By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
It was off-putting enough to see a previous edition's listing of the event (oddly placed in the "Politics" section), which, although describing the event sufficiently, was nonetheless tagged with the perplexing phrase: "Sadly, we're not making this shit up." Reading that, I tried to imagine exactly what the writer considered to be "shit" about a celebration that should appeal to anyone with some depth, but that would seem innocuous at worst to anyone less interested. So why the cheap shot? I settled myself by presuming the writer too young to appreciate this notable commemoration. That wouldn't surprise me, since even very recent historical events are too often forgotten or disparaged in this current tabloid, sham-news era, especially by a younger generation now more inclined to follow the scandal of the day rather than mark the truly important events of our time.
More disappointing was July 23's write-up of the event, which, to Mr. Lowery's credit, he actually attended. The piece wastes no time in setting a flippant tone, summarizing the moon landing as momentous for having produced rocks and O.J. Simpson's film career. A humorous opener, perhaps? Not so, it seems, for no other description follows.
The article goes on to complain, reasonably, about paying library patrons being blocked by cameras from seeing Aldrin re-create his moonwalk. Fair enough, but then Lowery transitions to a strange characterization of the ex-astronaut as shamelessly capitalizing on his role in the world's first manned mission to the moon. For example, he implies that Aldrin, in billing himself as "The Moonwalker," is somehow trying to deceive people into thinking he was the first man on the surface, not Neil Armstrong. The truth is that Aldrin has never done such a thing. Although he is the most visible of the 12 who walked on the moon—and the one most adept at public appearances—he is unfailingly quick to give credit to all who were involved in the space program. I suggest the illusion of a self-promoting individual appears only in contrast to the typically very private nature of the Apolloastronauts in general, and to the extremely reclusive nature of Armstrong in particular. (But then again, their achievements speak for themselves.)
And what about the presumptuous labeling of Aldrin as someone who accomplished greatness at a young age and who has never been able to surpass it? As if he knew it to be true, Lowery states that this alone explains Aldrin's embracing of the lunar legacy. Evidence offered is a single conversation in which Aldrin merely stated, "You know, very few people have been to the moon." In reality, this reflects the man's lament for the Apolloprogram's demise, and not his egotism. In countless interviews, he has spoken of reaching the moon as a human accomplishment foremost, in which individuals played only parts.
As to Richard Nixon, Lowery believes the then-president dragged along a program he inherited ". . . to the growing indifference of the American public." This is incorrect. Simply put, the space program captured the interest of the American public and the world like nothing before or since. The Apollo 11 landing, in particular, was perhaps the seminal public event of my own lifetime and was arguably the most transcendent milestone in human history. It's no exaggeration to say that on July 20, 1969, virtually the entire world shared the same feeling of awe and pride and that there existed, however briefly, an unprecedented unity of sentiment. At the moment Armstrong stepped off the ladder, a cheer rose from houses, streets, parks . . . from everywhere! Traffic stopped on freeways, strangers wept and laughed together, and Bushmen came off the Kalahari and huddled around the only television for hundreds of miles, just to see something for which they could feel proud to be human. Has another such event ever occurred?
I do agree, however, with Lowery's conclusion that our nation's successes in space are largely forgotten and remembered mostly through movies starring Tom Hanks. That's the sad thing—and all the more reason for reminding the public if given the chance. The Weekly, I feel, squandered their chance.
Look, I'll admit I'm hopelessly romantic about the space program, especially the Apollomissions. I also realize that the Weekly's chosen specialty is attack-dog criticism, and heaven knows we need that in Orange County. I just thought that if your publication were to be nice and respectful just one time, to highlight something so naturally positive and inspirational, that it would be a commemoration of Apollo 11. It may sound corny, but it's true that what Aldrin, Armstrong and others achieved back in 1969 was emblematic of everything good about humankind and represented an example of vision and spirit seldom seen today. Why not celebrate that, instead of going for the easy putdown?—Jay Lindsey, via e-mail VOYEUR TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SCREEN
Re: "Peep Show: Is Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut the Director's Final Work of Genius" (Cover Story, July 16):
What makes writer Manohla Dargis (and moviemakers) think everyone likes to see people having sex on the screen? Not everyone does. In fact, a lot of people don't. It may come as a surprise to some, but we are not all voyeurs. Sex is a private matter, and those who wish to see other people having sex should rent a porno movie at their favorite video store. Whatever happened to the wonderful adult movies that had good stories without explicit sex (we could use our imaginations), gratuitous violence and the much-loved (by Hollywood) F-word repeated so many times it becomes boring, besides assaulting our ears with this crudeness? I guess the F-word makes writing dialogue easier because there is less need for a good vocabulary. It's no wonder that kids use dirty language at school. And, of course, Ms. Dargis just had to use the F-word in her review.