flashpoints (rita moreno) cover to cover with denny smithson (jane fonda)

pacifica radio's flashpoints (you can listen at the site, or find stations that broadcast it like kpfa - which also archives it). that's where i want to start tonight. i was planning on doing 2 things (i'll still do 1, jane fonda) but flashpoints was really amazing so i'll bump the other thing i had planned and grab it tomorrow.

flashpoints had a report on the refugee camps between jordan and iraq from marci/marcy (i'm still learning names and not real good at taking notes). that was very interesting and she couldn't visit all the camps because some do not allow any 1 to report on them.

there was also a really strong interview that fred hampton jr. did with mumia abu-jamal (this was the thing you got a taste of last night). (and i say night because in my area - east coast, i'm hearing it at night.) the uproar over honoring fred hampton (sr.) with a street named after him was addressed. abu-jamal explained the psuedo outrage as a tactic used to supress history: 'it's against the movement. they don't want people to remember or know. they don't want young people to learn' (i believe he then said: 'our history and struggle' but i'm not the quickest note taker). abu-jamal pointed out that a street being named shouldn't be the issue that those opposed are trying to make it but that it's not really about 1 street. it's about a fear that there might be a national movement of fred hampton streets and that people might start learning the history and realizing just how big it was (therfore, how big it could be again). he spoke of how there is a war on history (and has long been) that will only be made worse by the fact that the move is to learning how to pass a standardized test as opposed to genuine knowledge.

so those were 2 things worth listening to but i especially recommend the interview with rita moreno. if you don't know who she is, go to another website right now. i have no use for you.

i'm teasing. younger readers may not know. there used to be a commercial, i forget the product, where it would say 'tony winner, oscar winner, emmy and grammy winner' rita moreno. if you don't realize it, not many can say that. barbra streisand can and i would guess liza minelli could but that may be it. it's a very small, very select group. she was the nun sister peter marie on oz and the voice of carmen in where in the world is carmen sandiego? which might help some young readers. i believe she's still married which i'll note because she got married in 1965 and that's an accomplishment to note. maybe you saw slums of beverly hills. or maybe you know her tv work - including guest starring on the rockford files as rita (several times) or the nanny.

if you don't know her, you missed the jokes of the nanny. that was a take off on 1 of her most famous screen roles (and my favorite) - anita in west side story. that's a great musical and rita moreno is wonderful in it. (she noted tonight that none of them were kids - in the cast.) rita won a best supporting actress oscar for that role.

it was interesting to hear her speak about that and how, although she got along with everyone in the cast, when it was time for the slurs (it's romeo & juliet set against a gang war - gang of dancers, some sniff - between anglos and puerto ricans - and set to music) that were scripted, it really did hurt her.

she's a trailblazer who gave puerto ricans a face on screen. that didn't happen over night and she spoke about her early years and some of the insulting roles she had to play. she also spoke of starting school at 5 years old and being just tossed into it, she didn't speak english and back then it was 'sink or swim' because people making decisions really didn't give a damn. esl, bi-lingual and other programs were not the goal then.

listening to her speak, you realized how rough it was. not from a whine of 'i've had a tough life' (but she did) but just from a really frank and direct way of speaking. and she's generous with her praise which i give her high marks for. she was praising the film salt of the earth and she had kind words for edward james olmos and took time to praise ricardo montalban for his own trail blazing. she was very generous.

she is currently playing amanda in tennessee williams' the glass menagerie (at the berkeley repertory theatre through june 18th). fly boy's wanting us to take a week and go somewhere and i've been thinking, 'right now?' but now i'm thinking, 'okay, if we can see rita.' if you can, you should. you should listen to her interview because she had a great to deal to say including about the immigration rights issue. she didn't shy from the topic and noted that people shouldn't accept the kind of criticism some are trying to dish out. she said you have to take care of your needs: 'when i express what i need for myself, i'm expressing what america needs' (i hope i got the end of the quote correct, i'm a lousy note taker).

now i'll talk a little about yesterday's cover to cover with denny smithson where smithson interviewed jane fonda. that was a thirty minute interview and there wasn't time for everything but i felt like smithson hit some important highlights and also asked some really important questions. 1 story that fonda told, it's in her book my life thus far as well, was about how when her father (oscar winner henry fonda) was 12 years-old, his father took him to his printing press and made him look out the window where a lynching was going on. she thinks that informed her father's awareness and that he used his roles to speak out against injustice. (forever immortalized as tom joad in the grapes of wratch, i think people would have a hard time disputing that theory.) i'm like smithson, i wish she would go on a speaking tour.

i want to note something because i listened to the interview with fly boy and he wasn't aware that jane fonda spoke out against the war before it started. she did. and she got slimed for it by the usual suspects. she has continued to speak out against it. if every 1 who was able to get in front of a mike would, we'd be even further than we are in the movement to end the war. (and if all of us, mike or not, use our voices, we'll get even further.)

she thinks she carries too much baggage because the right wing would make it about her if she did a tour. i can understand her thinking that. and she's doing more than her share, so good for her. (she's speaking out in interviews, she's putting money behind the cause, etc.) but where i am - i wish she would tour. i think she could reach a group of people that may not be reached otherwise.

denny smithson got at that, i think. i think, when he was talking about her importance and at another time, when he was talking about how apethetic some, who like himself and fonda, protested the war in vietnam, i think he was getting at it.

see, here's where fonda could do the most, my opinion. if she's speaking out, some 1 who spoke out during vietnam might be prompted to. if they're still supporting this illegal war and were against vietnam, it might face them to reclaim that past persona and get over the apathy.

i also think that she has tremendous stature and when some 1 like her really throws her weight into the battle, it makes people pay attention.

i understand the attacks and if that was too much personally, i don't blame her. but i don't think the attacks come only from the right.

i think a lot of our 'centrists' and a lot of our psuedo left lead the attacks as well. yeah, i'm talking the pooper, but not just him. they distance themselves. now that's because most of them (neolibs and dlc-ers) were never about anything but how to get corporate money and how to give tax breaks to corporations.

so they prove they're reasonable by slamming her. i remember c.i. going off on a little al gore aid who trashed fonda during the 1992 campaign. the weasel backed down immediately. but this was in front of a group of people and i know i was pissed and wanting to tell the weasel off (but i was more quiet then) and i'm sure others did as well. so we were all glad that c.i. did. and the weasel was taken aback, open mouthed shock, over c.i.'s tongue lashing. as soon as c.i. was done (it was a mini-speech), others started chiming in as well.

point? a lot of people like fonda. a lot of people admire what she has done and what she does. and for those reasons, i'd like to see her out there. for a selfish reason of reclaiming her rightful acknowledgement.

remember i made my bucks from p.r. so i shall a morbid thought. i have these about a lot of people. i once had to do everything but pay for a journalist's kid's college career to get him to sweeten an obit for a the spouse of a client. so i think about obits. i was so glad that fonda did monster-in-law. i know the puff and no politics crowd put out the false lies that the film was a 'bomb.' it wasn't a bomb. it was a hit. and i was so glad because i did wonder what the obits would say when that day came around. i could see all the cautionary tales of 'this is what happens when art and politics mix, after 1990, she never made another film.' now she walked away from the movie industry, but you know they would have spun it differently. so she came back and she had a hit. and it demonstrated that the nation does not loathe her. the right does, the squishy center distances themselves, but non-political types and many on the left don't hate her.

going out on tour would just cement that reality all the more. which would be good for her and good for the left. when jane fonda can be marginalized by the sell-out crowd (forget the right), it means any 1 can (and is). i mean if they do it fonda, who is not that radical, but she is left, they can do it to every 1.

that's part of the problem with the democratic party today. a lot of 'leadership' in office (elected and party office) are people in the center who would sell us (and have) at the meer whiff of money. the left needs to be the left. a lot of democrats still don't get that which is why they think 'i'll outflank!' and then fail miserably. if they put out real ideas, real beliefs, they'd win. instead it's 'i'm just like bully boy except for this 1 thing.'

it turns voters off (and reduces the amount of voters) and given the choice between ___ and some 1 just like blank except for a few things, people don't see a big enough reason to support or vote for you.

but it's also true that when you're in your 3rd act, if you're speaking out and believe that touring would do more harm than good, it's probably better to stick with your guns.

but it was the types like the pooper who attacked. the right wing? was any 1 surprised? i wasn't. but there was the pooper acting like she was ralph nader and he was screaming 'ralph, don't run!' he did a lousy slam on her when she was going to tour.

it's those types that hurt the country.

he can claim he was doing it because he cares about the movement (though many will laugh at that) but the more likely reason is that he's just plain stupid.

as denny smithson said, we need every voice speaking out. the audience she could reach is so different than the audience that a lot of people could reach. and the audience bright eyes can reach is different. every 1 working together to get the message out and to motivate is what we need.

but when you've been slimed by the supposed left (the pooper), you may feel that it's just not worth it because instead of it being about the war, it's going to be about a centrist pig slamming you to get right wingers going to his lame site (apparently just right wingers go there). he should be ashamed of himself. people like him are as much to blame for the war as bully boy. (he's attacked the peace movement since before the invasion of iraq so no 1 should take his food smeared rants on what the peace movement needs seriously.)

so that's it for tonight. tomorrow i plan to discuss juan gonzalez' tv appearnace monday. (no, not on democracy now! but he was on that as well.)