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ON THE MARK
ABOUT MAHONY

Methinks [Raymond Boucher] protesteth too much [Letters
to the Editor, “Satan’s Little Helper,” March 12–18]
. From my personal experience
with Cardinal Mahony over the very issue about which Jeffrey Anderson writes
[“Cardinal
Sins,” February 27–March 4]
, I would say Mr. Anderson is pretty much on
the mark. Certainly more so than some of the other accounts we have seen in
the past several years.

—Thomas E. Brandlin
Deacon, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

MOORE-OVER

Michael Moore doesn’t need anyone to defend him, but
the Weekly’s twin hit pieces by Ella Taylor [“American
Bigmouth,” March 5–11]
and Marc Cooper [“Moore Is Less,” March 5–11] cannot
go unchallenged. I find them full of elitism and hypocrisy. Both articles are
replete with veiled references to Moore as a blue-collar slob. So be it. It
doesn’t alter or diminish his message. I’m sorry that Moore doesn’t have the
same class and polish of Mort Sahl, whom I also admire. If Michael Moore looked
like Brad Pitt and spoke like William F. Buckley, perhaps he would have been
caricatured as a saint on the cover rather than a clown.

—Joe Stemme
Culver City

 

Marc Cooper, you old codger, oh how I wish I unexpectedly discovered the smart,
comedic genius that is Mort Sahl when I was a teenager, just like you. Instead,
as a ’90s adolescent, all I was interested in were the Smashing Pumpkins, Janeane
Garofalo and Michael Moore.

I had no idea what the right and left were prior to discovering Moore, at
the age of 15. It would take an episode of Moore’s TV Nation, featuring
guest star Garofalo trespassing on a private Greenwich beach, to spark my interest
in society and politics. I soon tried to become more aware of progressive views
and society’s inequalities. Later, Downsize This, The Awful Truth, The Big
One
and Stupid White Men had a transformational effect on me. I also
credit a 1998 L.A. Weekly contribution by Moore [“Get Out and Vote,”
October 23–29] for making me more of an idealist and less of a cynic when it
comes to voting.

Without Moore using the corporate media to get his message across, I’d likely
be an apolitical nonvoter, like most people my age. When denouncing Moore, Cooper
suggests liberalism as an elitist political philosophy reserved only for those
partial to independent bookstores and Sahl’s brand of humor. I find this embarrassing.
It is this kind of rhetoric that alienates the non-believers, not Moore’s bashing
Bush at last year’s Oscars. It’s irrelevant whether it’s Mort Sahl or Michael
Moore delivering the message. What’s important is that progressive views and
ideas are promulgated by someone, anyone.

—Christopher Perez
San Fernando

Unlike Ella Taylor, I’m not amused by the obnoxious Michael Moore, and want
him to shut up. I find his shambling slob, populist shtick boring. Mr. Moore
is a self-righteous exhibitionist whose specialties are bullying minor functionaries
and ringing doorbells for the camera. Liberalism deserves better than this folksy
fraud.

—Dan O’Neill
Los Angeles

RADIO’S T&A KING

Though it’s nice to read someone come to the defense
of Howard Stern [“Really
Hot Air,” by Kate Sullivan, March 5–11]
, your column unfortunately propagates
the myth that his show is shallow and his rights somehow less important than
those engaged in real political speech. In doing so, you miss the point entirely.
There’s a reason sex, religion and politics are taboo topics in dinner conversation
— the three are inextricably linked. When Stern tells a girl she has nice tits,
and his critics call that politically incorrect, the very wording of the criticism
acknowledges the inherent political nature of even the seemingly shallowest
sexual comment.

Is there really a parent who can’t control what their child is doing between
6 and 10 in the morning? I’d like someone to explain how that’s possible. Besides,
the talk on the Stern show is so couched in euphemisms it would be completely
unintelligible to those children who do hear it.

The people trying to take Stern off the air aren’t worried about his influence
on children — they’re worried about his influence on adults. Whether it’s a
priest lecturing from the altar or a president working on an anti-gay-marriage
amendment, sexual control is political control. And allowing someone with a
large audience to talk freely about sex undermines this relationship.

—Steven Kedrowski
Los Angeles

SCREENER-SCANDAL SKIT

I’d like to clear up a few misunderstandings regarding
the Independent Spirit Awards and the lawsuit against the MPAA ban on awards
screeners mentioned by Ella Taylor in her review of the Oscars [“Big
Oscar Cover-up!,” March 5–11]
. The Spirit Awards allow IFP/L.A. to fund
year-round services to independent filmmakers, ranging from our mentoring program
Project:Involve to our Filmmaker Labs to the Los Angeles Film Festival, and
dozens of other programs and benefits. If we were to divert those funds to litigate
against the MPAA, we would no longer be able to provide the critically important
services and resources that independent filmmakers rely on. Ella Taylor objected
to David-vs.-Goliath analogies for the lawsuit, but the reality was that the
plaintiffs, including IFP/L.A., IFP/N.Y. and several independent producers,
were so outmatched by the resources available to the MPAA that no journalist
or studio executive or filmmaker whom I spoke with thought we could possibly
win — even though most of them agreed that the screener ban was ‰
potentially devastating to the independent-film movement. We were only able
to undertake the first phases of litigation by securing additional revenues
for the lawsuit.

And as for my “unseemly” speech about our victory in the presence of our guest
Jack Valenti, I assure Ms. Taylor that when I invited Mr. Valenti to participate
in our onstage skit at the Awards, I cautioned him that there would be talk
about the MPAA screener ban. He is indeed a good sport.

—Dawn Hudson
Executive Director, IFP/L.A.
Beverly Hills

 

FLIMFLAM MARATHON MAN

William J. Kelly’s article on William Burke
[“Lord of the Race,” March 5–11]
contains a glaring technical error, and
omits another example of Burke’s possible malfeasance.

Steven Kirsch’s statement that “The [E.V.] standard was overturned just as
the electric vehicle was poised to gain commercial success because of a breakthrough
that had occurred in battery technology” is just plain wrong. If such a battery
breakthrough had occurred, suppliers of cell-phone and laptop batteries would
have brought it to market. Instead, my cell phone dies after just a few hours,
and I can’t yet use my laptop for an entire cross-country flight. Compared with
powering an automobile, these are lightweight uses. If a pharmaceutical company
had a cure for cancer, they’d bring it to market; if the auto companies could
sell an E.V., they would. The technology isn’t there.

Note that I am in no way defending William Burke. Kelly omitted mention of
another of Burke’s ventures, the L.A. Street Race, which ran in the late ’90s.
The street race was supposed to do for Los Angeles what the Long Beach Grand
Prix did for the shoreline city. Instead, Burke left behind unhappy vendors
and a record of grossly exaggerated attendance. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn
that Burke’s street race had the same kind of financing shenanigans Kelly reported
for the L.A. Marathon.

—Pete Robe
Redondo Beach

STONEY BALONEY

As a successful Los Angeles businessman, lifelong pot
smoker and devotee of High Times magazine since its inception, I was
dismayed at the superficial, self-indulgent tone of Michael Hoinski’s commentary
[A Considerable Town, “High
Aspirations,” March 5–11]
. I applaud the efforts of pioneers like Richard
Stratton, but Mr. Hoinski’s description of Stratton’s dalliances with prostitutes,
smuggling convictions and brutal eight-year prison sentence as “living the American
Dream” will hardly win any converts to our cause. Further, the unmitigated name-
dropping came across as starstruck and infantile for a paper of your fine standing.
I hardly think glorifying the appearance of the Hilton sisters, among others,
is something Mr. Stratton, a true intellectual, would endorse as “cultural.”

—Allen Bartak
Redondo Beach