Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I've thought about it for many years and having read almost every book and article ever written on John Lennon (to a point) - especially about his political problems - I felt I was informed enough to comment on the topic... but, then, right wing and left wing people came along bringing all the divisiveness in our society - and all the arguments and frustration - I'm sure it would be a nightmare for John Lennon, who, in the '70s was frustrated enough to eschew all social, political or financial involvements 'til his untimely death. I just stopped thinking about it. I stopped listening to his music. I stopped feeling his pain and the pain of his assassination. I wanted to find a resolution and could not go on listening to John's words and music until a real solution revealed itself to me.
That solution came today. A friend sent me this wonderful video: a song John Lennon loved and performed ("Stand By Me"), which, I believe, has achieved (via technology) what John Lennon loved, prayed and hoped for in his lifetime. "This globe-spanning YouTube video is inspiring. It comes from 'Playing For Change.' The group provides resources and education to musicians around the world. The goal is to promote peace and connect people through music. This video represents that mission perfectly. A film crew traveled the world with a single song. At each stop they found musicians to play "Stand by Me." The musicians added their own voice and talents to the song. When edited together, it creates a global ensemble." Go here to watch the video now.
They say John Lennon was a political activist... but he wasn't. The words to his masterpiece, "Imagine" have been misinterpreted widely and politicized. There were the billboard events ["War is Over (If You Want it)"] which John and Yoko carried out around the world for their peace campaign... and the bed-ins in Amsterdam when they were married. (In a staged publicity stunt, they used the media's usual hounding of them as an opportunity to campaign for world peace and speak out against the Vietnam War. Later, this would prompt an extensive FBI investigation into the supposed covert, anti-American activities of John Lennon, someone with whom Nixon was growing more and more agitated. But John Lennon was simply using Gandhi's principles and techniques of nonviolent action to express the concepts in his own music.) These ideas represented to me a really practical way to create and use art and music to heal the world.
Watching John Lennon heal himself and thus, heal others through his art, had a great influence on me; because of his brand of raw expression, I underwent a long series of healings that began a year before he was assassinated. Even his death would inspire music in me, just as it caught the imagination of the rest of the world. I wrote a song in tribute to him: "Let's Save the Human Race," based on Yoko's statement: "John loved and prayed for the human race; let's do the same for him."
Monday, November 24, 2008
Over the past year or two, I rarely even bother to watch these music awards shows any more because they're so annoying and disappointing. Last night I noticed a lot of slick bodies, great hair and makeup, but mostly mediocre talent - or lack thereof. The songs are forgettable; and when they're not lip-synching, they're off key; it's just plain boring and uninspiring. It just seems to be all about fashion, dancing and stripper poles.
From the whiney Rihanna singing, to the tribal dancing Beyonce, to those no-talent Pussy Cat women doing stripper routines with their ass cheeks hanging out... I was annoyed the entire time (I couldn't stomach the whole show). And how about those Jonas kids and their whiney whimpery out-of-tune singing? Too bad these 21st century Beatle wannabes didn't sound as good as they looked. But the biggest disappointment for me was Annie Lennox live - she's such a brilliant singer! What happened to her voice??
I didn't have to watch Miley Cyrus to know what she'd do - she's always the same: annoying. She needs to go to school and learn a few skills and hone her minimal talent. And what was with that eye patch on Rihanna? I was hoping they'd take it off halfway through the song and they did... that was the highlight of her performance. I thought that Natasha was good, but her hair was really irritating to watch with the wind machines blowing it in her face.
All in all, it was totally forgettable and disappointing. No great songs. No great artists to remember.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Thank you, Mr. President, for keeping us safe and sound since 9/11. I am so sorry you've had to suffer such terrible criticism... but I, for one, have enormous respect for and appreciate you and ever since the day I had the privilege to shake your hand at the Talker Magazine convention in NYC right before you ran for President, I have admired you greatly. You looked into my eyes, gave my hand a firm shake, and I knew right then that you were a decent, courageous man and you have not failed me yet! You and Laura brought dignity and class back to the White House... you both will always hold a special place in my heart because you inspired me to vote for the first time in my adult life. --Your American citizen, SF
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
After all, she's got everything - fame, fortune, beauty, power, prestige... She's the envy of all the world and has more than reached her goal of "conquering the world" in the eyes of so many. She's great at collaborating on 3-1/2-minute videos that are brilliantly choreographed and designed. She's marvelous at arriving at carefully orchestrated photo shoots that depict her in the best possible light. She knows a good fashion show when she parades in one. She's got it all: marriage, children, the adulation of millions... And rumor has it that she might even go to the moon. At 50, her concerts are still sellouts and she's got the body of a 25-year-old. So why does she need Britney - a blubbery bobble-head bore that can't possibly measure up?
Madonna was recently referred to (by a nameless FNC commentator) as "shrewd, but not very bright." Maybe that's it. Maybe not. I was never a Madonna fan - that is, until her record, "Ray of Light" - a wonderful album produced by William Orbit - came out. I thought it was brilliant. I'd enjoyed "Vogue" and always sang along to the gorgeous "La Isla Bonita"... and reveled in the dominant feminine "Express Yourself"... but "Ray of Light" was the first time I really listened to Madonna and respected her as an artist (even if she more than likely had very little to do with the actual production of the album). I discovered it was William Orbit who really deserved most of the credit.
I speak from experience. I, myself, recorded an album - having been a songwriter since I was born - and I know the pain and labor that goes into the creation of a record. So I respected Madonna's efforts yet understood her limitations. I, myself, wrote my songs from start to finish, I played the instruments and sang and produced and sweated every aspect of my record. I don't think Madonna knows how to play an instrument and, having seen her play guitar on stage, I'd advise her never to do that again!
But she overcame a lot to sell her ideas and bring them to fruition. We have to give her a lot of credit. Though long-and-drawn-out, I enjoyed listening to her acceptance speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and the stories of how she "made it" were educational, albeit methodical and calculated - how determined she was! A true American success story! (It's too bad she's opted, now, to trash her own country and talk up and support other countries much in the same way as Oprah.)
Madonna's best in the rough... she was great in that MTV special when she goes back to the warehouse in New York in which she'd once resided during her early struggling days. She was marvelous in "Desperately Seeking Susan" playing herself - no matter what the critics say. She's most original and captivating in the video "Secret" where she portrays a street urchin, a torch singing vamp with smeared makeup huddling with the street people... Like Shelley Winters said, "Those are the most beautiful black people in that video!"
She found herself over and over, but as she admitted in "Ray of Light" - lost herself, too ("I traded fame for love...") What makes an artist the most interesting? The fact that he/she can admit to his/her own faults, limitations, fallacies and strives to be "something better than you are today." And reinvent... recreate... be born anew. Madonna is and remains, after all, Madonna.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Reading about the culture/talent-devoid VMAs this morning, the first line I saw was: "It took a year, but Britney Spears got the comeback she was seeking from the MTV Video Music Awards -- and she didn't even have to sing or dance." She won 3 awards!!! And a standing ovation!! For what? Bad behavior?? She stated she was shocked and didn't expect it - well, hello! She shouldn't have been honored in any way! What has this country come to when someone like her - who basically spent the past two years of her life running around the streets, jumping in and out of cars without underwear, getting in car accidents, being committed to mental wards and losing custody of her infant sons - is rewarded?!
How could a train wreck like B.S. "sweep" the VMAs unless they've lowered their standards to the pit of the bottom-feeders? And how can they call such a vile display as this show "tame"? Have they lost their minds?
They had Lindsay Lohan, skank queen of the year, giving out an award - someone who has accomplished nothing but bad acting in a lot of awful movies, singing like Minnie Mouse and endangering people's lives with her bad driving and drug use - and joke-of-a-lifestyle. And Ms. Famous-for-nothing, Paris H. representing as usual - a perfect match for the soulless show.
I was so depressed when I tuned in and saw two black guys wallowing around on stage grunting incomprehensible garble into microphones - one with his pants literally falling off! I thought, where's the talent? The lemmings in the audience stood up as though they'd witnessed the second coming!
I've loved music all my life and this fiasco really hurt. I was in pain watching it... and nauseous, too... and just had to turn it off.
Friday, August 29, 2008
I've always thought it would be a great idea to elect a housewife to run this country because most housewives are so skilled at multitasking and brilliant at taking charge of many difficult situations all at once while always landing on their feet... and the fact that women are able to use both sides of their brain... well, I think we're long overdue in America for a woman president.
Pro-choice/anti-abortion notwithstanding (we'll never agree on that which should not be a political issue in the first place), I like Gov. Palin because she's the epitome of America's dreamgirl! She's strong, fought her way up the ladder to become Mayor, then Governor, gave birth five times and still has a waistline! And a neck!! She's 44 and gorgeous, outspoken, successful and articulate. She reminds me of my mother.
I argue with my mother all the time and, hearing the frustration in her voice, always remind her that I learned to be driven, articulate and outspoken from her... and that's not to say, "Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto..." She didn't teach me to be a bitch; she taught me to fight to survive in a man's world and not to make excuses for my own failures but, rather, to accept self-responsibility above all else!
However, our recent disagreement had to do with a statement she made about Blacks in America (she knows I HATE rash generalizations!) - that Black people have been treated like sh-- for a long time - to which I replied something like, 'That may be... but I don't think any Black person with dignity wants to wallow in self pity and just crawl up in a shack and become a dependent of the State.'
I reminded her that she herself was treated like sh-- many a time and that all odds had been against her from the very start having sprung from worse than humble origins - a shack in Tennessee with a mother who'd given birth to 10 kids and died at 42 from exhaustion; a father who was mentally ill and shot himself in front of her... to having been left in the [mis-]care of orphanages and foster homes - a lost girl in America.
Yet, through it all - having seven kids, raising most of us (with almost no help at all from our fathers), being a wildly successful woman who owned two employment agencies in Chicago in the '60s and '70s, gorgeous, ambitious and driven - she made it ALL ON HER OWN. Never once do I remember my mother even hinting at the thought of going on welfare (she just ran out and got another job), or applying for food stamps or any other government assistance. And my mother never did drugs, smoked, or drank her problems away. She suffered in silence and kept on going. She taught me the most valuable lesson in life - that you're only as weak as you convince yourself you are.
She just chuckled and agreed: 'That's true, but not many people have it in them to go through all that and survive.' After having left the corporate world in the late '70s, she embarked on a spiritual journey that led her to study all aspects of the spiritual world - philosophy, religions of the Far East, yoga, meditation - and is now one of the greatest mediums and teachers of meditation the world has ever known. She's got an enviable library, having read hundreds of books; she's a great artist, gardener and grandmother of... well... we lost count... Now each of the flowers in her garden become paintings and in those paintings are her children and grandchildren and the colors from the prism are new and those she has expanded upon beyond anything words could ever describe.
She's my hero. www.elizabethbaron.com
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tonight they hit rock bottom suggesting that three celebrities - Oprah, Angelina Jolie and Paris Hilton - actually may influence the presidential race! I was appalled listening to a puppet/talking head from The Britto Agency trying to convince the ST audience that Oprah is a "global voice" with massive influence; and that Paris Hilton is well versed! We all know who these celebrities are and any sensible person knows that these people are the LAST ones to go to for advice on anything relative to practical existence in America.
All I can say is that people of all races, creeds, colors and religions need to band together from this day forward and vow to curb their television viewing, shut out this kind of influence and brainwashing, and start thinking for themselves. What kind of person would ask Oprah Winfrey what book to read? Having been so incredibly rich and famous most of her life, she's so far out of touch with most of us; there's no way she could possibly be able to empathize with ANY of us, much less be able to tell us what to read! How could she possibly understand our problems, much less be able to choose a candidate for us?
It's the same with sports figures. Many consider them to be "heroes" - but they're not; they're athletes with special abilities. Heroes are those men and women who are sacrificing their lives so we can live free in America. Heroes are scientists that are working day and night to find cures for diseases. Heroes are those who give of themselves unselfishly that others may live fruitful lives.
Celebrities should be just that - people who got famous for one reason or another - not who tell us how to live our lives and especially not who to vote for! Americans need to break the spell of these marketing magicians by turning off and tuning out and reprioritizing their lives to include what really matters most: family, friends, home and love.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Similarly, on May 26, 2008 Keela Carr began a 2,700-mile walk from Barstow, California to Arlington with a laptop computer and some clothes, her few remaining possessions. She sold her home, furniture and everything, to have enough money for the trip across the country. "I wanted to do something extremely personal," Miss Carr said after visiting injured veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Northwest. She stayed at hotels during the beginning of her walk, but said she began making connections with strangers who heard about her mission. Many of them took her into their homes and fed her. Miss Carr arrived at Walter Reed on Wednesday with her Aunt Rochelle Narain who was driving alongside Miss Carr when she collapsed just outside the military hospital. [more...]
In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi (age 61) set out on his famous "Salt March" as an act of civil disobedience by defying the salt laws - 241 miles in 24 days. He was a shrewd politician with incredible marketing skills and made sure the worldwide media covered the event. Events at each village were scheduled and publicized in Indian and foreign press. Upon arriving at the seashore, Gandhi raised a lump of salty mud and declared, "With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire." He then boiled it in seawater, producing illegal salt. Today the Salt March is acknowledged the world over as the one event that shook the British Empire to its core.
Kim Denmark of Dayton, Ohio walked across America with the goal of dramatizing the need for change as it relates to welfare reform, homelessness and poverty.
Since April 14th, Will Buchanan and his wife have been walking coast-to-coast across the country, from Oregon to New Hampshire 'on a quest to gain more freedom for our country by spreading the message of freedom and liberty along the way.'
Stuart Hamilton and Dave Toolan crossed the U.S. on foot. Why? Why not? Just to leave things behind and head off in the direction of things they'd never seen before - to take in the scenery and experience and see new things. In 2006 they walked 2,000 miles from Delaware to Kansas City. In May 2007, they rejoined the American Discovery Trail in Kansas City and headed west to Point Reyes in California - a distance of over 3,000 miles.
Steve Vaught made the decision to walk across America to lose weight and regain control of his life. "I decided to attempt something so radical because somewhere along the line I’d lost control; I'd lost myself. In life, I transformed from a skinny boy, to a fit U.S. Marine and ended up an obese man, approaching middle age and it was obvious that I was no longer able to cope with the course my life had taken." He lost the weight and rediscovered his dignity and life purpose.
Walking is the "perfect exercise" and those who take their daily walks seriously and walk their dogs regularly reap the rewards of the wonderful benefits that result. It really allows you the time to clear your head and think straight.
Friday, July 25, 2008
A few days ago I heard an ad on the radio with a woman cheerfully exclaiming how she'd gone into debt and now has found a company that helped her clear her debt by reducing it to thirty cents on the dollar. Who had to pay for her irresponsible behavior?
There's a documentary that's been making its rounds on cable TV called 'Maxed Out' - where they blame credit card companies and everyone else, including the President, for the bad decisions of irresponsible customers. Here is their description of the film:
'Maxed Out' takes viewers on a journey deep inside the American style of debt, where things seem fine as long as the minimum monthly payment arrives on time. With coverage that spans from small American towns all the way to the White House, the film shows how the modern financial industry really works, explains the true definition of "preferred customer" and tells us why the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer. Hilarious, shocking and incisive, 'Maxed Out' paints a picture of a national nightmare which is all too real for most of us.
There's nothing hilarious about it. It's just plain sad.
When are people going to start accepting responsibility for their own behavior? Credit management should be a requirement in high school - that you don't get a diploma without first passing a rigorous course in how to manage your own personal finances, checking accounts, credit cards, investments and savings. And, of course, it begins with the examples set by parents; it is imperative to teach our children to be disciplined and responsible with their money.
In this day and age when you've got the government bailing out Bear, Fannie & Freddie and everyone else on planet earth, it's time for a new trend.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
'What Not to Wear' not only encourages people to dress appropriately, it teaches people how to tap in to their own personal style from within - whether it's for professional purposes or just going to the grocery store. And they don't stop at clothes. They transform the person all around - mentally, physically and eventually ... spiritually.
Look around... your local high school is filled with girls walking around in belly shirts and hip-huggers that reveal almost everything... not to mention the tattoos and piercings. 'What Not to Wear' teaches these women to dress properly... and yet stylishly and sexy without being trashy.
They take these girls who are dressed like total hookers and make them into respectable professionals, mothers, homemakers, and career women - then, transplant them back into their lives - only better and smarter.
...and these fashion experts are notably conservative in this day and age. They answer the questions that a lot of people just don't have the answers to...
How to dress properly for my body type and how to buy nice clothes
They really teach women to go back to the modesty that once was so wonderful about being a woman, instead of the trashy way most of the celebs reveal themselves and how they're EXPECTED to show so much skin... and how they influence regular women and girls to do the same.
Here are some great 'What Not to Wear' quotes:
- After 25, hemlines are an issue.
- You'd be a knock-out if you were polished.
- We need to address quality and fit.
- Why is nothing hugging your curves correctly?
- Age appropriate and flattering.
- Synthetic animal prints are like a polyester petting zoo exploding.
- Tube tops no more!
- There's no way you can go outdoors in this outfit ever again!
- This is not the way a successful woman dresses.
- We just want you to dress the way a successful grown-up woman dresses.
- Go out and find colour, just keep it simple and cover up.
- We want the people to see the outfit after they see you.
- Girls MUST wear bras... and keep the 'girls' up where they're supposed to be.
- Invest in more expensive pieces; everybody needs a perfect pair of black pants. This will carry you through years from now.
- Less skin: classic staples.
- Flashy, skimpy, tight and bright - NO!
- Sexy in a cool, modern, feminine way.
- You've chosen a fabric that's a silk that comes away from the body.
- We're not seeing too much.
- Look how great the butt looks because of the rich fabric!
- It's about going for slightly higher quality fabric so you can wear it for a long time.
- Below the knee... we don't get any tummy... the hips look flawless. You can do fitted, not skin-tight. The idea is to make you look in-charge, powerful.
- They realize you're giving them a haircut and not a lap dance (to a stylist).
This show is more conservative than MOST of the fashion movement, which is refreshing today. They actually chastise their subjects when they are bad influences on their kids.
You know as well as I do how important image is... and most Hollywood celebs are portraying images that are slutty and trashy; yet Stacy & Clinton discourage stripper- and hooker-ware... and encourage sophisticated, stylish and "COVERED UP."
No more spaghetti straps!! (for most women who are in need of a good, supportive bra)
If there had been a Sephora, Carmindy and What Not to Wear when I was in my 20s, I would have been much more successful!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Oh, how I love Windows! Each day when I awaken, I thank God Bill Gates was born to invent the windows that speed my day along. Windows set me free - I can open and close them, minimize and reduce them, widen them, fill them, empty them, and more... They're windows on the world, to peer into the Net; research, learn, imagine, expound, earn a living, communicate, play... My Windows allow me to smile, talk, write, laugh, express myself, create sites to exhibit my art - like no gallery could ever do for me. I can open a window and hear a song; and my Windows let me play my songs for others. My Windows open up the Net so I can play Canasta with a guy in Brazil or a girl in Australia, or check out my sister's photography in Charleston, or see my friend's garden in Chicago, or I can walk through my Mom's online gallery to view her latest oil painting. My Windows make me what I am. I open a window and a new template, create a press release and in ten minutes a thousand producers across the nation know all about my clients. They open a window, see my message, e-mail me, call me -- and lives are changed. People are heard. It's a ripple effect. Windows, when clean, illuminate, educate, create, relate... create debate.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
***Talk to Me, in which the wonderful actor Don Cheadle plays Washington, D.C. radio personality Ralph "Petey" Greene, an ex-con who became a popular talk show host and community activist in the '60s is an excellent bio-drama. The scene just after MLK's death where you hear Sam Cooke's 'A Change is Gonna Come' wafting over the airwaves, soothing the pain of the masses, is so glorious, it makes you want to stand up and shout to the mountaintops! I loved all the Sly & the Family Stone songs and the great version of 'Tainted Love' by Gloria Jones. The soundtrack, however, is lacking, so it takes a little research to find all the songs that were in the film, but it's well worth the effort.
***Once, is described as the story of "a serendipitous meeting on the streets of Dublin between a down-on-his-luck Irish street performer and a poor Czech immigrant which sparks a bond that plays out in this modern day music film. 'Once' follows the two as they write, rehearse, and record the songs that reveal their unique love story." It sure brought back memories of my songwriting days and the thrill of recording in a studio. I knew just how they felt - the magic, the harmonies, the great sense of exhilaration and accomplishment to have unleashed a spark of light from the music touching my soul.
This movie is so poignant and sweet a romance; and the songs are soul-stirring and intense featuring the wonderful talents of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová placed front and center as the characters of the 'boy' and 'girl.' Listen to the soundtrack. I cried during the scene where they were recording 'When Your Mind's Made Up' when the engineer smiled, as he realized this motley bunch of street urchins had just created magic. The first time the boy and girl collaborate in the music store ('Falling Slowly') is so real and true... and when the girl is walking down the street listening to his CD demo, crafting the lyrics to 'If You Want Me' reminded me of a hundred times that I'd written songs at odd moments when the muse inspired. ...made me want to hear all that Czech Republic-born Markéta Irglová and Frames frontman Glen Hansard ever create.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Elaine's in NYC - where they filmed my favourite movie, "Manhattan"
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Featured Artist: Tamara Lance is a marvelously gifted and imaginative artist whose photography and graphic manipulations are a sight to behold. She's very adept at Illustrator and PhotoShop techniques, but also works with traditional media. Tamara is a poet, a painter and photog-extraordinaire of abandoned sites and buildings as well as distressed objects that personify lives once lived. She's created many a series, but each work is important as a standalone piece of art. Her portfolio is explosive with intense moods, irony and emotion in the subjects she chooses to analyze and re-define. Her photographs transport the viewer to a space where they may experience the life-still-living in the ghosts of the past. The asylums she's photographed are particularly alarming as literal portraits of forgotten souls. But my favourite photos are her angels, the abandoned churches, and that wonderful picture of a brokedown piano and the sheet music that once brought its keys to life. She also designs jewelry, creates wildly original posters, and is a hilarious cartoonist (I should know! She's been making fun of me for YEARS!) Her self-portraits document the growth of an artist over more than ten years; they're riveting, yet add that touch of humour and irony that is intrinsic to her personality. At such a young age, her oeuvre is impressive, as she has managed to amass quite an eclectic portfolio, which is haunting yet humorous, evocative, and just plain fun! This is an up-and-coming artist to keep your eye on! more...
I've really enjoyed collaborating with Tami on some of my recent digi-food photos. My local sushi chefs laugh at me all the time when I photograph my dinner... I tell them I e-mail the photos to my sister and she makes them into works of art. You can view some of our recent collaborations on her MySpace page... and here's her Las Vegas roll, from my photo... and there are more of her vector illustrations of sushi on her Shutterstock gallery.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Don't be fooled by the "Greens" (especially rich celebrities who ride around in private jets, but want you to turn off your air-conditioners) who are trying to convince us that we need to move away from capitalism. America was built on consumerism and has always been a leading, productive capitalistic society. We can be productive and environmentally conscious at the same time. You don't need an SUV if you're a single person or only have a couple of kids! It's pure logic!
Forget about nuts like Sheryl Crow who had the nerve to propose "a limitation be put on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting" and perhaps "just washing that one square out." She doesn't seem to want to pass a law, just humiliate us into obedience. I'm all for ecology, nonviolence and social justice, but these kinds of nuts are taking things too far... and getting a lot of publicity in the process. Don't think they're doing it for free.
We shouldn't try to educate ourselves about how to save the environment from ill-informed shills like Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand or Al Gore (who while in office for eight years did NOTHING to help the environment) or advertisements showcasing scared and confused Americans, including children and senior citizens, wondering about the coming apocalypse caused by global warming.
Read what the Founder of The Weather Channel, John Coleman, says about it HERE ...and what's happened to what used to be the wonderful TWC since.
I don't know about you, but I've been recycling long before it ever became mandatory. I actually had bins in my humble one-bedroom apartment years ago (in the '80s) and dragged them to the recycling plant every couple of weeks... and back then, it was VERY inconvenient... but I considered it a worthwhile endeavor - my contribution to keeping this earth of ours clean. I attended the first Earth Day rallies and have always been very concerned about the consequences of our actions on this planet.
But it's a problem with a logical solution - if everyone does their share, we won't have the problems over which these so-called "Green" campaigns are stirring up all this confusion. We don't have to pay more or buy strange (EXPENSIVE) little light bulbs that are more trouble than they're worth. We just all need to do our share to conserve and not be so lazy about it. Turn the lights off when you're not using them. Don't run the A/C or turn up the heat when no one's home. AND DON'T LITTER!
I get so mad when I see people littering, even tossing a cigarette butt on the ground or out the windows of their cars. It's just plain lazy, rude and inconsiderate - and it should be a crime. I agree with the Vatican, which fifteen hundred years after the Roman Catholic Church introduced the original list of seven deadly sins, has now updated the roster for a new age. "You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbor's wife, but also by ruining the environment ... and technology is a blessing, but it can also be a danger. Take pollution, for example - it's a variation of the original mortal sin of gluttony or selfishness. Protecting the environment, after all, comes from the Bible's book of Genesis: God created the world and placed man in it to thrive and not destroy. But the population explosion and the production of extremely toxic materials make the stakes much higher.
One of the worst things I've seen lately are seagulls in fast food parking lots picking up trash with their beaks, looking for food. I felt so sad that some jerk was so thoughtless as to toss his or her bag of trash out of the car instead of walking a few feet more to the nearest trashcan.
A local grocery store manager stood before me tonight challenging me for complaining about all the garbage and cigarette butts I had to wade through to get through the front door of the store. He had the nerve to tell me how many so-called compliments he'd been getting on the cleanliness of the store. Meanwhile, there were pieces of trash right where he stood and a big long track of juice on the floor by the checkouts - all the way out the door. And the produce section looked dangerously vile. Yet he didn't have the decency to even address the issue, but chose rather to make all kinds of excuses while his lazy teenaged 'staff' just stood there not doing their jobs. It's not the first time I complained about all the trash - the first guy assured me something would be done about it... yet today that store and parking lot are trashier than ever!
If we can't even clean up our own yards and sidewalks or do our jobs, if we turn a blind eye to situations like these, things WILL get worse. The earth is wonderfully regenerative, as is the human body. Treat the earth like it's your own body and we'll all be healthier and happier.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
It was really interesting to hear both he and Newt describe how they're able to get together and write these series of books, logistically as well as the meeting of minds. Newt's extensive experience working with world leaders, coupled with Mr. Forstchen's expertise in military history makes this a winning match and there are many more books to come - they make us want to learn more about American history!
But the eye-opening part of the evening was hearing Newt Gingrich speaking about a nuclear holocaust and how desperately we need to rebuild our sorely lacking Homeland Security Dept. It was frightening to hear what he had to say about the very real possibility of another strike on America. I asked him, "What do you attribute to the fact that we haven't been hit since 9/11?" to which he replied, candidly, "I don't know," and then went on to explain how unprotected we really are. But he did say, all the mistakes of the G.W. Bush Administration aside, a very different history will be written about this man many years from now, which is something I've always believed.
Newt is about solutions and though I believe he'd make a great president, I think he certainly is effective as a private citizen. He's a real national treasure. Here's a cute YouTube video Newt made.
Speaking of the threat of terrorism on American soil, I'm presently reading an amazing book by my friend, Brigitte Gabriel. Every American needs to read this book! Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America is the true story of how she survived Islamic hatred and attacks growing up in Lebanon and is now on a passionate crusade in her adoptive country, America, to warn us all that the same thing could happen to us if we don't wake up to the reality of the very real threat living amongst us all. More on this later...
Sunday, April 20, 2008
It's been a long time since I felt any sense of Holy presence in New York, but watching the Pope pleading with God to bring "peace to our violent world," I could feel a great sense of spiritual weather emanating from the sky - like a spring rain cleaning the dirty air. He greatly moved the 9/11 victims' families at Ground Zero at what he called the "scene of incredible violence and pain" - and thus began the long overdue healing process for acute sorrow that just won't subside.
"God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world," the Pope prayed. "Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred."
On TV, at the same time, they were calling him a "Pope of great empathy" who'd known much pain and loss in his own life. The Holy Father is, after all, one of our elders and we all should respect his knowledge and experience and learn from him - no matter what our religion. This is a great Pope whose mission in life is to heal the masses and especially all the pain caused by the criminal priests of his own church. What he's doing is the most important work on Earth - spreading love, healing and peace throughout the world and, this week, thankfully, in America.
The Holy Father is truly an inspiration to all races, creeds, faiths and religions - a real universal symbol of Christ on Earth. He may be the only one who could have brought such hope to the victims' families of 9/11 or of the sexual abuse by degenerate priests; he minced no words, put on no airs - only reflected great sincerity and love, actually apologizing and promising to hold the bishops accountable. He is truly spreading God's light by using his life experience to teach us all about the ways of the world.
If our society valued the advice of our elders and listened to and learned from their wisdom, much in the same way as the Pope's messages are being analyzed and heeded - as well as inspiring - the enrichment of our culture would be immeasurable. But instead, many in America today look up to train-wreck idiots in the media who are pathetic human specimens; they emulate their bad behavior and perpetuate the downward spiral of the condition of our culture.
The older we all get, the more we seem to worship at the altar of youth. The elderly are neglected by those who should love them, bullied and patronized by those who should serve them, and exploited by those who should care for them. Our society has failed to tap the great resource of their wisdom. It doesn't matter how skilled they are or how much knowledge they have to impart; these days if you look old, you're put out to pasture. The average age of the population rises steadily; the older generations have more power at election time, are enjoying better health and are more affluent, yet the worship of youth continues and is reinforced daily by the media's fixation on making us all feel desperate to be younger, thinner and more attractive.
We used to venerate old age and experience. Winston Churchill didn't pack it in as Prime Minister until he was in his 80s. You will recollect that President Reagan took over as President - aged almost 70 - and stayed in office for two terms. He was popular and robust, even surviving an assassination attempt.
As vital members of our community, our elders deserve respect and honor, not neglect or humiliation. They possess life experience (both positive and negative) that can help others. "How far you go in life," taught George Washington Carver, "depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong - because someday in life, you will have been all of these."
Making fun of aging has always been a source of entertainment in comedy. Bob Hope, born in 1903 and still a star in the '80s, said, "I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon, and then it's time for my nap."
"I was always taught to respect my elders and I've now reached the age when I don't have anybody to respect," said comedian George Burns a few days short of his 100th birthday.
But what of the rest of us? Who do we have to respect? Respect is the idea that a person or idea deserves to be treated well. For example, treating one's elders with respect - as envisioned by the Ten Commandments - involves honoring those with more experience and wisdom. Respecting elders is a component of the teachings of almost every culture through the ages. And elder wisdom was the thread that held everyone together.
Today it's seen as a joke ... yet it's an untapped resource we should all consume in abundance.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Tim Conway recently did an interview for a show on Telecare - the Catholic Channel - where he described his feelings about the Golden Age of Comedy versus today's comedy, which, as we know, is like day and night. He expressed the anxiety he experiences watching TV today with his grandkids and how embarrassing it is for him because of all the profanity, sexuality, etc. He said he just doesn't watch TV most of the time because you never know how far they'll go.
My favourite type of comedy has always been slapstick. One of the great masters of slapstick comedy is Dick Van Dyke. His wonderful show with Mary Tyler Moore came before my time, but I really enjoyed watching it in reruns when I was a kid and loved the clever, creative humour of that show. He was obviously inspired by the great grandfather of comedy, Charlie Chaplin, whose films are still so fresh and fun to watch today. I never tire of Modern Times (1936), The Gold Rush (1925) or The Kid (1921). I've always loved silent films and especially the silent clowns; they've always been a passion of mine and I studied them for years - from Buster Keaton to the talented Laurel and Hardy.
As a youth, I was passionate about vaudeville and studied the entire history of theatre and the lives of the vaudevillians from the turn of the 20th century through silent pictures to talkies. And, of course, there was the incomparable Mae West - one of the greatest comediennes of the 20th century who wrote all her own material for movies and stage!
I was also a huge Jerry Lewis fan as a kid and watched all of his movies over and over, laughing so hard; I thought I'd die. And, wow! Is laughter good for my soul! One of my favourite movies, other than the original The Nutty Professor (1963) was The Patsy (1964) - an all but forgotten but truly hilarious movie. I stayed up with Jerry all night for years watching his telethon... until it became so obnoxiously commercial that it wasn't fun anymore.
As I matured, I grew to love Woody Allen and his films. He taught me just how beautiful life can really be. When I was a youth, I just wanted to be a character in one of his movies - go to New York and marry him. My dream was to go to Elaine's and sit in that corner table, just like in the movie, Manhattan (1979). The first time I saw the uproarious film, Sleeper (1973) was a real experience for me - I thought I'd never laughed so hard... and I grew to love all of Woody Allen's great movies throughout the years; however, I still laugh out loud at his early comedies, such as Bananas (1971, Play It Again, Sam (1972), Love and Death (1975) and, in the '80s, Broadway Danny Rose (1984).
I'm sure my favourite comedian of recent years, Jim Carrey, learned a thing or two from these greats. Another very versatile actor who truly captured the idea of tragic-comedy and whose slapstick eclipsed just about every comedian who ever walked the earth, Jim Carrey's movies, such as The Mask (1994), Liar Liar (1997), and the characters he made famous on In Living Color were a sight to behold. That show was almost as great as the first Saturday Night Live with the original cast (never to be equaled) - John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, et al.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no prude. But, as a rule, I'm not too crazy about bathroom humor or off-coloured jokes, but I love AbFab, (Absolutely Fabulous) and watched every episode! I recently saw Doug Stanhope's cable special, which was filled with a lot of political humour, and thought he was very talented and entertaining. And it's a shame about Mitch Hedberg, who died too young. He was such a wonderful talent! I know they were all influenced by the late great George Carlin who I remember gave me such a laugh as a youth.
I don't care for loudmouth comedians who are so egotistical and full of themselves, such as Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, Kathy Griffin, Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, and others who are crass, rude and arrogant. Though I do like the recent works of Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand and find them quite charming.
They could all learn a thing or two from the great Jackie Mason who's currently finishing up his latest run on Broadway, hosts his own radio show and YouTube site, and stays current with the times politically and has never grown stale. He's a friend and a mentor and one of the best in the business! Like him, radio talk show host, actor and comedian, Dennis Miller's political and social commentary remains witty, smart and entertaining.
Jack Lemmon was my favourite actor all the time I was growing up. I remember reading his biography when I was a teenager and being so in love with him. He was a truly versatile actor - skilled at both comedy and drama. But I loved How to Murder Your Wife (1965) the most and wanted to grow up to be the character (Stanley Ford and his cartoon character Bash Brannigan!) in that movie played by Jack Lemmon and I loved the butler played by Terry-Thomas. What a character!
My Dad's generation influenced me to appreciate and admire the sweet clown, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason and The Honeymooners, the marathons of which I still watch during the holidays. What pros they were and the slapstick was side-splitting. Like Peter Sellers who was so comical in The Pink Panther (1963) and A Shot in the Dark (1964); I still get tickled to death at his pratfalls as though I'm watching them for the first time every time.
In this day and age, we all need to stop and enjoy some good clean humor - it's healthy and invigorating. It makes you feel good and there's nothing like a good laugh.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Bec Stupak - A fun artist to watch - colourful, lively and full of energy! Meet the girl behind the coolest hair you've ever seen. Bec is the epitome of the amazing life that waits for you if you follow your heart. She left a boring corporate job to be an artist full time. Today she leads a very colorful life traveling all over the world and having lots of fun. She says she defines herself as someone who is brave, creative, fierce, and passionate enough to follow her dreams... See her installation Radical Earth Magic Flower and her YouTube video. More...
NewYorkCool.com on the Arts
Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Impassioned Eye (2003) - If you want to study photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson is a good place to start. This documentary is a wonderful, evocative biography of the man considered to be the greatest photographer of the last century. Cartier-Bresson’s life reads like a history of the century – World War II, China, Egypt, Mexico, India, Sartre, Matisse, Gandhi (minutes before he was assassinated) and Cuba all became subjects of his famous "decisive moment" style. Interviews with Cartier-Bresson, Isabelle Huppert, Arthur Miller and other luminaries are woven into this indelible portrait of an icon of both photography and the world.
HBO's Miniseries - John Adams Starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney - Giamatti and Linney are sublime! It'll inspire you to learn more about the U.S. and our founding mothers and fathers.
HBO's Series: In Treatment - As they say, addicting! This is an intense show to watch, very emotional and moving. Almost anyone will be able to relate to the doctor and his patients.
Avoid Like the Plague:
TMZ.com - pathetic in its depiction of the daily lives of celebrities. This guy, Harvey Levin, pays paparazzo to follow so-called celebrities and then they all sit around ridiculing them on this show. "Who did more damage to entertainment reporting in 2007 than Harvey Levin?... he and his gutter operation… almost singlehandedly transformed Hollywood entertainment reporting into a gutter-level street battle fueled by self-hatred, jealousy and anger, with no concern for what once determined greatness, excellence or fame…"
CNN Headline News' Showbiz Tonight - The anchors are so self-righteous and holier-than-thou and pretend to be experts on anything and everything in their nightly analysis of the lives of people whom they do not know. Their wild speculation and airing of gossip and rumors are ruining our society and though a lot of the people they talk about bring this kind of thing upon themselves, it's not fair that these talking heads make a living sitting around chit-chatting about personal lives as though they know what's going on and especially the way they act like they're above it all.
For a Laugh: Silliness
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
But Herbie has created such magic all throughout his career. In 2005, an intimate documentary was filmed about POSSIBILITIES - Herbie Hancock and his in-studio collaborations with a dozen formidable pop recording artists, collaborations that explore the unexpected, like jazz improvisations. The film is also about how Herbie’s unique worldview shapes a creative environment that encourages artists to step outside their comfort zones - into a world of creative exploration heretofore unknown.
The documentary opens with Herbie jotting notes on staff paper - the intuitive talent miraculously channeled from paper to fingers to instrument. He states emphatically that to be "pigeon-holed" is the death of creativity. His solution: exploring by collaboration.
POSSIBILITIES follows Herbie Hancock over a year and a half collaborating with musical icons Carlos Santana, Sting, Angelique Kidjo, Annie Lennox and Paul Simon, Christina Aguilera, John Mayer, Trey Anastasio and Jonny Lang as well as Joss Stone, Raul Midon, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan.
The film also includes rarely seen archival footage of Herbie with the Miles Davis Quintet in 1962; Herbie’s classic video for “Rockit”; and never-before-seen duets of Herbie playing for peace in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the atomic explosions. Hancock said then that he tried to use his music to spread a message of peace and help humanity, and that he intended to continue his efforts at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.
His ability to marvel at the talent of those he chose to do this documentary with is amazing. "Each artist brings what they want to the table" - he from jazz. Their youth, their connection to the era in which they were born will bring new light, a new sound. "I feel that many of our systems that worked to encourage creativity are being challenged and there's more of an encouragement to stay where you are - don't make a wave. I think the word that captures the spirit of what I believe in and what I'm really about and what I hope to achieve is POSSIBILITIES."
"As children, we have that sense that anything is possible and we have that kind of openness; we're not jaded. The older we get, the more closed in we get, the more frightened we get, the more set in our ways we get because we're afraid of the unknown; whereas as a child, everything is unknown! What a beautiful place to reside in - in your own being - where you still have the wonder of a child."
In The Mystic Artist I wrote: "...artists, more sensitive than the average person, feel or intuit their way into other dimensions - magnetic fields that remain shut to the 'normal' individual. Artists realized the validity of the acausal factor long before physicists began..."
An artist's natural impulse that does not involve logical reasoning, reacting somewhere beneath the conscious level, allows the truest art to blossom from the seeds of the soul. Such quick and ready insight that is child-like, original and without preconceived notions, prejudice or artifice brings forth the most meaningful creations. Federico Fellini couldn't have said it better: "An artist is a child always and sees things with childlike wonder. That is what makes him an artist." The singer interprets a song effortlessly; the painter designs his canvas without mechanical caginess.
Living child-like by instinct and intuition alone is perhaps the most difficult thing to relearn once the harshness of life robs us of our innocence. But awakened intuition is a powerful force; though the fragile bonds of memory must run its natural course. We must search the silence of who we are; and the inward journey through the World of Chance can't be imagined because all at once, part of us is living in the afterlife... especially during childhood.
Recapturing innocence is the only way to truly understand what lies beneath the prisons of who we are, what we've turned out to be. We may relearn such innocence - lost aspects of ourselves - through children who are the only people truly able to live freely by instinct and intuition. "Dreams, imagination, courage and self-confidence - these are what really nourish us," states Robert Fulghum, a teacher and best-selling author. As we pass into adulthood, we lose our most valuable gift - instinct.
"To draw is to look.
To look is to see.
To see is to have vision.
To have vision is to understand.
To understand is to know.
To know is to become.
To become is to live."
Remember the image we once had of ourselves before we became aware of and conditioned by our own limitations. We must learn from great creative geniuses like Albert Einstein who made incredible breakthroughs in science simply because he did not accept what he had learned as being the absolute and final truth. In fact, he didn't get along in school too well and mostly refused to be taught. He was obliged to go back to the simple, original basics and reformulate from there. In many ways, he was just returning to "the conceptual world of childhood." It was his powerful intuitive wisdom that nudged him to close in on the new solutions the world was waiting for.
* * *
Herbie Hancock expressed it with such purity: "The strongest thing that any human being has going is their own integrity and their own heart. As soon as you start veering away from that, the solidity that you need in order to be able to stand up for what you believe in and deliver what's really inside, it's just not going to be there. So that's one thing. The other thing is to - and this is the advice I try to give to anyone - is forget about trying to copy someone else. Forget about trying to compete with someone else. Create your own pathway. Create your own new vision. There's an infinite number of ways to look at things, so find one that hasn't been done. Or find a way that something hasn't been done. I made a collaborative record. A lot of collaborative records have been done before, but I don't think they've been done like this."