Singing and Driving in the Rain
IN MY OPINION
Books Read in 2007
24 January 2008
It's always a shock to pick up the evening newspaper, open the front page and discover that someone you know died.
I didn't know Marilyn Mantay well, but she was the theatre critic when I was hired by the Davis Enterprise. We split the shows for a couple of years. She hated musical theatre and was happy to have me take over that task; I wasn't too comfortable doing straight plays or dance recitals, so she did that. It was a partnership which worked quite well.
I can't remember if it was before or after her daughter died that she retired for good and I took over as the only Enterprise critic. But with her daughter Michele's death, she joined that damn club that nobody wants to join and I felt we had a special bond that neither of us wanted.
We kept in touch, from time to time, via e-mail. But she wasn't a real Internet person so we didn't exchange much mail. We did meet for lunch a few times and she would quiz me about how I was enjoying doing her old job.
She started a group for writers a couple of years ago. I attended a few of the meetings, but it seemed to be more a group of would-be fiction writers and I was not interested in writing fiction, so I soon stopped going.
She called me a couple of months ago, just to chat. I wasn't home at the time and I returned her call. We chatted about what she was doing, what I was doing, and all that "catching up stuff." We agreed we needed to get together for lunch again some day.
Then this evening there was a notice about her death.
When someone you know casually dies and you read their obituary, you learn so much about them that you never knew. I didn't know, for example, that she was nearly as old as my mother. She seemed so much younger.
I didn't know that she had been a WAC in World War II and on her return had become a psychologist, working in VA hospitals. I didn't realize that she taught psychology at Oregon State before moving to Davis. I didn't know she was an accomplished pianist. I didn't realize how well traveled she was, or that her travel experiences allowed her to become a docent in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at San Francisco's deYoung museum.
I only knew her as a passionate writer, a lover of classical music (who successfully convinced our editor to let her review operas in San Francisco--something he would never let me do, even if I enjoyed going to opera!), and a nice woman who always wore an air of resigned sadness about her.
N*gger, Ch*nk, Wetb*ck.
Terms you've never seen before in this journal, even with an asterisk. I don't use terms like that and have been adamant at not allowing such terms or any derogatory term for any group of people. Sometimes adamant. I try to have enough courage to speak up and point out when someone uses an offensive term.
Yet, tonight I went to a show called "N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk," written and performed by (surprise, surprise), an African American man, a Filipino man, and a Latino from Honduras. The men were best friends while attending UCLA and, in the drama program, noticed that they were not getting cast for parts where directors saw only Caucasians in the roles, so they decided to write their own play about diversity and, by using the pejoratives used as negative labels for different ethnicities, take away the power that those words have to hurt them.
Despite the lofty description, this is a very funny play where you hear those three terms used so often that by the end of the play, they no longer shock. You have also taken the journey of "self" with the three men. You have seen how ludicrous stereotypes are (the African American man, for example, had to learn "how to be black" when he moved from Los Angeles to Georgia in high school. He had to learn how to "walk Black" and "talk Black" in order to fit in with the other African Americans in his school).
It's a very thought-provoking play that ultimately is all about "race" -- the human race.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Lizzie likes to sleep on the table behind the couch.
This is entry #2859