Letters to the Editor

The Barnes' main gallery has Henri Matisse's "The Dance" above the main windows and Picasso's "The Peasants" (right) and Matisse's "Seated Riffian" (left). MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
The Barnes' main gallery has Henri Matisse's "The Dance" above the main windows and Picasso's "The Peasants" (right) and Matisse's "Seated Riffian" (left). MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Posted: July 05, 2012

A magical day in Philadelphia

On a recent Sunday, as the culmination of a weekend in which our family celebrated the bat mitzvah of one of our grandchildren, my wife and I took our daughter, a landscape architect, her husband, an architect, and her two teenage children, who live in Los Angeles, to the Parkway in the hope that we could get into the Barnes.

We were able to obtain tickets with a minimum of difficulty and we toured the building and the galleries. My wife and I had been to the Barnes in Lower Merion more than once, but this experience was like coming out of a dark tunnel into the light. The colors were so vivid, the scenes so clear; it was magical. Those who carp about some minor faults in design or who still are fighting the long-lost battle over the move to the Parkway are wrong.

The building itself is a thing of beauty. It works. We have visited museums in many cities in the United States and abroad; none were better and perhaps none were as good. The addition of the Barnes to the Parkway makes it even more certain that Philadelphia is a world-class city. Perhaps it is time for the Calder family to rethink the decision not to place its museum on the other side of the Parkway.

We followed our gallery visit with a stroll to the Sister Cities pocket park for a bite to eat at the cafe looking out on the children's lake and hill climb. That was delightful. Then we admired the lovely plantings at the Rodin Museum garden. We capped our visit with a short ride around the Art Museum, where we strolled up along the new square gardens filled with color. Before returning home, we strolled through the exquisite azalea garden. My daughter remarked how lucky we are to be living in an area where there are benefactors and citizens who care enough to make all this happen.

I feel really proud to be part of this community and glad that I have been able in a small way to support these and other community institutions for all of us to enjoy.

Sidney Margulies, Wynnewood

Grand schemes to improve the world

During a recent National Public Radio program, a gentleman suggested that a college education should be provided at no cost to anyone who desired it. He argued that years ago, society had decided that providing a free elementary education and, later, a high school education to every child benefited the country. Now, with a college education being fundamental to obtaining a good job, he said we should provide that, at no cost, as well.

I absolutely agree with him. Further, I think everyone who wants a job should have one, with only 30 hours of work per week, a one-month vacation, and retirement at age 50. Everyone should also own their own home and drive a late-model car. They should have the opportunity to vacation at a destination of their choice.

Personally, I would like to have a vacation house at the Shore — with a boat. As an avid traveler, I would like the ability to fly first-class around the world at little or no cost. And, as a retiree, I would like the ability to dine at an upscale restaurant at least twice a month.

The only problem with any of these concepts is how to pay for them. Perhaps we could raise taxes on the 50 percent of our citizens who are now paying all federal taxes to support everyone else. Or we could go into debt, as some of our European friends have, and hope that the world comes to an end before the bill comes due. Our grandchildren? They're on their own.

I am constantly amazed at the naivety of the liberals of this great country who have grandiose ideas for improving society but offer no suggestions as to how to pay for it.

Terence O'Hara, Collegeville

The evolving president

President Obama, the "evolver," has done it again. The first time was on his position on same-sex marriage. Running for senator in Illinois, he was against it. Years later, when it was politically convenient, he "evolved" into thinking it could be all right. The more recent change — or "evolution" — is Obama's more worrying flaunting of our laws regarding immigration. As so succinctly pointed out by Charles Krauthammer, this "brazen end run" around our laws could be a cause for impeachment ("With immigration order, Obama chooses politics over law," June 25). Smart political move, yes, and it is outright pandering to the Latino community for their vote.

For the rest of us law-respecting Constitution abiders, this is a sobering moment. Do we really want four more years of a president who holds so lightly his obligation to uphold the law? What a travesty it would be if he were elected to a second term and yet again "swore" to uphold the laws of our land.

Phillip Dykstra, Southampton

A nation of laws

As is often the case with controversial subjects, the real issues involved can get obscured by emotional rhetoric ("In Pa., a wide range of reactions," June 26). With regard to immigration into the United States, the key is whether an individual has come here legally or not. It's really not about whether those here illegally are good or bad citizens, how hard they work, whether they go to school regularly, or even whether they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.

The crucial point is that we are a nation of laws, and we must presume that our laws governing immigration are there for good reasons — including national security. If some people don't like or agree with these laws, then they need to work through regular legislative channels to try changing them.

We simply can't run the country by having people — including those elected to be our leaders — choosing which laws they will obey and which they won't.

John Jaffe, Orefield

A question of obedience in church

The letter "Not an attack" (Saturday) argues that the Vatican is not attacking the nuns' group the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. If it is not an attack, it is a move to control and again require obedience from the nuns.

From the beginning of the Catholic Church, the organization has been designed to be dominated by men. In the first century, society may have been defined that way, with men in charge. However, Western civilization has moved with the times and, in the 21st century, the concept of equal rights for women has been accepted (if not always put into practice) except in the Catholic Church.

Catholic women religious do not stand a chance against the Vatican unless, and until, the real church, the people in the pews, demand it. Until then, the nuns have no voice in the church. Faith in and obedience to Jesus is one thing — obedience always where men are in charge is another thing.

S. Reid Warren III, Elverson, srwjmw@dejazzd.com

Hammer time for orchestra

While I wish the Philadelphia Orchestra many years of success, I regret the lessons that the orchestra's board and management have taught us by commandeering the bankruptcy process for the purpose of unwinding contracts and commitments. It appears that the ethical question — "Does the end justify the means?" — has been answered in the affirmative.

Lawyer Lawrence G. McMichael said the orchestra association used bankruptcy as a "hammer," transferring the orchestra's obligations to its employees, partners, and other stakeholders — including the taxpayers, who will now assume the pension liabilities of the orchestra. All of this is being done so the management and board will preserve themselves and have another chance to do what they have failed to do in the past — sell tickets to a new generation of audience members, which may or may not exist.

Sadly, we expect for-profit institutions that are "too big to fail" to rely on public subsidies for their existence. It appears cultural institutions are adopting the same strategy.

John Krzeminski, Ambler, jkrz2020@gmail.com

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