Uncensored but Censured

Thanks to the dubious wonders of electronic journalism, I have just been privileged
to read Marc Cooper’s interview of Gore Vidal [“Uncensored
Gore,” November 14–20]
. Imagine Vidal of all people complaining that the
Bush administration is “bitchy.” What else is it when he descends to Know-Nothing-ism
by citing Andrew Sullivan’s foreign birth? His ravings about despotism and the
loss of due process in connection with the PATRIOT Act are so far removed from
reality as to lead one to fear for his mental health.

—John Van Laer
Scranton, Pennsylvania


It is always a pleasure to read what is on Gore Vidal’s mind, whether I agree with him or not. Regarding his observation that President Bush will win handily in 2004 if we use electronic voting, the implication being that the software has already been preset to guarantee an incumbent win: It may be cold comfort to Mr. Vidal that the Diebold Proprietary voting software, the major supplier of the electronic voting program, was being actively traded over the Internet as early as this past summer. I have no idea who is trading it, downloading it or what they intend to do with it, but is Mr. Vidal willing to wager which end of the political spectrum the posters and downloaders of the software are? I fancy that the outcome of the 2004 presidential election will be very interesting indeed.

—Abrey Myers
Granada Hills


Gore Vidal is a deplorable, boorish oaf. He has always been a world-class whiner, but I fear those long years of living under the Italian sun have fried the poor man’s brain to a cinder.

—Peter Keefe
Falls Church, Virginia


Rrright on, L.A. Weekly staff! The man (Gore) is back in town — and as hard-hitting, sharp/witty and mercilessly acerbic as ever. GREAT . . . may the man live for a long, long time! Keep up the (very) good work — I’m all the way with you.

—Wolfgang Maus
Los Angeles


Isn’t it about time Gore Vidal just died?

—James Johnson
Plattsburgh, New York

All Tomorrow’s Parties Next Year

Thanks for helping to support live music in Long Beach by featuring Matt Groening
and All Tomorrow’s Parties on the cover [“All
Tomorrow’s Parties Today,” November 7–13]
. Being stuck between Orange County
and the City of Angels, Long Beach has often had trouble maintaining an image
and style for itself. The memorable shindig known as All Tomorrow’s Parties
at the Queen Mary was just what the city needed to show everybody what
makes us so proud. Let’s just hope that instead of jumping ship (ha, ha) and
heading for another venue, ATP and everyone involved can fix the minor imperfections
and return with another incredible lineup next year.

—Matt Allen
Long Beach

Rasta Rhythms

I was pleased to see your article on dub by Greg Burk [“Dub:
Music of Revolution,” October 31–November 6]
. The piece provided a great
knowledge of Jamaican culture and history, but what was up with all of that
nonsense in the side columns? I have been a fan of dub music for quite some
time and frankly was a little insulted by what the “Oh shit! Dub is big this
week, I better spin it” DJs had to say. Naming Slightly Stoopid as a dub influence
was not only insane but degrading. If you want to talk about more recent influences
of dub music, there should have been at least some mention of the Moon Ska label
in New York that folded a few years ago, or even the Slackers. It was refreshing
to see an article on dub, and I am glad people are finally opening their eyes
to it, but I feel more time should have been taken to get more input from people
who are really committed to dub music, not some trendy DJ who happened to spin
a Slightly Stoopid record one night in Silver Lake.

—Scott Hammel
Valley Village


Just wanted to give Greg Burk a big grill up for his article on dub. Nice one. It’s been my musical backbone since I was 17 years old. He’s right to finally give it some recognition.

Also I wanted to direct his (or whoever’s) attention to some of the new sounds
dub has influenced. South London is a breeding ground for dub-infused sounds,
as there is a huge Jamaican population there. Some might remember early Jungle
and its deadly bass lines with ’nuff F/X thrown in. Obviously dub-influenced.
These days nothing has changed in areas like Croydon and Brixton. Only now the
sound is called dubstep. It somehow morphed out of the bubbly R&B sounds
of U.K. garage and 2step. Basically it lost the chic attitude and soulful vocals
and gained insane bass lines and more F/X. Maybe not quite as accessible as
pure dub, but the influence is there. Then there are a lot of samples of Jamaican
DJs toasting with heavy echo F/X applied among other moody additives. Curious?
Go to these sites for examples: www.kode9.com,
www.dubplate.net, www.dj-sl.co.uk
and www.bigapplerecords.co.uk.

Once again, thanks. Best feature in a long while. Someday there’s going to be a documentary on dub dedicated to the memory of King Tubby. I’ll be behind it.

—John Ewing


Greg Burk’s article on dub was quite insightful. However, his description of the “one-drop” rhythm as “heavy on the first beat” is incorrect; the “drop” comes from the fact that the first beat is usually silent.

—André Paul
Los Angeles

Greg Burk’s article on dub absolutely ROCKED. He is a prize.

—Craig T. Fall


Great article on dub. L.A. definitely needs more venues featuring this style of music. The best up-and-coming local live act is called Team Scrub. They play out pretty often; check them out.

—Tim Norton
Los Angeles


I have just read the incomplete, and thereby misleading, description of the Rastafarian religion contained in the article “The Once and Future Music of Revolution: Dub” by Greg Burk. In this belittling attempt to separate Rastafari from its (Orthodox) Christian roots, the relevance, the spirituality and the racial universality of the religion are lost. Although there are people associated with the culture(s) surrounding Rastafari who wear dreadlocks, smoke sacrament or listen to reggae dub, an actual Rastafarian is inherently a Christian as well. Haile Selassie I is seen as a messianic return of Jesus Christ, as put forth in the Holy (Christian) Bible in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 4, verses 2 and 3.

What is also lost in this article’s misinformed disregard for the Rasta school of thought is some sense of this sect’s philosophy and full historical context. Rastafari emphasizes that God is not found in some ghostlike imagery, floating down to Earth from the sky, but rather that God is the actual essence of the “I,” or “higher self.” Also, race is not central to the religion, but correlative. That is, to understand the vanity of mankind’s ongoing imperial/racial transgressions, black or white, one must understand the colonial breakdown of black empire. For instance, the (black) Moors conquered much of Southern Europe and created medicine, architecture and mathematics, which preceded Europe’s Renaissance. As part of mankind’s cycle of empire, they were finally defeated after 800 years of rule, just to be reduced to making up part of the first wave of enslaved blacks shipped to the New World, cut off from their own history, roots and culture.

So, it actually is important to “overstand” the philosophy and history behind a religion before one attempts to describe it. If as a writer about Rastafari one does not truly comprehend it, Mr. Burk, it is important to understand that fact as well.

—David “DA” Armstrong
Los Angeles


With regard to your recent Best
of L.A. 2003
issue, specifically best theater companies [October 16–23],
thank you for recognizing UPE and its programming. For the past seven years
Unity has been at the forefront of theatrical programming in L.A. We have proudly
produced more than 30 new plays that intelligently reflect the African-American
experience. Please note, however, the correct name of the company is Unity Players
Ensemble, under the artistic direction of Spencer Scott.

—Yvette Culver
Managing director, Unity Players Ensemble
Los Angeles

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