DEAR EDITOR:By perpetuating the nonsense about Holland and Brazil playing in the “real” final of this year's World Cup [“World Cup '98,” July 17-23], Brendan Bernhard shows himself as much of a Nike puppet as Mike Penner of the Times. The lackluster semifinal between the Nike-backed teams only served to prove that they had both been ridiculously overhyped, and would probably take big falls in their final games.

Bernhard accuses this World Cup of lacking a “great team.” Well, not only did France win all seven of its World Cup games, which had never been done before, it was also able to overcome the unprecedented scourge of being red-carded three times during the tournament. Its 15-2 goal ratio is nothing to scoff at either, and beating three-time world champion Italy en route to its victory over four-time champion Brazil is quite impressive. But for those who, like me, are bored by statistics, the whopping final score tells it all.

-Arno KeksEl Monte

DEAR EDITOR:Soccer is great, but I like boxing best. It dispenses with all the niceties and gets down to what the athletes in all those other sports would really like to do – beat the living daylights out of each other. Still, since reading Brendan Bernhard's “World Cup '98,” I have been pondering why Americans don't like soccer, and have come up with the following list:

Not enough commercials.Not enough up-close-and-personal segments.Not enough closeups during play (the games move too fast).Not enough instant replays (see above).Not enough music-video montages.Not enough pregame warm-ups and postgame wrap-ups.Unfamiliar players with foreign names.Unfamiliar sportscasters, some with brogues.Players of modest stature, not the behemoths of American football and basketball.The goddamn sport is too democratic!

-Richard BelinkoffLos Angeles


DEAR EDITOR:Can I suggest an idea for your paper? How about giving L.A.-pop-music suck-up extraordinaire Dan Epstein an assignment other than writing about the city's bubblegum-rock scene [Scoring the Clubs, July 17-23]? Maybe send him out to see a Napalm Death concert. It's horrible enough that our amazing, sprawling metropolis has been dominated by subpar bands the last two decades. Cockeyed Ghost and all those other tired, gutless pop groups who have ruled the roost for the last few years are just as deplorable as the hairspray cock-rockers who inhabited the Sunset Strip during the '80s.

And whenever there's a sparkling write-up about these sugary bands, you can count on the incestuous Epstein's name to show up at the end of the piece.

-Sig FellowsWest Hills


DEAR EDITOR:Re: “Exaltation, Abomination” [July 24-30]. What is Alan Rich babbling about? He talks about Paul McCartney's Standing Stone – a beautiful work, similar to Vaughan Williams in its pastoral coloration – as though it were some atonal monstrosity. It is apparent that either he has a strong prejudice against McCartney, or he is completely tone-deaf. And for Rich to compare McCartney's work to that of Beethoven and Bach is ridiculous. If every modern composer were measured against those giants, they'd stop composing altogether.

Rich speaks of hearing “now and then, a snatch of a tune that might be original” and complains that McCartney has borrowed from Ravel and Dvorak (as opposed to, say, Hindemith and Poulenc?). But it's the unique pairing of these two styles that creates an original sound. Similarity is not necessarily plagiarism. Or is McCartney's sound like that Baroque-era thing – you know, Bach sounds like Telemann sounds like Vivaldi sounds like Corelli . . . You can't tell 'em apart! Not an original idea among them!

I respect Rich's right to demur, but I wonder whether he couldn't hear the music because he was too busy creating pedantic scenarios in his head.

-Maurice RussellLos Angeles


DEAR EDITOR:Overlooked in last week's discussion on your Letters page was the fact that, just as in Steven Spielberg's 1987 historical distortion Empire of the Sun, in which the director portrayed a great many well-coifed Japanese soldiers, Saving Private Ryan's search party wears freshly laundered and pressed uniforms, is clean-shaven, and comes topped with spotless a helmets. Obviously, neither Mr. Spielberg nor his advisers had heard of, let alone consulted, Bill Mauldin's splendid cartoon drawings of scruffy American GIs in the European Theater of Operations.

-Johan Van LeerSanta Monica


DEAR EDITOR:The Ballona Wetlands ecosystem is the largest undeveloped open space we have left in the entire Los Angeles basin. Citizens in the area have been trying for years to save it. It doesn't help to have Marc Haefele contemptuously ridicule those involved in trying to save this precious resource [“All Wet,” July 24-30]. Haefele mimics the ludicrous claims of Playa Vista developers that their development will restore the environment by paving it over. How ironic that a writer for an alternative paper would espouse this type of corporate spin.

Judge Lew's ruling unmasked the developer's so-called “freshwater marsh” as a fraud being perpetrated on the public. The judge stated that the developers' claims that they were restoring habitat with the “freshwater marsh” was “disingenuous.” He went on to state that the area in question was, in fact, “specifically designed to treat urban runoff.”

What does Judge Lew's ruling mean? The “freshwater marsh” was where the project's runoff was going to end up. The judge has thrown out the permit to build the marsh. Developers cannot build a project without a place to put their polluted urban runoff.

Therefore, the developers are currently building a road to nowhere. They are keeping their bulldozers rolling because they are trying desperately to show the public and their investors that they are still “moving forward.” Time will show that the Playa Vista project has been dealt a serious setback. Judge Lew's ruling debunked the developers' public-relations “greenwashing” and told them to come up with an honest, legal plan to deal with the toxic runoff.

There are now 86 organizations in the coalition working to save the Ballona Wetlands, including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the Surfrider Foundation and CalPIRG. We will see this effort through to the end, because we care about the quality of life in Los Angeles. It is unfortunate that Marc Haefele finds himself on the developers' side of this issue.

-Bruce RobertsonDirector, Ballona Valley Preservation LeagueLos Angeles

DEAR EDITOR:Marc Haefele's negativity seems inspired more by a poor reporter's attachment to controversy than by an honest look at the issues. It is regrettable that he demeans our efforts by calling us “Trustafarians” and presenting our goals as “fantasy.” The BWLT – which is not, as Haefele states, from Malibu – is a nonprofit group that includes community activists as well as legitimate scientists, all of whom are working very hard, in the face of the most powerful of adversaries, to preserve a vital environmental asset in Los Angeles.

-Rob KinslowMember, Ballona Wetlands Land TrustLos Angeles

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