Take Note: Events require us to behave as Greatest GenerationBy MIM ANNE HOUK
© St. Petersburg Times,
Have we older people been through this before? Not really. Many people have likened the World Trade Center attack to Pearl Harbor, but for those of us who remember Dec. 7, the comparison doesn't quite work.
Hawaii felt, and was, an ocean away; the news we got was over the radio; it was three days before the New York Times even had a photo of the devastation to print, and at least seven days before we could see a newsreel at the movies.
In addition, few Americans had family members or friends involved. New York City belongs to all of us, even if we have never visited there. As we watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center on television, we felt a personal, visceral connection to those twin towers.
As hard as it has been, and will continue to be, maybe this shock has been even more difficult for us seniors, since it weakens our struggle against an encroaching age-related sense of powerlessness.
This is our challenge: to maintain our equilibrium, sense of purpose and voice of reason and leadership to share with friends and neighbors. Let's behave as though we believe all that good PR we've been getting about being the Greatest Generation -- and act on it.
One way to stay sane is to cut down on obsessive TV watching and resort to good and thoughtful books for more of our information. A visit to a library or book store will give you many fascinating choices about the Middle East, the Taliban and Islam.
Karen Armstrong, for example, has written a Modern Library 2000 short history, Islam, which is a readable, concise and helpful account of the complex history of one of the world's largest religions.
You can't beat a good novel to escape the constant news barrage. If you haven't read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer winner for fiction last year, now may be the time. Set in 1930s New York and Prague, it is extremely well-done.
John Irving's latest, The Fourth Hand, takes on the media's treatment of celebrities and its dumbing-down of the daily news. It is funny and full of bizarre happenings and sexy encounters -- vintage Irving.
To say that a movie was made for TV used to be a put-down, but no more. In the last several months, we've had at least three outstanding productions for cable TV that are now available at the video store.
Wit, the Broadway and London play, has as its main character an English professor who has put her career above personal relationships. In a medical crisis, she has no one but the hospital staff to get her through, or so she thinks. Clever dialogue, wonderful humor and a heart-rending performance by Emma Thompson make this almost as good as an aisle seat at the theatre.
For baseball fans, the docudrama 61* can't be beat. The asterisk refers to Roger Maris' home-run total for the year 1961; some old-timers thought it did not beat the previous records of 60 home runs in a season accomplished by Babe Ruth in 1927 because Maris played a longer season, with more games. Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris are beautifully brought to life. This is a winner for anyone who likes a good story with suspense and heart.
Laughter on the 23rd Floor stars Nathan Lane as a Sid Caesar-like TV star of the 1950s, with all the jokes, pathos, success, and, ultimately, the demise of the old beloved Your Show of Shows. Caesar employed some of the best comedy writers ever, among them Neil Simon and Woody Allen.
The area art museums have a wide variety of exhibitions to interest and inspire visitors. The Tampa Museum of Art (600 N Ashley Drive; (813) 274-8130) features "Craft is a Verb," with selections from the American Craft Museum, as well as its permanent collection of fine art.
The Gulf Coast Museum of Art (12211 Walsingham Road, Largo; (727) 518-6833) is showing Cuban-American (and USF graduate) painter Maria Emilia Castagliola's paintings and drawings in celebration of the great writer Federico Garcia Lorca and his contribution to Spanish culture, along with Randy Batista's "American Eyes -- Cuban Heart," with black-and-white images of present-day Cuba, through Nov. 11.
USF's Contemporary Art Museum on the Tampa campus (813-974-2849) has an exhibit of 25 artists from very different backgrounds who have two things in common: their modernity and the fact that they were influenced by some element of Walt Disney's popular culture. How's that for diversity?
Music does indeed have charms to soothe us. The Florida West Coast Symphony, 709 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, will present its annual Family Concert on Saturday, with performances of Miraculous Mozart at 2 and 4 p.m. There is no admission fee, but advance passes may be required to guarantee seating. Information: (941) 953-4252.
We have plenty of great music on this side of the Skyway, too. The Florida Orchestra, the jewel in our local cultural crown, has much more to offer its patrons than traditional symphony concerts, although those are wonderful. The Coffee Series, conducted by Thomas Wilkins, is scheduled monthly at 11 a.m. at the Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg's Bayfront Center, perfect for those who dislike getting out at night.
On Nov. 8, the music of Dvorak, Rodrigo, Tchaikovsky and others will make the morning bright. At 8 p.m. Nov. 12, the Florida Orchestra Chamber Players will perform soothing sounds in the Heyer Great Room at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. Complimentary refreshments will be offered before the concert; tickets are $20.
Look, listen, read, and be grateful for our blessings.
And take note.
- Write to Mim Anne Houk c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Or send e-mail to MHouk@tampabay.rr.com.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times