Arts letters


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‘Mad Men’ merger talk

While I agree with Matthew
Gilbert that the merger of Don and Ted’s firms was unrealistic, I disagree that the speed in which it happened was uncharacteristic of the show and its writers (“Will new ‘Arrested Development’ be an exception?,” g, May 11). Look at Don’s marriage proposal to Megan! He’s having a casual affair with her, hires her as the baby sitter for a week in Florida, and BAM! He proposes (and actually goes through with marrying her). And then he was actually monogamous for a while. It came out of nowhere, with little prior plot development, just like this firm merger.



In a mellow tone

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Re: “Jazz bands tap Ellington as muse” (Metro, May 11, Joseph P. Kahn): I am an 88-year-old D-day veteran of the Fourth Infantry Division and have been a jazz lover since I was 16 years old. I was privileged to hear the great Duke Ellington Band in Symphony Hall just after Cootie Williams had left to join Benny Goodman. The trumpet section still had Rex Stewart and Ray Nance so it wasn’t too shabby.

Many years later the band was booked into a club on Route 1 and Cootie had rejoined the band. Cootie took an extended solo and I was standing right in front of the stage. The solo was moving me so much that it obviously had shown in my facial expression and body movement. Cootie obviously recognized my heartfelt response to his playing and as he went to take his seat he pointed his trumpet at me and gave me an appreciative smile.

I am not a musician and can’t even read a note of music but I recognize and appreciate the improvisational skills of the truly great jazz musicians and vocalists who have the ability to impart feeling in their playing that can move me emotionally. In addition to Williams, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, Harry Carney, Barney Bigard, and Rex Stewart all could do that.

I am pleased that Wynton Marsalis is using a Duke Ellington competition to keep alive an appreciation of Ellington’s contribution to American and world culture.



As Rembrandt et al. seek new digs

Re: “Masterpiece theater” (Front Page, May 5, Geoff Edgers): What a magnificent gift this collection would make to a teaching institution like Harvard. To whatever museum I would give this gift I would stipulate that extensive teaching materials would have to accompany the exhibit: informative paragraphs on walls nearby each work of art; free take-away materials both visual and written; more extensive (and of varying expense) materials — books, pamphlets, etc., nearby. And most important, I would require that the museum open their doors, on a regular basis (one day a week??), for free viewings for all. These treasures should be enjoyed by everyone who has a wish to see them.

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by brusselsp


Hearing a critic’s voice

Re: “Freedom of youth in an older woman’s picture” (g, May 7): Sebastian Smee brings art to art, humanity to the humanities. I read him in the same way I had read Lloyd Schwartz in the Phoenix. Their hearts and their minds talk inwardly to each other and then to us. We listen, appreciatively.

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by nahantjim

If ‘Gatsby’ beckons, try Fitzgerald’s

Re: “Baz-zle Dazzle” (g, May 10, Ty Burr): This adaptation may appeal to the literary crowd and perhaps also to the very young who are often fooled into thinking that pageant is art. The movie may even make money. However, Jay-Z’s music is out of sync, offensive, and just in poor taste. It would seem that our filmmakers have denigrated their art form to grab the quick buck. What a waste of talent. Read the book and spare yourself from this ostentatious mess.

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by Mr-Caristo

An assassin’s coin

As always, thank you, Mr. Smee, for casting a spotlight on a piece from the MFA and giving it context (“Small token of a Roman’s murderous ambitions,” g, April 23). It’s perhaps worth noting that this denari, like many Roman coins, was issued as military pay for Brutus’s army in their fight against Marc Antony and Octavian, and thus its message served to remind the troops for whom, and for what, they were fighting.

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by geolovely