Under the Influence
I read Daniel Hernandez’s article [“Nuevo Cool,” Jan. 26–Feb. 1] about Tijuana artists, in which he says artists ignore “in their work the daily carnage of narco-related killings that keep most of Tijuana’s citizens living in perpetual fear,” and then wonders “if Tijuana art will truly break through only when its cultural workers become willing to deal with their city’s demons.”
This made me think — I thank you for this. And I ask, are L.A. artists obligated to deal with drive-by shootings, gangs and immigration problems before they can mature as artists? Or is this only his vision for Third World Tijuana artists, who, according to him, are apparently in denial about their surroundings?
Tijuana is and has been for many years under the influence of California, one of the richest “countries” in the world. There is no escape from this; we cannot move away. Our drug and mafia problems exist because we are your neighbors — and you, our neighbors, want and need drugs. We have lived with this for years — “what else is new?” The fact is, there are many interesting phenomena happening in Tijuana about which our artists are talking.
Tijuana, Baja California
Thank you a million times for Kate Sullivan’s interview with Morrissey [“Moz the Cat,” Feb. 2–8]. What a world we have where our pop stars are infinitely more humane, witty, clever and sensible than our so-called leaders! He’s sublime.
Thank you for the most insightful and most interesting Morrissey interview in a while. I doff my cap to Kate from across the pond.
West Lothian, Scotland
I want to thank Kate Sullivan for her interview with Morrissey. While I respect him and quite like his music, I found things to both loathe and love about his various viewpoints in the interview.
Morrissey spoke of his love of cats and specifically about what it’s like to have to terminate the life of a beloved pet, and it resonated deeply with me. Only a few years ago, I had that experience with a cat I’d had ’round for 17-plus years, and Morrissey put what so many of us have gone through into terms I’ve never exactly considered before. He says “it’s worse than a human passing away,” and I bristled. But in the context in which he spoke, it makes perfect sense. Tears welled as he spoke of the animal looking for comfort as the time came to let him go; they’re scared, and we cannot truly comfort them. Humans, most of the time, can at least have their pain explained to them. But the cat, or dog, can’t grasp any such explanation and deal with it in rational terms. It was a beautiful passage in a very well rounded interview. And it feels very good indeed to set aside the political differences and enjoy a common bond — great respect for and love of cats.
B. Dirk Yarborough
Art Approximates Life
In Scott Foundas’ article “A Controlled Performance” [Feb. 2–8], about Ben Sliney’s role in the film United 93, Foundas says that Dr. Haing S. Ngor played himself in The Killing Fields. Dr. Ngor did escape the Khmer Rouge prison camps, but he was not portraying himself in the film. Dr. Ngor was playing the part of Cambodian journalist Dith Pran.
A Rocky Road
The Eddie Van Halen story by Ted E. Grau [A Considerable Town, “Not With Eddie,” Jan. 12–18] was the saddest goddamn thing I have ever read. The end made me tear up ’cause I want to remember him the way he was as well.
Gone, Never Forgotten
Jonny Whiteside’s “The King Is Dead, Long Live the King” [Jan. 5–11] is about as good as it gets concerning the late, great James Brown. Of all the tributes I have had the privilege to read, Whiteside hits it with the appreciation and respect Soul Brother No. 1 deserves. Say it loud . . .
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In last week’s cover story [“Moz the Cat,” Feb. 2–8], Morrissey denied that the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now” had been used to sell cars. We’ve since learned it was used to push both Japanese cars and Canadian beer. We regret the error, and we are sure Morrissey does too.