Letters

Readers take issue with our reviews of "The L Word" and Norah Jones' new album -- and with Neal Pollack's Grammy night "blog."


Salon Staff
February 13, 2004 3:53AM (UTC)

[Read "Land of the Lipstick Lesbians," by Heather Havrilesky.]

Actually, after living in West Hollywood for two years, I concluded that L.A. was the lipstick lesbian capital of the U.S. Snappy dressers like Ellen Degeneres seemed to be the norm. Unlike the rest of the country, the lesbians in WeHo seemed to spend much more time in front of the mirror putting themselves together than the gay men -- most of whom looked as if they had just arrived from a five-kegger at Sigma Chi.

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I haven't seen the show, but the part about all the lesbians being beautiful sounds very accurate according to my experience there.

-- Aran Johnson

I haven't had a chance to see the show, since I don't have that channel, but read your review with interest. I'm straight, but "some of my best friends..." You made a good point about creating all these impossibly glossy and flat characters, which I have seen before in attempts to depict another lifestyle without stirring up any potential ill-feeling. You need to remain politically correct, right? I always thought that the character of Dr. Weaver on "ER" was rather well written if you are going to talk about depicting lesbians on TV.

The character is flawed, brilliant, ambitious, can be tacky at times and noble at others. She is conflicted and wavers between courage and cowardice, commitment and superficiality. Hey, that sounds like people I actually know! The gals on "The L Word" sound like Barbie dolls with résumés.

-- N.C. Kenfield

[Read "The Queen of Nice," by Thomas Bartlett.]

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Thomas Bartlett has just sold me a copy of Norah Jones' new CD. If it's as bad as the first one, I'll work at wearing it out. You can't wear a hole in a CD by playing it, but if her debut album had been on vinyl, mine would have been worn through a long time ago.

Nope, she's not edgy, loud, obnoxious or non-melodic. And no, it doesn't bother me when I'm trying to read a good book. Neither does Amad Jamal.

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Keep singing, Norah, and I'll keep buying.

-- Dan Smith

That Cassandra Wilson is regarded by her professional peers as one of this generation's great jazz singers is obvious to most listeners. That Thomas Bartlett then makes Wilson the standard against which Norah Jones must be judged is preposterous. By such logic is Charles Mingus a lesser composer because his canon is smaller than that of Duke Ellington?

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Bartlett's ignorance is on full display with his description of the music of the Buena Vista Social Club as "slightly hip background music for boutiques." Excuse me, but I thought one of the prerequisites for being a critic was a minimum knowledge of history.

Like the magnificent old American cars from the '50s that travel the roads of Cuba, the music of the BVSC was lost in a time warp. Paraphrasing Dizzy Gillespie, the music on that island evokes the sense that when the U.S. embargo began there were six or eight jazz albums on the entire island, and that was all there was to hear. Those few jazz sounds melded into the local salsa and got played over and over until they became a unique hybrid. That they did not stay current with the jazz scene in the U.S. does not make the music of the BVSC any less great or beautiful than, say, a '55 Buick Roadmaster.

-- Jim Somers

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What kind of music critic in this century even uses the term "soft rock"? Call Norah Jones jazz, call her pop or a singer-songwriter, but soft rock has nothing in common with her. And what of her "lovely" voice? I can't believe he even wrote that about her. Norah Jones' voice has a rasp, a touch of smoky sandpapery grit, a warm and friendly conversation, the way a woman would sound if you stayed up till the wee hours of the night with a bottle of wine and shared childhood stories.

Don't call her, or any other musician post-'80s "soft rock." Just call it like it is. If you can't come up with any other descriptors besides "lovely" and "soft rock" to describe music, you should only write articles about Air Supply.

-- Tia Wong

Finally! Someone agrees on the utter blandness of Norah Jones. I've tried to give her a chance -- I really have -- but her music is so, well, light, that I react viscerally by yelling at the stereo, television, or even my dog, just to hear someone belt it a bit.

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And thanks for mentioning Cassandra Wilson. She's a local legend here in Santa Fe and it's nice to know she has a national reputation as well.

-- Jennifer

So who is this Thomas Bartlett guy, who compares the admittedly underdeveloped and over-hyped Jones to the truly empty John Mayer and the irrelevant (in this context) Coldplay? I don't get it. He says, "The success of 'Come Away With Me' was driven largely by one song, the gorgeous and extremely catchy 'Don't Know Why.'" Wrong. The atmospheric, romantic, dreamy longplay sold the CD.

"Norah Jones' music seeks, above all else, not to offend," he says. Wrong. It aspires to the simple and universal, as most enduring jazz and pop does. It might hit or miss on that count, but don't brand her a striver or second-guess her musical target on the basis of what makes her sellable.

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-- Ray Agostinelli

[Read "Bands on the Run," by Rick Kisonak.]

As an executive producer of "Bands Reunited," I was thoroughly impressed by Kisonak's review of the show. That being said, it is every producer's dream to have their show reviewed as "the greatest show on earth." However biased his judgment may be, I am obliged to take the compliment at face value and am eternally grateful.

-- Lisa Gaye Knapp

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[Read "Hey ya! Anybody Out There?" by Neal Pollack.]

Who is your target audience for Salon -- losers who live in Williamsburg? Please cater to Manhattanites like normal media.

-- Kevin Cassidy

It's surprising what passes for publishable writing these days. Pieces like this one are comparable to performance art: Barthelme-like amalgams with disjointed, disconnected thoughts meant to inform, make me laugh, or feel like I'm reading the heppiest, newest, "IN" writing out there. But I'm old-fashioned. I like to understand what I read, though maybe that "sux."

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-- John Guess

I appreciate Salon's attempt to try different journalistic styles. However, this satire/blog/article is a piece of crap. I found some of it to be borderline offensive (not that I'm a prude by any means) and simply not up to your high standards. I guess I'm just not sure what the hell it is supposed to be. A satire of a blog? A review of the Grammys? Maybe I'm just missing something. Nice try.

-- C.W. Hoffman


Salon Staff

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