Sad, Scary and
Just Plain Alarming
Thank you for Steven Mikulan’s chronicle of the CBS–Reagan
miniseries debacle [Open
City, “The Big Chill,” November 14–20]. Mikulan’s piece was a gold mine
of laughs for a centrist like myself. The extremists, left and right, of this
country may be taking us to hell, but at least I’ll be entertained along the
The crybaby right-wingers bully CBS into not airing a movie about their flawed
hero. God forbid Reagan be portrayed as anything less than a mythical and almost
And as for the whiny lefties . . . Elizabeth Egloff, whose teleplay was the
source of frustration from the right, reveals her bias in her assertion that
the left doesn’t have “a machine” like the right. The left doesn’t have a machine?
O-kay. Was that the Republican National Convention protesting Eminem’s so-called
hate speech outside the Grammys a few years ago? To think that the extreme left
doesn’t have a political machine is beyond absurd, and to say it in a publication
that is a part of that machine is insulting.
Still, in the end, I would have liked to have seen the movie myself, rather
than have some politico in Orange County decide for me that I shouldn’t see
It’s sad, scary and just plain alarming how Orwellian the extremists on both
sides can be.
Credit Long Overdue
I greatly enjoyed Steven Mikulan’s Open City column titled
“Where Credit Is
Due” [October 31– November 6] about the way the Writers Guild of America
is correcting the records of blacklisted writers. It’s a shame that the Academy
of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences doesn’t take action the same way; they
seem to bury their heads in the sand when it comes to correcting major mistakes
of the past, especially when it involves the blacklisting of nonunion people
who worked in Hollywood in the 1950s. I’m a writer, and had written on the Disney
film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. While researching my article, I came
across one of the greatest errors in Academy history and since then have written
to the Academy no less than four times, requesting them to look into and correct
this error — namely, the awarding of the Oscar for 1954 color art direction
to the wrong person on 20,000 Leagues. Harper Goff was the true art director
who created the stunning, Academy Award–winning Nautilus and the submarine’s
interior sets. But because he was a nonunion worker (Disney was an independent
studio at the time), the Academy ignored him and instead gave the Oscar to Goff’s
assistant on the film, a card-carrying union man Disney hired just to placate
the association. During this time in history, the Academy only recognized
(and gave Oscars to) union art directors, a nasty little secret they’re not
too fond of the public knowing. So Harper Goff was blatantly, deliberately ignored
and passed over in favor of his assistant. Crazy, isn’t it?
I talked to Goff before he died, and he was deeply saddened by the Academy’s
disregard of him, and the finest work he had ever done. Maybe someday the Academy
of Motion Pictures will do the right thing and fix the historical record. In
the meantime, their silence on Mr. Goff speaks volumes to me.
More on Nature
I enjoyed your article “Get
Me to the Church on Time and a Half for Overtime: The state of marriage, gay
and straight, in a heterosexual dictatorship” by David Ehrenstein [November
14–20]. His humor and juxtaposition of comments support his ideas very well.
The only thing I could add is from my current reading on genetics (Genome
and Nature via Nurture by Matt Ridley) that indicates that a gay lifestyle
has about a 50 percent basis on genetic development, determined in part by the
womb’s environmental response to the fetus inside it and the subsequent effects
in brain development.
Vernon, B.C., Canada
Give The Peace Candidate
In response to Marc Cooper’s column “Iraq
Spins Out of Control: Where are the Democrats and the Peace Movement?” [Dissonance,
November 7–13], a partial answer is: Many of us are working our butts off
to elect Dennis J. Kucinich for president in 2004. Mr. Cooper would serve the
very causes he rightly addresses if he would work with us to elect the candidate
who consistently and unflinchingly stands up for peace and justice at every
turn. Kucinich prominently voted against the $87 billion war/occupation package;
he will eliminate the Bush tax cuts to the wealthy and cut our grossly overblown
war budget by 15 percent; and he is the only candidate with a detailed exit
strategy for Iraq (see www.kucinich.us/statements.
htm#100903). Mr. Cooper, get with the plan! Work for our man! The REAL
peace candidate: Dennis J. Kucinich 2004!
—Susan F. Reed
Boone, North Carolina
What’s new about what Marc Cooper is writing? He still likes to beat up the
“liberals” and will beat up the Greens if they attempt to educate the voters
and give them an honest alternative candidate. Why isn’t he supporting Kucinich?
There’s a Democrat who states solutions. I assume Marc will only support
a Democrat if he perceives that candidate will “win.” I detect a shrill whine
in his writing. Am I wrong?
East Los Angeles
Discordance About Disney Hall
Thanks for Greg Goldin’s and Jonathan Gold’s articles
on “Experiencing Disney Hall”
[October 31–November 6]. I gave up on the L.A. Phil years ago when the Disney
Hall was first announced because to me the Phil was consciously turning its
back on L.A.’s rich history rather than incorporating it into the city’s cultural
future. I look at the amount of money finally spent on Disney Hall (thanks to
all the delays, attitude and cost overruns), and then look at the historic buildings
on Broadway, in particular the Los Angeles Theater, and think about what could
have been done with that same money — don’t get me started. In the end, Disney
Hall is another example that this is and has always been about what is best
for the rich, white subscriber bases who are scared shitless to venture off
Bunker Hill, not what is best for the city as a whole.
I’m writing because I just got off the phone with a friend who teaches at
L.A. Trade Tech downtown. She has spoken with four separate students, all of
them Latino, each of whom had managed to get a cheap-seat ticket to Disney Hall
during its opening week. Each one of them was looking forward to the experience
— a first for a couple of them. And each of them was harassed at the door about
his/her attendance and ticket. I wanted to tell my friend to let it go, it was
just an unfortunate byproduct of the overhyped, over-the-top publicity of opening
week. But I couldn’t do it, because that’s not what is going on, is it?
You, Sir, Are No Jean Genet
Regarding Sam Slovick’s “The
Geography of Hustling” [November 14–20]: What were you thinking? Sees himself
reincarnated as Jean Genet or Iceberg Slim, does he? He couldn’t hold their
underwear. Sorry, no Pulitzer for him. You should have farmed him out to The
New York Times or the Washington Post. Isn’t that their thing? His
self-centered pseudo-raw realism swathed in traces of fiction really was a downer.
The message: Go out, live the wild life (even get to meet some movers and shakers),
find and rescue your real self, then become a famous/published writer like me.
Yeah, right. I found his glorification and romanticizing of tragedy nauseating.
He even trots out those old misinformed saws about “making more money” ($100,000
a year) than hard-working middle-class people (a police officer). Such illogic
possibly appeals to middle school juveniles, but they don’t read the Weekly.
So I would appreciate a little more editorial introspection when green-lighting
such narcissistic ego-tripping. In this day and age there are a lot more inspiring
personal stories that need exposure. Amy Motevalli and her students certainly
was one of those this year, and I only heard and read about it in the Weekly.
—F. Daniel Gray
Article by Sam Slovick is fabulous.