RECALLING HAROLD MEYERSON
Recall Is Not Our Friend” [July 25–31]. With friends like Harold Meyerson,
Gray Davis can expect little success in his attempt to recast himself as a progressive
in order to save his political hide. True, Davis gave tepid support to some
legislation favorable to labor and the environment. But he is also an unswerving
advocate of California’s prison-industrial complex, a helpless bystander watching
an archconservative law firm defend the state in a suit brought by inner-city
students demanding educational equity, and a shameless self-promoter who has
failed to provide fiscal leadership while his party holds legislative majorities.
This is a progressive? Meyerson never misses a chance to nag at those who sought
an alternative to the choices provided by the two major parties in 2000 and
2002. Seeing himself as a pragmatist, he condemns us as hopeless idealists for
our desire to create a multiparty system.
Left to the pragmatists, humankind would still be living in caves. At this
historical moment, the pragmatists defend the Electoral College as a democratic
institution and are satisfied with pathetically low voter turnouts. The recall
is a clumsy, costly vehicle brought about in part by people who believe government
is unresponsive. Want something better? Support the idealistic notion of electoral
reforms like instant-runoff voting and proportional representation, breaking
the two-party monopoly and bringing more people into the political process.
I have to give Harold Meyerson credit for consistency, if nothing else. He
sees that Davis has bankrupted the state and who does he blame for the recall?
“One of the only two state constitutions in the U.S. that requires a two-thirds
vote for enacting a budget. And . . . a president who doles out trillions to
the rich but essentially nothing for states in budget crisis.”
Sorry, but this doesn’t wash. The constitutional constraints were clearly
known to Davis when he took office, and they weren’t going to go away just because
he wanted to spend more than the state was taking in. George W. Bush didn’t
force Davis to increase spending while revenues were dropping, and neither did
the state GOP. In fact, they opposed most of it, and they aren’t obligated to
abandon their principles (some people besides “progressives” have been known
to have them, too) to bail out a governing party with whom they profoundly disagree.
Davis is in this position because he spent other people’s money at a rate
faster than they would have allowed him to had they known what he was doing,
then lied about it until after he was re-elected and finally tried to impose
draconian tax hikes on a state that is already rated last in the nation in services
and business climate. A recall is a totally unpredictable event that may make
matters worse in the long run, but the outrage among the electorate at Davis
and Sacramento is genuine. The state’s power establishment ignored it at their
peril. They deserve whatever they get.
P.S. In “What
Would Satan Drive?” [July 25–31], Steven Mikulan’s reply to the question
“What would Jesus drive?” sort of misses the obvious. Every carpenter that I’ve
ever known drove a long-bed pickup truck. Ever try to get a sheet of plywood
into a Honda Prius?
BEDTIME FOR BANZAI
Re: Brendan Bernhard’s article about the TV show Banzai
[Box Populi, “Paradise Glossed,” July 25–31]. I’m half Japanese and half
Caucasian, and have lived in both Japan and the United States. I have seen many
Japanese TV shows comparable to Banzai, but some of the games on Banzai
are too tasteless even for Japan. In my opinion Banzai is the pseudo-Asian
version of a blackface coon show. The show is racist, and I don’t understand
why it is still on the air. Many Asians are outraged.
I was disappointed to see this article in the L.A. Weekly. I guess
Banzai is funny if you don’t know or care about real Japanese people
and their culture.
San Fernando Valley
Re: “Steam Dream” [Live
in L.A., July 25–31]. With great respect to Jay Babcock — and to Spaceland,
hands-down the best venue in Los Angeles — a band like the Hiss, compared in
the article to the Beatles derivatism of Oasis, the Zeppelin derivatism of the
White Stripes and the Iggy Pop/Lou Reed derivatism of the Strokes hardly qualifies
as a much-needed industry wake-up. Maybe when artists realize there is no need
to re-create the careers of artists who have come before — and labels cease
to reward it, in an effort to duplicate the generous return on investment generated
by some other clone in the last quarter — art will improve.
—P. Auberjonois Brazil
DAY FOR NIGHT
I know news publishing ain’t baseball, but did the L.A. Weekly and
L.A. Times conduct a trade recently?
We know the Times got perennial sourpuss Manohla Dargis. But who is
Scott Foundas? Scott Foundas seems to approve of just about everything. Newspaper
ad–ready quotes for such stellar summer treats as American Wedding (“crescendoing
farce and superb comic timing”), Bad Boys II (“the movie works . . .
the apex of ‰ Bruckenheimer’s brand”) and the obvious consensus best release
of the season Terminator 3 (“the summer movie the audience has been waiting
for . . .”). Please, L.A. Weekly, come clean! Is “Scott Foundas” really
Kevin Thomas (long the Hollywood critical community’s Mr. Easy) using a pseudonym?
If so, the Weekly came up short in the trade.
Re: Your review of the movie Camp [“Summer
Stock,” August 1–7]. I attended Stagedoor Manor with writer-director Todd
Graff, so I feel compelled to assure Scott Foundas that never even once did
the flamboyant drag queens ride skateboards, nor did any acne-stricken minority
kids turn out to be smooth-talking Lotharios. In fact, I think Todd was trying
to be more inclusive of “normal” kids with the Vlad character — I never saw
anyone at Stagedoor with a skateboard, certainly not the flamboyant drag
queens. And I loved Camp. It captured the essence of Stagedoor perfectly.
SOME OF US, ANYWAY
Re: the editor’s response to the letters run two weeks ago [August
1–7] in response to Russel Swensen’s review of the Trachtenburg Family performance
at the Fold [Live in L.A., July 11–17]. What’s more morally suspect — the dribble
that Russel Swensen passes off as pseudo-postmodern bravado or the fact that
the Weekly has sanitized the whole thing? No more child-porn insults
on the Web cache? Hmmm . . . Are you going to disappear the corresponding letters
to the editor next? You should fire Russel Swensen not because he’s got bad
taste, but because his writing fucking sucks. (Congratulations, Russel — we’ve
all read Baudrillard.)
Your editor states, in response to the letters about Russel Swensen’s article
about the Trachtenburg Family, that the Weekly does not condone making
sexually suggestive remarks to children. Yet the Weekly had the audacity
to print the column. Same thing, in my opinion. Remember, 9-year-olds can and
do read your paper — especially articles written about their favorite performer!
So, before you are so quick to let yourselves off the hook, think of all
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
Due to an editing error, a story about the Simple Living Festival by Alan
Rifkin (“So Simple,” August
1–7) misidentified Discover Long Beach Parks director Tanya Quinn’s boyfriend
as being in the band Delta Novae. In fact, he’s in the band Circle.