Dylan has done so much to influence music and hearts that it is understandable to have a hell of a challenge to top Highway 61 Revisited, Blood on the Tracks and other albums from the '60s and '70s. But his '80s period had brilliance in other albums (Empire Burlesque, Infidels) besides Oh Mercy. And remember that his hugely underappreciated World Gone Wrong album from 1993 won Best Folk Album that year. True, Dylan did not write the songs, but World demonstrates his huge talent for song interpretation and his undiminished talent to play acoustic guitar fluidly and powerfully.

Writers can casually dismiss artists' efforts and generalize with smug idiocy. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best in 1841: "Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. . . . The very hope of man, the thoughts of his heart, the manners and morals of mankind are all at the mercy of a new generalization." Mr. Bonca should go back to his classroom's drawing board before pontificating so glibly about music and other matters of the heart. I believe thinkers are necessary, but Cornel "don't cut it."

-Lu Urquidi, Capistrano Valley

P.S. Kudos and thanks to Rich Kane for his cutting coolness.

Cornel Bonca responds: Listen, Lu, I love Dylan and Morrison, too-in fact, I think Dylan's a greater talent than Springsteen, as I tried to make clear when I said that the mythical vision Springsteen has created is the greatest since Dylan. And, no, I didn't catch the Dylan/Morrison/Mitchell show, but that only goes to my point about their inconsistency: you never know when Dylan or Morrison are going to be great and when they're going to phone the show in. We could argue all day about Dylan or Morrison's post-'60s output: I would point out, though, that even during what you think of as Morrison's great phase, he put out duds like Hard Nose the Highway-which Springsteen simply won't do because Springsteen has a critical perspective on his own work that Morrison or Dylan, who are essentially intuitive artists, simply don't have. What does this mean? Only that Springsteen is more consistent than these other guys, which comes from his commitment to being there for his fans, for every album, for every concert. Springsteen's got the higher batting average; I'm perfectly willing to accept that Dylan (I don't think Morrison) hits more out of the park.


Considering Congressman Ron Packard's work to exempt the Foothill Transportation Corridor from proper environmental review and mitigation, his recent appointment as chairman of the House Appropriations' Energy and Water Subcommittee spells disaster for the natural environment ("The Long and Grinding Road," Dec. 4). Only Packard's friends are seemingly exempt from the Endangered Species Act. Packard's subcommittee chairmanship could mean the deaths of California gnatcatchers and other endangered species. In addition, he can stop efforts to save the Santa Ana sucker, a species barely holding onto survival in the Santa Ana River. Mountain wilderness and riparian habitat will be lost because of this developers' friend doing all he can to skirt environmental laws.

-Dave Hall, Huntington Beach


Thank you for writing the story on Tuan Tang ("'Death Call': $10 million suit accuses officials of racism in man's death while in police custody," Nov. 27). It is so important that the public is made aware of police brutality in this never-ending drug war. In this case, a young man was apparently overdosing. Instead of providing him with immediate medical attention, the policemen not only arrested him but also hog-tied him with nylon straps while sitting on the backs of his legs. He was then thrown into the back of a police car face-first even though he had been screaming for help, saying that he could not breathe. Tang was a victim of this horrible war on drugs we have in this country, which instead of saving lives continues to destroy lives. If the police were so concerned about this young person misusing or abusing an illegal substance, they could have gotten him immediate medical attention and then arrested him. What really makes me sad is that had Tang been overdosing on an over-the-counter or prescription drug, they would have taken him to get his stomach pumped immediately.

The two Westminster policemen were not properly trained to handle this type of situation because they are trained to believe that all drug users are evil criminals. I would like to stress that a young person experimenting with illegal drugs is not a criminal. Young people have been experimenting with drugs since the beginning of time!

I was so upset at the horrible finality of the story that I have been mourning Tang's death and sharing it with relatives and friends over the holidays. I will continue to share this story in hopes that this war on drugs will stop making policemen think it is okay to kill people and to encourage police and medical technicians to be properly prepared to handle this kind of situation in the future.

-Adelina Boata, Saddleback Valley


I propose that from now on, instead of calling the proposed South County airport the "El Toro International Airport," we refer to it as the "24/7 Noise Makin', Pollution Spewin', Air Tragedy Waiting to Happen El Toro Airport." Kinda catchy, ain't it?!

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