Feedback: Too cruel to Barry Manilow, too kind to Brian Wilson?
In response to Mikael Wood’s review of the recent Barry Manilow concert at the Hollywood Bowl [“He Lets the Schmaltz Do His Talking,” Sept. 9], I must disagree with the review’s closing statement: “For Manilow, perhaps, it was enough to give us our money’s worth — to hold up his end of an old-fashioned deal. He writes the songs; we pay his bills.”
As a fan of Manilow’s from when I was a teenager in the 1970s, I believe his performance Friday night was a sincere and wonderfully delivered love letter to his audience. To me, it seemed to come from his heart — as evidenced by the utter devotion of the crowd and its amazingly warm response to the music and the man sharing it. It was so not a pay-for-play situation.
Wood found fault with Manilow making “no mention of coming out in 2017 — after decades of pubic speculation about his sexuality” — why should Manilow have had to? Do we require heterosexual artists to talk about their personal romantic lives in order to believe that they are authentic?
If Wood did not see the heart in Barry Manilow’s performance, then it seems as if he missed out on a rich musical experience.
I was at the concert Mikael Wood reviewed and have been a “Fanilow” since 1974, going to dozens of Barry’s shows, and I I found the review rather unoriginal.
Barry has joked about how critics have called his work “schmaltzy” since the beginning. Sure, is it syrupy sweet sometimes? Yes, of course. But it’s what his fans love and we keep coming back for more year after year.
And it’s 2019, does he really need to address his coming out and marriage to a man anymore? I couldn’t care less who he loves. If he’s happy, the music will continue.
Barry and I have been meeting in darkened theaters, cavernous arenas and even at New York City’s Central Park (where he played backup piano for Bette Midler) since we were both in our 20s. He has provided one of the soundtracks of my life, and I have showed my appreciation and loyalty by clapping, cheering, waving glitter sticks, singing along and most of all, by listening. That’s the deal a performer makes with his audience — he sends out the love and we radiate it back to him. A blissful two hours where the name Trump never crosses your mind.
West Los Angeles
Not everyone had fun, fun, fun
Regarding “It’s Anxiety-Free Fun, Fun, Fun” [Sept. 14], Randy Lewis’ review of Brian Wilson at the Greek: I was at that show but I almost cannot believe that I attended the same performance, because what I read was a sad, nostalgic glorification of a man who lost his gift long ago.
I find the article quite upsetting. Brian Wilson sat like a prop behind a piano. I’m not even sure he played. And the few times he actually, audibly sang, he couldn’t even follow his own rhythm or sing in the right key.
Wilson has suffered a great deal of adversity throughout his life. But no one, no matter their mental state or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, should be this intensely romanticized. That’s just wrong.
‘SNL’ and comic Shane Gillis
Regarding “Sorry, SNL, Bias is No Joke” [Sept. 16] by Lorraine Ali: I read your piece on Shane Gillis’ language and understand the need to curb offensive language. But I’m just as concerned that NBC’s first reaction to Gillis’ offensive joke was to take his job away. Was there no more measured way to deal with it?
I’m sensitive about limitations on acceptable thought. In 1944 my grandfather in Hungary lost his job and career for listening to the BBC.
‘Hustlers,’ ‘She Said’ square off
The irony of featuring Justin Chang’s movie review of “Hustlers” [“Credit Is Due”] beside Mary McNamara’s book review of “She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Unite a Movement” [“Must Read What ‘She Said’”] on the Calendar front page [Sept. 13] was not lost on me.
Two sides of the same coin.
Maureen Di Domenico
Film critic Justin Chang wrote a lengthy and positive review about the movie “Hustlers” starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu. The front page of the Calendar section also had Mary McNamara’s review of the book “She Said” about thelife-changing nature of sexual harassment.
Chang writes that “Hustlers” is “brashly entertaining” and “brassy and invigorating.” Hollywood might say it is only a fantasy movie, but it seems much more like an apology for people using power and sex as a weapon. A reverse ploy to counter the Harvey Weinsteins of the world.
The movie and Chang’s critique send a strong message that ethics and morals in business and personal life does not matter.
It would be entertaining and noteworthy for Hollywood to portray matters of sex and power in a positive, responsible atmosphere.
He won’t dip his toe in the stream
While Yvonne Villareal’s tribute to “Transparent” [“Goodbye, Now Cue the Music,” Sept. 15] was engaging, it was also frustrating and depressing. It reminded me of just how much cutting-edge TV I’m missing by not accessing sites like Amazon and Netflix.
Until recently I didn’t even know those sites existed. Alas, unless it appears on HBO, I’m never going to see anything remotely “cutting-edge.”
On the other hand, I confess to looking forward to Season 21 of “Law and Order: SVU.”
Cue up some country music
I totally dug Randy Lewis’ excellent article “Keepin’ It Real: A Country Playlist” [Sept. 8]. A 1999 song by Texan Doug Sahm came immediately to mind in describing past country-music greatness.
Titled “Oh No! Not Another One,” it takes the bull by the horns on the first verse:
“I just turned on my CMT today
Man my mind was blown away
There was a young dude walkin’ ‘cross the stage like a gazelle
Hell, I bet he never even heard of Lefty Frizell
Oh no not another one
Oh no not another one
I’m a real country fan son
Oh no not another one...”
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