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Entertainment & Arts

Feedback: James Taylor beyond the persona, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez more than skin deep

James Taylor
James Taylor in Bel-Air.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

Thank you for Amy Kaufman’s great profile of James Taylor [“The Years of Fire and Rain,” Feb. 2]. I also saw Jane Pauley’s interview with Taylor.

I think it is important to view him as a total person and not just the musician persona. Furthermore, the two interviews show how complex his life has become, and I think it is important that fans of James Taylor see both interviews. Thanks for telling us this story.

Gregg Smith
Irvine

Feeding off ‘Parasite’

Regarding Justin Chang’s essay “The Oscars Need ‘Parasite’ More Than ‘Parasite’ Needs the Oscars” [Feb. 1]: Yes, I totally agree that the Oscars need a shakeup regarding foreign-language movies.

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Nevertheless, I failed to see the magnificence behind the accolades this movie is receiving. What is so new about the haves and have-nots? It is a topic that has been on celluloid forever.

This movie was unnerving, to say the least, almost comical to see the ketchup-smeared characters attacking one another.

Foreign language, absolutely. Try “Les Misérables,” the latest French version of violence and poverty.

Christine Peterson
Woodland Hills

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Readers need Justin Chang the critic, not Justin Chang the advocate. His most recent diatribe in a never-ending series of articles regarding “Parasite” clearly demonstrates that Chang has become a lobbyist for one particular movie he is passionate about. Calendar should not be a platform from which an individual can launch an influence campaign, something Chang is clearly trying to do.

Heavy-handed articles on the last days of voting are particularly offensive when they suggest that those who do not agree with Chang are sellouts.

Luca Bentivoglio
Santa Monica

Save LACMA ... from itself

Regarding “Major Pledge Moves LACMA Ahead” by Deborah Vankin and Christopher Knight [Jan. 31]: Is the Keck foundation’s $50-million pledge the final nail in LACMA’s concrete coffin? It’s not too late for the board of supervisors to withdraw its approval of this disaster in the making.

Yes, LACMA’s buildings need replacing, but the museum needs more space, not less; flexibility, not cast concrete, and room to expand.

This project is the antithesis of good design and is being driven by big donors’ desires for fancy plaques. The blatant lie of a 2024 completion date should be enough to cause the board to call a halt, not to mention the trustees playing fast and loose with the budget estimates.

John Sherwood
Topanga

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At last year’s Dec. 3 City Council meeting, after the vote for LACMA’s request to build an overpass across Wilshire Boulevard, we were surprised to see how unenthusiastic LACMA’s leadership appeared to be when they won. That is, until we realized why: LACMA does not have the money for this billion-dollar project.

Knight and Vankin’s article further confirms our position that LACMA simply does not have the ability to fund its outrageously overpriced rebuild.

Ultimately, LACMA will have to lean on the county, in other words the taxpayers, to cover a potential $500-million shortfall.

Rob Hollman, board chairman of Save LACMA
Valley Village

In the key of Higgins Clark

Sarah Weinman’s appreciation of Mary Higgins Clark [“No Mystery to Bestselling Writer’s Appeal,” Feb. 4] brought smiles and wonderful memories of this mystery writer whose novels both my mom and I devoured.

Weinman’s reporting was also a delight to read, comprehensive yet succinct.

As with this turn of a phrase, “Her style was clean — no profanity or sex — her heroines endearing and her resolutions tactful, with the perfect sting of surprise.”

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I also appreciated this quote from Jonathan Karp, that encapsulated Mary Higgins Clark’s genius: “She’s singing in a major key and playing big meaty chords and people are applauding at the end of the song.”

Darlene A. Pienta
Indian Wells

Pole swings

Mikael Wood described the Super Bowl halftime performances by Shakira and Jennifer Lopez as “Latin American pride” [“Dazzling Touchdown Dance,” Feb. 3]. I, and a group of people with me, frankly found them, with their half-naked, twerking dance numbers, sleazy and disgusting. Much more so with J.Lo.

The Super Bowl is a family show, not an R-rated movie. The group I was with included a 6-year-old. Do he and the rest of us need to see Lopez doing a pole-dance/strip number with a skimpy outfit leaving little to the imagination?

One woman in our group said it amazes her that “the #MeToo women complain about being treated like sex objects and yet these women get up on stage and act like sex objects!”

John D. Wagner
Altadena

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The Times photo coverage of the Super Bowl and halftime show said it all: fully clothed men and barely dressed women.
Good old American family entertainment, that is.

David Weaver
San Juan Capistrano

Famous fiddler

Regarding “Violin’s Pluck and Pull” [Feb. 1]: Mark Swed points out that the violin is “the most popular instrument after the guitar and piano,” yet the most awarded musician in American history is the singer and violinist Alison Krauss, with 27 Grammy Awards and recently the recipient of the National Medal of Arts.

Krauss sings better than most and plays better than most, and she also chose the correct instrument to play. No American is more associated with the guitar or the piano than Krauss is associated with the violin or the fiddle.

Joe Colville
Torrance

‘Ugly Betty’ was beautiful

Yolanda Machado makes prodigious points in her appreciation of Silvio Horta [“A TV Heroine Who Looked Like Her Fans,” Jan. 10]. The show “Ugly Betty” is much deeper than a quirky girl with red glasses, braces and a big dream.
I was too young to be watching TV the first time I watched “Ugly Betty.” Somehow, I could still relate to many of the hardships that Betty (America Ferrera) would face. I felt the same pain Betty felt when someone told her that eyebrows shouldn’t connect in the middle.
When I was in the third grade, a girl came up to me, examined my face, and said, “You know that there’s people that can fix it when your eyebrows touch.” I asked my mom why did I have more hair than everyone else? She simply said it was because I was Mexican.
I hated my nationality. Until I saw how comfortable Betty was with who she is. I saw that she was still loved and desired by others despite her race and her looks. It was genuinely moving for me at such a young age.
Jadin Rubio
San Jose

What about the cartels?

Regarding “‘Dirt’ Was the Story, for the Wrong Reasons” by Jess Row [Feb. 2]: As soon as I heard about “American Dirt” I wanted to read it. I have followed what has been happening in Mexico for the past four decades, since teaching first grade at El Colegio Americano de Durango, a private school in Durango, Mexico.

I am sickened to my core every single time I read about the horrors that have been inflicted upon the Mexican people by drug cartels. The points made by Row in the latest piece about “American Dirt” are definitely concerning. And the many pieces that have discussed the publishing world and how hard it is for Latino authors to have their stories told is something that needs to change.

Yes, choosing barbed wire as the book cover of the story was in poor taste. But the horrors of the drug cartels in Mexico are completely ignored in each and every article I’ve read.

Ellen Dorfman Goldenberg
Seal Beach

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If white people can only write about white people, that must mean Hispanics can only write about Hispanics and black people can only write about black people.

So, goodbye “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Goodbye “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Apparently, all writers are now constrained to writing autobiographies, lest they be accused of cultural appropriation. Oh, sorry: goodbye “Black Like Me,” too, I guess.

I’m a liberal, but, God, we can be tiresome.

Barry Davis
Agoura Hills

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The publisher of “American Dirt,” by touting claims that this book “defined the migrant experience,” handed out the pitchforks and lit the torches for the mob hungry for the author’s head. The author never made such claims about her novel, and judging by the reactions of many readers, she not only told a good story, she brought to light many of the gruesome experiences faced by migrants.

If an author deliberately sets out to malign, impugn, degrade or debase others on the basis of race, class, gender or age, she or he should never be rewarded with publication. However, if we silence the voices of those with good stories to tell, we will be, in a sense, burning books before they ever hit the shelves.

Mollie Tammone
Oceanside


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