TO THE EDITOR: As a part-time reader, in general I turn to your publication for information—movie times/reviews, readings, plays, that sort of thing. Sometimes I read the articles, and sometimes I enjoy them. They are vindictive, amusing, eclectic, outright stupid, boringly about small bands and venues, and engaging.
However, in the November 29 edition, under your Books department, you offered an article by Tao Lin entitled "The Levels of Greatness a Fiction Writer Can Achieve in America: From Lowest to Highest," and Constant Reader: "The (Other) King of the Airport Thriller" by Paul Constant. Not only were both of your "features" on books this week (and many weeks) absolutely, fabulously inane—the notion that a rather ridiculous taxonomy of writers' relative prospects would engage, or that Mr. Constant's (you pay this man?) misadventures at a bookstore at the airport is remotely worth the seconds that were assaulted by his (lack of) insights—but, when compared to your coverage of any other media, whether it be theater, movies, or music, it becomes starkly apparent that you should just stop dealing with books at all.
Pages and pages of information about musicians, venues, CDs, drunks, posters... reviews of plays, movies, DVDs, games, restaurants, even gallery showings, and your "alternative arts" coverage of the world of books is a mental enema and a plug for a bestseller sold at grocery-store checkout stands?
I have a crazy idea. What about a book review?! What about a couple?! What about an article about actual books?
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
TO ANNIE WAGNER: I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated reading your review of My So-Called Life, and how spot-on it was [DVD, Nov 29]. For me the episode "So-Called Angels" has become a Christmas tradition, and I force any guests to watch it with me. If they have a dry eye, they don't have a heart.
As a gay man (much older than I'd like to admit) who used to live in L.A., I often spotted celebrities, but I do have to say that one of the most fun experiences was to sit at a table next to Wilson "Rickie" Cruz at the Cobalt Cantina in Silver Lake one evening. I marched in gay pride parades in a region (Bible Belt Texas) where it was dangerous—precisely so that stories like those of Rickie wouldn't be as likely to happen to the next generation.
ANOTHER SATISFIED CUSTOMER
EDITOR: At the risk of blacklisting myself from this fish-wrapper outfit you call journalism, I want to make a few things clear. Charles Mudede's visit to Shift Studio was perfunctory ["It's the Little Things," Dec 6]; he failed to truly see anything there except eight artists installing work. Charles, I will put it in language you (a writer of petty crime) can understand: This practice is comparable to a police officer showing up at a burglary and reporting it as a domestic disturbance because it took place in a house. If I am to consider the Christmas shopper when making art, then I retire from the "business" today. Your own expectations of finding purchasable trinkets for loved ones mitigate your experiences and that is you thinking small. My piece was commentary on the blog-happy state of affairs this vapid society has reached, where every bowel movement is posted and endlessly commented on by pale out-of-work graphic designers residing in their mothers' basements. No, my eyelash was not for sale. Next time you want to shop, go to the craft fair and not to a building full of emerging artists working in installations and concepts beyond your scope of understanding.
Amanda Mae, Shift Studio
THOSE KEYBOARDS WILL APPRECIATE YOUR RESTRAINT
MEGAN SELING: I wanted to let you know that I hated the piece you wrote ["The Long Winter," Nov 22]. You finger yourself to other people's tragedies and you attempt to glorify them in the most pathetic ways imaginable while making yourself the center of attention and the "real" sufferer (not the person who becomes a vegetable or who kills themselves, but you! the spectator). Unless you were attempting a piece at self-mockery and mockery of our generation, this entire essay failed. Finding solace in Martha Stewart cookie recipes, whether sincerely or ironically, is pathetic. You are a terrible writer and a terrible dime-store philosopher. Give up writing and go into advertising or something. You have no meaningful words.
We all have problems. Everyone is miserable. I want to commit suicide every day. I have for years. Some of us have the intelligence to keep our insignificant pain off of LiveJournal and MySpace, let alone out of a major city's alternative paper.
I will give you credit, though. Your piece moved me. In a way it was a reflection of my own misery, and as I read it I feared that my own personal introspection was as shallow as yours. It made me never want to touch a keyboard ever again.