BETTY IN THE USA

GOLDEN GLOBES: HIGH NOTES ON THE RED CARPET, ON FILM, ONSTAGE; TONIGHT’S VERSES INSPIRING TOMORROW’S

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ROCKING THE RED CARPET IN RED, WHITE, BLUE & METALLICA
So my earth-shattering ‪#‎GoldenGlobes‬ round-up is in: My top fashion pick is……my fave alter ego, Penny Lane, man! @KateHudson rocks it every time, and tonight, it was rockstar @Versace. Kate is always at the top of my list, not only for her fashion, but for her verve, moxie, and kick-ass attitude to life on and off the Red Carpet. For years, my Facebook photo was the photo of Kate playing my favorite character Penny Lane in one of my very favorite movies, #AlmostFamous. Well, the glasses came off recently, and I am enjoying expressing and exploring different facets of myself now, alternating photos and writing this blog under my own moniker of Betty in the USA, inspired by my nickname “Betty”, my favorite rock and roller, and American patriotism and love for the All-American. Kate falls under that “All-American” banner, is always one of my very favorite actresses, and is a real “Betty in the USA”. She should have won the Oscar for Penny Lane, but I know we will see her receiving one of these awards one of these days very soon.

@EmilyBlunt also looked elegant in dramatic white with turquoise earrings, as did the super-cool @SiennaMiller who wore a divine low-cut down-to-there tea-length gown with vintage-y applique-d flowers, and @RosamundPike who donned a daring cut-out dress only five weeks after giving birth.

ONE CANARY SINGING AMONGST A SEA OF RED, FLAMING REDHEADS, AND 50 SHADES OF SILVER,
Right up there with Kate and the ladies in white? @NaomiWatts was one of the first to arrive – if not the first, and her choice of canary yellow reminded me of that gorgeous lemon chiffon dress worn by @ReneeZellweger at the Oscars years ago. Naomi has a classic, vintage look and appeal that is Old Hollywood style, classic, and timeless. The red lips, against the yellow? Vintage Hollywood Glam!

Ravishing redhead @JulianneMoore in Givenchy dazzled in what seemed to be the evening’s choice: disco ball silver, but hers with a touch of Ostrich feathers rustling at the bottom and that flaming red hair dazzled the most of all.   @ReeseWitherspoon also chose a silvery mermaid silhouette, also evoking Old Hollywood with her Veronica Lake hair. Redheads like @EmmaStone, @JessicaChastain, and @AmyAdams – just like Julianne – all rocked the red carpet with variations on the Olympic medal themed, aka gold/silver/bronze, styles of the evening, but Emma’s pick of a jumpsuit particularly suited her playful, bold spirit, as did the #50ShadesofGrey star & Melanie Griffith & Don Johnson’s daughter, @DakotaJohnson. @JenniferLopez and @Kate Beckinsale both look smashing, and @AllisonWilliams’ dress was ethereally stunning, but prefer her hair long and the twisted Cartier bracelet was too contemporary for the dress. My Mom said that her fave was Salma Hayek, but I did not get a good look at the dress, though she is always gorgeous. Jane Fonda, Catherine Zeta Jones, Viola Davis, Juliana Margulies, @HeidiKlum were ravishing in red, along with @HeidiKlum and my favorite red of the evening glittered and glistened on @AllisonWilliams, whose @ArmaniPrive dress shimmered and sparkled along with her beautiful smile. Gwynnie was also a nice surprise, closing the evening with a happy pop of bubblegum pink.

MISSES & HITS ON AND OFF THE CARPET
While I hate to write too negatively about such superbly talented women or anyone, the do’s and don’ts are the running dialogue for all of these evenings, so I could identify several that were my least favorite looks and frocks: Clare Danes, Melissa McCarthy, and sadly – Ruth Wilson. She is a stunning, brilliant actress, and even though green is my favorite color, the dress just disappointed for her first big awards moment. But her win more than makes up for it, particularly also because Clare Danes has won now multiple years in a row. Also, my new favorite “sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seat-in-the-dark-with-the-door-closed” show, @TheAffair, won the big prize! I actually have had the privilege of meeting the brilliant writer @SarahTreem, who gave an equally brilliant and humble speech, obviously so grateful for what she has been rewarded as a result of her hard work, creativity, and vision. @PatriciaArquette and @RichardLinklater definitely deserved (and were my choices) for BOYHOOD but sorry to not see @EthanHawke get it too. Happy to see Reese take @CherylStrayed –  the woman who inspired the movie ‪and wrote the book #‎Wild‬ – alongside her on the red carpet – a sign of a real star. While I’m sorry that she didn’t receive the award for Best Actress, Julianne Moore is such a fantastic actress in a movie about a very, very important subject for all of us to learn more about: #Alzheimers.

THE MEN, THE MEN, THE MEN – CLOONEY, WEST, KEATON, LINKLATER
Too bad the hottest man in the room (who in my opinion beats George Clooney hands down!) @DominicWest didn’t win Best Actor for @TheAffair, but his watery eyes onstage with his fellow cast members showed the first sign of a another trend of the evening: men showing genuine, honest, open emotion. @MichaelKeaton is clearly back in winning action, and to hear and see grown manly men like him, Dominic West, and George Clooney express their feelings so emotionally – without any cringe factor – is a breath of fresh air. Amal’s gloves finally came off (thank God), and as much as @GeorgeClooney can be overexposed and overblown (don’t you think it’s a bit early for him to be getting a lifetime achievement award!???), his emotional armor has disappeared b/c he is clearly smitten and in love with his new, beautiful, elegant, intelligent, and very accomplished wife. I think that it is safe to say that any woman who heard what he said to Amal in front of the world, let out a collective awwwwwww and shed a little happy tear, because really, love – not money or awards – is all we need, right? Poetry, beauty, romance – time to spend with those we love and on the things we want to accomplish – these are the things we stay alive for, to see how far we can run the race, right?

BOYHOOD was definitely my winning pick for Best Picture. Having been made over the course of 12 years with no bells and whistles,the film conveys a very simple and straightforward message so effectively about our most precious commodities in life: TIME, LOVE, FAMILY. In the face of writing about celebrities and their fashion choices, lives, and looks, my takeway is always inspiration from all the talent in that room, because as @EddieRedmayne said to his co-star “they up my game”, calling me to finding that something greater – tomorrow, and the next day, and so on, and to always remember what is most important along the way. So on that note, let’s remember someone who really deserves an honor like Mr. Clooney won this evening, hopefully at the Oscars. His life was taken senselessly and way too soon, way before his time. Like the life of @RobinWilliams, those lives in Paris were taken away in a heartbeat. ‪#‎CarpeDiem‬, my friends. #JeSuisCharlie. #RIPRobinWilliams

CARPE DIEM
“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

#GoldenGlobes #RedCarpet #Hollywood #Apple #Hollywood #RobinWilliams

GREETINGS FROM LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – THE LAND OF HOPE AND DREAMS: A Love Letter to Kindred Spirits

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One of the best parts – if not the best part – of the 2012 ‪#‎WreckingBall‬ tour (and no, it was not Miley Cyrus, though her knockoff rendition of Wrecking Ball was probably a tribute to the Boss too), was each show’s rendition of ‪#‎TenthAvenueFreezeout‬. This is true for several reasons: one of which is because the performance is the perfect showcase of why ‪#‎TheBoss‬ @BruceSpringsteen @BruSpringsteen is the best live act alive, with a community of fans who worship as I do –  in the #HouseofSpringsteen & ‪#‎EStreet‬.

The second reason is because it also showcases the Boss as not only a rock and roller, but a rock and soul-er.  The 2012 tour in particular, returned to the stage with new life, infused by loss and grief, but salvaged and reborn again through the power of music and spirituality.  Not only did it show the spirituality and soulfulness of the Boss and his music, but it imparted the transformational influence of music on his life and our lives, and communicated the impact of his Catholicism as a child and as an adult. The recent tours also reinforced the gravitas and goodness of his character as a person, with more engagement than ever into crowds of people, jumping from balconies of the intimate Apollo Theatre to singing to me behind the stage at the Izod Center.  The shows and more recent events & public appearances including the Concert for Valor, Brian Williams’ induction into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honors, and his most recent honor for his work with Veterans – the Lincoln Award, as well as personal outings to support his friend @Sting’s debut of @TheLastShip on #Broadway, demonstrate his unparalleled loyalty to his fans, to his family of origin, and to his family of choice: the #EStreetBand and his #BloodBrothers, @StevenVanZandt, @ClarenceClemons, @DannyFederici, @RoyBittan, @MaxWeinberg, @GaryTallent, @NilsLofgren, @SisterSusieTyrell, the newer members of the band including Clarence’s nephew @JakeClemons, my friend @EverettBradley, the gospel, rapping, soulful back-up singers Darlene Love and Michelle Moore, the orchestral/big band musicians, and of course, Bruce’s wife and longtime band member who broke into the #EStreetBoysClub way back when – @PattiScialfa.  More than anyone though, Bruce’s friendship with Clarence showed kindred spirits in action, how two minds, hearts, and souls beat to the same rhythm, creating a bond that transcends time, and then sharing it with all of us to not only enjoy, but to be inspired, and to remind us that kindred spirits – and family – can be found in the most unlikely places,  on the most unlikely stages, at the most unexpected times, and sometimes even at the times when we need them most.Finally, the performance also pays tribute to and honors those key members of that family who are no longer with us: Clarence Clemons & Danny Federici.

Bruce’s relationship to the Big Man in particular, and Clarence himself, reminds me of my relationship and my family’s to our own “Big Man” and to the man himself: a man named Aston Taylor who was and always is very much a part of the maternal side of my family. He called me – and all the girls in our family: STAR, making me feel like one every time I was with him. He called my grandmother (and my grandfather) BOSS. He called the boys in the family “MASTERS“. Taylor came to this country from Jamaica around 1960 and met my grandfather several years later in downtown Manhattan.  Papa hired him on the spot, and they became not only fast friends, but blood brothers – just like Bruce and Clarence. As my grandfather requested prior to his death, Taylor watched over my grandmother throughout the rest of her life, and they were not only best friends, but also “blood brothers”.  Taylor was engaged in our lives from the minute we entered the world, and knew more about my grandfather and his career, as well as our family, than almost anyone.  I was lucky enough to interview him about his “insider” role to my grandfather’s career and he told me more things about my grandfather’s role in history than any media outlet or the public is aware. He told me more than I was already aware!  He had a front row seat to history, and has a front row seat from up above, watching the biggest filmmaker of our time @StevenSpielberg pay tribute to my grandfather and his role in history, with the recent #KennedyCenterHonors honoree @TomHanks playing our own @JamesBDonovan.com. Taylor, did you see the cars riding around Brooklyn?Just like yesterday!  

Thanks to the generosity and kindness of dear friends, I was lucky enough to spend significant time with Taylor at his house in Florida shortly before he died. His living room was literally a shrine to our family, something I will cherish forever – just like him. When he died the following year, I was so grateful to have had those special times with him one-on-one. I believe that God had graced me with that extraordinary opportunity for a reason. When we lost Taylor (as well as losing our grandmother shortly before that, and of course our grandfather) our family felt very incomplete. It still feels that way, though legacies and kindred spirits have a way of being present – at the most unexpected times and in the most unlikely places.

When Danny and then Clarence died, the ‪#‎EStreetBand and the #EStreetNation felt incomplete without them – until this tribute that Bruce led on tour in 2012, through even the High Hopes tour in 2014. How the tribute was produced and performed is so powerful, so incredibly and appropriately reverential to their everlasting presence and larger-than-life-legacies, that Bruce was able to bring them alive and with us to each city, stage, arena, and field throughout the entire tour, reminding us that really – the Band is still complete, they have never left, nor will they ever leave. Of course we would all prefer to have them physically here with us, but the spirit and the soul transcend physicality in such a way, rendering their presence to be timeless and perhaps even more meaningful than ever. So you see, as Bruce said in his eulogy to the Big Man, “‘Clarence doesn’t leave the E Street Band when he dies. He leaves when we die”. I might venture to add to that now: not even when the Band dies, will you leave us. “Big Man” Taylor – and of course my grandparents on both sides of my family: You haven’t left us. You won’t ever leave us, not even when we die. Taylor, when the changes were made uptown and you joined our band, you always were and still are a part of our family. The fish are still jumping for you down in @SpringLake. I see you just like it was yesterday, just before the @Belmar gates on Ocean Avenue at the North End Beach, approx. blocks from ‪#‎10thAvenueandEStreet‬. I’ll be seein’ ya someday beyond those ‪#‎Belmargates‬. Until then, I’m fishing off the moon over the deep blue Atlantic with your star – and those of my grandparents on both sides of the family – guiding me and all of us to ‪#‎heavenonearth‬. Happy Birthday ‪#‎BIGMAN‬ @ClarenceClemons!! Blow out an extra candle or two for me. I’m making a wish, and it’s a good one….a really good one.

‪#‎GreetingsfromLakePlacidNY‬
‪#‎EStreetNation‬ ‪#‎ClarenceClemons‬ ‪#‎DannyFederici‬ ‪#‎BruceSpringsteen‬ ‪#‎EStreetBand‬ ‪#‎music‬ ‪#‎RollingStone‬ #rockandroll #ClarenceClemonsDay
http://www.rollingstone.com/…/bruce-springsteens-eulogy-for…

FINDING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS THROUGH THE MAGIC AND MIRACLE OF MUSIC, ESPECIALLY AT CHRISTMAS

thelightindarkness
Merry Merry Santa Bruce & Clarence Baby

Last Christmas, I wrote something inspired by the Winter Solstice and Illumination-themed Myth of Red Salon, http://www.mythofredsalon.com, an extraordinary performing arts ensemble founded by my dear, beautiful and talented musical angel of a friend, crossover artist Sasha Lazard, http://www.sashalazard.com, who just released an incredibly soulful new CD, inspired by light called Lumiere: a must-listen, a must-last-minute-gift, a must-companion-to the winter-solstice, as the days thankfully now get longer.
Lumiere

Last year’s post was about how one of the world’s greatest musicians inspires me to always find light in the darkness and to find something within me to always reach for the stars, especially in the face of challenge. This year, the sounds of Springsteen continued to be that same beacon through challenge and triumph. As we face the end of this year, two of the best things unique to the Christmas season are music and the lights. Lights will come on the next post, so let’s focus first on music.

The world’s greatest musical artists become friends in our homes during the holidays producing holiday specials and performing holiday numbers wearing Santa hats, sharing their families with the world, and jingling their way to our hearts wearing elf costumes and singing songs they would not normally sing or dance to – just because it’s Christmas. My sentimentality and nostalgia recalls something from childhood that seems to coming back in a new way: the Variety Show. The Variety Show showcased the versatility of legendary entertainers including Bob Hope, Andy Williams, Perry Como, John Denver, Donnie and Marie Osmond, and my favorites of all: the Carpenters. As corny as these shows were, they left an indelible message of family, laughter, song, dance, and light. This year, popular entertainers including @KristenChenoweth, @MichaelBuble, @KellyClarkson @RebaMcIntire @CountryMusicAssociation @JenniferNettles, as well as the irreplaceable @BarbraStreisand reinforced the importance of music to my life, to the Christmas season, and to the world. What would we ever do without it? In case you missed it, here is a clip from my favorite crooner of the season, Mr. Michael Buble on his @NBC special here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDzQ2md2f58

As that beacon of mine @BruceSpringsteen said in one of the most moving and beautiful speeches whose words are music to my ears and brings tears to my eyes every time I listen to it: “Music inspires us and soothes our broken hearts. Music is what we get married to, and divorced to. Music is with us on our blackest days; stands by us in war and in peace; makes us laugh and keeps us strong; Helps us not to be stupid; informs us and loves us. Do you believe in magic? There is no faith required. I have been a part of the miracle of music. I have seen the tired, depressed, and the weary. I have seen those revived from their seats and dance. The Taliban will never win: not now or not ever, not here, not in Timbuktu, by banning music and dancing. The minute you do that, you label yourself a tyrant. The minute Timbuktu was liberated? What did people do? They played music, and they danced! You can’t triumph without music, because music is life. Music is the birds singing, the wheat rustling in the fields, the strumming of the wind through the leaves of that tree that was in the backyard of your childhood home, the earth and the stars rolling through the heavens at night. Before man or woman heard their name, they heard music. They heard the wind rushing past their eardrums, the grasses humming with insects, the birds knocking and rocking in the trees.” The tribute, featuring artists including @JohnLegend, @TimMcGraw, @FaithHill, @ZacBrownBand, @MavisStaples, @Sting, @EltonJohn is not only a must-see, but a must to support PBS, as well as see how the music of #Springsteen has revolutionized the music industry, but American and global society. The speech is a must-listen, the show is a must-see, and @PBS is a must-support that provides cultural enrichment to the public . http://www.pbs.org.

Springsteen PBS

For the purpose of finding light under the Christmas tree now and always, my picks would be anything to do with music and of course anything #Springsteen and #EStreet. My friend @LawrenceKirsch has an incredible limited edition book paying tribute to our mutual beacon, “LIGHT IN DARKNESS”. Lawrence also has a holiday gift guide that frankly rocks around the Christmas tree all year long. The #12DaysofChristmaswiththeBoss can really be the #12MonthsofChristmaswiththeBoss, so why not light things up in January and pick something from the #BossoftheMonthClub there or from my friends over @Backstreets, http://www.backstreets.com? January is the best time ever to light up the post-holiday, Winter blues, and hey – February is my birthday AND Valentine’s Day, March and April are Easter/Passover/Spring Break, and so on and so on. It’s late and very last minute, but somehow I know so much light can be found here, if not for Christmas, then into 2015. http://www.thelightindarkness.com/home/


Of course, @BruceSpringsteen.net also has exactly everything I could ever want, including the re-mastered box set of all of his classic albums, live downloads from the #HighHopes tour, and yesterday’s surprise with the live download out of the vault from the #DarknessontheEdgeofTown Tour: the AGORA, in Cleveland from 1978. The revival of the #LP and the #bootleg in the form of live downloads is a gift unto itself, and Team #Springsteen sound engineers are masters of the art and the science.
http://www.thelightindarkness.com/darkness/bruce-springsteen-the-e-street-band-the-agora-cleveland-1978/. Finally, if all I have is my trusted “friend at the record store” @EStreetRadio @SiriuxXM to keep me company (and another tour to look forward to pretty please in 2015??), I am one happy girl this Christmas and always knowing that #EStreet is #mystreetondemand.
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Under my tree this year, I don’t need diamonds or pearls, furs or cashmere, a big dinner or elaborate party, or anything other than what I am already have in my life: my health, family, friends, a home, love, laughter, children, time, and yes – music. But if I had to choose, it would be anything experiential like travel, events, adventures, anything that is intellectually stimulating, culturally enriching, or spiritually enlightening, and anything and everything creative and artistic: books, paintings, films, and most of all – music. These things enrich the heart, mind, and soul, making life’s moments in time that much more memorable, unforgettable, and more meaningful. Most of all, I hope that I find something that cannot be found under any Christmas tree: my family, smiles, laughter, joy, peace, music, and those most precious things of all: children, time, God, the angels, and spirituality – those things found “from that wind rustling in the trees in the backyard of my childhood home.” I always remember the weeping willow and a big maple tree from a family summer home, as well as the evergreens of @LakePlacid and the sounds of the waves breaking across the street from my grandmother’s home on the @JerseyShore, all of which breathe peace into my soul just as if it were yesterday, a reminder that they will always be there singing the same music from my childhood, indelible reminders in my memory that will never leave me. Like the Boss says, music is always found in trees and nature, and as I say: in the most unlikely places – especially at Christmas. Look for them. “You will find magic. There is no faith required.” Do you believe in magic? Do you believe in miracles? Why yes, forever, and always, but especially – at Christmas.

Conan O’Brien Show, with guest appearance by Conan in the E Street Band, in New York City
Merry Christmas Baby!

#USACUBA “SANTA” SET THE STAGE 52 YEARS AGO; Even Dauntless Diplomat Jim Donovan Would be Speechless!

Congress Democrats

1962/63 #USACUBA “SANTA” SET THE STAGE FOR USA CUBA THEN….AND NOW
When “Santa” is Revealed in the Form of Pope Francis,
Even Dauntless Diplomat Jim Donovan would be Speechless!

By Beth Amorosi, Founder, Donovan Institute
Granddaughter, James (Jim) Britt Donovan
James (Jim) Britt Donovan and his Cold War negotiation style is the subject of an upcoming Steven Spielberg film featuring Tom Hanks, dramatizing the exchange of Russian spy Rudolf Abel with American U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers in February, 1962. The film has already been named the must-see Oscar film of 2015, and is set for release next October.

President Obama, his administration, and its many allies and supporters on both sides of the political aisle, Raul Castro, the Cuban regime, and Fidel himself, as well as the scores of appeals and initiatives taken by the media, people in the private and public sectors, organizations, and other constituents, extending to the Canadian Government, and even the Vatican and Pope Francis are all to be commended for a truly courageous step toward this seismic shift in history restoring relations between the United States and Cuba.

Let’s recall and examine how and when this shift started with a pretty big quake on the diplomatic Richter scale: In the late fall of 1962 and into 1963, attorney and negotiator Jim Donovan began negotiations with Fidel Castro on behalf of President Kennedy and his administration, and the Cuban Families Committee, and was the ONLY direct link to the President. Obama’s communication with Castro is the first direct Presidential communication since Eisenhower. 52 years ago on December 22, Jim returned home to the U.S. on December 22, 1962, having successfully negotiated for the release of 23 prisoners. His trips to Cuba continued well into the spring of 1963, ultimately resulting in the release of 1100+ prisoners in exchange for humanitarian aid provided by the Red Cross and a major pharmaceutical company, all coordinated by Donovan: a diplomatic coup striking a balance of the private and public sectors and establishing the groundwork that continued with diplomatic discussions and plans happening. Unbeknownst to the public, this coup would have happened then, but on November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was killed and a new Administration and era ushered in, politics entered the fray, and history stood still….until today.

Donovan’s son John Donovan traveled to Cuba as a teenager, accompanying his father on one of his 15+ trips there to negotiate with Castro. After the failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs, Donovan was a strategic move in the Cold War chess game. Donovan bringing his teenage son on a visit was also a strategic move toward winning that chess game, salvaging relations after the failed invasion, and moving toward restored diplomatic relations. Also on this trip, the CIA actually attempted to assassinate Castro through a gift of a wetsuit that Castro was to wear with Jim on a fishing trip. At the last minute, Jim gave him another wetsuit, preventing the attack.

Jim Donovan’s dauntless diplomacy as it relates to #USACUBA, to #USARussia, and yes, even to the terrorist threat and the war on terror, offers a glimpse into the history of what happened on the world stage as it happened publicly AND behind-the-scenes a long time ago. These events have largely been eclipsed by so many years gone by and because the people who were there, are no longer here. Time and distance have a way of giving events a new perspective and the best recognition of all: success!!! Finally, success! Jim Donovan’s legacy in no way eclipses the significant accomplishments and efforts of those administrations and diplomats who have tried and contributed since that time, and most of all those on today’s world stage whose efforts directly impacted this dramatic shift. If anything, Jim Donovan’s legacy and those legacies of President Kennedy and his brother Robert Kennedy, now have the best gifts ever with today’s success and the opening of a new world for Cuba, and a new channel between Cuba and the United States.

All politics aside, let’s be proud of this change in the course of history. Time has a funny way of paying off. It may take a lot more time for many to adjust to this news, particularly those in the Cuban-American community in Miami who still struggle with how they left Cuba so many years ago and what/who they left behind. Respectfully to them and to the Cuban people who have suffered unimaginable loss, their feelings and opinions are all deserving. Ultimately, time will help to heal and reveal itself with the intangible gifts of freedom, change, hope, and progress. While history will always matter and never be forgotten, this is a truly momentous shift toward abundance, and the only way to look back is to move forward.

As the headline from @LakePlacidNews said in 1962: “Santa Came Home (to Lake Placid) from Cuba for Christmas”. Since Lake Placid is the town where miracles happen, because it’s Christmas. and because I believe in God, heaven, and in miracles, I will speculate on a miracle of my own: it seems that maybe Jim Donovan is still talking with Fidel Castro, having had something to do with helping to set this stage today…even from up above. Now that is truly something to consider, especially as we approach the 52nd anniversary on December 22 and of course as we approach Christmas on December 25. This year, “Santa” is not only President Obama, but also Pope Francis? Wow! There are just no words that give enough deference to how this was done to bring these prisoners home for the holidays beginning on Hannukah. As a Catholic, Jim Donovan and I am sure – President Kennedy and his brother Bobby – would not only approve, but very happily step aside in history for a Pope who is not only changing the Catholic Church, but changing the world. Given Jim’s wife and my grandmother’s personality, her influence with my grandfather, and her staunch Catholicism, this is something that seems to have her written all over it. Only at Christmas is it possible to speculate on such thoughts, but boy do I wish she and Jim were here to enjoy all of these wonderful pieces of news this year with us. Until we meet again, this event is the best Christmas/holiday gift ever for the released prisoners and their families, for Cuba and the United States, and for diplomacy. The events/news of 2014 is most certainly the best Christmas gift ever for the legacy of Jim Donovan, for my grandparents, for me, for my family, and for the next generation who hopefully looks to this day and this history to inspire their future ambitions.


JOHN DONOVAN SPEAKS ABOUT HIS DAD AND TRIP TO CUBA

The legacy of Jim Donovan is dedicated to a commitment to education, the law and the defense of the unpopular cause, diplomacy and the art of negotiation, the preservation of history, public service, the arts and the humanities, and to empowering and inspiring others to commitment to a life enriched by any/all of the above. His legacy serves as a role model for those of all ages, and especially to those parts of society and the world with limited opportunity and to the next generation. For additional information and continued updates on news in 2015, please visit http://www.jamesbrittdonovan.com/.org or http://www.jamesbdonovan.com/.org and/or contact info@www.jamesbrittdonovan.com/.org.

#DonovanDiplomacy
#JamesBrittDonovan
#JimDonovan
#USACUBA

THE ROYALS VISIT A VERY ROYAL TOWN IN FULL REGALIA: NYC AT CHRISTMAS

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Christmastime in NYC

Christmastime in NYC

I am so excited about Wills & Kate being in New York for so many reasons, including one very personal one, and another: that I am now involved with a conservation initiative supported by the royal patronage of Prince William called Tusk Trust. Most of all, I am excited by one reason that no one in the media seems to be highlighting/emphasizing as much as they did on the first ‪#‎RoyalVisitUSA: it’s only Kate’s second time here, and her first time ever to New York City – and at Christmas!!! This trip is so exciting for us, but if we take the spotlight off of that for a second, can’t you imagine how exciting it is for her and them, not just as the ‪#‎RoyalFamily‬, but as human beings just like the rest of us? As a lifelong New Yorker, I have always wanted to experience New York City through those innocent-wide-eyes of someone experiencing this city for the first time. As a lifelong New Yorker, I have those moments myself on a daily basis because of how proud I am of ‪#‎NYC‬ & ‪#‎NewYorkState‬, and because of how extraordinary, dynamic, and mesmerizing this city truly is, especially at ‪#‎Christmas‬. That said, to have those moments that I have myself through the eyes of a first-time-ever-visitor is something I have always wondered about and wished I could experience myself. While obviously that will never happen, I still get goosebumps for that person, seeing their eyes and faces light up like it never has before.This time, that person is a beautiful, charming, elegant, graceful, and approachable young woman who is very simply something we just don’t see as often as we should: a true lady – just like her mother-in-law @PrincessDiana. Just like she was, Kate is a fantastic role model for women everywhere.  She married a young man who may have been born-to-be-prince-and-king of ‪#‎England‬, but he has truly become a real prince and king of a man and changed the monarchy for the better forever. Really, it is something we get to witness for the first time in history, and to see a beautiful young couple at the beginning of their lives together taking #NYC and the world, by storm. British Consulate-General – New York ‪#‎RoyalVisitUSA‬ ‪#‎christmasinNewyork‬

IN THE SPIRIT OF CELEBRATING MILESTONES, TRADITIONS & “THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS” AT ITS BEST

Rock Center
New York City at Christmas: The Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting

Since I have recently posted informal mini-reviews/round-ups of the Video Music Awards, the Country Music Awards and the American Music Awards, I seem to now feel obliged (compelled?) to do the same with the tree lighting at Rockefeller Center, making this round-up thing a new tradition of my own.

So the tree lighting ceremony production was a little bit loose-r than years past, including Mariah’s décolletage! Whew! That Xmas song of hers is the best, but it may be time to change the dress color, bring up the neckline and just generally tighten things up a bit, don’t you think? Or maybe just get a stylist like everyone-else-and-their-mother-who-is-supposedly- somebody? Her talent is too great to be distracted by the other parts of the package hanging ten!

Though I loved seeing my fellow Sacred Heartie Stephanie Germanotta (aka Lady Gaga) up there alongside Mr. Tony Bennett (and she looked and sounded smashing), I thought Music City’s Jason Rucker was among the best, if not the best, of the singing bunch (the country music crowd always delivers the best musical talent). Sara Bareilles and Seth McFarlane also really delivered a fantastic rendition of Baby it’s Cold Outside. Ingrid Michaelson was really out-there, seemed like she might have even been on something other than the high from her off-key notes, and that outfit was the evening version of a hybrid of all the private girls’ school (Sacred Heart/Spence/Chapin/Nightengale/Spence/Hewitt) uniforms blended into one bad evening gown at the Gold and Silver Ball (only New York City kids will know what that is). A bit more dancing could also be thrown in to the production, but at least the Rockettes – a tradition unto themselves – showed up. They never disappoint, though it would have been nice to see a change in outfit for the 2nd kicking!

Idina Menzel is an incredible singer and performer, though that song from Frozen should be saved for the 1,000th DVD viewing at home by kids only. Maybe the tree lighting should be held on Monday night when Broadway is dark or at least try to get more song and dance routines from the Great White Way and Lincoln Center? If the A-list like Timberlake or even our own new Welcome to New York ambassador Taylor Swift can’t make it, then tapping the Great White Way, Lincoln Center, and more from Music City would make this the A-list show it is at heart, but just wasn’t there entirely last night, though always an A for effort with the peacock network NBC. The feathers just need to be fluffed a little more for next year.

Though I love all of the music, it feels different and somewhat wrong without the ice skaters. As a figure skater myself, it’s not my favorite ice rink (as it’s small), but Rockefeller Center during the winter, and especially at Christmas, has always been all about the ice. When trend takes over tradition, sometimes it veers too far and tonight it went a bit too far, especially when Nick Lachey is the best announcer of the whole Today Show crew (love that guy!!!), and when the talent is yearning for a true emcee (Ryan Seacrest, anyone????), and the newest New Yorker…..Taylor Swift. As a new New York ambassador of sorts, as the biggest star in the industry with the hottest album release out there, wouldn’t you think she would have been in New York to light up the tree instead of strutting the runway at Victoria’s Secret in…… London? Hey, wasn’t that show always in New York??? What happened to that??? Don’t those models all live here??? I know they do! I just saw Karlie Kloss at the Knicks game last week with her BFF (best friends forever who don’t know) Taylor Swift. have gone to it many times over the years….until this year??? Hmmm…..let’s get that back here. “Victoria” might exude British, but isn’t that an American brand?? Let’s get that Victoria back stateside. Hey speaking of lingerie and pajama-wear….

Leann Rimes looked like she was wearing her husband’s bathrobe. Though she showed a bit of a garter and black dress underneath, she never shed it completely and the outfit didn’t even look too exciting for it to be shed. It really wasn’t any better than the first outfit where she was wearing her husband’s lumberjack shirt from LL Bean. At least make the outfits Christmas-y when the Christmas song she chooses to sing is about…….hippos???

And what happened to our new Mayor flicking the switch? I always saw my favorite Mayor (other than Mr. Guiliani), Michael Bloomberg next to the Speyer family (uh, owners of Rock Center?) right next to Matt and the Today Show crew. Even seeing the Speyers would have made it all come together a bit more at the end. Who was that crowd next to Savannah and Matt? With the new Mayor nowhere in sight (I realize the job called tonight with protests looming, and gratefully, none happened at Rock Center), you would think that even a stalwart NYer like Trump or even Kathie Lee and Hoda could have been brought in to liven things up a bit and make it all seem like New York?! Who was that crowd? Couldn’t they come up with at least one boldfaced name instead of the group Today Show hug with Cyndi Lauper and a bunch of other New Yorkers we don’t know? At least then let’s get some children there to enjoy the thrill of lighting up the biggest tree from Pennsylvania that Al Roker brought in on the top of his station wagon!

It just wasn’t up to the level of years past, but on the bright side, there were no disruptions, everyone was happy, the songs/carols were all classics, and sometimes casual and not-so-pulled-together, feels like home too. As much as I love Taylor Swift, she is still growing on everyone as an authentic New Yorker (like the tree, she is originally from Pennsylvania) and there is something much more New York about Ole Blue Eyes and the New York, New York anthem we all know and love. In between Swifty and Frank are also Jay-Z and Billy Joel whose New York anthems New York State of Mind and Empire State of Mind would seem likely candidates to perform – even at Christmas. As resident performer at Madison Square Garden, let’s shoot for him next year? And Jay-Z can bring Beyonce and Baby Blue too, and wow – wouldn’t that be something!

The most logical choices also seemed to be missing: SNL cast? Brian Williams for his 10th Anniversary to flick the switch??? Maybe with his daughter Peter Pan? Seth Myers? Jimmy Fallon to slow-jam-the-Christmas-tree-lighting-news? We know now that Jimmy had more important new daddy duties to welcome his new daughter to the world, but next year we better see the new dad and host of the new Tonight Show in New York City? Maybe even host that night’s show outside! Now that is the perfect ensemble and none of them has to walk very far at all. We all love the Today Show crew but they are tired from the Thanksgiving Day parade and it was a long day for them. Give them a break and hand over the reins to the king and prince of nighttime!

On the brightest side of all: we are emboldened by the evening’s events aways, regardless of the show. The tree lighting is one of the grandest traditions in New York that is appreciated and enjoyed worldwide. IT always puts us in that Welcome to New York, New York/New York, Empire State of Mind because after all, the tree was greener and brighter than ever, baby it’s really not so cold outside, New York is the greatest city in the world and one helluva town- always, and there is absolutely nothing like New York City at Christmas.

UNSUNG HEROES: U2 MINUS ONE; HOW ONE PERSON CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF HISTORY

LIKE U2, TRUE HEROES ARE NEVER “MINUS ONE”
One Life: What One Person can do to Change the Course of History

Over the course of my father’s career as a hematologic oncologist at @NYULangoneMedicalCenter, he has always shared highlights about his wide-ranging experiences in medicine: from news about the most interesting discovery, insights about the latest innovation, and interesting facts about the diseases he was treating, to his own interpretations of medical stories in the news, and most of all, to his professional and personal interactions with patients, students, and colleagues-doctors, nurses, lab workers, fundraisers, office administrators, and more. Many of those patients and colleagues – and their families – also became part of our extended family and a very familiar part of daily life whether it was on the phone taking messages on his behalf or seeing them at office/medical center visits and social functions, and even on special occasion dinners, performances, sporting events, and vacations to the Cape, the Jersey Shore, and the Adirondacks.

When I was in my early teens, my dad would share a little bit about interactions with one colleague in particular who also happened to be his long-time office-mate. I remember him talking about a new disease that was appearing in patients of theirs (though mostly hers, as this was her specialty) everywhere, in exponentially escalating numbers, which were also very quickly becoming beyond control. That colleague of his was also a pioneering researcher, who co-authored/co-published the first paper, identifying that disease. Thanks to this colleague of my dad’s, and the diligent research and innovation of medical professionals like her, along with leadership and support from Presidents Clinton and Bush 43, tireless advocates like Bono and his organization @RED, and other leading organizations such as @amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research, the world has changed, and made so many incredible strides in the treatment of that disease. It is amazing to see what just one person did that began to manifest itself while she was alive, and how that work has manifested exponentially since she left this world at the way-too-young age of 45.

I am grateful to have known her at all, honored to say I did, and blessed to live in a world where her legacy continues this tireless fight. My dad’s colleague lived with a lifelong stigma of her own, and worked on behalf of others with a different type of stigma. But stigma is the same regardless of the source, and her stigma was something she was able to parlay quite easily into her work with these early patients who were very unfairly stigmatized, not as much because of the disease itself, but for their supposed choice of lifestyle. No one should ever live with stigma of any kind, and this doctor set the tone for treatment – medically and personally – at the outset. On #WorldAIDSDay and #GivingTuesday, this woman’s legacy is very worth sharing, not only to continue to fight for those lives who continue to suffer and/or face suffering, but also for those facing any stigma at all –whether it’s physical or mental illness, a physical or mental disability, man or woman, race or color, religion or atheist, single/divorced/married, adult or child, parent or aspiring parent or someone who chooses to not have any children at all, political affiliation, personal tastes in music, clothes, art, food, home, and yes – lifestyle. Stigma is a disease unto itself, and is something that not only pervades society and perpetuates our social ills, but alienates people from the human race. When disease becomes stigma, it alienates those people further from people when they need them the most. Celebration of our differences and what each person in this world has to offer is what makes this world and life so interesting and dynamic. Every individual on this planet has the right to life and to humane treatment – regardless of differences and any disease – and should be treated with compassion and dignity, most of all when they are in pain and in need. This is the time when “brothers and sisters” are called upon to carry each other through some of that pain rather than turn a blind eye or worse, rub salt in the wound.

That colleague of my father’s lived her life in a wheelchair because of polio. Despite this tremendous disability, she became a very successful doctor, who left a legacy that will endure not only well beyond her lifetime, but through the incredible strides that have been made and continue to be made in the treatment of this disease, the tireless advocacy of everyday heroes with unsung names like hers, as well as those heroes like Bono. Mr. Paul Hewson – or to reference him with his world famous moniker, Bono – has done so much more than lent his name, but devoted his life’s work to and through his music which we sing and dance to every day – to this disease. I wish he could have known her, as she is one of those heroes we don’t encounter every day. The countless people affected by this disease then, now, and in the future have all been touched by her work in one way or another. #What1PersonCanDo not only saves lives, but changes the world.

In the spirit of the U2 song ONE, #What1PersonCanDo, and #U2MinusOne: @U2 could never be U2 without @Bono, and Bono could not be U2 without @theEdge, @LarryMullen, and @AdamClayton. U2 is Bono, and Bono is U2. The man is the band; the band is the man. But the band he and they have created is not only their music, but something bigger than themselves, something bigger than the entire catalogue of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musicians on one stage, even including (now, as a lifelong E Street girl, this is tough even for me to say out loud!) – yes – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band! What is extraordinary about #U2MINUSOne, is that Bono’s spirit is so larger-than-life that it could never be replaced by someone else – not even by his longtime pal and fellow @RockandRollHallofFame-r, Mr. Springsteen, his soon-to-be-fellow-Hall-of-Famer @Coldplay’s Chris Martin. They, along with @CarrieUnderwood and @KanyeWest, rose to the occasion and paid tribute to Bono and U2 by being torchbearers to the cause, using their names and talents because of something bigger than themselves. They believe in Bono and U2, they believe in their music and their message, they believe in the cause, they believe in the power of the human spirit, and yes – they believe in music to heal, to move people toward something bigger than themselves, to “move brothers and sisters to carry each other.”

Like Bono, this fight is never “minus one” because this doctor is no longer here, or because of all of the casualties this disease has left in its wake. It is a fight and a cause that has new names and faces added to it every day. It is an extraordinary band, a collective of people who have come together for a cause that has taken on a life of its own. That band has come together as Bono sings, “One. Brothers and sisters who carry each other.” That is the power of the human spirit, and the power of what one person can do to create a song, sing it, and use that song to have everyone sing the same tune, carrying each other through it, producing one resounding, glorious and triumphant symphony for lifetimes to come.

That Doctor is @Julia Roberts’ character in the HBO film, developed from the Broadway play, by
@LarryKramer, #ANormalHeart.

That Doctor’s name was #DrLindaLaubenstein. That disease is ‪#‎AIDS‬‬.

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/17/nyregion/linda-laubenstein-45-physician-and-leader-in-detection-of-aids.html

#ChangeHistory
#ONEStepUp4Red
#WorldAIDSDay
#GivingTuesday
#Givefromtheheart
#FightForWhatYouBelieveIn
#SingLoudly

U2 photo

A Red Thank You
http://www.u2.com

“One”

Is it getting better

Or do you feel the same

Will it make it easier on you now

You got someone to blame

You say…
One love

One life

When it’s one need
In the night

One love

We get to share it

Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it
Did I disappoint you

Or leave a bad taste in your mouth

You act like you never had love

And you want me to go without

Well it’s…
Too late
Tonight

To drag the past out into the light

We’re one, but we’re not the same

We get to

Carry each other.
Carry each other
. One…
Have you come here for forgiveness

Have you come to raise the dead

Have you come here to play Jesus

To the lepers in your head
Did I ask too much

More than a lot
You gave me nothing

Now it’s all I got
We’re one

But we’re not the same

Well we
Hurt each other

Then we do it again

You say
Love is a temple

Love a higher law

Love is a temple

Love the higher law

You ask me to enter

But then you make me crawl

And I can’t be holding on
To what you got

When all you got is hurt
One love.
One blood.
One life.

You got to do what you should
.
One life

With each other

Sisters
Brothers
. One life.
But we’re not the same.

We get to
Carry each other
. Carry each other
One…life
One……