Thursday, May 14, 2015

Off to See the Wizard

When The Wizard of Oz opened in 1939, it was not yet the runaway classic we all know and love today. The movie of course was the same movie but the audiences had an embarrassment of riches to view (especially that year, with Gone with the Wind, Lost Horizon, How Green was My Valley, The Good Earth, Goodbye Mr Chips, etc).They didn't take it to their hearts as later audiences did. Not until the advent of television did Dorothy's adventures over the rainbow with her magical friends become rooted in the national conscience and beloved all over the world. There are a precious few movies that deserve classic status - certainly Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, Butch Cassidy, It's A Wonderful Life to name but a few. But Oz continues to draw new audiences wherever it shows - and older folks like me can still enjoy it on many levels (not least of which is that it helps us recapture some of our youth). This light preamble brings me to my sad topic today: speaking to many younger folk (twenty-nine and younger), I find very few even acquainted with the great film. "I'd let my daughter watch it," someone told me today, "but i have no desire. I've seen little pieces of it. It didn't look very good." Another young friend said to me "I've never seen it. Should I?" A third admitted 'I don't really DO black and white movies." When we pointed out that the movie goes from sepia into blazing Technicolor, he said 'oh, well I might watch it then."
Going back to an earlier theme (lack of intellectual curiousity) this continues to astonish me. To quote the great William Saroyan:
“The most solid advice for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”
You not only owe it to your film collection to purchase the Wizard of Oz, but you need to watch it --- often --and share it with your children. Then try Disney's wonderful Swiss Family Robinson, Flight of the Doves or Oliver with the always terrific Ron Moody, or even a newer 'classic' like Toy Story or Finding Nemo. You want to really give your family a treat? Search for a copy of Hans Christian Anderson with Danny Kaye in your library or better yet, permanently add it to your collection. If you have a heart, you'll want to view it again and again. Never saw The Wonderful Wizard of Oz??? My God, wo/man -- how do you even call yourself alive??? ***** You can read many children stories and poems from this author, wherever ebooks are sold, including 48 Poems for Young Children, Plus Two; Carter Wingtipper Flies to Mars!, and the upcoming Gribbius, The Girl Who Believed in Miracles, and Wizapan Skylar, of Winnow's Marsh!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Butch Cassidy Changed My Life

The irony wasn't lost on me. B.J. Thomas singing Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, piped loud and crystal clear tonight over the loudspeaker of a Long Island BJ's. Suddenly I was 11 again, watching Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with my family on a snowy evening in 1970. I began singing aloud, not even caring who heard me. Paul Newman and the beautiful Katherine Ross on a bicycle. The comedy, drama, cinematic brilliance and lush cinematography enthralled me then (and still does). A buddy movie, a tragic comedy, a romance, a shoot em up, a chase. A movie-movie in the best sense of the word. After looking at a few more DVD's I moved over to the butcher section. The kid there looked to be about 25. "Ever see the movie Butch Cassidy?" I asked him. "No. Is it in black and white?" I explained that it starts in sepia but moves quickly into full color. "I watch black and white movies," he said. "I like The Three Stooges, and it doesn't really bother me." Over the years, I'm no longer surprised by the answers I get when I ask people of all ages questions like that. One woman asked me if the movie Patton was about a dog. Another asked me if Ella Fitzgerald sang. Too many to name told me they never heard of Sammy Davis Jr, or John Denver. Many don't even know which side fought against us in WW2. One young woman told me she never heard of Paul Newman OR Robert Redford. A few told me they never saw The Wizard of Oz, or Gone with the Wind, or The Godfather. Fiddler on the Roof? (Is that a musical?). "I never heard of the Beatles," said a co-worker once. "Don't forget, I was born in 1988." I reminded him that I wasn't born 300 years ago, but knew who Mozart was. I can't imagine growing up in a world without Butch Cassidy. Or Louie Armstrong. Or Bing Crosby. Where is the intellectual curiousity we had? It seems to be lacking. And following this same line of thought, I asked a young cartoonist if he'd ever heard of Will Elder, Larry Gore, Mort Drucker, Mort Walker? How can you ever expect to do anything great if you don't know who's shoulders you're standing on? How can you continue to uphold the Constitution if you've never taken the time to read or understand it? If you're a songwriter or a painter, and you have no idea who Harold Arlen or Rembrandt were, how can i ever take you seriously? After watching him play piano in an intimate setting once in New Orleans, I found the great Ellis Marsalis sitting at a restaurant booth alone. "During that tribute to Duke," I said quickly, "you slipped in a little of Sinatra's 'Willow Weep for Me'. "You heard that, hunh?" he laughed. Dizzy Gillespie, speaking of Louie Armstrong, said "No him, no me." You can-NOT call yourself a comedian, and not know Jerry Lewis's work. Or Charlie Chaplin's. Or Richard Pryor's stand up routines. How do you go through life without ever once having the curousity to see Lawrence of Arabia, Spellbound, or Strangers on a Train? How do you call yourself a writer without reading Fitzgerald, Benet, Malraux, Blake? Or a playwright who is not well-versed in the Bard of Avon, Neil Simon, Arthur Miller, or William Saroyan? How can you dance if you don't know Gene Kelly's work? Or pick up a sax and not be intimate with Coltrane or Rollins? If this sounds like name-dropping, it shouldn't. It just makes common sense. It adds to the richness of life and the roundness of character..Doesn't it? ********* This author's new "30 Days to Your First Poetry Chapbook" is available at Smashwords and many other places where fine ebooks are sold.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Won't You Run for President??

Today some bonehead asked NYC Mayor and self-proclaimed Socialist Bill DeBlasio (unpopular with most of the city)if he was going to run for President. To his credit, Bill said "No." But look how handily this job is handed around.. It started (in recent memory) with Mario Cuomo. He gave a good speech about his immigrant parents at the DNC and suddenly there were calls for him to run for President. On the strength of one speech? Same thing with Barack Obama. There were a few who decried his activist leanings, his radical influences (like Bill Ayers and "Frank", his famous communist buddy), his lack of leadership or economic understanding, etc. But he ran for President on the strength of one speech at the DNC...Apparently NOW it doesn't even matter if you're handy with a microphone - Hillary has no positive credit to her name, and a fair amount of shame and betrayal to her country , but she gets to run because she's female. And next of course we'll need a Latino. Makes no difference if they're qualified. Or how much state evidence they destroy on their hard drives. NOW we vote for genitals and ethnic pallor. (It should be noted that the only condition where this doesn't work is if you're a Conservative Constitutionalist. Then of course all bets are off. Sarah Palin or Ted Cruz? Not a chance; their candidacy is pooh poohed on nightly broadcasts.. Genitals and pallor work only for the liberal mind-set, you see.)..Last week Hillary vowed to get amnesty for illegals done even if Congress won't (and even if 74% of the people don't want it, apparently). Jeb Bush says that illegals make better businessmen and have stronger families. (Since they pander so much to illegals, one wonders why they bother to run for office in THIS country).. They talk about 'dreamers' but defecate all over the American dream, which tells us now that 1 in 5 New Yorkers are illegal and there are over 92 million citizens who can't find work. Why are the borders open? Why is there no safety valve to keep Isis from crossing into our towns? Because your goverment is engaged in a social engineering experiment. Their stated goal is to make America 'less white' for whatever twisted reason they may have. Its no secret that illiterate people on welfare will continue to vote Democrat- as communist writer George Bernard Shaw once said " You can rob Peter to pay Paul, and Paul will always be your friend'.. Here's a general rule of thumb: when a politician tells you that illegals (many illiterate in their own language), trying to leave their countries behind but forced by La Raza and other ridiculous front groups NOT to assimilate will (they say ) make the country stronger, and more profitable, and safer, they are lying through their teeth. Don't waste your time listening to dopes like this, no matter what side they're on. They're lost in their own lies... I heard a terrific radio commercial today from Hillsdale College: they reminded us that our politicians (even the President) take an oath to uphold the Constitution and have a duty to do so. Just as American's have a duty to hold their feet to the fire when they stray. What outlandish clown is going to run for President next on a thin resume of shaky facts? Honestly, can a Bernie Sander candidacy be far behind?? (what? really??).......... Please look for more from this author in Amazon and where ever fine ebooks are sold. Obama Told a Lie, What Price Liberty? and The Democrat Playbook are all available now at very reasonable prices!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jerry's Kids and No More Telethon?

As kids growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, we were always jazzed about the annual Labor Day telethon. In a herculean example of energy, comedian Jerry Lewis would host the telethon from stem to stern (with a short nap break), raising millions of dollars to eradicate this horrible muscle disease. You might go fishing on labor day, or have a bbq with the family, but you always knew that Lewis was hosting the show and that much good was being done.Starting on the previous Sunday night and lasting until Monday early evening, Lewis joked, cajoled, begged, mugged and implored you to send in a few bucks for “his kids”. We held carnivals in our backyards, car washes at our schools and churches, and collected pennies in drop boxes in our convenience stores . Jerry introduced acts, ran through the ever-changing audience with buckets for money yelling “gimme that!”, and frequently went to the tote board to revisit the latest totals pledged. Sometime in the 80’s and 90’s it became the thing for the intelligentsia (so-called) to poke fun at the telethon and Jerry’s methods. Stalwart entertainers who could be counted on to bring their talent to the MDA stages began to drop off due to advanced age and death. When I volunteered to help with phones, we were comfortably placed in hotels with banks of phones and a television screen. “Jerry looks good,” we would whisper to each other as we felt part of the movement. We were helping. We were getting closer to a cure for a myriad of degenerative muscle diseases. I would take caller’s donations and then rush home and phone in my own donation. It was part of the holiday. When Jerry sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” it was truly the end of summer. School beginning, the sad passage of time. Then they fired Jerry. He was going to talk about it, he was NOT going to talk about it. Then the guy who fired Jerry was himself fired. Now the telethon was reduced to five hours, now two. The same amount of money was donated in two hours, they lied, as in 21 hours. “The age of 21 hour tv is over” said a spokesman when it was announced that the telethon was being yanked. No more telethon. Years of carnivals to raise money, track meets. Millions donated by firemen, and 7-11, and the Shriners. Gone with a whimper and barely a word of explanation. The 21 hour tv hour is over? In an age of binge watching of every series on every device known to man? Jerry has all of his marbles and the energy of the 12 year old he’s always been. The MDA seems to harbor no grudges (in fact, they did a tribute to their long time host a year after it was announced that he was out). The kids still matter. It’s a good, noble, decent charity. They still do many good things. Why can’t they work this out? Say a more manageable 6 hour charity? Or a long telethon (as they do now) with several hosts continuing in their co-managing duties (Tony Orlando, et all)? Jerry sits at his desk, and opens the show with a speech – some little magic comedy bit that he squirrels away in his marvelous ever-present scrapbook of ideas? He can introduce acts, manage the last song with eloquence and style…Not merely for the nostalgic kid in all of us, but as a practical way to raise MORE for those wonderful kids and adults, struck down in their prime by Duchenne’s, or suffering silently in their chairs. We haven’t abandoned Jerry’s kids. Why did they? *** you can read more from this author including The Worst Paperboy in the World and Searching for Elvis on Amazon and wherever fine ebooks are sold.