Thursday, August 25, 2016


It was a big drama when John Cullum was hired to replace Louis Jourdan in the musical, "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," during its pre-Broadway, out-of-town tryout in Boston.

Learning the script, songs, blocking and choreography is a tricky thing for any actor to do, and lyricist, author Alan J. Lerner wanted John to perform the role of the psychiatrist in one week. The rehearsals were "hush-hush"--though staff knew, the cast didn't know, and newspapers hadn't been told. 

After we checked in at the hotel, we were ushered to Lerner's suite to stay there secretly while Alan stayed on his boat. On every flat surface, we saw vials and hypodermic needles. The phone was ringing. It kept ringing--rang constantly with calls from celebrities trying to reach Dr. Max, who was apparently treating some of the world's most famous celebrities as well as the show's staff.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Today's date, my brother's birthday, is burned in my mind.

My brother, David Frankel, was the only male child in my father's family, the one child who could carry on the family name. He drowned in a boating accident a few months before his 19th birthday. He was a freshman at Antioch college -- he was just beginning to figure out what he wanted to be -- he never got a chance to drive the second-hand convertible he bought. I wrote about this and how his death affected me and my family in "Spiffy Cadillac Cars."

As I say his name, I think of my mother, how she loved him, celebrated him, lived through the ups and downs in her life, and helped me -- never stopped helping me and being there for me -- how she gave me her strength. I celebrate her birthday every September in "My Mom's Birthday."

Mom and David are gone, but are part of what makes my mind wander here-and-there, find significance in the many things that are changing, and write-talk about it -- about the sense that I have that the future is mile-a-minute coming in around me, and I am racing into what the earth will be like when I am gone.

David & Em
Yes, people who are gone have shaped you, and made you what you are right this minute. Celebrating them keeps them very much alive and present in your life. Celebrating them is celebrating YOU. Thanks, Mom, I celebrate David's birthday today, Mom, for us.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


He won the 100 meters in Rio, smiling -- yes, smiling, as he crossed the finish line.

I blogged about him sometime ago, posting the video of him, age twenty-three, breaking the world record for 100 meters, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ralph Mann, biomechanist for the U.S. track and field team, said, "First off, when Bolt leans over at the start, Bolt's butt is up higher than those of the other racers. Bolt's long legs are an advantage. "You'll see that his left knee is particularly high off the ground. This, combined with the length and strength of his legs, creates the power that leaves the others behind."

Watching the video below note:
He's the last to go down into starting position.
His back is up higher than other backs.
His knee that touches the ground is lower than other knees.
He takes off from the starter blocks, faster than anyone else.

In Beijing, after Bolt broke the world record, he pounded his chest in celebration, raised his arm, and saluted the heavens in a Zeus-like pose. He does this after every race -- probably that why he's called "Lightning Bolt."

This athlete, 6ft.5, 212 lbs., from a small place north of Kingston, Jamaica, broke his own 100m record in June 2009 at the World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

Running, the simplest purest form of athleticism, depends on nothing but the runner's body... and WHAT? As another winner, Michael Johnson, four-time Olympic gold medal sprinter, said -- "Usain Bolt has made people stop and re-think what humans are capable of doing."

Is it Bolt's physical gifts, or his spirit, that makes him so powerful, so special?

His background -- extreme poverty, a strong, loving father who taught him discipline and from whom he's inherited joie de vivre (French says it better than English), and life in a poor village trained him -- toiling in the fields at a very young age, fetching water, running, sprinting, and racing, day after day, many times a day, on a grass track strewn with stones.

The story of child to victor and what his future has brought him and his family and Jamaica -- it's a story we've heard before -- global fame, millions in earnings, paparazzi, books written about him, television interviews, fans and probing questions about his personal life -- does he have a girl friend, is he on drugs, has he ever been, and does he take any performance-enhancing substances?

Well ... Usain Bolt has passed every drug test. He can be seen praying before every race. He's had girl friends -- relationships that have lasted six months, others more than a year or two. He hasn't forgotten where he comes from -- with his foundation, he's been providing busses and computers for his old school, while rebuilding, expanding the health center in the village of Sherwood Content, his hometown -- two adjoining villages with a single post office, Waldensia Baptist Church and Waldensia Primary School.

So what are this guy's plans for the future? I found just a few photos -- gated entrance to his house, his own racing track, a nifty-looking gold Nissan, also a Ferrari -- we've seen fabulous homes of kings, billionaires, politicians -- undoubtedly things will get fancier, more extravagant.

Okay, Usain Bolt is already an international celebrity -- an exceptionally talented athlete to watch, and observe as he grows, AND dances. Yes, he dances -- loves to dance - the Rio Olympics that began with Bolt dancing the samba came alive with Bolt dancing around the Olympic Stadium track after he took five impossibly long strides to catch and pass American Justin Gatlin and win his record third consecutive Olympic 100-meter title decisively, in 9.81 seconds.

“It was brilliant,’’ said Bolt with his charming immodesty after a victory lap that included cheer- leading, chest-thumping, selfie-snapping and, of course, his signature lightning bolt pose. “I didn’t go so fast, but I’m so happy I won. I told you guys I was going to do it.’’

His confidence -- it rings a Mohammad Ali bell. I find myself thinking of other black super achievers -- Michael Jordan, Shaq, Kobe, Tiger Woods, Serena and Venus -- hey, what about Lewis Hamilton/ Formula 1/fastest car driver in the world -- does being black having anything to do with what motivated some of these guys? I think it probably does.

Anyhow, it's fascinating, exciting, marvelous -- to have a "Usain Lighting Bolt" lighting up the sky.

Saturday, August 13, 2016


What to eat first thing in the morning reveals a lot about my husband, John Cullum.

I get things going -- hot water for coffee, some utensils for the table, set out a few things -- but I never know what my man will choose.