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Muffins and jam


In regard to Hope Urban’s article “Turning Up the Heat,” about the Van de Kamp’s Bakery [July 28–August 3], I hope that it will become a satellite community college rather than another Lowe’s. Deep in my heart, however, I hope that it remains vacant just a little while longer so that I may come in and use the broken-down piano in the basement from time to time. You see, without “demolition by neglect” there would be just about no place in L.A. left for penniless musicians and homeless artists to practice without going broke or being shot to death by irate neighbors.

The Van de Kamp structure has, from 1990 through ’98, been a source of wonder and a curiosity for desolation-row photographers, hand-held-cassette recording artists, late-night treasure hunts, and just a good place to cautiously explore with a scaredy-cat friend. It has given architecture teachers a place to show their students as well. I’m sure some unsavory-type things have gone on in there as well, such as gang graffiti, defecation, drug abuse, and respiratory infections brought on by the inhalation of particles of pigeon shit, but otherwise it has been a sanctuary for some of us who prefer midnight lonesome walks in structural ruins, drainage pipes, etc., as opposed to going out to loud, garish, overpriced nightclubs or to shoebox theaters. There is a need for old, abandoned buildings in L.A. for both the homeless and the artists, and the Van de Kamp structure — despite her dangers — is an oasis for all of us who can appreciate such things out of both necessity and romanticism.

If it must change — and I know it will — I pray (even though I’m not religious) that it will become an affordable community college. I would otherwise prefer to see it remain a refuge for its thousands of pigeons and small handful of self-appointed, homeless caretakers (who should be entitled to free school benefits, restrooms and one lunch per day).

—Rich Polysorbate 60º
Redondo Beach

Easy there, pardner


Re: “Glamour Guys of Geezer Gulch,” John Patterson’s review of Space Cowboys [August 4–10]. One sentence is totally incomprehensible: “Space Cowboys is an improvement on all of them [Eastwood’s recent directorial efforts], but it lacks the tautness and sinew we associate with sub–Don Siegel exercises like The Outlaw Josey Wales or Unforgiven.”

“Sub–Don Siegel exercises”? How do these two great Eastwood-directed Westerns, both generally considered masterpieces of the genre, have anything to do with Don Siegel? Does Patterson mean to say that they are somehow less significant than Siegel’s average work? Enlighten me, please.

The following excerpt also reveals a singular lack of familiarity with Eastwood’s work as a filmmaker: “Though the female roles are as ill-conceived and underwritten as always . . .” As always? Virtually all of Eastwood’s films have strong, complex female characters, at least in secondary roles, while one of his recent pictures, bafflingly dismissed by Patterson as “vain and empty,” has a woman’s life and loves as its central subject: The Bridges of Madison County.

—Kathie Coblentz
New York City

Appropriately pierced nudity


Thank you to Doug Harvey for his fair and mature perspective in reviewing the Eames exhibition currently at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. For the past three years, the work has been traveling to U.S. museums, as well as to several museums abroad. However, this is the first review I’ve seen that puts the scope of the Eames’ work in a cultural perspective that is neither nostalgic nor caught in the cross hairs of politics.

As a regular Weekly reader, I’m familiar with the viewpoints of most of the reviewers. Quite often, works in film, theater and art are deemed too bourgeois and not hip enough to attend, usually and unfortunately because of a lack of nudity or appropriately pierced body parts. Harvey’s review was quite the opposite. It was, for me, a discovery of a reviewer who presented an articulate, discriminating and thoughtful point of view, approaching the exhibition as “work” grounded in a cultural and historical context.

Congratulations to you, the editors, for hiring him, printing the piece and running it — twice — with that wonderfully dry introductory apology in the second printing.

—Bernadine Styburski
Eames Office
Santa Monica

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