclusively about “esoteric foreign theatre.” This is far from the truth. In the 2004-05 season alone, Royce Hall has been in almost continuous use and UCLA Live has presented and hosted over 56 music performances in Royce and 10 more in Schoenberg Hall. These include many classical performances, which seems to be what Rich considers “serious” music. Even looking only at this narrow definition, our programs have featured Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax, the Moscow Virtuosi, the China Philharmonic Orchestra with Lang Lang and Kent Nagano’s upcoming “Manzanar: An American Story” project on June 2. The breadth of the music program alone takes in everything from Jessye Norman to the Melvins, in addition to New York’s Bang on a Can All Stars, L.A.’s Calder Quartet, Keith Jarrett, Los Lobos and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I am most happy to confirm that Royce Hall continues to thrive and be used to the fullest and most creative extent possible. We urge the many audience members and L.A. Weekly readers who enjoy the full range of UCLA Live’s programs to look for the upcoming announcement of our exciting 2005-06 season.

—David Sefton Director, UCLA Live

Words of Sea I take exception with Diane Mooney’s article [“Meet Me at the Salton Sea,” May 27–June 2] painting the Salton Sea and its residents as a bunch of meth-snorting losers, as if you don’t have any of those in L.A. I moved here four years ago and have never been sorry. We have a nice little town here with no gang problems, very little crime and no traffic. If Ms. Mooney had done her research, she would know that our beaches have never closed due to pollution. Can the same be said about Malibu, Santa Monica, et al.? As far as her comment about the Sea being “a smelly agricultural drainage pit,” yes, the Sea has had its ups and downs, but it is still the largest lake in California, the largest inland sea in the Western Hemisphere and well worth saving. She left out the fact that the Sea is home to over 400 species of migratory birds, whose habitat and migratory routes have been virtually destroyed everywhere else. She did get one thing right — the best is yet to be. Permits have been issued for 700 new homes so far, and plans are in the works for (at least) 900 more. When my property value reaches the half-million mark, I will happily accept Ms. Mooney’s apology; that is, if I can stop laughing long enough.

—Susan Davies Salton City

Thank you, Diane Mooney, for your article on the Salton Sea Centennial. The Sea has been the subject of negative imagery for decades now, some deserved, some not. A few years ago I decided to check it out for myself. I saw lots of devastation and neglect, but what struck me the most was what I never heard anyone mention, how exquisitely beautiful it is. Thank you for taking note of that. Subsequently I became a regular visitor and found it to be a place of tranquility and renewal. I know several artists, myself included, who find in the Salton Sea great inspiration, and an enormous canvas. The Sea is at a crossroads right now. Redevelopment is already under way and as usual the slash-and-burn mentality that would like to see it become a knockoff of other places gone wrong is licking its lips in anticipation. I have other ideas. I see it as an opportunity to create a unique place where people will want to visit and stay because we’ve preserved what is so special there and is rapidly disappearing elsewhere. Planning with vision and intelligence, using local materials and construction and architectural styles that are well adapted to its desert environment, we could create exciting and beautiful little communities around its shore. These would bring us much better long-term economic viability and health. Communities wonderful to live in and beautiful to look at. The Salton Sea is more renowned in Europe as a bird refuge than it is here. Are we failing to appreciate this great resource in our own backyard? We have a built-in world-class tourist attraction. It’s a natural that our communities should be as well. Am I a dreamer? You bet. But nothing great was ever created without dreams.

—Ingrid Vigeant San Diegans for the Salton Sea

Stop Shooting, Start Helping While I agree with Marc Cooper’s assertion [“Back to Iraq,” May 20–26] that the Bush administration has saddled us with an unwinnable war and no realistic plan for extricating ourselves from the morass, I also feel that we should pull all U.S. troops out as soon as possible. To say, “There is, unfortunately, no evidence whatsoever that if U.S. troops were pulled out tomorrow, the car bombings and murders of civilians would magically cease” is true enough, but it misses the point. American servicemen and women are dying and being maimed every day in a war that was a bad idea before it started and an even worse one now. Let’s put an end to our country’s role in the madness and show some concern for the welfare of our troops. We can only help the long-suffering Iraqi people after we have stopped shooting at them.

—Paul Cafaro Mt. Washington

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