Inspired by Michael Tilson Thomas;  Memories of Jeff Beck

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 (then known as Michael).

We went to Walter Reed Junior High School, and there was a compulsory science year in seventh grade and an elective science year in eighth grade, which we both took. Some people may not know that MTT excelled in science.

We each did a project for this class. MTTs were a series of superimposed banners showing the electron shells of one of the higher elements, perhaps uranium. It should come as no surprise that MTT’s project was very artistic.

One day, perhaps in October 1957, MTT spoke to several of us a few minutes before science class and said, “I am about to make a decision in my life. I decide whether I go into science or music.”

MTT would also have been excellent if he had chosen science.

Johannes Hoehn
Long Beach

Mark Swed’s interview with Michael Tilson Thomas brought back decades of good memories that began nearly 50 years ago.

His mother, Roberta Thomas, was my American history teacher at William Mulholland Junior High School in the early 1970’s. 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 yourself in the classical department of your local record store, not that you would , this is my son’s latest album.”

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

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

I met Michael here in Los Angeles in the late 90’s and told him how much I enjoyed having his mother as a teacher and then meeting both of his parents in their Hollywood Bowl box office.

In this century I have enjoyed listening to Michael conduct his San Francisco Symphony as well as our LA Phil. Michael’s resilience and determination since his cancer diagnosis is truly inspiring.

Marc Antony Melocchi
studio city

Jeff Beck’s height

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 Director of Marketing at Fender.

I remember a time I presented him with a model that we added new electronics to and hoped to promote as so many guitar players 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 telling me Jeff “loved it” and now uses it every night on the road.

I asked for a quote that we could use for marketing and he replied, “Nothing against Fender, they make great guitars, but he could take the cheapest guitar off the shelf at a pawn shop and he’d make it sound like Jeff Beck.” to let. ”

Del Breckenfeld
Desert hot springs

Poor little rich prince

Regarding “‘Spare’ hitting the press at its own game” [Jan. 11]: Mary McNamara has a far more confident impression of the “long-suffering” Prince Harry than does this reader.

From what I have gleaned from excerpts from the book as reported, plus interviews – was perhaps not only his nether regions affected by frostbite on his North Pole expedition, but possibly his brain as well?

Conjecture on my part, but how else to explain this truly bizarre and vicious tome. Our author has expressed that he hopes that sharing his truths could lead to closer ties with his family, as I understand it. If I were him, I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for an invitation to the coronation.

Disclaimer – I didn’t read the book because I chose not to help the rich get richer and I’ve heard enough already.

Jan Judah


You must be wondering about his/her motives. Unless it’s a question of money or a desire to leave it to other members of the royal family, I think they could have moved to Montecito, had their 2.3 kids, hit the beach regularly, and sailed their boat out of Santa Barbara Harbor (my very personal dream). Within months they would have been relegated to the obituary of the deceased’s survivor’s paragraph.

John Snyder
Newbury Park


Interesting that Mary McNamara cites “The Crown” and a nod to Dame Judi Dench’s thoughts that the Netflix show should include a disclaimer stating that it is a fictionalized account of actual events.

She’s probably right that Dench would suggest a similar label for Prince Harry’s book, Spare. It is indeed a fictional story that even McNamara subscribed to.

Harry’s mother wasn’t killed by paparazzi, it was because she wasn’t wearing a seat belt. The sole survivor of the car accident was wearing a seat belt.

Diana made her poor choice and it made all the difference in the world for one of her sons. And what about the other son – a few years older when his mother died?

Elizabeth Twig

An incomplete museum

I found Carolina A. Miranda’s article on the Orange County Museum of Art and museum architecture [“Behind the Seams at OCMA’s Opening,” Jan. 11] Quite interesting as my husband and I only went there for the first time last week. Was I disappointed in the things Miranda had mentioned as if they weren’t complete? No, but I was disappointed with the collection of artwork on display.

As a realist landscape artist, I still can’t appreciate the contemporary artworks I was exposed to in college as an art major. And I certainly don’t see the validity in the creations in this new facility. I also never liked what was in the old Newport Beach location. I’m not interested in performance art or anything that others consider revolutionary.

However, there were some pieces that were outstanding examples of skill and ingenuity. Still not such an impressive collection for a facility that was intended to be much larger than the original space. The exhibition areas were not fully or well utilized.

But it was worth the entrance fee – since it was free. I happily await new additions now that it has reopened after it closed to completion.

Sherry lean
Newport Beach

Funny not funny

Regarding “Letters to the Editor: ‘Lite’ on Any Kind of Sense” [Jan. 15]: I (a senior) laugh at the comic “Reply All Lite” every day.

The reader who wrote that he was amazed that it was “a real comic running in the paper” is entitled to that opinion. I find it funny and smart and reminds me of a lot of millennials I know and sometimes myself and my co-workers.

Maureen Discipulo
Redondo Beach


The title of “Reply All Lite” fits the content: incomprehensible. The strip isn’t funny or relevant.

I would like to see more female artists in The Times, but not this one.

Don Zechariah

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