Feedback: Political cartoon attacking Biden is not satire. It’s hollow nastiness

US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the 2020 Republican Convention.
President Trump and Vice President Pence at the Republican National Convention.
(Pool Photo)


Mark Swed’s “How to Listen” column on Schubert’s B Flat Sonata [“The Real Thrills are in the Trills,” Aug. 26] brought me back to a world of culture that I so miss during these pandemic times.

I brought out my book of Schubert sonatas and slowly played my way through the work he so lovingly described, relishing every note in a way I had almost forgotten.

Thank you for keeping us rooted in the arts. Beauty is the best balm.


Milania Henley
Westlake Village


I count myself among those who find pleasure and consolation in the Wednesday “How to Listen” essays by Mark Swed. And while I applaud the choice of Schubert’s Sonata in B Flat as the topic of his most recent essay, significant omissions cannot go without comment.

Swed directs insightful attention to the moments within the Molto moderato (i) in which trills and silences sound as “the embodiment of uncertainty,” the more significant with Schubert’s death only two months away. The essay only hints, however, at the profound introspection of the Andante sostenuto (ii) in which Schubert can be heard coming to terms with his own mortality.

This movement (the positioning and character of which recall “The Marche Funebre” of Beethoven’s Symphony n. 3) seems not so much to hide “secrets” as to reveal an apotheosis.

The essay also makes no mention of the knell-like quality in the unharmonized submediant (G) that both announces the lead idea of the Allegro ma non troppo (iv) and echoes the trill of the opening movement. A characterization of “boisterous” ignores the tonal ambiguity of this idea and the contrasts of light and dark that it discloses in greater relief as the movement unfolds.

Schubert’s contemplations of mortality are thus not limited to the initial movement as the essay suggests. (Even the Scherzo is inflected with a trio minore.) They rather leaven the whole of this remarkable work.

Paul Humphreys
Los Angeles

A neutral observer

Regarding “RNC message: Biden Poses a Threat and COVID Doesn’t” [Aug. 29]: Was Lorraine Ali ever a major league umpire? Based on the evidence of this column it appears to me she calls ‘em as she sees ‘em.

I’d say that takes courage in the environment we’re in.

Sorry to hear about the hate mail and threats.

David Weiss

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Cartoons crossed lines

The cartoon “Prickly City” [Aug. 26 - 29] crossed the line with cartoons depicting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden as senile and unfit. The facts say otherwise.

In the art of political cartooning, which has been around for hundreds of years, there is a fine line between clever satire and hollow nastiness.

Satire, done well, always has a basis of truth, no matter how small, to justify the art, whereas the hollow nastiness has no regard for facts and must resort to distortion and falsehood.

Richard R. McCurdy

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I’m alarmed that the L.A. Times remains complicit in the openly ageist content routinely on display in this comic strip. The attacks on Joe Biden’s cognition show the cowardice of the cartoonist who would rather pick on his advanced years than his progressive platform.

John Weidner


The Aug. 30 “La Cucaracha” cartoon, by Lalo Alcaraz, was very distasteful.

It is unacceptable to portray teachers as enjoying time off when in actuality they are learning new methods of teaching.

Hours of training and preparation are needed for them to be successful in both virtual instruction and safe in classroom teaching.

Susan Grimshaw
Rancho Palos Verdes