Monkey Vs. Man

In “George Untethered” [Dissonance, October 15–21] Marc Cooper writes: “Kerry has provided virtually no reason to back him other than that he is a more rational replacement for the incumbent.” Uh, Marc, no, sorry, try again: Kerry’s pro-environment, pro-choice, pro-science, pro-reality, not an all-out liar, can speak complete, grammatically correct sentences, won’t completely f*** up the country, and can make better decisions, on average, than a chimpanzee. Those are all good reasons to back Kerry. Otherwise, good article.

—Dan Swenson
West Covina

War of Words

Why does David Corn bother parsing Senator Kerry’s obtuse ruminations regarding the “global test” in “Indicting the Media” [October 15–21]? Is he trying to assure L.A. Weekly readers that as president — with or without U.N. approval — Kerry would have no qualms about invading a country that did not launch an attack against the U.S.? I don’t get it. I thought the left hates Bush because he launched a unilateral, pre-emptive attack without U.N. sanction. When Mr. Corn writes that “Kerry clearly said he would not seek other nations’ permission if a pre-emptive strike was necessary,” I’m not sure that Dean and Kucinich supporters would reach the same conclusion about Kerry’s statements. If they do, they might be voting for Ralph Nader.

—David Barulich
Highland Park

Bowel Movements

Alan Rich’s diatribe against the pipe organ [“Pipe Poop,” October 15–21] is egregiously erroneous. When an organist hits a key, it opens a pipe to sound a pitch the same way a pianist hits a key that moves a hammer to strike a string — in both cases, mechanical action that produces real, not simulated, sounds. The organ, therefore, is no more a “fake” instrument than the piano. Also, “equal temperament” is an 18th-century compromise with key-change advantages that far outweigh the slightly out-of-tune disadvantages so that all keyboard instruments are physically off-pitch with the rest of the orchestra. But our ears readily adjust to this discrepancy except for those rare individuals who are gifted/cursed with perfect pitch.

Mozart called the organ the king of instruments. Jan Sibelius said that no one ever erected a statue to a music critic. “Pipe Poop” was aptly titled since Alan Rich is so full of it.

—Ben Edward Akerley
Los Angeles

For those that appreciate the organ’s potential in music or in the ear of the beholder, Mr. Rich’s comments hit the floor, dead.

—Mitch Browning
Los Angeles


Kudos to Steven Kotler for offering excellent points to counter NASA’s “if we can’t do it, it can’t be done” mentality [October 15–21]. It’s about time non-government-controlled companies took the fate of the evolution of mankind into their own hands.

Now, because of the $10 million “X Prize,” the possibilities to find alternative ways of travel in space are mind-blowing. Finally a poor rube like myself can explore the creamy caramel nougat center of the Milky Way.

The only saddening thing about this article is that if these independent teams are correct in that they can fly anyone to a space station for the same air price to Las Vegas from LAX, it’s only a matter of time before NASA and the U.S. government step in and add their two cents.

—Max Brown
Los Angeles


Judith Lewis’ article “The Great Wet Hope” [October 22–28] states that a local activist claims that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation offered to endorse Los Angeles’ Measure O in return for $25,000. It adds that the foundation “naturally opposes anything public-works-minded.” Both of these allegations are fantastic.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Foundation (HJTF) is prohibited by law from taking positions on political issues. It is devoted to public education on economic issues and the study of tax policy.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), a legally separate organization, does take positions on political issues but has never offered to take a position on Measure O. Furthermore, the organization does not oppose most public works bonds. In most cases, if a bond requires a two-thirds vote, HJTA takes no position. Only when there is something particularly egregious do we take a position in opposition.

We can only surmise that someone associated with Measure O was confused by a solicitation from an organization that specifically targets taxpayers with election recommendations. However, neither HJTA, HJTF nor any affiliated committee produces a slate mailer.

In spite of what some political opponents would like to claim, endorsement by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is not for sale.

—Kris Vosburgh
Executive director, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Los Angeles


Sandra Ross’ review of the play Damages by R.S. Call [Calendar, October 15–21] trivializes the production now taking place at the Hudson Mainstage Theatre in Hollywood and calls into question why Ms. Ross was sought to comment on such a timely and complex issue. From her opening statement that the play’s first act achieves some “nicely creepy moments,” her jejune analysis focuses on superficial aspects while ignoring a story that illuminates the durable suffering of those abused by clergy.

For Ms. Ross, the second act “bogs down in exposition” while more perceptive reviewers have precisely noted that the play reveals other potent issues that plague the Catholic Church, such as hypocrisy and alcoholism. Perhaps Ms. Ross is ill-equipped for the task at hand, as she seems unable to comment insightfully on a topic that occupied the front page and editorial page of the Los Angeles Times during the three weeks prior to the play’s opening. I suggest she might excel at other events such as fashion shows, raves and balloon ascensions.

—Richard Scanlon
Damages, New York

LA Weekly