Richard Gehr’s feature on Frank Zappa’s album “Hot Rats” [“Still Smokin’” March 8] is engaging and interesting but also has some hooey. Chief among that is the author’s claim that “‘Hot Rats’ introduced what would come to be known as jazz-rock fusion.”
I have never once heard it suggested that “Hot Rats” was any sort of milestone in that awkward hyphenate “jazz-rock,” probably because it just ain’t so. The album came out in October 1969. The L.A. band Spirit was mixing jazz and rock on their first album, released a year and a half earlier, with a drummer and keyboardist who came from the jazz world and a teenage guitarist as deeply influenced by Wes Montgomery as he was Jimi Hendrix.
As psychedelic as the band could be, they’d also play Coltrane tunes at the Whiskey. Around the same time on the East Coast, Larry Coryell and Native American sax player Jim Pepper were mixing jazz and rock in the Free Spirits.
In more mainstream music, Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Chicago Transit Authority and Electric Flag were also throwing a lot of jazz at the fan. In a 1968 Downbeat “Blindfold Test,” the Flag’s first album was practically the only disc that Miles Davis liked, and he later used its bassist, Harvey Brooks, on his recordings.
On Zappa’s own label, Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart) was blowing free-jazz soprano sax over a disjointed rock backing. And Ray Charles was mixing jazz and rock in the 1950s.
There was even an early 1960s Orange County surf band, the Nocturnes, who recorded a heady mix of reverb and Brubeck/Kenton-influenced jazz.
Latinos get no respect on TV
I found the comments about the “Gentefied” portrayal of white people interesting [“Calendar Feedback: Disappointed in Promising Series,” March 1].
I just finished watching a “SEAL Team” episode on CBS where the only Latino on the team is portrayed as a lying dishonorable backstabber, surrounded by his white SEAL Team brothers. It appeared adding a Latino to the cast was an effort to clean the tarnished “SEAL Team” brand where none were Latino.
This is not the only program to portray Latinos in a bad light; there are many in every network. Don’t Latinos have enough problems being portrayed as criminals and rapists in society today without the network television joining in?
Many Latinos are hard-working professionals in every profession this society has to offer, yet there are very few programs to demonstrate that. Come on networks, clean up your programming.
‘Affection’ is far from accurate
A reader [“Calendar Feedback: Placido’s Sincere Hugs,” March 8] criticized Mary McNamara’s column about Plácido Domingo saying “a musician can be openly affectionate and Placido’s charisma is a reflection of his passion for music.”
Domingo is not being criticized for being openly affectionate. He has been accused by many women of using his power to demand his sexual advances be accepted and consented to.
That is much closer to rape than a show of open affection.
Edgardo A. Romero
Sorting out the culture clash
Regarding “Oprah Brings ‘Dirt’ Out of Echo Chamber” by Lorraine Ali [March 7]: What was apparent in the Oprah interview with author Jeanine Cummins (“American Dirt”) was the obvious intent to persuade the audience that only Latina authors can depict the Latina experience.
Also apparent was the insidious implication that the freedom of expression of art should be regulated by critics and adversaries. It was disappointing to witness the racism that influenced this judgment.
I have only three words for those of that persuasion: Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Oprah should have done a little more research with Latinos before she decided to recommend the book about a culture she knows nothing about.
Why can’t news play it straight?
Regarding “Fox News Can Play it Straight” [March 6]: The sub headline for Stephen Battaglio’s article states, “During its primary coverage, the network skips partisanship and sticks to the facts.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us, including The Times, could say the same about Fox News’ competitors (MSNBC and CNN)?
Stephen Battaglio is proud of Fox News for playing it straight. Now, if only the mainstream media, CNN, and MSNBC would play it straight as well.
But according to Battaglio, the liberal media journalists are playing it straight. Huh?
I don’t get the elite media’s morbid fascination with Fox News. Everyone has a channel they can turn to and get their news.
Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro provide private counsel to President Trump.
With these experts in persuasion on board, memes like “crooked Hillary” and “sleepy Joe” get noticed. With repetition, it’s effective.
The Democratic side need to come up with a counter. Maybe calling him Acting President Trump might remind people of his semi-legitimacy and his unpresidential behavior.
Woody Allen memoirs mess
Regarding “Farrow Siblings Slam Allen’s Book” [March 4]: Ronan and Dylan Farrow’s notion that they were entitled to “fact check” Woody Allen’s memoirs in advance of publication is patently absurd. But if it’s fact checking they want, they can check these facts:
In 1992, Mia Farrow made accusations of child molestation against Allen in the middle of contentious visitation and support negotiations for their three shared children (two adopted, one biological). This launched a criminal investigation by the Connecticut State Police, spearheaded by the highly respected Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale/New Haven Hospital. After seven months of numerous witness interviews, medical and psychological exams, their conclusion was that the 7-year-old Dylan “was not sexually abused by Mr. Allen. Further, we believe that Dylan’s statements do not refer to actual events.”
After 60 years in the public eye, in which he’s worked with countless actresses and female staff, Allen has not had a single accusation of inappropriate behavior lodged against him by anyone — in front of or behind the camera. So trying to make Mia and Dylan’s debunked accusation into a #MeToo case against Allen just doesn’t hold water.
Since neither Dylan or Ronan Farrow have read a word of Allen’s upcoming memoir, we can presume it’s not what he says that they object to so much as it is his right to say it.
Robert B. Weide
I’d like to know who put Ronan Farrow and his sister Dylan in charge of what books are allowed to be published in this country.
I understand that Ronan Farrow did wonderful things in exposing the sexual misconduct of some of the most powerful men in the country, but that doesn’t make him qualified to be the censor of what people are permitted to read.
Similarly, while I understand that Dylan Farrow has claimed that Woody Allen molested her as a child, Allen has always denied the molestation allegation and he was never charged with that crime after extensive investigation.
How does that give her any authority to demand that a publisher not publish Allen’s memoirs. Allen has long been regarded as a comic genius and a national treasure. He has written and produced some of the best and most important films that this country has produced.
Moreover, although those films have featured some of the most beautiful women actresses, not one has ever claimed that he ever harassed them or made unwanted sexual advances.
I want to read his memoirs and I certainly don’t want Ronan and Dylan Farrow telling me what I can or can’t read.
Alvin S. Michaelson
Marina Del Rey
Upbeat notes on late music exec
Regarding “Joe Smith, ‘Well-Loved Executive’” [March 6]: What a wonderful description of the Joe Smith memorial celebration.
I never met Joe Smith but now wish I had after reading Randy Lewis’ story.
Nice piece on Joe Smith. Before I became aware of his recording industry accomplishments he was simply the guy who, with his wife who wore the funny basketball player earrings, sat in front of me at Lakers games. A true fan.
Years ago during their Showtime run I saw him at a Silver Lake cafe and approached him to share in our team’s success. He tried to ignore me until I asked him if he was the husband of the lady with the funny earrings at Lakers games. His face lit up and he admitted first thinking, “Oh no, here’s another guy with a demo tape.” We ended up having an animated chat about how our Lakers were dong that season. Very nice man.
Enough with the comics reprints
I no longer read reprints in the comics section, including “Peanuts” and the Monday thru Saturday “Doonesbury.” At least the daily “Doonesbury” strip has a notice that reads “This is a reprint.” Why doesn’t the “Peanuts” strip do the same?
How to keep LACMA great
LACMA is the West’s greatest museum. The core of its greatness lies in its permanent collections — European, Asian and American art and more. This greatness is in danger of being lost if the Zumthor plans for a new LACMA are realized.
The Zumthor design is ill-conceived. It would cause LACMA to lose about two-thirds of it display space, and would prevent display of these collections. The cement walls are problematic for displaying art work, and curator and office space would need to be rented adding to the expense. The new site could be much better used as a mixed-use project generating revenue.
The present site could be reused more wisely with remodeled buildings or a new one, and the unused Northern part of the present site could be used more imaginatively with a bandshell for outdoor concerts.
Please contact Kathryn Barger or other L.A. County supervisors to reexamine the plans and funding for this project.
It’s not just ‘Chinese’
Regarding “Calendar Listings: Movie Openings” [March 8]: Chinese is not a spoken language, so when you write “In Chinese with English subtitles,” our friends who speak Mandarin, and would not be able to read the English subtitles, won’t know if the film’s dialogue is in Cantonese.