Re “Some teachable moments that Obama missed,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
I think your points are excellent. My piece on the debate (“McCain’s body language”) addressed the natures that the candidates revealed in this exchange, their approach to dealing with rivalries and, beyond that, to addressing dangerous enemies.
I did not concentrate on exactly when the interruptions occurred. Yes, it is respectful to hold a response until another has made his or her points. However, in the political arena, if the words spoken are lies and distortions, it is a sign of strength to set the record straight ASAP. In this "interruption department," wise marital and family communication and doing all you can while running for office to present what you stand for and how you reached your points of view may go in divergent paths.
Obama is not by nature a warrior. He will reason and debate and appeal, and he has extremely acute psychological insights.These are some of his primary strengths, enhanced of course by a brilliant mind. I hope that this appeal is strong enough to help people rise above drama and rage.
September 28, 2008
A therapist evaluates McCain
Re “A therapist evaluates John McCain”—
Thank you, SaraKay Smullens, for your professional insight and beautifully written article regarding John McCain. I hope it reaches the right people. I’ll be certain to forward it to my father in Florida.
September 17, 2008
So John McCain is unfit to be president because he treated his first wife shabbily? At least none of our Democratic icons like FDR, JFK, LBJ, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson or John Edwards would ever behave so badly toward the women in their lives.
Just ask Bill and Hillary: It’s all a vast right-wing conspiracy.
September 17, 2008
SaraKay Smullens replies: I really do see your point. However, all of my digging to write the piece led to how the personal and political ruthlessness, the comfort in lies and distortion, are one. I had not understood this pattern until I began to dig.
Ms. Smullens’s interesting article touches upon one of the cornerstones of the differences between the two parties in this election: those who motivate by the negative (fear of the future) and those who motivate by the positive (hope for the future).
America does need heroes, and the so-called McCain type of heroism Ms. Smullens indicates— born out of rebellion and angst against the status quo as a youth (as much as he could muster, anyway– being as he could have really made a rebellious act and dodged the draft)— is indeed what we need. But it is not heroic revolution we need so much as evolution to stand up against the leaders and systems that are clearly failing due to excessive power and greed.
America is now called upon to choose to evolve into a country capable of making choices not out of fear but out of intelligent and realistic discussions. That is heroism and patriotism based on sound psychology.
September 17, 2008
Good as far as it goes. The Palin analysis is summary rather than specific or detailed. More, please!
Fort Mill, S.C.
September 17, 2008
SaraKay Smullens replies: My commentary began with concentration on Sarah Palin, but I soon realized that McCain chose her in order to keep the concentration off of himself and his own limitations. Space limits precluded me from discussing how Sarah Palin handled her own recent pregnancy, which of course was her decision. However, her children, whose lives would all be impacted by this birth, were never given the opportunity to hear the truth shared by their parents and discuss their feelings about the special needs child their mother was about to deliver, and in this way prepare for his arrival. This secrecy— this “I will do what I want, and you will shut up and deal” approach to family— appears to be her approach to everything else as well.
Gorbachev, pro and con
Robert Zaller could not be more wrong in his appraisal of Mikhail Gorbachev, unless being a naïf in the cesspool of world politics is a sign of failure.
Gorbachev realized that the money- and resource-wasting Cold War--or at least the Soviet Union’s part-- had to end. The only way to do that was to bring about a wholesale change in the operation of the country.
However, he also realized that the only “civil service” in the Soviet Union was, alas, the Communist Party, and he made efforts to clean up and modernize the party into a functioning civil service, so that in time it would be less a party and more a public-serving service. In short, the first step toward a functioning democracy.
The last thing that the West, led by America, wanted was a “modern” (functioning democracy) Soviet Union that was less party-run and more people-run. So the break-up of the Soviet Union was needed, and someone else to run it. Enter a drunken oaf, Boris Yeltsin, and the Harvard MBAs who advised him to instantly install an American-style economy in a country totally unprepared for it.
Putin is undoing that damage, and that is why America is keen on starting Cold War II. But that’s a color of another horse. Gorbachev sees that what Putin is doing is good for Russia— and has to agree with it. And, keeping its “near abroad” (Georgia, for instance) in line is only natural.
September 17, 2008
Robert Zaller replies: Andrew Kevorkian seems to think that Gorbachev wanted to guide the Soviet Union toward democracy, and that he was somehow foiled by sinister American forces that didn’t want this to happen. There is no evidence of this that I know of, just as there is no evidence that Gorbachev was (or is) a democrat. He was an autocratic reformer who made the mistake of stirring up a populism he couldn’t control. The result was to turn everyone against him, and to bring down the state itself.
I wonder how the Russians will react to Gorbachev being honored by George H. W. Bush. It’s as if Washington had lost the revolutionary war, embraced Toryism, and accepted a knighthood from George III. I suspect, though, that most Russians have long since dismissed Gorby as a turncoat and a buffoon, not to say a traitor pure and simple. He is the ultimate example of a man without a country.
My editor, Dan Rottenberg, suggests that Gorbachev should be regarded as a political saint in the mold of Gandhi. If so, he had even less business trying to run a country. King Lear comes more readily to mind for me-— without the tragic recognition, of course.
Dan Rottenberg replies: There are worse things than a man without a country. In the early’50s I spent three summers at an international camp in the French Alps run since the 1920s by an American named Donald MacJannet and his German wife, the descendant of an old and noble Prussian family. When Hitler came to power in 1933, Charlotte MacJannet (then living in France) protested by tearing up her German passport. Her family promptly disowned her, and when the German army occupied France in 1940 she was lucky to escape. She spent her long life working for peace and international goodwill. When she died in 1999 at the age of 98, memorial services were held in Geneva, Boston and the French Alps, none of them attended by her relatives. If forced to choose between Charlotte MacJannet and her family for a role model, I’d pick Charlotte, just as I’d take Gorbachev over Brezhnev, Khrushchev, Stalin, Putin or other possible models of Russian leadership.
As a fairly new fan to the theater, I recently saw Les Mis at the Walnut, then Candide at the Arden. It was so cool when I realized Scott Greer was in both plays, as I thought he was great in both performances. Is there a way I can write to him to let him know my appreciation?
September 28, 2008
Editor’s comment: This letter may achieve your goal.
A question about your Broad Street Review. I have been reading it for a while and thought it was specifically related to arts and culture in
Philadelphia. I saw the lead article last week about John McCain and was confused. Has it changed?
Robin Bloom, Producer
September 24, 2008
Dan Rottenberg replies: Good question. Our motto is “Where art and ideas meet.” We’re primarily oriented toward arts and culture, but art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I’m open to any submission that stimulates thought and dialogue and/or teaches me something I don’t already know.
Re “The roar of the city, the peace of the garden,” by Jaamil Kosoko—
A very alert and engaging review. This is responsible criticism, a rare component of the cultural life of Philadelphia.
Re “Energy vs. environment on South Street,” by Jonathan M. Stein—
I am very inspired by this new development of peer criticism. It’s bound to be more responsive to the critical and urgent need for art to exist… art is a vital component to our survival. This new wave of reviewing art doesn’t shark around desperately trying to satisfy its own vicarious engagement of the work and the reader. It simply sees, it ponders and it/they reveal.
Hmmmm ...finally we are beginning to break the paradigm of critical review to sell papers! Or am I dreaming? Thank you, Jon, and thank you, BSR!
September 23, 2008
Editor’s note: The writer is the founder of Scrap Performance Group.
A prejudiced view
Re: “A few moments of entrapment with Erica Saben,” by Steve Antinoff—
Awesome review. But of course, I am her mother.
September 17, 2008
Sarah Palin’s role model
Re “Sarah Palin’s role model,” by Steve Cohen—
As an 82-year-old grandmother, I think Sarah’s persona is far more threatening than that of Nixon’s ever was. It took us a while to realize how dishonest Nixon really was.
I just have one question to ask those who contemplate voting for her: Do you really want Sarah Palin to be the one who answers the red phone at 3:a.m.?
Newtown Square, Pa.
September 11, 2008
Cohen’s phrase, “anti-Establishment, anti-intellectual bias,” is presumptive.
Animus toward (self-appointed) intellectuals and the establishment is more than just bias. Intellectuals, the establishment and the government have acted against the interests of the majority of the American people for the past 40 years of my political maturity, and probably a lot longer than that.
Every war Americans have fought for the past 150 years has been on foreign soil. America subsidizes the breakup of the family; has opened its borders to foreigners who hate us; taxes initiative; and hates the religious faith of the majority of its citizens.
That’s not a bias. It’s a realistic response to an entire class of people who hate us. Harvard-educated lawyers are getting what they deserve from Sarah Palin, and we are cheering her on.
September 10, 2008
Editor’s comment: Your contention that the U.S. government is run by intellectuals will, I suspect, come as a surprise to most intellectuals— or, at least, those too young to remember Thomas Jefferson’s administration.
Editor’s note: To read another response to Steve Cohen’s article, click here.
Piano teacher’s quandary
Reading Maria Thompson Corley’s piece about the dilemma she faced in passing on her love for the piano to her daughter (“My daughter, myself”), I could not help but recall my own experience in quitting piano lessons when I was young, a silly thing I’ve regretted ever since.
Her piece also brought to mind my experience in passing my own love for the stage on to my children. There was a time that each of them, in their early adolescence, really resisted participating with me in whatever theatrical endeavor in which I attempted to engage them. Like Corley, I was flabbergasted until I realized that I had to let them learn to love what I loved for them, not for me.
Every parent must discover how to let go as one’s child matures. What a joy, then, when that young person, no longer a child, willingly comes to love as well one’s own favorite loves.
Craig R. Tavani
Facetime Performing Arts Studio
September 3, 2008
I read with great interest Maria Thompson Corley’s article about her daughter’s interest/lack of in the piano. My husband and I are professional actors. Our oldest is a theater major at the University of Maryland. Very early on, we turned her over to professionals to learn how to sing properly. We could teach her anything she needed to know, but the tension and uncertainty it would create would not be worth it. I love to hear about her teachers at UMD, as I know some of them professionally. But I know she is discussing all of this to her mom, not her peer.
Backing off has been one of the great parenting lessons I have learned with creative, passionate kids.
September 3, 2008
I’ve heard this story before. A parent or a sibling is not a teacher. A teen needs a non-parental mentor in his or her life. Parents provide education in many ways but not in artificial lesson situations.
Parental music lessons are a perfect excuse for teens’ natural tendency to rebel. We had the same issue in my family: Music lessons always ended in screams and tears and slammed doors. Even though we have music teachers in our house, we hired music teachers to do the job. Now we are reaping the fruits: We often play chamber music after dinner and often play gigs together.
Palo Alto, Calif.
September 1, 2008
Maria Corley replies: Wow! I’m the only one who didn’t get the memo! How come my mother could do it? My grandmother? All those women in my hometown? Is it generational? Or maybe it’s regional? Canadians are actually slightly different than Americans, in ways that are often hard to describe. Anyway, all’s well that ends well.
Palin and broken promises
“Broken Promises,” by Reed Stevens, provides brilliant, sometimes glaring insight into our “American” pop culture’s newest trend: teenagers having babies out of wedlock. Wonderful for discussion groups; stirring, disturbing, guaranteed to arouse a response.
September 4, 2008
Fascists behaving badly
Re “Fascists behaving badly,” by Andrew Mangravite—
A fine definition of fascist behavior is offered here, conjuring up images of Dick Cheney as Yeats’s beast in The Second Coming, stomping into Washington and declaring himself a separate branch of the government.
September 3, 2008
Hey, man, thanks for this. And, I’ll drink a toast to those who didn’t get out of Russia or Germany. My family had the good luck to get out (via Latvia and Bessarabia).
Imagine what memories Gustav Klimpt (and the others) carried in their minds.
Takoma Park, Md.
September 6, 2008
For art’s sake, move the Barnes
Richard R. Feudale (”For Art’s Sake, Move the Barnes— to the Art Museum’s Campus“) reveals himself as the mirror image of the diehard “Friends of the Barnes.” The latter cannot imagine a future that doesn’t preserve exactly the past (see my April 2006 posting, ”Moving the Barnes: No Hobson’s Choice”); Feudale can’t imagine a future that’s not completely unencumbered by the past.
Feudale writes as though Albert Barnes never wrote a will nor established a foundation to accomplish specific objectives. As I have argued in several postings, I do not believe that either Barnes’s will or the most important of his foundation’s objectives preclude the relocation of his collection to the Parkway. This argument in no way opens the door to dismissing the centrality of Barnes’s specific educational program for his intended audience or to dismantling his idiosyncratic hanging of paintings, which he viewed as an essential teaching tool.
While the future is not totally the captive of the past, the latter does hold some claim on the former. The will of Albert Barnes deserves a respectful reading and interpretation in light of changing circumstances. It does not merit being cast aside so that Feudale’s educational mission, rather than that of Dr. Barnes, can be accomplished.
August 27, 2008
Editor’s note: The writer was formerly president of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
The premise of the Feudale article is nonsense. Carried to its logical conclusion, let’s put all of the art in one place, and since most of it came from France, Paris makes more sense as a venue than Philadelphia.
Why should Philadelphia be rewarded with a collection that was the last place on earth Barnes would have wanted it? The Barnes collection stands alone in the world as a teaching collection assembled specifically for that purpose. What possible benefit could there be to diluting this masterwork with the Art Museum’s collection, which has no rhyme or reason other than as an assemblage of whatever got left to it at the time?
If you want an argument to add some tourist draws to the cavern on the Parkway, why not pilfer Walter Annenberg’s collection from the Met? After all, much of the money that went into it came out of Philadelphia pockets.
August 27, 2008
To presume that you understand what Dr. Barnes would have said to this notion is beyond absurd. The reason that his collection is so removed from the Art Museum is clearly described in two Books: Art and Argyrol and Triumph on Fairmount. These explain part of the logic behind the separation of the two collections.
August 27, 2008
So the mask is finally off. Richard R. Feudale at last dares to say what Philadelphia city fathers and that fine coalition of public misanthropies, the Pew, the Lenfest and the Annenberg, have in the opinion of many been planning all along: not to move the Barnes collection to the cramped, angular and traffic-besieged site currently occupied by the Youth Detention Center, but to make it “another jewel atop Museum Hill.” How fine and dandy. And the sun never set on the British Empire, either.
Mr. Feudale would like to put Monet’s House Boat beside the Museum of Art’s other Monets, and combine the Barnes’s feeble Picasso collection (only 44 pieces, after all) with that of Big Brother on the Parkway. How synergistic! But why stop there? Wouldn’t the Annenberg collection too look swell on the Museum’s walls?
Mr. Feudale wants to “build” on Albert Barnes’s legacy, presumably in the same way the Wilson Center at Princeton University wanted to build on its donor’s legacy by ignoring it. The same arrogance is afoot everywhere in this country, as one public bequest after another is perverted by self-serving trustees, interested commercial parties and glad-handing politicians.
The Barnes has been made a particular target of opportunity by the seven-decade vendetta that began against it virtually from the moment it opened its doors. Imperial Philadelphia now sees its chance, and is trying to pounce, sort of like the Russians on Georgia (Mayor Nutter calls it “regional cooperation"). But the Barnes has a home, and it happens to be my home, too: Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. You can come and visit, Mr. Feudale, and very welcome you’ll be. Just don’t take.
Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
August 28, 2008
Richard Feudale replies: I am acutely appreciative of Dr. Barnes and the value of replicating his precise placement in room-size displays, pastoral setting, greenness, stillness and creakiness. I also think that any movement of Barnes paintings should be the exception and not the rule, and that it should be severely restricted. I also feel that the paintings should never leave Philadelphia and that the property be deeded— not leased— to keep it private. I also want to emphasize that the concept of actually building Barnes’s model outward ought to be explored (and probably has been in art school classrooms). That’s why a big shared space is needed.
I was delighted to read Caroline Dunlop Millett’s article on “My ideal kitchen.“ I’ve had the genuine pleasure of spending time in two of the kitchens she designed, and found them to be comfortable and cozy, warm and nourishing, and as functional (!) as any room I’ve been in. They allowed me to rethink everything I thought I knew about kitchens, and the standard by which I’ve subsequently measured kitchen design.
I didn’t notice the Vermeer quality at the time...but I should have! It’s perfectly evident. And I didn’t know that the architecture of intimate living space was a feature of that period. Fascinating!
I do have one question: What’s the “Black Cow” in the middle of the room? Thanks!
Susan Marya Baronoff
September 1, 2008
I have been reading Caroline Millett’s articles on design since I first saw them in the magazine Ranch & Coast. I am continually amazed by the relevance of what she writes, not simply for design, but modern life in general. She is constantly mining the past but not for what’s old, but what’s timeless.
September 15, 2008
Caroline Millett replies: After the Netherlands became a state in 1609, their bourgeois merchant class dominated political and social life– and within this environment, the modern idea of the family home came to fruition. Women led the way, providing creature comforts for family members and guests, educating their own children, and even cooking family meals. Both privacy and shared intimacies became possible in their relatively small houses, where very few servants were employed.
As for my ideal kitchen’s “black cow”– that’s really a black cowhide rug next to the fireplace. Since the other small kitchen rugs are old Turkish pieces, I thought this furry hide might provide a pleasant contemporary contrast.
I enjoyed reading Patrick D. Hazard’s article on ”Discovering Dessau.” However, in the blurb a mistake was made, calling Dessau an “East German city.” East Germany ceased to exist after the fall of the Berlin Wall almost 19 years ago. Dessau is now a city in eastern Germany (geographic location).
Hardy von Auenmueller
September 1, 2008
Respond to this Article