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I just read Deborah Vankin’s cover story on Kill Radio [“Is Anybody Listening?,” May 11–17], which I think, on the whole, is excellent. However, I am puzzled by the author’s need to emphasize alcohol as a significant aspect of this project and its culture. While the jouissance, so to speak, of Kill Radio may be revolutionary and linked to the indie scene, does that equate it with partying? Give me a break. I would hope as an indie media venue, you would want to portray your comrades in alternative media fairly and accurately. Thanks for the coverage, but please be aware of the line between edgy humor and misinformation.
Who woulda thought it? The Kill Radio Collective made the cover of the L.A. Weekly. The article will do more to let people know we exist than 100 fund-raisers. We’ve received so many e-mails from people interested in finding out more about us, we can barely keep up with them all.
However, the collective is concerned about the emphasis on alcohol, and lack of emphasis on other areas. (The article made it seem like we keep a minibar at the station.) We are also concerned with the juxtaposition of a pull quote concerning beer money, a photo of Youth Organizing Communities (YOC) volunteers and a photo of a bottle of beer. YOC volunteers work hard to organize themselves and their communities, and this juxtaposition is not just misleading, but potentially damaging.
Yes, the Kill Radio Collective does mix politics and fun, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t committed to our process, and to our political and social goals. Many of us have worked, and continue to work, very hard to develop a truly grassroots, alternative information outlet, an opportunity for people, locally and globally, to talk to each other in an unmediated, uncensored forum. These and other less “sexy” aspects of the Kill Radio project were given little attention in the article.
The collective felt these points needed to be addressed. Still, Kill Radio does want to thank the Weekly for its interest in our project. We especially thank Deborah Vankin for all her hard work and efforts to write a fair and balanced article.
—The Kill Radio Collective
Reading your cover story on Kill Radio, I was reminded of a Frank Zappa quote, “The torture never stops.” Just how much longer do we have to be flogged by pieces celebrating self-proclaimed “rebels” and “renegade DJs,” “intellectual freedom-fighters” whose bold swipes at the Man include “painting the first hip-hop graffiti mural” and playing a Blink-182 track 30 times? This is such colossal jive, lock-step “alt” rituals conducted for . . . whom? Ten-year-olds who just got off the bus and need their bad-boy tickets punched? Of course the Buddyhead jocks “don’t follow rules.” When you’ve locked yourself into such a perceptual prison, the rules are unspoken, mutely acknowledged and observed without deviation.
THE MANY FACES OF
Re: “Is This Any Place for a School? Yes” by Howard Blume and David Perera [May 4–10]. I’m usually on your side of the issues, but on the Belmont issue I cannot help but laugh now, with derision and cynicism, at this newspaper that has for years decried all the chicanery and environmental questions swirling like a poison cloud around the Belmont Boondoggle. What gives with the sudden about-face? Could it be that now that the Daily News, the L.A. Times and the LAUSD have jumped on the anti-Belmont bandwagon, you need to act contrarian again simply to seem different from them, more independent, and keep up appearances as a cutting-edge alternative weekly? Your writers’ nasty attacks on those other local papers seem blatantly biased, and hypocritical.
—Walter R. Dominguez
It is disappointing to see that the L.A. Weekly has become the latest victim of the very serious, very expensive lobbying and public-relations campaign being waged by O’Melveny & Myers, the law firm whose future is at stake due to the bad advice it gave its client, the L.A. Unified School District, and which has been on a committed campaign to turn around public opinion about Belmont. It is amazing how people — including your reporters — can mention but overlook the relevance of seven people who were evicted from their homes recently due to explosive methane building up in their basements near the Belmont site. Just because the old Belmont school was built on the same unsafe oil field, this means we ought to take chances on another one, now that we know the potential liabilities?
Thank you for your overview of this convoluted mess. Your map, showing the school sites that already sit on the borders of the L.A. City Oil Field, show how casually the city and state have traditionally treated the other reality under Los Angeles, in addition to those sliding plates.
Howard Blume’s attacks against Dr. Bernard Endres, a very knowledgeable person in his field, are unwarranted. Besides graduating magna cum laude from the University of Detroit, he studied at UCLA and USC and finished his Ph.D. in systems safety engineering at Pacific Western University, and not through a correspondence course, as stated in the article.
HOWARD BLUME RESPONDS: According to Pacific Western, the school offers degrees only through correspondence — or “distance learning,” as the school puts it. As for any differences Mr. Endres may have with our position on Belmont, the accuracy of scientific information and analysis in our final text was independently reviewed by the state’s Division of Oil and Gas and five separate environmental-science professionals, as well as by experts from both the school district and O’Melveny & Myers, who are adverse parties in Belmont-related litigation. In the rare instances of disagreement among these parties, our writers and editors made the call.
Re: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “Whose Children Do We Cherish?” [May 18–24]. The Coalition for Educational Justice is certainly right to be raising the issue of improving education for black children, but it has the wrong arguments and is looking for the wrong answers. It’s another example of quick-fix solutions. Claiming that tests are culturally biased is absurd. Since when are vocabulary words and arithmetic biased? If students can’t even master basic math and reading skills, then how are they going to succeed after they get out of school?
The parents who are so upset need to look at themselves before they look at the schools. Are they doing everything they can do for their children? Maybe educational problems arise from broken homes, teen pregnancy, gangs, and drugs and alcohol in the home, not from standardized tests.
The two advocacy groups denouncing the use of standardized tests are right, but for reasons that go beyond what they claim are the issues. A standardized test compares the performance of a student with the performance of a previous group of test takers, called the test’s “norm group.” If scores are too similar, they cannot be contrasted satisfactorily. To engineer score spread, test makers build into the test items highly unlikely to be taught in class. That’s why a standardized test measures, to a large extent, what students bring to the classroom and not what they learn there.
In fact, if an item is answered correctly by more than about half of the test takers, it is almost always discarded when the test is revised. Strange as it may seem, the best items from the point of view of the test makers are those that cannot be influenced by even the finest instruction. So much for the myth that a standardized test measures instructional effectiveness and educational quality.
Former teacher, LAUSD
I am utterly sick of government corruption: public officials taking kickbacks or flatly refusing to simply obey the law and do their jobs. Jorge Casuso, in “Maybe Politics Doesn’t Pay” [May 18–24], addresses both issues — the anti-corruption Proposition LL and our public officials’ unlawful refusal to implement it. Mr. Casuso may have been unaware that Proposition LL, overwhelmingly passed by the voters, is not unconstitutional. The decision about constitutionality was vacated (thrown out) by an appeals court. This means an unconstitutionality decision is not on the books and does not exist. Yet Santa Monica officials not only ignore this and thwart the will of the voters, they seek to waste more of our tax money to continue to do so. And for whose interests? Certainly not the voters they represent, whose will was made plain.
The kind of campaign-finance reform that the voters of Santa Monica have approved is exactly what’s needed. That’s why, with the help of an all-volunteer force no less, the citizens of Santa Monica qualified this initiative and passed it overwhelmingly. The current system lends itself to so much corruption by special-interest money that, in general, only the wealthy have a say in how our tax dollars are spent. One has to wonder why the city officials are so fearful.
Re: Charles Rappleye’s “The Fatal Holiday” [May 18–24]. Once again, the L.A. Weekly has taken the side of criminals and bashed the men who risk their lives every day to protect us from them. If you fire a gun in the air on New Year’s Eve, you deserve whatever you get in return.
All I can say is, thank God we’ve thrown the leftists out of the White House. Now if we can just get rid of the leftists in the press, maybe our country can go back to being a nation of laws.
The Ben Ehrenreich article “Off My Back” [May 18–24] sent shivers up my spine. I feel like taking some time off work, growing my hair out, going up to L.A., standing on a street corner, and waiting for these absolute nobodies to come along and indulge in a little hand-to-hand combat. Who do these assholes think they are? We already have the LAPD gang hiding behind their little tin badge, swaggering around, badgering people. When is enough enough? When are the people of this country going to drop the friggin’ remote, pull their heads out of their asses and take back the freedoms we are losing day by day?
Punk-ass rent-a-cops have no business shaking people down. I’d like to see them take my baggie of smoke, my 40 out of my hand. They would be in for one hell of a fight. Fortunately, unlike many of the people living on the Row, I have an education, and I am damn well aware that these petty-ass power trippers have no business harassing anybody.
SIMIAN, ALL TOO SIMIAN
In “Twisting Darwin” [May 18–24], Margaret Wertheim unfortunately paints a slightly inaccurate picture: that of Darwinian evolutionary theory as being racially neutral. Like anyone else, Charles Darwin was a child of his times and environment, and a flaming racist. Anyone who has even glanced at The Origin of Species should be aware of this.
Darwin’s prejudices and limitations do not, however, invalidate the theory — it’s just that certain aspects of the theory have required modification. Like any great theory, evolution has not been static since its inception. Rather, it is frequently discussed, argued over and revised as more data become available.
Yes, Darwin was a racist. He also held that women were so inferior as to need to be dragged up the evolutionary ladder by the vastly superior male of the race. He based those beliefs on widely held ideas of the time, and was dead wrong on both counts. Ms. Wertheim does an excellent job of pointing out the origins of the eugenics movement, and that Darwinian evolution was merely a rationale for existing racist beliefs. However, to discount Darwin’s own racist beliefs hamstrings efforts to fully understand both evolution and a brilliant, though fully human, scientist.
TRUTH? MY DERRIÈRE!
I found the “Truth or Derrière?” article [Slush, May 18–24] very upsetting. The Queen of Silver Lake event — the brainchild of Ken Molita of the Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce — was organized by a group effort of 10 people. I was one of those people. We all worked tirelessly to put this event on and make it a success. In your paper, and in the New Times, however, Johnathon Vasquez has undermined our efforts by turning around and taking all the credit.
While Mr. Vasquez did work very hard to help put the event together and made an invaluable contribution to its success, he was not alone. He worked alongside the rest of us.
Regarding the letter from Frank Andrews of the L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control [May 25–31] about my comments in Marc Haefele’s City Limits column “Barking for Change” [May 4–10]: First, Torrance taxpayers do not receive “free” services from the DACC. Although Torrance residents have paid more than $1 million directly to the county for animal-control services since 1994, the DACC has shorted Torrance more than 3,000 hours of service. Second, the DACC, far from encouraging, actually limits the number of volunteers. As of March 1, according to the former acting director, it had only six volunteers at its Carson facility. This facility took in more than 20,000 animals last year. Many Torrance residents, including commission members, have tried to volunteer and have never been called back.
The sad fact is the county’s Carson facility has too few people to provide adequate service to its contract cities. Instead of acknowledging the problem and getting help, Mr. Andrews and other defensive administrators in the DACC blame the community.