Monthly Archives: August 2015

Julian Bond

Julian Bond, then

the Julian Bond I met at Starbucks

Julian Bond, 1940-2015

I was sad to hear that we lost a great hero and an important man last weekend when I learned that Julian Bond died. There is so much we should all know about Julian Bond. I am not going to write any of it here. We should all take the time to learn more than whatever we already know about him, and about what he did throughout his life.

As a young person I watched and listened to Julian Bond on television and in newspapers, as I watched the black civil rights movement unfold with great admiration and interest. I lived in Chicago and I watched him with great interest at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the convention that turned bloody and violent and that later made a mockery of justice, in my own city. He was young too, and I think I completely understood that he was not so much older than I was and that he was a model, not just because he was principled, but because he was a young person who was so brilliant and willing to act and to speak up– a young person of great courage and principle who had a significant voice in a world of older adults. I think his courage and principle as young black man spoke to me as a young person and it spoke to me as a female trying to find a voice in a world of male voices.

One day about nine years ago, I walked into a very small Starbucks, here in Washington, DC and there, at the counter, facing the street, was Julian Bond.  I hesitated for a bit, argued with myself, but I wanted so badly to speak to him.  I was scared and embarrassed, and perhaps I started to leave, but I thought better of it. I walked over to him and I said, Are you Julian Bond? He looked up from his coffee and said, yes, in a slow, low voice, wondering, I think, what he was about to be in for, given that he was just out for a cup of coffee by himself on a Sunday morning.  He did not seem to welcome the conversation I was starting, and I think I understood why that would be so, and I was mindful.  But after a split second’s consideration of his privacy vs. what I wanted to say, I persisted.  I told him that I had known who he was since I was a very young girl.  I told him that he was my hero and role model as a young girl and that I had watched everything I could about what he had done– on tv and in newspapers. I told him that I now had (then) a five-year-old daughter. And that one of my biggest hopes for her was that she would grow up with people as brave and as smart as he was, and that she would have these people to look to for inspiration as she grew. He considered this for just a moment and said, in the most matter-of-fact way, she will have brave people to inspire her. And then he looked back down at his newspaper. I said thank you, and I left.

Crush– new crush on a not-new movie. Begin Again

I get crushes.  I always have. Life with a partner and daughter and just being older– haven’t stopped me.  I get crushes on people sometimes, but I also get crushes on art, music, poems, bands, movies. I think perhaps the definition of a crush in our isolated, too-cool, too-fast society is “not being numb”. Being openly, sometimes wildly, enthusiastic about someone or something. Whatever you call it I still get interested in something or someone and I want more, want to hear that song over and over and over, introduce it to my friends and learn everything there is to know about the singer. It goes something like that.

This list is not even close to exhaustive, but I had a huge crush on two Paul Simon albums many years apart; There Goes Rhymin Simon and Graceland both of which still sound fresh and alive to me. I once saw Whoopi Goldberg in an admittedly 3rd rate comedy-mystery, Jumpin Jack Flash, five times over the course of about four days because she was just so freaking great. (Yes, that means I saw the movie twice on one day.)

As a working parent who since the birth of my daughter, has prioritized other things over going out on a Saturday night to catch a movie and loved our Saturday nights with kids doing talent shows, sleepovers and other things, I’m generally at least a year or many behind on my movie-watching.  Thus my movie crushes are always late and out of synch with most who loved a movie. I currently have a huge movie crush on Begin Again— released in 2013.

I don’t have the time right now to check my own blog to see if I blogged about the movie, Once, but I assume I did. More than once. About a year or so ago, my sister told me John Carney (Irish filmmaker who did Once) had made Begin Again. Begin Again is less low-budget and it features actors you’ve heard of. (I am not suggesting that actors you’ve heard of are or could be better than Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova of Once— they were both fabulous and gave nuanced, interesting performances, as well as being amazing musicians).

Because of the great capitalist progress in the world, my beloved and reliable last and final video store hold-out closed about a year or so ago. It’s a terrible loss and our whole family has suffered as a result of giving up our tradition of going to the video rental place on a Friday, renting a half dozen movies and getting to sit down together to watch throughout a weekend. I got Netflix but it barely rises to the level of a really lousy substitute for our former great, local, independent video store. You cannot browse the shelves and there is no one with a great, arty eye finding cool things and displaying them prominently.

Because of this turn of events I was completely thrilled when I found Begin Again on the sale shelf ($6.99) of the Main Street Market grocery store in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. There began, based on what I think was my sister’s movie crush, my own new movie crush. I won’t say what I love about the movie though I may in a subsequent post– but you watch it.  And then consider watching it again. Or don’t, because after all it is my movie crush and if you want, you can write and tell me about yours.