Echo Park Is All Right With Me

Ben Ehrenreich’s wonderful tale [“Jesus
of Echo Park,”
July 15–21] really captured the spirit of what Echo Park
symbolizes to many Angelenos. Physically beautiful and culturally diverse, this
park has that “certain something” that keeps drawing me back. On my daily “extreme”
commute (Palmdale to my night-shift job in Huntington Park), I find myself leaving
a little earlier than necessary on some afternoons. These are my Echo Park days,
and for all the reasons mentioned in Mr. Ehrenreich’s story. I get Echo Park,
and so does he.

—Thomas K. Leonard
Palmdale in Development


In Development

Right on, Ms. Aubry Kaplan, for going deeper into the issue of Vermont Corridor
development [“Bamboozled
in South L.A.,”
July 15–21]. I am a resident of South Vermont Avenue, Vermont
and 42nd to be exact, right by Ms. Burke’s alma mater Manual Arts HS. There
was a DPSS facility off of King and Vermont that got relocated recently a couple
of blocks down; now with that facility gone, the surrounding areas improved
dramatically. So to say that a DPSS facility would be an economic generator
is pure balderdash.

I can see many things that would work as an economic generator for the Vermont
Corridor. Extend the Red Line from Wilshire Boulevard to the South Bay, to serve
the 55,000-plus transit-dependent riders with quicker access to higher-paying
jobs, instead of more Rapid buses that get stuck in the same traffic as automobiles.
Promote private mixed-use housing/retail development that is going on in other
parts of the city like downtown, Koreatown and Hollywood along with simple streetscape
and utility relocation improvements that will encourage small businesses and
better retail establishments in this patchwork of ethnic and social groups to
form into a cohesive and thriving part of town. Transform vacant parcels of
land into playgrounds and parks. Methinks that Councilmember Parks, Supervisor
Burke and Representative Waters don’t want any of that so they can keep the
area as a ghetto, so that they can maintain their political control over the
majority of residents, and they can blame the White Man. Jim Hahn is out of
office now, so there are no more excuses.

The main root of the problem is Representative Maxine Waters. She has antagonized
and bullied the very people who would have helped in the rebuilding. One example
is during the 1992 riots when she blamed the Korean small-business owners for
the problems, instead of bringing both sides together and working it out to
use that as a model of unity. How can anyone want to do business with a person
who spews that kind of nonsense?

—Jerard Wright
South Los Angeles

We’ll Miss Ya, Mike

Mike Farkash would have been surprised — and perhaps even pleased — by the content
of his obituary, “The
Playwright Who Fell Over the Edge
,” in the July 15 issue of the Weekly.
Hank Bunker wrote an appropriately unsticky sendoff for a funny, complex
guy who — like his plays — mostly defied understanding. For all of the words
that have appeared about Farkash in the L.A. Times, The Hollywood
Reporter and elsewhere over the last few weeks, this one hit the
spot. Mr. Bunker gave us the gift of understanding why Mike’s colleagues and
fans appreciated him, and it isn’t so different from why I loved him as a friend:
He was exactly who he wanted to be — good or bad — and he didn’t apologize.
Thanks, Hank.

—Janine Levinson


But Is It Art?

Scott Foundas’ review of Wedding Crashers [July 15–21] is so shallow
and serious that I had to mention the smiles on the faces of the audience as
I left the theater, validating the scores of “crack-up” laughs I heard during
the movie. Vince Vaughn is a genius, quick, glib, filling the screen with his
infectious smile and irreverent pokerfaced comments. “Props” to Steve Faber
and Bob Fisher for supplying the “Crashers” with hilarious lines about life,
love, death, sex, old age, wacky single life, smug privilege, divorce and loyalty
between friends. Lighten up, Scott, it’s only the smartest and funniest movie
of the year.

—Mel Lawrence


The Union Label

In regard to Steve Mikulan’s “Beggars’
column from the week of June 17: He writes “Aramark . . . is the
nonunion, Wal-Mart-like giant of the custodial industry.” As far as I can see
from the most recent 10K report Aramark filed with the SEC, it in fact have
over 30,000 unionized employees. I am curious, as someone whose job involves
researching labor relations of public companies, if Mr Mikulan knows something
I don’t or if it was merely a reporting error. I would really appreciate if
someone could get back to me on this matter. Thank you for your time!

—Mary Ursu
South Bend, IN

Mikulan replies: While Aramark’s eight service divisions do indeed employ
many union members, the specific context of my article was custodial services
in Los Angeles’ aerospace industry. There, at the time of my writing, Aramark
had no unionized employees working for it and no collective bargaining agreement
with the Service Employees International Union, allowing the company to underbid
unionized firms. Since publication, Aramark has signed a contract with SEIU.

One for the Book

Congratulations to L.A. Weekly writer Erin Aubry Kaplan, who was
a contibutor to Rise Up Singing: Black Women
Writers on Motherhood, which recently won an American
Book Award for 2005. In the apt words of the anthology’s editor, Cecelie Berry,
“This is more proof of the truism: You just can’t keep a good woman (women!)

Not Little Steven’s Brother

Last week we misspelled filmmaker Gus Van Sant’s name on the cover, mistakenly
implying this was a profile of the little-known missing member of the E-Street

LA Weekly