Regarding “50 Songs for a New L.A.” project by Randall Roberts [Dec. 8]: The Neko Case song you cite, “In California,” was written by Lisa Marr and recorded and released on the 2000 album, “4AM” by the Lisa Marr Experiment.
Great band, great singer and a great song full of regret for having moved to Los Angeles, “living in Koreatown / waking to the sound of car alarms.”
Where is Collective Soul’s “Hollywood”? This tune perfectly captures the sunny, synthetic, sexy energy of La La Land. This is Tinseltown anthropomorphized into a sweet object of desire.
As I was enjoying the “L.A. Songs Hall of Fame” section [of the Dec. 8 “50 Songs for a New L.A.” project by Randall Roberts] I came across A Tribe Called Quest’s “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo.” My daughter lives in El Segundo, so I asked if she’d heard it. Yes, she had, but she was surprised it showed up in this list since the song is about Mexico.
Editor’s note: A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip is on record saying that the inspiration for “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” was Redd Foxx’s “Sanford and Son” character, who talked about his Ripple wine coming from “the vineyards of El Segundo” and of wanting to commission a painting of Moses parting an El Segundo oil spill. It was a Southern California joke.
Really? Where is the Doors’ “L.A. Woman”? That song is L.A.
I’m willing to bet you will get a letter from drummer John Densmore protesting the omission of “L.A. Woman” by his band, the Doors.
With that in mind, here are some more songs to top off the Hall of Fame list at 50 classics:
The Doors, “L.A. Woman”; The Beach Boys, “Surfin’ USA”; Dick Dale, “King of the Surf Guitar”; Albert Hammond, “From Great Britain to L.A.”; Jan & Dean, “The Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association”; Kay Keyser, “When Veronica Plays Her Harmonica Down on the Pier in Santa Monica”; Felix Figueroa, “Pico & Sepulveda”; Neil Young, “L.A.”; Iggy Pop and James Williamson, “Kill City.”
I can’t argue with any of the choices Randall Roberts claims to be a panoramic portrait of Los Angeles in the 21st century, but I canpoint out an astounding omission [in] the 40 “classics” listed in The Times’ inaugural class of the L.A. Songs Hall of Fame.
To leave out “L.A. Woman” by the Doors, one of Los Angeles’ most iconic bands, is like writing about Christianity and not mentioning Jesus.
“Lonesome L.A. Cowboy” by the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Just listen to the L.A.-specific lyrics and you’ll see why it is also a special ode to a special place that we call home.
Two overlooked songs: “Pico & Sepulveda” from the early Big Band era and the New Riders of the Purple Sage’s “Lonesome L.A. Cowboy,” about the ’60s music scene. I can’t help but think that these classics influenced the later songs on the list.
The 1987 song “City of Angels” by 10,000 Maniacs, a prescient recording which reflects our current homeless crisis was overlooked.
“Come a Long Way” by Michelle Shocked. Released in 1992 on her album “Arkansas Traveler,” it paints a beautiful day in the life of an Angeleno traveling throughout L.A. on her motorbike, evading a repo man.
Madonna’s song “Hollywood” (from the “American Life” album) was left out.
Everybody comes to Hollywood
They want to make it in the neighborhood
They like the smell of it in Hollywood
How could it hurt you when it looks so good?
Editor’s note: What else did we leave out of our 50 Songs for a New L.A. and L.A. Songs Hall of Fame? Enter your picks here.
Democracy on the small screen
Regarding TV critic Lorraine Ali’s [“Fact is, This is Not ‘Law & Order,’ ” Dec. 6]. As a retired attorney, I concur that the reality of legal proceedings is not consistent with television drama. The goal of a trial is to ascertain the truth. Not so with portrayals on television which, after all, are meant as entertainment.
The truth of the current hearings before the House committees has demonstrated facts and conclusions that are airtight. They are also consistent with factual determinations of the Mueller report and other sources. The Republican tactics and position are based on a practice that I have seen in many jury trials, which is: when you don’t have the facts or the law on your side, bang the table, attack people and raise diversions in the fact of reality.
This article raises a real issue at the heart of whether or not our democracy and rule of law will survive. When did television and over-hyped reporting replace what our educational system and upbringing should have instilled, which is a basic understanding of America, its Constitution and the importance of truth and reason?
The final sentence says it all, “Should our democracy really depend more on legal dramas than it does on the law?”
Michael H. Miller
TV critic Lorraine Ali says the current impeachment inquiries, “do not appear to have significantly shifted public opinion.” Does any TV? Only “Trump On Trial” might crack the frozen sea inside an already axed-down-the-middle America.
I am happy I read the entire article because I was getting angry at what seemed to be a rather flippant overview of the House of Representatives’ Judicial Committee hearings to determine the next steps in resolving a serious threat to our Constitution and our future as a republic.
The last few lines were the real message -”...but maybe it’s time to stop craving spectacle and start listening to the facts. Should our democracy really depend more on legal dramas than it does on the law?”
In my opinion, that should have been the headline.
I found the hearings informative and engrossing and spent most of Wednesday watching and appreciating the legal scholarship and Constitutional analysis and how it defines the impeachment issues. Full disclosure: I watch the “Law and Order” reruns regularly. I think it is still one of the best shows on TV.
Lorraine Ali’s piece may enlighten the many who have a bare understanding of our unique democracy and no idea of the many processes its functioning requires. I have heard and read comments that the impeachment proceedings are “boring.”
Tedious, yes, but not boring if you truly care about how we govern ourselves and of how important it is to keep a fire under our elected officials so that they do their jobs faithfully. Our public has become so used to scripted events that it has but a slight grasp of what is happening.
Even though I disagree that “The Democrats methodically laid out an airtight case,” I must compliment you for a very colorful and entertaining article.
Palos Verdes Estates
‘Starved’ for Mister Rogers
Mary McNamara’s column [“Real Magic of Mister Rogers,” Nov. 30] rightly noted that despite a superb performance by Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” was less about Mister Rogers than it should have been.
That said, this well-crafted film confronts us with the inescapable contrast between the decency of Mr. Rogers and President Trump’s total negation of the same.
As I exited the theater, others around me were expressing their gratitude for the message of the film. When I said to them, “We hunger for this,” they replied, “No, we are starved for this.”
A chillingly familiar show
Makeda Easter’s review of “El Sueño Americano,” Tom Kiefer’s photography show at the Skirball Cultural Center [“Object Lesson,” Dec. 8], makes no mention of the similarities between Kiefer’s pictures of items confiscated by the Border Patrol, and the heaps of similar items now exhibited behind glass at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.
I found the similarities spine-chilling. However, the fact that the show is at the Skirball Center makes the case, whether the comparison is drawn or not.
Hopping to his many meanings
Christopher Knight‘s review of the Nayland Blake retrospective at ICA LA [“Nayland Blake Wryly Explores Sex, Prejudice,” Dec. 4] captured the double and triple meanings in this wry artist’s work.
Weaving in the history of the AIDS crisis, Knight unfurls the multi-layered meanings of the rabbit symbol. I don’t know if I would have caught the irony in the erotic power of sexuality and its sorrow had I visited this exhibit without Knight’s guide to comprehending it.
Charlie Brown, the great equalizer
Regarding “How ‘Peanuts’ Shaped Writers’ Worldview” [Dec.1]: As Patrick Kiger points out, it is remarkable how strong the Peanuts cartoon has been in shaping our lives.
Some 50 years ago, I did a research survey on the attitudes of political club members at a large university (Brooklyn College). After asking a series of substantive questions, I included a question that asked respondents to “choose which Peanuts character they most identified with.”
My thinking was that students in Republican and conservative groups would identify most with Lucy, the hard-nosed realist, while Democrats and leftists would identify most with Charlie Brown, the introspective idealist forced to endure life at the bottom. I was surprised to find out, however, that students across all political persuasions identified most with Charlie Brown.
I’ve thought about that study many times over the years, concluding that perhaps, even in turbulent times like then and now, we’re more alike than we sometimes think.
Scorsese, Chang are on the mark
I share Martin Scorsese’s distress at the current state of movies, as related by Justin Chang in his excellent column [“Scorsese Proves Yet Again Why He’s Essential,” Dec. 1]
Comic book movies are more like theme parks than cinema, and economics dictate that television reigns as the chief source of our cultural narrative. It’s a shame.
Theaters, whether movie or “legit” are a communal experience, where strangers can dream together in the dark and have their lives mutually enriched for it.
Television is an appliance. Shared many dreams from your toaster lately?
More book reviews
I want to thank you for the recent book reviews in the Arts & Books section. I look forward each week to the essay quality and great guidance you normally offer with book reviews instead of interviews, like [‘The Preacher of ‘Radical Kinship’ on Father Gregory Boyle, Dec. 8]. Please keep writers like David Ulin and Carolyn Kellogg present in your pages.