THE BLUE LINE? NIMBY!
Re: Marc Haefele's “The Arroyo Special” [March 26April 1]. Angelenos don't need glamorous pork pies that cost $850 million, but clean, on-time, uncrowded buses. Neglecting the prime mode of transportation in Los Angeles has been going on much too long, and is now bordering on disrespect and arrogance.
Looking back on what could have been had we kept the rails is just jacking off. Flexible maneuvering of buses works best for Los Angeles — it's the lay of the land. The Pasadena Blue Line is a rich man's toy in the guise of public works.
–James B. Leong
Marc Haefele's article brought up some interesting points on how the MTA, with the assistance of certain misguided politicians, NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard extremists) and lobbyists, has screwed up a transit project that could have been operational years ago. An intelligent — and, not coincidentally, much cheaper — proposal would have diesel-powered Metrolink trains operating over already existing tracks, providing service to the communities of San Dimas, Glendora, Azusa, Irwindale, Monrovia, Arcadia and Pasadena. It would be very easy to make the L.A.-to-Pasadena line a “dual use” right of way, accommodating both Blue Line light-rail trolleys and limited-stop, rush-hour-commuter Metrolink rail trains. The best way to get people out of their automobiles and onto public transit is to minimize the number of times they have to transfer between various transit vehicles.
The left has become a victim of its own excesses, to which Harold Meyerson gives only tiny mention in “Where's the Left?” [March 1925]. The cultural “revolutionaries” of the '60s and '70s were more like sackers of a city who tore down every structure and remained uninterested in raising better ones. As a society, we are now desperately trying to regain the self-confidence necessary to assert the ideals, values and limits that ennoble us, having been bullied by the left into believing that all standards are elitist and discriminatory. Add to this the left's penchant for politicizing every aspect of human life, and its unsustainable definition of democracy as an ever-expanding collection of entitlements, and all political discussion necessarily revolves around how to keep the whole ball of string from unraveling.
In “The Go Club” [March 1218], Queena Sook Kim paints an incredibly bleak and, in my experience, unrealistic portrait of the game of go. Your readers should realize that most go players bear no resemblance to the pathetic losers described in the article. When one studies and plays go seriously and works hard to get better, the game can improve one's mind and life. As for the sad souls depicted in the article, well, to use a go analogy, they are clearly playing too many stones in one corner of the board.
I just read Queena Sook Kim's story, and I wanted to tell you that I thought it was terrific. I am an American-born Korean and an amateur go player. I have visited the Korean go club on several occasions, and Ms. Kim's portrait of the club is dead-on. A lot of American go players tend to romanticize the game. It is a welcome breath of fresh air to read an account of the game that is closer to my own experience.
–Daniel Kim (no relation!)
Freehold, New Jersey
HYPING THE TRIPE
Thank god Steven Leigh Morris had the balls to show Cabaret for the emperor with no clothes that it is. When I heard the notices calling the production “brave,” I assumed it dealt with the Nazi issue in a more trenchant manner than the musical's superficial book. When I discovered that critics were swooning because Mendes had added a lot of extra-kinky sex, I almost cried. Is this reinvention? It's a shame that revivals must add such tripe just to get noticed.
Then again, if they don't, revivals won't get produced, and the Disneyfication of live theater will be complete.
ALMA DEL BARRIO
Brendan Mullen, in his article “Happy Birthday, Alma del Barrio” [March 1925], demonized Miami's heterogeneous Cuban-American community, which he predictably described as “the island's exiled â bourgeoisie.” Back in the 1960s, most Cuban refugees fit that description, but such stereotypes don't apply to subsequent waves of exiles. There is, however, plenty of evidence to suggest that many native and immigrant Anglos feel uncomfortable to discover that a segment of the so-called “Hispanic” population is perfectly capable of pursuing the so-called “American Dream” instead of washing dishes or collecting welfare benefits.
Re: Jonathan Gold's review of my Studio City restaurant, Caioti Pizza Café [“Dough Boy,” March 1218]. Nineteen years ago, I was the pizza chef at Prego Ristorante, which had recently opened in San Francisco. The pizza station was adjacent to the bar, and I often sent out complimentary appetizers to customers waiting for tables. One evening, after I'd sent an appetizer over to a couple seated near my station, the woman came over and introduced herself, then her boyfriend. That is how I met Barbara Lazaroff and Wolfgang Puck. This is described by Jonathan as an “audition.”
Interestingly, I don't recall Wolf threatening to throw me out of his restaurant because the appetizer was “so awful.” Prego wasn't even Wolf's restaurant. He was just a customer there, a customer who, at the time, didn't know me from Adam. Was Gold searching for some dramatic effect to embellish his article, at the expense of my reputation and the facts? Was he simply trying to shape a version of what he calls “the secret history of California pizza” to reflect his own biases? Or was he publicly throwing himself into the category of those who find mention of my name inconvenient?
In fact, I must not have made too bad an impression that day in San Francisco, because soon after, I was flown to L.A. and offered the pizza-chef position at Wolf's soon-to-open Spago.
Jonathan's wasn't the worst review in the world, and if he had left it to his opinions of my food or café, I would not find fault. Perhaps he knows better than I the shortcomings that warrant being called an “oddball” and a “genius” in the same breath. But I am now 42 years old and haven't been referred to as “boy” in a long, long time. In my world-view, language like that is intended to offend.
I'd like to thank the L.A. Weekly for its recognition of the late Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun [“Last Wishes,” March 1218]. Your inclusion of segments of a dissenting opinion that has become a fundamental legal foundation for abolitionists nationwide was both appreciated and moving. I look forward to coverage as challenging and penetrating of California's addiction to state-sanctioned murder. I wish you continued success.
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