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In Harold Meyerson’s Powerlines
column of May 11–17, he erroneously stated that I opposed Tom Bradley’s
initial run for the City Council, as well as his 1969 mayoral bid. Nothing could
be further from the truth. If Mr. Meyerson had an accurate grip on the political
history of that period, he would have known that in Tom Bradley’s initial run
for the council, he was the consensus choice of the African-American community
and received wide-ranging support, of which I was part. I was also supportive
of Bradley’s run for mayor in 1969.
—Mervyn M. Dymally
U.S. Congressman (Retired)
Re: the Weekly’s recent spate of articles endorsing Antonio Villaraigosa.
Before Los Angeles goes to the polls to vote for mayor, the people need to be
reminded of a couple of things about this candidate. When Proposition 187 was
overwhelmingly passed by the people of California, Mr. Villaraigosa went to
Mexico to gather the support of then-President Zedillo. There they were, the
assemblyman and the foreign president, plastered on the front page of the L.A.
Times. The look on Villaraigosa’s face was one of pride. The only problem
was that he, as an American, had gone to a foreign country to solicit help in
defeating the will of the people of California. To add insult to injury, shortly
thereafter, Mexico decided to take the homes of Americans living in Baja California.
When I called Villaraigosa’s office to find out what he was doing to help to
stop this travesty, I was told he would do nothing: “Mr. Villaraigosa does not
get involved in the decisions of other nations.”
Given such hypocrisy, Los Angeles could end up in pretty sorry shape should
Villaraigosa become mayor.
Antonio Villaraigosa would be a vast improvement over the present mayor, Dick
Riordan. Unfortunately, Villaraigosa voted for energy deregulation in the state
Assembly. As far as I’m concerned, you have to send a message to these politicians
that what we need is more state and local power over something as vital to the
health and welfare of the people as affordable electricity. As they said in
the ’60s, “Power to the people!”
PACE MARK KURLANSKY
In Hillary Johnson’s review of new short fiction [“The
Short Story,” WLS, April 27–May 3], I read, “Those self-righteous, humorless
ignoramuses protesting globalization in Seattle and Quebec would do well to
take a break and read Kurlansky for some insight into how to think and feel
about ‘free trade’ and the Third World — or any world, for that matter.”
Geez, Hillary, what set you off? People talking about economic injustice,
wage disparities, poor working conditions, environmental degradation? Why the
name calling? Ms. Johnson has done a disservice to the three authors she reviews
by interjecting her half-baked political views.
—David S. Ebright
I found Neal Weaver’s article on the prevalence of nudity onstage in L.A.
[“Grin and Bare It,” May 11–17] interesting, if distressing. As the writer
and director of The Coming Out Party, a play with gay themes and no nudity,
I have found it daunting to buck this trend. Gay theater has turned into burlesque.
The gratuitous use of nudity insults both the artist and the audience. Frankly,
the theater scene in L.A. needs to grow up and get over its fascination with
body parts. I must wonder at the state of “gay pride” when gay-themed theater
hitches its credibility to such a demeaning trend.
—John Michael Caffey
Marina del Rey
I loved Jeff Chang’s article on Saul Williams
[“Om Nia Merican,” May 11–17]. I am glad that trendy Los Angeles is finally
recognizing the spoken-word scene. For so long, poetry has been ignored because
it has been viewed as too boring or too over-the-head — something only for colleges
or cafés. But thanks to bands like Totem Maples (of which I am a member) and
Saul Williams, the art is once again being pushed into the light.
What intrigued me most in the article was the author’s hanging question: “Is
it hip-hop?” I’ve always responded to that question with this answer: “No. We’re
not hip-hop . . . we’re pre-hop.” Hip-hop began as poetry. Langston Hughes
recited poetry to jazz long before Kerouac, and long before Blondie did “Rapture,”
and long before “Rapper’s Delight.”
The hip-hop world needs to re-examine its roots. There is so much more you
can say through poetry that you can’t say when you’re too busy freestyling out
ghetto nursery rhymes.