TODOS EN LA FAMILIA
I am quite weary of the L.A. Weekly’s ongoing soap opera about the endless trials and tribulations of the Aguilar family [“Longing for a Reprieve,” September 17–23], and author Celeste Fremon’s requirement that not only should we feel sorry for them, but we should regard their travails as typical of the lives of Latinos in America.
Pity poor Luis. The police shadow him. They arrest him on trumped-up drug charges. The judge sets the bail too high. He may lose his job. Oh, the evil white authorities. The fact is that all his problems are consequences of his criminal lifestyle, a life he chose.
And pity his wife, Frances. She crashes into a Jaguar, but has no insurance. The same article shows a photo of her using a fancy cell phone that takes pictures. For the monthly fee on that, she could have bought insurance. Her choice. Her consequences.
This series is a deep insult to the great majority of Latinos who manage to never break the law or see the inside of a jail cell. The hypocrisy is that the Weekly would never run a series on such people because it would lack the glamour of the gangsta life.
Fremon replies: The cell phone shown in the photo to which the reader refers does not belong to Frances. She sold her pay-as-you-go cell phone for $40 months ago. At present, she and Luis have only a land line that accepts incoming calls but cannot make calls out of their local area.
Greg Burk may wish to consider toning his rhetoric down just a skosh. Though Chick Corea loooooong ago ceased being a genius (listen to his band Circle, even more than Miles, for his zenith), and though he was and still is highly influential for those glory days, anyone with the least knowledge of fusion and progressive music well knows that neither Keith Emerson nor Jan Hammer was “thieving” from him [Calendar, Jazz Pick of the Week, September 17–23]. Good fucking grief! Emerson cribbed from much higher sources than Corea: Copland, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, etc. When he wanted jazz, he usually glommed from cats like Dick Hyman, though it’s just as certain that he was, to the side of all that, wowed by Corea. Even with his earlier The Nice, Emerson was radical and needn’t fret that Yank illiterati might hold the conceit that all reality issued from America.
While Corea was trading licks with the superb Bill Connors in the band Return to Forever, he may actually have been lifting more than a few riffs from Hammer’s gig with Billy Cobham on the landmark album Spectrum. Corea would later trade dazzling solos with Al DiMeola at the same time Hammer wailed with John McLaughlin in the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Corea had been with McLaughlin in Miles’ band, but certainly not on that level. In fact, in fusion, though he’d sit in on one-offs with various stellar personnel through those years, he didn’t really come into his own until the second incarnation of Return to Forever, which included DiMeola. Once DiMeola and fellow member Lenny White split off, as they couldn’t stomach Corea’s aggressive Scientologisms, Corea plunged fast and far down the barometer, a meteoric descent he continues to this day, despite being buoyed by jazz’s Yngwie Malmsteen, Frank Gambale. The culprit, many believe, was not just L. Ron Hubbard but also Corea’s sweetness-and-light wife, Gayle Moran.
Corea deserves an imperishable status for his repertoire, a body of work that perhaps only Keith Jarrett can surpass, but he most definitely isn’t being much complimented in being propped up, contemporarily or in retrospect, by insufficiently educated crits like Burk.
—Marc S. Tucker
Burk replies: Listen to Corea (right channel) on the title track of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (1969). Then listen to Hammer on “Stratus” from Spectrum (1973), and consider whose sound (that’s what I was writing about) influenced whose. Not forgetting the contemporaneous contributions of Herbie Hancock and Joe Zawinul, of course. Hey, now I’ve written almost as much about Corea as I had room for that week.
Jeffrey S. Lee’s selective use of his history book in his response [Letters to the Editor, “They Were Glad Enough To See Us in 1945,” September 24–30] to Brendan Bernhard’s interview with Jeremy Rifkin [“The American Nightmare,” September 17–23] warrants challenging. I suggest he reopen his book to the chapter on the American Revolution. Were it not for France’s military support during this war, it’s doubtful we would have achieved independence. In many battles against the British, the majority of soldiers were French — many under the command of Lafayette. As Americans, do we not remember the country that helped deliver us from remaining — to use Mr. Lee’s words — “vassal states to one or another totalitarian regime”? I’m using these historical tidbits only to point out the absurdity of throwing “they owe us” analogies into the mix. They can, and do, tend to backfire.
THE LENO FILE
Nikki Finke needs to grow up. She sounds like a little grade-school girl complaining to her teacher in the interview with Jay Leno [Deadline Hollywood, “Does Mr. Middle-of-the-Road Lean Left?,” September 17–23].
I watch Leno and Letterman. Jay’s monologues criticize both parties. He makes fun of whatever is funny. If Finke wants serious politics, she shouldn’t watch an entertainment show; she should watch Bill Maher. He will give her Bush-bashing until her heart’s content.
My hat is off to both Nikki Finke and Jay Leno. Their questions and answers were well-stated. I concur with most of Mr. Leno’s statements. It’s too bad this kind of dialogue isn’t more prevalent in today’s broad-based media.
Now I wish Finke would interview Matt Lauer, considering the debacle of his interview with Kitty Kelley. Her journalistic abilities far exceed his. Finally the fourth estate is represented in a way that has recently been ignored.
—Dot C. Leach