Monday, February 26, 2007

When Character Was Queen

"My wife."

With two words, Melissa Etheridge's acceptance speech at the Awards show this past Sunday did more for anyone who's ever felt handcuffed by other people's expectations (read that to mean all of us) than a dozen self-help books ever could. Not said in a challenging, combative, or other self-absorbed way. It was said with elegance and a natural flow that rose above anything that could be called defiance. This is not somebody making rah-rah speeches. She's simply doing it and we notice for ourselves what's possible when we believe in ourselves and don't accept anyone saying otherwise. It's the same thing she did for people coping with cancer when she walked on stage - no, not walked, strutted, hairless and proud and ready to kick some tail - at the Grammy Awards a couple of years ago and sang Janis' "Piece of My Heart" and left a whole lot of us thinking no one except Melissa should ever be allowed to sing that song. I don't get the idea Melissa Etheridge looks for big moments like that. I think it's more that when you're a person of character, those moments come naturally.

I'm still angry the Acadamy didn't do a proper retrospective on Anna Nicole Smith's career. Where's the respect?

One final note: If you ever get the chance to watch the Awards with friends as part of a coast-to-coast on-line party, catty comments about gowns and do's included, I recommend it as great fun. Thanks, Kate. :-)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Old Reminders

Among the items on the bulletin board above my desk is the business card of a maintenance supervisor at 1 World Trade Center who was one of the six people killed in the 1993 bombing. He was about the age I am now. Next to it is a postcard-sized printout, given to me years ago, of the anonymous "Take Time" piece you see now and then. The two have been next to each other nearly as long as I've had them, the combination intended to remind me of something so obvious it becomes easy to forget - it can all end at any moment, without any warning, and we should take the time to do what really matters instead just hoping we'll have a chance to some day. The problem, of course, is that we already know this and we still forget it within minutes of getting back in the arena.

The friend who sent me the Take Time piece is a native of Belfast. She asked me once why New Yorkers step onto an escalator and start walking up the moving steps. That was years ago and I still don't have a good answer for her. Whatever the answer is, though, I'm willing to bet it's related to whatever keeps making us forget to Take Time.

On a more absurd note...

Way back in college I once attended a lecture which included the students getting to hold a real human heart. Latex gloves were offered and my classmates generally accepted. I declined the gloves since, unless I really did someday go over the edge, I would probably never have a chance to feel a real heart again. (For the record, it felt much like holding roast beef, ranging from paper-thin to about 1/8" thick.) While it was not a life changing experience, I know it's something I'll remember the rest of my life.

Fast forward to earlier today. While walking the streets of New York, I happened on Times Square Studios, and found there a small public exhibit promoting this Sunday's Awards-Show-Whose-Name-Is-A-Registered-Trademark. Aside from some displays, there was one of the famous statuettes one could be photographed holding. Since I don't expect to be winning one of these for myself any time soon - it's doubtful they'll ever award an Oprah* for doing bad magic tricks at children's birthday parties - it seemed like another of those "how many chances will I ever get to do this again?" moments. Entrusting the woman behind me in line with my camera-phone, I posed, hoping to avoid any facial expression that said, "Why is a man my age doingthis?" I noticed the statuette was heavy for its size: less than a foot tall, and about eight and a half pounds. I also found that, at least for a moment, it can take on an oddly human quality. As I put it down to leave, I found myself giving it a fatherly pat on the head.

Your thoughts on any of this, or anything else, are always welcome. Give a hollar if you're so inclined.

* Not the award's real name.



Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oy, Britney

She must belong to San Francisco, she must have lost her way.
Postin’ a poster of Poncho and Cisco one California day.
She said she believes in Robin Hood and brotherhood and colours of green and grey.
And all you can do is laugh at her, doesn't anybody know how to pray?

(Mark Lindsay, “Arizona”)

I’d hoped to keep the “Unsaid” space a Britney-free zone, and generally it will be. A couple of things seen this morning convinced me to make today an exception: 

·        The New York Daily News and the Sunday New York Post (no doubt along with hundreds of other Sunday newspapers across the country) featured a full front page photo of Britney’s famous/infamous haircut. (Though there is some satisfaction knowing there’s nothing else going on worthy of being on the front page.)

·        I read the 2/17/07 entry at The venerable Ms. Butler’s writings have long been so insightful, good, thought-provoking and just plain worth reading it hardly seems right to refer to them as a mere blog.


To be honest, I’d prepared (and was all set to post) a Britney comment that was, shall we say, not terribly concerned with her well-being. After the items noted above, particularly the secone one, I am humbled now to realize that the notion of having compassion on those less fortunate applies even when they live in mansions.


As near as I can tell, Britney has never hurt anyone except herself. (Well, there was that K-Fed fellow, but he probably deserved it.) There are people in the world worthy of our scorn, and they're not hard to find. I'm reminded that a 20-something singer who was driven to self-destructive behavior by personal and professional pressures is not one of them.


Ok, I'll stop now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Ghoul of my Dreams

Is anyone besides me finding Law & Order's "ripped from the headlines" storylines ghoulish and voyeuristic? Tonight the fine folks at NBC are offering as entertainment a thinly-veiled version of last year's murder of Adrienne Shelly. She was the actress found hanging in her shower, and who at first was thought to have committed suicide. A construction worker was later arrested and charged with her murder.

If our hope that people won't parade another human's personal tragedy out for  entertainment pleasure is not a reasonable one, perhaps we can at least start being more candid about the true nature of our fascination. It's got to be easier dealing with a wolf engaged in a macabre self-gratification ritual  when he's not wearing the clothing of a sheep claiming a scholarly interest.

On the other hand, Coca Cola is now out with an extra-caffeine version. The dream comes true, at last. (I'd say "be still my heart," but it seems inappropriate to in this case.)


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Heard Today

News Item 1:

The local newspaper reported a story about a man who put an autographed photo of Lisa Nowak up for sale on e-bay in the hope of scoring a windfall to pay for his son's college education. After weeding out the fake bids, the best price he'd gotten at press time (with just a few hours of bidding left) was $67. He shouldn't worry too much. I'm sure it won't be too long before someone else somewhere has a personal meltdown he can try to turn into his personal lottery ticket. Nice to know some people have their priorities straight.

News Item 2:

A radio report said country music radio stations still won't play Dixie Chick records, the stations saying that the people who voted them five Grammy Awards are out of touch. I have to agree. Those Grammy-folks just have no sense at all of what matters to the twenty-five percent of Americans who still think Bush has anything to offer.

I don't even like his wife anymore. So there.