Introducing Payson Road's newest column, The Voice, the successor to 2005's, The Gripe column. The Payson Road Voice is an editorial column focusing on social, political and cultural topics. This new column is an opportunity to express your opinions to the fullest. So by all means do it!
If you are interested in
contributing content to The Voice, please contact thevoice (@paysonroad.com).
November 12, 2006 - My
One and Only
Bruce Lee Broke My Heart and All I Have to Show for It
Is a Butt Load of VHS Tapes
My father loved movies, and sports. Being the youngest I was often left behind especially when our extended family came into play. My oldest cousin is 20 years older than I am. My father took pity on me by taking me on special excursions, just the two of us. He would take me to football games, basketball games, baseball games. I loved every minute of every event, probably because I so desperately wanted time with my father. Whatever the reason, I gained a true thirst for the thrill of the game.
One day, instead of going to Fenway Park Dad told me we were going to the movies. I had been to the movies of course, but kids movies. Harmless fluff--babysitters that any mother would feel safe leaving their child in front of for 90 minutes. Well, not this day. Dad packed me into his 72 convertible Dodge Dart and we headed downtown. We drove through the theatre district and quickly thereafter the restaurant windows changed from Irish pub names to Chinese lettering. Of course, at the time, I wasn't aware that Chinatown was Boston's red light district.
The theatre was on the corner next to Grand Chau Chow, a well-established
Chinese eatery. On the opposite street corner was another theatre, The
Pussycat. We parked in a nearby garage and stopped for Chinese pastries on
the way. Dad took my hand and walked unaffected past the prostitutes and
homeless people. We got to the theatre on the corner and the sign up above
read, "Bruce Lee Triple Feature". Let me recap my age at the
time, seven. To this day, I believe my mother thinks Dad took me to see Benji.
What followed was a never-ending string of totally age inappropriate films; Cabaret, Network, Three Days of the Condor, James Bond! My father took me to everything. As my imagination grew he expanded the curriculum. He exposed me to film noir, Hitchcock, silent movies, early talkies. In this world I was free. I could be anyone, do anything, there was no reality in those two hours in the dark. There was no one to remind me that I was alone. I wasn't alone. My new world was overflowing with new friends.
As I got older my father spent less and less time with me. By the time
he finally left my mother, I was so deeply in love with the moving image I no
longer needed a reason or a companion to go to the movies. Eventually I
started writing my own stories because watching wasn't fulfilling all my
needs. My desire to be a part of the process of filmmaking stemmed from my
insatiable appetite for movies. For this, I thank my father for
introducing me to a medium that has, both as a participant and observer, enabled
me to find my voice.
They say you never get over your first love. As long as there's a big screen and stories to be told, I'll never have to.
October 20, 2006
If your car breaks down on the highway in Massachusetts, no
matter what time of night, no matter how far, how sleepy, how entertained your
friends might be, they will come get you. I'm sure this to be true for other
communities as well. There's something about LA that is unlike any other
community. It is defined by its lack of community. I've analyzed
this point endlessly over the years. Here's what I've come up with as the
determining factors; the weather, the geography, the industry. Anyone of those
three components alone is not enough to shape the persona of a city, but
together they make one powerful mood ring. Let me break them down.
The drama of the past year for me has shown that I really only
have one person in my life in LA that I can count on completely. Maybe
that's all I need. It has made for a lot of soul searching. Who knows,
maybe I'm being too rigid in my requirements for being a friend.
Hmmm....nah. Perhaps I need to add an addendum to that Webster's
definition. I will settle for simplicity, "a friend who doesn't ask
why or how, a friend who simply says, I'll be there."
Baseball, Apple Pie and Dixie Chicks
What came to mind immediately was the Dixie Chicks. If you're out of the loop, the "Chicks" are a multi-platinum selling Country music trio. Several years back, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines made a now infamous comment at a concert they were performing in Germany. Maine's words, "Just so you know, we're ashamed our President is from Texas", cost the Chicks a lot more than the made from record sales. Patriotic country music fans started boycotting the Dixie Chicks music, radio stations held CD burnings, and even the Chicks received death threats. Why? Well, at the time Bush's popularity rating was a lot higher than the 36 percent it is now. The country was still licking its wounds from the attacks on September 11th. Patriotism seems to ebb and flow like the economic tide, well, the tide was coming in on the Chicks. Personally, I think it was an example of how McCarthyism never really died out in this country, and for that matter, witch burning. We are so desperately afraid of everything, not in the norm. Anyone who speaks out against that norm, look out!
I'm not sure I would have voiced my thoughts on this matter quite the
same way at twelve but, I did come across an interesting entry with
similarities. Please note, the spelling is left uncorrected, for
posterity of course.
Oddly, at age eleven, I managed to spell Palestinian correctly, but was
unable to differentiate between "one" and "won". Glad to hear my
reasons for wanting an Oscar were purely political.
That was in 1975 after Nixon resigned. It's amazing I made it through my band concerts without being booed after them fighting words! Before you get too excited, I go on for several pages to talk about how much I love my Bionic Woman Dome House. Even still, this exploration has been quite a confidence booster. I love that I talked about Nixon when I was a kid. Had my parents been different I may have had a framed picture of Nixon on my wall with the inscription, "I love Dick". Luckily for me, they voted for McGovern.
It may take me several months to get through all the journal entries. It' worth it. I'm finding explanations to so many things. It's like finding a map to my life and each clue gets me closer to the treasure. Not sure what the treasure is yet, self awareness? Peace? Forgiveness maybe. Hmmm, understanding would do it for me, and of course the satisfaction of knowing I had a sense of irony before Pandora's box opened.
There are a few clues, however, that just don't seem to add up. My 8th grade diary had a political cartoon clipping of Alexander Haig dressed up as a woman with blond hair and enormous breasts. Maybe I mistook him for Dolly Parton. Or maybe it really was Dolly Parton. I better go look at that picture again.
Few Spew Truths Better Than You Hunter
It was Richard Nixon who got me into politics, and now that he's gone, I feel lonely. He was a giant in his way. As long as Nixon was politically alive--and he was, all the way to the end--we could always be sure of finding the enemy on the Low Road. There was no need to look anywhere else for the evil bastard. He had the fighting instincts of a badger trapped by hounds. The badger will roll over on its back and emit a smell of death, which confuses the dogs and lures them in for the traditional ripping and tearing action. But it is usually the badger who does the ripping and tearing. It is a beast that fights best on its back: rolling under the throat of the enemy and seizing it by the head with all four claws.
That was Nixon's style--and if you forgot, he would kill you as a lesson to the others. Badgers don't fight fair, bubba. That's why God made dachshunds.
Don't forget, at the time, and despite his crimes, it was still considered
controversial to so ruthlessly bash Nixon. When it was still 50% popular to love
Bush, Hunter referred to him as, "a half-bright
football coach who goes into a big game without a Game Plan". Once
I discovered his ESPN column, I found myself constantly searching for his
opinion on just about everything. I knew that the only journalist I could
count on to give it to me straight (and with the most humor) would be Hunter.
He goes on to recount his 3am conversation with Bill Murray about his idea
for Shotgun Golf. It's hysterical. What's so great about that opening line
is, he's writing for ESPN, smack in the middle of the NHL lockout. Instead
of getting into professional hockey's dark little secrets, (as most sports
writers were doing), he talks about his big plan: Build vertical driving ranges
in the U.S. and create a new sport, "Shotgun Golf", in which the goal is to pick
off the other players balls with a shotgun. Brilliant.
In honor of Hunter, and all who appreciate his particular rantings, here's
the entirety of his last Hey Rube column, published not long before
his death in February 2005. It displays everything I love about Hunter.
When Hunter writes, you're dragged into his bizarre psyche, [often against your
will] yet always left satisfied and entertained.
Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray
The death of professional hockey in AMERICA is a nasty omen for people with heavy investments in NHL teams. But to me, it meant little or nothing -- and that's why I called Bill Murray with an idea that would change both our lives forever.
It was 3:30 on a dark Tuesday morning when I heard the phone ring on his personal line in New Jersey. "Good thinking," I said to myself as I fired up a thin Cohiba. "He's bound to be wide awake and crackling at this time of day, or at least I can leave a very excited message."
My eerie hunch was right. The crazy bugger picked up on the fourth ring, and I felt my heart racing. "Hot damn!" I thought. "This is how empires are built." Late? I know not late.
Genius round the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round.
Herman Melville said that in the winter of 1914, and Murray is keenly aware of it. Only a madman would call a legend of Bill Murray's stature at 3:33 a.m. for no good reason at all. It would be a career-ending move, and also profoundly rude.
But my reason was better than good ...
* * * * *
HST: "Hi, Bill, it's Hunter."
BILL: "Hi, Hunter."
HST: "Are you ready for a powerful idea? I want to ask you about golf in Japan. I understand they're building vertical driving ranges on top of each other."
BILL (sounding strangely alert): "Yes, they have them outdoors, under roofs ..."
HST: "I've seen pictures. I thought they looked like bowling alleys stacked on top of each other."
HST: "I'm working on a profoundly goofy story here. It's wonderful. I've invented a new sport. It's called Shotgun Golf. We will rule the world with this thing."
HST: "I've called you for some consulting advice on how to launch it. We've actually already launched it. Last spring, the Sheriff and I played a game outside in the yard here. He had my Ping Beryllium 9-iron, and I had his shotgun, and about 100 yards away, we had a linoleum green and a flag set up. He was pitching toward the green. And I was standing about 10 feet away from him, with the alley-sweeper. And my objective was to blow his ball off course, like a clay pigeon."
HST: "It didn't work at first. The birdshot I was using was too small. But double-aught buck finally worked for sure. And it was fun."
HST: "OK, I didn't want to wake you up, but I knew you'd want to be in on the ground floor of this thing."
HST: "Do you want to discuss this tomorrow?"
BILL: "I think I might have a queer dream about it now, but ..." (Laughs.)
HST: "This sport has a HUGE future. Golf in America will soon come to this."
BILL: "It will bring a whole new meaning to the words 'Driving Range'."
HST: "Especially when you stack them on top of each other. I've seen it in Japan."
BILL: "They definitely have multi-level driving ranges. Yes."
HST: (Laughs.) "How does that work? Do they have extremely high ceilings?"
BILL: "No. The roof above your tee only projects out about 10 feet, and they have another range right above you. It's like they took the façade off a building. People would be hanging out of their offices."
HST: "I see. It's like one of those original Hyatt Regency Hotels. Like an atrium. In the middle of the building you could jump straight down into the lobby?"
BILL: "Exactly like that!"
HST: "It's like people driving balls from one balcony to the next."
BILL: (Laughs.) "Yes, they could."
HST: "I could be on the eighth floor and you on the sixth? Or on the fifteenth. And we'd be driving across a lake."
BILL: "They have flags out every 150 yards, every 200 yards, every 250 yards. It's just whether you are hitting it at ground level, or from five stories up."
HST: "I want to find out more about this. This definitely has a future to it."
BILL: "They have one here in the city -- down at Chelsea Pier."
HST: "You must have played a lot of golf in Japan."
BILL: "Not much; I just had one really great day of golf. I worked most of the time. But I did play one beautiful golf course. They have seasonal greens, two different types of grass. It's really beautiful."
HST: "Well, I'm writing a column for ESPN.com and I want to know if you like my new golf idea. A two-man team."
BILL: "Well, with all safety in mind, yes. Two-man team? Yeah! That sounds great. I think it would create a whole new look. It would create a whole new clothing line."
HST: "Absolutely. You'll need a whole new wardrobe for this game."
BILL: "Shooting glasses and everything."
HST: "We'll obviously have to make a movie. This will mushroom or mutate -- either way -- into a real craze. And given the mood of this country, being that a lot of people in the mood to play golf are also in the mood to shoot something, I think it would take off like a gigantic fad."
BILL: "I think the two-man team idea would be wonderful competition and is something the Ryder Cup would pick up on."
HST: "I was talking with the Sheriff about it earlier. But in one-man competition, I'd have to compete against you, say, in both of the arts -- the shooting AND the golfing. But if you do the Ryder Cup, you'd have to have the clothing line first. I'm going to write about this for ESPN tonight. I'm naming you and the Sheriff as the founding consultants."
BILL: "Sounds good."
HST: "OK, I'll call you tomorrow. And by the way, I'll see if I can twist some arms and get you an Oscar. But I want a Nobel Prize in return."
BILL: "Well, we can work together on this. This is definitely a team challenge." (Laughing.)
HST: "OK. We'll talk tomorrow."
BILL: "Good night."
So there it is. Shotgun Golf will soon take America by storm. I see it as the first truly violent leisure sport. Millions will crave it.
* * * * *
Shotgun Golf was invented in the ominous summer of 2004 AD, right here at the Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colo. The first game was played between me and Sheriff Bob Braudis, on the ancient Bomb & Shooting Range of the Woody Creek Rod & Gun Club. It was witnessed by many members and other invited guests, and filmed for historical purposes by Dr. Thompson on Super-Beta videotape.
The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points.
But if you miss and your enemy holes out, he (or she) wins two points when his ball hits and stays on the green.
And after that, you trade places and equipment, and move on to round 2.
My patent is pending, and the train is leaving the station, and Murray is a Founding Consultant, along with the Sheriff, and Keith Richards, etc., etc. Invest now or forever hold your peace.
* * * * *
As for Bill's triumphant finish at Pebble Beach, I am almost insanely proud of him. He is an elegant athlete in the finest Murray tradition. Bill is a dangerous brute with the fastest reflexes in Hollywood, but he is suave, and that is why I trust him even more than I trust all his brothers. Yes, I say Hallelujah, praise Jesus. Where is Brian? I will need him for this golf project, if only to offset Bill's bitchiness. We will march on a road of bones.
OK. Back to business. It was Bill Murray who taught me how to mortify your opponents in any sporting contest, honest or otherwise. He taught me my humiliating PGA fadeaway shot, which has earned me a lot of money ... after that, I taught him how to swim, and then I introduced him to the shooting arts, and now he wins everything he touches. Welcome to the future of America. Welcome to Shotgun Golf.
So long and Mahalo.
Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. He died on February 20, 2005 at his home in Aspen. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America" and his last book "Kingdom of Fear" He was a regular contributor to various national and international publications. Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray was his last column for, "Hey, Rube," which appearead regularly on ESPN, Page 2.
Judge Ye Not, For Thou Art Full of Crap
Irish playwright Samuel Becket once said, "Words are all we have." I feel the significance of that statement lately more than ever. Not in regards to the turbulent world climate but for me personally. I've been dating a little bit since my boyfriend and I broke up last June. It's mostly been an parade of bad clichés from a thousand romantic comedies for the over 30 year olds. But I don't think this particular scenario has been written about yet, or at least enough.
We met of all places at an AA meeting. A mutual friend relayed
his interest in me. He asked, through the friend, for my phone
number. I obliged because I was intrigued. Although part of me
was a little weary of the situation. I've just gotten out of a
relationship with an alcoholic. This guy has been sober for over 20
years so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Never did I image it
would not be reciprocated. The call never came. It was so strange because our
mutual friend was so encouraging of his interest in me. I think the word
he used was "smitten". A
few weeks went by, still no call, then I saw him at another meeting. The spark
was there and he showed interest so I decided to take that bold move and
call him. He was happy to get my call. We made plans then
during the course of our date I asked why he didn't call me. He responded
by recounting a detailed story about his
honeymoon and how his (now) ex-wife threw up after every meal. Ahh, the
plot thickens. Apparently he Googled me and found Payson Road. The
jig was up! Yes, I did have an eating disorder and I don't make any
secret about it, kinda like him not making any secret about being an
alcoholic. Didn't we meet at an AA meeting?
This is exactly the kinda crap people with eating disorders deal with
everyday. We are literally on the bottom of the addicts food chain...no
Hmmm, let me think about this. Left hand: Alcoholic; causes pain and
suffering to their friends and loved ones, breaks the law, physically harms not
only themselves but others, contributes to the overwhelming drunk driving
related car accidents, fatalities, which in turn results in increased
taxes to pay for resulting treatment programs, local government services, law
enforcement, etc. etc. Right hand: Bulimic; secretly goes into
bathroom after eating and throws up all their food causing internal and
psychological damage to themselves for years. Tells no one. Lives in
shame however maintains high functioning life. Treatment programs aren't instituted or
paid for by the government. Essentially only affects themselves.
I don't harbor bad feelings toward this man. In the end, I chalk
it up to, it wasn't meant to be or as we over 30 year olds say,
Red Flags! To me it's a sobering, ah hem, commentary on
the long history of misunderstanding and lack of compassion for
what people with eating disorders face. When we free our minds of
judgment beautiful possibilities arise. Spread that.
In fairness, there have been several unlikely heroes on the U.S. team who managed to escape the buzz. U.S. skier, Ted Ligety, emerging from the shadows of his infamous teammates to win the Men's Combined in Alpine Skiing, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto giving the U.S. its first Ice Dancing medal in 30 years, U.S. Skier Lindsay Kildow competing despite two near disastrous falls.
Still, I find myself uninspired by the overall lack of Olympic spirit on the U.S. team. Gold and Silver medalist Peekoboo Street commented on this year's U.S. Ski Team saying, "they need to grow up". I concur. When I was thirteen, I was captivated by the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. As history has proven them worthy, all eyes were on the now famous U.S. Hockey team. There's no greater Cinderella story then this one; A bunch of unknown, unprofessional, unproven hockey players breaking the ultimate and unbeatable opponent...the Russians! They won by pure will, heart, focus and determination--those last two must be attributed to head coach Herb Brooks. If you saw the film, MIRACLE, or the HBO documentary, both depicting the story of the 1980 U.S. men's hockey team, you'll know what I mean about Brooks. He was unyielding in his purpose and unapologetic of his methods. He had a goal in sight and nothing was gettin in his way. Most crucially, for me, Herb Brooks was a humble man who believed that hard work and commitment would bring about great things. Sadly, Brooks was killed in a car wreck in 2003.
What I remember very distinctly about the Lake Placid Olympics
(despite it being on U.S. soil) was there was no hype surrounding
the athletes and no haughty display of patriotism. In fact,
quite the contrary. There was an over-abundance of humility.
It was a tumultuous time in the world, much as it is today with the
U.S. image tarnished and diminishing prospects for peace. Yet,
unlike today, the country was untainted by, what would be, the
effects of emerging technology. The combination of a hollow
and expanding news media, the advent of the sports agent and an
ever-increasing desire for money and power, has created a sports
star monster. I'm sure it must be tempting to go on the
Today Show and teach Al and Matt how to luge. But couldn't
they wait till after they made a successful run themselves?
Super Bowl vs. Oscars: And the Clear
It's that time of year again, the NFL playoffs culminating in the grand finale that is the Super Bowl. Unfortunately the thrill of the playoffs is marred by some overzealous attention grabbing competition, the Hollywood award shows. These tired events kick off with the Golden Globes ceremony, which aired, January 16th, Monday night. Have they no shame?
At the start of every year we are forcefully subjected to Hollywood’s colossal ego and desperate attempts to re-coup operating costs by parading its stars around in tuxedos and boob dresses. I'm so sick of it. I'll take football over award ceremonies any given Sunday.
At least with football there's a clear winner. There are some bad calls, and maybe a few upsets, definitely some sore winners and some unexpectedly soft offense. But football is never about politics--at least not on the field. On that day, given the DL and wind conditions, it’s anyone's game. Not true for the Oscars. It's not enough to be the clear favorite or the best. You've got to promote your cause like it’s an election year and even that's not a guarantee.
The campaign is tedious. There are endless ads in the trade magazines and constant commercials telling us why this film or that actor deserves to win. If, in fact, it did simply come down to economics I may be less offended. But it's worse. It's a popularity contest at its most superficial degree--where the only reason someone wins Best-Most-Likely-to-Whatever is because they're on the buzz of the A-listers tongues that particular week. It's all about the buzz.
For example, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, Ang Lee's film about two cowboys who fall in love, swept most of the big awards at the Globes. Why? Smart buzz. The studio/producers cleverly delayed the start of their campaign. George Clooney's film, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK, about newsman Edward R. Murrow's showdown with Senator Joe McCarthy (which in my opinion was the best film of the year), took a different approach by promoting the film early on in the season. Unfortunately, it was a strategy that did not pay off at the Golden Globes. The film received lots of praise and early buzz, but timing is everything during award season.
It's also not enough to be critically acclaimed. Look at Ron Howard's biopic about boxer Jim Braddock, CINDERELLA MAN. What idiot decided to drop that film in the summer? Everyone knows Oscar/Globe contenders are released right before the start of the New Year. As a result, it was overlooked for the big awards. And since the Globes often serve as forecast for the Oscar nods, it probably means it will be snubbed there as well. Although, in this case I feel the alleged critical acclaim, (reported dutifully through the films marketing efforts), was slightly exaggerated. This was a better film when it was released in 1976 under the title, ROCKY.
A mediocre film or bad actor can make it to the table if there's great buzz attached. I can think of many examples over the years. The one that sticks out the most is Kim Basinger's Oscar win for LA CONFIDENTIAL--wonderful film, unbelievable buzz, so-whats-the-big-ffin-deal performance. Basinger beat out, amongst other superior actors, Kathy Bates, who was nominated for her role in PRIMARY COLORS. As brilliant as Bates is ALWAYS, I thought this was truly the performance of her career. PRIMARY COLORS is a perfect example of bad timing. It was a hot potato, given the fact that it came out on the heels of the Monica Lewinsky affair. I've always thought it was the unsung hero of that year (1998).
There's always a dark horse, much like Pittsburgh and Denver, looming in the
sidelines waiting to unravel the sure bets. WALK THE LINE, the biopic about the
life of Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash, seems to be this year's
unlikely potential upset. I love Johnny Cash but that movie didn't have enough
soul to wear black. And it certainly shouldn't win an Oscar--with the exception
of Joaquin Phoenix as Cash. However if we're awarding art imitating life roles,
I'm partial to David Strathairn's Murrow.
Truth is, I don't give a f**k about the Oscars or any of the award ceremonies. I used to obsess over them. I would leave work early to watch, (this in the days before the ceremony was switched to Sundays). But now, I'd rather lament over a second viewing of the Broncos destroying the Patriots threpeat chances (I'm a Pats fan), then subject myself to all that vanity. At least with sports, the arrogance can be traced to testosterone and steroids.
If Mr. Clooney does harbor resentment for GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK being snubbed at the Globes, I offer this riddle as solace; What do Pia Zadora, Twiggy and Arnold Schwarzenegger have in common? They all won Golden Globes.
This piece was written, by request, for a friend's 50th wedding
When I first tried to think of a memory of a first passion or love, I could only think of brief moments. Then I remembered the summer of 1950 at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires when, between my sophomore and junior year at college, I sang in the Festival Chorus and was part of the Berkshire Music School community for the summer. That was the time that music became a sustaining part of my life.
I had always heard and liked all kinds of music because my father loved music and played it constantly at home on all the latest record players, which we had. He worked for the RCA Victor Company. But when I entered the community at Tanglewood, I experienced something I had never known before. I was surrounded by young people who were absorbed in one passion, their music. I was just an observer, just a part of the large choral group and not there to further a career. The other students knew their summer was a chance to advance and even break through to a higher level of their vocation. They ate, drank and slept their music, performing, practicing, and participating, day and night. I was infected with the intensity and passion that such devotion can bring and which I later experienced myself in an artist colony where I practiced my own art of writing.
I remember the evening I left the campus with friends and was stunned by the eerily beautiful soprano voice of the aria in Bachianas Brasileirias, no. 5, of Villa Lobos. The voice followed us across the lawn, disappearing mysteriously into the darkness as we left.
I remember singing Mahlerâ 2nd symphony, conducted by Leonard Bernstein All the women were fainting by the end of the rehearsal. Bernstein seemed to look directly at each one of us, extracting from us our last ounce of energy and engagement. It was a love affair.
It was a haunting summer. Beautiful and tragic, too. My brother died during the last weeks in August. When I returned to the campus after his funeral, we were in rehearsal for the Brahms Requiem, conducted by the quiet but intense Robert Shaw. Our rehearsals and the performance became for me an anthem for my brother and some solace for my grief. The Requiem has remained for me a sustaining piece in times of loss.
After the summer, I continued during my last two years of college my amateur choral singing. In the Radcliffe/Harvard chorus, I sang the Bach B Minor Mass with Koussevitzky the last time he conducted that work. And Bernstein came to the Boston Symphony and led the chorus in the Mahler 2nd symphony.
I loved being part of those events. But I never recaptured the awe and wonder of those weeks at Tanglewood.
"Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit". -Edward R. Murrow.
There's no truth more naked then the reality we live in today. Perhaps this is why the news media chooses to leave it clothed. Cynically, I think journalists today are impotent--and not for lack of truths to disrobe. Renowned newsman, Edward R. Murrow set the standard for television journalism. He gained notoriety for his gutsy reporting during World War II and his television programs, Person to Person and See it Now. Murrow was a journalist intent on unearthing the ugly, hard truths no matter the consequences. George Clooney's film, Good Night and Good Luck, dramatizing Murrow's infamous showdown with Senator Joseph McCarthy got me thinking...Where have all the Murrows gone?
We know that things have changed. Emerging technology has reshaped the way
people receive news. The internet is quickly becoming the standard source for
daily news and information. Even newspapers are becoming a thing of the past as
a top source for news seekers--in terms of immediacy. Television news has
become entertainment. It is woven its way into the fabric of pop culture and
it's not getting out. Sensationalism, not news drives the media--something
The Edward R. Murrows of today are clearly using a different format to get
their message across. Online magazines such as
Slate, are pioneering what once was considered an underground
movement. And it's not even about websites anymore. It's all about the blog, or
weblog, defined as a personal or noncommercial web site that uses a dated log
format and contains links to other web sites along with commentary. (ref
Ask Yahoo) Blogs have developed into powerful tools. The majority of
online magazines or news sites have blogs. Disenfranchised citizens seeking more
critical discussions now have a forum in which they can contribute as well as
There are many factors contributing to the shifting priorities in news
media. Although I'm not sure what came first--emerging technology diminishing
the value of the news media or the news media's conversion into a source for pop
culture creating an opening for new technology. Perhaps the blame is on us.
Have we become all encompassed by consumerism to the point where we've lost our
Sarah Mason is a writer and columnist. She is the founder and President of the Payson Road Organization (http://paysonroad.com). To read more of Sarah's columns visit, http://www.sarahemason.com
The nomination of Harriet Miers to replace Sandra Day O'Connor as Supreme Court Judge confirms all my suspicions--Cronyism RULES! I don't know why I thought the Bush Whitehouse had learned its lesson with mistakes the likes of Brownie. That is, Michael Brown, former Arabian horse judge, oh and also former Director of FEMA.
Who is Harriet Miers? Well, we know she graduated from SMU Law School. She was appointed Chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, by Gov. George W. Bush. She represented Bush and Cheney in a law suit pertaining to their dual residency in Texas while running in the Presidential primary. She's served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy in the Bush Administration and most recently White House Counsel. *
Basically all we know about Harriet Miers is that she's got a law degree, plays the Texas Lottery and most likely has been to the Kennebunk house--in short, crony.
What chutzpah! Appointing his own lawyer to the Supreme Court. That's one way to keep your interests protected. Did I mention that Miers helped draft the Patriot Act?**
The list of Bush crony appointments is long and ridiculous. Let’s take for example, John Snow, Secretary of the Treasury. Snowy recently stepped down as CEO of CSX, a multi-million dollar supplier of rail and container shipping components. Under Snowy's watch, CSX soared to nearly a billion dollars in profits yet in the last three out of four tax years CSX paid NO FEDERAL TAX INCOME. But it doesn’t stop there! CSX also managed to take a sweet tax rebate to the tune of 164 million dollars...on taxes the company never paid. ***
This man is Secretary of our Treasury.
There’s also former Utah Governor, Mike Leavitt, Secretary, Department of Health & Human Services and former EPA Administrator. This is a man who boasts one of the worst environmental records of any Governor. He's famous for his lax enforcement of environmental laws against major polluters and his keen ability to keep the public out of the decision making process. One of the worst offenses was his blind eye to US Magnesium's emission of over 42 million tons of Chlorine per year--which is nine times the Chlorine emissions from all other states. Despite public outcry, Leavitt and his environmental department failed to bring the offenders under control. The EPA was forced to step in, filing a $900 million lawsuit against MagCorp for alleged environmental violations. ***
This man was our EPA Administrator.
Then there's Gale A. Norton, former mining industry lobbyist and
current Secretary of the Interior. She is a fierce supporter of
"self-audit" laws, which allow industries to determine themselves whether
or not they comply with environmental regulations. Here's a quote from
Norton summing up her philosophy on environmental issues, “there is a
homesteading right to pollute". She once proposed "the transfer to
private ownership of federally held, so-called public lands", meaning,
abolishing the Bureau of Land Management, and thus selling off fish and
wildlife refuges. She is a registered lobbyist for NL Industries-- a
defendant in approximately 75 governmental and private actions associated
with waste disposal sites, mining locations and facilities. ***
Now that you've identified a link to the Bush Administration, there are a few other credentials you must possess:
· Entitlement. You must have received at least one of the things you've gotten in life (i.e. your education) by virtue of something you didn't actually earn through talent or hard work but rather through some entitlement, (i.e. family stature, cronyism).
· Unyielding quest for power. You must be willing to do whatever it takes at any or anyone’s expense. You've got to be entrepreneurial and ambition in spirit. Intelligence is optional. What matters most crucially is your ability to seize opportunities regardless of your qualifications.
· Narcissistic in nature. Your position, or the position that you have embraced (because it has elevated you to your place of power) is always right no matter what. Your world is all that matters. No gray, no way. Even if there is irrefutable proof disputing your claims (like a drill you participated in, a report you read and signed off on, newspaper articles, books etc.), you've got your story, and you're stickin to it.
· Selective Loyalty. You've got to know when your friends are your friends and when they are people whose association with you has become a liability. This can be due to a number of factors; they've been indicted for a crime, they've done a bad job (verified by public outcry and CNN), they've done something embarrassing (confirmed by public outcry or Saturday Night Live). A good way to avoid future problems would be to refrain from using crony nicknames in public. That way you have an easier time disassociating.
Like former FEMA Director, Michael Brown, I too know nothing about
natural disasters. I've never been in one, or been involved in
efforts to clean up after one. That aside, I think I could be an
effective FEMA leader. I'm personable. I can deliver speeches.
I'm media savvy. I can operate a fire extinguisher and I've always
got my first aid kit in the trunk of my car. Besides, wouldn't the
people under me know the ropes?
Politics aside, I know I've got what it takes to be appointed to a key
role in shaping this country via the Bush Administration. If I could
draw a parallel between my qualifications for the job of Deputy Assistant
Sec. for Oceans and Fish and many of the Bush Administration appointees,
it seems the only requirement for me would be that I eat fish. Well,
they've got me there. I'm allergic to fish. But I have swum
amongst the fishes. Given that this position is merely a "deputy
assistant" title as opposed to a full fledged Secretary that may be
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