Category Archives: LBJ

Symbolic Bridges

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Oprah and thousands join her as she crosses the bridge in Selma.

She and the cast for the movie, “Selma,” took several takes in

their arm in arm walk together. It could not have been without

some impact on their lives. In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Day, I was going to write about the anniversary of the bridge walk.

 

On January 8, 2015, some who chose to walk across the Edmund

Pettus Bridge located in Selma, Alabama. There is a photograph

of this recent bridge crossing. It is a small gathering but the post

has many who wish to view this. It is such a big deal that every

year, not always on the exact days of the peaceful marches, people

go to Selma to cross the bridge. To allow the freedom to soak into

their weary bones. It has not been an easy battle, even to this day.

 

The 50th “Golden” celebration of this famous event will be called

the “Bridge Crossing Jubilee,” held  March 5-9th, 2015. There is

still time to join this annual event for its anniversary.

 

Its kick off  Gospel church music concert will be on March 1, 2015

in Selma, Alabama. The memory of the deceased little girl innocents

will be shining their angelic glow upon the listeners.

 

This all is in tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and of those who

walked across that bridge, some who died or were severely injured.

It is also in triumph, progress made and the way one huge step can

make an equally large impact on a country or world.  After all, our

President Obama may never had made it as far as he did, had not

those everyday men and women walkers had chosen to stay home,

out of fear.

 

The ending of the movie, “Selma,” lists several people whose lives had

changed due to their bridge walk. They include someone who had lived

over 80 years, a black man, never getting a chance to vote. There was

the white woman, first name Viola, (I did not take notes in the darkened

and hushed movie theater) who had chosen to join forces and cross the

bridge on the third time. She died when she drove a black person home

being given the hateful epithet, possibly real or imagined, by a storyteller

of “white nigger.”  The one who rose to be a senator, one who wrote for

a paper and others, all had found and felt the tremendous impact that

came out of one day to remember.

 

I learned one thing, that I did not know since most of the story has

been retold and covered. This is still a powerful movie to watch.

I did not know about the three times the walk across the bridge

was carried out nor how each one ended.

 

This will not ‘spoil’ your viewing of “Selma,” but may make you pay

more close attention:

First time across the bridge, it appears to be one hundred walkers who

have decided to gather and try to make an attempt to rock the country.

There is a place where the leaders of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s close-

knit group gather, enjoy a hearty breakfast and there is joviality and

a sense of brotherhood. Then, sadly, there has to be choice to pick straws

who will be in the ‘front line.’ The details of who got the short straw will

not be revealed here.

 

This walk for the first time is filled with trepidation, since the sheriff of

Selma is extremely bigoted and even there are scenes with the governor,

George Wallace fearing what may happen. When they get to the precipice

of the bridge, a curved bridge where you must walk upwards and then

head downwards, you can see the footsteps slowing down.

 

The next time the group goes up the hill of the bridge, there is a much

larger group and there are reinforcements from priests, ministers and

others who are Caucasian. Their presence buoys the inner sanctum of

MLK, Jr.’s group, they feel vindicated for any wrongdoings and deaths

that have gone on in between. There is a tremendous surge of energy, as

they get to the crest of the bridge. MLK, Jr. stops, he kneels and he prays

silently. The rest of the thousands gathered arm in arm who are behind

him kneel and wait.  Again, I won’t reveal what transpires.

 

History is being made. I felt the emotions in the audience, the bated

communal intake of breaths.

The third time the group gathers, it is in full preparation for the walk

across the bridge. Martin Sheen portrayed the judge who allowed the

sanction of crossing the Selma bridge. The governor and the sheriff,

with his ignorant band of white supremacists, are not going to get this

group to stop their crossing. It is going to happen, there is a broad

expanse and larger numbers than any of the first two attempts, there

are 2/3rds of the group white, according to one of the sources I read.

 

I had not intended to see another emotional upheaval movie. The first

three Academy Award nominated films, were all tear-jerkers. I had felt

‘spent’ and looking forward to meeting my good friend, Gary, who is a

sports writer at the Columbus Dispatch. I had agreed on either going to

“Birdman” or “Grand Budapest Hotel.” The first is with Michael Keaton

and since I felt he was a sensitive past actor who played “Batman,” I

could count on not dropping any tears. I also was amused by the trailer

and write-ups of “Grand Budapest Hotel,” with the funny actors in it.

 

We arrived at the Columbus Gateway Film Center on High Street, to

find a long line of young people chattering and bunched in a thick

group going into the building and up the stairs. Gary and I asked about

the line, it was for the multiple theaters showing, “American Sniper.”

We skipped around this, while Gary whispered to me, “We can use the

old people’s card, should someone try to stop us.” We went up the busy

escalator and when we got to the top saw the huge and bustling area of

the ticket sellers in front of crowded lanes. I was not sure what was going

on but since I assumed Gary may be like many guys I know, I left the line

and went to ask the guard. He said the line on the stairs was coming up

to join the group here, but they were all going to the “American Sniper”

film. So, being a little pushy, Gary took me through the melee and we

got to the front, only to find out that the two easy going movies, one

with a super hero and the other with a group of wacky hotel employees,

were:  “Sold Out.”

 

I did not hesitate to say to Gary, “Let’s go see the movie, ‘Selma!'”

We got into the theater only to find it half full. We each said to the other,

this is sad. We both agreed we had not wished to see an emotional film,

but it may have ‘meant to be.’  I am so glad the karma had the other

two films packed and not allowing us to see this fine film.

 

I will say there are magnificent performances, the director and David

Oyelowo should have been given Academy Award nominations. I

won’t go into the whole debacle about why there is less diversity in

this awards competition, but I am just going to say I am happy that

People’s Choice and Golden Globes nominated this film,

since “Selma” is worthy.

 

The song “Glory,” sung with John Legend and the rapper, Common,

is very beautiful.  Remember, I have seen three of the other contender

movies and will tell you their songs are not as ‘rich’ in sound and

meaning.

 

Some thoughts to share about real and symbolic bridges:

~ We can choose to find our own private bridge to cross.

~ Peaceful choices make a difference.

~ Touching just one life, and changing it, is enough.

~ To be able to reach more lives proceed forward.

 

~ One action or kindness contributes to another producing:

a.  Domino effect

b. Ripple effect

c. Paying forward

 

~ However you label your decision to help someone, it is still help.

~ Emotions and feelings spread easily.

~ Take courage in expressing positive choices.

~ Sharing emotions is instinctive, shown in these two examples.

a. Babies in a nursery cry together. The first one sets off the rest of them.

b. Toddlers in a sandbox see or hear someone else cry, reaching for a toy.

One may hand theirs over, without concern or need for praise.

 

~Giving in and letting go of prejudices and preconceptions is elevating.

~ Love has no boundaries once this happens.

 

Written by Robin O. Cochran

(Not taken from any sources, other than my own feelings about Selma’s bridge.)

 

“The Breakthroughs Issue” of December, 2014 “Preventions” magazine is

a great source of news about health and healthy food choices.

 

A man making a profound difference in prosthetic equipment is featured

in an article called, “Out on a Limb.”

This man, Eythor Bender, is using the ‘bridge’ I listed above to use a “kind

action” to create these wonderful and more natural replacements for arms

and legs. Frustrated by the medical breakthroughs available only to the

“elite” in our society, those who are wealthy, he came up with a program.

“Unyq” is a San Francisco based company which uses 3-D printers to create

symmetrical body parts to the user’s healthy limb. This alone is remarkable,

since in the past they did not often ‘match’ the size or shape to the original

on the other side of the body.

 

Bender was recognized internationally during the New York Fashion Week,

2014. His bionics were on a model walking the runway. Sure this should

make him proud or feel good about himself, but this quote from Eythor B.

says it ‘all:’

 

“People tell me it feels like they’ve got their legs back for the first time

in their lives. That’s really something!”

 

Bender expressed happiness that the new Unyq program is being covered,

since he has made the prices low enough, by many insurance providers.

Keeping the price down, will meet the needs of most of the patients who

need realistic and comfortable prosthetics.

 

This article was uplifting and made me feel it met the ‘requirements’ of

crossing a ‘bridge’ in medicine, with its ripple effect going into all areas

of society and hopefully, the world.

 

Another creative health program which is still in the newer stage and not

necessarily FDA approved is, Immuno-Therapy. This is to fight cancer

through immune system injections. There are three stories, one man and

two women, who participated in this trial program who have seen their

melanoma disappear. This is another ‘bridge’ to cross, hopefully the first

start will be like MLK, Jr.’s first attempt to cross the Selma bridge, one

that will be followed repeatedly,  with more and more positive results.

 

 

 

Tony Came and Left Me Breathless

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The 68th Tony Award Ceremony held plenty of outstanding, shining exhibits

that were thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Some name-dropping and

my overall impressions will ensue, if this is not your ‘cup of tea,’ don’t worry,

skipping this is totally understandable!

Hugh Jackman utilized comedy and hopped, literally, from one famous person

to another, on his path into the auditorium. He passed, “Sting” along the way.

He was one of a few that got singled out, in performances, since he ended up

sitting in the front row.

The scene shown from the musical, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”

was exhilarating and you would have enjoyed this trio. The man caught between

a blonde haired woman, who he would like to marry, and a brunette he enjoys her

company, standing in a hallway, leaning into one room to sing and then the other,

was quite amusing. Juggling two women, reminded me of the way Shakespeare’s

“Comedy of Errors, ” can bring the audience to roaring laughter.

From the audience, Tyne Daly, never looked more radiant. She has chin length

blonde toned white hair with her smile lighting up the room along with her golden

dress.

Set designs and costumes were all presented beautifully.

The man who played, “Genie” character in the musical, “Aladdin,” won and his

show-stopping performance on stage showed he truly earned “Best Supporting

Actor” in a musical production. He had the audience clapping to the song, giving

the rhythm and capturing the man’s enthusiastic energy.

The scene from “Cabaret,” was bawdy and well-choreographed. The image of Joel

Grey’s portrayal of the “Host” that ‘welcomes you’ to “Cabaret,” floats into my mind.

The actual line is done in German, so it is “Wilcommen…” In the reprisal of this

musical, Allan Cummings performed in the position of “Host,” on Broadway.

“Best Supporting Actress” was earned by an actress portraying a character in “The

Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo made a joke about her cultural heritage and ‘the

chance’ the director took on her being able to play an American woman in that

period. I have seen the movie and also, the play on stage. It was remade recently,

for a television version. Always a thought-provoking period piece that depicts a part

of American history.

The “Best Actress” Tony was given for the sixth time to the same woman, making

Audra McDonald a ‘record breaker.’ She was playing Billie Holliday, in “Lady Day

at Emerson’s Bar and Grille.” Her singing is effervescent and gives me chills. After

I listened to her singing, I feel she certainly deserved to take home “Tony.” I loved

the credits she gave to her family and the memorable female singers, actresses, and

poetess who came before her. This is the essence of Audra McDonald’s speech:

“Thank you to my parents who did not medicate me for being hyperactive, but

instead persuaded me to explore acting in the theatre. I give honor to the women

who I am standing on their shoulders: Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Dionne

Carrole, Ruby Dee and of course, the legend I was fortunate to portray, Billie

Holliday.”

The competition was thick for both the best actor and actress roles. The “Best

Actor in a Dramatic Play” went to Bryan Cranston. I predicted this one! So far,

this is the only one that I felt I knew ahead of time, I just ‘knew’ he would win,

if you have not seen a clip of his portrayal of LBJ in the play, “All the Way,” please

check him out! Awesome job and it is a fascinating piece of history, where he

had to take the Presidency, immediately after JFK was shot. He was the one

who should get a lot of credit, for getting the Civil Rights Bill passed, among

other great accomplishments. That Texan drawl that Bryan Cranston does

is very similar to the original.

Ru Paul, as a man, introduced “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” scene. He looks

great these days, he is one of the most famous trans-gender, cross-dressing

men in theater. Ru Paul says the play encompasses ‘love and acceptance’

for all choices in lifestyles. He has probably won a few awards in his lifetime.

This scene incorporated a pulsing, fast-paced rock ‘n roll beat, “Sugar Daddy,”

sung by Neil Patrick Harris, looking unrecognizable in his long blonde wig, his

short skirt, hose and tall pump shoes. N.P. Harris engaged actively with the

front row audience, taking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off and leaning into

Sting and then, bouncing on his lap!

Kenneth Brannaugh, the fine British Shakespearean actor, announced the

nominees for “Best Playwrights.” I liked Kenneth Brannaugh in the movie

leading role in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The dramatic play, “All the Way,” won for “Best Playwright.” The actual

play writer was not there to accept the award, so the two producers, including

Robert Shanken accepted it. He reminded the audience of the tense political

atmosphere in 1964. He called passing Civil Rights bill,” seemingly impossible”

and  gave his own personal summary of the way he felt about class structure:

“Those people who have more money take, at the expense of those who have

nothing and feel good about it.”

There was humor shown in the two plays that showed scenes from, “Casa

Valentina,” and “Mothers and Sons.”

Wayne Brady, comedian and also, improvisational artist, introduced, “Violet,”

with a riveting and rhythmic song, “As I Travel On.” It had the pulse and

emotions of the “Gone, gone, gone” song and the “Cups” song sung by Anna

Kendricks. This had a really ‘current’ sound to it, which would carry over

well on the radio. This led into a revival and rousing gospel song. The story

line is intriguing about a young woman, Violet, who has a disfigured face,

due to an accident, seeking a ‘miracle’ to help her with her face and life.

The scene from “Wicked,” which has the two sisters, Glinda the Good Witch

and the Wicked Witch singing a duet was quite touching. I had seen some

clips of the musical but truly had never heard the entire song before. It

is the ending song, “Because I Knew You,” which includes the line,

“I have been changed for the better”…. then after it has been sung several

verses later…”I have been changed for good.”

I read that huge volume called, “Wicked,” which I passed on to my oldest

daughter and she still takes it out and reads a chapter or two. It is longer

than almost any book that I have read, including, Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace.”

Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there is a LOT of story about the two

sisters, years in the making, until the happily ever after conclusion that has

this lovely song, with two excellent women singing it. The musical, “Wicked,”

celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Carole King came out and joined the singer, Jessie Mueller, who portrays her

younger self. I am very pleased to tell you that Carole King impressed me with

her “natural woman” look; her curly, blondish-white hair, her medium build

in a white silk blouse with black trim and black slacks. No plastic surgery, not

even sure her hair has dye in it. She looked amazing for her age! The musical

play, “Beautiful” incorporates Carole King’s life and her music.

She mentioned before her performance, that she did not go to the opening

nor was she ‘too crazy’ about seeing someone portray her.  She says the story

has heartbreak in it, which she was uncertain she wanted to ‘relive this.’She

finally did go to the theater and expressed gratitude for the way the play was

written, her character was portrayed and the presentation of the songs, too.

She highly recommends the musical, of course!

The best performance of the night, for me, was Carole King with Jessica

Mueller singing, “I Feel the Earth Move…(under my feet)” The audience all

stood up, clapped to the rhythm and several famous people were singing

along, their lips moving and showing smiling faces, too. Loved this so much!

(I still have my “Tapestry” music engraved in my head, too!)

A clever and playful rap from the revival of “The Music Man,” was first

introduced by Hugh Jackman. He could do it all from memory, he said and

it is to a fast beat, too. Then, out came LL Cool J and “T. I.” to join him,

turning it easily into a very groovy rap song. This was another timeless

musical, many high schools, across the country, Hugh Jackman reminded

us, put this play on their stages. It is the song about “River City.”

The song that Sting sang, “The Last Ship,” was eerie and haunting, with an

Irish melody. It is telling a mournful tale that includes these snippets of

words, “dark, unholy sight,’ ‘halo of light,’ ‘Calgary Hill,’ and ‘May angels

protect me when the last ship sails.’ Also, describing the ship, ‘mountains

of steel makes its way to the sea.’

This was one of my top three favorite performances. Sting’s ship song was my

second favorite and my third would have to be the rap between LL Cool J,

Hugh Jackman and “T. I.” playing “The Music Man.”

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama awarded it first Tony for an Arts educator.

This seemed appropriate since many of the acceptance speeches recalled the

teachers in drama, arts and music that had led them to seek their calling in

musical or dramatic theatre. One who had done this, Neil Patrick Harris said,

“When most people in my high school thought that sports were the way to

become popular, I had a special theater teacher, in New Mexico. For her, I

will always owe an extreme debt for her love of teaching and her love of drama.”

(He listed her name, if you look up speeches, I am sure you will find it out.)

Rosie O’ Donnell was recognized for her philanthropic donations to the Arts.

Best choreography went to “After Midnight.”

Best Orchestration went to “Bridges of Madison County.”

I enjoyed the scene with fighting from “Rocky” and the way, the actor yelled

out for “Adriane!” It was a very pleasant evening with the best times being when

I knew the songs and recognized the famous people in the audience.

Did anyone see the Tony’s Award Show?

What were some of your favorite moments?

 

 

 

The Tony’s Are Coming! The Tony’s Are Coming!

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Oh yeah, the place to be tomorrow night is in front of your television set, with

the 68th Tony Awards’ Ceremony about to begin. Or better yet, if fashion,

style and grace are part of your repertoire, before the Tony’s, watch the

outrageous, beautiful and sometimes the most stunning dresses of the year!

After all, the ones who are able to wing it on stage, in front of a Live audience

on a large stage, whether it is Broadway or Off-Broadway, are the ones

to watch!

Here are some television names to watch for:

Tyne Daly, who is known from being part of the police drama, ‘Cagney and

Lacey.’ She has been performing since February in “Mothers and Sons,”

written by Terrence McNally.

Bryan Cranston, who went from playing a bad guy, let’s face it, that we could

not tear our eyes off of in, “Breaking Bad,” to playing a famous man in “All the

Way!” (Hint: He is playing Lyndon Baines Johnson, and doing an outstanding

job!)

Neil Patrick Harris, who has been the Host for the Tony’s has played in the

performance of a lifetime in a dark play called, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

Who knew that N.P. Harris could make a strange and dark character come

to life? I always have loved the ‘boy’ who was Doogie Howser and made me

laugh as Barney, in “How I Met Your Mother.”

Tony Shalhoub, has my interest in his role as part of Moss Hart’s play, “Act One.”

Since I have watched him, with my Mom mainly, as “Monk,” the quirky and

rather interesting man with OCD. Apparently, “Psychology Today,” did not

find his real enough nor true to the obsessive compulsive disorder, though.

His role as a police support staff who had to have a companion to settle him.

I liked to watch him while being amused by his techniques. There are OCD

moments caught and featured on Youtube, too. His partner would help him

stay in touch with work, changed and I liked each of his assigned female

‘babysitters’ on that show. The Hart play has been ‘panned,’ also. Too bad.

Idina Menzel has been featured in my posts, since my grandkids love her

voice, raised in song. (In the animated children’s film, “Frozen,” she belts

out “Let it Go!”) Her performances in the show and movie, “Chorus Line,”

along with “Rent” have made her quite a Broadway performer. The 2014

Tony nominated play is called, “If/Then.” I am not familiar with this one,

I have to admit, but knowing the versatility and talent of Idina Menzel,

I will hope it gets an award!

Harvey Fierstein’s gravelly voice can give me chills. He is a fine director

and writer, his 2014 nominated play is called, “Casa Valentina.” This has an

unusual ‘premise,’ men gathering in a cabin in the Catskill Mountains and

tapping into their ‘feminine side.’ Could be fascinating…

His brief presence on the CBS Today Show, this morning, Saturday, June

7, 2014 included asking him what drives him in his writing. Here is his

quote being paraphrased (I am not great at writing each word, but I am

sure that you can look up this and this is the ‘essence’ of its meaning:

If you want to capture my attention and hold it, don’t show me a meteor

going to hit our planet.  Show me people interacting, human connections

and THAT is the show I will watch!”

In other words, Harvey is saying that the human condition is what he has

drawn from,  while writing his plays and screenplays.

One of the most beloved and most performed plays, “The Glass Menagerie,”

is again up for a 2014 Tony Nomination.

I have a personal reason why I follow the different award shows. Some of you

who have followed me for quite some time, may recall that I have always been

a person who followed plays, movies and theater productions. I was very lucky

to have parents  who thought that taking the three kids to these, would be fun,

educational and meaningful. I liked, Musicarnival, The Lakewood Summer

Shakespeare Festivals, and Cleveland productions of Broadway plays. I have

only once been to a Broadway play, to see Joel Grey play as George M. Cohen,

in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But, my interest went beyond watching, I became

part of children’s plays, worked back stage in makeup freshman year of high

school, set design sophomore year and worked side by side with actors as

understudies. I never was on stage until I went to National Acting Camp

held at Notre Dame University. It was fun trying out and being part of

this, I came back and was senior director of the play, “Take Her, She’s

Mine.” I worked side by side with Miss Marilyn J. Frazier. She was a

beautiful and classy woman, who I believe could have become a famous

actress, had she pursued it.

I would like to give a ‘Shout Out’ to the people who went on stage, under

my direction. All wrote such lovely things on cards and notes, along with

a few special words in my 1974 (senior yearbook), Bluebook.

Hope some of you will be at our 40th reunion this September, 2014!

Billy Bush, (no, not the one on Entertainment Tonight!), Megan Peters,

(she is a Hallmark designer, artist and lovely person), Torry Cavanaugh

(doesn’t that just sound like she should be famous?), Ralph Cutcher

(you stole my heart, but just friends), Lynn Kuhlow (a ‘class act’),

Cheryl Anderson (you played a teenager who was a ‘handful’ just

right!), and good Science Club ‘geek’ and friend, David Frackelton.

When the musical “Hello Dolly” was not available to high schoolers

due to high Equity dues’ cost, we had our other play, “The Matchmaker,”

that year. Alice Cepulo, another Science Club ‘geek’ (I was secretary one

year, my brother president, so we were very active in this club…) was

the student director for this great play. She went on in film making,

after college, joining NASA’s ‘team’ in Texas. She has made a lot of

non-fiction space films. I was so sorry to hear the 1975 graduate and

one of my brother’s and my dear friends, Andy Cepulo killed himself.

in 2013.

That is a summary of my ‘real life’ experiences and I am sure they

are enough ‘credentials’ to let you know that I do know a ‘thing or

two’ about theatre!!

 

Other Tony nominated plays to ‘watch’ and ‘see’ if they get an award are:

“After Midnight,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” (this one has

the most award nominations so far) “Beautiful- The Carole King Musical,”

(which includes two of my favorite songs, “One Fine Day” and “Will You

Love Me Tomorrow?” By the way, I loved her “Tapestry” album!), “Aladdin,’

and Shakespeare’s “Twelth Night.”

Oh, and all the ladies and gentlemen out there who have enjoyed Hugh

Jackman’s singing in the movie, “Les Mis,” and his extremely entertaining

performances in roles like, “Wolverine,” will wish to see his performance

tomorrow night as the Host of the 2014 Tony Awards!

Just to let you know, watching Hugh Jackman is more than enough reason

to be watching the Tony’s!!