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Loved Brendan Mullen’s article on Darby Crash [“Annihilation Man,” December 29–January 4]. It was one of the most insightful, beautiful and heart-wrenching pieces I’ve read on the L.A. punk scene in a very long time.

—Gabriel Manriquez


As one of Darby Crash’s contemporaries, I read the article with amusement. I thought it was a fairly well-balanced representation of one of the early L.A. punk “heroes.” Surely an enigma, the Germs put out what I consider to be the scene’s finest album while simultaneously being one of the lousiest live bands I have ever had the displeasure to endure. Lest you wonder what I was doing at their shows, I had the unfortunate duty of mixing them as the house sound man at the Hong Kong Café, and was the tape recordist for their live album at the Starwood, which produced Mr. Crash’s brilliant final public statement, “I’ll meet you at Oki Dog after the show.”

I am so tired of people going on and on about how “cool” the early punk scene was. The only good thing about it was the music. I now view it as a bunch of lost souls (myself included) urging each other on toward speedy self-destruction. I guess Darby was the unhappiest/coolest of us all. In my mind, he remains fixed as a prime example of all that was wrong: the narcissistic earnestness of alienated immaturity. He was a simpering little twit who hid behind his brood of thoroughly unpleasant followers, the very antithesis of “punk.” That being said, may he rest in peace.

—Paul B. Cutler
Los Angeles


How strange it is to see your friend’s face, dead of a suicide for 20 years, rising up from the pages of the L.A. Weekly at the local market. Don Bolles and Brendan Mullen have questioned me exhaustively about “Paul Beahm/Darby Crash: The Early Years,” I guess because I was one of the “small clique consisting of some of the school’s most intelligent underachieving misfits” (an example of Brendan’s language that distorts more than it illuminates). I am always happy to answer their questions, because my memories of those days remain a strange and beautiful mystery. That is why it is disappointing that the article reads as a sordid, ugly soap opera. I had always hoped that the tale would be told more along the lines of a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. So much for my own naiveté.

I will only pose this question: Why is Brendan writing a book on this obscure and unappealing subject, 20 years after the fact, unless he shared the fascination, love and, yes, awe that so many of us who knew Paul felt? If he does feel it, I think he could have done a much better job of conveying it.

—Paul Roessler
Los Angeles


An untalented junkie who wrote banal lyrics died. Must we keep hearing about it?

—Raoul Contorto
Redondo Beach


Here it is 2001, and we are subjected to yet another incestuous tutorial on punk rock. Who cares? Ex-punks are like old hippies: They never grow tired of their “How we changed the world” stories. Hippies have Woodstock, and all the punks got was the Masque.

—Michael Marquesen
Los Angeles


Punk. The ’80s. The good old days. Ho hum. This cover story about dead and faded rebels only makes me more aware of the editors of the L.A. Weekly’s fading relevance. You all have mortgages, child-support payments. You’re the exact opposite of what your so-called hero Darby Crash died for. The next revolution is going to pass unawares right under your noses.

—A. Shepherd
Atwater Village


As an IPS [Innovative Program School] graduate (class of ’76), I was incensed by Brendan Mullen’s assessment of the school. I happen to feel honored to have been a part of the alternative-school program that dared to thumb its nose at convention and give students a level of love and encouragement that was quite rare in regular school. His comment regarding the stereotype of the attendees is inaccurate. There were plenty of intelligent “A” students there who were attracted, as I was, to a creative approach to education. Granted, the feeling among the students was that it got a little weird in 1977 when more Scientology was introduced; thus, I feel fortunate to have been in on it at its pinnacle, and I am quite proud to tell my children that I went to a school that taught people how to be people, and to love.

—Keith Maxwell


Let’s get the story straight. Mullen calls IPS, where I taught at University High School and in which Paul Beahm was enrolled, a â program “for high school underachievers.” Totally not so! Some of the students were top students who went on to colleges the likes of Harvard and UC Berkeley! Mullen says that IPS was “directed by Fred Holtby.” Again, not true! Bill Greene was the director. Next, Mullen says that I “used Scientology methods as pedagogical tools.” If he is referring to the study of disciplines developed by Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, which teach students the importance of the dictionary and how to use it effectively, then he should know that there is not a teacher in the country who would not covet the kinds of gains we showed on SAT scores at IPS, which I attribute in the main to the implementation of Hubbard’s learning breakthroughs.

—Fred Holtby
Los Angeles



Re: your December 29–January 4 issue. A ray of sanity slashed the gloom here in Michigan when I read that the Weekly had recognized the courageous U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens as its Person of the Year. I say this particularly after The New York Times has just cited a Michigan poll which purports that its citizens “support” W. as their president. Strangely, I am unaware of this reported position among anyone I meet. Perhaps the count was curtailed à la Florida mode!

—Ruth Chaban
Jackson, Michigan


It’s nice to see the support for Justice Stevens. Unfortunately, prior to the election I had to suffer through the Weekly’s constant Gore bashing and Nader praise. In light of the results, it would seem reasonable to take some responsibility for the Green endorsement.

—Sam Park
Santa Monica



Why did you (already some months ago) strip your coverage of computer/Internet issues down to the questionable Sitegeist, which may be entertaining for some people with too much time on their hands, but is devoid of any hard, useful information? I’m aware that technology coverage is not L.A.-specific (but then, neither is Sitegeist) and is readily available elsewhere, especially on the Net. But I don’t always get around to checking out all the techie sites, though I read L.A. Weekly regularly. Those articles were always good as an intro into some relevant information-technology issue that people might want to explore further on the Net. Seems to me like you’ve thrown out the baby and kept the dirty bath water.

—Andie Childs

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