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In “The Last Stand” [City Limits, May 12–18], Marc B. Haefele added his critique of our award-winning documentary of the same title to his salvos against citizens and groups that have raised concerns about the many problems plaguing the Playa Vista development in Playa del Rey. He calls our film propaganda, but one wonders whether he even listened to the film, in which as many as 14 pro-development advocates provide their points of view. (It was quite a feat for us as filmmakers to find as many pro-development advocates as we did who were willing to speak when Playa Capital, its lawyer and three consultants, City Councilwoman Ruth Galanter, four people on the board of Friends of Ballona Wetlands, various DreamWorks principals, spokespeople from Southern California Gas Co. and any number of Wall Street brokers all declined to be interviewed.)
His attack echoes the campaign, spearheaded by the Friends of Ballona Wetlands, to discredit and suppress The Last Stand. Such attacks indicate how desperate the criticizers are to stop the public from seeing evidence of toxic leaks at the site, and the many other problems plaguing Playa Vista.
Your readers may tune in to an airing of the updated film on June 30 at 10 p.m. on KLCS Channel 58 and come to their own conclusions.
—Sheila A. Laffey, Ph.D.
The Last Stand: Struggle for Ballona Wetlands
I have worked on dozens of documentaries over the years, and I found The Last Stand to be very responsible in providing a forum for both pro-development supporters and anti-development environmentalists on the struggle over the Ballona Wetlands. I applaud the scholarship that went into the making of Sheila Laffey’s film, and I would hold it up as an example of journalistic excellence.
—Celeste Adams, filmmaker
In his last piece (of what I can’t write here), Marc B. Haefele blasted the documentary film The Last Stand because it shows what the bulldozers are doing, and what the wildlife are doing nearby. He says the one has nothing to do with the other. Well, just as what we put into the air here in L.A. can travel across the globe, even more directly does the bulldozing of land next to wetlands affect the wildlife. Just because the area they are bulldozing isn’t considered legally a wetland doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to the survival of that ecosystem. A wetland ecosystem does not just consist of the part that is under water, but the surrounding shore, the ocean it enters, and even the bluffs above. Each species has its niche in the different areas around the wetland. Each is important to maintaining the balance of life there.
—Randall E. Hartman
Thanks to Bill Gibson [“Under the Surface,” May 12–18] for writing about the methane gas underlying the proposed Playa Vista development, and about the poten- tially active earthquake fault. The city and county of Los Angeles must take a look again at the feasibility of this development, especially in light of the Belmont situation. A new and comprehensive environmental-impact report should be done, assessing the whole of the prospective development with these recently discovered hazards in mind.
Re: Greg Goldin’s “Speech — Wild and Free” [May 12–18]. The incident at Pacific Palisades High School doesn’t seem as much a serious question of free speech as it is a case of sexual harassment by people so immature they don’t even realize what it is they did. Making comments in private about a co-worker — or worse, a student — would, and should, get a teacher fired. Self-publishing a newspaper article claiming that a woman teacher is a prostitute who plays in porn movies, and circulating this to the whole school, is a public (and therefore more vicious) form of harassment. Like most sexual harassment, it is designed to hurt and humiliate the victim, to strip her of her professional authority and respect. Freedom of speech means freedom to speak, not freedom from the consequences of what you say and its impact on others.
Free speech does not extend to attacking people in their workplace with ugly, filthy language. Teachers are not somehow obliged to turn every attack on them into a “learning experience” for the students. The LAUSD did right in suspending the kid — I’m surprised they did so, in fact, since they rarely do do the right thing. Remember, it took teachers literally decades before they forced the LAUSD to permanently expel students who brought guns to school.
Former teacher, LAUSD
I have just read Alec Hanley Bemis’ cover story on Elliott Smith [“Anonymity, Misery, Softness,” May 5–11], and I must say it is one of the most beautiful, true, delicate articles I have ever read. I am a huge Elliott Smith fan, and I am always disappointed in how journalists and reviewers categorize him. Thank you.
Now that was a good article! Thanks for putting Alec Hanley Bemis’ story online, so that those of us who are blessed and cursed to live elsewhere can access it. Thank you for having the foresight and good taste to shed a little light on this distinctly talented and profoundly interesting musician.
KRUDER & DORFMEISTER
I was pleasantly caught off-guard by Sasha Frere-Jones’ well-crafted, perspicacious piece on Kruder & Dorfmeister [Music Reviews, May 5–11]. In my insulated little world, I had no idea how many other people were aware of their work. I only recently discovered them; I wasn’t sure what to make of their music at first. But their style is seductive, and it crept under my skin like a subtle narcotic. I got hooked. And thanks to Sasha, I’m gonna check out Pole and Walter Marchetti. Tell him to keep up the writing — his style oozes with great imagery.
Kosmic Kudos to Jay Babcock for giving print to Julian Cope [“Cosmic Cuckoos,” May 12–18]. That was the first time I had seen any press on the marvelous Arch-Drood. Trying to find Cope’s work is a challenge in this country, which is a tragedy when one considers the ideology behind his recordings. Hopefully, the words and sounds of Julian will begin to trickle through this declining civilization.
Reviewer Steven Mikulan observes, “The film that Small Time Crooks most resembles is Take the Money and Run” [“Thieves Like Us,” May 19–25]. Apparently he is not familiar with Larceny, Inc. (1942), in which Edward G. Robinson leads a gang of dimwits who plan to rob a bank by leasing a storefront and tunneling under it to the bank. Instead of Tracey Ullman’s cookies, Robinson’s store sells luggage. Other than that, same plot. Add in a generous helping of Born Yesterday, and it turns out the “minor” Woody Allen can’t be bothered to use an original script.
In the article “Cinema Tech” [May 12–18], we included the New York Film Academy in the category of “quick-time boiler rooms,” noting that it “promises to teach the art of filmmaking for a mere 6- or 8-week investment.” We in no way meant to imply by this that the school uses high-pressure sales tactics or engages in illegal or unethical activities.