WRONG TIME TO GO
In her article “The Elliott Smith Mystery” [January 2–8], Christine Pelisek reports that “a police source said that Chiba found Smith mortally wounded in the kitchen at 12:18 a.m. and pulled the knife out of his chest.” Pelisek’s reporting conflicts with every other report I have read. Other sources have reported that Smith had been pronounced dead, not found, at 12:18 p.m., not a.m. Furthermore, L.A. Weekly is the only source from which I’ve heard that Jennifer Chiba pulled the knife out from Smith’s chest. Given that Pelisek and her editors appear to have misreported the time Chiba found Smith, I have to seriously call into question the credibility of the claim that Chiba pulled the knife out of Smith.
Editor’s note: Pitre is right about Smith’s time of death, and a correction to the online-exclusive story was made soon after its posting. But the information about Chiba comes directly from the autopsy report, which states that Chiba told detectives that she pulled the knife out of Smith’s chest.
Jerry Stahl must have some major pull in Hollywood. Everyone in town is itching to take a look at Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and it’s Stahl who gets a screening! I take it for granted that his sharp-eyed and fair-minded editors would not otherwise have allowed him to weigh in on the subject of the movie’s supposed anti-Semitism [“The Fatty Arbuckle Memorial Awards for 2003,” December 26–January 1].
As one of the few writers in town who has actually seen The Passion (I contributed to the press kit), I’d be grateful if Mr. Stahl could be a little more specific. Which scenes in particular prompted this flurry of rhetorical leading questions? Perhaps it was the early episode in which Jewish priests shout protests at their colleague Caiphas for pursuing a tactical vendetta against a heretic, in order to bolster his own power in an ongoing factional struggle? Or perhaps it was the sequence in which agents of Caiphas are shown recruiting and actually paying off a crowd of poor citizens to assemble at Pilate’s palace, in order to give the Roman governor the false impression that the “Jewish public” wants Jesus dead?
When hot-button issues are involved it is perhaps inevitable that a great many people will see what they believe in the movie rather than believing what they see. But it would be a nice gesture if they at least paid lip service to intellectual honesty, by seeing the film first and stating their beliefs afterwards.
Editor’s note: David Chute is a regular contributor to L.A. Weekly.
HAVE A TASTE
Don’t be so snooty about tilapia [Ask Mr. Gold, January 2–8]. You’ve obviously never had it at my house. I baste it with olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and parsley, and grill it. You’d swear you were at a beachfront cafe on the Côte d’Azur. Really.
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin
GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN
I have just read Ella Taylor’s review of Anthony Minghella’s Cold Mountain [“Song of the South,” December 19–25], and with sadness and a feeling of deep disappointment I have to award her this year’s Manohla Dargis prize for wrong-headedness. To dismiss this masterful piece of work as she does, to carp at small inconsistencies in actors’ accents, to focus on the details of Nicole Kidman’s costume in the film’s heartbreaking penultimate scene (while missing the awesome chemistry between Kidman and Jude Law — and dismissing the most devastating exposure of the cruelties of war) reveals that Taylor has become so jaded that her opinions, as well as being wrong-headed, are useless. Please suggest to her that she read the review of the film in this week’s New Yorker by David Denby, who is possibly the best, sanest and most reliable film critic in the country.
NOT NUDE, BUT STILL NAKED
I’d like to address some inaccuracies about me in Matthew Duersten’s “The Jester” article [December 19–25]. Firstly, I’m called the Naked Breaker, not “the Nude Breakdancer.” Secondly, my performance at the Mountain Bar was grossly mischaracterized. The real performance, titled “Dependable,” was done last November with little fanfare. I drank beer at the bar, from opening to close — a full eight hours — without getting up once to relieve myself. How did I do it? With an extra-absorbent Depends undergarment worn ’neath my sweatpants. The piece was an absurdist tribute to durational performances by seminal L.A. artists such as Chris Burden or Skip Arnold. It in no way was a commentary on Mountain, which is a fine bar owned by nice people. Documentation which further refutes Duersten’s fabrications can be seen at Pruess Press in Chinatown.
—Charles “Chase” McEdwards,
a.k.a. the Naked Breaker
Another Web site ran this piece [Powerlines, “Lieberman Unbound,” December 19–25] on Lieberman ‰ and credited L.A. Weekly. I write from Indiana, where Republicans are Republicans and Democrats are Republicans. Joe Lieberman is a likable man, and I’d love him as a neighbor, but the parallel between him and Scoop Jackson is inarguable. Harold Meyerson nailed this one from the word go. What a deft stroke. Please send Lieberman’s campaign office a copy and urge them to cease and desist. Grateful thanks, from a Dean Democrat in the heartland, for an outstanding analysis.
WAIT, IT GETS WEIRDER
In the Letters to the Editor [“Weirded Out,” December 19–25], Brendan Mullen and Marc Spitz’s complaint about Jonny Whiteside’s rant [“Destroy All Music,” December 5–11] is pathetic at best. On the other hand, Whiteside’s complaint about Mullen and Spitz’s book would have been truer to the point if Whiteside had titled it “Destroy all bloodsucking, money-grubbing music journalists who are grave robbers who can’t do it so they attempt to write about it.” Although, on second thought, that would be a slam on grave robbers, and Whiteside would have had to include himself among the bloodsuckers and money grubbers. If you can’t rock . . . get outta the goddamn way!
—“Punky” mon Âne
I just found the Dean article by Jamie Wolf [“The Doctor Is In,” August 29–September 4] in searching the Web. I really loved this look at him. It was insightful considering how long ago [campaigning] began. Did you have someone covering each of the candidates in such detail early on? Or was it just a brilliant insight on the magazine’s part to realize he would most likely be our candidate? Is Jamie Wolf going to be doing follow-up pieces? I would be very eager to read her thoughts now, and as things progress. (I realize that Jamie could be a man’s name, but it felt like a female voice, which I was grateful for. I loved all the personal reactions she had.)
Her article has comforted me a great deal regarding the Dean choice.
A photographer’s credit for the Concerts Pick of the Week in the January 2–8 issue was inadvertently left off; Wild Don Lewis took the shot of Mitchell Brown.
WE STAND CORRECTED
In our review of Hamlet [Calendar, New Theater Reviews, January 9–15], the actor who played Gertrude was misidentified as Kitty Swink. Dinah Lenney, who alternates with Swink, performed the night the reviewer attended.