September 16, 1992 |
A few months ago, I finally got around to doing something I had long intended. I looked up a long-lost friend. Bernard Gotfryd and I, once very close, talked by telephone. "How nice to hear from you," he said in a voice that was recognizable, but a bit formal for someone I had known and respected for many years. "Same here," I said. "I think about you a great deal and decided to find you. " While our long absence from one another had not exactly made us strangers, there clearly was a need for us to become reacquainted.
May 22, 1992
ISAIAH'S PROPHECY FOR PHILADELPHIA We are tempted in the city, when we see a homeless person on the streets, to say piously, "There but for the grace of God go I," and continue on our way. But it is much more true when we see such persons to say rather, "There go I. " I am involved in humankind. And so are we all. If there is homelessness in our society, it is we who have homelessness in our midst. We are all diminished. Recall Dr. Martin Luther King's words: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality; tied in a single garment of destiny.
April 4, 1992
A commemoration marking the death of Walt Whitman 100 years ago was held Sunday in Camden with a trouping of dignitaries and scholars through the neighborhood where he lived at the end of his life, just off Mickle Boulevard. It continued on to Whitman's final resting place in Harleigh Cemetery off Haddon Avenue. It was just one part of a celebration of Whitman that will go on all year in Philadelphia, New York, England, Japan and elsewhere. And why not celebrate? Whitman, after all, never missed a chance to celebrate himself while alive.
February 28, 1992 |
Mphela Makgoba has been self-exiled from his native South Africa for 28 years and has vowed not to return until apartheid is abolished. Waiting for that day, the poet and actor has been performing abroad and is now a visiting artist at Rutgers in Camden. Makgoba is passionate in his opposition to apartheid, and The Island, the two-person play in which he is appearing at Rutgers, is an appropriate vehicle for his strong feelings. The setting is the notorious Robben Island, South Africa's penitentiary for political prisoners.
December 30, 1990 |
In 1958, the Jose Limon Dance Company toured Europe. Of all the countries it visited, Poland was the most ravaged by the effects of World War II; only its theaters had been rebuilt. When Limon returned to the United States, he wrote of the Poles: "These people are vital and undefeated. They are without rancor, without hatred. They have a heroic serenity. I found it inspiring. I'm going to do a dance about it. In the ruins, I found a dance. It will concern itself with the nightmarish destruction and heroism.
November 13, 1990 |
The totalitarian's dream, Orwell's nightmare, has long been that the persuasive apparatus of modern technology would enable governments to keep their grip on power forever. The fall of communism has engendered the confident belief that this is impossible: Technique cannot win over the human spirit. Recent trends in American elections are enough to make one reconsider. The collapse of communism may have less to do with the human spirit than with faulty advertising. The lesson of last Tuesday's election is that remaining in power has indeed become a mere matter of technique for incumbent politicians, a form of engineering in which success can be achieved with near scientific certainty.
April 12, 1990 |
Barry Rosen says he rarely talks about the personal side of being one of the 52 American hostages held for 444 days in Iran 10 years ago. But he broke with that practice Friday when he spoke at an Elkins Park synagogue about the hellish experience that took more than a year from his life. And while Rosen is quick to point out that Komiteh Prison where he was held was "no death camp," he says he thinks the public should know how people are affected when their basic human rights are stripped away.
September 25, 1989 |
The room was quiet but for the muffled sound of shuffling feet, as aides scurried about and others craned their necks for a better view. The Dalai Lama, 54, spiritual leader of the world's six million Tibetans, sat yesterday on a simple wooden chair in the center of a Buddhist shrine, hidden among the Pohatcong Mountains of northwest New Jersey. He is a small man with thin arms and a ready smile, comfortable discussing the rebellion in China or the rainbow that graced Saturday's evening skies.
September 15, 1989 |
Deep inside my being, where he can't be seen in public, is an ugly, greasy, short-tempered troll who likes to throw things at television shows that celebrate the "The Human Spirit. " I keep the little creep in check most of the time. But since I know the kind of malice he's capable of, I generally avoid writing about the routine uplifting, feel-good, made-for-TV movie about Normal People Coping Despite Tremendous Odds for fear that I'll end up sounding less like Pauline Kael and more like Al Bundy.
July 14, 1989
Yesterday was Harry R. Halloran's 87th birthday, and his son, Richard, took him out to dinner. We only wish we could have been with them to wander down memory lane a bit. It was Harry R. Halloran who ran the Philadelphia division of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. Thanks to Halloran's firm hand and compassionate spirit, the WPA repaved 310 miles of roads in the city, built much of the airport, employed 2,000 workers building recreation facilities, remodeled and repaired most of the city's police stations, and restored more than eight miles of nature trails.