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June 2019

Advice, please.....

DownloadThis week I interviewed a very charming, very smart and pretty famous man for a magazine profile I am writing. From my research, I also knew he could be ruthless in his work and inspired fear in those who opposed him.

Back in the day, this sort of thing made me nervous, but one advantage of being older and experienced is that much of that anxiety has dissipated. My subject was brilliant and accomplished, but in the end, a fellow human being.

Before we settled down, his flack (publicity person) had been chatting about a safari that Famous Man had taken, his wife's many accomplishments,  and also pointing out various awards and photos in his office.  We all sat, and I started my two recordings (I may not be anxious during interviews, but I'm compulsive about having technological backups) and the flack set up hers.

Suddenly and before I asked my first question, Famous Man said, "I want to show you something." He took out his iPad and showed me a photo of himself standing behind an absolutely huge African tortoise. 

"Isn't that great?" he asked. 

I responded with my usual articulateness: "Wow. That's big."

Here's what I need advice about: I keep wondering why he showed me that photo. He didn't show me any others. Although the safari had come up earlier, so had many other things. Don't you think that tortoise is a metaphor - and a message? It seemed really clear when he handed over his iPad, but now I'm struggling. A metaphor of what? Was he letting me know I will never know the true him, because he is so well protected? He'll only show me a very tiny bit of who he actually is? He has armor on his back? He's a survivor?

Or maybe I'm just pushing it. But please feel free to weigh in if you can think of any useful interpretations. Thanks!

Drama Inside the Walls

MacBethYesterday I went to a production of "MacBeth" at Fishkill, a medium-security prison in New York.

Well, Fishkill actually has a lot of programs - a super-max on the property, a work-release program, a hospice for dying inmates, vocational training and more. It's also often a step-down for men who have been in maximum-security facilities and are moving closer to their release date.

But I digress. R.T.A., Rehabilitation for the Arts, a nonprofit with which I work, also hosts a drama program there, as well as in several other state correctional facilities. I've seen several plays produced at Sing Sing and one at Green Haven. But this Shakespeare production really knocked my socks off.

I wish I could show you a photo, or better yet a video, but of course, no cell phones are allowed inside the facility. I've spent so much time working in prisons over the last year, that I found myself irritated with a visitor who became impatient waiting in line to go through a security clearance. Please - we are not in a Broadway theater here.

Anyway, not only was the production excellent, but also we were allowed to visit with the cast for a few minutes afterwards; not something I've seen in a max facility. 

Must now go prepare myself to be interviewed about the mother-son relationship for a Seattle-based podcast. Sometimes changing hats so quickly is dizzying.