Monday, February 27, 1995

Confidence Man

"My mama loves me, she loves me. She gets down on her knees and hugs me. She loves me like a rock. She rocks me like the rock of ages and she loves me."

He was a new man. Or maybe he was merely reborn. People would look at him and wonder what exactly had changed. Was it a new hairstyle? Nope, same unruly, uncontrolled cut. New glasses? No it wasn't a vision problem. Had he grown somehow? Only in immeasurable ways. No one could quite figure it out, yet everyone knew he was somehow different.

"When I was a little boy and the Devil would call my name. I'd say 'now who do... Who do you think you're fooling?'"

He now walked with a bit of a swagger. People clung to him like a wet diaper. They expected answers, innovations, and all that leadership entailed. He always claimed he was but a simple man, but no one listened. They expected more, expected him to give them a sense of direction.

He wasn't always this way. He was once somehow different. He had taken his privileges, his blessings to a new height. And fate smiled upon him. He had gotten further, much further than was fair, than where he expected to go. He was on some kind of a roll.

"When I was grown to be a man and the Devil would call my name. I'd say 'now who do... Who do you think you're fooling?' I'm a consummated man. I can snatch a little purity. My mama loves me, she loves me."

People seemed to like him. They may not have exactly understood where he was coming from, or what was important to him, yet they seemed to like him nonetheless. There were exceptions of course. Those that ended up closest somehow always seemed the farthest away.

"If I was the President the minute the Congress would call my name. I'd say 'who do... who do you think you're fooling?' I've got the Presidential Seal. I'm up on the Presidential Podium."

One day he finally shared his secret. In the beginning he was a lucky kid but his luck ran dry. Then suddenly a mirror appeared and she gave him, among much else, a lucky rock. He clung to that even after she disappeared. He was never able to forget what she taught him, never able to shake what she had given to him. And he held tightly on to that rock through good and bad. If you believe in something long enough and strong enough, mere faith will get you a long ways. More than a pebble, same as a stone, not quite a gem, still, a rock of his own.

One day he lost the rock. He was very distraught and yet he knew it was silly to cling to a good luck charm. So he got by without it. Very well in fact. Still he missed that rock a lot . He wondered if it had somehow managed to find its way home, find its way back to where it came from. He never stopped wondering, never quite could. Would he find it again? Should he keep looking? Miracles happen every day. Reunions happen with uncommon regularity. A rock is forever, passing through time. People lookin' at the big picture, what they want, lose sight of what they already have, what has always been there.

And then one day, his parents invited him over. Days before, they had shook one of their sofas hoping to get some spilled M&M's out of the cushions when a small clump appeared. It was no ordinary clump. It was perfectly shaped, perfectly formed and colored. It was his rock. And they gave it back to him, gave him back hope. A feeling of pure happiness rolled over him. He was a changed man. It showed. Have faith in faith and the disbelief can turn to stone.

"My mama loves me, she loves me. She gets down on her knees and hugs me. She loves me like a rock. She rocks me like the rock of ages and she loves me."

Years of formation, washed upon the shores of Australia, picked for its near perfect palm sized comfort; who knows how long this rock lay. Displaced but passed with affection from one to another, it found its way to St. Paul, Minnesota. Broken knees to broken hearts, yet somehow, this heart of stone, mended but never fully recovered. Rock solid heart of mine.

"Well I'm hangin' on to a solid rock. Made before the foundation of the world. And I won't let go, and I can't let go, won't let go. And I can't let go, won't let go, and I can't let go no more."

Monday, February 20, 1995

What We Really Need

It's part of human nature to value recognition for accomplishments. It's part of our psyche to value the acknowledgment of those who employ us, a feeling of worth for our contributions, hard work, and efforts. Often it is enough to feel the boss has noticed and appreciates a job well done; other times it's a desire for something more substantial. To many people the most effective recognition in the work place comes through monetary bonuses. Others appreciate memos of note, plaques, awards, a tip of the hat at a staff meeting. The need for recognition doesn't stop in the work place however. It permeates all areas of life.

Thus this past week, it was of major tragedy, with a capital T, the omission of Hoop Dreams from the Academy Awards Best Documentary category. What should have been a sure nomination for a stirring and moving movie, became an abomination by its glaring absence.

Hoop Dreams in the very least was a major effort, an impressive piece of work, following the lives of two Chicago teenagers, and their dreams of one day playing professional basketball. When one is making a piece of work, one is not necessarily doing it for the purpose of awards and accolades from a group of peers; however, this movie was something special, and a nomination would have gotten it the attention it clearly deserves.

Now, the only thing that the Academy can do to restore lost faith in its selection process is to choose Pulp Fiction over Forrest Gump for best picture (as it clearly was). Not likely, but as the saying goes, "life is like a box of chocolates..."

Perhaps the makers of Hoop Dreams can take some consolation in the celebration of today, President's Day 1995. And perhaps they can even learn a lesson from our nation's greatest leader, Benjamin Harrison who although is often overlooked for his contributions, nonetheless remains a striking figure in our nation's history.

There are several reasons why Harrison was our greatest President. Our 23rd President, Benjamin had to first overcome the shadow of his grandfather, Old William Henry "60 Days" Harrison. The country was in a time of turmoil. Benjamin in the face of weary woes (and swollen toes), when the dusk seemed its absolute darkest, came through with a smile and a winning personality. He led his country through tough times and he did it all in a creative, positive tone.

What made him such a special leader? He had the cunning ability to work with a Congress run by the opposite party. They tried to silence his voice, take from him his forum of governing, but he prevailed. It wasn't out of strength, he later revealed, it was out of fear of the alternative. During a time of unparalleled economic growth, he held down inflation and interest rates simply with the nation's extreme confidence in his ability to lead. People sensed Benjamin was a man of destiny, that he was bound for great things. Expectations were high and that he didn't always produce what was expected at him, in retrospect seems less of a weakness and more of a tribute to one man's strong leadership and individuality.

Rumors of extra marital affairs hounded him, and yet, his was one of the great lost love stories in the history of American Presidential politics. He managed to survive a passionless marriage and spend his life around but never with his heart's true desire. His love life is well chronicled, storied and admired by those impressed with such affairs of the heart. Harrison had his quirks: some say that he viewed time as an illusion, not in the linear sense, but as a fluid. His sense of urgency was acute and had he lived he would be 162 years old. His bouts with melancholy were also well known, causing Harrison to often times isolate himself inside the White House.

There is some historical theory that suggests without Benjamin's charismatic leadership, America would have succumb to more traditional European ways of life such as eating meals with the knife held continually in the left hand. He fought hard against the wilderness preservation lobby to keep cod a fish America could eat. Benjamin voiced a strong opinion that the young country he was chosen to lead should remain true to its formative intentions: to be a land of opportunity. For example, he worked hard to meet his vision and help the state of Florida remain a sunny Mecca of tourism. He resisted all attempts to consolidate the nation into a younger version of what it had broken away from. In honor of his achievements, we now take the time to salute him, by closing down governmental services, and schools for an extra long weekend. There were flashier Presidents, but after all is said and done, Benjamin Harrison stands above them all.

Monday, February 13, 1995

Make the World Go Away

This week we ask the question, "what's the difference between ignorance and indifference?" We don't know and we don't care.

Well, I hope all of you have big Valentine's Day plans. This is a day to celebrate coupledom, partnerships, and teamwork. Nothing is more important, more special than the significant other in your life. With this in mind, the thoughtful staff on your newsletter offer the following service: a generic Valentine's card you can give to your sweetie. If you have more than one in your life, feel free to make copies of this page and share it with all! So fire up the simultini and watch the pictures as they fly through the air.

Dear ________________________________,

Today is our special day and I'm so glad we can share it together. We are like two peas in a pod, inseparable like road salt to a newly scrubbed car.

When I'm with you I'm reminded of our song, Debbie Gibson's Lost in Your Eyes. The words of which almost capture what my heart feels. "I get weak in a glance. Isn't this what's called romance? I don't know what I'm headed for. You can take me to the stars. It's like being in heaven, when I'm lost in your eyes. I just fell, don't know why. Something's there we can't deny." Profound poetry.

Cupid's aim was straight and true when he found us. If we were two major metropolitan corporations we would most certainly merge. We are like the gopher and his shadow, unpredictable. We are as connected as Minneapolis and St. Paul. My day isn't complete until I hear the dulcet tones of your voice, your laughter. And you help me understand my own voice.

You inspire me, and what greater thing can anyone do? You know the song in my heart and sing yours to me with little inhibition. I've never met anyone like you, yet it's like you've always been there, always been around. The prosecution and the defense rest when our case comes to trial.

We are like two snowflakes that fall to the floor. They say no two are exactly alike, but after they all melt, we know the common, the essence, what's left, blends perfectly together. What we share can't be separated. As thoroughly as baking soda smothers a smell you heighten all of my senses including my sense of humor.

We are like the Siskel and Ebert, the Abbott and Costello, the Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Conan and Andy, the Lennon and McCartney, the Verlaine and Rimbaud, of lovers. Salt and pepper ain't got nothing on us. We work well together, but more importantly we play well together.

On the coldest, briskest of days when you're not here, my being remains warm with thoughts of you. I could play Skipbo with you all night. Time is flying by like a cloud on a windy day. Here we stand together taking it all in. The penny may eventually lose its shine, the gold teapot may lose its luster, but for us today is like yesterday and tomorrow promises to be too.


Monday, February 6, 1995

#9 Dream

Sandra Bullock was born in Washington DC on July 26, 1966. She graduated from Arlington High School in 1982. (I was born in 1964 and graduated in 1983- this of course means, she is some type of genius!) Her mother was an internationally known opera singer, while her father was an equally famous vocal coach.

Rene Magritte was born on November 21, 1898 in Lessines Belgium. He was the oldest of three brothers, later declaring, "I detest my past, and anyone else's. " Not much is known about his childhood.

Bullock's first major motion picture role came in the movie Love Potion #9 (written, produced, and directed by Dale Launer). Bullock plays a nerdy scientist who studies the behavior patterns of monkeys. She later through a series of bizarre events, ends up with a vile full of love potion that makes her irresistible to men. By the end of the movie a balance is reached. Her nerdiness disappears as does the false beauty the potion creates, leaving a self blossomed beauty.

In 1925, Magritte painted what he considered his first "realized" picture, The Lost Jockey. In it, the jockey is situated in a forest of trees whose trunks resemble giant balusters, similar to those used to support a stair rail or a parapet coping. Or, equally, they could be said to resemble turned wooden table legs or magnified chess pieces.

Bullock's next movie, Thing Called Love, costarred River Phenix, and Bullock's close friend, Samantha Mathis. Here, we get to hear her musical debut as she plays an aspiring country singer who auditions material down in a Nashville bar/restaurant. Like most of her roles, Bullock is portrayed as an uncommon beauty, one more quirky than conventional.

"In short," Magritte once said, "When I paint, and as far as possible when I am not painting, I try to remain outside the conventions. But there is no doubt that, although my pictures are conventional in their appearance, they in fact resemble pictures without, I believe, corresponding to what the aesthetic treaties designate as such."

Bullock's big break came when she landed the female lead in Sylvester Stallone's futuristic thriller, Demolition Man. Instead of playing a drop dead knock 'em out babe, Bullock created an aggressive, positively curious woman of the future, giving us all hope that in the future all things will be as beautiful.

"I don't believe that man decides anything, " Magritte said. "The future or the present of humanity? A world made of chance? I don't know. I detest that kind of talk, it is meaningless. I think that we are responsible for the Universe, but that does not mean that we decide anything."

Bullock truly hit the big time last summer, with the runaway hit, Speed. Once again rather than play the expected damsel in distress to Keanu Reeves' strong silent type, Bullock created a charismatic, spunky, out of the norm, caught in the fire, but refuse to be a victim, woman.

Magritte died on August 15, 1967. His life had been a solitary posture of immense effort: to overthrow our sense of the familiar, to sabotage our habits, to put the real world on trial. "My painting implies no supremacy of the invisible over the visible. The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown."

Bullock has a couple of movies due out over the next year. In While You Were Sleeping, she plays a lonely subway token collector, who worships a man from afar, witnesses an attempt on his life and nurtures him back to well being. In The Net she plays a computer systems analyst who plummets head first into danger after tapping into an off limits database. Also in the works is a sequel to Speed which both Bullock and Reeves have agreed in concept to do.