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CRITIQUING THE CRITIC
Boy, do I feel for Rich Kane ("I Was a Rock Critic for The Orange County Register," Dec. 4). There he was, watching concerts for free, but "you can't enjoy the show as you ordinarily would. . . . You gotta scribble down notes." The humanity! From there, we learn that Show freelancers are underpaid (shocking: underpaid journalists?) and that they sometimes suffer bad edits (because at other papers-including the Weekly, I'm sure-reporters always agree with editors). Then Kane explains how horrible the Register editorial pages are, which is important, since that has absolutely no bearing on his stint as a rock critic. If it did-if some right-wing conspiracy dominated news coverage-Kane probably wouldn't have been sent to review Marilyn Manson. But he didn't review Marilyn Manson -because the record company left him one free ticket instead of two. How can someone work under these conditions?
Worse still, the Show section dedicated Sunday to "fine arts," ignoring rock music and movies, which were instead shuffled into the twice-as-large Friday section to wither away. Then some employees wore ties, so obviously they were vacant-eyed drones. It's a wonder Kane didn't walk away sooner from interviews with George Clinton and Joshua Redman to work in a more liberal, liberating field like salt mining.
But the biggest tragedy, perhaps, is that Kane's assignments were downsized, and he was never given that carrot of a full-time job. The Register's biggest sin, Kane concludes, is that they never recognized his talent. For shame.
-Stephen Lynch, formerRegister staff writer, Budapest, Hungary
Rich Kane responds:Wow, Steve! Even I didn't have to flee to Eastern Europe to escape the Reg's long, bony claws! Your knee-jerk screed is mostly sanctimonious claptrap, so I'll just say that I never wanted or sought and would have refused a full-time gig at theReg if I had been offered one-I have morals, fer chrissake! And, hey, I don't have anything against neckties. WeWeekly menfolk have been known to wear them on occasion. We are, though, much better looking in them thanRegister people are.
I just finished reading the article Rich Kane wrote about the OC Nazi Party paper housed in Santa Ana and, having worked for them for a time, laughed my way through! I only worked in graphics at the North County papers (and his thoughts are right-on), and I want to thank Kane for using his professional word power to put into print what I have been feeling for some time.
Like Kane, I escaped, but I went to the Times to ply a trade among the just-as-corporate-but better-paying-whores in downtown Los Angeles.
-John Webb, Fullerton
I lived in Hollywood for six years and waited with bated breath for each Thursday to come around so I could get the new LA Weekly. I loved their coverage of all aspects of city life, most of all the areas I didn't actually live in. But when I moved to the city of Orange, the thing that disappointed me most (next to Diedrich's horrendous excuse for coffee) was the OC Weekly. I took issue with the shorter, less in-depth articles, the lack of overall weight to the paper (this has to last me a week, for crying out loud!) and the lack of calendar events taking place out here. So I threw you over for The Orange County Register. EEEEEEEKKKKKK! The only thing of value is the letters section-and that's for entertainment value.
I came crawling back to you on my bloody hands and knees and have forgiven the lack of entertainment. It's really not your fault Orange County has so few art houses for films and that Laguna Beach has spawned a cult of art zombies in pink and yellow and highly saturated teal. And the Reg doesn't have much to say about even those small rays of light.
The truth is the OC Weekly is the only direction I have gotten here behind the Orange Curtain, and now the Register props my door open so I can bring in the groceries. Kudos to Rich Kane for getting the hell out.
-Trisch Deehring, Orange
The editors respond: Thanks for the, uh, compliment. Now please pack your bags and move back to Hollywood because you're just way too cool for us squares out here in the sticks.
DON'T SLAG VAN AND BOB
In his review of Bruce Springsteen's new box set ("No Irony, Please, We're Bruce Fans," Dec. 4), Cornel Bonca states: "Everyone knows [Bob] Dylan is worth one good album a decade now, that [Van] Morrison's records are as scattershot as his concerts." Everyone? I had the great fortune of catching Morrison, Dylan and Joni Mitchell at UCLA this summer, and although it was the only time I've seen Morrison live, it was definitely one of the best shows I've seen, fulfilling all the expectations I had. Did Bonca catch that tour? What about the Enlightenment and Poetic Champions Compose albums? These rank as some of Morrison's best work-even after he created so many brilliant albums from 1968 to 1979 (probably the most inspired group of albums of all time). Why slag Morrison? Just to make Springsteen look better? What good does this do?
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
THE NAME GAME
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?!
-Colleen Nelson, Orange
BUT THEY'RE WARM, FUZZY NOSES
Congratulations! Jon Hall's "The Warm Fuzzies" (The County, Dec. 11) was excellent. It's about time the media got into the OC transportation scene. It's great to see material that is not from the spin-doctors of the Orange County Transportation Authority's (OCTA) public-relations department.
The OCTA staff, in its inimitable, social-engineering way, leads the county Board of Supervisors by the nose. Then the board responds, "But we pay the staff a lot of money; we have to listen to them!" If the "light rail" system for OC comes to fruition, it will be the largest perpetual tax anchor around county taxpayers' necks that has ever been seen. What a waste of funds that solves nothing toward relieving congestion.
-Chris Ema, Santa Ana