STAN: STILL THE MAN
Re: the bitter, vitriolic letters in your January 25–31 issue concerning Stan Lee. I took letter writer Guffey’s advice, contacted Mr. Lee and asked him directly about the origins of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, etc. While the creation of these heroes was, of course, achieved in collaboration with his wonderful artists, these heroes were born in Stan’s mind, then developed visually by those artists. Stan would subsequently provide story ideas to the artists, who would plot out the comics, which would then receive text and dialogue from Stan.
However, all that misses the point. As a young boy, what I treasured most about Marvel comics was Stan’s friendship. He had a unique style that made you think — as you lay there on your porch in Anytown, USA — he was speaking to you, and only you. That he was your pal. In those early and often confusing years, that friendship was a tonic.
In truth, I’ve known Stan Lee personally for a long time, and he is a humble gentleman through and through, and there is not an ounce of arrogance or hubris there. I ask only that people give credit where credit is due, and not spread unfounded and hurtful rumors and allegations. As the Spider-Man movie nears, I hope not to see more of such nonsense.
Re: Marc B. Haefele’s “Redistricting Revulsion” [January 25–31]. All I can say is “Yeah!” I’m sorry for those folks in the Valley who may get stuck with Ruth Galanter, but I am sick to death of having to live in Ruth’s district. No one living here wants Playa Vista — discounting those who will profit from it, of course. No one wants LAX expanded when there are other available airports in SoCal. And no one wants more traffic or more pollution in this already crowded part of town. (Well, except for Ruth.)
Sorry, Valley, but I’m happy to get rid of her.
TIGERS AND STALLIONS
Re: Steven Mikulan’s “All My Sons” [A War Diary, January 25–31]. I served as a crew chief/plane captain/mechanic aboard the CH-53E for four years and was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 “Flying Tigers” — the same squadron that has suffered the recent unfortunate loss of two Marines who were dear friends of mine, and injuries to five others. Mr. Mikulan writes that CH-53E Super Stallions are “almost as legendary for their crashes as for their service in Vietnam.” The fact is, the 53E was not introduced into military service until 1981. Second, the 53E is not due to be replaced by the V-22 Osprey; the Osprey is scheduled to replace the CH-46D Sea Knight.
As for those crashes, it is the responsibility of the military to protect our nation’s interests, foreign and domestic. I myself knew, as my fellow comrades know, that upon signing the contract to protect and serve in defense of our nation, there would be the potential for injury or even death in the performance of that task. I understand that Mr. Mikulan has the right to express his views as he sees fit; I just hope he remembers how many have died so that he may enjoy that luxury.
—Ulysses S. Adams II
STEVEN MIKULAN REPLIES: I didn’t write that the CH-53E Super Stallion flew in Vietnam. I referred to the history of “Stallions” — including, in the case of Vietnam, its predecessor, the CH-53D Sea Stallion (which is scheduled for replacement by the Osprey).
Re: Mark Olsen’s “Blow Up: New Visions 2002” capsule in the Film Special Events section of your Calendar section [January 25–31]. Olsen writes that my work, which is featured in the festival, “play[s] like editing exercises disguised as experimental films made by people who don’t really follow experimental films.” I just wanted to let Mr. Olsen know that I do actually know a thing or two about experimental film. I earned my B.A. in cinema at SUNY Binghamton, one of the last universities in the U.S. where experimental cinema is taught. It is where I studied with seminal experimental filmmakers such as Ken Jacobs and Larry Gottheim. I’ve also spent some time with people such as Kenneth Anger, Myriam Gibril, George Kuchar and Donna Kerness, and have met Bill Viola, Stan Brakhage, Michael Snow and R. Kern. I think I’ve even seen a few of their films! Finally, I’m the recipient of the 1997 Eastman Kodak scholarship for the 10-minute experimental work The Sound of Speed.
Mr. Olsen, what have you done?
SAY IT LOUD
I was very happy to read your tributes to Lance Loud [January 25–31] and to see that they all touched upon his energy as well as his generosity of spirit. He will be missed by everyone who knew him.
—Ruth Kramer Ziony