I’m always tickled when parents freak out over a child’s decision to pursue acting in college. For the straight and narrow parent, it’s the “throwing good money after bad money” call. Personally, most of the serious actors I’ve known my lifetime were intelligent, insightful, and committed. The challenge was the ability to make a living or a fortune with their craft. It is why I don’t begrudge any of them from taking up second, third, or fourth careers or occupations. Why stay in the actor box especially in such a fickle business.
For the mega successful ones, they have the resources and celebrity capital to explore other callings. They will give more and are willing to invest their own financial capital into the next act on their terms. This week Kevin Costner sold BP 32 centrifugal oil-and-water separators from his Ocean Therapy Solutions company at $500K each. If you’ve followed Kevin’s movie career, it’s a no-brainer to make the connection of the producer, actor, director’s interest in clean water solutions to his 1995 “Waterworld.” That was 6 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Costner bankrolled the development and research for this project. Sure, the story of an Academy Award winning producer type bankrolling technology lacks the romance of geeks in a garage; but check out this industrial video for the oil-and-water separator. This ain’t no “Waterworld” for sure.
Edward James Olmos is also banking on his celebrity and his own boat. He took CNN’s Anderson Cooper out on his vessel (2 celebrities on a boat), but also invested his own movie making chops to this film about the gulf spill. Eddie isn’t about the science, but his own passion around the gulf spill as he considers himself a member of the boating community that navigates these waters.
Perhaps the persons in the film aren’t identified for the sake of protecting their reputations and livelihoods (BP is the biggest game in town), but I’d be interested in knowing who they are and their connections.
Sean Penn is profiled in the July issue of Vanity Fair for his hands-on, hunkered down humanitarian work in Haiti. Sean has set up camp on his own personal, political, and celebrity capital and on his own terms bringing food, medical and other relief aid to earthquake victims. For Sean this may be a third act after his divorce from actress Robin Wright Penn (his second). Not a guy who likes to be spotted by paparazzi on the home turf, but seems amiable to a few snaps of helping people in need.
In the article Sean not only pumps his resources and considerable personal time, but is able to get Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on the phone to send over morphine and other medical supplies, enlists prominent philanthropists to bankroll an organization, J/P Haitian Relief Organization, and influential friends across party lines who think Sean’s too cool and the cause too great, not to say “yes.” Here’s an example of how relationships with resources can come to the table and make things happen – baby steps though they may be in comparison to the devastation.
Sean’s star power and dedication gives him access to a wide range of resources regardless of his politics or anger management issues with the shutter speed press. It also gives him resources to do his Haiti work on his terms eclipsing Wyclef Jean’s efforts through his Yele Haiti organization which came under financial scrutiny during the height of Haiti’s earthquake crisis. What Wyclef had in cool points among his fan pages on-line and off, and activist artists couldn’t match the access a Sean Penn has to world leaders, and to the personal and relationship resources with business movers and shakers; even Sean’s own Marlboro Man swagger with a side arm plays well with military personnel on the scene. Is it a matter of Sean fitting the narrative of Rebel with a Cause and money?
It doesn’t hurt that the Hill is starstruck. A congressional hearing becomes the mutual love/envy fest of popularity and power.
There is no picture so effective of a star with a cause than Audrey Hepburn in Somalia. She had her day in the sun but UNICEF became a new calling and a new day.
Audrey offered her compassion as well as her celebrity. She became a role model for future UNICEF spokespersons. This was not a cause Holly Golightly would take up; perhaps it’s where Sister Luke in “The Nun’s Story” (a serious role for Hepburn) left off.
Heads of state and their spouses are often not the people to consult for travel tips. Itineraries are meticulously crafted, and even entire environments are altered to give the right impression. I enjoy travel, but I usually (and maybe due to my own financial limitations) experience place on the same terms as a working resident would. I eat where the locals eat. I use public transportation and not tourist buses or motorcades. I may have business or some project on my plate, but my schedule is moderately fluid to leave myself open for those a-ha moments. I’ve even bused my own dishes. There’s a certain freedom in being nobody on a budget.
Since relocating to DC from NYC (after the Washington Post closed their offices), fashion and culture journalist Robin Givhan has been assigned to first lady Michelle Obama’s press pool. She’s covering her 40 hour visit to Mexico.
Obama has embarked on an international agenda that views the world — and its significant problems — through the eyes of children. Before arriving in Mexico City, she made a five-hour stopover in Haiti — something she has wanted to do since January.
“The minute the disaster struck, you’re thinking, ‘I need to go down there,’ ” she said during an interview with reporters. “Then you think, ‘I’m the first lady. I’ll just shut the whole country down.’
This trip, three months in the making, allowed her to survey the earthquake damage, thank aid workers for their dedication to the country’s rebuilding and draw attention to Haiti’s continuing need for help. And Obama, once again, struck her familiar refrain: What about the children?
The details of the more unofficial trip to Haiti appear to follow the official itinerary.
Covering the first lady may seem like a fun job, but writing about it in the context of the first lady’s agenda and itinerary seems to take all the fun out of traveling with Michelle. Can she just sit in a coffee shop and people watch for 2 hours? What/who catches her eye? Any time to go to the markets? At the end of the day, do her feet hurt? What about Michelle?
The point of a first lady’s solo flight abroad is symbolism. She’s the human and kinder face of diplomacy. No real power to make decisions, but definitely power to influence or better yet inspire humanitarian action.
The May issue of Conde Nast’s Traveler magazine has the cover story, “Mrs. Obama’s Washington.” I suppose the point of this feature is what makes this first lady’s Washington different from other first ladies’. Certainly we won’t see her in the throngs of t-shirt, short, and sneaker attired tourists on the Mall. But we see signs of life in Michelle Obama’s Washington, even a little bit of DC.
Since the Obamas took up residence, the White House has been a consistent destination for school field trips for DC public and charter school students. The Obamas, themselves have been to Ward 8 (that’s South East for those who aren’t familiar): to visit the Frederick Douglass house; and most recently to attend Easter service at Allen AME Church. One thing people won’t read about Ward 8 is that it has some of the cleanest air maybe in the entire city. You get that at the Frederick Douglass House and from the hill top of the Anacostia Community Museum.
Barack and I come from a community-organizing background,” Mrs. Obama told us during a recent visit. “The notion has always been that you have to commit to the community you’re in, wherever that is. You really have to connect. So it was important for me to do that here, given the fact that in many cities there is a disconnect between the central part of the city and the neighborhoods that surround it.
The Obamas have eaten the local food where working folks eat. Michelle has shopped in a local market to push her healthy eating agenda (that market also sold very good cookies – I had two). And, many have read that the Obamas attend parent/teacher meetings and school activities for their children. Sources tell me, their daughters enjoy the company of friends at school just as other kids would, but everyone’s sworn to secrecy on the details.
In DC, we tend to do minimal primping when the first family comes to the neighborhood, except in extreme circumstances. I’ll never forget how a room in my high school was totally transformed when the President came to visit. Security is the main priority.
But even Mrs. Obama’s Washington is carefully orchestrated to compliment her and her family’s own personal characteristics and values. More symobolism? Yes. The test will be if the Obamas will return to DC after the White House years. Will they be just another politician or administration official blaming Washington for the misery in their lives having never touched or encountered the real city.
If there is any personal travel goal for an Obama on the road it may be to find a special place to be nobody.
President Nicolas Sarkozy is the first French head of state to visit Haiti since the revolution and independence from France in 1804. The price of liberation was reparations paid to France by the new Haitian republic. The final payment was made in 1947. France intends to forgive Haiti’s current $56 million debt and promises 230 million euros (roughly $400 million) in aide.
Is all forgiven?
The first time was for Africa (USA for Africa) and Michael Jackson was part of the vision. This time we have a vision of Michael Jackson included in the final master of what has become a who’s who classic. Bravo Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones! Just when you thought these things were just an 80s thing. A good thing never goes out of style or ceases to inspire.
Proceeds from the download for “We Are the World 25 for Haiti” will go towards earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. The fundraising effort is part of the We Are the World Foundation.
Anyone who keeps up with the artifact and art market or have seen at least one “Indiana Jones” movie, is familiar with the underground and sophisticated ring of curatorial thieves waiting for an opportunity (natural or man-made) to pounce on valuable artifacts for very wealthy clients. Oh, let me not forget – to feature on Ebay. UNESCO released the following statement about its campaign to protect Haiti’s cultural heritage from pillaging:
The Director-General of the Organization, Irina Bokova, on Wednesday wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, asking for his support in preventing the dispersion of Haiti’s cultural heritage.
“I would be most grateful,” she wrote, “if you would request Mr John Holmes, your Special Envoy for Haiti and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian affairs, as well as the relevant authorities in charge of the overall coordination of UN humanitarian support in Port-au-Prince – the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) – to ensure, as far as possible, the immediate security of the sites containing these artefacts.”
Ms Bokova further asked Mr Ban to consider recommending that the Security Council adopt a resolution instituting a temporary ban on the trade or transfer of Haitian cultural property. The Director-General also suggested that institutions such as Interpol, the World Customs Organization (WCO) and others assist in the implementation of such a ban.
The Director-General is also seeking to mobilize the support of the whole international community and of art market and museum professionals in enforcing the ban. “It is particularly important,” she urged in her letter, “to verify the origin of cultural property that might be imported, exported and/or offered for sale, especially on the Internet.”
Referring to UNESCO’s previous experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Director-General said she intended to draw on national and international experts to orient and coordinate the assistance required to protect Haiti’s cultural heritage. “This heritage,” she insisted “is an invaluable source of identity and pride for the people on the island and will be essential to the success of their national reconstruction.”
It is important to prevent treasure hunters from rifling through the rubble of the numerous cultural landmarks that collapsed in the earthquake. Among them are the former Presidential Palace and Cathedral of Port-au-Prince, along with many edifices in Jacmel, the 17th century French colonial town Haiti planned to propose for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The one property already inscribed on the List – the National History Park – Citadel, Sans Souci, Ramiers – with its royal palace and large fortress appears to have been spared by the quake. As were the country’s main museums and archives.
UNESCO has already helped salvage the exceptionally rich historical archives of George Corvington, the historian of Haiti. It is also contributing to attempts to rescue whatever panels or significant fragments remain of the remarkable painted murals that decorated the Episcopal Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Port-au-Prince.
This isn’t limited to museum and art gallery stuff, but libraries as well. According to an email I received from a friend, Haiti’s major libraries and collections are either buried or in danger of being lost in damaged structures. This is based on a report by Patrick Tardieau, an archivist from the Bibliotheque des Peres du Saint Espirit, Port au Prince’s oldest library. [Tardieau gave the report in Canada.]
Here is a brief point on the situation in Haïti.
We have a contact with Patrick Tardieu who is an archivist in the oldest library in Port au Prince, Bibliothèque des Pères du Saint Esprit.
Fortunately, he’s alive and flighted yesterday to Canada. The first information we have are:
- Saint Martial College in which there is the Bibliothèque Haïtienne des pères du saint esprit collapsed
- The St Louis de Gonzague library building would be ok but very weakened
- The national Library collapsed, at least a part of it
Most of the university libraries collapsed too. Those libraries gathered very old collections (from the 16th centuries). Several manuscripts were brought by the missionaries who came from Europe.
Other have been collected in the Caraibs (notably, publications on the haitian revolutions, transcriptions of vaudou oral traditions, personal documents from the 18th centuries).
Bibliotheques Sans Frontieres (Libraries Without Borders) and other organizations in Europe and the U.S. are attempting to salvage the libraries through various efforts including fundraising. If you can read French, you can find more information about Bibliotheques Sans Frontiereshere. The International Federation of Library Associations and FOKAL (based in Port-au-Prince, part of the Open Society Institute supported by George Soros) are monitoring the situation and hope to move towards recovering items from the libraries and reopening facilities. Friends of FOKAL in the U.S. have launched a fundraising campaign.
In the meantime, I believe it’s crucial if possible for survivors and Haitian Americans to begin talking to one another and documenting stories from family andfriends. Pull out what ever photographs you have, music, recipes, or the rhum you managed to save for a special occasion. That occasion may be now. Break it open February 16. Will Haiti’s Karnaval be cancelled? At this time, the people who remain may be the best hope for saving Haiti’s cultural heritage. Cherche la vie! (trans. “To Look for Life.”)