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Re: Harold Meyerson’s excellent “What L.A. Needs To Know About the Democrats” [August 11–17]. Personally, I tend to vote to the right, but I have to praise Meyerson for a stunningly informative and comprehensive article that contains not a whit of the typical venom that one finds in such articles these days. It is a breath of fresh air to see a story that discusses the national “mood” and the past-vs.-present challenges of the personalities and parties, as opposed to more sniping over who’s been sleeping with whom. Kudos to Mr. Meyerson.
—Kim Michael Bellomo
Note from a Zig-Zag Man
Re: “Shut Up and Drive” [Word on the Street column, L.A. Weekly Daily, August 16]. It’s very odd that the LAPD stated that we at Critical Mass “had deviated from the approved parade route.” There was no approval, no route, no permit. Last time we checked, bicycling on L.A.’s streets didn’t require a permit. Critical Massers discuss and create the route as we go along. We zig and zag to keep it interesting. At each moment, the folks in the lead decide which way to turn.
The 100 or so police bicyclists who joined the nearly 300 cyclists of the mass had a great ride. Unfortunately, peaceful cyclists enjoying themselves together are apparently somehow threatening, so the motorcycle police intruded. Nearly 70 arrests ensued, including three cyclists who had nothing to do with the mass — just riding through downtown to and from work. Many of the riders who spent nearly two days in detention were charged with minor traffic violations: reckless driving and obstructing traffic.
There’s a common refrain for this from Critical Mass riders around the world: We’re not blocking traffic, we are traffic! Perhaps we shouldn’t have taken Mayor Riordan so seriously when, in the L.A. Times, he encouraged folks to “use bicycles as an alternative means of transportation during the DNC.”
In “Steal This Hoffman” [August 18–24], Marc Haefele writes, “Apart from his growing mental problems, Abbie Hoffman underground appeared to have had it made.” Well, if being hunted by the FBI and facing a minimum of 20 years in Attica if caught is Haefele’s idea of a fun ride, more power to him. Writing that Hoffman “had accomplished a bigamous paradise with both his women” is outrageous, sexist and arrogant. Not to mention that it diminishes the two fiercely independent women, Anita Hoffman and Johanna Lawrenson, to being merely pawns in his game.
However, while Haefele’s cynical perception of Abbie Hoffman the man seems somewhat distorted by his own revisionism, his interpretation of Robert Greenwald’s shoddy film on the subject is dead-on accurate. The film should have been titled Steal This Movie of the Week!
Kudos to Ernest Hardy for his knowledgeable thoughts and reviews on dance music’s flavor of the month, Armand Van Helden and his “Macho House” [“Jock Rockin’,” August 4–10]. Mr. Van Helden goes to great lengths to pronounce his masculinity while simultaneously denouncing, and even condemning, the “frequently faggy” crowd that buys and dances to his music. I myself am a heterosexual male, deejaying in both gay and straight clubs, but I don’t get on the microphone between my sets to affirm my sexuality. If Armand is so pro-hetero, pimp and ho fo’ sho’, he should think about sticking to hip-hop music. (Oh yes, I forgot, he tried that and received absolutely no respect or credibility.) Better yet, let’s give Mr. Van Helden even more media attention than he already had; he can keep running his mouth so we can all see his bullshit artistry and just how sorry the state of dance music is.
While I was pleased to see our recent Urb cover story referenced in an L.A. Weekly music feature, I disagree with the argument against Armand Van Helden that Ernest Hardy attempts to tie in with his review of Mel Cheren and Gabriel Rotello’s book on the Paradise Garage. Van Helden is by no means a visionary or a spokesman for the house generation, nor is Michael Brody’s Paradise Garage the last great club to ever exist, though it was special. His conclusion that, for a brief moment, Cheren and Brody were able to “integrate the races, break down the forces of homophobia, and bring about a consciousness full of love, brotherhood and endless possibility” is downright shortsighted. This is something that didn’t happen for a brief moment — it’s been happening for decades, at isolated club nights and parties worldwide. If Hardy identifies with Cheren and Brody’s goal of breaking down the forces of homophobia and bringing about this consciousness, as house and techno musics have managed to do via the more positive aspects of rave and club culture, then is it really so bad if “whiteness and heterosexuality” come to the same party?
Editorial Director, Urb
Deborah Picker’s article on New York writer Thomas Beller (“Flex in the City,” August 11–17) is a classic example of the bland leading the bland. A journalist whose idea of a probing question is “When did you begin at The New Yorker?” deserves an interviewee such as the muscle-brained Beller, whose conversational gems include barely literate metaphors (“like a dry piece of birdshit that’s accrued on the back of a windowsill”) and such deeply Borgesian revelations as “I’m writing for myself and, like, three guys.” Why, one wonders, didn’t Ms. Picker probe further? In what way, precisely, is it like a dry piece of birdshit? What type of bird? Who are the other three guys? You may have sent Ms. Picker to destroy the literary pretensions of Gotham, but she swooned in the process.
Not Just Moss-Gathering
Greg Burk’s remarks in Concert Picks in the August 11–17 issue have me anticipating the return of The Who all the more. I am amazed but pleased that critics across the country are confessing their astonishment at the band’s revival, although, like Mr. Burk, some of them insist on attaching three-decade-old political significance where it no longer belongs. But I am puzzled by his slam at the Rolling Stones. Exactly how and when (and by whom) were they “demoted to a pretty decent R&B band”? Over the past decade, they played before more people and sold more recordings than any band ever, to the tune of something like three-quarters of a billion dollars. Even many critics have had to admit some of their recent work, like Voodoo Lounge, was pretty decent indeed.
Re: Andrew Lentz’s review of Water, Water Everywhere [New Theater Reviews, August 18–24]. Mr. Lentz managed to get two of the main actresses mixed up. Pamela Malof played the role of Rebecca, the cousin with a sympathetic ear. Julia Leigh Miller, as Janice, was the wife of the brother, William.
—William Joseph Hill (“Gwinnet”)