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L.A. TO MANSON: GET
Re: Greg Burk’s “Marilyn:A Re-examination” [January 12–18]. This is the best article I have ever read on Manson. Thanks and congrats.
Moncton, New Brunswick,
I am so happy to finally read an article about Marilyn Manson that has the courage to address the rarity and greatness of this genius. Ranking him on a level with such luminaries as Lennon, Hendrix and Bowie is bold, but I believe entirely fair and accurate. I am an aficionado of rock from way back, being over 50 and having started with Elvis and “Hound Dog.” I can honestly tell you, not since the Beatles have I experienced such excitement over music. Thank you for treating him with the dignity and seriousness he deserves.
To paint Marilyn Manson as some sort of ultramodernist who has broken the mold is just wrong. There is nothing original or unique about Manson. He’s just another painted-up former dork who makes his money off the angst of 13-year-old boys. In 20 years, he will not even be a blip on the radar, much less some great Rock God.
—Ross F. Ptasynski
Much as Greg Burk characterizes Manson’s career and persona as having “a cut-and-paste quality,” Burk’s article is a bunch of cut and pasted, unconvincing clichés about Manson. If Manson were indeed a bullhorn for oppressed peoples, he wouldn’t crucify women onstage or make a video (with Trent Reznor) ridiculing Courtney Love as an overweight inflatable doll. The huge point that Burk missed is that, in trying to condemn the institutions and traditions that oppress us, Manson himself uses the tools of the oppressor — violence, capitalism and media-disseminated dishonesty — instead of really thinking and redefining power relations. There is a subtle and important difference between subverting power and merely using it to your own advantage, a difference that Manson’s $30 “God of Fuck” T-shirts definitely neglect. His ideas and vision go no further than his white contact lens, which I’m sure is now on sale at Hot Topic.
The Weekly used to cover offbeat topics of both local and broad reach. Now we have Marilyn Manson, a hack David Bowie rip-off. The makeup does not hide his lack of substance, nor does it add any substance to your paper. The Weekly is not Rolling Stone!
Playa del Rey
I loved the article on Marilyn Manson, and I applaud you for putting him on your cover.
RE: THOSE MOCA MADCAPS
I can’t follow Doug Harvey’s criticism of the MOCA ad campaign [“Art & Commerce,” January 19–25]. I think the ads are mostly funny, and they certainly raise MOCA’s profile. I’m not convinced that having individual professional artists create an ad campaign, as Harvey suggests, would have had the same effect, nor do I agree that the jokes suck. It seems to me that some of his vitriol is driven by jealousy generated by the money exchanged by well-off institutions (generally a legitimate target for scrutiny, I agree) and their attempt to make people outside the art set aware of MOCA’s existence. Some of Harvey’s criticism is purported to be in solidarity with the blue-collar, not-beautiful citizens of L.A., but to me it sounds more condescending than the campaign itself. In particular, his reaction to the bus ad gives a negative description of the bus riders presumably not targeted by the campaign’s authors. While I don’t consider myself working-class, I certainly am part of the “subautomotive scum of L.A.,” and I “rejoice” at the ads pointing out “People on a bus, 2001.”
Initially, Doug Harvey’s scathing critique of MOCA’s new ad campaign seemed overloaded with suspicion of corporations, art-school pretension and an excess of phony brotherly love. I found it refreshing to see Sunset Boulevard retitled “Look at Me” and to see a reference, any reference, to art in my dry cleaning. It beats the hell out of being bludgeoned by another ad for another worthless movie.
However, I’d only seen a few of the billboards, and apparently only a few of the better ones. A couple more days of driving around, and
I saw what Harvey was talking about: lame jokes, barely thought through. It’s more like another worthless movie than I realized: a great concept with seriously lacking execution.
West Hollywood â
Doug Harvey’s dismay at the MOCA ad campaign is laudable, but he leaves unclear why TBWAChiatDay’s irony falters. In order to work, irony must bring us to a new perspective or take us on some kind of imaginary fancy, revealing previously overlooked humor. The mechanics are well displayed in Ovid’s Metamorphosis: Hermes typically drops a character into some ridiculous predicament until the gods take pity. Somebody — the artist, the viewers or the subject — has to play the clown until we hear the gods laughing on Mt. Olympus and join in. TBWAChiatDay’s campaign doesn’t work because there is no conjuring of Hermes, no ride, only the pale semiotics of the museum label. Consequently, we are left sitting bored in our cars. With Warhol, at least, we could always laugh at his hairpiece. Instead, as with the L.A. Times trailers that purport to explain Hollywood to a town of insiders, our boredom makes MOCA the victim of its own irony.
Marina del Rey
In the cover story “Annihilation Man” [December 29–January 4], Brendan Mullen refers to me as the “former manager” of the Germs — as if I had been one of many — and states that the band had no management during the G.I. period. He knows for a fact this is not true, as he dealt with me, the band’s manager of record and in fact, in his capacity as a club owner. Among my many contributions to the band’s longevity in the public’s consciousness was negotiating a deal with Slash with which all the principals were happy, and for which I tirelessly researched other, “real” bands’ recording contracts and relentlessly grilled lawyers for advice, as we had no money to hire a lawyer. I also set up a self-administered publishing company that still pays royalties to the songwriters and their heirs, 22 years later. In addition, I was able to secure local shows for a band that had already dynamited its bridges when I came up with the “G.I.” (Germs incognito) alias. (I simply represented the band as being new in town.)
Most ironically, I had to talk Darby into doing the one thing that ended up guaranteeing his notoriety for future generations, participation in Penelope Spheeris’ film The Decline of Western Civilization. In typical contrarian form he initially balked at doing the film, and I threatened to quit managing the band if he didn’t participate. And although I begged Darby to let me book out-of-town shows, we never went out of town for one simple reason: Darby didn’t want to. He knew perfectly well the Germs wouldn’t travel well. As he put it numerous times, “If I jump into the audience, those people won’t catch me.”
Schools of Film and Critical Studies
California Institute of the Arts
The January 19–25 Scoring the Clubs listed Temptation as Christopher Lawrence’s latest LP. His latest album is, in fact, United States of Trance.
In the January 19–25 issue, a photo on the Theater Awards nominations page was miscredited as MedeaText: Los Angeles/Despoiled Shore (City Garage). The photo was actually from The Apollo of Bellac (Powerhouse Theater). Our apologies.