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Posts Tagged ‘Oprah’

#OPRAH2020

I grew up on Phil Donohue, watching my foster mom, Nell, hang on every word that came out of his mouth. She was a first generation American, who never learned how to drive and didn’t work outside the home because her husband asked her not to, politely. I would come home from school, tear off my Catholic school uniform and put on “play clothes” to join her on the couch, before tearing off into the neighborhood on my bike.

Yes, I was a tomboy, and proud of it!

We had a linoleum kitchen floor in our four room (not bedroom mind you), four room house in Victory Gardens. There’s a black and white picture of toddler me in a droopy diaper hiding in a space between the stove and the refrigerator, presumably during hide ‘n seek. We came from humble roots, coal mining families on Daddy Jim’s side and Slovakian dissidents from Nell’s; I knew they passed money to the mailman to fund the IRA.

My kids grew up on Oprah! So when I listened to her speech at the Golden Globes the other night, I knew something was afoot. She started off with a memory – sitting on her linoleum floor… “In 1964, I was a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor of my mother’s house in Milwaukee, watching Anne Bancroft present the Oscar for best actor at the 36th Academy Awards. She opened the envelope and said five words that literally made history: ‘The winner is Sidney Poitier.”

This is known as the Hook, the catch phrase memory of “humble roots” for every stump speech of every candidate running for any political office in our great land. See, I’m just like you, even though they’ve amassed tons of wealth, they started out with nothing, less than nothing…

I was recently talking with my sister Kay and our brother Dr Jim on a conference call, and listened as Jim recounted how he would go out with our late brother Mike on Christmas Eve to pick the prettiest Christmas tree. Because they were almost giving them away for a nickle. Because the Flapper was so poor.

“Did you also have to dumpster dive for food?” I asked him.

They laughed and said no, we hadn’t been that poor. The Flapper made it through the Great Depression and taught us never to leave a light on in a room. And after four years in the darkness (if he lasts that long), with this semi-literate, entitled, bone-headed purported billionaire in the People’s House, I’m willing to bet the pendulum just might swing back – way back toward the sunshine. With enough luck and organizing, we “might could” nominate a black woman, one who shines from within, for the White House! Yes Oprah, preach Oprah PREACH!!

And in the midst of a sea of black designer gowns that nobody wanted to talk about, she said this:

“Recy Taylor died 10 days ago, just shy of her 98th birthday. She lived, as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. And for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared to speak their truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

Oprah brought this sad, compelling story about a gang rape of an innocent black woman in the Jim Crow South of 1944 to light. I felt my eyes filling with tears even as I registered that this sounds like a woman ready to run for office. She brought us the personal story, the anecdote about injustice, that made me remember why I was a Democrat in the first place. All the while we know that Oprah had been raped as a child, we know her story, and we know all those #MeToo stories that have been circulating about the abuse of power by powerful men.

And all I can think is that their Time is UP! They are fired! We have our very own reality TV star in the wings and she is fired up and ready to go. It’s as if a storm has swept through our country and we can now smell the beginning of new air. It’s the sun after a hurricane. We must fight against voter suppression, we must fight for basic human rights and one-payer healthcare. This is the time to take our country back! Please Oprah, I hope you will run. There’s “A new day on the horizon.”

Here is Bob with Berdelle, our 91 year old neighbor, at the TN State House today because you’re never too old to be a revolutionary!

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There’s good news and there’s bad news this week. On the good side – Our do-nothing-Congress has passed a 1+ Trillion dollar budget deal that should keep our government humming along for the next nine months. On the bad side – Congress has defunded ALL portrait painting, which is pretty stupid since I understand that every single Treasury Secretary or Secretary of Defense doesn’t need an official oil-based portrait painted costing taxpayers thousands of dollars each.

But no more Presidential portraits? Are you kidding me? Even I have had my portrait painted, by my sister mind you! This may have started my fondness for hats.

The Author, age 15 in Oklahoma

The Author, age 15 in “Oklahoma”

You know that gallery at the Smithsonian with all of our Presidents hanging regally along its walls in a continuing line of American history? Well, it’s about to stop short. Someone on the blogosphere somewhere said it’s because we can’t have a “president of color” up there with Lincoln and Roosevelt and Kennedy and really? I suppose this means no more First Ladies either.

The horse-trading was done by only about four dozen of Congress’ 533 members, working in private. What’s supposed to be 12 separate spending bills was combined into one mammoth stack that finances the government through Sept. 30.http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/16/5-things-to-know-about-deal-to-avert-shutdown-of-u-s-government/

It’s the “working in private” part that bothers me, behind closed doors in a secret session, along with the sheer lunacy of stopping a tradition that deserves to be maintained. I tend to think very forest for the trees about art. Artists are really doing our society a favor. They reflect back to us what’s going on in everyday life, with a different spin, giving us a new perspective. Enlightening, illuminating and just plain enriching our thirsty souls. Sometimes art can even change history. Think of the photograph of a child about to be shot in Vietnam. Think about the mini-series Roots. Think about a little Goldfinch.

Today the Oscar nominees were announced. Nothing new or unusual except Ms Oprah was denied again for her role in The Butler. A movie about a man who served how many presidents through sweeping social changes in our country. A true story, but one obviously overlooked in Hollywood. Instead a movie about a real political shakedown in NJ in the late 70s, the Abscam scandal, was the basis for the big winner, American Hustle.

“…today offering bribes in exchange for legislation seems almost quaint. The lobbyists do the same things we did, only to a much greater degree,” said John Good, a former FBI supervisor who oughtta know.http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/to-the-players-in-abscam-the-real-life-american-hustle-the-bribes-now-seem-quaint/2013/12/26/d67648c2-6c15-11e3-a523-fe73f0ff6b8d_story.html

I wonder who’s writing the Chris Christie biopic now? Maybe we need to get some art lobbyists up on the Hill. You know, bring in the big guns – the owners of auctions houses and film industry moguls, maybe a few museum directors? At least we need to appoint a Secretary of Culture, every other country in the free world has one! We don’t need to paint their portrait either. But we DO need President Obama’s portrait painted.

“I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization,” President Kennedy once remarked, “than full recognition of the place of the artist.” http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/07/should-the-us-have-a-secretary-of-culture/277409/

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