Mary McNamara asks us to please tear up the petition to make Dr. Anthony Fauci People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive [“Let’s Resist Urge to Idolize Fauci,” April 20] and then she goes on to detail exactly why he really is the sexiest man alive: “A man with the near-miraculous power to separate his ego from his mission.” A man who repeatedly tells the truth even when it’s a truth no one wants to hear, and in front of President Trump no less?
If that is not sexy, I don’t know what is. Thank you Dr. Fauci. I don’t idolize you, I just like you very, very much and find you very, very sexy.
Talk about trivializing someone! Fauci is a solid, sturdy, intelligent public servant. Not flashy. Not “sexy” (whatever that means in this context!). Just competent. And not self-serving. An incredible breath of fresh air in the midst of the murky mess we’re in right now. I just hope he can keep from getting fired.
Idolizing Dr. Fauci would be antithetical to what he and those like him are about. This reminds me of Plato’s thesis in "The Republic" that our best Kings (leaders) should be those who do not seek to be Kings.
Hyman J. Milstein
Dr. Anthony Fauci is a brain, not a beauty. To conflate the two is a flaw in perspective and a condemnation of our celebrity-obsessed society.
Let’s honor Dr. Fauci for what he is, a physician and researcher with integrity. That’s a high honor in and of itself.
To President Trump, McNamara must be a disgrace and a failure, believe me. She pointed out the awful truth that celebrity is not equal to expertise. That stings those who depend on ratings.
If people choose to extol this most admirable of Americans in ways more pop-cultural than scientific, at least they’re casting their lot with someone whose guidance will get us through this crisis, rather than succumbing to the delusional malpractice of our benighted president.
LACMA wrecking ball
Re: “They’ve Got Alternate Plan for ‘New’ LACMA,” by Carolina Miranda [April 20]: The Citizens’ Brigade to Save LACMA is to be commended in its attempt to provide alternatives to the flawed Peter Zumthor design that shrinks exhibition space, removes staff from the museum proper and makes future expansion impossible .
Several times in the past the LACMA board has attempted to replace the museum buildings by commissioning starchitects [who] put the building before the art.
Director Michael Govan and the board have given up on doing the hard work of achieving a plan with public support and are demolishing our museum with the result that we will have to accept their plan as better than nothing. They are supported by the deafening silence from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, who appear to have succumbed to star power rather than common sense in committing hundreds of millions in public funds to this disaster in the making.
Re: “Last Chance to Undo LACMA’s Bad Plan” [April 19]: You’ve got to hand it to Greg Goldin. For almost two decades, he’s denounced all redevelopment plans for Los Angeles County Museum of Art. His most recent attack came after LACMA's Bing Auditorium, designed by William Pereira, had already been demolished.
Goldin’s partner in LACMA-bashing is Joseph Giovannini, who has judged architecture competitions for former LACMA benefactor Eli Broad. Between the two, they’ve panned LACMA’s new building in a three-piece attack at Los Angeles Review of Books, here at the L.A. Times, on KCRW and in a fierce but sparsely populated Facebook group dedicated to destroying LACMA’s new Peter Zumthor-designed building before it has been erected.
Goldin and Giovannini have routinely bemoaned LACMA’s plans to reimagine its physical plant as a vital part of Los Angeles’ cultural heart. Now, as coronavirus has shuttered the entire world, their attacks are as reductive as they are destructive.
Back in the 1970s I worked at the Art Institute of Chicago. One day I heard that a developer had bought the landmark Louis Sullivan Stock Exchange office building. It had full occupancy, and architecture students and fans regularly visited it for its wonderful design, decoration and harmony. The developer wanted to tear it down to build a larger building. Everyone with a sense of beauty or history was shocked and outraged, but the developer’s lawyers won and it was torn apart.
During the destruction, Richard Nickel, a consummate architectural photographer, had a wall collapse on him, [killing him] as he tried to record the architectural details soon to be lost to the world. The new building was an ugly, featureless concrete nothing.
In a moment of karmic justice, the developer went broke before the building was completed, but this was small comfort to those of us who loved the building.
It is another hell to see history repeating itself. Destruction without enough funds to build the replacement is folly, especially when our tax dollars should be used to save lives and support the health infrastructure, with an unpredictable future for economic recovery. I suspect the LACMA replacement mini-mall, which will condemn most of LACMA’s collections to permanent storage, and perhaps even quiet sale, will be called "the L.A. County Mausolem of Art."
People can be said to fall into two types. Some aspire to be something — say, a Nobel laureate. Some aspire to do something — say, cure cancer. The same distinction seems to underlie the failure of the LACMA board and the County Board of Supervisors to build a campus that better serves its purpose.
They approved a design intended to create an iconic building rather than broaden and deepen the community’s experience with LACMA’s superb collections and programs and its unique setting.
As Mr. Goldin so forcefully pointed out, this is no time for a deeply indebted institution or a county facing financial hardship to go even deeper in debt for a vanity project that undermines its very reason for being.
Re: “It’s Past Time to Show Us the Designs” by Carolina A. Miranda [April 16]:
Is tearing down LACMA really essential during a citywide quarantine? In keeping with his seven-year allegiance to secrecy, Govan has yet to release a museum floor plan, blaming the current delay on “the COVID-19 crisis.”
It strains credulity that a health crisis of the past four months is to blame for a lack of transparency that has lasted 84 months.
Our encyclopedic art museum is gone, its collection in storage never again to be exhibited in full because of a belief that the building is more important than the art. No set of flashy drawings is going to make that better. My heart is broken.
It is clear from Carolina A. Miranda’s analysis of LACMA’s design process, and Director Michael Govan’s stumbling response, that he has made a fundamental and irreversible error and is now struggling to live with it. He has allowed his architect to design a building with no attention to how its interior will be used.
The dictum “Form follows function” is nowhere more important than in use-specific buildings like museums and theaters. Govan will build this indulgent monstrosity and them move on, but we will be left to live with it.
I guess this is what passes for arts coverage in the L.A. Times these days, an article with no serious interest or insight on the arts.
At a USC talk last year, Michael Govan showed a slide with a preliminary gallery plan. A picture of the plan was posted on an architectural blog. While it remains to be seen how the art will be placed or grouped, there’s no mystery or conspiracy to deceive here.
On that note, I wonder what is the point in saying that the shape of the roof looks like a “moose antler.”
First of all, it’s the wrong perspective. No one experiences a building from the air. Second, it panders to a kind of anti-intellectual attitude toward architecture, “Let’s make fun of anything we don’t understand or won’t take the time to understand.” That’s the message you are sending.
In any case, Zumthor’s buildings don’t make meaning through representation (elevation and metaphor).
Given all this, I do not believe that your interest in the gallery plans is purely intellectual or technical. It seems to me that you are more interested in consorting with the backlash.
Let some other newspaper cover how the Metropolitan Museum is renouncing the “outdated taxonomies” of the encyclopedic museum. Let some other newspaper write about how the Zumthor building answers the “big” questions. You are going to write about the more important things — a letter-writing campaign with templates for different levels of emotion.
So tell me again why Govan should feel an urgency to show you the gallery plan? Better that he keep it a secret by hiding it in plain sight.
I have sent the article Stacy Perman wrote about the film industry [“Making Sets Safer,” April 11] to every makeup artist, assistant director and producer.
We are trying to figure out solutions as when the time comes to return to work and how we makeup artists and hairstylists deal with cast in a continued safe and responsible manner to ensure all are protected.
Looking for silver lining in COVID-19 cloud
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mark Swed for his interview with Peter Sellars [“Peter Sellars Sees Reason for Hope,” April 15]. I’m an orchestra and music theory teacher of high school students who’s not entirely comfortable with technology.
We’re of course using Zoom for classes, and I’ve been freaking out about how in the world to provide meaningful experiences for my two ensembles throughout the remainder of this year. Mr. Sellars' profound thoughts as always cut right to the heart of the dilemma in which we find ourselves. I have a renewed sense of possibility after reading his ideas and thoughts.
Re: "Too soon for 'the Oscar goes to ...?' " [April 19]: Film critic Justin Chang says, "It takes discernment to find worthwhile achievements, to look beyond the scope of the obvious and the overhyped.”
Precisely, as an example for films, such as "Parasite," an overhyped movie about classism and discrimination, but financed by the powerful CJ Entertainment, an elitist group the film passionately defies, and a film Chang ecstatically reviewed with gratuitous accolades.
One can only speculate, had it not been overhyped and financed by such an influential and powerful film company, would it have been the recipient of such superfluous encomiums and rewards.
'Ta-ta-ta-TAH' for victory
Re: "We need to Hear That ta-ta-ta-TAH" [April 17]: Music critic Mark Swed left out one detail on the importance of Beethoven’s Fifth, during this time of the fight against COVID-19.
The “ta-ta-ta-TAH” is also dit-dit-dit-DASH ( . . . — ), which is Morse Code for the letter “V,” as in "V" for Victory.
During World War II the opening notes of Beethoven’s 5th became a powerful symbol for the Allied Forces. Winston Churchill, famous for his “V” hand sign, advised the British people to play Beethoven’s 5th.
The French resistance adopted it as a symbol of solidarity, and Maurice van Moppes wrote lyrics to the opening bars and called it “La chanson des V” (“The song of V”). It was broadcast on Radio-Londres, to the French and the allies, to raise moral, and encourage resistance.
Beethoven’s 5th, became an international symbol of victory, something the world needs at this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Swed’s reviews and essays are always great, and this one, on performances of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, was no exception.
But he let his enthusiasm get the better of him when he compared the amount of money raised by one performance in 1943 to what it would be in the present. $6.5 million in 1943 would be close to $100 million now, impressive enough, but not “$10 billion.”
The women slave masters
Re: Nathaniel Deuel’s review of Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers' “They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South,” [“Helpless Women? Not These Slave Owners,” April 19]. Now I too am haunted by the rocking chair incident.
What cruelty our ancestors went through so that this country could benefit financially. What a shame. What a heartless shame.
Thank you, Mary McNamara, for starting my Tuesday with your uplifting and humorous article [“Zoom Busted Me: I’m a Mom”, April 14]. It was funny, poignant, timely and forward-looking.
As you suggest, perhaps some positive changes will come out of our current situation, such as increased awareness that working parents need good, affordable childcare, flex schedules and generous leave options.
You highlighted these important issues with comedic situations in the age of Zoom. I howled with laughter at some of your family tales.
God bless you and other working parents who keep it all going. I'm the parent of a 22- and 23-year old, so I’m past the hardest part!
Craig S. Rhea
Reviewing Woody Allen
Bravo to Peter Biskind for his insightful and objective review of Woody Allen’s memoir “Apropros of Nothing" [“Woody Allen’s Memoir Shrugs it All Off,” April 16].
It is encouraging that The Times and Biskind were not intimidated by the “viral police” who feel they can bully to limit what can be printed. Thank you for maintaining your role as a member of the Fourth Estate.
I object to every reference to Woody Allen mentioning his past problem with Mia Farrow, an accusation that has never been prosecuted.
Is this how American justice now works, back to the Salem Witch trials, just point your finger and you win?
Woody Allen is a National Treasure.
Warwick, New York