Monday, June 9, 2008

Judy Garland Lives On

Frances Gumm didn't know what was in store for her at Metro when they signed her up, but not her two older sisters. She would start an entire industry of fans: people wanted to see her (actually to hear her sing) in upbeat roles. She was the pretty (but not beautiful) spunky girl cast opposite Mickey Rooney - the two who always wanted to say "hey, gang, let's put on a show!" As a young lady, she charmed us in movies like "Meet Me in St Louis" and "The Pirate."

Few people ever saw her as a serious actress, however, and her one great role as a witness in Judgment at Nuremberg, has always been set aside - far from the Judy we want to see.

Anyway, thank you, Judy Garland, for making life a little better.

James Madison Bunks in with Carry Nation, Mohammed and Johnny Depp

Lighting candles in mourning for Mohammed

Oh Hell - It's Just Another Day!

Today was one of those days when there were so very many topics to choose from that not one particular thing really dominated the news. I didn't want to write about Obama-McCain. There are more than 145 days left to the campaign and I'm already feeling a pinch of boredom. Besides, there will always be links to them, to Democrats, Republicans, politics. In a way, it's too easy. Then in another way, it's difficult because there is so much stuff to wade through to get to your point when writing about the campaign. Everyone's writing about it in one way or another. I'm going to give it a rest for several days, unless something pressing presents itself.

Looking at the left sidebar, I couldn't help feel the presences of birth and death. Unusual combinations of people in those categories.

Birth: Frank Lloyd Wright, Michael J. Fox, Cole Porter, Johnny Depp, Donald Duck and, in a very real sense, The Bill of Rights.

Death: Nero (suicide), Mohammed, Charles Dickens, Thomas Paine, Carry Nation.

In one day out of 365, we have people and concepts who changed the world (O.K., I won't claim that about Fox or Depp, but I think Donald Duck is still a major figure in world affairs - he's a politician who has never, ever been seen with his pants on!). Today there are people remembering Mohammed and Dickens in reverential ways. Frank Lloyd Wright, too. I lived near his first design - a small angelic-looking water fountain in Oak Park, IL (where he lived). Carry Nation will always be seen as a kind of blip in American sensibilities: she campaigned vehemently against demon liquor with Bible in hand. Unfortunately, she died before she could see the Volstead Act enacted. Which is just as well, because it inadvertently took lawbreaking to a new level: that dour old lady's ways with an hatchet spawned speakeasies and the mob.

Is there anyone reminiscing about Cole Porter? I think so. Some are even fanatics about his music and play it night and day (sorry, I couldn't resist it).

Michael J. Fox has become an accidental icon, a spokesperson for Parkinsons Disease. He has become a symbol of courage in the midst of a chronic illness. Johnny Depp? Well, he's an icon of - what else? - iconoclasm. He's forged his own way in movies - a way that says "take it or leave it." There is also courage in independence.

And the birth of the Bill of Rights? Shouldn't James Madison's idea receive recognition in the form of a public holiday? Thomas Paine might have thought of it as something very fitting. His work, The Age of Reason, will never be on par with the Bible - simply because too many fundamentalists want to ban it.

Depp, Nero, Fox, Bill of Rights, Dickens, hatchets, reason.

Like I said, it's just another day.