SEPTEMBER

 

 

New Orleans is often abbreviated “N.O.”. This month, those letters also stand for….Nostalgia and Outrage.

 

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
And miss it each night and day
I know I’m not wrong... this feeling’s gettin’ stronger
The longer, I stay away
Miss them moss covered vines...the tall sugar pines
Where mockin’ birds used to sing
And I’d like to see that lazy Mississippi...hurryin’ into spring

The moonlight on the bayou.......a creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about magnolias in bloom......and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more...I miss the one I care for
More than I miss New Orleans

(instrumental break)

The moonlight on the bayou.......a creole tune.... that fills the air
I dream... about magnolias in bloom......and I’m wishin’ I was there

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans
When that’s where you left your heart
And there’s one thing more...I miss the one I care for
More.....more than I miss.......New Orleans*

 

(*AmbulanceAngel photo graciously sent by Stephen Hay, filmmaker, Leeds, UK.  It was taken in March 2003. The photos post-Katrina--and I think they stand out pretty obviously-- were taken between Sept. 1-21, 2005 by Bruce Rheins, producer, CBS News)

 

THE BLOG FOR THIS MONTH IS A BULLETIN BOARD, SO FAR…OF MEMORIES OF A GREAT CITY, THE CRADLE OF SOMETHING UNIQUELY AMERICAN: JAZZ.

HOWEVER, IN ITS DEMISE, NEW ORLEANS MUST MAKE US FINALLY FACE THE GREAT INEQUITIES IN THIS COUNTRY…AND THE FACT THAT WE HAVEN’T REALLY CHANGED MUCH SINCE 1803, THE YEAR OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE.  HOW ASHAMED THOMAS JEFFERSON WOULD BE. HIS PURCHASE WAS TO ENSURE A PEACEFUL, POWERFUL FUTURE FOR THE U.S.A.  WHY DON’T OUR LEADERS REMEMBER THE SAME HISTORY LESSONS I DO? (HERE’S A REFRESHER.)

 

Mom’s “Letter to the Editor”, published in the Daily Herald, (Suburban Chicago newspaper), September 9, 2005

 

Dear Editor: 

"We're going to make it right." (Pres. Bush, Daily Herald

headline, Sept. 3)  You can't make it right...it was wrong.  Cutting the

funds for levees in 2002 was wrong.  Pulling out the National Guard from

their home states was wrong...they were trained for national disasters,

not for fighting in Iraq.  It was wrong not to evacuate those people in

New Orleans who did not have the means to leave their homes and

hospitals before Katrina struck.  It was wrong to ignore the warnings of

scientists and engineers in the years preceding this tragedy.  It was

wrong to treat FEMA as an unwanted stepchild in the overall home

security system...leaving it totally ineffective in meeting the current

challenge.  Now that we are in this mess, it would be wrong not to

accept the offers of help from many nations.  It would be wrong to allow

energy companies to gouge the American public.  And it continues to be

wrong not to admit the wrongs.  Of all the wrongs apparent in the

stories of this debacle, none is more striking than the inequities in

our society...age, economics, race, health, education, housing...

Sincerely,

Helen G. Westlake

 

 

 

My e-mail to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), September 8, 2005 inre a beautiful letter from a festival director in Italy:

 

Dear Senator Durbin:

I just received this incredible letter from the director of the Concorto Fest in Pontenure, Italy where THE PAWN just won Best Cinematography...I'm asking her permission to post on my site. I have translated between paragraphs in uppercase bold...I think it's EXTREMELY important to heed this warning from someone from the former Roman Empire...They also weathered a terrible "storm" with an ignorant, incompetent leader: Mussolini. Now, they make nice pasta and shoes. They have beautiful ruins to remind them of their past glories. What will become of us if we continue to let ONE PARTY dominate our Exec./Congressional/and JUDICIAL branches!? Keep fighting for balance, truth, and intelligence...please! Feel free to forward my letter and the letter from Claudia Praolini below to your friends in the Senate.

Dawn Westlake

 

 

Cara Dawn,

DEAR DAWN,

 

Ti voglio dire che le immagini che la tv ci rimanda sono davvero terribili. E' come se all'interno dell'America ricca, potente  ed opulenta ce ne fosse un'altra povera e vulnerabile, due facce della stessa realtà.

 

I WANT TO TELL YOU THAT WE THINK THE IMAGES WE ARE SEEING ON TV ARE TRULY TERRIBLE. IT'S LIKE IN THE INTERIOR OF THIS RICH, POWERFUL AND OPULENT COUNTRY OF AMERICA THERE IS ANOTHER WHOLE COUNTRY THAT IS POOR AND VERY VULNERABLE...TWO FACES OF ONE REALITY.

 

La speranza è che questa tragedia possa insegnare qualcosa ha chi detiene il potere:

 

THE HOPE HERE IS THAT THIS TRAGEDY CAN SHOW YOU WHAT WILL PUT AN END TO YOUR POWER, IF YOU DON'T CORRECT THINGS SOON:

 

che la natura va rispettata e temuta (vedi Accordi di Kioto),

che la priorità di una nazione è offrire un'opportunità di benessere a TUTTI i suoi cittadini e non dilapitare miliardi per fare guerre in favore dei grandi gruppi economici;

che se all'interno di un ricco e grande paese come l'America esistono sacche di povertà come quelle che si intravedono oggi dalle immagini di New Orleans, qualcosa non va, qualcosa non è stato fatto, e crolla il mito di un America che possa insegnare al mondo la strada verso la democrazia.

 

YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT NATURE IS TO BE RESPECTED AND FEARED (TAKE A NEW LOOK AT THE KYOTO TREATY);

YOU MUST SEE THAT THE PRIORITY OF A NATION IS TO OFFER GOODNESS AND WELL-BEING TO ALL CITIZENS, NOT TO USE YOUR MEANS TO MAKE A WAR WHICH BENEFITS ONLY THE RICH. IF INSIDE A COUNTRY AS RICH AND AS LARGE AS AMERICA THERE ARE ACTUALLY SO MANY PEOPLE WHO SUFFER ON A DAILY BASIS, THAT DOESN'T WORK. YOU DON'T WORK. IT SHOWS THAT AMERICA IS A MYTH. "THE STREET" WILL BE AGAINST THIS IDEA OF DEMOCRACY.

 

Scusa per questo mio sfogo! ma è perchè non ho perso la speranza che il Tuo Paese possa capire la grande RESPONSABILITA' che ha non solo nei confronti dei suoi cittadini ma anche nei confronti di tutte le altre nazioni e possa un giorno scegliere di essere davvero GRANDE, usando la sua potenza per aiutare i più deboli e non per rafforzare i più forti.

 

PLEASE EXCUSE MY RANT! IT'S JUST THAT I HAVE NOT LOST HOPE THAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN UNDERSTAND THE HUGE RESPONSIBILITY IT OWES TO ITS CITIZENS TO CONFRONT THEIR PROBLEMS SO THAT YOU CAN REALLY SHOW THE REST OF THE WORLD THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO BE SINCERELY GREAT, USING YOUR POWER TO HELP THE WEAK, AND NOT TO REINFORCE THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY TOO STRONG.

 

Auguri a Bruce che possa svolgere il suo lavoro al meglio possibile, senza pericolo e un grande abbraccio a te

 

I SEND ALL BEST WISHES TO BRUCE THAT HE CAN DO THE BEST JOB POSSIBLE, WITHOUT RUNNING INTO DANGER. I ALSO SEND A HUGE HUG TO YOU.

 

Claudia Praolini.

 

 

(Note from DW: Senator Durbin responded to me personally within hours! Now, there’s a GREAT public official! And, I’m not even a constituent anymore!)

 

 

 

Dad’s “Letter to the Editor” of the Daily Herald, still awaiting publication, inre Barbara Bush’s “Marie Antoinette” moment.

 

Dear Editor:                                                  

Barbara Bush's stunning reaction to the plight of New Orleans evacuees now

located in the Astrodome should have appeared on the front page instead

of being buried on page 8 (Barbara Bush sees sunny side, Sept. 6).

On National Public Radio, the former first lady said, "...so many of the

people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so

this, this is working very well for them."                          

Is this what is meant by "compassionate conservatism?"  Her statement showed

not one scintilla of understanding for fellow human beings who have lost

family members, homes, jobs, and all their possesions.  The entire

nation should be outraged.

Sincerely,

Donald G. Westlake

 

 

BARBARA BUSH HAD EVERY RIGHT TO BE CHEERY. SHE PROBABLY JUST COULDN’T CONTAIN HER ‘INNER MONOLOGUE’ (AS WE ACTORS LIKE TO CALL IT).  SHE COULD TURN THE FROWN ABOUT THE HURRICANE UPSIDE DOWN THINKING ABOUT ALL THE CONTRACTS THAT WOULD SOON BE AWARDED TO ALL HER SON’S BUDDIES.  AS BRUCE AND I SHOPPED FOR CAMPING GEAR IN THE SCANT HOURS WE HAD TOGETHER BEFORE HE HAD TO LEAVE FOR KATRINA (HE’D ALREADY BEEN FOR ON THE ROAD A WEEK IN NEVADA AND WYOMING

BEFORE KATRINA—DOING A STORY ON GAS PRICES), I DARKLY JOKED THAT NEW ORLEANS WOULD BE BACK, NEW AND IMPROVED: “WELCOME TO NEW NEW ORLEANS, BROUGHT TO YOU BY HALLIBURTON!” IT ONLY TOOK A FEW DAYS FOR MY DARK JOKE TO COME TRUE.

 

 

 

HERE AT HOME, THERE WAS A POWER OUTAGE, AN ALARM SYSTEM FAILURE, A DANGEROUS GAS LEAK, OUR FURNACE (WHICH WAS ONLY 65 YEARS OLD…HA!) BROKE, AND THEN, THERE WAS AN ALARM SYSTEM FIRE (A BAD MOTHERBOARD WAS SENDING TOO MUCH CURRENT TO THE TRANSFORMER), BUT THERE WERE SOME BRIGHT SPOTS, TOO:

 

 

THE PAWN played in the LA International Shorts Film Fest at the very groovy Arclight Theatres to a sold-out crowd on Sept. 11th.  It was great to have the whole gang together again. Despite the ‘downer’ quality of the film, we remembered how much fun we had making it.

 

 

THE PAWN was also just accepted into Sedicicorto in Forli, Italy for late this month and early October, and the plaque for its BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY win in Pontenure, Italy arrived. It stands by itself in a very nice blue velvet case. Very sexy. Very Italian. ;-) I Fratelli Moser ed io vi diciamo, “Grazie mille, bella giuria di Concorto!”  THE PAWN also got word of acceptance into the 22nd Annual Long Island Film Fest in Glen Cove, NY for October 1st.

 

In other film news, A LIFE OF DEATH was accepted into the Golden Lion Film Festival in Manzini, Swaziland (Africa!). This means that it’s now gotten into 80 fests/screenings on ALL the continents of the world, except for Antarctica. (I’m going to see if Bruce can send it to some scientists he knows down there. If just three people watch it projected onto a tent flap, I’m calling that a festival and claiming ALL continents! HA!) A LIFE OF DEATH was also shown at the Six Degrees Film Fest in downtown L.A. on September 17th, and was accepted into the Kish Island Documentary Film Fest on Kish Island in Iran for February-March of 2006!  DOTTIE was hugely honored with a request from the Houston school system to include her in a special series of presentations to the Gulf Coast evacuees who are now living there.  Besides entertainment, I hope the kids will get DOTTIE’s message and speak up against the Bush, Brown, Rumsfeld, Cheney-types (et.al.) who they encounter in the future. (I just hope there’s something left of Houston, after Rita. ;-( …)

 

 

I was also able to attend a very cool party honoring Greta Garbo’s legacy thrown by my friend Tomas Rosander, the Swedish Consul to LA, and his wonderful wife, Christina, and their very poised, intelligent and interesting son, Adam.  The venue was the Max Factor Museum on Hollywood Blvd. It’s just an awesome place…kind of like pawing around your grandma’s attic…If your grandma was Lucille Ball, Greta Garbo, or Bob Hope.  Honorary Mayor of Hollywood Johnny Grant was there, and I snagged the last picture of the night with him. He was going home to rest to be fresh for the next morning when he’d be photographed with Johnny Depp (swoon!) who was getting his hands/feet cemented in front of Graumann’s Chinese Theatre.  Always a character, Johnny Grant told me he had Jack Benny’s underwear on (from his personal collection of ‘Clothes of the Stars’), and it was killing him!  As per usual, the food was EXCELLENT at the Garbo party, thanks to the Rosanders’ adorable Swedish Chef.  Unlike Garbo, I don’t vant to be alone, so absent-Bruce, Jason Luckett accompanied me to the party. Thanks, Jason!

 

 

In closing, I want to give a HUGE shout out to the friends near and far who have cheered me up and checked on me while Bruce was away running the disaster coverage and doing pieces from New Orleans.  This was one of* the hardest assignments of his 24-year career, by far. There was a nine-day stretch when he couldn’t even shower. (Here are the before and after shots. “Never underestimate the power of the shower!” is his latest “quotable quote”.) He even had to get tetanus and Hepatitis A vaccinations! He had it so tough physically, emotionally, and mentally that my empathy/worry meter has gone way past the “red zone” on many days.  So, thanks so much to: J. Randy Taraborrelli, Jason Luckett, Kevin Comeaux, Olivier Coste Renoult, Carlos Stelmach, Gregory Johnson, Diana Giorgiutti, Montse Vilarroig, Davide del Degan, Mara Menini, Nuno Monteiro, Miguel Costa, Manuela Palmucci, Christine Lund, Kristen Westlake, Keith Johns, Jeff Goldman (who had a fab bday party in Sweden which we had to miss this month), Eleanore Vega…AND MY PARENTS!  (Oh! And, René González, the repair tech from Brinks, who was the first to discover the gas leak in my house!)  I am soooo happy to have him home!  In celebration, we put up a hammock! ;-)  And, we were able to spend our 16th anniversary together (what a novel concept!) at the end of the month at a marvelous dinner at J. Randy Taraborrelli’s with his friend Andy Steinlein. (Thinking he might be away, Bruce had already ordered a fabulous bouquet of 12 red “Talking Roses” with “For my lovely wife” stenciled on in gold…Even the packaging was fancy! Awwwww…You da’ man, Bruce!)

 

*This New Orleans story is tied with difficulty in emotional toll with the Columbine murders, and in physical challenge/hardship with the Rodeo-Chedesky fire, says Bruce…;-)

 

 

 

 

 

FADE TO OCTOBER……

  

 

 

 

 

© 2005 Dawn Westlake