Howling Over “Wolf Songs”
As a longtime friend of Michael Hurley and an admirer of his work, I feel that Randall Roberts' article on Hurley [“Wolf Songs,” Feb. 8-14] needs some correction of assumptions. [Editor's note: See correction on next page.] First off, Mr. Hurley was not “released from the psychiatric wing of Bellevue Hospital in NYC” in 1964 but rather had been treated for tuberculosis. Secondly, the wonderfully meditative song “Tea” was in fact about the brewing and drinking of tea while in the process of contemplation. Elsewhere, Roberts incorrectly refers to a Hurley lyric (from the song “Be Kind to Me”) about “a heart that feels like a mustard seed?” when the actual lyric, “I hardly feel like a mustard seed,” is a deeper, biblical allusion to disillusionment.
I wouldn't say that Michael Hurley, who is six months younger than Bob Dylan, “is an old man” but rather a prolific and constantly blooming artist. If Dylan is our Shakespeare/Picasso, Hurley is our Mark Twain/Gauguin. As a matter of fact, nowadays Hurley's looks are a lot more reminiscent of a middle-aged Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut than of “Grandpa Jones from Hee Haw.” Let us keep on treasuring our national resources for what and who they actually are.
First the L.A. Times starts running items upside down, so now you guys feel it's incumbent on you to run a virtually unreadable article [“Blood, Sweat and Tears,” Jan. 18-24] in light type on a distracting background. Even more nerve-racking is that this artsy-fartsy kiss-ass on Paul Thomas Anderson and There Will Be Blood glosses over the many confusing aspects of this (admittedly highly praised) film.
Meanwhile, since I've got your attention: I still use you as a vital source of entertainment options (particularly offbeat films), and I notice that you've reduced your comedy listings by about half, and you still refuse to bring back the crossword puzzle.
Comment posted on Johnny Dwyer's story about the trial of Jose Nazario [“Warrior on Trial,” Feb. 15-21]: “Our Marines go through rigid training and are taught to follow orders and kill if necessary. Who can determine the fear these men are feeling and the need to protect their own lives? How can anyone judge individual events during war? These Marines are protecting our country, sometimes with their lives. Fighting an enemy who looks just like the civilians is bound to create difficult situations. To put these brave troops on trial for murder is outrageous. I don't agree with unlawful killing, but many times split-second decisions must be made, or orders must be followed … Our Marines need to know that they aren't putting their lives and futures on the line for nothing. They need support, not prosecution. Very proud mom of a U.S. Marine in Iraq.
Posted Feb. 17 by Debbie
School of Hate
Comment posted on David Ehrenstein's story about the killing of a gay Oxnard student [“Punch-Drunk Hate,” Feb. 22-28]: Constant punches, kicks to the face and the stomach, [and] ridicule is what I got in LAUSD middle school daily. I told no one I was gay, I acted intelligent rather than macho, dressed like everyone else, but somehow they knew I was different. The teachers would even join in the harassment. Teachers also like to be popular in the classroom and this is one way they could get acceptance … The hate within the LAUSD school was so bad, I had to drop out of school for my own safety … After I left, one student told me the teacher said that the school was happy to have the faggot out of their school. Hate is hate! Still, they talk of what Larry was, rather than what he could have been. This is what the killer was trying to do, prevent Larry from having something that he did not have: a happy, stable, loving group of people as friends.
Posted Feb. 24 by Jay
Congratulations in Order
In the Los Angeles Press Club's inaugural National Entertainment Journalism Awards, L.A. Weekly Deadline Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke swept the online categories, winning first place in the Best News Story, Best Feature Story and Best Critic categories. Ella Taylor took first place for Best Critic in print, and Finke finished second for Best News Story in print. Awards were given February 21.
L.A. Weekly political cartoonist Mr. Fish, a.k.a. Dwayne Booth, was listed No. 1 on Best Life magazine's “10 most important voices to listen to this election cycle” list. “Political cartooning hasn't evolved much since the days of Ben Franklin,” wrote Jason Daley of Best Life, “but the art form may have found a new voice that can help bring back the edge.”
L.A. Weekly theater editor Steven Leigh Morris has written a play that will be staged by New York's Abingdon Theatre Company and which is scheduled to open off-Broadway on October 29. The work, titled Beachwood Drive, is a noir mystery about human trafficking in Los Angeles; Alan Mandell will direct.
In his piece on songwriter Michael Hurley, Randall Roberts incorrectly reported the reason for the musician's hospitalization in the 1960s. Hurley recorded his First Songs LP after being hospitalized for tuberculosis. As well, although Hurley sings often about trains and the vagabond life, he has never traveled through “hobo camps,” as Roberts wrote.
In last week's Hoopla [“Strike Struck, Oscar Lives!,” Feb. 22-28], we stated, “Ed Begley Jr. wears Birkenstocks with white socks.” Begley's publicist informs us his client “does not own any Birkenstocks, nor does he support or wear leather shoes. He has a number of pairs of earth-friendly shoes from manufacturers like Simple, Earth and Flat Tire Footwear – however, he does not own any Birkenstocks.” Begley does cop to the white socks, though.
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