Letters to the Arts Editor

Jarod, Devin, and Matt in A&E’s reality show “Southie Rules.’’
Karolina Wojtasik
Jarod, Devin, and Matt in A&E’s reality show “Southie Rules.’’

Paging Lady Grantham

Re: “Plenty of characters, little story in ‘Southie Rules’” (g, Jan. 29, Matthew Gilbert): I was born in South Boston, and it pains me to say this, but “Southie Rules” makes “Jersey Shore” look like “Downton Abbey.”



The Barenboim orchestra’s cousins

Jeremy Eichler wrote, in his positive review of Daniel Barenboim’s Arab-Israeli Divan Orchestra, that “news of fruitful coexistence activities in the Middle East comes all too rarely” (“Sidestepping politics, with help from Beethoven,” g, Jan. 29). Your readers may not realize that there are indeed dozens of small, flourishing Arab-Israeli projects which deserve media attention and support. Three really special endeavors are based in this region: Debbie Nathan’s “Artsbridge,” MIT’s “MEET,” and the “Playing for Peace” program at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.


Thanks to the Globe for its excellent pre- and post-concert coverage of the Divan Orchestra.

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Re: “Partners in concert” (Arts, Jan. 20, Geoff Edgers): Bravo to Mr. Barenboim’s West-Eastern Orchestra for the music it makes and the bridges across the hearts of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Creative and intellectual pursuits that eschew boundaries and require mutual engagement seem to be the best way to forge common ground between societies in conflict.

Like music, science is also a pursuit that “knows no borders.” STEP-GTP (Science Training Encouraging Peace-Graduate Training Program) was formed to capitalize on this approach. STEP-GTP partners with academic institutions to provide advanced health sciences training to pairs of health care workers or scientists (one Israeli, one Palestinian per pair). Not only does this advance their professional lives, but it also brings new services to their communities and builds bridges between their peoples. And to those who think that one side or the other does not want peace: As the recent conflict between Israel and Gaza flared, STEP-GTP was approached by Israeli and Palestinian scientists and clinicians to pursue joint training or research pro­jects. Let us each do what we can to help people in this conflict-ridden region move beyond politics.





When good sitcoms linger too long

Re: “‘30 Rock’ has left its mark” (Arts, Jan. 27): Matthew Gilbert’s unabashed deification of “30 Rock” was fun to read. But I can’t understand how he failed to note how far this show fell in the last couple of seasons. It went from must-see to unwatchable. The Tracy/Jenna story lines grew increasingly stupid and annoying. Same with Kenneth. Liz and Jack still had their moments, but this show jumped the shark a long while ago. These sitcoms should do two- or three-year runs and exit. It’s just too hard to keep the writing fresh and the characters interesting. Warning signs are all over “Modern Family” even as it continues to win awards.



A fantasy of
Martin Luther King

Re: “Talking with Preacher King in ‘The Mountaintop,’ ” (g, Jan. 19): I agree with Don Aucoin that the actors did a fine job. I disagree about the play. I submit that he missed the essential point, fantasy. The most significant line is “I am a man.” That characterized the lead as tired, frightened of death threats, lonely, beleaguered, hungry, thirsty, and even a bit horny. Enter the maid. Not realistic, but overblown, dramatic, and lovable. Then ultimately the “twist” he mentioned that turned the play on its head. Fantasy!

I suggest Aucoin probably hates “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Lots of drama is based on an artistic and fantasy interpretation of history. The history plays of Shakespeare are not history, but fantasy. Many great works of art are essentially fantasy.


My other complaint concerns Aucoin’s privileged status as a critic. What he says really is important. The arts community is struggling financially, and reviews such as his definitely detract from attendance. He is certainly entitled to express his opinion. What he wrote was clearly not in sync with the reaction of the audience around me that evening. He really does have a heavy responsibility to evaluate, and also support the arts endeavors he criticizes.



What the MFA overlooks

Re: “MFA stumbled amid hits, misses” (Arts, Dec. 30) and “Looking east” (Arts, Jan. 20): I have to congratulate Sebastian Smee on his recent articles about the MFA. While Mr. Rogers has done a terrific job of raising money, he has singularly failed in his efforts to interest Bostonians in art. The public at large has been pandered to by Switzer, Testino, Lauren cars, etc., while the museum’s own great collections of Japanese, Egyptian, and Chinese art have been neglected. The museum’s lack of interest in presenting exhibitions such as “Japanese Masterpieces From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” where most of the work has already been done is not unique. In 2001, an extraordinary exhibit of “Early Ukiyo-e Treasures From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” was shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in London to wide acclaim. This exhibit, “Dawn of the Floating World,” was not seen here either.

Keep up the good work.



Bar the barking boors?

Re: “Gatti kicks off Verdi bicentennial with monumental Requiem” (g, Jan. 18): Jeremy Eichler’s review of the BSO’s performance of the Verdi Requiem is spot-on, but Saturday night’s performance was ruined for us by the lout sitting behind us who coughed throughout the concert, spreading germs and preventing us from concentrating on the music. When I spoke to him afterward, he stated only that I was entitled to my opinion. Can’t the BSO do something about such boorish behavior?



And, please, no texting

Several Jan. 13 letters spoke about the prices of art events, and how we should have more reduced or even free tickets available to students — the next generation.

I’ve been to shows, both in Boston and NYC, where I’ve experienced shows with “them.”

They seem to be more concerned with texting or e-mailing than what is going on on the stage — not all, but a great many!

Of course we “older generation members” can be as guilty of this, but I’ve noticed that it’s more prevalent in this age group.

Attention spans and manners development should be a required class for everyone — not just arts attendees!



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