Thursday, November 15, 2012
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
PRE & POST FATHER'S DAY BLUES - BY DONNA GRANT
Sunday, February 12, 2012
I (Donna) saw Whitney Houston when her first album was just out. I don't think I had even bought it yet. She was opening for Jeffrey Osborne. That's who my friend and I had really gone to see. The concert was at Westbury Music Fair, a small theater in the round in Long Island, NY. I can still feel the way her voice washed over me and took my breath away from the first notes, the tingle of her elegant, powerful music. Although they were a big part of her show, you didn't go to watch her dance, or gawk at the costume changes. You came for that sound. Her sound.
Yesterday, she took my breath away again. I had reached to turn off the radio in my car, when I heard the bulletin that Whitney had died. I had to sit there and collect myself. Whitney's life seems to have had some devastating lows. I hope they were not because of the soaring highs that her singing brought to her millions of fans. Why does great talent so often seem coupled with great pain? Is it the gift that is hard to bear, or the grind of having so many people to please...or disappoint? I have no answer. I can only hope that somehow, somewhere, she found some peace.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The Golden Rule of Partying With Friends—Take Care of Each Other!
At least once a year there is the case of some young woman who was out partying with her friends. She gets very drunk and leaves alone, or her friends put her in a cab alone, or she goes off with some man alone. The result—she ends up raped and/or beaten and/or dead. Our first question—WHAT KIND OF FRIENDS LET YOU FEND FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOU ARE, FALL DOWN, THROW UP, BLIND DRUNK!!!!
On Thursday there was a verdict in a trial that resulted from one of those cases. NY Police Officers Kenneth Morano and Franklin Mata were accused of raping a very drunk woman after they were called to help her out of a cab and into her apartment. They were found not guilty of all but official misconduct charges. We have no way to question their guilt or innocence—the jury has spoken. (Despite the acquittal, the officers were fired from the NYPD.) But if one of her friends had gone home with her in the cab, the whole situation would have been avoided.
The golden rule of partying with friends—Take Care of Each Other! Most of us (that includes BOTH of us) have had nights where we were a little to indulgent with the margaritas, martinis, cosmos, beer, wine, Jell-o shots—fill in your beverage of choice. Presumably we are all adults, which should mean we can take care of ourselves, but when alcohol is introduced, all bets are off. And mostly you can tell whether your friends are over the line, whether she is attempting to pole dance with a stop sign, is talking out of her mind, is slumped and glassy eyed at the bar or pukes on the dinner table (which happened to someone we know well. She is eternally grateful that her friends covered it up with the tablecloth, left a very big tip, and took her home).
Sometimes friends thank you for your troubles. Sometimes drunken friends are belligerent and insist they can handle it. Do whatever is in your power to keep them safe. Take car keys, hail a cab and get in it with them. You might decide you are never going out with them again, but take care of them this one last time. Your friendship may be over but this one last time you may keep them safe, or even save their lives.
Please share this with your friends, daughters, sisters, nieces—all the women you care about.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Once and Future Oprah
Viewing early episodes of the Oprah Show is startling--they bear a striking resemblance to the shows of Jerry Springer or Maury Povitch, those epics of pathology and confrontation that brought us Baby Mama Drama, Who's the Daddy and every sensation short of (and possibly including) two headed babies (Oprah actually did air a show about separating conjoined twins). The more outlandish and dysfunctional, the better. Oprah could have continued along that same path and probably had a reasonably successful career, but it is obvious that somewhere along the line, she made an effort to do more. Wallowing in the muck and allowing us to gawk at the spectacle was not the point. Finding a way to let people understand their behavior and realize they had the power to change it for the better became her calling.
There are those who don't sing Oprah's praises. As novelists, we have certainly been part of the outcry about her absence in the conversation about the state of African American books and literature. Unleashing Dr. Phil upon us is at best a mixed blessing. Oprah could be over the top, giving cars and houses to audience members, wearing diamond earrings the size of pecans on daytime TV, loading 65 pounds of fat on a little red wagon to represent her weight (temporary) loss. But it is undeniable that Oprah, "A colored girl from Kosciusko, Mississippi," as she calls herself, with a made up name, and as we say of a character in one of our books, "A face she would grow into," showed us a new brand of television. People made changes for themselves--lost weight, built schools and dug wells, called out their abusers. They made changes for family members, for their community and for the world, because Oprah showed them that letting their light shine could allow others to see. People who had not read since they left school read books because Oprah said to. Advertisers from Dove and Target to United Airlines and Proctor & Gamble scrambled to support her causes, and reap the benefits of being associated with her and her audience. "Living Your Best Life," sounds as simplistic as a bumper sticker, but it does allow you to aim high.
Over the course of 25 years Oprah has shown generosity, good business sense and some questionable hair and wardrobe decisions. She let us see her insecurities, her foibles, and the way she has grown through the years. Now she has taken her, "Oprah Money" and founded OWN, following in the footsteps of women like Lucille Ball and Mary Tyler Moore who sought to be more than just "talent." It is a bold step, and whether or not the network soars she has earned a place in the history of a medium and in the lives of millions of people. It is quite an accomplishment.
Now the Oprah set as we have come to know it will be dark, but surely she has taken her light with her. So long for now...