DrMyers’s Blog

April 26, 2009

“Hey! We Looked You Over” and were inspired. Thanks Bea!

 

I was 10 years old when I came up with, what I thought at the time, a brilliant idea!  My sister and I had absolutely fallen in love with Lucille Ball, and we decided that if we loved her so much, why not meet her.  Running through the kitchen, I startled my mother; and with much excitement, I expressed my desire to meet Lucille Ball.  As I rambled on and on, mother simply took her seat and uttered those ill fated words that we all hate to hear,” I’m sorry hun, but Lucy has passed away.  She passed away a few years ago!”  What else could she do?  Those words, being so final, dashed the one desire that I had…to simply say thank you for making my day a little brighter.  

The years kept going by, any I began to write T.V. pilots for fun, and I developed a property called “The Good Life”.  Oh what a line up I had:  Shirley McClain married to Jack Lemmon, Ozzie Davis married to Ruby Dee (not too hard to picture), and Betty White married to Walter Mathau.  Three neighbors, who found themselves in many unthinkable situations, the classic “situation comedy” that was mainly character driven.  But, as the years went on, we lost Walter…and then Jack…and finally Ozzie.  Half the cast gone like that, without even a chance to meet them, learn from them, to express to them how they inspired and touched my life.  I simply tucked the pilot away, and soldiered on.  

Today as I went up the escalator at Union Station, a Reuter’s message alerted my phone that another great star had gone on to join the many players that had taken their final bows before…Bea Arthur.  Immediately, stunned & Jarred, I called friends and family alerting them that Bea had passed away.  Several people, who like me had never met Bea in person, stopped in their tracks, displayed their grief, and without much of a choice were forced to face a harsh reality…it’s final, and she’s gone.

Being a little older and more acquainted with death, I found myself earlier thinking of the “Maude” and “Mame”.  The out spoken characters she played that poked fun at the traditionalistic society we lived in and empowered women to speak out, appreciating their voices that had been muted and/or ignored for so long.  I thought…who else would have shaken the barrel, and displayed a character that contemplated abortion, and equal right for women?  Who else would have spoken proudly about divorce, and the insensitivity men of all races shared?  Who else but Bea, could embrace her sexuality, and demand we embrace it as well…and we did.  

She slipped away from us, ending a battle with cancer Saturday morning.  A part of me was upset, because in my mind no disease could lick Bea…no sir; there was no doubt in my mind that she could lick anything that came her way.  I was reminded of the strength her character Dorothy portrayed when being diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in “The Golden Girls”.  Relentlessly her character went from doctor to doctor, demanding a diagnosis and not settling for less.  Lighting the fire under her girlfriends, telling them that sexual harassment would not be tolerated, and that just because of their age, life did not nor would it stop.  No, Bea portrayed a character that had strength and spoke up for us in ways we were not yet prepared to articulate.  Thank you dear!

I wish I could have thanked her in person for one thing in particular that touched my heart so dearly.  

When Lucille Ball was honored by the Kennedy Center, Bea got the opportunity to say thank you and pay tribute in person to Lucy, and she did it well.  Although I was too young to understand what was going on, or that it even happened…I like to think, Bea kind of knew that there were many people out there who were speaking, dancing, and singing through her, to say thank you to another great entertainer.  Now, as she joins Lucy, I hope Bea can see just what impact she had on America, The World, and even Me.

See, I would have never persevered with my career, until I saw one of her interviews.  She spoke of how different and how her voice being low, height being tall did not fit the typical blueprint for women in show business at that time…but she kept going.  Having a strong southern accent, a love of more classical styles of music, and playing the piano, left me feeling out of place growing up, but she changed all of that, and for that I want to say thank you.

Thank you Bea, for being a Friend!

She Tugged Our Hearts

She Tugged Our Hearts

April 24, 2009

Torture, Pirates & Beauty: Just Another Week!

Picture it:  A rather cool April in Massachusetts and the town is filled with gossip.  Your neighbor and Pastor have just been convicted of things you would have never imagined, and now you are going to see for yourself if these accusations are true!  Things and people around you have changed drastically in the last month, and a watchful eye is given to the detail of your every action.  For you might be the next accused of the horrible crime that has plagued everything you knew to be right!  

You might ask, what on earth could be happening around me that could cause such suspicion.  Well, if you were living in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, you might wake up to what appeared to be a normal day, and go to bed in shackles, because you are suspected for being a Witch.

Torture is not foreign to the foundation of America.  Even in its Colonial days, if coupled with eye-witnessed accounts, persons would be tortured to death, if the right answer was not forthcoming or if the “truth” was not derived from proper questioning.  In the 18th and 19th century, slaves were tortured to release information regarding other runaways or to reveal the names of those who might have taught them the vile act of reading.  Wives of many men in the 19th, 20th and even 21st centuries have suffered physical and mental torture, as their quests for equal rights and equal pay are still being fought in the workplace.

Even within our schools, torture has been translated in the form of bullying on students and teachers alike.  In the 1970’s, Gay teachers were targeted in many schools across the nation as the cause of pedophilia, leading to the end of many careers and many lives.  The bullying of more effeminate boys and masculine girls have mentally tortured and effected the lives of many students, driving a young man to suicide even as late as this week.  Shepeherd Smith declared that “THIS IS AMERICA AND WE DO NOT TORTURE”, which is what many American’s would like to believe and according to our agreement with the United Nations we have vowed to uphold.

In 1987 the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) was adopted.  In Article 2, it explicitly outlines torture and/or one’s motivations behind such treatment: 

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

The United States of America have no excuse for torture of any kind, whether intended or implied; not when on behalf of the American Citizens, an agreement with other nations has been signed stating that we will take measures to Prevent acts of torture.  Franklin Pierce stated, “We have nothing in our history or position to invite aggression; we have everything to beckon us to the cultivation of relations of peace and amity with all nations.”  One can see how although time continues pass, the quest for peace an amity with all nations is still present by some in this country.

Now there are those who have been glorified in years past for not honoring agreements, treaties, or promises of humane treatment to prisoners.  Jack Sparrow, a fictional character, has been heroined and even idolized by some.  He had sparked a new interest in Pirates, that took the country and world by storm just has Captain Hook in Peter Pan stole the hearts of children and parents alike.  Unfortunately, the world got a look at a true pirate.  Smiling as he is paraded in front of the cameras, this teenager was a real gun and hostage holding pirate, who lived…unlike many of his colleagues.  

One might wonder, what drives a person to the brink of being a “pirate”?  It could be assumed that a Pirate is a product of one’s environment.  In the 14th and 15th centuries, as most of Europe were expanding their empires by killing natives in foreign lands, tearing down huts, and raising royal flags; many destitute individuals learned from their magistrates, and commanded vessels taking land and gold stolen from empires that stole it from natives, who lived peacefully before their arrivals.  The pirates that made headlines this past week, were not as grand as “Blackbeard” but were simply a reflection of a country that has a large Diaspora community, ravaged by the effects of civil war.  The flash bulbs that captured the image of the “smiling boy pirate”, mirrored the flashes of gunfire that undoubtedly influenced he and his comrades to commandeer vessels and commit the acts of old, which bear no reflection of Peter Pan!

If one were to ask Miss California, she may attest to being tortured on every television show this week for her comments.  When asked her Opinion by Perez Hilton, she stated clearly that in “Her” America marriage was between a Man and a Woman.  This view, although now risqué, at one time was the not so far from normal.  With a Moral Majority still present here in America, one can only conclude, she too is a product of her community.  And with her statements, apparitions appeared before men, and upon the torture block she stood, with the magistrates waiting for the proper answer to be given:  Do you believe in Same Sex Marriage.  

This debate, in my mind, will not be ended within the next 20 years.  Pastors of many faiths have banned the act of same sex relationships and relations within the lives of their parishioners.  Although, many of these same pastors have been demonized by their contemporaries for succumbing to their own “vile” temptations, and being literally “caught” in the act, the view homosexuality for some in America is still “curable”, and it is this view that must be debated!

 Fredrick Douglass stated “I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”   A statement that has been lived by both Perez Hilton and Miss California within the last week has played out right in front of the American people.  Both seem to be proud of their beliefs, and both have courageously stood before the masses and taken the bitter tongue lashing of ridicule by media pundits and internet rumors alike.  What has not happened is a conversation or a work session between these two people, who could use this opportunity to really find a common ground, or an answer to this growing popular question!

What I do know, is that only in America could torture tactics, smiling pirates, and dueling queens be normality in…just another week!

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