I read Howard Blume’s article “Dueling
for an Education” [May 3–9] and almost choked on my Cheerios. Mr. Blume
seems to think the LAUSD has an obligation to teach school in two languages.
Sorry, but that’s laughable. I was a substitute teacher for the district for
five years, and I hate to tell you, but we were barely succeeding in teaching
What they tell you is all true: Resources are terrible, teachers get paid
little, new enrollment is huge due to immigration. These challenges leave the
district hard-pressed to teach the fundamentals properly. You cannot expand
when your foundation is cracking. I taught the bilingual program for five years
and never really figured out what it was — or if it really existed. I do know
this: I was sending Hispanic kids off to middle school with third-grade educations
because their curriculum was so half-assed in both languages. They paid the
L.A. is a city of the future and will prosper through clear communication.
At this point, we can only afford to choose one language, and that is English.
Internationalist” [Weekly Literary Supplement, May 3–9]. Christopher
Hitchens is correct when he describes how Orwell “got it right” regarding Stalinist
Russia. Orwell’s experiences in Spain certainly confirmed the problems with
state socialism, especially in its Stalinist variety. However, 1984 was
set in England because — and this is clearly and explicitly set out in his essays
from 1939 through 1946 — a similar totalitarianism was on the rise in that country.
His experiences in wartime England somewhat mirrored the experiences of those
living under Stalinism. Orwell feared totalitarian socialism not because it
was socialist (Orwell was always a socialist), but rather because it was totalitarian
(Orwell was a very libertarian socialist). States, corporations or mobs, as
well as shadowy cabals of bomb throwers, were anathema to a man who characterized
decency and fairness as the un-theoretical qualities of socialism. Unfortunately,
these qualities were often abandoned, in his view, by those in power in any
—Adam van Sertima
I’m an animation student working on my thesis film about Bruno Schulz. David
Grossman’s article “Too Much Hurt” has reminded me of why I undertook this project
in the first place, and I want to thank him for so eloquently describing how
I felt when I read about Schulz’s death.
Your May 3 literary supplement “Writers on Writers They Love” should have
been titled “White Guys on White Guy Writers They Love.” Couldn’t you have found
one woman or someone of color to contribute? C’mon, it’s the new millennium.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For the record, Claire Messud and Shelley Jackson are women.
Re: Jay Babcock’s “Midnight
Movies at the Planetarium” [May 3–9]. I’m curious as to why Babcock refers
to Ariel Sharon as “a nutjob Israeli prime minister fat man with an arsenal
of 100 nukes and an itchy revenge finger playing brinkmanship, congenitally
incapable of thinking beyond the tit-tat exchange” without making any mention
of his lunatic adversary Yasir Arafat, the grandfather of modern terrorism whose
lips constantly flap like a Disneyland Audioanimatronic robot? It takes two
to tango, you know. Maybe Babcock should stick to reviewing music and leave
world affairs to the grown-ups. He appears to be in over his head.
YOUR UNFRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-FANS
Re: “I, Bug”
[May 3–9]. Manohla Dargis is the biggest jackass I’ve ever heard. To insist
on changing the Spider-Man outfit and to say it’s a shitty movie is the biggest
pile of shit I’ve ever read. I think Manohla needs to get his [sic] stick out
of his [sic] ass and realize Sam Raimi made the movie to the comic. Changing
the costume would have been awful. Doing anything out of line with the
comic, let alone the cartoon, would have made any Spider-Man fan pissed. If
Manohla is a big enough jackass to say the stupid-ass remarks, he [sic] better
have good reason to back it up, because his [sic] reasons were the worst.
The guy [sic] who wrote this review should be fired ASAP. This guy’s [sic]
movie picks prob include A Very Brady Sequel and Scary Movie 2.
This guy [sic] is dumb, and your city is dumb. New York makes way better movies,
and we are not dicks. I’m all about detaching L.A., like in the cult classic
Escape From L.A. with Kurt Russell. Serves you right. Dargis, since you
were the only bad review I have read on my buddy Spider-Man, I send this hate
mail to you, friend. Look out or you will be caught in spidey web.
New York City
I found Spider-Man a breath of fresh air, since I can
identify with the character. I greatly appreciated how Spider-Man was not altered
in any way; he wasn’t re-created into how Hollywood saw fit. Throughout the
whole movie, Spider-Man managed to keep his comic-book-like integrity. In closing,
I think your writer should stop reviewing movies if he [sic] has no knowledge
of the story behind it.
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
One of the best, fun, slicker-than-whale-sh*t-on-an-ice-floe
flicks I have ever seen! Is Manohla Dargis’ head completely up the behind, or
what? Needless to say, I will look no more to your publication for your opinions
on film. Thanks!
—Rory D. Woods
Please fire the reviewer who gave the stupid bad review of
Spider-Man, or at least next time send someone under the age of 50 to
give an honest review.
Either about 90 percent (maybe more) of America, and most of
the entire free world, are idiots for loving everything about Spider-Man,
or Manohla Dargis was dropped as a baby and never recovered.
I am writing in “response” to the Spider-Man
movie review recently posted on your Web site. I hate to say, but where does
the writer get off smashing this wonderful movie down so horribly that you don’t
get a good movie review but a harsh slander on Sam Raimi and the special effects?
This review seemed more like a writer wanting to show off his [sic] enormous
vocabulary instead of actually watching the movie and writing an honest movie
review. Example: “ejaculating long, white streams of webbing from his wrists.”
Whoa! Hold on, man! Big vocabulary gone wrong!
Bowling Green, Kentucky
How on earth could you have assigned Manohla Dargis to review
Spider-Man? Her analysis was sophomoric, to say the least, and clearly
indicated a complete lack of understanding of the concept and character of Spider-Man.
Her pretentiousness and utter inability to relate to this kind of film on its
own terms rendered her review irrelevant. Who cares whether his butt jiggled
or his “package” was less than her fantasy? The review reveals more
about her own insecurities and sexual preoccupations than it does about her
understanding of the cultural context of the film. Of course his face is covered!
It’s the essence of the costume, and a pre-existing condition of making the
film! Yes, he wears a unitard. Duh. What else would he wear? A two-piece? And
Next time, please have someone review this kind of movie who
at least gets the concept. Everyone I know who’s seen the film loved it, as
did my entire family.
—Josh Freeman and assorted outraged friends
It’s the opinion of this reader Manohla Dargis intended to
jump on the bandwagon of tanking overhyped movies and is probably at this moment
choking on the overwhelming number of rave reviews, to say nothing of the enormous
box-office numbers. Later this month, she’ll probably tell us that Star Wars
should have been left in the early ’80s.
Whoever wrote the Spider-Man review is a complete moron
caught up in another world.
I just wanted to tell you this: Talk your shit when you make
your own great movie, since you know so much about them.
Lake Worth, Florida
Your reviewer doesn’t really know what he or she was looking
at. I would be embarrassed. Perhaps another career is in order.
Manohla Dargis is a very bitter person who knows a few catchy
Where did you get your critic degree, clown college? Like,
seriously, this movie was truly amazing all by itself. People gave it standing
ovations at both screenings I went to, and I can honestly say this is in my
Top 5 for all-time greats, and I have seen a lot of movies.
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
When I noticed Manohla Dargis was reviewing the Spider-Man
movie, I knew instantly that the Weekly would be giving their Film Pick
of the Week to some artsy-fartsy indie film instead of to the wall-crawler.
Sure enough, I was right. Next time, please send someone who likes superhero
movies to review them.
I think you need to watch the Spider-Man movie again ’cause
apparently you didn’t pay attention to it ’cause if the movie made over $114
million, it must be very good. I saw it three times plus everybody else that
saw it said the same thing, so I think you need to see it again ’cause you are
out of your mind.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
I watched Spider-Man expecting to dislike it as much
as other recent Hollywood fare. This movie is as good as or better than Richard
Donner’s first Superman, and it puts the Batman series to shame.
I realize it is an opinion, but I walked away with a smile on my face and feeling
good. (The last time that happened was when I saw The Matrix.) By the
way, his costume is not square at all. Superman is the one that needed the update,
as evidenced by the new TV series Smallville.
You could make a better movie about me, right?
New York City