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Letters: Inspired by Michael Tilson Thomas; memories of Jeff Beck


Arts and sciences

I enjoyed reading Mark Swed’s column on Michael Tilson Thomas [“I Intend to Make the Most of it,” Jan. 13]. I had the pleasure of being in grades 7 through 12 with MTT (at the time known as Michael).

We were attending Walter Reed Junior High School and there was a year of obligatory science in seventh grade and an elective science course in eighth grade, which we both took. Some people may not know that MTT excelled in the sciences.

We each did a project for that class. MTT’s was a series of overlain transparencies showing the electron shells of one of the higher elements, perhaps uranium. It should be no surprise that MTT’s project was very artistic.

On a day, perhaps in October 1957, MTT was talking with several of us a few minutes before science class and said, “I am nearing a decision in my life. I am deciding whether I will go into science or music.”

MTT would have also excelled had he chosen science.

John Hoehn
Long Beach

Mark Swed’s interview with Michael Tilson Thomas brought back decades of fond memories to me starting nearly 50 years ago.

In the early ’70s, his mother, Roberta Thomas was my American history teacher at William Mulholland Junior High School. I’ll never forget the day she held up her son’s latest album with his Buffalo Philharmonic featuring the music of George Gershwin and said to the class, “Should any of you find yourselves in the classical music section of your local record store, not that you would, this is my son’s latest album.”

That year my mother and I went up to the Ojai Music Festival when Michael was its music director to hear him conduct pieces by Pierre Boulez and Luciano Berio.

In the 1980s, Mom and I subscribed to Los Angeles Philharmonic concerts when Carlo Maria Giulini was its music director along with Michael and Simon Rattle as principal guest conductors.

In the late ‘90s, I met Michael here in Los Angeles and told him how much I enjoyed having his mom as a teacher as well as subsequently meeting both his parents at their Hollywood Bowl box.

This century, I’ve enjoyed hearing Michael conduct his San Francisco Symphony as well as our L.A. Phil. Michael’s resilience and resolve since his cancer diagnosis is truly inspirational.

Marc Antony Melocchi
Studio City

Jeff Beck’s greatness

Kudos to Stephen Thomas Erlewine for his spot-on appreciation of Jeff Beck’s unique and immense talent [“Jeff Beck’s Playing Could Still Surprise Us,” Jan. 13].

I had the pleasure of working with Jeff for many years when I was a director of marketing for Fender.

I recall one time when I presented him with a model that we added new electronics to and were hoping to promote as so many guitarists looked up to him.

I waited about two weeks for him to give it a thorough “road test” and got a call from his guitar tech who told me Jeff “loved it” and was now using it every night on tour.

I asked for a quotation we could use for marketing and he replied, “No offense to Fender, as you make great guitars, but he could pick the cheapest guitar off the rack at a pawn shop and he would make it sound like Jeff Beck.”

Del Breckenfeld
Desert Hot Springs

Poor little rich prince

Regarding “‘Spare’ Beats the Press at its Own Game” [Jan. 11]: Mary McNamara has a far more sanguine impression of the “long suffering” Prince Harry than this reader has.

From what I have gleaned from snippets of the book as reported plus interviews — perhaps not only were his nether regions affected by frostbite on his North Pole expedition but possibly his brain as well?

Conjecture on my part, but how else can one explain this truly bizarre and vicious tome. Our author has expressed that he hopes sharing his truths might lead to rapprochement with his family as I understand it. If I were he, I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for a coronation invite.

Disclaimer — I’ve not read the book, choosing not to contribute to the rich getting richer, plus I’ve heard quite enough already.

Jan Judah


You do have to wonder about his/their motives. Unless it involves a need for money, or a desire to stick it to other members of the royal family, my feeling is they could have moved into Montecito, had their 2.3 children, gone to the beach regularly and sailed their boat out of Santa Barbara Harbor (my own personal dream). Within a few months they would have been relegated to the paragraph in the obituary listing surviving relatives of the deceased.

John Snyder
Newbury Park


Interesting that Mary McNamara brings up “The Crown” and an allusion to Dame Judi Dench’s thought that the Netflix show should carry a disclaimer saying that it is a fictionalized account of actual events.

She is probably correct that Dench would suggest a similar label on Prince Harry’s book “Spare.” It is, indeed, a fictionalized story that even McNamara bought into.

Harry’s mother was not killed by paparazzi but because she did not wear a seat belt. The only survivor of the car crash wore a seat belt.

Diana made her poor choice and that has made all the difference in the world to one of her sons. And what of the other son — a few years older when his mother died?

Elizabeth Twigg

An incomplete museum

I found Carolina A. Miranda’s article about the Orange County Museum of Art and museum architecture [“Behind the Seams at OCMA’s Opening,” Jan. 11] quite interesting, since my husband and I just went there for the first time last week. Was I disappointed in the things that Miranda mentioned didn’t seem complete? No, however I was disappointed in the collection of artwork displayed.

As a realistic landscape artist, I guess I still can’t appreciate the contemporary artwork that I was exposed to in college as an art major. And I certainly don’t see the validity in the creations at this new facility. I never liked what was in the old Newport Beach location either. I am not into performance art or anything that others consider to be revolutionary.

However, there were some pieces that were outstanding examples of skill and ingenuity. Still, not as impressive a collection for a facility that was supposed to be much larger than the original space. The exhibit spaces were not full or well utilized.

But it was well worth what the admission was — since it was free. I gladly await any new additions after it is reopened after its closure for completion.

Sherry Marger
Newport Beach

Funny, not funny

Regarding “Letters to the Editor: ‘Lite’ on Any Kind of Sense” [Jan. 15]: On a daily basis, I (a senior citizen) get a laugh from the comic “Reply All Lite.”

The reader who wrote about being flabbergasted that it “is an actual comic that runs in the newspaper” is entitled to that opinion. I think it’s funny and smart and reminds me of many a millennial I know, and sometimes myself and my peers.

Maureen Discipulo
Redondo Beach


The title of “Reply All Lite” fits its contents: incomprehensible. The strip is not funny or relevant.

I’d like to see The Times feature more women artists, but not this one.

Don Zachary

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