Parting Shot

I knew that Nikki Finke is an idiot, of course, but I had no idea that she was such a fuddy-duddy. Among the malevolent non sequiturs and damned-if-you-do-or-don’t accusations in Nikki Finke’s appreciation of my tenure at the L.A. Times [“The Michael Kinsley Experiment Ends,” July 29–August 4], my favorite passage is this one, scolding me for moving too fast. “Normally, any change at a newspaper happens slowly amid much careful thought and laborious planning so as not to upset subscribers.” It’s a pity that Finke finds the torrid pace of change at the L.A. Times so upsetting, since she is the only person to have noticed it.

Finke is hard to please. John Carroll stands accused of alienating “conservative subscribers” by hiring a “legendary lefty” (i.e., me) to run the L.A. Times opinion pages, and also of “overlooking” Los Angeles’ “progressive movement” by hiring an “old-school liberal” who makes no “serious argument” (also me). I came to work in Los Angeles in 2004 in order to “draw attention” to myself “on the East Coast” (which I demonstrated my excessive attachment to by leaving it in 1995). A light-hearted cartoon about the mayor’s race shows that I hold L.A. in “contempt” as a “third-rate city.” A solemn editorial series about malaria in Africa “left unanswered the question of whether there weren’t issues closer to home that deserved equally extraordinary prominence.” Because I always go for cheap thrills over substance, my pages are “packed with pablum.” If I’m not publishing “lefty cronies,” I’m publishing “wacko neocons.”

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In all of this, Finke peremptorily attaches her own odd views to the entire city of Los Angeles. If the Times or I were to portray the citizens of Los Angeles as Finke does in her article — humorless, easily upset, provincial, intolerant (not to mention demagogic and deranged) — Nikki Finke would be the first to throw a fit.

Michael Kinsley
Editorial and Opinion editor
Los Angeles Times

Not So Great

I wish Libby Molyneaux’s clever listing had highlighted a more deserving event than Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus [“HOOPLA,” July 22–28]. Clowns and wire-walkers are great, but until Ringling’s owner, Feld Entertainment, stops its abusive handling of animals, it doesn’t deserve our support. Feld is hugely profitable and regularly pays off USDA fines rather than correct the violations it is cited for. I’d sooner see an exposé in the pages of the Weekly than any encouragement to make it richer while animals are isolated, beaten, stabbed with bull hooks, forced to perform while sick, and transported through heat and cold to be chained in the parking lot next to the freeway.

Phyllis Elliott
Santa Monica

Poker Pedantry

While Marc Cooper’s article [“Mr. Bush and Mr. Roberts: The Prez goes for the big suck-out,” July 22–28] has an insightful examination of the John Roberts nomination, he might have fact-checked his Texas Hold’em poker analogies before going all-in and making them a framework for the piece.

Doyle Brunson seeks to buy out the World Poker Tour, not the World Series of Poker, a distinction as important in the poker world as the distinction between the Rose Bowl and the Super Bowl is in football.

While John Roberts might be the joker in the deck of potential nominees, the joker is not used in Texas Hold’em.

But those are quibbles. Much more vitally, as it is the title of the piece, a “suck-out” is not when a player plays a powerful hand deceptively so as to lure an opponent into betting all their chips. That strategy is called “slow-playing” or “sandbagging” A suck-out is when a player plays a hand that is statistically unprofitable and catches a miracle card on fourth or fifth street to beat a hand that was superior on previous streets.

Doyle Brunson might counsel Bush, however, that a slow-play can be a very dangerous maneuver, one that often leads you into a suck-out.

R.S. Gray
Los Angeles

Best-Laid Plans

I have owned property in downtown Inglewood for nearly 20 years. In fact, I am the owner of the property where Kenneth Moore set up his great, late Howling Monk Coffee and Jazz Bar.

I agree with the writer, and her friend John [“Welcome to Inglewood,” July 22–28]. Inglewood just doesn’t know what to do with the opportunities it has; instead, it invests in the big-box Wal-Mart-type businesses that its own constituents don’t want. It’s a tragedy that the mom-and-pop businesses that made Inglewood, especially downtown Market Street, the charming place it is, or was, are ignored. Let’s hope that there are other Inglewood residents and property owners who are as outraged as I am. But if the past is any indicator of the future, it doesn’t look good for Inglewood.

Morgan McBain


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