The origins of rock criticism
In regards to Kevin J.H. Dettmar's review of Robert Christgau's "Going Into the City" ["A Rock Critic Pioneer, on the Record," March 1], Dettmar suggests that we peg the birth of rock criticism to Richard Goldstein's establishing his Pop Eye column in the Village Voice, in June 1966. By then, Paul Williams' independently published, nationally distributed Crawdaddy, solely dedicated to covering the music, had been in business for five months. Little over a month after the debut of Pop Eye, Greg Shaw's similarly focused weekly, the Mojo-Navigator Rock & Roll News, began its run in San Francisco. Williams and Shaw are both gone now, but their contributions should not be forgotten.
About those ISIS videos ...
The writer notes ["Orange and Black Is the New ISIS," March 1] that these slick productions are all the more effective in helping to recruit young males already influenced by slick productions of violent films and video games. And that they're all the more effective in pushing the buttons of their imagined enemies here in the West and elsewhere.
Judging by some reader comments, I'd say it's working.
Susan K. Lafferty
I'd be curious to hear more about why U.S. efforts are failing to stop these guys, given the size of the military budget and the sophistication of existing and emerging technology at our disposal.
Beam him up for POP experiment
James Taylor's article was good, and it has gotten me interested in viewing "Dead Man Walking" ["Composer Looks at Opera's Upside," March 1]. I appreciate the reference to the Industry too. However, I was disappointed there was no reference to the Pacific Opera Project, a company that has been producing old classics in exciting new ways. For example, this weekend, POP is performing Mozart's "Abduction From the Seraglio" at the El Portal. It is doing the performance with "Star Trek" characters.
To me, POP's experimental productions go hand in hand with the new operas Taylor was writing about. They are new and creative and different, and there's definitely something to be said for sitting 10 feet from the stage at a table drinking wine that makes it hard for me to ever go back to an L.A. Opera production.
Robert P. Khoury
Oh, the effects of Chris Barton
I meant to thank Chris Barton for his Feb. 22 "Overrated," in which he commented that "Still Alice" "crib[s] its lone raw and impactful scene from the far more poetic 'Angels in America.'" Not only did I feel the same way, but I've used it as an example for my students when they write essays on literature.
I warn them about ending paragraphs — and especially ending essays — with a quote, in case their readers decide that their writing pales in comparison to that of the author they're discussing. Never allow an audience member to compare your work to that of someone more poetic.
In his March 1 "Underrated/Overrated" column, Barton asks who is Lady Gaga, and so do I. I grew up with Sinatra and Bennett and shy away from music I don't understand. I heard the name Lady Gaga — is it because I am so close to 70 that just the name makes me take a U-turn? But wait, who was that singing the songs from "The Sound of Music" at the Oscars? Who was the person who took Julie Andrews' songbook and made it alive again?
What a sound — what a voice. Someone said you can't tell a book by its cover; has that statement ever been more true?
A treasure, or a snoozer?
I remember Victor Barbee [pictured in a Times "Sleeping Beauty" photo gallery] in his first solos with American Ballet Theatre in the 1980s ["Reawakening a Russian Classic," March 1]. By hiring Alexei Ratmansky as its artist in residence, ABT continues in stellar dance glory. (I even moderate the political criticism of David Koch because he has financially guided ABT, the New York City Ballet and other deserving performance treasures.
Yawn ["A 'Beauty' for L.A. Ballet," March 1]. Art thrives where it opens new doors, not polishing the old brass over and over.