August Letters: Gay marriage….

Readers respond about gay marriage, flight attendant Steven Slater, the U.S.S. Olympia, the Fifties, professional soccer, Renoir and the Barnes, black classical audiences, Wolves of Fairmount Park, coach John Wooden, minor league baseball, All About Eve, an antidote for cheating, Ralph Lauren's Thomas Jefferson makeover, Reading Woody Allen, Miles Davis, La Cage Aux Folles, Mum Puppettheatre, The Merchant of Venice, Edgard Varèse, medieval mania, Schubert vs. Beethoven, George Steinbrenner, and the Met's high-definition Carmen.

Gay marriage

     â€œThe ‘right’ to gay marriage,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook) presupposes that parents in heterosexual marriages are all wonderful role models. But June and Ward Cleaver are pure fiction. I think parenting of all kinds needs society’s support. A gay couple can have many friends of the opposite sex, gay and straight, who offer the kind of contrasting views of life that you refer to.
     Social conservatives cannot count on my support because, simply put, they are intolerant of gays only for their religious fundamentalist reasons, somehow making the status of being gay a "poor choice" when in fact those of us who are gay or who have gay relatives and friends know this is the height of ignorance.
     I am afraid, Dan, that your attempt at a reasonable discourse on this topic falls flat when you examine the groups, such as the Mormon church, that have fought so hard to present this issue as one with moral and historic justification. These are the "Bible says" folks who find all sorts of justification for their biases.
     There are no reasonable points of view when we deny the civil rights of certain segments of our society.
Joan Myerson Shrager
Elkins Park, Pa.
August 18, 2010

     The article makes a number of excellent points, but overlooks the issue of who should decide how marriage is defined. I would be happy if our elected officials were to pass legislation to expand the definition of marriage beyond its historical definition. There are strong moral and public policy arguments for this, and public opinion is moving in this direction.
     But should a judge, who is not elected, take this issue away from voters and make this an issue of constitutional rights?
     Legislating social policy from the bench can have profound consequences at the ballot box for decades to come, as traditional voters who are outraged by the decision become politically active. Roe v. Wade was a major factor in the resurgence of the Republican Party.
Stanley Kull
Wynnewood, Pa.
August 19, 2010

     Your defense of the "right to gay marriage" depends in large part on the assertion that gay men are thereby signing up "to a lifetime non-fornication program."
     But that is not accurate. From what I read, monogamy, as expected in marriage, is not part of the conditions of male gay marriage.
Bourne Ruthrauff
Center City/ Philadelphia
August 19, 2010

     As a math know-nothing, I must give you the benefit of my doubts about a zillion exposures to sexual infection in 20 years. But the rise of "hooking" as one-nighter sex for our most educated young people seems more dangerous.
     The only thing more dangerous is Catholic virginism, the sad fate that befell my first wife and me. No experience is as bad as too much uncritical experience. And the U.S. boom in porn suggests that our future is more threatened by too much unloving sex.
     I fear surging Christian fundamentalism will prevent our schools from tutoring the next generation into the sane relations your essay powerfully supports.
Patrick D. Hazard
Weimar, Germany
August 18, 2010

     Dan Rottenberg makes a very good argument for life-long monogamy. However, it begs the question about marriage, the validity of which is never quite defined anywhere in his article.
     What is marriage? There really is no definitive agreement.
     I learned from my late father (a clinical sociologist) the following definition, which he used in teaching his class on Marriage and the Family: A usual, normal marriage is one in which a man and a woman exchange verbal and behavioral commitment to each other, who meet the requirements of their culture, and who share sexual relations with one another.
     The question then to be discussed is why marriage must be defined as only between a man and a woman. My father understood his definition to embody what is universally characteristic of marriage in both recorded human history and myriad cultural settings. If this is so, then a life-long monogamous relationship between a same-sex couple must be called something other than marriage.
     "Social conservatives" will still object to the homosexual aspect of such a relationship, but, as the article points out, it would be more beneficial to society than the promiscuity that seems to reign at present.
Craig R. Tavani
Phoenixville, Pa.
August 19, 2010

     Editor’s comment:
We haven’t reached the end of history. Definitions of marriage have evolved over thousands of years and will no doubt continue to do so.

Steven Slater’s footsteps

     Re “What hath Steven Slater wrought?” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor‘s Notebook)—
     You forgot to mention that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs said the heck with laptops and cell phones and decided to read a few good books (hard copies).
Joseph Glantz
Levittown, Pa.
August 25, 2010

     Dan, let "Sooner or Slater" be our battle cry. If our lower orders suddenly and together sat on their abused duffs, the Casino Capital gang might understand who's holding up whom. And how did I ever miss that it was a foulmouthed ms. who discombobulated our Slater?
Patrick D. Hazard
Weimar, Germany
August 26, 2010

     Editor’s comment: Like Steven Slater himself, you guys are going to give “service” a bad name.

Saving the Olympia

     Re “Why the U.S.S. Olympia matters,” by Andrew Mangravite—
     Interesting— America in 1898 as China today. The question is whether or not the general public cares about that sort of notion— or even history in a general sense— any more.
Rick Soisson
East Falls/ Philadelphia
August 19, 2010

     Andrew Mangravite replies:
They probably don't. That's why we keep making the same mistakes over and over at an ever-escalating cost. Santayana, anyone?

Farewell to the ’50s

     I laughed out loud when I read “Farewell to the ‘50s,” by Perry Block. The only things he forgot were S & H green/trading stamps.
     Sadly, I'm that way now about the’60s. I meet kids who can't name all four Beatles and I get sick. I went to see my son play at a big rock festival and no one was smoking pot.
     And hippie is now a dirty word— I'm still trying to figure that one out, but I think 20-somethings who are still fairly liberal and use the word hippie as if their mouths are filled with bile are totally misinterpreting what hippies really were and tried to do. To kids today, hippies are simply unwashed moochers.
     Oh God, I hate getting old. But it beats the alternative.
Robin Slick
Fairmount/ Philadelphia
August 17, 2010

     As it turns out, Annette Funicello was also the bridge between the Mouseketeers and
Mary Poppins. See my blog in Creative Loafing.
Perry Tannenbaum
Tega Cay, S.C.
August 18, 2010

     Perry Bock replies:
The bridge from Mouseketeers to Mary Poppins? Maybe. For me, she was more the bridge from Mouseketeers to supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Professional soccer

     Re "The case for professional soccer,” by Tom Purdom—
     As a die-hard Philadelphia Union fan, any article that raises awareness of the team and Major League Soccer is spectacular. That said, I must disagree with your assessment that soccer will necessarily be a niche sport with a niche market in the U.S.
     The fact that we now have some 16,000-plus people heading out to Chester, Pa. to take in a local team— our local team— playing the sport that we love indicates, to me, a shift in the sport's popularity and acceptance.
     If Major League Soccer can continue to expand into would-be successful markets like Seattle, Philadelphia and (what looks to be very successful) Vancouver, I firmly believe that we're talking about contention with at least two of the four “major” sports in this country— hockey and basketball, both of which are seeing dwindling attendance and lack of profitability.
     The U.S. Men's National Team got some of the sport's best ratings in this country in the 2010 World Cup. The “designated player” rule allows clubs to bring in big international names. ESPN, arguably the most accurate barometer of American sports, continues to add to its soccer coverage. I think the recipe is ripe for the explosion of soccer onto the American sports scene.
Kevin Sullivan
Center City/ Philadelphia
August 17, 2010

Renoir and the Barnes

     Re Judith Stein’s review of “Late Renoir"—
     Thank you for taking the Art Museum’s show and expanding its reference to other familiar Renoirs at the Barnes and elsewhere.
     A review of high visual clarity and thought!
Diane Burko
Center City/Philadelphia
August 10, 2010

     Editor’s note:
The writer is an artist.

     It costs $25 a head to see “Late Renoir” at the Art Museum, when not too long ago more than 170 Renoirs and the rest of the Barnes Foundation collection could be seen for $5. It’s a sign of what is to come once the Barnes pieces are ripped out of the Merion gallery and parked down the
street at a virtual Art Museum adjunct.
     Those who claim to be "liberating" the Barnes collection (many with Art Museum connections) will be doing so only for those who can afford such outrageous fees. If the Barnes Foundation charged $25 a head in Merion, there would never have been the excuse of flagging income that
the court accepted in allowing the trustees to move the collection.
     I recall distinctly Barnes President Bernie Watson's testimony dismissing the idea of raising the $5 admission fee as a way to balance the Barnes’s (hyper-inflated) budget. Not long after the collection’s move was court-approved, the trustees did just that, doubled the fee. And not long after they increased it by another third.
     As for Judith Stein's piece, it’s the kind of gushing nonsense that Barnes sought to overcome with objective observation and analysis. It’s pretty clear that this kind of critical thinking has no place in the new Barnes regime or anywhere else in a city Barnes once pegged as an ignorant backwater.
Nick Tinari
Jenkintown, Pa.
August 11, 2010

     Bravo, Judith. Your article matches the power of Renoir’s art, and is the first time that I’ve had an inkling that his canvases were anything but an old man’s revolting obsession with pink.
     As I read your response, I had a historical vision of the emergence of women’s consciousness during Renoir’s time: getting the vote (!); going to work during World War II; the Pill that followed shortly thereafter; and then access to higher education that began in earnest in the 1960s. All these social leaps forward followed Renoir’s sensual, intuitive explosions of paint, almost as if his models’ souls passed through him as they struggled their way off of his canvases toward freedom and life.
     Good for you to nail it down in such sensual terms. No doubt that he would have appreciated your skills, too.
Margaret Chew Barringer
Penn Valley, Pa.
August 16, 2010

Black classical audiences

     Re “Black audiences and classical music,” by Maria Corley—
     I completed a number of videos with classical music. I’m likely one of few African-Americans who actually filmed a YouTube video of a white woman playing a violin (Bach In Bryant's Tunnel). The color of her skin (or mine) shouldn’t matter: Classical music has worldwide appeal. Nevertheless, it’s not easy to find an audience for my work or even much response to it.
Curtis W. Jackson
Bay Shore, N.Y.
August 19, 2010

     Editor’s note:
The writer posts his work on a YouTube channel titled “cjinspector.”

Wolves of Fairmount Park

     Can you please pass along to Bob Ingram my thanks for his very kind and thoughtful review of my book, Wolves of Fairmount Park?
     It's especially nice to get such excellent attention in my hometown.
Dennis Tafoya
Bucks County, Pa.
August 20, 2010

A coach's tone of voice

     John Erlich’s remembrance of basketball coach John Wooden mentions Columbia coach Lou Rossini’s tone of “genuine surprise” upon discovering that Erlich, his player, had received a C in a chemistry course. Coach Rossini, my father, always referred to all of his players as "family." I do remember when he would on occasion question my grades. His "tone of voice", however, was a notch above "genuinely surprised."
     Thank you for the memory.
Ron Rossini
Deptford, N.J.
August 23, 2010

Minor league baseball

     Re “The charm of minor league baseball,” by John L. Erlich—
     Take me out the minor league ball game any day! The view is better, the atmosphere is fun and, best of all, the prices are right, especially for a
family day outing.
Jennifer Baldino Bonett
South Philadelphia
August 11, 2010

All About Eve, reconsidered

     Re “The trouble with All About Eve,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
     As many times as I've watched this film, one of my favorites, I never considered the fact that Eve can act.
     Thanks for the perceptive analysis. I guess in every field, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take center stage. On the other hand, Margo Channing's downfall can be seen as a direct result of her character.
Jane Biberman
Doylestown, Pa.
August 12, 2010

Antidote for cheating

     Re: “An antidote for cheating,” by Maria Thompson Corley—
     A wonderfully engaging and convincing piece! Unfortunately, in some cases (in pop music, for instance) the many shortcomings of people who haven't practiced their craft enough are covered up by sound technology— even in performance.
     Also, audiences are not always discerning; lots of technically lousy music gets an audience. But at the level of the family and the school, practicing a craft certainly teaches perseverance and humility, and performing offers nowhere to hide. Thanks for the piece!
Janet Benton
West Mount Airy/ Philadelphia
August 4, 2010

     Maria Corley replies:
I admit, I wasn't thinking about pop music, much as I enjoy it. In any case my idea was that students perform for their classmates, not the public. Performing for the kids you see every day is probably asking for a lot more, pressure-wise, than performing for "the public."

     Janet Benton replies: Ah, yes— performing in front of peers certainly offers one nowhere to hide!

Ralph Lauren remakes Jefferson

     Re “Ralph Lauren’s Monticello makeover”—
     I couldn't agree more with Caroline Millett: People visit Monticello to learn about Jefferson, not Ralph Lauren.
     By the way, how much did Ralph Lauren pay/donate for the opportunity to do the makeover?
Bill Abrams
Encenitas, Calif.
July 31, 2010

     Just as critics of global warming confuse weather with climate, Ralph Lauren's Monticello makeover confuses decoration with design. Thomas Jefferson's designs are timeless; Lauren's decor is topical. Please keep him away from the University of Virginia.
Brenda Godwin
Andover, N.H.
August 3, 2010

     I am a Virginian. This is unbelievable. What if they turned the oval office into a square? I guess it boils down to money talks. Is Lauren desecrating any other national treasures?
Louise Mohardt
Lancaster, Va.
August 5, 2010

     It's very sad to see that one of America’s historic sites has been commercialized. I went to Monticello as a child and have wanted to return as an adult. Thank you for writing such an insightful article.
Karen Zepeda
Miami, Fla.
August 11, 2010

     This seems a very silly thing to do to Jefferson's home, yet Jefferson's image never quite takes into account that he was a slave owner all of his life, even after many others had freed "their" slaves.
     History is a funny thing, sometimes a matter of what you choose to emphasize. Is Ralph Lauren redoing historic interiors that different than Chuck Connelly painting fashion photos?
Tom Brady
East Oak Lane/ Philadelphia
August 21, 2010

     Editor’s note: The writer is an artist who has been represented by Caroline Millett, as has the painter Chuck Connelly.

     Editor’s note: To read a follow-up by Caroline Millett, click here.

Reading Woody Allen aloud

     Re “My words, echoed by Woody Allen,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
     Congrats on your psychic connection with Woody Allen. I must mention, however, that you weren't the only critic to conclude that some stories are better read silently than heard aloud or acted out. In my City Paper review of An Evening Without Woody Allen, I wrote, "Allen's short works are better enjoyed on the page ... some brilliant lines were meant to be savored on the page, some moments meant to be read again and again."
     I don't mean to diminish your insight; since I achieved the same realization, I must be in your league, and Woody's. Thanks for the rare moment of vindication.
Mark Cofta
Ridley Park, Pa.
August 4, 2010

     That's why some people write plays and others write like the rest of us.
     To wit: "Carlyle notwithstanding, this coincidence supports the opposite view: that great ideas often occur simultaneously to many people in isolation. But the ideas perish unless a community connects such people, reinforcing their beliefs and emboldening them to convert their thoughts into actions. (Behind the Jewish requirement of a ten-person minyan for prayer lies the insight that a community of worshippers is greater than the
sum of its parts worshipping alone.) Some communities perform this function better than others. And you thought Broad Street Review had no great overarching purpose!"
     Try saying this out loud!
Reed Stevens
Campbell, Calif.
August 4, 2010

Shakespeare and anti-Semitism

     I very much enjoyed Rathe Miller’s article on the true
New York outdoor theater adventure (“Jews 1, Shakespeare 0” ). But methinks thou doth protest too little.
     "The play's the thing," no? Even if there is license granted to the artist to re-investigate the underlying themes in The Merchant of Venice, why send the bones of it to the closet and support the skin and flesh with an unwieldy frame, and not give a justifiable send-up of this new interpretation's rhyme and reason?
     Did you ever get any explanation other than "My ending's better"?
Erich DeHaven
Glenside, Pa.
August 2, 2010

     I have no trouble with your conclusion, but I do find the headline (“Jews 1, Shakespeare 0”) in poor taste. Consciously or not, it implies that Jews form a cabal. And an anti-cultural one at that. It just seems unfriendly.
David Millstone
August 8, 2010

Miles Davis remembered

     Re “My evening with Miles Davis,” by Bob Ingram—
     In the mid-’60s when I was attempting to be a jazz trumpet player, I went up to Miles between sets at the Aqua Lounge (or was it Pep’s?) and asked if I could play his horn. I was 16, knew nothing about Miles other than his music and was an idiot. He stared at me, snorted, turned and walked away. Later, a guy in his group told me I was "lucky."
     By the by, Bob, I'm shocked— shocked! — to discover you once used drugs.
Rathe Miller
University City/ Philadelphia
August 3, 2010

     Bob Ingram replies:
I'm shocked that you're shocked.

La Cage Aux Folles on Broadway

     Re Jane Biberman’s review of La Cage Aux Folles—
     Jane, you're not alone. La Cage ranked at the bottom of musicals I just saw. See my comment in Creative Loafing.
Perry Tannenbaum
Tega Cay, S.C.
August 5, 2010

Mum Puppettheatre remembered

     Re “R.I.P., Mum Puppettheatre,” by Bob Cronin (Oct. 12, 2008)—
     I served as the Mum's house manager in 2007 for its production of A Christmas Carol. I had so much fun there and learned so much about theater from the great Robert Smythe himself. He was really a great mentor.
     I'll miss the Mum, but I've taken what I learned and applied it when I started my own theater organization, RebelYard Theatre Collective. I only hope we can embody some of those wonderful skills and values I learned from the Mum and Robert.
     Rest in Peace, Mum!
Corey A. Stephens
Founder, Artistic Director at
RebelYard Theatre Collective, Inc.
West Philadelphia
August 7, 2010

Edgard Varèse festival

     Re “A sudden thirst for Varèse,” by Dan Coren—
     It's great to see that you're big enough to "eat your words" about Varèse’s Ameriques. It was, indeed, an amazing evening, one full of 20 and 30-somethings, all revved up and cheering. But I think you're wrong about Varèse lacking melodies. Listen again.
     And if you were looking for another such miraculous and unlikely evening, you need not go back to Bernstein and Beethoven's Ninth. Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic pulled off an even more unlikely triumph just a few weeks earlier, with Ligeti's Grande Macabre, which also was a "can't get a ticket" event— over three nights, not just a single performance.
     There's life in the old gal (modern Classical music) yet. And frankly, fur-lined teacups look a lot more appealing to me than sharks in tanks of formaldehyde.
Andrew Rudin
Allentown, N.J.
July 28, 2010

Medieval mania

     Re “Pennsic’s medieval make-believe,” by Kristen Eaton—
     Yes, the fun does spill out over the rest of the year. I live out in Oregon and haven’t been to Pennsic. But there's an event within driving distance nearly every weekend, and local meetings and classes every week. Heck, I ran a sewing class last Saturday, in my home.
     Pennsic is probably the most visible thing that we medievalists do, but it is not anywhere near all of the Society for Creative Anachronism experience. Because that experience is all year-'round.
Laura Minnick.
(AKA Liutgard of Luxeuil)
Portland, Ore.
August 3, 2010

Schubert vs. Beethoven

     Re Dan Coren’s “Schubert vs. Beethoven” (April 5, 2008)—
     I find it hard to believe that someone would actually try to make the case that Schubert might have eclipsed Beethoven if he had lived as long. Most composers don't produce their best works until they are well into their 30s and 40s, so Schubert, like Mendelssohn, are exceptions. Big deal. Schubert probably would have written crap like Mendelssohn did as he grew older.
     Beethoven's early work is uneven at times because he was meant to transform the musical world, not just merely be another "great" composer, and the styles he inherited fit him like an ill-tailored suit.
     Even if Schubert had managed to come close to Beethoven's middle period quality, he never would have reached the heights of the late works. No other composer has.
Chris Cano
Los Angeles, Calif.
July 30, 2010

     Dan Coren replies:
I never tried to make the case that Schubert would have eclipsed Beethoven, nor do I believe that to be the case. My point was that Beethoven, at age 31, had nothing in his resumé to compare with, for example, Schubert's C Major Quintet or Schwanengesang. We can't know what would have happened had Schubert lived another 20 or 30 years; in fact, that's really the point of my article.

Baseball’s armchair warrior

     Re “George Steinbrenner in peace and war,” by Dan Rottenberg (Editor’s Notebook)—
     Loved it!
Erika Roth
New York
August 2, 2010

Met’s high-definition Carmen

     Re Steve Cohen’s review of the Metropolitan Opera’s high-definition theatrical version of Carmen (Jan. 22)—
     This was a five-star production! Elina Garanca was breathtaking. The movie was even better than a live performance at the Met. During the non-singing orchestration, the camera focused on the musicians playing the particular instrument, such as the flute, oboe, bassoon or violin, adding to the overall enjoyment.

Sanford Gage
Los Angeles, Calif.
July 29, 2010