Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter247



Letters to the Editor

(August 27, 2012)


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Birth Locations: Special Summer Issue

To the Editor:

Swans is a fortnightly delight, but this edition (which I have just begun to read) seems like a masterpiece!

Immediately these reminiscences on great books, films, and music bring up deep memories of one's own.

However, coming to the contribution by Peter Byrne and his reference to Orson Welles, this immediately brought a reaction that I felt I ought to share while I thought of it.

Since Citizen Kane and The Third Man I have long been an admirer of Orson Welles as both director and actor, but I was, I admit, surprised to be told that Orson was an American to be admired -- I had long assumed he, like Charlie Chaplin, was another immigrant from Britain. So, how did this misapprehension arise?

Well, I grew up in the country town of Ilford, Essex -- now sucked into the expansion of Greater London -- and in one of the adjacent villages, Woodford Green, there has long been a public house (i.e., bar, still existing) known as the "Horse and Wells." I know nothing of the origin of the name, but the origin of the name of Orson Welles -- according to the local pronunciation of the pub name -- was clear to a 16-year-old lad in 1941 -- HE WAS BORN IN WOODFORD WELLS, Essex.

It has taken Swans to liberate me from my illusions! But I still admire that actor and director.

Paddy Apling
Woodrising, Norfolk, U.K. - August 13, 2012

ed. Orson Welles (1915-1985) was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA. Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977) was indeed born in England (Walworth, London).


Where are the Women? Special Summer Issue

To the Editor:

I love your stuff.

I live in Israel/Palestine and am generally broke, which is why I don't donate... I mostly spend my limited spare cash on friends in Gaza who need it more. Forgive me!

I thought, instead, that I would do my bit by posting the link to your summer issue on Facebook... and I will, hoping to attract some new reader-donors for Swans. Meantime, when I began browsing, I was sad to see women so underrepresented in most of the favorites lists for the (otherwise fascinating and wonderful) summer culture issue... Obviously if those folks don't have more women favorites, they can't recommend more women's work... And it's not as though a sort of PC airbrushing after the fact could or would make a meaningful change... What to do? I was disappointed... (Unless those Japanese names unfamiliar to me are *all* women, which I thought unlikely, the representation of women artists, musicians, and writers appears to be exceedingly minimal.) Maybe for next time -- some women (also) doing the recommending...?

Best wishes,

Deb Reich
Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine - July 30, 2012

ed. Ms. Reich sent another note when she realized that Jan Baughman, Swans co-editor, had contributed to this special issue. She added: "But is my first impression of the summer issue (relatively few women creatives represented) entirely wrong? Hmmm..." Yes, regretfully few women writers contribute on a regular basis. However, there are a few entries about artists who are women or entries about women: e.g., Edith Piaf, Madam Butterfly, Carmen, Niki Caro, Ella Fitzgerald, Joan Roelofs, Grace Petrie, Shirley Jackson, Patti Smith, Penny Marshall, Billie Holiday, etc.


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Published August 27, 2012
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