Archive for October, 2009

An Important Political Story You Didn’t Get in the Mainstream Media

October 28, 2009

MUSCOGEE COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY JEFFERSON -JACKSON GALA ATTRACTS ALMOST 300 $50-A-PLATE ATTENDEES AND ALL FIVE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR

In my view, Columbus mainstream media didn’t do its job of informing you about a major political event.  To me, it is irresponsible not to cover such events since  the public depends on the media to get its political information in order to cast an educated vote.

The Muscogee County Democratic Party’s Jefferson – Jackson Gala attracted all five of the Democratic candidates for governor.  There is a very good chance that one of these men,  Georgia Attorney General Thubert Baker, former Georgia Governor  Roy Barnes, Ray City Mayor Carl Camon, House Minority Leader Rep. DuBose Porter, or  Georgia Adjutant General David Poythress will be Georgia’s next governor.   Republicans, who control state government,  have a lot to answer for:  water, transportation, and educational problems that have gotten worse.

All of the Democratic candidates made it clear that Atlanta’s water problems cannot be solved at the expense of those downstream, which would include Columbus.

 They would not furlough teachers and would give education the support it deserves.

They would work to implement a transportation plan that would include rapid rail.  

They did not attack one another and were all on the same page that Republicans have made a mess of governing the state.

The Muscogee Democrats gave the Jack Brinkley Service Awards to former State Rep. Maretta Tayler,  former Mayor Frank Martin, and former City Councilor and State Rep. Milton Hirsch.   Oct 27 2009_JJ DINNER_1415

Oct 27 2009_JJ DINNER_1413

Oct 27 2009_JJ DINNER_1414

Attorney and MidTown Executive Director Teresa Tomlinson gave the keynote address.  She opposes the two-Columbus approach, one that favors the north over the south, and favors affluent schools over lower socio-economic ones.   A couple of  people I talked with at the dinner said they hoped she would decide to run for mayor.

The Democrats honored the memory of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy with a locally made video.

There were almost 300 people who paid $50-a-plate at that fund-raiser.  Some heavy hitters that I have not seen at past Jefferson Jackson Galas were there. It could be that something is in the wind, something like the Democrats regaining control of state government.

This event should have been covered by Columbus media, and I would say if the Republicans had a similar meeting it should be covered, also.  In a free society that elects its representatives, coverage of major political events is the responsible thing to do.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Georgia State Democratic Committee, but, as I said, I would be opposed to ignoring such a story if the event had been Republican sponsored.

Sidelight:  One Republican was praised at the JJ Gala. Muscogee Democratic Party Chair Jeanne Dugas thanked U.D. Roberts, who published the Gala’s program,  for his cooperation in making last-minute changes. She said when she told him that the number of those attending the fundraiser increased to 280, he said, “This is a sad day for Columbus Republicans.”  Smiling, she agreed.

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Cool Cruise – Part 2: Boston

October 25, 2009

When Ruth Kiralfy advised me that she was organizing a group to take an autumn cruise from New York City up the New England- Canadian  coast,  I decided that could be an interesting and fun adventure.  Of the four ports of call, New York was the only one I had ever visited before. 

Our cruise ship Carnival Triumph sailing past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.  This picture was taken by Leslie Serach who was with another Columbus group touring the New England and Canadian coast.  She took it from the Caribbean Princess.

Our cruise ship Carnival Triumph sailing past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. This picture was taken by Leslie Search, a fellow member of CALL, the Columbus Academy of Lifelong Learning, who was with another Columbus group touring the New England and Canadian coast. She took it from the Caribbean Princess.

 

Not knowing that Leslie and other Columbus folks like Jimmy Motos, retired school principal, Springer Opera House regular, Bob Barr band clarinetist were aboard, I took this shot of the Caribbean Princess as we well leaving New York Harbor

Not knowing that Leslie and other Columbus folks like Jimmy Motos, retired school principal, Springer Opera House regular, Bob Barr band clarinetist, were on board, I took this shot of the Caribbean Princess as we were leaving New York Harbor

I thought it would be neat to get my first glimpse of Boston by sailing into its historical harbor, the scene of the Tea Party and the British naval bombardment of Boston during the Revolutionary War.  And it was.

When we entered Boston Harbor two other cruise ships were already there.

When we entered Boston Harbor two other cruise ships were already there.

We took a bus tour of the city, which I thought was quite attractive,  and made two special stops, one at the Old North Church and the other at Harvard University.

Sitting where Paul Revere sat in Boston's Old North Church in 1775.

Sitting where Paul Revere sat in Boston's Old North Church in 1775.

It was a memorable experience for folks to sit in the pews of the  Old North Church. This is the church that figured in the midnight ride of Paul Revere.  Revere, who served as a messenger in the Revolutionary War,  instructed the sexton of the church to signal American militia in Charlestown how the British troops would be coming on their way to Lexington and Concord by showing one or two lamps from the Church’s tower.  You probably remember “one if by land, two if by sea” from your grade school history book, or from Longfellow’s famous poem about it. In case you forgot, it was two.
The house at Harvard University that served as George Washington's Headquarters in the Revolutionary War

The house at Harvard University that served as George Washington's Headquarters in the Revolutionary War

Then, to walk on the Harvard campus and gaze upon the house that George Washington used for his headquarters, also tickled my history funny bone.

The weather was fine for the tour, a nice sunny day  in the upper fifties.  But, when we got back on the Carnival Triumph for the next leg of the cruise to Portland, Maine, we were once again reminded that our cabin contained no heat.  The low that night was in the thirties.  Jimmy Motos later told me that his ship, the Caribbean Princess, did have heat for its cabins. Wish I had known that before I signed up for the cruise. 

A look at the Portland one-day experience coming up.

A Cool Cruise

October 19, 2009

 

Dick McMichael on the Triumph headed out of New York, NY harbor for Boston; Portland, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Me, Dick McMichael, on the Triumph headed out of New York Harbor for Boston; Portland, Maine; St. John, New Brunswick, Canada; Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

I took a vacation from blogging last week,  going on a cool cruise ship.  When I say cool, I mean it literally, as well as the other way.  Carnival Cruise Lines sent the Triumph, which, I am told, has no heater on it, up the  New England and Canadian coast.  Temperatures were in the low thirties and forties.  When I complained to a service desk employee, he told me that I could close the air conditioning vent.  I told him that I did that and the cabin was still cold.  He said he was sorry.  I asked him if the cabins were going to get some heat. He said they would  not. He was right.

Jorge Solano, Cruise Director for the Carnival Lines' Triumph

Jorge Solano, Cruise Director for the Carnival Lines' Triumph

I decided that before I reported on this I would get another source in order to make sure that there was no capacity to heat the cabins for the 2,758 passengers and 1,100 crew members.  After seeing and being thoroughly entertained by the ship’s Cruise Director Jorge Solano, a very funny man, I decided I would ask him.  He granted my request for an interview. 

I told him that I really enjoyed his performances, and that the entertainment on the ship was first rate.  That was not just flattery. I meant it. There were two other hilarious comedians who performed, and big colorful production shows with elaborate costumes, skilled dancers and a great show band.  The ship’s service personnel were helpful and friendly, the food was excellent, and the decor was Las Vegas magical, but I did hear a lot of passengers complaining about their cold cabins.

“Does this ship not have a heater?”

“I don’t think it does, but let me get an official answer, ” he said as he dialed up a Carnival official.   After the conversation, he said that the ship definitely did not have a heater.  When I told him that it was incredible that Carnival would send a ship up the Northeast coast with no heating capacity, he smiled and said, “I’ve been cold, too. I had no idea it was going to be this cold up here.”  He had told me that  being cruise director did not mean he was responsible for the ship, that his job was strictly being in charge of the ship’s entertainment.  He did that very well, and was a likeable guy. 

Cold in our cabins or not, we – I went with a group from the First Baptist Church of Columbus – still had a lot of fun and enjoyed experiencing some places I have never been before.  More on that coming up.   

Carnival Cruise Line's Triumph docked in New York, NY

Carnival Cruise Line's Triumph docked in New York, NY

Fred Cohen’s Gift to Maxine Schiffman

October 7, 2009
Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Fred Cohen, Director

Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Fred Cohen, Director, Dr. Gila Goldstein, piano soloist

 Just as I said it would be, the Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra’s Sunday afternoon concert was special.  In that context, “special” could be inferred as meaning good.  That’s not necessarily the case. Something can be especially bad, but  that was not the case Sunday.

The young musicians once again proved they are up to expertly playing the great classics . They nailed Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro” and Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E-minor, OP 98, as best as I can tell. And, this time, they showed they were up to to playing a big, new,  and challenging  symphonic work.   That work is what made the concert special, because it was the world premier of Dr. Fred Cohen’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Maxine Schiffman, whose family foundation donated 67 Steinways to CSU Schwob School of Music

Maxine Schiffman, whose family foundation donated 67 Steinways to CSU Schwob School of Music

Dr. Cohen, who is Director of the Schwob School of Music, wrote the Concerto as a gift to Maxine Schiffman to show his appreciation for her family foundation’s  gift of 67 Steinway pianos to the school.  The word “Steinway” is to pianos what the word “Cadillac” is to cars. 

Dr. Gila Goldstein, CSU Professor of Piano

Dr. Gila Goldstein, CSU Professor of Piano

Professor Gila Goldstein brilliantly played the complex and unique concerto on one of the Steinways Sunday.  It’s a Hamburg Steinway.  The sound coming from it was indeed grand. 

What about the Concerto itself?  What was it like?  Was it good?  Not being a musicologist myself, how can I write a review on it?  I decided I can’t.  I can tell you my reaction to it, but it’s not an expert opinion.  All right, I will tell you my reaction to it.  It was exciting, and, since I was a drummer at one time, I really enjoyed the fact that Dr. Cohen effectively used a lot of percussion.  The sounds coming from the orchestra had a uniqueness to them. They certainly weren’t the harmonies of the Romantic and Classical periods of symphonic music.  They were contemporary, and some were dissonant. 

Piano Concerto featured unqiue sounds with lots of percussion. It takes a really big mute for a tuba.

Piano Concerto featured unique sounds with lots of percussion. It takes a really big mute for a tuba.

After the concert, I went out into the lobby looking for a real expert to get a take on the piece.  I found one, retired Columbus Symphony Orchestra violist and pediatrician Dr. Mary Schley. Our conversation went something like this:

“What did you think of the Piano Concerto?”

“It was magnificent!”

“What did you like  about it?”

“The wonderful colors that he gave us.  He is one of the best composers in being able to do that.”

“Could you hum any of it as you leave the theater?”

“I don’t need that.  After all, it’s not a Broadway musical.”

“The great composers like Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms all gave us memorable melodies.”

“I need to hear it again.”

“So do I.”

“Maybe when we hear it again, some of those great colorful passages will provide melodies of color.”

Maybe they will.

I decided to ask a lay person for an impression of it.  “What do you think of concert?” I asked another doctor who was headed for the Spring Harbor bus. (Spring Harbor is a plush, expensive retirement facility.)  I’m not sure he knew I have a blog. So I won’t use his name.

“I liked two-thirds of it.”

“What was the third you didn’t like?”

With a wry smile, he said, “The one in the middle.”

“The Piano Concerto.”

“Right.  I am not much for contemporary music,” he said.  “It has too much dissonance in it.”

An honest answer.

Me? Well, I can enjoy some contemporary music.  I don’t need to hear knock-offs of the great classical composers.  I can get the real thing, and I did with the Mozart and Brahms.  I did enjoy the Piano Concerto because of that color that Dr. Schley talked about, those unique sounds coming not only coming from the orchestra, but also from the piano and, as I said,  the use of a lot of percussion.  As Dr. Schley said, we need to hear it again.

Al, Don and I Dine at 79

October 4, 2009

My old broadcasting days co-worker and friend Don Nahley called me recently to asked me to lunch.  The occasion was his birthday. 

 “It’s your birthday.  Well, in that case, I’m paying for it.”

“No.  I’m going to call Al and see if he wants to come, too.”

He did, and the three of us had lunch at a Chinese restaurant.  Don wouldn’t accept my nor Al’s offer to pick up the check.  “I’m not going you invite you to lunch and then let you pay for it.”

“Well, all right,” I said, “but we’ll do the same thing on my birthday. You and Al can come and I’ll pick up the check.”

Al Fleming, Dick McMichael, Don Nahley celebrating Dick's birthday at Fudruckers.

Al Fleming, Dick McMichael, and Don Nahley celebrating Dick's birthday at Fuddruckers. (Photo taken by busboy at Fuddruckers using Don's camera)

And that’s exactly what we did Friday.  Al said he was going to do the same for his next birthday, if he’s still alive next March.  All three of us are 79 years old.  Wonder if Don and Al wanted me to tell you that. Oh, well, too late now.

“I think we ought to put it in our wills that we will pick up the check for our next birthday in case one of us doesn’t live that long,”  he said.

Nobody ever said the three of us are normal and conventional, probably because we’re not.  That’s no fun.

One time when the three of us gathered for lunch at the Mediterranean Cafe (no longer in business), a lady, who was with a group of other ladies leaving the restaurant, stopped at our table and grabbed the check.  I tried to grab it back because it was my turn to pay. She wouldn’t hear of it.  She said, “It’s for all that you guys did for us over the years.” Now, that was special.  I have to confess that I was moved. 

All of us worked in at least two Columbus TV stations, and, at one time, all three of us worked for the same station, WRBL, at the same time.  Al worked at WTVM, WRBL, and WLTZ. (He still does commentaries on WLTZ’s Rise n’ Shine Show with Calvin Floyd.)  Don worked at WRBL for about 29 years, then worked for WXTX for a short period. I worked at WRBL, off and on, from 1953 to 1986, when I switched to WTVM, where I worked until retirement in 2000.

The three of us have personally experienced the evolution of television broadcasting in Columbus.  What’s the difference between then and now?  Stay tuned.

CSU Philharmonic Concert Will be Special

October 3, 2009

FRED COHEN CONDUCTS THE ORCHESTRA IN THE WORLD PREMIER OF HIS PIANO CONCERTO SUNDAY AT THE RIVER CENTER

Fred Cohen, Director, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University (Photo, courtesy of Columbus State University)

Fred Cohen, Director, Schwob School of Music, Columbus State University (Photo, courtesy of Columbus State University)

How often do you get to hear the world premier of a piano concerto?  I don’t think I have ever heard one, but I’m going to get the opportunity Sunday.  The excellent Columbus State University Philharmonic Orchestra is going to play Fred Cohen’s Piano Concerto Sunday afternoon at 4 at the River Center.  Cohen, the Schwob School of Music’s Director,  will conduct the orchestra. This will be no precedent.  A number of composers have conducted world premiers of their compositions. Beethoven was one of them.  CSU faculty member Gila Goldstein will play the piano solo.

The orchestra will also play the Overture from the Marriage of Figaro by Mozart,  and  Brahms’s Symphony No. 4.

I am always thrilled by how brilliantly the CSU Philharmonic’s student musicians perform.   It’s at the River Center, and will start at 4 p.m.  It’ll be one of the best bargains you will ever get.  Admission is free.