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    Letters to the Arts Editor

    Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, whose “That’s Why God Made the Radio” is a fan favorite.
    Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe
    Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, whose “That’s Why God Made the Radio” is a fan favorite.

    Snubbed: the Beach Boys

    “The best albums of 2012” (Arts, Dec. 16, Globe critics) contained an egregious omission. And while this album never received the radio play it so justly deserved, it nevertheless will go down in history as one of the best of 2012. I refer, of course, to the Beach Boys’ 50th-anniversary CD,

    Beach Boys, “That’s Why God Made The Radio”

    “That’s Why God Made the Radio.” Beach Boys Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, David Marks, and Bruce Johnston once again brought Wilson’s genius to life. The intricate harmonies of the ’60s are as strong today as they were then. On one excellent track Brian wrote, “Why don’t we do it just like yesterday. . .” And truth is, they did.



    Enforcing audience etiquette


    I’m not sure which emotion rules me at the moment: gratitude for this piece or dismay that it was necessary (“Quiet, please,” g, Dec. 1, June Wulff). Several of the suggestions, while helpful, seemed to me to be Intro to Live Performance Etiquette 101. Real freshman-year stuff.

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    Do we really need, for example, to tell parents to prep their kids for the experience? And backing up a step, why do so many parents have absolutely no clue regarding the appropriateness for children (theirs or anyone else’s) of what is often an obviously intended-for-adults production? While I admire parents for at least attempting to expose their progeny to the arts . . . well, that’s why God invented children’s concerts and theater, the goal of which is to introduce this magical world to youngsters in age-appropriate, bite-size pieces. With luck, this will blossom into a lifelong love of that world instead of crashing and burning as the bored-silly child falls asleep within minutes, vowing never to set foot in a theater again.

    And we should not let the grown-ups off the hook either. Last night, I had the pleasure of attending Chanticleer in concert at Jordan Hall in Boston. The overwhelming majority of the audience was well behaved for the bulk of the evening, but during the encore . . . a sublime rendering of “Silent Night” . . . I actually heard someone in the audience humming along! As it is said, “You’re kidding me, right?” After a phenomenal, spiritually transporting evening spent with one of the world’s foremost a cappella groups, does anyone really want to hear anyone else, save the people onstage, sing? Don’t get me wrong: I love sing-alongs, especially at holiday time. But this night, clearly, was not that.

    Meanwhile, I’ve about given up on trying to explain to the smartphone-addicted (and they aren’t all zombie-eyed 20-somethings, by the way) why texting, checking e-mail, or even having the damn things turned on during a show is inappropriate, annoying to fellow audience members, and, worst of all, rude beyond words to the performers. It’s my understanding that texters yearn to “share the experience” with their friends. I humbly submit that they might get a lot more out of said experience . . . call me crazy . . . if they actually watched it instead of texting about it.

    Lastly, when will people learn that going to a performance is intended to show them somebody else doing something amazing, entertaining, and maybe even inspiring? For at least a few short hours, it is not all about them! I’d like to take to task Robin Abrahams (“Miss Conduct”), as quoted in your article, for her comments regarding overly chatty audience members: “Observing (and eavesdropping on!) others, however, is part of the entertainment that a night at the theater provides. Sometimes the best show isn’t the one onstage.”


    Really? I do hope this was said with tongue planted firmly in cheek.


    Dover, N.H.

    Boy, did this article resonate with me. Bad audience behavior has been my cross to bear for years now.

    My approach is very different from Wulff’s. I’ve learned that people will continue to do these things until someone tells them to stop. If I’m forced into the position of telling them to stop, I do it in a loud and nasty stage whisper that everyone around can hear. I don’t ask them politely. Whenever I do this, there is dead silence in the theater afterward for the rest of the performance.

    I wish programs would have a page listing the dos and don’ts of audience behavior.



    East Boston

    Studying ‘L’Eminence Grise’

    That screech you heard this morning was my delight when I saw that Sebastian Smee featured my “go-to” painting at the MFA (“Poking fun at the powerful — in an artful way,” g, Dec. 11). I won’t say “favorite,” because that would not make me seem very cultured, but I love it, for all the reasons he states. I know it’s in the MFA’s permanent collection but it is not always on display, so I search for it every time I go. The wordless commentary is priceless and I love the composition, color, detail — it makes me smile every time. I have a postcard of it that I try not to misplace or to let anyone else send in error.

    Thank you for giving M. Gerome his well-deserved minutes of fame.



    Here Smee goes again. He tells us about a treasure right under our noses and then adds a dimension most us never knew or thought about. I must get back to the museum and look at this painting again.

    We consider ourselves so fortunate that the Globe treats us with “Arts Tuesday” and has someone on the staff like Smee to enrich our lives.



    This morning I spent a lot (!) of time reading and enjoying Smee’s column. It really is, as often happens, a tutorial. I studied the painting (as much as is possible!) as he described the various figures. I can hardly wait to visit the painting itself, with Smee’s column in hand.



    The roots of TV storytelling

    I just finished reading Matthew Gilbert’s fabulous article, “The towers of TV” (Arts, Dec. 9). His observations on those that have influenced what is currently aired on television are spot-on.

    I am a huge fan of Rod Serling’s and have, myself, noticed how many scripts for TV are influenced by those that were written for “The Twilight Zone.” (I’m sure that M. Night Shyamalan, writer/director of films such as “The Sixth Sense,” “The Village,” and “Lady in the Water,” must also be a big fan of “the Zone” as his movies show more than just a few traces of similarities.)

    The mention of Dickens, Poe and Conan Doyle, Nora Ephron, Allen Funt, Christopher Guest, and the great Robert Altman really got me thinking as I found myself nodding my head to Gilbert’s every comparison. He shed new light on why I love TV so much. I have always loved the above visionaries, therefore I love what today’s creative artists bring to the table.



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