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Opinion | Help! Sharing Stories of an Obsession With the Beatles

To the Editor:

Re “We Can’t Work It Out: Why I Finally Broke Up With the Beatles,” by Josh Max (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 28):

I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, likely because I shared Mr. Max’s (overly?) keen interest in the greatest pop/rock band that ever existed (sorry, Stones).

My obsession began early in life (fourth grade, 1969-70). I still vividly recall a student teacher playing “Rocky Raccoon” for us. And the older regular teacher who took him into the hallway to admonish him for playing something so “risqué.” She particularly found the line “the doctor came in, stinking of gin” inappropriate for us kiddies.

That sealed the deal. Whenever I was bored in school in the following years, I would write out the song’s lyrics in their entirety. More time-killing and entertaining than scrawling “I hate school” over and over. Heck, I even wrote a short essay on some of my college applications “explaining” the Beatles’ greatness.

At age 61, and 50-plus years after their breakup, I still love, listen to and learn from the Beatles.

Jeffrey Yeck
New York

To the Editor:

Josh Max is absolutely right that no one should develop an all-consuming obsession with, and crippling dependence on, the Beatles. The Rolling Stones, on the other hand …

Mac Brachman

To the Editor:

Of course you can go your own way in this life, musically, politically or in a thousand other ways. However, certain things are not negotiable. The Beatles are one of them.

Josh Max’s story of Beatles abstinence after his obsession was so sweet, and I felt his passion. At the age of 68, I’m still all in. It’s not just the years of music that shaped my life since age 11 and that infamous night in 1964 when Ed Sullivan and the Fab Four changed the world. It’s the magic. The creativity. The dip into Eastern philosophy. The marriages. The divorces. The kids. The excruciating pain of loss.

The Beatles’ lives mirrored so much of our lives — the whole beautiful, frustrating, loving, conflicted mess.

We will miss you, Josh, but will always welcome you back with your guitar in hand. I will sit and play all the songs with you and laugh. Laugh at this weird obsession that possesses millions around the world.

Anthony Pantaleno
Lynbrook, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Josh Max’s piece on the Beatles was inspiring. I, too, need to overcome my Beatles addiction. However, as John Lennon wrote, cold turkey has got me on the run!

John Minett
Port Washington, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “If Everything Is ‘Trauma,’ Is Anything?,” by Jessica Bennett (Opinion, Feb. 5):

The new rise of public interest in trauma, as well as the increasing misuse of mental health language, is part of the culture’s response to a mental health crisis that many don’t have the tools or even the language to process.

In the last few years, what we clinicians have seen in our practices is not only the enormous stress of the pandemic but also the clear link between the current crisis and our patients’ previous trauma. Triggered by the pandemic, pre-existing personal, intergenerational and racial traumas came to the surface in full force.

The ghosts of our history are awakened, leaving many searching for definitions to validate their past experiences. The culture responds to an actual need while simultaneously trivializing and stripping those helpful terms of meaning.

Galit Atlas
New York
The writer is a clinical assistant professor at N.Y.U. and the author of “Emotional Inheritance: A Therapist, Her Patients and the Legacy of Trauma.”

To the Editor:

Race Seen to Coincide With Higher Rejection of 2020 Mail Ballots” (news article, Feb. 3) closes by asking what can be done to reduce the rejection of mail-in ballots. I suggest that every high school in America should cover how to vote and why to vote for at least 30 minutes every year.

The students should be shown what a ballot looks like, how to complete it correctly, and exactly what the process is for counting it. They need to understand that they have to complete the task accurately to have a voice in whom they are choosing to make decisions about their lives.

This is the point of education: to participate effectively in the society in which you live.

Judy Novey

To the Editor:

Re “Affirmative Action Was Never a Perfect Solution,” by Jay Caspian Kang (Opinion guest essay, Jan. 31):

As a woman who was astonished to be admitted to an Ivy League college 73 years ago, I read Mr. Kang’s essay on diversity in college admissions with two thoughts: deep gratitude that so much has improved over time and equal frustration that elephants in the room are still relatively unacknowledged. That is, of course, preferences to “legacies,” the offspring of rich and/or influential potential donors, and a cozy relationship with elite private schools.

Mr. Kang writes eloquently about absurd machinations in complex admissions policies, but they will not be improved by ignoring the above. It is very late to address this. Think what the G.I. Bill meant (in spite of its racial injustices) to millions of Americans in the last century, to each of them and to the country. We can do as well today for those who are talented, worthy and poor.

Catherine Seagraves Alvary
Northbrook, Ill.

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