Cross-culture divide at Galaxy’s Edge
Lorraine Ali’s column [“Arab Culture Visits the Theme Park,” June 16] was insightful for me.
I loved the line: “Pronounced Aa-rab-esh, it resembles Arabic, if Arabic was dropped in a blender with Hebrew, my son’s physics homework and a bag of pretzel sticks.”
John Price Bolton
Sadly, when it comes to forming opinions about foreign cultures, people rely on broad-stroke caricatures and accounts of weird customs. Returning after two years in India, I had well-meaning but confused people ask me “how I liked the flying carpets and voodoo dolls.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Give others shot at cracking wise
Regarding “Alec Baldwin, Putting on His ‘Game’ Face” [June 16]: As a fan of the original “Match Game,” I was motivated to watch the reboot. After several weeks, I tuned it out largely because of Baldwin. With his constant chatter, he sucked the air out of the broadcast. Baldwin’s ego prevents him from seeing that it is the guest panelists who are there to crack wise. He needs to watch the work of original host Gene Rayburn and see how he was humble enough to know that the show was not about him.
Exuberant time on the fringe
Thank you for your Hollywood Fringe Festival shout-out [“Hollywood Fringe Fest Kicks Off Marathon,” June 14]. This jazzy little festival is simply a blast.
I had a show there last year, and it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. And yes, even with festival’s excellent website (www.hollywoodfringe.org), it is daunting to find out just what shows to go to. But here’s my advice: Take an afternoon, a day or an evening off, and just see what shows you can get into. You’ll probably be able to cadge a ticket on the fly at a number of venues; if not, have a snack or a drink or just relax and enjoy the vibe. It’s a great party, and one of the most exuberant celebrations of L.A. theater in the city.
The same vibe of expressionism
Regarding “What MOCA Might Have Been” [June 11]: Looking at the photograph of Arata Isozaki’s Kyoto Concert Hall, I was struck by the haunting similarity to the lobby of the Grosse Schauspielhaus, completed in Berlin by Hans Poelzig in 1919. Updated, of course, but with the same expressionistic vibe.
Hollywood bias? It’s widespread
I read Mary McNamara’s solidly written piece on Emma Thompson and Thompson’s opinions on many issues [“Troublemaker Is in a Funny Spot,” June 9]. I have long admired Thompson’s work and her earnest political activity that suggests she puts her money where her mouth is.
In the article, she suggests a significant reason there aren’t more women at the top of the movie industry is that men — already at the top — smooth the way for more men to move upward, at the expense of women. It’s a “huge motorway to power,” while women stumble and grumble along a rutted road to the top. Men help men, except when the men they are mentoring might take the mentor’s own job. What a shock. Women aren’t being helped enough because there aren’t enough “helpers” on the highway to success.
But beware that women may not be eager to groom women who will take their elite gigs, whether as actors or writers or directors or producers.
There’s another side of the coin.
Latinos working diligently for the last 50 years or more to become significant players in Hollywood know what that’s all about. We’ve seen this movie before. We’ve been in it since movies started talking. Yeah, big-time Latino players on this metaphorical motorway can help novice Latinos merge from the on ramps of creativity. But there aren’t that many prominent, influential Latino players.
What’s at stake, really, is not just a pathway to gigs for Latinos (or women) in and of itself. What’s at stake is the professional environment that can allow moviedom to tell authentic stories about people who are not just blond, blue-eyed and late for their appointment with their feng shui consultant. How do you get to tell those types of stories? It helps to have people with experiences outside of Beverly Hills — working class women and Latinos and Latinas.
Thompson suggests that women with influence should help novice women merge onto the motorway that could lead to success. The same can be said about Latinos and Latinas, African Americans, Asian/Pacific Islanders, indigenous men and women, disabled Americans and members of the LGBTQ community. Hey, we’re kind of in this crazy thing together, aren’t we?
Jogging recall on ‘Rake’s Progress’
In his opera review [“Hannigan Makes ‘Rake’s Progress’ Her Own at Ojai,” June 8], Mark Swed mentions the paucity of productions of “The Rake’s Progress” in the Los Angeles area.
I remember a notable production at Occidental College in September 2016. It was more vividly staged, with multiple sets that differed with every change of location. Baba the Turk was definitely a bearded lady with a yen for the hero. It was less adventuresome but more comprehensible than the production in Ojai (which was beautifully conducted and sung). And there is the Kent Nagano recording of the opera with Dawn Upshaw. There may be more productions, but these two were mesmerizing.
Harry Eugene Baldwin
No need to get elitist in reviews
Los Angeles art critics have long complained that our city is not taken seriously. But how can Los Angeles be taken seriously when we engage in self-parody?
June Edmonds’ gorgeous painting uses the U.S. flag as the template for her rigorous composition [“Capturing Their Flags,” June 9], and the paint texture adds additional richness by suggesting a textile work. But I should have read David Pagel’s text first. I would have learned that the painting is a funereal testament to our declining ideals. The textured paint symbolizes the deliberate effort of the civil rights struggle.
David Ulin’s book review [“When the Mirror Looks Back at Us,” June 9] is the most concentrated collection of gibberish and non sequiturs in memory. Literature lives in “a territory of both refutation and affirmation” — we know this is true because he says “of course.”
An essay is “meant to be capacious, to wander” — tell that to your high school English teacher. In the end, what do we know about the two books (“Time Is the Thing a Body Moves Through: An Essay” and “Aug 9 — Fog”)? Very little.
Los Angeles is an international center of the arts and has been. Critics who wish to raise Los Angeles’ profile won’t be taken seriously when they treat art as an inside game whose hidden meaning is accessible to an elite few.