Saturday, April 9, 2011


Does this child have a headache? The caption says "Depression is not just for grownups. Scientists are discovering that infants and toddlers can develop some very adult mental illnesses.

Infants with adult illnesses? Is this something newly formulated, being studied, researched by the scientific psychiatric guys --the psychiatrists, psychologists, psychoanalysts? Have they expanded the concepts of mental illnesses that somehow, lately, annoyingly are in a huge cooking a pot called "bipolar disorders?"

When I Google "neurosis" or "depression," I get detailed descriptions, and references, to articles such as "How to be happy." (On I got "How to eat a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.") I also got links to "mental health," and "emotional security."

An article in Time Magazine explains how a parent's depression affects the genome, which is your cells -- your DNA. We are born with our own genetic predispositions to the whole panoply of adult woes and illnesses in our genome, when we're in the womb.

According to the nonprofit child advocacy group, Zero to Three, a baby's brain is more fragile but much like an adults. Mental illnesses, such as defiance, aggression, attention deficit disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social-anxiety disorder, major depression, insomnia, even the illness of prolonged bereavement -- Dr. Robert Emde, an emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine says, "All these disorders which we see in adulthood, have antecedents in childhood."

The latest diagnostic-classification manual, published and updated in 2000, the "DSM-IV-TR" Fourth Edition, which was developed and revised from the first diagnostic and statistical pamphlet of 1952, confirms this disturbing news.

Furthermore, Dr. Emde and his staff say that experiments with preschoolers diagnosed with anxiety conditions -- kids from orphanages and broken homes -- show that chronic stress has an impact on the brain.

Here's a new big word -- Amygdalae. In the picture an Amygdala looks like a small red potato. They govern emotions such as fear and alarm, and grow larger; there are more of them found in abused children.

Dr. Emde notes that the tested children were still impaired by it four years later. "Children with preschool depression were six times likelier than other kids to have the condition later in childhood. "The nature of psychiatric conditions is that they're chronic."

Stop! Bipolar is already a big fear business -- with a full range of information on treating various bipolar disorders with medication, meditation and diet. And already, this is being converted into medication, medication and diet that's sized down for the very, very young.

Stop, stop -- I'm yelling louder -- you know where this is heading!

Remember the Salem Witch Trials. Children imitate adults. They get their ideas and feelings from adults. Adults are creating this.

What we need to do is pay attention -- listen, observe, and with tender, intuitive, careful observation, give full-out loving attention to our little ones before we see the little ones in pain -- before the child starts holding his head.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Will Amanda Knox win her appeal? She was sentenced to 26 years in an Italian jail. Will the sentence be over-turned or reduced?

What about these energized young people, males and female, rebels, facing death because they're protesting their lack of freedom -- lack of the things we here in America consider fundamental, basic, essential to living a reasonably normal life. We're seeing them in Libya , seeing and hearing about them now in Syria, and hearing about protesters in Russia's Georgia.

Is it the nice American girl look of Amanda that grabs me? Or is it what happened in 2007, in the apartment Amanda, an exchange student, was sharing with British exchange student Meredith Kercher?

Is it the gory details, the gruesome horrific way her roommate died? Or was it her Italian ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, who was also (in a separate trial) sentenced to 26 years, and Ivory Coast citizen Rudy Hermann Guede, who got 16 years for what happened to the dead girl?

This picture was taken at the appeal last week. Enlarge it, study it. The side-long look in Amanda's eyes suggests inner amusement somehow, and a me-me me focus on herself that conveys to me, somehow, a wrong morality, a wrong sense of right and wrong.

All the pictures I've seen, the news alerts, the conflicting stories of the sex game that was being played by the four people involved, the DNA, the picture that was taken of Amanda celebrating with Raffaele the day after the murder -- why do I feel that Amanda Knox, 19 when the crime happened, hasn't changed. I wouldn't reduce her sentence. I feel that the 22-year- old Amanda still feels that gratifying herself is the most important thing in the world .

The fresh-faced young men and women fighting for their rights and freedom and the fresh-faced Amanda -- what a contrast. The look on the faces of the motley bunch of protesters gives me hope for the future of the world. What's on the face of Amanda Knox dismays me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Waking very early this morning, hearing the usual early, early noises of the garbage trucks grinding, I thought about JC. He needs the extra hour of sleep.

After an eight-hour-day of rehearsals for Shakespeare in the Park, he shopped, brought home three large bags of groceries, and after dinner, lugged our large garbage bag downstairs to the street.

I crept downstairs and turned on my computer, thinking about what I wanted to write about today.

I did my usual morning promenade around my studio theater. It used to be "DanceHouse," my school, where I taught. Before those days, the floor was rented by a guy who played the drums whom I desperately wanted to evict -- the noise was intolerable. (Actually, that's why we bought the building with my mother's financial help -- it's a five-story brownstone in the heart of Manhattan. Back in those days, we lived on the top floor. Now, we occupy the two top floors.)

"Maybe I'll write about JC," I thought as I donned my work "uniform." JC's and my in-the-world clothes are racks in the theater tech room, which was DanceHouse's dressing room that my students used. JC built a steel table for our sound and lighting equipment that can be rolled into the theater. Our two story "home/offices/theater " is about 4,400 square feet, the size of a 14 room mansion. It's in the center of Manhattan, in Chelsea, which is definitely an IN neighborhood, with great restaurants, clothing stores and a California "Trader Joe's" grocery two blocks away.

JC, the "legendary actor" marches out every day, to shop, or to audition, to do a benefit, to get something fixed (or get Phil, our Super to fix it). Then JC is off to rehearsal for his current job, and the PR stuff his employer needs him to do. JC never says NO to any interviews, including unimportant radio and small-town local TV shows. He says YES. He re-schedules, jumps through hoops to be available for out-of-town relatives, old friends, as well as meetings with agents, producers, directors -- that's him -- what a spirit he has!

I love the chiseled look of him, offstage and onstage -- his cheekbones, the strong-boned look of him -- a handsome husband is nice to have, but JC's go-and-do-it spirit inspires me.

Okay, in a different sort of way I'm a go person too -- I like to go further, go faster, and sometimes sort of adventurously, even dangerously just go. But wow -- JC's GO spirit -- I live with an amazing go-Go-GO guy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I wrote about painter Mark Rothko last May because one of his paintings sold for $72 million.

Rothko, in 1970, slit his wrists and ended his life just as he was finally, after years of struggle, successful in terms of the art world's approval of his work, and earning money.

Money and approval -- Rothko was actually achieving both -- why did he choose to end his life?

It's on my mind. It's another no-no-don't-open this subject, that I need to open because we don't exchange with our friends, relatives and dearest ones the deeply, sometimes even frighteningly negative thoughts that occur to us.

You can mention that you are not working well, and even admit --"I've been confused." You can toss off "I'm feeling cranky today." Females moan, "I've got PMT," and guys groan about "Not getting it up," but with whom do you discuss a wave of heaviness, a sense that life isn't worth living?

Even if the thought goes away, it can return, and you, more than likely, deal with it privately.

Suicide, suicidal despair, a feeling that whatever you do is bound to fail, the blues -- the singing of the blues by Robert Johnson, or any of the other great blues singers -- you can listen and ache but no no -- don't say, speak, convey, or show it, when death, not living, ending your life, is on your mind.

People END their lives for many reasons, often reasons that have to do with a doomful portending thing -- an illness, a something that's going to happen and can't be stopped, and the person doesn't want to wait for it, or suffer.

When the poet, William Ernest Henley, whose leg had been amputated because of tuberculosis, learned that his other leg needed to be amputated, he wrote "Invictus," a poem about his unconquerable soul. (It's an often-quoted poem; also the poem and the title of a recent movie about Nelson Mandela.)

I memorized it -- it was a vow I made when I was five-years-old. I wanted to be a dancer "till death do me part," and a friend of my mother's was going to look me over, and tell my mother if investing in dance lessons for me was a good idea.

Child Emily's favorite part of the poem was --"No matter how straight the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul." And my vision of "artist" is still the young child's vision of himself/herself alone, under the sky, no parent nearby. a sense of loneness -- no one in charge, no one protecting or in control of me but me.

What I'm feeling strongly about successful artists, (like Rothko, whose "White Ceiling" painting sold for millions last year), and striving, young, unknown artists who feel they are failing, -- they end their lives in order to continue to be the boss, the controller, the person in charge.

I think NON artists (if that's you -- if the shoe fits, put it on) -- you guys who work to earn money in order to support yourself and your family -- I sense that you feel the same way. Maybe the artist has more freedom to think "I don't have to do this -- I want to quit," but I have learned from my own thoughts about suicide, that suicide -- implementing the killing of yourself is rage, anger -- is a way of punishing, hurting, creating pain for someone you blame for how you are feeling.

Think about it -- dig into this thought for moment: You are making others suffer. If the feeling of wanting to die becomes that strong, open your mouth and share it with someone. Actually killing yourself should not be an option. It's irrevocable. It's a wasteful, stupid thing to do.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Love her, love her not? She's in the news, apparently mending fences with some of her famous ex-friends -- Whoopi Goldberg, Roseanne Barr, Rosie O'Donnell, and Iyanla Vanzant, a spiritual teacher, author with whom I am not familiar.

Perhaps Oprah's worried about her new network, OWN. When OWN launched in January, it had more than a million prime time viewers -- it's now down to about 275,000.

Oprah will figure out something -- a new gimmick -- or she'll discover a fascinating new face. Aside from the fact that books she praises become best-sellers, that movies she likes often become smash hits, her guests (if they're not already names), very often become BIG names.

At the moment she's being criticized because most of the high-profile programs on OWN are led by white people: Dr. Phil McGraw, Suze Orman, Peter Walsh, Cristina Ferrare, Dr. Laura Berman, Randall Sullivan, Dr. Indre Viskontas, along with shows starring Shania Twain, Rosie O’Donnell, and Sarah Ferguson, scheduled to debut later this year.

Is her not catering to black audiences hurting her? If it is, I'm sure that Oprah Winfrey will find a way to cater to blacks without turning off whites.

Actually, I'm not really interested in OWN, or how Oprah will find ways to make herself more of a success than she already is. She's a phenomenon, a super celebrity, an opinion maker, a lovable, likable personality, BUT ...

I don't watch her.

Never? No, never. I have never seen an Oprah Winfrey show. I can't sit through them. I get restless. I change the channel.

Oprah has never been one of my heroines -- my list includes Hillary, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Madeline Albright, Christiane Amanpour; Carol Burnett, Amelia Earhart, Whoopi Goldberg; Germaine Greer, Anita Hill, Mahalia Jackson, Rachel Maddow, Dinah Shore, Joan Rivers.

No name on my list is there because she is or was a performer. Yes, Oprah does many, many good deeds, but more than anything she is a star performer. And very astute. Though she allows her people to reveal bits about her private life, I'm not sure who Oprah Winfrey is.

Wait a minute -- Oprah's up-front, never pretentious -- she talks to the audience and her guests, looks them in the eyes -- admits when she is wrong. She even laughs at herself. We've seen her struggles with her weight -- see the wide variety of clothes, hairdos, grooming -- Oprah Winfrey lets us into her life ... sort of ...

Well, maybe ... well ... maybe not.

Harpo, Inc., founded in 1988 by Oprah Winfrey, is her production facility in Chicago, controlling her entertainment interests -- talk shows, her magazines -- never read them. And I've tried to watch Dr Oz," but he annoys me -- I think he promotes himself too much. I tune in Dr. Phil occasionally, but he's preachy, and too humbly sincere about what he's promoting.

I guess I don't watch Oprah because ... well, she makes me feel small and unimportant. Maybe because I think of FAME as a huge bright green lawn, a stadium, a playing field surrounded by spotlights and a huge audience in the bleachers.

Wending my way to the center of that field, a few times in my life, I've always felt like a lost child.

I got off the lawn! Would I like to do what Oprah's doing? Be like her?

No. she's big business. She's an unstoppable power,

I'd rather be me.

Monday, April 4, 2011


"Newsweek-beast" implies a hungry curious new news critter -- a sharp-eyed animal looking for prey.

I used to read Time, US News & World Report, and Newsweek. And before that, there was Life, Look, The Villager, The Village Voice, The Sunday Times, and The New Yorker. I never got attached to New York Magazine and I had a subscription to MS Magazine, and bought a copies of others -- too many magazines to list here.

My favorite was US News & World Report because ... because ... well, I wasn't sure, but I sensed that what I was reading was NOT politically slanted news. (Alas, it's an on-line magazine nowadays, and it's hard to access.)

The Sunday Times, back then, was already too large and too hard to read. I didn't want to sort through so many-many pages. I particularly, did NOT want to keep up with all the latest, distracting dance and theater news. I just wanted a sense of what was happening in the world.

A friend of mine said just a few weeks ago, "Forget Newsweek, Em, nobody reads it anymore," and quoted numbers that proved how hugely it's readership has dropped. Lo and behold, THAT week, my Newsweek arrived -- a fat issue, full of interesting articles, announcing plans for further expansion, and the new, impressive names on its expanded roster of columnists.

The Daily Beast's "cheat sheets," twice-a-day news scoops arrive on my computer -- summaries about flare-ups, rebellions, politics, scandal, murder, death, disaster. What I'm getting is an event ping-pong that comes at me so fast that I often miss and cannot respond to the balls.

Dammit, I want to be IN THE KNOW! Yes, it's an old-fashioned phrase, but I just want to know the names, places, events, in all the categories of news, even sports. The "cheat sheets" show what's IN -- but the sheet is jam-packed with gossip and rumor. It's stuffing me with snacks -- unsaturated fats, cholesterol, indigestible roughage -- all mushed together.

Okay, hurray -- online the Newsweek-Beast lets me view a full article without clicking around, which one has to do on Time Magazine -- time-consumingly. I like to be able to search and browse through various articles when I'm writing a post, and the online setup of the magazine is
still excellent.

Gee, maybe the name made me nervous. It wasn't summarized cheat sheet garbage and scandal news -- everything I read was chock-full of details and background. Hmm.

Could the new Newsweek-Beast end up being my favorite magazine?

Sunday, April 3, 2011


As usual, John is somewhat taken aback by the subject -- since Emily doesn't tell him what they're going to chat about, before they turn on the camera.

He reveals that he was NOT thrilled by what everyone thought would thrill him-- Alan Lerner hiring him to play the lead in "On a Clear Day." He was just challenged and totally focused on the work -- in fact, he learned the show and was onstage performing it after one week of rehearsal.

Thrill ... the Cullums agree, is what your friends, and loving relatives, feel when something wonderful happens for a professional performer.

What truly thrilled John Cullum and Emily Frankel was the opening night of "Cyrano" in Boston. Emily had written and adapted the play for John and it was exciting, a big break when Arthur Storch directed the play at Syracuse University. and at Atlanta's Alliance Theater. But the high point, the thrill was the audience response, when their "Cyrano" opened at Boston's Colonial Theater. Then the rave reviews, the doors that opened for them both, because of Emily's adaptation.

As the Cullums chat and recall the trivial things that came with their success, we learn that Boston was John Cullum's "good luck" town," because "On a Clear Day," "Shenandoah," and "On the Twentieth Century," as well as "Cyrano" had their premiere performances at the gracious grand Colonial Theater.