ALL NOT ABOARD THE
Over the years I have ridden the Blue Line many times, often from end to end.
This pulp-fiction writing about the Line [“Killing
Time on the Ghetto Blue,” January 23–29] is really overwrought. There is
no question that lower-income and unemployed people often use the Line to get
around, as they also do the Red Line, Green Line, Gold Line and MTA buses (which
are involved in many fatal accidents each year). However, to try to imply that
it is essentially dangerous to even board the Blue Line is ludicrous. The vast
majority of its riders are ordinary working people, many commuting from Long
Beach and environs to downtown.
Is the Blue Line really responsible for all of the economic and social problems that are besetting our communities? I think that government policies have created our flailing economy, mass layoffs coupled with a job drought, mass unemployment, a vastly unequal income distribution locally, and underfunded, rotten schools. The Blue Line is also not responsible for the fact that the number of jobs in the county is no more than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
The Blue Line is a lifeline for thousands and thousands of working people. That it often runs at minimum capacity is the fault of penny-pinching political leaders.
I just finished reading Ben Quiñones’ article on the Blue Line and have to admit I am astonished. I have ridden the Blue Line two to four times a week for two years, to visit a friend in Long Beach, and have never seen what he is reporting. Once or twice a truly crazy person has gotten on the train, and everyone (like a good New Yorker) ignored them. I have never seen gang activity (though clearly gang members get on the train), token trading, harassment of any kind, or what felt like reportable behavior.
It is discouraging enough not to have a viable light-rail system in L.A. without this kind of biased reporting. Yes, the train goes through some horribly depressed neighborhoods. Yes, there seem to be very poor people riding the train. But there is also a stop at Grand where students from Trade Technical College board and de-train, and at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where families from all over L.A. go with their children via the Blue Line.
Most of the accidents described in the article are the usual train accidents — people thinking they can cross the tracks and beat the train when in fact there is not enough time. To publish an article blaming the MTA for this is like publishing an article blaming Philip Morris because people still smoke.
I am a factory worker originally from Puerto Rico who uses the buses and trains of the MTA. In his article about the Blue Line, Mr. Quiñones fails to point out that the future of public transportation in L.A. lies in the expansion of the rail network. As the Rapid Bus Line along Wilshire Boulevard proves, there’s no way to provide fast and efficient bus service in increasingly congested streets. Probably the best alternative, in terms of cost, security and speed, would be to copy the Green Line, which runs along the center of the freeway. With cars on the freeway now moving 20 mph during rush hour, more people would be interested in trying public transportation, and less smog would be generated in our city. These rail lines should be financed not by taking money out of buses, but from the highway budget or general transportation budget. Otherwise, in 30 years it will be faster to walk to our jobs.
Ben Quiñones swallowed Tom Rubin’s anti-rail propaganda whole in his otherwise insightful L.A. Blue Line article. Transit advocates I know in L.A. and elsewhere do not consider Rubin an “expert,” but rather an anti-rail crusader with a lot of acronyms after his name. Rubin’s job also apparently disappeared due to the Southern California Rapid Transit District and Los Angeles County Transportation Commission merger in the early 1990s.
For the record, total passenger trips on the Blue Line exceed 70,000 per day. The 35,000 passengers cited are round trips, which is not the standard patronage reporting method in the transit industry. As for safety, despite the most recent incidents, the accident rate has been dropping consistently.
—Michael D. Setty
CINEMA BORN FROM THE SAND
I would like to thank L.A. Weekly and Annia Ciezadlo for not only highlighting the work of Oday Rasheed and hiscrew in making Underexposure
[“Lights . .
. Camera . . . Hit the Dirt!,” January 16–22] but also for exposing the
hardships that Iraqi filmmakers and artists have gone through in the past, and
the need to support their work in the present. Filmmakers in Iraq face immense
challenges in creating new works. Not only have their filmmaking institutions
been under the auspices of the state, and severely censored, but today their
need to tell the stories that have been silenced for decades is deemed nearly
impossible due to a lack of understanding of the transformative qualities of
As an Iraqi-American woman, I have felt the injustice of Iraqis being unable to communicate to the outside world, and the longing to
have the international community understand who the Iraqi people are outside of newspaper headlines and political debate. Film can act to bridge this gap, allowing this generation of Iraqis, for the first time, the chance to create works that will illuminate their individual and collective history, experience and vision.
Iraq Film Project
THE TEXTBOOK ON KING/DREW
Just a few words of praise to L.A. Weekly for
exploring the tragedy in process at the King/Drew medical complex [“Trauma
and Triage,” January 16–22]. It is rare to find writers with the courage
and skill needed to dissect such complicated and “loaded” issues. It is also
rare to find publications in Los Angeles willing to devote sufficient space
to subjects like this one. Erin Aubry Kaplan’s article was exceptional! It was
a major and timely piece of journalism. It should be required reading for everyone
involved in the sad King/Drew fiasco. Congratulations and thanks to L.A.
Weekly and to Kaplan. Great work!
—Kenneth W. Moore
WHY GUNS SUCK
I was made aware of Terrell Sherrills’ death by a close
friend of his who works at the Community Self-Determination Institute. I met
Terrell and his father at the institute when I visited last month. The dedication
and talent I saw, and the warm welcome I received, showed me that whether it’s
Watts or South-Central or any other deprived area, the people who live there
are indeed beautiful. And to have met one such person and then to have read
of his death [by gunshot] made my heart feel heavy. However, the report by Jeffrey
Anderson on the shooting [“Murdered
Dreams,” January 23–29] gives me hope that even though there is so much
pain, there is strength in those people close to Terrell, which ensures that
the energy released will be used in a positive way.
As a parting gift, I was given a copy of the film Bowling for Columbine. I watched it back home in England. It touched me deeply, and I later found out that I’d watched it on the night of Terrell’s murder. I wish every family in America had a copy of this film. I’m grateful that the same gun culture doesn’t exist here in England, and I wish one day, through the work of the media and organizations such as the Community Self-Determination Institute, that the real issues will be tackled, and the senseless killing will end.