IT’S THE INEQUITY, STUPID
Re: the Weekly’s
articles commemorating the 1992 riots [cover
stories, April 26–May 2]. Ten years after the riots, I reviewed my own involvement
and the city’s involvement. I was 14 when the riots happened. I, too, participated
in the reckless looting without a thought as to why I was doing it. I wanted
products. I wanted a VCR, a stereo and new clothes.
The L.A. riots started about race — Reginald Denny and Rodney King were about
race. But that’s where it ended. After that, it was about the byproducts of
capitalism. If we construct a society that says you are not of value or whole
if you do not have certain products, we should not be surprised when poor people
and teenagers — who were practically 100 percent of the rioters — aggressively
go after products. If you looked at the streets, it wasn’t about Rodney King
— it was about consumerism. It was about economic inequity regardless of race,
gender or age.
In Pat Alderete’s take on the events in Los Angeles 10 years ago [“California
Gold”], he makes use of Huell Howser’s “corny” and supposedly benign cluelessness
to point up the disparity of viewpoints toward the violence. “It seemed that
people saw the same things differently.” I’ll say. I happen to have a copy of
the on-the-street interview Alderete describes, which was taped live by a channel-surfing
friend. Alderete manages to get nearly every detail wrong: It was on the first,
wildly out-of-control afternoon of the riots, not the third; Howser was not
smiling — he was visibly angry and upset, standing at a mini-mall at Melrose
and Vine (barely two blocks from his home, a not terribly chichi address), and
he described how he and several other men with him, whom he introduced, including
men of color, were out to help keep their local merchants’ businesses from being
ransacked. He spoke eloquently about the love he and his companions (formerly
strangers) had for the Hollywood neighborhood, and how the people running amok
at that very moment were not from their community, but were taking advantage
of the situation to cause mayhem. The “black youth,” actually a young woman,
was the only one smiling through the short interview; she mugged for the camera
behind Howser’s head as he spoke, laughing and making gang signs, and repeated
“He be lyin’ — he’s a fuckin’ liar!” over and over. I’d bet my VCR she had no
idea what his name was. She certainly never said “Fuck Huell Howser.”
Just for the record.
A quick comment on John Powers’ On column in the May 3–9 issue [“This
Is a Town Where . . .”]. I love the L.A. Weekly. I also happen to
respect the L.A. Times, and the Times’ coverage of the 10th anniversary
of the riots was far and above the best coverage I saw. Mr. Powers criticizes
the rambling walk along Vermont Avenue reported by one of the Times’
writers. What did the Weekly counter with? Musings by Jonathan Gold.
Um, yeah, deep. I’ll show that article to my grandchildren.
So, a little humility, please. The Times can do a lot better a lot
of the time, but they do not always stink. And the Weekly is not always
a glorious beacon of divine knowledge. You are equally susceptible to ho-hum
PLANET GO BOOM
Stephanie Grob’s article “Teenage
Cassandra” [April 26–May 2] was very moving and admirable. I, for one, fully
support the sentiments expressed therein. My generation — the “baby boomers”
— has largely screwed up this beautiful planet. Young people such as Stephanie
will save it. Please give her a big hug and lots of encouragement.
Having read “Teenage Cassandra” by Stephanie Grob, I fear for our nation.
The youth of this country need to understand that the “Global Village” is more
like Dodge City in the 1870s, and G.W. is the new Wyatt Earp. Those young people
who march in the anti-American rallies, like those that took place recently
in D.C., are in effect helping the terrorists.
Wow! Stephanie Grob has sure got her head on straight. Her article about her
experiences in the classroom was excellent. I think she would enjoy reading
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I am 64 years old, and my 17-year-old
son, Edward, introduced me to the thinking presented in this book.
CALL IN THE PMRC
Thank you, L.A. Weekly, for your theater awards
ceremony. It’s about time that the L.A. theater scene received the recognition
that it deserves. There are artists in L.A. who are doing the work merely for
the love of theater, not to showcase themselves. As a member of Sacred Fools
and Zoo District, I am â
surrounded by artists who want to challenge the audience and move theater forward.
I challenge Hollywood to do the same.
Thanks again. I always turn to the Weekly for solid news stories (even
when I’m staying in Florida doing a play!).
St. Petersburg, Florida
I attended the L.A. Weekly awards on April 22. First off, I want to
say it was my first time attending and I think it’s wonderful the way you guys
recognize small, underfunded theater in the L.A. community. I’m a member of
Open Fist Theater Company, and we were fortunate to have been nominated in a
number of categories, and it’s wonderful to be recognized for all the work we
put into it.
That said, the co-host, Ronnie Larsen, was a complete, offensive idiot. There
are other ways to get laughs besides the constant use of the words cock,
fuck and cunt. The Burglars of Hamm were exceptionally funny without
resorting to meaningless profanity. I curse a lot, but cursing for cursing’s
sake isn’t funny. The woman sitting in front of me came with her young daughter
and they left very early. That shouldn’t happen. This was a night for everyone
in the L.A. theater community, not a night for one guy to constantly proclaim
how much dick he sucks.
THE COACHELLA PRODIGIES
Okay. Besides completely leaving out any mention of the
mind-boggling display of turntablist prestidigitation from scratch genius Cut
Chemist (who elevated the medium to a true art form with — count ’em — five
turntables!) in the recent trio of articles on the Coachella Festival [“Reach
for the Sun,” May 3–9], I can’t believe you only relegated a paltry, nitpicky
paragraph to the thunderous, rousing sets by electronic powerhouses Chemical
Brothers and the Prodigy. Both groups pretty much eclipsed every act before
them (as well as after — poor Oasis!), if not by sheer magnitude, then surely
by intensity and volume.
Sure, Prodigy are campy, cartoon caricatures of techno/punk/bigbeat/metal
— whatever. I think that’s kind of the point. To flip off the whole dowdy, unwashed,
stoner/hippie-DJ-in-big-baggy-clothes shtick. The Chemical Brothers, though
not as flashy and in-your-face, cranked out the usual tight, powerful set. And
from where I stood (actually watching the show, instead of rolling my eyes and
clicking my tongue at it), both groups had the biggest, most enthusiastic crowds
that entire weekend. That’s more than I can say for the emperor’s new Strokes.
The reference to Björk’s last song at the Coachella Festival as a cover of
George Harrison’s “Blue Jay Way” is wrong. The song was actually “Pluto” from
Björk’s Homogenic CD.
Due to a production error, John Morthland’s byline was
dropped from his article on Pachuco Boogie in the L.A. edition of last week’s