Letters

Contact us via voice mail at (714) 825-8432, or by e-mail: letters@ocweekly.com. Or write to Letters to the Editor, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Or fax: (714) 708-8410. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. All correspondence must include your home city or service provider and a daytime phone number.

NEED IMMEDIATE CREDIT

Re: R. Scott Moxley's "Live Like a God: How Supervisor Bill Steiner used a phantom political campaign to fund his lavish lifestyle" (Feature, April 23):

I generally find the OC Weekly and Moxley's reportage rather entertaining and am flattered that he feels the occasional need to (as they say in my home state of West Virginia) "call my name." Generally, Moxley seems to portray me as an honest reporter, if a bit slow on the uptake. With this in mind, I was chuckling at Moxley's latest reference, an offhand ding for a line he pulled from a 1995 feature I wrote about Steiner. Moxley doesn't mention that the rest of the piece portrays Steiner as lacking backbone, but that's okay since he's busy (properly) bashing Steiner for raising and spending money without the benefit of a campaign.

Then I got to page 23, on which Moxley spent more than 50 lines blatantly ripping off an investigative piece I did about Steiner for The Orange County Register in 1996—without ever mentioning who broke the story or published the exposé.

Moxley loves to bash the Register—and why not? We're a tempting target. But in this case, it was the Register that discovered—three years ago—that Steiner was personally profiting from charitable fund-raisers and that land developers with entitlements pending were pouring more than $10,000 into Steiner's favorite charities.

This time, it's Moxley who's a bit slow—and not so honest.

Chris Knap, staff writer,The Orange County Register R. Scott Moxley responds: Knap's attempt at criticism reminds me of Rousseau's observation "how often boldness and pride accompany guilt." Frustration in the Register newsroom is understandable when theWeekly breaks major stories they inexcusably missed. Had I actually tried to present three-year-old background information as my own work, I would not have credited 12 sentences (not 50) at the end of my exposé to Peter Caruso—Knap's source for his 1996 story and the man who most deserves the glory for challenging Steiner. Then again, if I had known how wounded Knap would be, I would have mentioned his name, too, and resisted the urge to point out theRegister's shameless habit of borrowing without attribution articles that appeared first in theWeekly. WHATCHA TALKIN' 'BOUT, WILLIS?

I look forward to Buddy Seigal's great write-ups on America's musicians. However, I must take issue with one point in his story on Wesley Willis ("The Demon Gives Him a Hell Ride," April 30). I do not believe he belongs in the company of Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Instead, maybe Roky Erickson (former leader of 13th Floor Elevators). Otherwise, Seigal's story is right-on!

David Klingaman, Huntington Park

Who the fuck is a washed-out leftover from a third-rate roots-rock band to tell Wesley Willis he can't rock? I bought one of Willis' CDs on a whim from a used bin—not knowing of his mental problems—and have enjoyed it tremendously. I took it as an irony-laced take on the absurd homogeneity of bad arena rock; the repetitiveness of the music provided the same mood of John Zorn's duck calls or the work of Phillip Glass—yet it was brilliant in its use of a pop context for avant-garde commentary.

Although I felt like a fool when I found out where Willis was really coming from, his vision and drive remain inspiring. His work is a look inside the mind of the mentally retarded—a look that is altogether fascinating. I knew it was valuable when I got the same feeling of repulsion/attraction that I did upon listening to the first Dead Kennedys album many years ago. Besides, one should never judge music by its fans. I couldn't care less that musicians/ hangers-on get some perverse joy from laughing at him. His vision is all that should be looked at, and it rocks! Benevolent Musical Lord of the Scene Seigal has a right to not like Willis' music but not to imply that the rest of us shouldn't be exposed to it.

Chris Damore, Costa Mesa Buddy Seigal responds: Due to his advanced paranoid schizophrenia, Willis has no "reason" or "vision," and his "drive" comes from the torment of his disease. Much as a person suffering from a spastic colon must blow it out their ass uncontrollably, so Willis is compelled to continue making his artistically valueless "music." To equate the bent brilliance of Zorn with the sad ranting of Willis only demonstrates your appalling lack of musical knowledge, jack-off music-critic wannabe prose aside. There is no "irony" and certainly no "brilliance" to Willis' production; one might as well sit in the psych ward of a local hospital and listen to the patients scream. But then, I suppose your idea of an entertaining athletic competition would be to watch a pit bull rip up a kitten and rationalize the cruel spectacle as a microcosm of life or some such pseudo-intellectual bullshit. Blow me.
 
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