Pennsylvania Avenue and Abbey Road

January 5, 2011

Oprah's getting into it

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: if you missed the Kennedy Center Honors, which aired last week on CBS, you missed out on one of the best specials of the year. It honors those that have had an impact on the culture of America and the world. This year’s honorees were Oprah Winfrey, Merle Haggard, Paul McCartney, Jerry Herman and Bill T. Jones. (I have a bit of an issue with Oprah — I mean, what is her talent, exactly? But I won’t quibble.) Inevitably, there are the tributes that you know will be good, and they don’t tell the recipient who’s coming out to honor them, which is a nice surprise and sometimes you actually get some real emotion which is rare on television these days. Julia Roberts, John Travolta and Barbara Walters were among those who saluted the talk show queen, but Oprah seemed most touched when Jennifer Hudson belted out a showstopper from the Broadway show The Color Purple, which Winfrey produced, and was joined by the choir from Oprah’s Tennessee alma mater. I laughed hardest when Chris Rock said Oprah was more powerful than Obama. When people laughed, Rock snapped, “She got him a job; he didn’t get her a job!”

And from the ones you don’t think you’re so into, you always learn something new. Like that Merle Haggard was bad news and was serving time in San Quentin when Johnny Cash came to perform, inspiring Haggard to pick up a guitar and turn over a new leaf. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up! The dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones was on a track scholarship to college when he took a dance class, which changed everything. He formed a dance troupe with his lover, who then succumbed to AIDS six years later and left Bill to deal with grief in his work and rise to even higher heights, winning Tonys for Spring Awakening and Fela. Jerry Herman was a boy wonder who penned Hello Dolly and Mame and then hit a drought, with failure after failure, until La Cage aux Folles. It was touching to see all of the current bright lights of Broadway paying him tribute.

And then, of course, there’s the big one that everyone wants to see. This year that would be McCartney. It was worth tuning in just to see Colin Powell getting his groove on to a few of the tunes. No Doubt, Dave Grohl, Norah Jones and Stephen Tyler did the hits proud — and it’s hard to believe how  many hits there have been from one genius. Paul seemed genuinely touched when James Taylor and Mavis Staples took on Let it Be, complete with every member in the audience holding up a light. Oprah knew every word to every song. And I learned that McCartney’s father had given him a trumpet for his birthday as a kid, but Paul exchanged it for a guitar. Talk about a watershed moment. And when they penned She Loves You Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, his father thought they should stop the spread of “Americanisms” and make it “She loves  you yes, yes, yes.” Luckily they didn’t take that advice.

It’s a well produced show, and truly a one-of-a-kind experience. It’s always on the week after Christmas — so really, what else are you doing? Root around on the www and see if you can catch any bootleg outtakes of this year’s show. Otherwise mark your calendar!

Not Resolutions; Goals

I got some people writing in that they liked the “eat more fruit” idea from yesterday. So all week I will suggest a doable yet rewarding idea. Today’s: Clean a closet! I went through my shoes a couple of weeks ago and it is now a pleasure to go in my closet. I love it! So pick a closet, pick a drawer — whatever you can manage — and get rid of the crap you don’t use. Better yet, donate it and get a tax deduction. You’ll feel so much better.


Tori has been sending me more info on birds dropping from the sky and dying in Arkansas and Louisiana. Is anyone else concerned? It’s like the canary in a coal mine.

Hope your week is going well!


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