Out of the Past
I started reading the article about coroner David
[May 6–12] and was stunned to find his description of a suicide
note that was simply a stick figure under a house. That person was the son of
a family friend. After seeing the note, my mother crawled under the house and
found his body.
Out of respect for the family I won’t mention his name, but he was a very sweet
and loving person, the middle child of five siblings, in his early 20s. He had
a great heart and good sense of humor and he has been greatly missed these past
two decades by the people who loved him. Apparently he was at a crossroads in
his life and was overwhelmed by problems none of us fully understood. By no
means did he seem suicidal; whatever troubled him then would have likely been
resolved long ago.
As is the case for so many who have lost someone to suicide, those of us who
are left behind grieve the loss and wish we could have said or done something,
anything to let him know how much we loved him and how profoundly he touched
our lives. What stunned me in reading this article was that though Mr. Campbell
never knew this young man, he too was affected, enough to remember the note
after all this time. If only people knew this when they were alive, perhaps
we as a society could put Mr. Campbell and his fellow coroners out of a job.

—Melanie Chapman
Studio City

Royce Rolls!

I feel compelled to address an arbitrary, surprising and certainly incorrect
gibe Alan Rich managed to insert into the middle of his recent “A Lot of Night
Music” column about LACMA’s recent decision to curtail activities in the Bing
Theater [“A Deaf Ear,
May 27–June 2]. Rich should support the fact that UCLA Live, among few other
organizations in Southern California, continues to provide dynamic and high-quality
programming not only in the classical and new music genres Rich clearly prefers,
but in jazz, world and popular music, international theater, dance and spoken
Instead he writes that Royce Hall goes “sadly underused,” and implies that the
priorities of UCLA Live, and of myself personally, have strayed from “serious
music” and are exclusively about “esoteric foreign theatre.” This is far from
the truth. In the 2004-05 season alone, Royce Hall has been in almost continuous
use and UCLA Live has presented and hosted over 56 music performances in Royce
and 10 more in Schoenberg Hall. These include many classical performances, which
seems to be what Rich considers “serious” music.
Even looking only at this narrow definition, our programs have featured Yo-Yo
Ma and Emmanuel Ax, the Moscow Virtuosi, the China Philharmonic Orchestra with
Lang Lang and Kent Nagano’s upcoming “Manzanar: An American Story” project on
June 2. The breadth of the music program alone takes in everything from Jessye
Norman to the Melvins, in addition to New York’s Bang on a Can All Stars, L.A.’s
Calder Quartet, Keith Jarrett, Los Lobos and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
I am most happy to confirm that Royce Hall continues to thrive and be used to
the fullest and most creative extent possible. We urge the many audience members
and L.A. Weekly readers who enjoy the full range of UCLA Live’s
programs to look for the upcoming announcement of our exciting 2005-06 season.

—David Sefton
Director, UCLA Live

Words of Sea
I take exception with Diane Mooney’s article [“Meet
Me at the Salton Sea
,” May 27–June 2] painting the Salton Sea and its residents
as a bunch of meth-snorting losers, as if you don’t have any of those in L.A.
I moved here four years ago and have never been sorry. We have a nice little
town here with no gang problems, very little crime and no traffic. If Ms. Mooney
had done her research, she would know that our beaches have never closed due
to pollution. Can the same be said about Malibu, Santa Monica, et al.? As far
as her comment about the Sea being “a smelly agricultural drainage pit,” yes,
the Sea has had its ups and downs, but it is still the largest lake in California,
the largest inland sea in the Western Hemisphere and well worth saving. She
left out the fact that the Sea is home to over 400 species of migratory birds,
whose habitat and migratory routes have been virtually destroyed everywhere
She did get one thing right — the best is yet to be. Permits have been issued
for 700 new homes so far, and plans are in the works for (at least) 900 more.
When my property value reaches the half-million mark, I will happily accept
Ms. Mooney’s apology; that is, if I can stop laughing long enough.

—Susan Davies
Salton City

Thank you, Diane Mooney, for your article on the Salton Sea Centennial. The
Sea has been the subject of negative imagery for decades now, some deserved,
some not.
A few years ago I decided to check it out for myself. I saw lots of devastation
and neglect, but what struck me the most was what I never heard anyone mention,
how exquisitely beautiful it is. Thank you for taking note of that. Subsequently
I became a regular visitor and found it to be a place of tranquility and renewal.
I know several artists, myself included, who find in the Salton Sea great inspiration,
and an enormous canvas.
The Sea is at a crossroads right now. Redevelopment is already under way and
as usual the slash-and-burn mentality that would like to see it become a knockoff
of other places gone wrong is licking its lips in anticipation. I have other
ideas. I see it as an opportunity to create a unique place where people will
want to visit and stay because we’ve preserved what is so special there and
is rapidly disappearing elsewhere.
Planning with vision and intelligence, using local materials and construction
and architectural styles that are well adapted to its desert environment, we
could create exciting and beautiful little communities around its shore. These
would bring us much better long-term economic viability and health. Communities
wonderful to live in and beautiful to look at.
The Salton Sea is more renowned in Europe as a bird refuge than it is here.
Are we failing to appreciate this great resource in our own backyard? We have
a built-in world-class tourist attraction. It’s a natural that our communities
should be as well.
Am I a dreamer? You bet. But nothing great was ever created without dreams.

—Ingrid Vigeant
San Diegans for the Salton Sea

Stop Shooting, Start Helping

While I agree with Marc Cooper’s assertion [“Back
to Iraq
,” May 20–26] that the Bush administration has saddled us with an
unwinnable war and no realistic plan for extricating ourselves from the morass,
I also feel that we should pull all U.S. troops out as soon as possible. To
say, “There is, unfortunately, no evidence whatsoever that if U.S. troops were
pulled out tomorrow, the car bombings and murders of civilians would magically
cease” is true enough, but it misses the point.
American servicemen and women are dying and being maimed every day in a war
that was a bad idea before it started and an even worse one now. Let’s put an
end to our country’s role in the madness and show some concern for the welfare
of our troops. We can only help the long-suffering Iraqi people after we have
stopped shooting at them.

—Paul Cafaro
Mt. Washington

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