Thirty-Five Years Ago
With each successive film, [Robert] Altman comes closer to the frank expression of something not so nice but conceivably profound. It’s turning out to be nothing more than the despicable compromise of just being himself: a surface-skimmer, a circus Svengali, a backseat driver, a diver into rubber pools. An acid washes through whatever he does, giving it the even sterility of a decadent bureaucracy. The killing at the end of nearly all his films indicates an inability to plot, to construct rather than merely to distribute. The outcome is a man dwindled by his affluence, a harlequin of props. A list of devices.
— “Altman and His Golden Calves,” James Goldberg, August 21, 1975
Thirty Years Ago
BOOLA BOOLA. Are you a Yale grad who can play softball and would love to stick it to Harvard? The game: September 6. Practice: Saturday, August 30, and Thursday, September 4. Eli needs you,
ASK AN IRANIAN. American journalist will be interviewing Iranians in U.S. concerning recent events. If you have a thoughtful and interesting question, I will use it in the interviews. Sincere replies only.
— CLASSIFIEDS, August 21, 1980
Twenty-Five Years Ago
For most Southern Californians, walking — the means of transportation most often used to traverse the distance between the front door and one’s car — is generally considered to be a behavior most frequently exhibited by citizens of the Third World and by U.S. nationals who, in a like manner, subsist on a grain-and-raw-foods diet. One need merely glance at the shockingly low projected life expectancies for the inhabitants of underdeveloped nations (where walking is widely practiced) to see that as a means of getting from one place to another, the automobile is clearly the most preferable.
— “A WALK ON THE WEIRD SIDE?” Abe Opincar, August 22, 1985
Twenty Years Ago
Your piece on Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, or rather, your attack on them, was clearly written by someone whose appreciation for music is limited, to say the least. Welcome to the crowd of plastic beatniks who think their 25-cent locutions will change the industry and how we feel about its pioneers.
I also take great exception to your comment on the late John “Bonzo” Bonham (in my opinion the greatest percussionist ever). I’m not just some “dude” that digs “Stairway to Heaven,” man.
— LETTERS: “WELCOME TO THE CROWD OF PLASTIC BEATNIKS,” John J. McLaughlin, August 23, 1990
Fifteen Years Ago
Need, need, need. Give, give, give. What did these Deadheads give back to my community? Mess. Noise. Traffic. Bad LSD, overpriced bracelets, and an atmosphere of fuzzy-headed dissipation diffusing itself throughout the land. Just the sight of them makes me want to yell, “Get a fucking job or go back home to your rich, white Marin County parents.”
— MUSIC SCENE: “WHAT’S BEN AND JERRY’S NEWEST FLAVOR?” Gina Arnold, August 17, 1995
Ten Years Ago
Here’s the idea: You get a bunch of writers together and you take them someplace cool, someplace evocative — the Santa Fe Depot, say — and you tell them, “Go ahead, write something.”
This could be a very bad idea.
Because of all the things an individual can do in the company of others, writing may be the one thing that must be done alone. Think of the solitary writer in cramped garret or cheap room or shambled studio, alone and alone, working into the night, working in the cool silver glow of her monitor with only her dictionary, her stamina, her small imagination.
Writing in a group might be okay for therapy, for an avant surrealist experiment, for some airy-fairy New Age outdoor campfest, but Real Writers, they have to go it Alone.
— “ARRIVALS AND DEPARTURES,” Judy Reeves, August 17, 2000
Five Years Ago
The big three networks are losing ground to the cable channels. They’ve been bitching and moaning that we’re just not watching their shows and commercials anymore. They’re not making money like they used to. Hmmmm... I wonder why. BECAUSE YOUR SHOWS SUCK, YOU IDIOTS!
— REMOTE CONTROL KING, Ollie, August 18, 2005