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I'd read your first article on Big J-Mo's imprisonment and was astonished to see that he had been released from prison (Nick Schou's "You're Guilty," July 13). I'm glad he was freed after serving two years, but I'm also glad he served the two years! Speaking from experience, I bet Big J-Mo wasn't the mild-mannered model citizen he claimed to be. Take my cousin, just about the only white kid around who was heavily involved in rap music, break dancing, and everything else in that subculture in the very early 1980s. His involvement in that subculture intensified over the years; he recruited more and more of his white and black friends into that scene and became increasingly infatuated with romantic notions of being a gangbanging, oppressed, poor, black-ghetto tough guy—never mind the fact that he was a blond, blue-eyed suburban Huntington Beach resident who had been wearing OP shorts and Lightning Bolt shirts, skateboarding over to the beach with a boogie board strapped to his back just a year or so earlier. Soon, my cousin was involved in drugs, crime and speaking in the most deliberate, silly-sounding Ebonics accent he could muster. Eventually, my cousin robbed a house; he was shot in the head and killed execution-style by one of his cohorts who didn't want to share the loot.

From all the evidence presented in your article, Big J-Mo was a lot like my cousin—infatuated with dreams of gang life that he participated in vicariously through music. Big J-Mo may very well have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it was his own gullibility and poor choices that put him there.

Chris Hurney
via e-mail

Pardon me if tears fail to well up when I hear of the plight of Joshua Moore. Too many people are legitimate victims of injustice and misfortune to waste any sympathy on this pathetic loser. At best, he is a misguided youth who found out the harsh reality behind his fantasies of being a gangster and living the "thug life." At worst, he is a convicted accessory to robbery (I'm sure his stint as a getaway driver was his one and only endeavor in violent crime—yeah, right!) who also has a fascination with guns. My only hope is that his experience shocks him into choosing a more positive path for his life. If not, he has had just a taste of his future.

Scott Sansenbach
Huntington Beach


In "Smoke, Bullets, Mayhem" (The County, July 13), Anthony Pignataro states that colonials who found British taxes intolerable were (in a sense) stiffing benevolent Brits and caused the American Revolution. This is a drastic simplification. People living during the French and Indian War were forced to lend supplies, equipment, shelter and manpower to the British army without compensation for a conflict many didn't support, started largely by a single colony that most equated to a separate country. This was before being asked at gunpoint to pay for the war and Britain's debts abroad. This is taxation without representation, which the British (and Pignataro) "thought only fair," as he puts it. Maybe the colonists should have directed more anger at local leaders who supported a war. In the end, it was rifts created by British rule during the French and Indian War, its unifying effect on the colonies, and the subsequent taxation and tighter administration that followed that formed the seeds of the Revolution. The colonies had paid their share, and many were no longer content to be "human resources" in the British Empire.

Bill Field
Midway City

In "P.U." (Art, July 13), Rebecca Schoenkopf questioned the legitimacy of the work presented at this year's Festival of the Arts, calling them "shallow, competent works" purchased only by the "phony, bourgeois folks who pretend to be liberal but secretly vote Republican," implying, it seems, that the people who purchase works at the festival have no real appreciation of art nor do they have pedigrees that go with authentic collectors. Schoenkopf then reverts to swearing to emphasize her disdain for all the art shown on the grounds. Personally, I have seen only two sailboats, neither of which is "perky," and it is common knowledge that serious, respected international collectors purchase the artists' works at the Festival of Art.

I am curious about two things concerning Schoenkopf: Why is she so vehement and angry in her writing, and where did she take her art degree? I have a degree and a master's in art! Schoenkopf's acid-laden comments were offensive to many, especially those with credentials!

Anne England
Laguna Beach

Re: Anthony Pignataro's story "Alternative Groove" (The County, July 20): What planet is CalPIRG from? They state that solar energy's availability is 96 percent. On my planet, the sun is below the horizon 50 percent of the time, and it is too low or hidden by clouds for much of the rest of the time. Nonetheless, CalPIRG wants the state to mandate 20 percent electricity production from renewables. Isn't this socialism, the tired old economic theory of the former Soviet Union? Let's just work on getting rid of all subsidies, including the 1.7 cent per kilowatt hour subsidy for wind, and see what works best.

Paul Studier
Lake Forest Anthony Pignataro responds: I can't speak for CalPIRG, but I'm for getting rid of all subsidies, including those that protect the oil industry—billions in tax credits, access to oil on public lands, and (most significant) the trillions of dollars spent over many decades protecting "vital U.S. interests" in such exotic locales as Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia.


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