Calendar Letters: Harlan Ellison’s jitterbug, protest songs and healthcare, Joe Jackson’s legacy

Writer Harlan Ellison in 1981.
Writer Harlan Ellison in 1981.
(Marsha Traeger / Los Angeles Times)

Thanks for John Scalzi’s tribute to Harlan Ellison [“When a Sci-Fi Giant Calls …,” June 30], which mentioned an incident where Ellison had a confrontation with Frank Sinatra. This was written about at length by Gay Talese. It happened at the Daisy Discotheque in 1965, and in his account Talese wrote: “There was some rumbling in the room, and somebody said, ‘Com’on, Harlan, let’s get out of here.’” That voice of reason was the late film director Curtis Hanson (“L.A. Confidential”), whose uncle owned the club. I know this firsthand because I was the “record guy” playing the music in the back room.

Michael Jenning

Van Nuys


The Ellison obituary said he died in his sleep at the age of 84 of unknown causes.

I knew Harlan, and I, and all who knew him, are sure he did not die quietly or alone. Harlan was taken to an alternate universe by strange and curious aliens.

Les (Lester H. Cole), my husband, and I met Harlan at our SFCon in 1954 when he was a 17-year-old brat. We met several times after that, and he remained, for me, a 17-year-old brat. At SFCon he cavorted through the long weekend, but his major talent was his ability to jitterbug. He learned to jitterbug from his older brother, and Harlan was dynamite on the dance floor.

I hope he retained his ability to jitterbug.

Esther Cole


The new plan is still Obamacare


Regarding “A Singer Steps Out of the Comfort Zone in Country” [July 1]: When Jason Isbell told Randy Lewis “I’m the person who’s benefiting from most of the tax cuts and the new healthcare plan,” did it dawn on Lewis to tell him there is no new healthcare plan, that the GOP failed in their effort to overturn Obamacare?

Robert Chapman


A welcome relief

When The Times drops with a thud on my porch, I bravely pick it up and read all the disheartening news of the day, but then, like a shaft of unexpected sunlight on a cloudy day, comes Jessica Gelt’s article about Anne Tomlinson and the L.A. Children’s Chorus [“Establishing a Voice for All to Hear,” June 28]. What a debt we and the whole music world owe Tomlinson for her career-forming dedication to music in generations of children and taking the Children’s Chorus all over the world as ambassadors for the arts and for America.

Fred Fenton

Seal Beach


Gelt’s opening paragraph in her otherwise fine story about Tomlinson seems like a throwback to 1950s social page articles. I doubt the length of Gustavo Dudamel’s neck nor his wearing a scoop-neck top has ever appeared in an article about him.

Joseph Kelly


The legacy of Joe Jackson

Regarding “Obituaries: Stern Patriarch of Family of Pop Music Superstars” [June 28]: Joe Jackson was an overbearing, abusive, manipulating and ruthless father. In today’s world, his actions would probably come under the scrutiny of child protective services. His “motivation by fear” tactics were disgusting.

I remember the interview where Michael Jackson broke down and cried at the recollection of Joe’s beatings of Tito because he couldn’t get the dance moves down quickly enough for his liking. And another incident where supposedly Joe would catch Michael just as he was dozing off to sleep only to remind him that he was keeping an eye on him and his every move. No wonder Michael was plagued with insomnia for most of his life. I’m sure this contributed to the many mental problems that he suffered.

So before we validate this man’s costly accomplishments, we should carefully evaluate the “success at all costs” approach in life.

Rick Solomon

Lake Balboa

Waiting for the next revelation

Regarding “Pop Singer Still a Mormon ‘Believer’” [June 25]: Although I don’t share Dan Reynold’s Mormon faith, I was touched to read how he strives to remain true to a religion that condemns homosexuality. It’s remarkable how he can maintain friendships with gays while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints categorically shuns them.

Reynolds doubtless feels the church is due to receive a “divine revelation” like the one that ended LDS discrimination against blacks 40 years ago. I’m praying that such a revelation arrives any day now.

Nancy A. Stone

Santa Monica

A little touch of Frost

As a former student of Joseph Brodsky’s at the University of Michigan in the late ’70s, I enjoyed Tyler Malone’s travel log on poet Robert Frost sites and poems [“The Roads Taken by Frost,” July 1]. It’s true the poet’s name and reputation is forever linked to New England. However, apropos of Mimi Pond’s Zsa Zsa Gabor cartoon strip opposite today’s editorial page, I was reminded of this excerpt from “Provide, Provide,” one of my Frost favorites:

The witch that came (the withered hag)

To wash the steps with pail and rag,

Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.

David McClave


Who are the real gift-givers?

Letter writer Elaine Vanoff voiced her being underwhelmed by a paltry $100,000 gift by George and Amal Clooney made to counterbalance “zero tolerance” [“Calendar Letters: Clooney Gift Underwhelms,” July 1], she neglected to state how much she herself donated.

Bruce N. Miller

Playa del Rey

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