Women against…

…Trump.

My 30-year-old daughter, a millennial, joins me in my disdain for the candidate offered up to the American electorate by the Republican Party. Her outrage at Trump’s divisive racist and gender-based rhetoric matches mine… a 67 year-old woman of color.

I can only wonder at the loyal support Trump continues to receive from his daughter, Ivanka and his wife, Melania. I’ve no doubt they, like many of us, would stand with their man until the bitter end. It’s instinctive; it’s survival. Their fates are intimately entwined with that of their clan’s patriarch. Moreover, what Trump’s detractors are suffering at his hands would pale in comparison to what his own kin would have to endure were they to turn on him. Regardless of the stature they currently enjoy, it’s clearly apparent that Trump would put his heel to their necks were they, or any woman dependent upon his largesse, to step out of line.

Had Trump not run for President of the United States, he could have continued on his merry way doing as he pleased with whomever he pleased. We would not have been the wiser, nor would we have cared. When he took on his party’s mantle for the highest office in the country, and in the world, his business became our business.

In spite of his determination to keep us at arm’s length, even threatening to imprison his opponent and deny free speech to the media, Trump cannot shut us down. Or can he?

Could Trump, as president, limit our freedoms?

Could Trump imprison any of us on a whim? Could Trump terminate factual reporting? Could Trump be manipulated by others more intelligent than him? Could Trump wreak divisive havoc upon our country by tweeting his innermost thoughts of revenge? Could Trump decide who among us gets favorable treatment and who would not? Could Trump use our country’s financial coffers for his own self-enrichment? Could Trump take any woman for his own personal satisfaction? Could Trump get his henchmen to annihilate his enemies?

Donald Trump, the businessman, has already done all of this and probably more.

Trump has threatened to imprison Hillary Clinton were he elected president. Trump has already banned certain news media from accessing his rallies and has opted not to allow the media to travel on his plane with him, as Clinton is doing. Trump’s campaign is being fashioned at the top by Steve Bannon, a Harvard graduate, who until recently edited the internet right-wing extremist site, Breitbart. Trump, at 3 a.m., invited others to view a pornographic film involving a former Miss Universe with whom he was doing battle. Trump has touted his friendship and business dealings with billionaire Carl Icahn whose wealth came at the expense of middle class workers who lost their jobs in the process. Trump, in his own words, claims he has benefitted mightily from scamming the system…what’s to stop him from continuing to do so as the ultimate insider? By his own admission, Trump has already kissed and groped women because, as a “star,” he felt he was irresistible.

Win or lose, Trump has already incited his supporters to go after those who have opposed him. Jailing Hillary Clinton has been their battle cry for the duration of Trump’s campaign. He has done nothing to stop them; instead he condones their passionate outcry. He has also encouraged his believers to bash the media for bringing to light his transgressions against others. And let’s not forget when early on Trump himself spewed venom at a protester, saying “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Imagine that from the mouth of a future president of the United States of America.

If elected, Trump would be OUR Vladimir Putin…OUR Bashir al Asad…OUR Saddam Hossein…OUR Mohamar Ghadaffi…OUR Fidel Castro…and yes, even OUR own Paul Kagame who committed genocide upon Rawandans. Or worse, as others have suggested, perhaps America is beholding…LUCIFER himself, OUR own Adolph Hitler.

It’s unimaginable that we in America are witnessing the rebirth of Adolph Hitler. From within our midst, Trump has arisen cloaked in dark words meant to stoke the country’s fears. Just as Germans rallied to once again becoming a great Aryan nation under the leadership of “Mein Fuher,” Trump supporters are dogmatic in following him blindly into “making America great again.” According to him, President Obama took our country in the wrong direction, away from what it once was.

What America once was.

Women supporting Trump for president have offered to give up their votes so that his election as president would be guaranteed. This sacrificial offering came on the heels of a poll showing that if the vote were held today, Hillary Clinton would win because of the women’s vote; if they weren’t allowed to vote, Trump would win because of the men’s vote.

Imagine where we were prior to the woman’s right to vote. Imagine going back there. Imagine all that we would lose. Imagine all that we are still struggling to attain. Imagine living like our female counterparts in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia…subservient to men in all things, even as it pertains to our own bodies…limited access to education, if any…workplace inequalities…as well as other inequalities under the law.

Just imagine, moms and dads, your daughters and granddaughters living in an autocracy presided over by Trump. His minions, in and out of politics, ready and willing to implement his will from wherever they are in the country. From what we’ve heard in recent days, saying “no” won’t be an option. If the leader can grope women against their will, so too can his lackeys take liberties.  

“Making America great again” translates to an America where once again white men rule unchallenged, and the rest of us paw and scratch for our place at the back of the pack. If Trump is president, get ready to be…

…groped against your will…

…and worse.

………hugmamma.

 

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my story…

I’m never without a book when I crawl under the covers at night. And it’s usually a biography of someone famous. There’ve been a few infamous folks as well. Mrs. Wallace Simpson comes to mind.

Folks living in the glare of the spotlight captivate me. I wonder if what we see or hear or read about them is real. Or is much of it fabricated for public consumption? I grew up under the spell of Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant. Theirs was a Hollywood where movie stars were celluloid creations. What we saw wasn’t always who they were off-screen.

Historical figures also interest me. I’ve read the life stories of several presidents, including FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Obama. What propels these men to choose the extraordinary instead of the ordinary path is a lesson in advanced psychology.

The common denominator in all of these biographies is parental influence. Most often it’s the lack of, or overabundance of…parental involvement. As a young boy, Cary Grant suffered the loss of his mother when his father had her committed to an institution. Grant didn’t learn of her existence until he was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood icon. Forever after, he sought her approval which he felt he never got.

Rose Kennedy left much of the parenting duties to nannies and staff. John was a sickly child who never received the doting care and concern of his mother. As an adult, he was not overly affectionate toward her. In fact, it was his father whose approval the son desperately wanted, and whose loyalty and love meant the most to the president.

Nixon’s Quaker mother instilled in him the ambition to always do well…no matter the odds. And Sarah Roosevelt made it impossible for Eleanor to follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps. She whose very life revolved solely around her beloved Franklin.

So what’s different between these lives…and mine? Mostly the trappings. Articles about their comings and goings are devoured by millions of adoring fans; I have a few loyal readers following hugmamma.com. They dine at 21 in NYC; I’ve been there a handful of times as the guest of one of my husband’s clients. They fly hither and yon in first class accommodations; I’ve been fortunate to ride up front a time or two. The world is their oyster; I’ve traveled enough to know contentment…sitting on my deck, watching the world go by.

More importantly the death of my father, which left my siblings and me in the care of an uneducated, impoverished 30-year-old mother, left invisible scars that no amount of time will ever erase.

When we delve beneath the surface of our lives, what we find is a commonality to our human story. No matter what we go on to make of ourselves, we are the product of how we were raised…by whom…and how they were affected by their own life stories.

The only difference between one story and another is what we each bring to it. Do we improve upon what came before? Or do we let the story play out according to script. I prefer to think we can tweak a line here and there, maybe even rewriting a chapter or two. The ending can resemble a happily-ever-after, even if it’s not the one in An Affair to Remember, or Sleepless in Seattle.

Life is not a done deal…until it’s done. There’s time…minutes, hours, days, months, years…to do some rewriting. All it takes is a bit of imagination…

…and a whole lot of guts.

………hugmamma.

 

 

the top one percent…

…are the ones in control of the U.S. economy and therefore what happens, or doesn’t happen, in our country. The country’s purse strings are essentially managed by these few. If they consider something that’s good for the country is also advantageous to their bottom line, these mostly white men will put all their weight behind the cause. However if there’s even the smallest doubt that they will benefit from the outcome, these few will either step aside and let the cause die a natural death, or use whatever it takes to ensure that it dies.

Lack of gun control.

Global warming.

Two issues that are killing people. Unless the top one percent are personally affected by either problem, they will continue to fan the flames of our destruction. It might be that they’re hedging their bets.

Until the earth self-destructs, the uber-wealthy will continue to line their pockets with gold. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan…they’ve booked a flight into outer space on Virgin Airlines. Such a likelihood was depicted in the movie Elysium.

Of course some of the wealthiest, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet among them, are notable philanthropists. I’m not sure where they stand on gun control and global warming. Whatever their stance, however, I don’t see them or any of the other wealthiest one percent in America taking on those lobbying against gun control, namely the NRA, and global warming.

Charles and David Koch, and Donald Trump for that matter, are arch defenders of capitalism at any price. They put their substantive pocket books where their mouths are. They walk the talk.

No gun control.

No global warming.

As long as the wealthiest one percent in America can defend themselves against guns and global warming, they won’t take action against either. It would require too much effort…

…and too much of their amassed fortunes.

………hugmamma.

kanye west…for president???

OMG!!! Just heard on CNN that Kanye West might be considering a run for the presidency in 2020??? Reality TV in the White House??? The Kardashians taking over Washington D.C.???

That is even more bizarre than Donald Trump as President of the United States.

Just because we can…all run for president…does it mean we should? 

Tea Party conservatism has dragged in all manner of folks thinking they know what our country needs. Forget the need for wisdom and self-control and experience.

For Heaven’s sake! If I had the energy…I could be President!

Not!!! I know my limitations and strengths. Managing the President’s “to do” list sure as heck isn’t something I’m up for.

What makes Kanye West think he can…interface with our military hierarchy?…world leaders twice or three times his age?…Wall Street financiers?…white constituents who hate black rappers?…and most of all, Tea-Party congressional reps who’d just as soon impeach him, as recognize that he is the executive branch.

Talk about a political stalemate!!!

And who, besides the Kardashian fans…many in other countries, would want to see those women parading around half-naked in the White House? Moreover, it doesn’t seem likely they’d give up their millions as reality TV stars to sit around twiddling their thumbs. I can’t see them volunteering to mingle with the underprivileged at homeless shelters. The sisters would stand out in their stilettos and bouffant hairdos.

The fact that sex is a huge part of the Kardashian brand won’t sit well with conservative evangelists, either.  Come to think of it, neither would liberals with good, old-fashioned values. 

Between Kanye West’s ego and Kris Jenner’s managerial skills, I’ve no doubt they’re thinking seriously about the presidency. After all, Donald Trump is just as qualified. 

Reality TV and real life…

…are they really one and the same???

………hugmamma.

…celebrity…at what cost…

Watching the Pope disembark from his flight today at Joint Base Andrews, it was as though God Himself was walking down the steps. At least to Catholics who believe that he is God’s emissary on earth. Dressed in white, Pope Francis seemed translucent, although he appeared like a man who enjoys good food. He seemed untouchable, although he’s a man who enjoys being touched.

What a dilemma for Pope Francis. While waiting for the chauffeur to drive away, the Pope looked as though he were about to bolt from his seat. The cries of the people behind the fence tempting him to do what he loves doing…walking among them…touching them and having them touch him.

Celebrity? At what cost?

The tabloids are filled with stories of entertainers trying to escape the clutches of their adoring fans. Those who jostle their idol for some tangible proof that they were up close and personal.

Michael Jackson tried to give his fans what they wanted…access to him. Sadly, there were opportunists who took advantage of Jackson’s desire to be loved. He paid dearly. One could say…with his life.

Elvis Presley enjoyed his celebrity. It provided unimaginable wealth which he could never have dreamed of…growing up like White trash on the wrong side of the tracks. He, like Jackson, allowed fans access. Whether it was a wise decision, is something you can judge for yourself. Numerous books have been penned about Elvis by those who had access to the icon.

If I were to meet Pope Francis, I would automatically reach out to hug him. That’s just my natural inclination, unless I feel the recipient would prefer I not. I think the Pope would reciprocate my hug, but I’m not sure his security detail would even let me. Those charged with protecting the Pontiff are on high alert to protect him from all harm. And no one can blame them.

The Pope realizes that allowing his followers access might cost him his life. He is willing to take that risk. He has said…”I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time.”

Yes, Pope Francis is a celebrity…the state of being famous or celebrated (according to Webster’s Dictionary). However it’s unlikely that the pope considers himself a celebrity. He is what he has always been…

…a man among his people…

…a pastor shepherding his flock.

………hugmamma.

what i did this summer…

Remember those essays we had to write the first day back to school?

How I spent my summer vacation.

I probably wrote that I played with friends and helped my mom around the house. Apart from that I went to an occasional movie with my best friend, gratis her awesome dad who’d pay the price of my admission…a quarter. Yep. A quarter. Back then…the 50’s and early 60’s…we could see a news reel, a cartoon, and a feature film for twenty-five pennies. On Maui, at least. Not sure what mainland theaters were charging.

Our family wasn’t rolling in dough so there were no trips to California, New York, or Europe. Those places weren’t even on my radar. The most I could hope for was a short trip to nearby Honolulu on a propeller plane. That’s if my older sister paid for my round trip ticket, inviting me to visit for the summer.

It shouldn’t be difficult to figure out that my world view was pretty narrow…that of an island girl out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Fortunately, that all changed when I got married.

My husband’s first job was with Pan American World Airways, so we honeymooned in Tahiti. His second job was with American Express, with whom he got a promotion which moved us to New York. A short couple of years later he joined Norwegian American Cruises…and the rest is travel history.

Our first trip to Europe was in the 80’s. This time it was on me, since I was working with TWA in New York. It included a quick 2-day glimpse of Paris. Years later when our daughter was a teen, I dreamed of returning to that glamorous city with her in tow. I knew she’d never be able to afford it on her dancer’s salary.

This summer my dream trip to Paris came true. Except that my daughter had to work. No whisking her off to Europe. So instead it became…a second honeymoon for hubby and me.

While not the romantic scenario acted out in movies by the likes of Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, hubby and I managed just fine for a middle-aged couple. We held hands. We looked lovingly into one another’s eyes. We teased and bantered, sharing intimate jokes at which only the two of us could smile and chuckle.

And yes, there were moments of frustration. When we got on each other’s last nerve.

Like when we went in search of Rodin’s Museum and Napoleon’s Tomb, and instead found ourselves wandering the streets in an isolated industrial neighborhood, while my poor aching feet screamed…”Get off of me! You’re killing me!” And when we had to go in search of the nearest “toilette,” so I could pee for the hundredth time.

Dead tired from scouring every corner of Paris we would fall into bed early. No evening soirees for us. No moonlit boat rides on the Seine . No gazing into each others’ eyes while dining on squab and chocolate souffles. We were content with a simple meal, an I Love Lucy video we’d brought from home, and finally snuggling side by side, snoring contentedly beneath a fluffy, white duvet…the nearby Eiffel Tower keeping watch over all, and lighting the skies above.

Funny what rocks your world when you’re old.

My favorite tour was wandering amidst miles and miles of tombstones at the Pere La Chaise Cemetery.

(Photo courtesy of…ohbythewayblog.blogspot.com)

Morbid? Just the opposite! It was other-worldly. Seeing row upon row of oft-times centuries-old graves. It was as though, those poor, deceased souls were sneaking glimpses of us…as we were having a peek in on them. With my cell phone I snapped photos of such notables’ tombs as Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Sarah Bernhardt, Chopin, and Gertrude Stein. Even Jim Morrison of the rock group, The Doors, was interned there. I was especially delighted to see the simple graves of actors Yves Montand and wife Simone Signoret. They had been larger than life on the big screen. Now they lay like common folk beneath the hard earth.

Especially sobering were the graves of those who had suffered under Hitler’s demonic regime. I could still feel their wretched agony, pulsating beneath the stone.

 

(Photo courtesy of…cemetery explorers. blogspot.com)

I could hear my mom lecturing from her grave…”Don’t be taking pictures of the dead. They’ll haunt you. Wait and see.” Dismissing such thoughts, as best I could, I’d remark to myself…and yet loud enough so the dead could hear…”You’re a good person. I’m just honoring you, your memory.” Of course I didn’t wait for a response as I quickened my pace.

One particular tombstone stopped me dead…pardon the pun…in my tracks.

The image of a young man from the Victorian era…captured in bronze, dressed as though he’d been out and about, leather gloves and all…lay full length across his grave. He looked to be 6 feet tall. I kept staring in disbelief at the gorgeous hunk of cast stone. My eyes scoured every inch of him, hesitating where his crotch bulged…the only part not green from oxidation. Curious…

(Photo courtesy of…canvasoflight.com)

I was certain mine weren’t the only eyes bewildered by what lay before me. I’d had to wait my turn while a couple of men gazed down at what seemed a very unexpected and highly unusual tombstone. I admit I was afraid of taking a photo of the dead man’s likeness. Looking at him through the lens, I thought he’d wink…or frown…or sit up and smack me. I admit, I was a tiny bit scared. Calming my fears, I turned to the inscription and quickly snapped a shot.

That night in the comfort of our rented apartment, I looked through the photos I’d taken. I paused at the image of the young man made of bronze. He continued to fascinate me. When I moved on to the snapshot of the inscription, I held my breath. Were my eyes playing tricks on me? How could the inscription be upside down? I was positive I’d not turned my cell phone around to take the picture. That would’ve been awkward. There must have been a good explanation, although neither my husband nor I could come up with one.

I was spooked. I could not look at the picture of the inscription again, without feeling as though a ghostly urchin was having fun at my expense. I almost believed my mom’s scolding that I would pay for disrespecting the dead. Almost. I finally convinced myself that whoever had commissioned the sculpture deliberately requested that the inscription…in French…be written upside down. After all, it seemed in keeping with the provocative tomb. Perhaps it was done so the deceased could read what it said without too much effort on his part. He could just…sit up.

Aaahhh, Paris…all of its sights and smells, large and small, grandiose and humble…captures the essence of European culture. Refined and earthy all at once. Grounded in centuries of history, yet comfortable in its modernity..

I left with a deep respect for people different from me. Folks at ease in their daily lives. In fact, I marveled at how easily Parisians worked and relaxed throughout the day. They don’t seem to subscribe to our American need to work 60-hour weeks, playing only on weekends, if even that. As we toured the city, we saw, and heard, many a Parisian bicycling, and lunching, along the Seine. They sat at nearby cafe tables, sipping wine and conversing as tour buses and motorcycles whizzed by.

Yet I was glad to be home, settling back into our normal life…resuming our normal routines…comforted by our cozy, familiar surroundings.

We’re no different from Dorothy, who preferred Kansas to Oz…

…there really is…no place like home.

………hugmamma.

(Note: I will post my own photos of Paris…as soon as I figure out how to upload them from my cell phone. I couldn’t wait until then to write about it. Something I already know how to do.)

…a prince…to a…frog???

…a law professor to…a reality show bully???

That’s what we’re talking about if Donald Trump succeeds President Obama. 

God help us.

Enemies of the President have to admit the man has class.

Obama doesn’t scream his disdain on national television when he doesn’t take kindly to something someone is asking. Yes, he’ll say “You should know better,” in a professorial tone of voice. Whether or not the object of his disappointment is duly chastised or not depends upon the health of that person’s backbone. Trump on the other hand instills enough fear in the object of his rage, that they can’t wait to get the hell out of his sight. Which suits The Donald just fine.

“You’re fired!”

So maybe his American subjects would be able to sidestep President Trump’s wrath…with a lot of fancy footwork, I might add. And maybe the American media would have a field day dissecting The Donald’s every faux pas, not to mention the abundance of material late night talk show hosts would have at their disposal. And it’s not too far-fetched to think that reality TV would be a frequent guest of Trump’s White House. Perhaps they’d even move into the East Wing, cozying up to the new First Lady of Trump-dom, Melania.

Recent occupants of the White House have, for the most part, adopted a sense of quiet decorum. Yes, some have had their pecadilloes aired in public. However as we all know, that’s the nature of the beast…politics. To imagine, however, that President Trump would mind his p’s and q’s is like putting a sack over a parrot’s head. The Donald’s dyed, golden crest just wouldn’t stand for it! Or it’s more likely that it couldn’t…lay down for it. 

“You’re fired!” Trump would squawk at the top of his lungs.

Americans know all too well that The Donald suffers from…foot-in-mouth disease. We give him wide berth to go on spewing his nastiness. He, meanwhile, remains totally oblivious to us and our small, inconsequential lives. Now that he’s set sights on the White House, Trump realizes he needs our votes. However once he moves in he’ll dump us with…

“You’re fired!”

When it comes to global affairs, President Trump’s style won’t change. He’ll puff up his chest like the proud rooster he is and blast everyone in sight with a reverberating…

“You’re fired!”

Trouble is The Donald’s screams will fall on deaf ears, for the world won’t tolerate another Hitler. We shouldn’t either. In fact, we should…

…give him the boot…before he becomes a big pain in the derriere!!!

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

be kind to your spouse…

…or you might wind up drowning in the ocean…like Natalie Wood.

The trick to enjoying celebrity and wealth is not allowing either to take on a life of its own. Unfortunately, too many in Hollywood lose their real identities to the ones portrayed on the screen, whether it’s in the movies or on television. Once he or she is bitten by fame, there’s an overwhelming desire to keep it going…at any cost.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour by Marti Rulli with former Splendour Captain Dennis Davern, reads like a thriller-soon-to-be made into a movie. Why it never made it that far is a puzzle all by itself. Probably because celebrity and wealth bought everyone’s silence…most of all…Hollywood’s.

After all, Robert Wagner was one of Hollywood’s own.

Too many lives, big and small, would have been affected…negatively. The tentacles of celebrity and wealth are far-reaching as was evident in the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Natalie Wood.

True. Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood’s sweethearts, ever since she charmed her way into our homes and hearts as the beguiling Suzy Walker in Miracle on 34th Street, an iconic favorite at Christmastime. However once Natalie Wood was found dead, there was no bringing her back. So why destroy another Hollywood star in a sordid investigation that would leave the public wondering about Tinsel Town’s morals. There was no fool-proof evidence of Wagner’s involvement in his wife’s death, so why have audiences turn away from the golden goose that was Hollywood for all who made a living within its protective confines.

What about those charged with investigating the death of Natalie Wood? Good question.

Remember Marilyn Monroe? O.J. Simpson? Robert Blake? Michael Jackson?   What they all had in common was celebrity and wealth…in varying degrees. Nonetheless, it seems anytime someone famous is involved…the rules go…bye-bye.

Everyone involved in solving the case is entangled in the celebrity and wealth surrounding the high profile personality. Whether it’s that they are overwhelmed and intimidated by the fame, or they want some of it to rub off on them.

Goodbye Natalie, Goodbye Splendour makes a compelling case against Robert Wagner as the person responsible for the death of Natalie Wood. 

The only person alive–Robert John Wagner–who undoubtedly knows how Natalie Wood got into the water, will obviously never talk about it, so exactly how Natalie got into the water may never be known, but what is known is that Wagner was with her when the “mystery” was born. What is known is that Wagner argued terribly with his wife. He was raging mad and acted upon the rage by taking a marital fight out to an open deck on his yacht. His wife was in her nightgown, arguing with him. Minutes later, she was in the water–wearing her coat–and crying to be saved.

The “mystery” of Natalie’s death would not have been too difficult to solve, certainly not for a police department and a medical examiner’s staff, had they pursued every angle of the case together. Many novices have no trouble solving it through the use of common sense. It seems the public is all that Natalie has left.

Wagner has never addressed his drastic delay in searching for Natalie. No one asks him for details. His fans defend that waiting for hours is logical, even though the number one rule in boating is to call for immediate help when someone is missing. Dennis Davern knows the proper procedures to follow when someone is missing from a boat. Wagner’s refusal to allow Davern to search for Natalie indicates that he did not want his wife to be helped: perhaps not ever to be found. Natalie’s jacket kept her afloat, helping her to be found shortly after a proper search.

Wagner then still balked on calling for professional help when harbormaster Doug Oudin pleaded with Wagner after three o’clock in the morning to allow him to call the Coast Guard. The harbormaster waited for Wagner’s approval.

Avalon Sheriff Kroll saw the inside of Splendour–the broken glass, the master stateroom in disarray–and ignored it.

While Baywatch divers hunted for Natalie beneath Splendour, diver Roger Smith said he was angry that professional help had not been called for sooner. Smith had asked Bombard not to touch Natalie’s body. “Homicide might be involved,” Smith had said. Smith obviously suspected something sinister.

Everyone’s peculiar deference to Wagner carried on throughout the morning, as each and every official in contact with Wagner after Natalie’s bruised dead body was found felt the loss of this remarkable woman and thus related to the pain they believed Wagner endured. Everyone allowed the man with the “most pain” to direct the aftermath of his wife’s death. Wagner’s grief was apparent to Duane Rasure, and although Wagner had primed Davern on what to tell authorities and on what not to offer, Rasure had been so overwhelmed with Wagner’s suffering that he let it slide when Davern reacted to Rasure with nervousness, offense, and outright lies. Rasure got mad at the “lanky, drunk guy from New Jersey” instead–and has stayed mad at him.

Wagner wanted off the island. A private helicopter was summoned. Wagner did not want to be interviewed by Rasure. Rasure let him go home. Legal assistance was ready and waiting for Wagner and Davern at Wagner’s front door. It’s what money can buy. All of the right people made the wrong decision to allow Robert Wagner to direct a crime scene.

Celebrity privilege was indeed alive and thriving on the morning of November 29, 1981, at the Isthmus of Catalina Island aboard the moored boat, Splendour. Celebrity “get out of jail free cards” may as well have been issued. Years later, when Davern told the truth, he was threatened with criminal charges and jail time if he changed the story that the attorney provided by Wagner had prepared for Dennis in 1981. Years later, that same attorney cooperated with Davern’s choice to speak with a writer from Vanity Fair.

What’s bizarre is that Robert Wagner told Davern to accompany the authorities and identify Natalie Wood’s body.

Dennis, unable to bring his eyes to focus on her, choked out, “It’s her.”

“You’ll have to look at her, Mr. Davern,” he was told. …

Dennis trembled as he forced himself to move his eyes from Natalie’s torso to her face. Her arms were exposed, and he saw the bruises. The fronts of her legs also showed bruises, far too many. Dennis wondered why her nightgown had not been pulled down to cover her exposed legs. He caught his breath when he saw that her eyes were still open. Her face appeared swollen, but not deformed, a bit greenish white in color, and her mouth had gone limp. She looks at peace, though, he tried to convince himself.

He dropped his eyes and whispered, “Yes, It’s Natalie Wood.”

Someone took hold of Dennis’s elbow to lead him away, but he pulled back and looked again at Natalie. He scanned his eyes across her body and concentrated on her legs and arms, noticing even more bruises. He started to count. One, two, four, seven…ten…he had seen enough, but there were more, including a scrape on her left cheek.

Neither the author, Marti Rulli, or I for that matter, is claiming that Robert Wagner did not love Natalie Wood. Far from it, the man was possessive of his wife and his jealousy got the better of him.

After years passed, it became easier to convince himself that his anger and actions were justified. And to write the autobiography he presents in 2008 shows that he thinks he is utterly immune to doubt and suspicion. He had wanted to stop books and movies and other people from telling about their lives. He had asked people in show business to stay away from people he disliked. He wants the laws changed so that no one can reveal his true colors after his demise. He thinks he has gotten away with his part in Natalie’s death. And he indeed had a big part in it. He smashed a wine bottle, screamed profanities and fought a deadly argument with Natalie after she had gone to their stateroom to go to bed. She would have awakened the next morning if only her husband had left her alone. He took the fight to the back deck, and minutes later, Natalie was no longer on board. …

Actor Christopher Walken, the only guest aboard, was the person to whom Robert Wagner directed his rage after smashing the wine bottle across the table…”Do you want to fuck my wife, is that what you want?”

Since Natalie’s death, Wagner has been sheltered by his insider network of secrecy and privilege for so long he appears to believe in the image he has created for himself. He has never had to bear the brunt of a direct, in-your-face accusation or questioning. His media buddies and selected interviewers tiptoe around him as if a twenty-seven-year-old death can still shatter him. Interviewers start their questions with their sympathetic eyes and condolences even decades later, as if Wagner is still the victim of love lost and innuendo. Wagner interviewers rarely express sympathy for Natalie’s experience. It is Wagner they have coddled, while Natalie is the truest victim.

The saddest thing about the entire affair is that Natalie Wood’s worst nightmare…dying in dark water…could have been averted.

Marilyn Wayne and her fiance, businessman John Payne, anchored in a sailboat within earshot of the Splendour, had heard someone calling out for help.

…they were sleeping in their stateroom aboard John’s forty-two-foot sailboat, the Capricorn, which was equipped with a silent generator. John always slept with an open window in his cabin, and this night, despite the rain, was no exception. A distant voice, crying for help, awakened him. John sat up to listen intently. “Help me, someone please help me,” he heard again. He awakened Marilyn and asked her to listen. Alarmed, Marilyn called out to her young son, Anthony, who also heard the cries. He wore a digital watch, and Marilyn asked him for the time. It was just minutes after eleven o’clock.

The cries for help continued. John went to the control panel and switched on their beam light. Marilyn went on deck to look toward the sound, but it was dark and damp, and she could not see anything. Marilyn had a bead on the plaintive cry for help, though, and thought if she swam just about forty feet, she might be able to help. Marilyn, an avid and strong swimmer, told John she wanted to jump into the water and swim toward the cries, but John convinced her it could be too dangerous. “You have Anthony to think of. Whoever’s out there could pull you under too.” He persuaded her to stay on board. They called the harbor patrol but no one answered. They called the sheriff’s office in Avalon, twelve miles away, and the person who answered told them a helicopter would be sent. They heard loud music, too, so they thought there was a party on a nearby boat.

Then they heard a man’s voice, slurred, and in an aggravated tone, say something to the effect of “Oh, hold on, we’re coming to get you.” Marilyn was not sure of the exact words used, but there was no mistaking that it was a man’s voice, and he sounded miserable.

But the woman’s cries continued: “Someone please help me, I’m drowning, please help me.” The voice did not seem to be moving further away. It was clear and concise.

For fifteen minutes, John and Marilyn felt helpless as they waited for a helicopter that never arrived. Their dinghy had already been deflated for the night and would take more than a half hour to prepare, so they were at a loss to help. After a fifteen to twenty minute wait, the cries for help ended. A few minutes later, the music ended too. There was utter silence–a haunting kind of silence. Terribly disturbed, John and Marilyn could only hope that the pleas had stopped because of a rescue. They went back to their stateroom for a terribly restless sleep.

The following morning the couple learned that Natalie Wood had drowned. “…they felt sickened by the news and had no doubt that it had been Natalie crying for help.”

Marilyn Wayne had believed the death was an accident and for a time felt sorry for Robert Wagner. However when neither she nor John were interviewed by the police even though they claimed to have talked with the couple, and when someone from the L.A. Times called to interview her, Marilyn became involved. She went so far as to call L.A. County Coroner Thomas Noguchi to “correct him on his ‘timeline,’ which she knew was off.” Although the authorities knew of Marilyn’s account, they chose to dismiss her. In fact “Detective Rasure was reported to have said that Marilyn Wayne was just someone who wanted her name in the papers–to be connected to a celebrity’s legend. Marilyn, like Dennis, had been bombarded with requests for interviews, but she never talked to anyone again” until contacted by another author who was writing a book about Natalie Wood.

Obviously someone didn’t want Marilyn Wayne to talk about what she knew.

“Three days after Natalie died, Marilyn found a scribbled message on a torn piece of paper…that read, ‘If you value your life, keep quiet about what you know.’ She immediately knew it was related to Natalie Wood’s death because that’s all anyone had been talking about. She suddenly became pretty vocal about letting everyone know she believed Natalie’s death to be accidental.

Marilyn Wayne was afraid.

When threats continued, she contacted her attorney to let him know about it and went so far as to make provisions in the event something might happen to her. John Payne did not experience any of that same kind of trouble, but John was a highly respected businessman, far wealthier than Robert Wagner. No one would bother John because of his status. Marilyn suspected she was targeted because she was the more vulnerable of the two. 

In the end…

Because of the condition of Natalie’s lungs, indicating she had by legal definition drowned, and because the coroner decided the drowning must have been “accidental,” the cause of her entry into the water was neglected. There was no way to know if her death was accidental, and in view of all her bruises, “undetermined” was the only logical choice.

But we had a chief coroner being chased by celebrity.

…fame and wealth…is it worth it?

………hugmamma.

Natalie Wood, c. 1970.

…everybody loves me…

…said Donald Trump in a clip from his interview with Anderson Cooper airing tonight on CNN. In the same breath, Trump mumbled something about his expertise at “playing the game.”

Those Americans reflected in the polls as favoring Trump’s no-nonsense style, hear what they want to hear. The rest of what Trump says lands on deaf ears. They’re not tuning in to his mumbo jumbo about not knowing what might have happened 35 years ago concerning the use of illegal immigrants in his real estate ventures.

Trump is definitely of the mindset…do as I say…not as I do. Unless he tells you to do it, that is.

Imagine The Donald as President of the United States of America. Rest assured it will be a dictatorship of which he and his subjects will be mightily proud. He will make no apologies for sending your sons into battle to teach our supposed enemies a lesson.

Trump probably sees himself as The Duke, John Wayne’s, successor. No doubt about it. In fact, Trump probably feels he has The Duke beat…by several billions.

A president who runs the country like a “dog-eat-dog” capitalistic empire, Trump would either alienate the rest of the world…or have them eating out of his hands…or both. It’s most likely the majority would smile to his face, making false promises to cooperate, all the while bad-mouthing him for his lack of empathy with those not in his stratosphere…99% of Americans.

Each president has had his failings. I fear Trump’s predisposition toward King Midas’ fantasy throne, however, would be America’s undoing. With his blonde hair waving in the breeze, he might provide just the red flag needed by our enemies to have them running like the bulls in Spain…

…to gore the biggest bull of all.

………hugmamma.

living her best life #47: counting down…

…until I’m home again. That’s what’s foremost in Pat’s mind, having touched down in Rochester, Minnesota only 48 hours or so ago.

After spending a couple of days with my husband and me sightseeing in and around Seattle and its environs, Pat and Brad headed to The Mayo Clinic where they will now spend the next month-and-a-half. To get them off on the right foot, so to speak, we were intent upon wining and dining them and making them smile and laugh until they were exhausted, falling into bed…happy as clams tucked snugly into their shells for the night. And I mean snugly since they insisted on sharing the vintage double bed in our former master bedroom suite-turned- guest suite. They opted not to share our daughter’s queen-size bed, probably because they knew she’d be enroute home the day they left.

Arriving from Honolulu where they reside Sunday evening, we drove to a casual waterfront restaurant where I’d made reservations for us to celebrate Father’s Day. Dining outdoors on the deck was like being in Hawaii, the sun beating down without letup. While the others weren’t bothered by the heat, I almost followed through on the server’s suggestion to check out their souvenir shop for visors. Instead I decided that if Pat could withstand the sun’s rays, so could I. If there’s one thing I’ve since learned from her it’s not to be a wuss.

On Monday we traveled into Seattle from where we live in the suburbs to visit the Chihuly Museum. Pat had asked to see it, and like her fairy godparents, my husband and I wanted to grant her wish. Even though we’d been there before, we did not need to be asked twice to return to the museum again. For those unfamiliar with master glass blower Chihuly, he has become a global phenomenon because of the glass structures he has created to mimic the beauty found in nature. His museum is not to be missed. In fact, seeing it again my husband and I were once more awed by how the outdoor gardens had matured around Chihuly’s glass creations.

Following our tour of the glass museum, we lunched in the Sky Cafe high atop Seattle’s  landmark Space Needle. When asked if she’d prefer…a great view and good food…or great food and a good view…Pat said she wasn’t aware there was a restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. I’m sure she’d agree, the view AND the food were awesome. While dining, the restaurant did 2-3 revolutions showing us all of Seattle a couple of times over as we sat enjoying our meal. Afterwards, we stepped out onto the Observation Deck one level above to enjoy the gentle breezes of the outdoors while gazing down at the rooftops of the myriad buildings below.

Before leaving the city, we headed to Seattle Center’s huge fountain, an attraction for old and young alike…adults chilling while children frolic in the water cascading down from on high after being shot into the air as though from a cannon. Again, Pat remained in the scorching heat with the men as wimpy me sought comfort under the canopy of trees offering shelter from the afternoon sun. Oh well. I am a decade older than my sister-in-law so maybe I can claim old age as an excuse.

To round out a wonderful day, we enjoyed a casual meal at a Japanese restaurant closer to home. It’s always nice to visit with our nephew Kanoa and his wife Erica. The evening was made even more special by their beguiling 6-month-old, Luca. He literally charmed the pants off of all of us…well, at least mine.

When we sent Pat and Brad on their way the next day, it was with armfuls of love and prayers. And I know they’ll continue to need as much from all of us as they prepare for what lies ahead.

…love and prayers, pat and brad.

………hugmamma

even the rich and famous…

Retired NBC Nightly News Anchor Tom Brokaw has multiple myeloma. He’s written a book, A Lucky Life, Interrupted, due out May 12th.

Brokaw conveyed the following to NBC News senior national producer Tim Uehlinger.

ON MY DIAGNOSIS

I have this very good doctor, Dr. Andrew Majka at Mayo Clinic, who thought something was up.

So he did some blood tests and called me into a meeting with the head of internal medicine, who is also a hematologist, a blood specialist. And they reviewed all the numbers. I didn’t really know what they were talking about.

They turned to me and Dr. Morie Gertz said, “You’ve got a malignancy. It’s called multiple myeloma. And you know people who’ve died from it.”

Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for vice president, died from multiple myeloma. Frank Reynolds, the ABC anchorman, who I had talked to toward the end of his life, not knowing what he had, died from it. Later I found out that Frank McGee, who was the Today Show host, died from it.

 

Odd thing is, I guess I didn’t know enough about it at that time, because my heart didn’t accelerate. I didn’t go into a meltdown of some kind. I was very cool about it.

I was kind of in two parts: I was operating as a journalist human being, and the other part was kind of on the outside looking in saying, “This is a big deal, you’ve got to stay cool.”

I didn’t know what I was in for.

I’m a guy who’s had great good fortune in his life. And everything has kind of gone in my direction. And so I couldn’t imagine that I was going to go through the ordeal that it turned out to be.

ON MY FAMILY

Treating cancer is a family cause. My family is not only attractive — I can say that because I’m paterfamilias — but they’re really smart, and they’re very, very compassionate. They’re all involved in one way or another. My daughter Sarah’s the therapist. My daughter Andrea and her husband, Charles Simon, are very active with social causes. My daughter Jennifer’s a doctor.

 My wife Meredith is Meredith. She’s always been very special, not just to me, but to everybody that she’s ever met. I can say that objectively.

ON GETTING INVOLVED IN YOUR CARE 

One of the things that I learned, and I had really good doctors, as individuals sometimes it wasn’t as collective as I wanted it to be.

So one of the things that you have to learn, even if you don’t have the kind of advantage that I do — with the high profile and the access — you have to learn to manage your case. You have to take an active role in it. You either do it yourself, or you do it in conjunction with another physician, who’s a friend, who’s kind of wise counsel, who’s there off to the side saying, “You know, there may be another way of looking at this,” or there’s “I’m not happy with the protocol that they’ve come up with.”

In my case, I did have very good care. And I was able to put together a kind of team approach. And that worked very well for me.

But not everybody can do that. I’m very aware of that. But everybody has to be constantly conscious of the fact, it’s your body, it’s your health, it’s the cancer that’s affecting you.

 Get involved in the fight.

ON MY WORKING LIFE AT NBC NEWS

I didn’t want them to know.

Everybody has a job to do at NBC News. They’ve been my friends, I didn’t want them to think, “Oh, we gotta worry about Tom.”

I had good care going. I had Meredith and the family. And I didn’t want to become the object of some kind of pity, most of all. I didn’t want to show up on the Internet, “Tom Brokaw has cancer.”

It’s just the way I am.

 But it was very, very touching to know how concerned everybody was. When I got the Presidential Medal of Freedom, I wrote to everyone saying, “This is yours as much as it is mine. Over the years you and everyone else has pulled me across so many lines.”

I was touched by that. But I knew what I had to do, was just to concentrate on getting well.

For more information on multiple myeloma, including how you can help, visit The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

i’m a huge fan…

…of Michael Jackson’s talent. 

Once upon a time I would have done what I could to nurture my dream of becoming an entertainer.

I can remember as a child sharing a passion for music with my mom. Among my cherished memories are the occasions when she would play the ukulele while we sang her favorite Hawaiian songs. Among them, Ke kali neau, The Hawaiian Wedding Song.

My love for dance was initiated by an older sister who taught me…the fox trot and the cha, cha, cha. Later, in my teens, I went on to master and instruct others in…the mashed potatoes, the twist, and the jerk.

In college I entered a talent show. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a competition because I don’t remember any prizes being awarded. However, the next day I got a call which made me feel as though I’d won.

A guy called inviting me to be the vocalist for his band, explaining they did gigs at the local hangout for university kids. Thrilled to be asked, I nevertheless decided against a singing career. For a girl like me, born on Maui in the late 40’s, entertaining was too much of a dream to ever become reality.

The rest is history. At 65 I’m very contented with my lot in life…a housewife for 44 years with a loving husband and daughter who cherish me.

Michael Jackson, on the other hand, died a lonely man most of his life. If he’d lived longer he more than likely would have enjoyed some of what I have…in the love of his three children.

I have probably read all that’s been printed about Jackson, before and after his death. Not having kept abreast of his life and career once he separated from his brothers, I wanted to know all that there was about him after he died.

Reading various biographies about Jackson helped me formulate a more balanced perspective of the man. I arrived at my own decisions as to who among all the players in his life were there for the right or wrong reasons. These included…the lawyers, the businessmen and women…the reporters and others in the media…and family and friends. 

Without thinking twice, I’m certain that Lisa Marie Presley and Debbie Rowe both loved their husband very much. That Michael Jackson used them to his own advantage is also undeniable. 

Jackson was a master manipulator, having learned from his family and all those who wanted a piece of him financially. Unfortunately, that included everyone who had anything to do with him. How could they resist? He was an irresistible man, personally and professionally, by all accounts. 

Blame for the mess his life became was shared by all, including Jackson himself. It didn’t help that poverty set the scene for the way it unfolded, his parents and siblings grabbing for whatever they could to keep the dream of wealth alive. And Michael spending his way through billions of dollars faster than he could earn it.

It was apparent Jackson was trying to fill the hole in his psyche with all the material things he could amass. That was the reason the number of concerts for This Is It quickly jumped from the initially agreed upon 10, to the staggering amount of 50. He was in hock up to his eyeballs…and some. 

The man was a magician when it came to getting in and out of trouble, personally and professionally. Unfortunately he had to pay up sooner or later. Hence the lawsuits that never seemed to stop, even after his death.

Untouchable, The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson by Randall Sullivan, reveals the overwhelmingly muddled mania surrounding one of the most iconic celebrities ever to have been born. I could only repeat to myself as I read my way through the book’s nearly 600 pages that it was almost best that Jackson died when he did.

He was like the grey whale at the center of a sharks’ feeding frenzy that I’d seen on a television documentary. There would have been no shred of the man left, had his life continued to spiral downward as it was.

It was interesting to observe that among all the bad people in Jackson’s life, there was no differentiation as to race, creed, gender, age, or social and financial standing. Whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, men, women, young, old, rich, poor…they all shared in the Sodom and Gommorrah that followed the star wherever he went.

The more I read of celebrities who succumbed to the trappings of fame and wealth, the more I’m thankful for having escaped going down that road. Even minor celebs have their share of unwanted drama, like Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and the self-absorbed Kardashians.

Jackson was a smart man in many ways and determinedly naive in others. In the moment he could destroy all he’d built by shrewd business negotiating. More often than not, the little boy who didn’t have a normal childhood won out when struggling with the man Jackson was trying to become. 

As in all walks of life it seems, if our morals and values are not solidly grounded, we can easily be caught up in the confetti that swirls around us. If we could only remember that all those little pieces of paper eventually find their way…

…downward.

………hugmamma.

(Wikepedia photo)

 

 

not a football fan…

…normally. However, Russell Wilson and his Seattle Seahawk team mates could definitely steer me towards becoming one.

Unlike my husband and daughter, I’ve no stomach for watching guys body slamming in order to make off with the football…and the game. However, there’s an added element of anxiety in the case of our Super Bowl heroes.

I hate to see them lose!!!

Obviously I’m not alone in this, but for me it’s like I’m Russell Wilson’s mom or something. I can’t bear to see him fall from grace, if you will.

For one thing the guy’s small to be playing pro football, only 5’11. That’s my husband’s height, for heaven’s sake! And the fact that Wilson’s the quarterback, the guy calling the shots on the field, is quite a feather in his cap.

It’s hard to believe Wilson was the 75th pick in the third round selection. The Seahawks soon discovered what he was made of though, promoting him to their main quarterback shortly after hiring him.

His mom must be bursting with pride. She must also be pretty scared every time he gets squashed by a 6’5″, 250+ pounder coming at him.

Holy moly! I’d be wound up tighter than a ball of string if I were Wilson’s mom.

What impresses me about Wilson apart from his uncanny ability on the football field, including the smarts to shift gears in the moment, is his seeming humility off the field. Not that I’ve witnessed it in person, but from what comes across on TV he seems disinclined to hog the limelight, preferring to credit others with their fair share of the glory.

Like other professional athletes serving as role models in their communities, Wilson is involved in charitable work.

Wilson is an active volunteer in the Seattle community. During the NFL season, Wilson makes weekly visits on his days off to the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and has also visited with soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.[19][119] In the offseason, Wilson hosts the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, a youth football camp, in several cities. In 2012, proceeds from the camp went to the Charles Ray III Diabetes Association, for which Wilson is the National Ambassador.[120][121][122] Since 2013, Wilson has partnered with Russell Investments for its “Invested with Russell” program, which donates $3,000 to Wilson’s charitable foundation for every touchdown he scores.[123]

Wilson co-hosted a charity golf event along with NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, Washington in June 2014 which raised over $220,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Not without his own baggage, however, Wilson is divorced from his long-time sweetheart after only two-years of marriage.

Perhaps what sets Russell Wilson apart from many black, superstar athletes is the fact that he wasn’t the product of inner city violence and family dysfunction. According to Wikipedia…

Wilson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio[13] and grew up in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Harrison Benjamin Wilson III, a lawyer, and Tammy T. Wilson, a legal nurse consultant.[14][15][16] He has an older brother, Harrison IV, and a younger sister, Anna.[17] Wilson started playing football with his dad and brother at the age of four.[14]

His racial background is mostly African American, though he also has some Native American ancestry.[18] His great-great-grandfather was a slave to aConfederate colonel and was freed after the American Civil War.[19] Wilson’s grandfather, Harrison B. Wilson Jr., is a former president of Norfolk State Universitywho played football and basketball at Kentucky State University. His father played football and baseball at Dartmouth and was a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers preseason squad in 1980. Wilson’s brother played football and baseball at the University of Richmond, and his sister is considered one of the top high school basketball prospects in the country.[20][21][22]

Wilson’s father died on June 9, 2010 at age 55 due to complications from diabetes.

Just like any mom, I’m hoping Wilson continues to do himself proud. I’d like to think his solid upbringing will always be there guiding him through thick and thin.

I pray the morals he learned as a youngster never abandons Wilson, allowing him to fall prey to the overwhelming materialism that ensnares so many in professional sports.

I guess I’m just a proud mama.

…even if i’m not russell wilson’s. 

………hugmamma.

(Wikipedia photo)

 

just because we can…

…doesn’t mean we should.

Americans tend to assume that our right to freedom of speech is God-given and encompasses everything and anything our brains can imagine. No matter that some of us have brains made of silly putty. Which, in my opinion, is the case with Messrs. Rogen and Goldberg of The Interview fame.

I may be old-school believing that some thoughts should remain just that…thoughts. However capitalism being what it is…“show me the money!”…as exclaimed by Cuba Gooding’s character in the film Jerry Maguire…even hair-brained schemes can see the light of day.

As moms the world over will agree…sometimes the only way a child learns his lesson is the hard way. And it looks like corporate mogul Sony who backed the low budget $40 million dollar fiasco hoping to reap $30 million in the first weekend alone, got punked and pranked up the wahzoo!

Back-pedaling is something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in the media these days. Politicians do it all the time, as do celebrities. And lately, even mega rich sports figures have had to defend their questionable habits.

Thankfully the majority of us still know how to filter what it is we would like to do, and what it is we should and shouldn’t do.

It’s no secret that the rest of the world views America as the land where the spoiled children live. And yet, many still make their way here hoping for a little of what most of us luxuriate in every day.

Fortunately there’s more that’s good about America than the few crazies who make the headlines…

………hugmamma.

 

thanks!…usher

You read it right.

I’m thanking Usher for bringing together…young and old…black, white and all colors in between…hip and not-so-hip…religious and aetheist…liberal and conservative…and of course, women and men…in celebration of our better angels.

In song and dance, we found common ground to set our differences aside for an evening. Squeezed into seats like those on an airplane, we were shoulder to shoulder with whomever it was that purchased the neighboring seat. We had no say in the matter. Ticket Master played Russian Roulette with our hard-earned cash.

Funny thing. No one turns up his nose at a much sought after ticket. Ask any football fan or tourist at a Broadway show.

When I bought the tickets during the summer I’d no idea what to expect.

Usher was one of my favorite coaches on TV’s The Voice. I admired his sincerity when handling those contestants he’d chosen to join his team. I was also mesmerized by his singing and accompanying dance moves. So I didn’t think twice about seeing him in concert.

Fortunately for me my husband is always game to see and do whatever catches my fancy. Our daughter agrees that it keeps her father youthful. He does too.

Needless to say we were surrounded by hoards of fans, mostly our daughter’s age. Yet no one looked askance at two old fogies looking like they’d mistaken Usher’s concert for some oldie but goodie like Neil Diamond. The man who checked handbags smilingly commented that we were somebody’s parents. We laughed along with him, although I assured him that we weren’t the parents of the couple who filed in ahead of us.

Were my daughter still living with us she would have been my concert companion. Instead, she’ll have to content herself with the video I text her. That is once I figure out how to do it.

As for the concert, the two acts hired to warm up the crowd for an hour or so were fine. I’d not heard of either, although that’s not saying a lot since I’ve no clue who the young folk are listening to these days.

What I do know is that using the colorful, four-letter word preceded by “mother” did not endear me to the second artist. Although I will say he had a splendid voice. The dancers accompanying him were amazing movers. However my husband and I agreed we were glad our daughter doesn’t do…that kind of dancing. A little too suggestive for our taste, what with all the bumping and grinding. Not to mention the skimpy costumes. What were they thinking? Actually it’s pretty obvious they’re not thinking.

Usher did not disappoint. His performance, as well as those of his dancers and musicians, was explosive. So was the production with its lights and smoke and technical wizardry. The staging platforms undulated upward and downward, forward and backward, even reconfiguring before our very eyes. How the female performers kept their footing on stiletto heels…and the male dancers bounced back into standing position from somersaults and floor splits…was mind blowing. It was like watching a three-ring circus. My eyes kept darting back and forth trying to catch every magical twist and turn before it faded from sight.

Nearing the end, the women seated beside me were up on their feet swaying and singing along with Usher. It was beautiful to see the entire arena of devoted fans on their feet joining him in song. Together it was as though the love between artist and fans was enough to change the world outside.

Audience applause brought Usher back for an encore. Before singing he asked for a moment of silence to remember the parents of Michael Brown, the shooting victim in a recent confrontation with a policeman in St. Louis, Missouri. As he sang a song of hope for brotherhood among humankind, tears welled up in my eyes.

Why don’t we invest more of ourselves in the arts where our spirits are allowed to engage with one another, rather than subjecting our better angels to grovel in the dust while our prehistoric instincts to kill or be killed be given full reign? What is our long-held fascination with gladiator-like activities…hunting for sport…or annihilation of those unlike ourselves?

Maybe we wouldn’t have to die in order to see Heaven, if only we would allow Heaven to exist…right here on earth. Something to think about when we give thanks on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanks, Usher. For making my Thanksgiving…

…one for the ages…

………hugmamma.