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Remembering Miss America

Bess

There aren’t too many Besses. There’s Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth the First.  There’s Forest Bess. But he’s really a Forest, not a Bess. There’s Bessie Smith, the most popular blues singer of the twenties and thirties, known as Empress of the Blues. There is also The Bessie Award given each year for innovative achievement in […]

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Dazzled By Mario Cuomo

JLblog

New York and Queens both lost a fighter for the ordinary people with the passing of Mario Cuomo.  As a Queens native and former planning board chairman in Whitestone/Flushing, I and my colleagues were dazzled by him up close and personal in the early seventies.  Cuomo, as the attorney for a group of mostly Italian […]

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What’s in a Life?

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What’s in a life?  Last weekend, friends and relatives gathered at separate memorial services to honor and celebrate two artists whose lives resonated widely, but ended too soon. Artists have a way of building our engagement by presenting us with ideas and new ways to think about things. Their messages live on through their work […]

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Remembering Ruby

RubyDee

Ruby Dee was never too busy. That is how I remember her. Would she record a TV spot for ArtsWestchester? Happy to do so. Would she say a few words at a local school? In a heartbeat! A poetry reading with her family at ArtsWestchester? Of course! Accept an arts award? Yes…but…heaven knows she didn’t […]

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Saving the Planet, One Song at a Time

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It was perfect synergy to be sitting in the historic Music Room at Caramoor on the day that Pete Seeger passed away. Yes, I am old enough to remember the Weavers, the group that brought Pete Seeger to lasting fame. For those of you who have ever had a Kumbaya moment, you can thank and […]

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Remembering

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Every new year, I try to take stock, checking out gains and losses.  For me, this is not about finance, but about people who have crossed my path during their lifetime, but sadly have left us in 2013.  First, of course, is the incomparable Nelson Mandela, my model for graceful compromise, inclusiveness and patience.  He […]

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A Voice for the Arts

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There was love in the room. Hannah Shmerler was being honored for her voice by the Taconic Opera. Though operatically, she had sung Gilda in Rigoletto, Violetta in La Traviata, and Michaela in Carmen, it was another voice for which she was being honored this week. For years, Hannah has been the voice for the Conservatory […]

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Two Things I Learned From Koch

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I can’t wait to see the movie “Koch” not just because he was a colorful Mayor. But, let’s just say, I knew the man. He was my boss, so to speak. Some time ago…actually a long time ago in the late seventies, I was Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City when Koch […]

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