Letters to the Editor, October 2012
My Favorite Teacher
In your editor’s memo, you asked for our favorite teacher. My favorite teacher was Dr. Leo. She had a PhD in mathematics and was way overqualified to be teaching in public high school. But, lucky for me, that is where she ended up. I actually had her for two years in a row: pre-calculus and calculus. Most students are not very fond of, or very good at, either of these areas of math, and I was no exception. Dr. Leo’s class was really hard. I used to rush home from school most days in order to do my math homework while the lesson was still fresh in my head. On those days I wasn’t rushing home, I was staying after class with Dr. Leo, trying to make sense of what she had just taught me. I wasn’t the only one there.
There were two main things that I really liked about her. The first is that she was human. She was not a math wiz; she didn’t know everything about everything and didn’t solve difficult problems in a few seconds. On the contrary, Dr. Leo would write a problem on the board and we would all help to solve it. There were many times when she would look at the problem and shake her head and disagree with her own work. Or we would get to the end of the problem and the answer was incorrect. She had made a mistake somewhere. Of course, we all thought that was funny, but it was a good lesson: Teachers make mistakes, too. She wasn’t teaching us wrong; she was teaching us how to think.
I also loved how she stood up to parents. Because her class was difficult, there were parents who would come in and ask for special consideration for their children. Now, this was before teachers were used to “helicopter parents,” although I suppose we had a few back in the ’90s. One woman came in on an afternoon when I was getting help after school. She claimed her daughter could not possibly be expected to take the pre-calculus test the next day because her daughter had a sports game and tons of homework, etc. Dr. Leo told her point-blank that this was not something she was willing to do and, by the way, your daughter has never sought help outside of class, and, if she is struggling, she needs to ask for help, not send her mother to do her dirty work. I was floored! And very proud of my teacher.
I managed to score a 3 on the AP calculus exam. I know Dr. Leo was the best teacher because I hated the subject but I did well in it and I ended up adoring her.
Bretton Liedtke, Hartsdale
I am shocked to read these comments from Peter Max about Yellow Submarine. In his 1999 interview with me, Peter Max said, “I never claimed any ownership to the Yellow Submarine,” and then went on to tell a different version of the story you published. Only in this version, it was producer Al Brodax, not John Lennon, who tried to get him involved in the film. In this version, he refused to go to Europe to work on the job because the pay was too low and he was too busy in New York. Brodax denies ever having talked to Peter Max about Yellow Submarine. He wanted Max’s mentor, Milton Glaser, but Glaser also turned him down.
Peter Max may have received a call from John [Lennon] about it, and he may have had some ideas about it, but not only was John not involved in the making of the film, but none of the producers or artists who did make the film ever had any contact with Max. He never went to Europe to talk to them about it.
And if you read my interview with the true designer of the Yellow Submarine, Heinz Edelmann, then you will know the whole conversation Max relates about his encounter with him is complete nonsense. Not only would Edelmann never call himself the German Peter Max, but he would probably sue anyone else who called him that. (Besides that, Edelmann was Czechoslovakian, not German.) The suggestion that he had a business card like that is ludicrous. Edelmann probably never even had a business card in his life. He was not that kind of person. He and Max are about as polar opposites as can be imagined in terms of personality and self-promotion.
I’m so sorry Peter Max feels he needs to add the Yellow Submarine to his long list of deserved credits.
Robert Hieronimus, via Facebook