Thank you for your article on standing ovations ("Standing Ritual," by Diane Haithman, Aug. 2). I believe they should be reserved for extraordinarily fine theater. If standing ovations become standard, how do you express appreciation for the truly outstanding? Jump up and down on your seat?
In the New York theater, a standing ovation is reserved for the highest-quality performance. On other occasions, those who want to get out of their seats early move to the side aisles to applaud and then run.
In Los Angeles' larger theaters, you will find three or four folks jump to their feet, the people behind them can't see, so they jump up too. This is not a standing ovation.
In Equity waiver houses and other small venues, you don't see standing ovations, which leads me to think some folks in the audience of larger theaters want the performers to see them.
Regarding Haithman's perceived distinction between East and West Coast audiences' proclivity to stand at the end of a performance: I attended many a Broadway show in eight years in Manhattan, and can't remember one, no matter how marginal, for which the audience didn't stand.
I always felt the (largely tourist-filled) audiences were congratulating themselves on attending live theater as much as anything. They seemed to stand as much for themselves as for the performers, as if to say, "We know what an appreciative audience does at the end of the show--ain't we sophisticated?"
Appreciation can only be shown by the length of the applause. This is always cut short in Los Angeles because half the audience is on its feet and moving to the doors.
Thanks to David Pagel and The Times for the bravery to challenge the basic premise that "the art history of surfing" actually exists ("Another in a Cresting Wave of Exhibitions," Aug. 3).
Like quack scientists, the Laguna Museum has developed an M.O. that begins with a weak premise like "an examination of Hot Rod Culture and its influence on fine art" and ends by providing us with "proof" as inane as a '60s poster from a motorcycle event listing Billy Al Bengston as a special guest. Wow!
Classism at Work
Howard Rosenberg's article "When Personal Tragedy Becomes Public Spectacle" (Aug. 2) was right on target. It is so very obvious why Samantha and not Casey got so much media attention.
It has nothing to do with the Pennsylvania coal miners, who, thank the high heavens, were found safe. It is all about what I call classism.
Casey's parents were from the "wrong side of the tracks." Therefore, their loss is just not as important as those who live and look better than they do.
While I agree with Rosenberg's commentary about the life cycle of these stories on abducted children, I have to point out his failure to mention the excessive coverage of the missing Milwaukee girl, Alexis Patterson.
Oh, wait ... that's right, there's been very little coverage outside of Milwaukee. Yet young Patterson--who is black--has been missing since the middle of May. I think I remember hearing that it was because her abduction overlapped that of Elizabeth Smart, and, you know, resources can only be stretched so far.
I probably shouldn't care, as a white male, about Patterson's abduction, but I do. I care because it bothers my conscience that the media obsess over one missing girl and not another. As if one life--the life of a fair-haired white child--is more important than that of a black one.
TIMOTHY M. LANKFORD
I've come to realize it's not the media's fault. They run on ratings, and they get ratings because people watch. They are big business now, and their mission is to make a profit for their shareholders. I'm not saying I like that, but that is how business works in a capitalist society.
The bigger question is: Why do people watch it? Why do they want to be party to sensationalizing murder and mayhem? And why do people want to insinuate themselves into someone else's misery? If people stopped watching it, the stations would have to come up with some other way to get viewers.
Cher the Survivor
Drama! Implants! Info-commercials! Man, where has Richard Cromelin been? In his review of Cher's glorious farewell concert ("A Diva's Adieu," Aug. 8), he said a true diva, which according to him Cher is not, survives adversities and keeps on bouncing back. Here are the facts:
She outlives early folk rock hippie phase ("I Got You Babe") to return as a true TV icon in "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." Introducing the world to her deadpan comic delivery and Bob Mackie fashions.
She marries Greg Allman. Renegade rocker.
She outlives the built-in bias of being a "pop" singer to star in many important movies, culminating in getting an Oscar for "Moonstruck." I don't see Whitney or Mariah anywhere close.
She suffers from Epstein-Barr syndrome and drops out at the peak of her movie career.
Her daughter Chastity comes out as a lesbian.
She sees her former partner, Sonny Bono, die in a freakish ski accident, and delivers one of the great moments in VH1-"Behind the Music" history by delivering an amazing eulogy.
She scores a No. 1 worldwide single and album with "Believe" while in her 50s, surviving her infomercial "ridicule" phase.
Liza, whom Cromelin cites as the real thing, is only reliving her mother's life (I think she's on Night 2 of her mom's TV biopic). Cher is the real deal! She can act, she can sing, she can cry--she can survive!