Letters

'Genius? That wouldnt be for me to decide. Reaching thousands of people from a dark little garage in Costa Mesa, that certainly takes talent.'

Letters may be edited for clarity and length. E-mail to letters@ocweekly.com, or send to Letters to the Editor, c/o OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or fax to (714) 550-5908.

IN DEFENSE OF ANTON NEWCOMBE
Wow! I can't believe it only took about two years after a biographical motion picture was made and won a film festival (not to mention years of releasing records and touring) for the OC Weekly to deem one of Costa Mesa's finest sons newsworthy. [Nick Schou's "Not Fade Away," Dec. 21.] Anton Newcombe should have made the cover of your publication several times over by now. When visiting other musical "hot spots" it's been reinforced time and time again the hand that local publications have in their homegrown artists' successes. A hand that the OC Weekly (or L.A. Times) had never previously outstretched. I do feel it sounds like some of Tony's (Anton's) old friends were a bit hard on the boy so I felt some clarification on my part was in order. When old band members make statements like "He had absolutely no talent whatsoever," that is their opinion that they have certainly earned. That is not, however, my opinion. I think Tony is a very creative person. I did a lot of time with Newcombe over the years and he will always remain one of my favorite people—personally as well as creatively. As the story reveals, neither was without its difficulties, but his abilities and his personality made some of that worth dealing with. I'm also under no illusion that out of any of us in that band (all of whom have stayed active in music) it's Tony who has succeeded in reaching the most people. While touring, I have been surprised by the influence that Tony has achieved. It's a strange feeling when you're standing at the edge of the rainforest in Brazil, or next to a statue of Karl Marx's head in Eastern Europe, and some kid knows all about your old friends. An even stranger feeling grows over me now as I write this letter, 45 minutes away from Newcombe's mother's house, as I realize, no one here ever thought it was "newsworthy." Genius? That wouldn't be for me to decide. Reaching thousands of people from a dark little garage in Costa Mesa, that certainly takes talent.
Nate Shaw
Via e-mail

IN DEFENSE OF ANTON NEWCOMBE, PT.2
I can understand the guys in Electric Cool-Aide getting so fed up with Tony's antics, but "Hitler" must have been the band's name for him. He was actually more widely and affectionately known by his friends as The Mad King. Though I now live in Atlanta, I feel compelled to chime in as I did "manage" the band Electric Cool-Aide for a period in 1985-86. I was 17 and did what I thought a manager should do, including pimping the band out for high school parties and bar gigs and trying in vain to get OC Weekly to do a story on us. [Editor's note: OC Weekly debuted in 1995.] I also want to say how one-sided we all know that movie was. There was not a single quote from his old friends who actually know and love him. When I met him he had just tried to jump over 10 bikes and crashed, sustaining a serious head injury, and one of his eyes lilted to the side. The crazy thing was, he came back after a summer road trip, and the eye was completely healed! He said he fixed it by following the tip of a pencil back and forth, up and down, all the way to Canada and back. He told me once, while we played the Sjobecks' piano, that he would never do anything else but play music, and I can say positively that he never had a job, ever. I was confused when Tony got fucked up on heroin because I once saw him kick the living shit out of a 14-year-old (Social Distortion guitarist) Johnny Wickersham for being on heroin. Is Anton a genius? I can be fairly certain that his IQ is over 140. But beyond that he was prolific at a very young age. And as for a revolution, well, we can say with fair certainty that the gig is up for the music industry as we know it, can't we? His genius may just be emerging from the "underground."
Robert Ramsey
Atlanta, Georgia

JUST SAY NO
Regarding the Dec. 22 story "McKnight Errant," in which reporter Gustavo Arellano cites legal documents that suggest Mater Dei High School boys basketball coach Gary McKnight ignored evidence that an assistant coach was carrying on sexual relationships with female students: When are we as a society going to learn that it is not okay to place our children under the care or supervision of known pedophiles, ex-cons, and miscreants? We need to err on the side of caution when it comes to the care of our kids. What? There aren't any members of our society who are willing to work with our children who do not have a criminal past? Is it required by law that our schools hire pedophiles and criminals? What in the world is going on? Is it that hard to say: "Sorry, we cannot hire you because you are a child molester"? As an American and as a human being, I am saddened at this rewarding of great opportunities for bad behavior; as a Catholic, don't get me started. . . . Keep up the pressure and expose these stupidities.
Mark Neidl
San Clemente 

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