A GENUINE ARTICLE
Great article about Michael Stipe (“Life & How to Live It,” April 1). What you observed about Mr. Stipe in 2011 I observed in him in 1989 during a brief encounter at a café in California. There I was, standing in line, when I noticed that the gentleman in front of me looked familiar. When he turned to look at something behind us, I knew who he was.

I asked, “Are you Michael Stipe?” He said, “Yes, I am.” I said, “I dig your music. Thanks for making it.” He responded in the most genuine, sincere fashion with, “Thank you very much.” In this brief encounter, I instantly knew three things about this great musician: 1. He is shy. 2. He is humble.
3. He is genuine. Thanks for the wonderful portrayal of Mr. Stipe. American Way is the best magazine in the sky.
Joe Cox, Dallas

100,000 AAdvantage miles for your thoughts.

We enjoy hearing what you think about the magazine — so much so that if your letter to the editor is published in a 2011 issue, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win 100,000 AAdvantage­ miles. Want a chance at the miles? Simply ­e-mail your thoughts to us at ­editor@americanwaymag.com.


Editor Adam Pitluk responds: I made my character assessments of Michael Stipe and published exactly what I observed, but I couldn’t help but wonder if he was sincere or just putting his best foot forward for a reporter.­ It’s an unwarranted presumption, but I’ve been a reporter long enough to approach celebrities with just a tinge of skepticism. Reading your e-mail hammered home what I had hoped to be true all along: Stipe is the real deal.

HEROES ARE EVERYWHERE
What a great job by Jessica Jones in her April 1 Editor’s Note (“What Do They Know?”), talking about her breakfast interview with Jon Hamm. I see the moral of the story being that at the end of the day people are people. No matter what position we hold or what fame or accomplishments we achieve, we all have similar wants, needs, fears and desires.

My desire in life is to be able to do something that impacts and influences others positively, not to become their hero but so they can be inspired to do the same for others. Should this ever happen, I hope to be available to whoever would like to share with me. I will try not to disappoint!
Jason Quimby, Miami

Associate Editor Jessica Jones responds: That’s the funny thing about heroes: We all have them, but what we often don’t realize is that we just might be one to someone else as well. For better or worse, our actions affect the people around us. The important thing is to remember that as we go through life and, as you said, to open yourself up to people you’ve touched. (Offering them some of your breakfast is always a nice gesture too.)

LONG-DISTANCE LITERATURE
I wanted to send a quick note to say what an awesome publication American Way is and how happy I was to find it tucked in the seat pocket in front of me this morning. I have been traveling about once every three or four weeks for the last year and a half due to a long-distance relationship. When I’m not traveling with my son in tow, my return flight is not often something I look forward to, but today, when I skimmed through the pages of AW, I was delighted to see the wide variety of articles in the April 1 issue.

I loved the Budapest article (“Brief: Go”) and especially liked knowing about the exhibit “Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues and Assassins” opening at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers (“Itinerary”). My boyfriend and I love stuff like this, and it sounds like a great reason for us to visit San Francisco again before I move east this summer. I appreciated the restaurant suggestions from Josh Charles for the New York area (“Itinerary”), and “Godzilla Was Here” reminded me of why I must get back to Oahu — we were there last October for my birthday.
Candace Liceaga, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

A.P. responds: I think everyone in our Fort Worth office has done the long-distance-­relationship thing at some point. I never thought that American Way could help in that regard, but I’m thrilled to know that it can.

A TASTE OF HOME
In July 2009, I left the United States to come to Rome for graduate school. I have been in Italy since then and have not been able to fly back home. While I have been living in Italy and pining for the United States, there has always been one thing that has allowed me to feel a little bit like I was back home: American Way. I subscribed to the magazine and had each issue sent to me in Italy so that I could feel more connected to my beloved homeland and my favorite airline.

While I’ve flown throughout Europe, nothing has felt quite like home as flying with American. I look forward to my journey home for summer break, knowing that I’ll be flying American or another oneworld partner. Thank you, American Way, for keeping me connected to the American way.
Alan Guanella, La Crosse, Wis.

A.P. responds: This has to be one of the best letters I’ve read in my three years as editor. I’m honored and humbled that American Way is able to serve as your lifeline to the States. Study hard, enjoy your time in Rome and come home safely. (To subscribe to American Way, please go to AA.com/americanway.)

MUSICAL MEMORIES
American Way and Adam Pitluk hit a high note with the article about Michael Stipe (“Life & How to Live It,” April 1). It captured so precisely many of the thoughts and feelings I’ve had about how R.E.M. helped shape my college years and beyond. For me and many of my friends, the music of R.E.M. became highly intertwined with our everyday activities at school. So many of our young-adult (and post-young-adult) memories can be played to one or another of their songs, always with the passion and energy of Mr. Stipe’s voice as a moving undercurrent.

The description of this musician, poet, fashionista and humanitarian, juxtaposed with his full sense of humility and connection to the real world, appears to capture so perfectly the dual personas of the individual as both hero and friend and why he remains such a magnetic personality.

For me, plane travel always provides a sense of exploration; it affords me time to focus, time to plan, time to imagine. So when I read about how Mr. Stipe enjoys travel, how for him it’s time to think, recharge and ­explore, for me it created yet another connection to this amazing individual I have considered such an important part of my life.
Jonathan Goldman, Ridgewood, N.J.

A.P. responds: I’ve been waiting for this letter. Surely, I thought, I can’t be the only person out there who’s composed a mental soundtrack to life with R.E.M. songs. I very much appreciate your comments about what air travel means to you (and, indirectly, means to Michael and me).