FBI Queries, Investigations and Plain Bullying

PERMIT #3036
Vol. X, No. IX
Westchester’s Most Influential Weekly
Thursday, March 5, 2015 • $1.00
It Was A Lonely And
Mildly Terrifying
Adventures in Existential Terror:
FBI Queries, Investigations and Plain Bullying
By Steve Mayo, Page 2
Page 2
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Adventures in Existential Terror: FBI Queries, Investigations and Plain Bullying
By Steve Mayo
Ever been queried by
the FBI? I can tell you,
it’s not a pleasant experience; not for me, not for
anyone I know. Talking
to a couple of G-men can be awfully
disagreeable. And being lectured by even
one can be positively revolting. Read on
and I’ll explain.
About 25 years ago, my company
had almost completed construction of
a new wing to our manufacturing plant
in the Bronx. A fairly simple affair: a lot
had to be cleared of old structures, the
ground “scraped” and excavated and a
new basic and plain design out of beams,
purlins and prefabricated walls and a
roof erected in its place.
As a small manufacturer, based in
the Bronx and Manhattan since 1921,
the company was desirous of state
and city certification as an Industrial
Development Authority (IDA) project,
which would afford us loan terms
generally unavailable to firms of our
size, as well as exemptions from sales
tax on construction-related materials.
The process involved meeting with the
then-constituted Community Planning
Board whose “check-off ” was required
before the IDA would grant certification and a certificate of occupancy
obtained for use of the space. Turns out
that one member of the panel, let’s call
him “Tony S.” (name changed to avert
complications and expense) required a
closer inspection and a meeting with the
principals. Introductions were made and
when questions became too technical
for the owner-family’s understanding,
he saw the general contractor in charge
of the project day-to-day.
We learned second-hand that
the builder would be forced to “do his
part” for minority employment and
hire a sufficient number of local-area
residents and a stated complement
of minority-group members. After
further consideration of the bureaucrat’s
“concerns,” apparently a deal was struck
to ensure a satisfactory number of Bronx
residents of diverse backgrounds were
Shortly later, amidst the bustle of
workers and humming of industrial
equipment, two well-dressed men
entered our main building seeking the
company principals. Representing ownership, I introduced myself, and led them
to our offices. After being requested
their identities, they produced badges
and business cards issued by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation. After offering
the barest niceties, they asked if we
had ever heard of Tony S. I answered,
“Yes,” and then proceeded to tell what
I knew about him. This seemed the
proper course as I had learned that
the Community Board member so
named had caused the general contractor unbudgeted additional costs,
considerable uncertainty, delay and
not inconsiderable grief in complying
with his unanticipated laundry list of
“concerns.” As in the movies, the carefully groomed lawmen spoke in clipped
sentences and answered my questions
about the target individual with assiduous equivocation.
After a considerable time relating
the now-obviously sordid tale, the
interview ended and I returned to my
duties running the plant. I felt relief,
having unburdened the company of
satisfying “requirements” that seemed to
have no basis in New York City / New
York State rulebooks or official texts.
As applicants to the state Industrial
Development Authority, we had been
obligated to complete an array of
applications conveying our legal and
financial worthiness, committing us
to remain in the Bronx for the life of
the loan, making good faith efforts to
retain employees and transmit regular
accounting data. Tony S.’s new demands
seemed to emerge from nowhere other
than his fevered and fertile imagination.
Barely a week later, we received
a Certified letter from the office of
the United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, directing us to contact them regarding an
ongoing subject of their investigations.
What followed was a five-week
ordeal relating our honest attempt to
expand operations in the Bronx and
take advantage of government incentive programs designed to encourage
increased employment of semi-skilled
and unskilled borough residents.
Eye on Theatre.........................................................................7
Film Retrospective.................................................................12
Cultural Perspectives.............................................................15
Mary at the Movies...............................................................16
Continued on page 3
Mission Statement
Table of Contents
Creative Disruption.................................................................5
Informal contact with the office proved
to be inadequate, so we hired a law firm
made up of ex-prosecutors of the state
and federal “bars.”There is a long-standing tradition of prosecutors working for
the feds or state offices; the sharpest
and most financially- orientated opt
out after a while and go to work for an
over-priced partnership like the one we
engaged. Those sharpest and most politically ambitious prospects stay in the
public sector and hope to run for public
office: more on this later.
We were obligated to describe
the origin of the construction project
and how we came to know “Tony S.,”
who, it turned out, had been a target
of law enforcement for some time.
Staff members lost work time visiting
the lawyers and explaining their roles.
Others lost sleep, concerned that their
honest work complying with seemingly
legitimate government requests was
being misconstrued by an overly zealous
U.S. Attorney’s office.
Altogether, it was a lonely and
mildly terrifying time. More than once,
one of the prosecuting office’s “young
Sam Zherka, Publisher
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From amongst journalism’s classic key-words: who, what, when, where, why, and
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Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 3
that new resources may be required
to assist the lonely, imperiled individual officer in his Herculean physical
and Solomon-like ethical and intellectual responsibilities? Might some
cutting-edge enhancement of computer
hardware and Artificial Intelligence
software be suggested to these sorry and
doleful tasks? He doesn’t say.
Blessed by a great and considerable public office with an unparalleled
platform for public reflection and speculative problem solving, he cops out.
Against considerable evidence to the
contrary, he decides that the wholly
understandable (if scientifically imprecise) practice of ethnological and racial
profiling “complicates the relationship
between police and the communities
they serve.” What is his conclusion?
“Conversations - as bumpy and uncomfortable as they can be – help us
understand different perspectives….”
Un-oh! Here we go again with
the “conversation” business. Favored by
amateur Dr. Phils and Ruths: reliant
on suspect, theoretical socio-political
conflict resolution, blandly dismissive
of the overwhelming evidentiary incidence of minority-on-minority violence
and decades-long welfare dependency
and joblessness. Where anecdotal and
statistical evidence point to the saliency
of family cohesiveness and favorable
job-creation policies for empowering
“persons of color,” this national executive
crime-fighting boss peddles excuses!
For ignoring fundamental lessons
of economics and resorting to moral
scolding (“resist bias and prejudice”),
Comey reveals his thorough unsuitability to the challenge. Stating “We
have spent the 150 years since Lincoln
… treating a whole lot of people of color
poorly…. We must account for that
inheritance” and “speak to each other
honestly about these hard truths” he
displays an almost childlike preference
for amiable weightlessness. For what
“hard” lessons can law enforcement take
from Comey’s hectoring? Nothing of
a curriculum for an improved course
of police training and certainly no
guidance for minorities seeking a way
out of a troubling history of self-fulfilling self-defeat.
The leftist guilt-ridden board and
staff at the New York Times must
have been impressed by the Director’s
descent into self-flagellation and societal
chiding, but it is doubtful that the public
or police rank-and-file could have comprehended any useful remedy or course
of conduct therein. Comey may have
earned himself a shot at nomination
for higher future political office (and
the accolades of Democrats seeking
that moderate Republican “ideal,” so
Adventures in Existential Terror: FBI Queries, Investigations and Plain Bullying
Continued from page 2
of the state prosecutorial mechanism,
one of a different nature and more
caustic than we sampled in the Bronx
decades ago. But similarly, his case
exemplifies the pitfalls of placing so
considerable an amount of latitude and
discretion in the hands of lawyer posses.
According to the local Gannett
outlet and the Westchester Guardian,
Mr. Zherka has been held without bail
in pre-trial detention since September
18, 2014, despite the recommendation
of the federal Pre-trial Services office
that he not be detained. Charged with
allegedly submitting false statements
on bank loan applications, a tax issue
and witness tampering, he has denied
the claims, attributing them to the
political establishment’s opposition to
his editorial independence, TEA Party
affiliations and pursuit of malefaction by
political figures.
While the validity of the charges
is beyond the purview of this article, it
is clear that political machines do not
mourn his misfortune or begrudge the
uncustomary denial of bail; this is not
surprising. What does cause wonder
is the failure of the daily broadcast and
print media to raise alarms about the
plight of so prominent an advocate of
First Amendment rights; one who has
obtained judgments against those who
have tried to extinguish the distribution of the very newspaper you are now
holding in your hands.
How to explain their silence? Do
these paragons of New York’s media
“establishment” types disdain Mr.
Zherka’s consistent advocacy of conservative and free-market views? Perhaps
they begrudge his successful entrepreneurial career, which has included
stints in real estate, restaurants and strip
clubs. Whatever the cause, the conduct
of local federal law enforcement and
the indulgence of their excesses by the
established “press” seems like more business-as-usual in the five boroughs and
the suburban counties of Westchester,
Nassau and Suffolk New York and
perhaps the New Jersey ones of Bergen
and Passaic.
Our last example in the annals of
“law enforcement Fear and Loathing”
in the metropolitan area emerges from
the fervid imagination of FBI Director
James Comey, a Yonkers native.
In remarks at Georgetown
University early last month, he let loose
with his analysis of the relationship
“between law enforcement and the
diverse communities we serve.”Pledging
a laudable “honest discussion” about the
“disconnect between police agencies
and many citizens,” he then veers into
the miasmic wasteland of sociological
speculation and psychological demon
dispossession. “Much research points to
the widespread existence of unconscious
bias” and “people in our white-majority
culture have unconscious racial biases,”
he reports.
To this outbreak of “latent biases”
he proposes “to design systems and processes that overcome that very human
part of us all.” This new approach to
law enforcement is supposed to stamp
out “flavors of cynicism” and “mental
shortcut(s)” that compound the “disproportionate challenges faced by young
men of color.” He acknowledges that
“young men of color” are responsible for
a disproportionate percentage of street
crime and then lambastes a hypothetical police officer for turning toward one
side of the street where minority kids
are present and not toward one where
whites are.
Does this compel him to conclude
that law enforcement work is difficult or
impossible in today’s atmosphere of critically spotlighted and second-guessed
police behavior? Does he suggest
Continued on page 4
“The doctors understood how important
it was to get me back to work in a week.”
Ricky R., colon patient
©2014 Hudson Valley Surgical Group | All Rights Reserved.
pups” really lost his head (or at least his
sense of perspective) and threatened to
send my colleague “up the river” unless
he agreed to “cooperate” according to
our attorney. Specifically how any of us
had failed to “cooperate” fully with the
investigators was never explained, as
every question posed to the employees
was answered in full. Another petulant
prosecutor offered “serious hard prison
time” to staff members who failed to
“give up the goods” on the errant civil
(Not once, however, were any of us
referred to as a “scum bucket;” this was
years before the proliferation of the CSI
and SVU series on television and their
limitless proliferation of spinoffs, sequels
and prequels, and their parodying in the
The case ended with a whimper
and not a bang: no phone call clearing
our company or finally disposing of the
investigation. I do not know if “Tony
S.” got nailed, did time or even if he is
still plying his trade intimidating and
“holding up” legitimate business in New
York for his “ticket to the play land.”One
thing is certain however: the $10,000
retainer that we coughed-up to the law
firm matched precisely their billings in
the case and no refund was obtained.
And how to divine the terrifying
torrent of threats, verbal brickbats and
B-movie lawyer jibber-jabber? That was
nothing more than prosecutor oratorical
excess over the invariably Democratic
party city machines and their complex
networks of subsidiary boroughs, wards,
precincts, water districts and community planning boards. And the cold,
heartless re-delivery of such threats by
our defense team? Hard to say, but one
attorney-friend not related to the case
said this was just more or less “returning a favor” by a lawyer to a law school
classmate. And perhaps also, a bit of
“Kabuki-theater” necessary to justify
the great expense of criminal defense,
courtesy of grand traditions of the legal
(Ultimately, the building was completed and integrated into the factory’s
production system to our profit and the
benefit of our unionized workforce in
gainful employment, decent salaries and
benefits for nearly three more decades.)
Westchester Guardian publisher
Sam Zherka has tasted another version
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Page 4
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Adventures in Existential Terror: FBI Queries, Investigations and Plain Bullying
Continued from page 3
mythologized by the metropolitan political chattering classes), but those seeking
solutions for the continuing tensions in
minority community policing will have
to search elsewhere.
Residents of New York and New
Jersey have seen a parade of aggressive prosecutors over the years. From
Thomas Dewey to Rudolph Giuliani,
Jeanine Pirro to Janet DiFiore, Chris
Christie to Eliot Spitzer to Eric
Schneiderman. The best have led with
principle, through crime waves to terrorist attacks. Others have undertaken
more benighted missions, through
personal and family scandal, to brazen
political glory and office seeking; some
New Rochelle: Police Initiative and Nissan Rentals
By Peggy Godfrey
community policing has
been a frequent topic
at New Rochelle City
Council meetings. This month, the
day before the city council meeting,
Councilman Jared Rice proposed that
a Committee on Community Policing
be formed, which could recommend
to the City Council “ways to improve
community policing in New Rochelle.”
Rice’s memorandum notes that the
loss of 30 New Rochelle police officers
has resulted in the loss of community policing: the PACT (Police and
Community Together) was “functionally disbanded because of the funding
In 2012 the Citizens’ Panel on
sustainable Budgets pointed out that
with a diminished policing presence,
the Police Department’s ability to
“prevent crime” and engender trust, is
“likely to degrade.” In Rice’s view, the
national rank of New Rochelle as one
of the country’s safest cities would be
enhanced if up-to date safety community “policing initiatives,” could be
used and then he referred specifically to
areas of concern in the city such as the
Lincoln Avenue corridor, “some parts
of the West end and downtown.” Rice
cited the United States Department of
Justice “community policing” initiative,
which supports both the use of partnerships and techniques to address the
solving of problems. The “most relevant
community policing issues relate to
“crime, social disorder and the fear of
crime,” he said. The $170,000 that
Council approved for overtime in the
2015 police budget included $47,000
for optimal programming.
The YPI or Youth and the Police
Initiative was given informal approval,
according to Rice, and the City Manager
can proceed with YPI program to
achieve “overall crime prevention.” A
Committee on Community Policing
should report on present policing
policies in New Rochelle which fulfill
these considerations: the current community policing practices; short term
initiatives which will require short term
recommendations needing little or no
funding, and longer term suggestions
for additional resources. Most important was the desire to “increase positive
dialogue” between the police and the
with dignified resolve, others through
simple bullying.
In pursuit of the loftiest of objectives, it seems Director Comey has
neglected the lawyerly craft of factual
research and mastered only intellectual
Stephen I. Mayo is an attorney, owner of
Mayo Linoleum Works, LLC and host of
“The Steve Mayo Show” with Cornelia
Mrose on WVOX radio, 1460 AM;
Mondays from 6 to 7 PM. www.thestevemayoshow.com
Since Monroe College and Iona
College have offered their support for
stronger “community policing activities,” Rice proposed Cathryn Lavery,
Chair and Graduate coordinator of
the Department of Criminal Justice at
Iona, and Michele Rodney, Esq., Dean
of Criminal Justice Monroe College, as
co-chairs of this initiative. He also suggested that the City Manager appoint
15 members to the committee, including three members selected by the Police
Commissioner. Other experts in the
city’s departments should be asked to
supply “information and advice.”
He suggested that once assembled,
the committee would need no more
than four to six months to develop
recommendations agreed to by a twothirds super majority, which can then be
presented to the City Council. Rice suggested “New Rochelle can be a national
model for the best community policing
practices”. He concluded by asking the
council for suggestions and support.
At the council meeting on February
24, 2015 Councilman Rice initiated
the discussion on this proposal for a
committee on community policing
noting the recent approval of the
$47,000 for “optional programming.”
Mayor Noam Bramson was supportive of using administrators from
Monroe College and Iona College’s
Criminal Justice departments. Likewise,
Councilmen Barry Fertel and Ivar
Hyden were supportive of the initiative.
Councilman Lou Trangucci
expressed a sentiment often heard, that
the PACT officers need to be brought
back because they integral to explaining Police functions to the community,
especially with regard to young residents.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Yonkers
February 20 – Downtown Yonkers:
In the spirit of the renaissance of
downtown Yonkers, St. John’s Church is
offering beautiful music, sung by a professional four voice quartet, and special
talks making ancient insights relevant
to our daily lives. Intended especially for
those not currently attending a house of
worship, the program, entitled Drinking
Deeply from the Well, will take place during
the church’s weekly services, beginning
Sunday, March 1 at 10:15 A.M. and
continuing each Sunday through May
24, 2015.
The talks, entitled “Spirituality When
Religion Fails”, intend to share timely
insights for both those who are and those
who are not religious. Many people thirst
for a relevant spirituality, yet feel that religious institutions are failing them
Though established as a parish of the
Church of England in 1684, St. John’s
has always had a tradition of ministering
to the needs of the community, regardless
of religious affiliation, building St. John’s
Hospital and creating agencies serving
the homeless. The present church is 197
years old and efforts are underway to
restore the bell, the in Yonkers, which has
been stuck for four years.
Located at 1 Hudson Street, at
the intersection of South Broadway.
Parking is available and the church is
handicapped accessible. (914) 963-3033
or write [email protected]
Website: www.yonkerschurch.org.
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Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 5
2 billion shares. Additionally, he developed new and innovative systems to
allow its customers to maximize stock
loans, automate its cashiering operation,
and move into real-time trade processing. George Davidsohn’s impact on the
securities industry cannot be overstated
yet his name is known by many on Wall
Street only through the firm Davidsohn
Global Services, now managed in continuity by his son, Joseph Davidsohn,
who grew up with the firm (I was present
at his bris on Thanksgiving Day, 1973).
While there was only one George
Davidsohn in the development of Wall
Street systems, there were many “George
Davidsohns” throughout the development of the technology that supports
just about our every action today. We
should remember that the first working
electronic computer, the ENIAC, only
went live in 1946, less than 70 years ago
and, in that time we have gone from
floor-size computers to handheld ones;
from punched card input to on-line
interaction, from hand carried reports
to instant transmission by satellite, and
on and on.
The very successful movie, “The
Imitation Game,” highlighted the
contributions to technology of Alan
Turing, one of the mathematical theoretical geniuses whose vision predates
actual working computers but provided
the path, into focus for many. While
most know the names of recent important innovators such as Steve Gates and
Bill Gates, most have never heard of
the George Davidsohns who brought
technology to the airlines, major retailers, banks, government agencies and
other industries while developing minicomputers, microcomputers, handheld
computers and the Internet. I think that
is a shame – we tend to take such development for granted and, from someone
who has “been there”, it shouldn’t be!
There is an old African proverb, “If
you don’t know where you are coming from,
you don’t know where you are going.” In
this case, I would modify the proverb
to “If you don’t appreciate where we have
come from, you won’t appreciate (or perhaps
understand) where you are going.”
Now for another 150.
The 150th Column + 1
by John F. McMullen
This Sunday, I
was reading one of my
favorite comics, “Pearls
Before Swine” (yes, I read
comics -- I read the New
York Daily News comics daily, paying
particular attention to “Dilbert,” “Pooch
Café,” “Zits,” “Doonesbury,” “Red and
Rover,” “Soup to Nutz,” and to the wonderful Pearls Before Swine written by the
talented Stephan Pastis), and I was struck
by how relevant the comic was to not
only the present but to a project that I’m
working on at the present.
In the first frame, “Pig” (the characters, other than the author and an occasional
neighbor or bar buddy, are all animals but
deal with modern life) says to his friend
“Rat,” “Hey, Rat, take a picture of me in
front of this tree with my Smartphone;”
Rat complies with the request and Pig
then takes a “selfie” of the two of them
together. Rat then has Pig take another
selfie of the two of them with his
Smartphone. As they walk home, they
pass a store with a rather sad proprietor
looking out the window. Pig notices
him and says to Rat “What the heck was
that guy selling?” To which Rat replies “I
dunno. Let’s take his picture.”
The rather sad looking man was
selling cameras – traditional film-utilizing cameras! No wonder he was sad! The
point of the story is that our technologysavant heroes have no idea of what came
before or who George Eastman was
or how those pictures were developed,
enlarged, or printed.
This mindset is not unique to
comic strip animal heroes. I see it often
when I talk to my students or other
younger people about the days before
Smartphones, the World Wide Web,
or microcomputers. To them, I might as
well be talking about Hannibal crossing
the Alps or the Spanish-American War.
This thought particularly resonated with me in relation to a project
on which I am currently working. In
conjunction with an upcoming business
announcement by the Wall Street
technology services firm, “Davidsohn
Global Systems,” I am working on a
biography of the firm’s founder, George
While George, unfortunately,
can’t tell his own story as he suffered a
stroke over two and a half years ago, I
am fortunately in a position to do so,
having worked with and for him three
times over the last fifty years. It is a story
that should be known because George,
like many others, was responsible for
technology innovation that brought
American business to where it is today.
George, born in Uruguay, came to
the United States at the age of ten and
wound up handling “punched cards”
in the Electrical Accounting Machine
Department of Dean Witter & Co.
when the firm decided to plunge into
the new world of “computing.” George
and six others had the highest marks of a
firm wide “Programming Aptitude Test”
given to fill the position of “computer
programmer” and were chosen to
design one of the first computer systems
installed on Wall Street.
George was given what was
arguably the most difficult of the
assignments, developing a Margin
Accounting System. This required him
not only to amass an understanding of
computer systems and the necessary
skill to program IBM’s most powerful
business computer at the time, the
7070 (less powerful than your present
Smartphone) but also to develop an
in-depth knowledge of Margin processing, the management of the accounts of
the customers of the securities firm. It
was necessary for the system to insure
strict adherence to both Securities and
Exchange Commission regulations
for maintaining customers’ securities as
well as the Department of Treasury’s
“Regulation T” for the lending of money
to customers and the calculation of
interest on such loans.
In those days – late 1950s and early
1960s, firms ordered large computer
systems a year or more before they were
actually available so George and the
other Dean Witter programmers had to
attempt to program the 7070 long before
the firm’s actual computer was available
– it was the third or fourth (depending
on who you speak to) 7070 to be delivered
in the world. This was before industrywide programming languages, such as
“COBOL,” “Fortran,” “C,” “BASIC,”
or “Java” were developed so George
and the others had to learn a language,
“Autocoder” that was unique to the 7070
-- a language that mandated the understanding of accumulators, memory,
indexes, and the arcane instructions of
the language (ex –“ZAI 3956” – “Zero out
Accumulator 1 and Add to it the contents
of Memory Location 3956” or “ST2 Net”
– “Store the contents of Accumulator 2 into
the Memory Location that has been previously defined as ‘Net’”).
In spite of the very steep learning
curve required of all the programmers
and the need for testing their programs
in far from Wall Street as IBM locations
in such distant places as Poughkeepsie
and Endicott, NY, the system “went
live” in 1961.
Once the system was completed,
George took over the management of
the three shift Computer Operations
Department, contained in a room a
quarter of the size of a large office floor
in Two Broadway in lower Manhattan.
This responsibility included the staffing
of the department, implementing procedures for delivery of reports to Kennedy
Airport each night for flights to San
Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago,
and development of procedures for
backup and testing.
This broad experience in problem
definition, systems design, programming, and management served George
a few years later when he chose to go
out on his own as an entrepreneur and
found Davidsohn Computer Services.
Drawing on his experience at Dean
Witter, he developed computer systems
that, in one form or another, handled
the processing of brokerage firms as the
daily NYSE volume grew from under
10 million shares a day to upwards of
Creative Disruption is a continuing series
examining the impact of constantly accelerating technology on the world around us.
These changers normally happen under our
personal radar until we find that the world
as we knew it is no more.
Comments on this column to [email protected]
John F. McMullen is a writer, poet, college
professor and radio host. Links to other
writings, Podcasts, & Radio Broadcasts
at www.johnmac13.com, his books
are available on Amazon, and he blogs
© 2015 John F. McMullen
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Page 6
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Work Place Stress and Mental Health of Officers Should Be Examined More Closely By Municipalities
By Damon Jones
February 23, 2015:
White Plains NY
incident of retired White
Plains police officer, Glen
Hochman, 52, who is accused of killing
his two of his daughters, Alissa (17) and
Deanna Hochman (13), before killing
himself brings into question: are municipalities addressing the issues of work
place stress and the overall mental health
of law enforcement officers throughout
Westchester County?
The pressures of the badge put
officers at increased levels of destructive stress hormones, heart problems,
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
suicide and alcoholism. In 2012, 126 police
officers ended their own lives, according
to a national study of police suicides, by
the Badge of Life, a Connecticut based
website run by active and retired police
officers, medical professional and family
members of suicide victims.
According to Badge of Life, police
officers commit suicide at a higher rate
than persons in other occupations, with
the exception of military personnel.
“Suicides can happen in any profession, but they occur 1.5 times more
frequently in law enforcement compared
to the general population,” psychiatric
nurse Pamela Kulbarsh R.N, BSW wrote
in an article for Officer.com.
Kulbarsh also writes that the top
predictors for suicide for anyone are: a
diagnosed mental disorder, alcohol or
substance abuse, loss of social or family
support, and the availability and access to
a firearm. 90% of officers, who commit
suicide, do so using a gun. Additionally,
about 90% of the time, an officer is
drinking heavily when he/she kills
himself/herself. Statistically, most of the
officers who commit suicide are white
males, working patrol and are entering
middle age. They have experienced a
recent loss, real or perceived. Most shoot
themselves while off-duty.
Unfortunately, crime does not occur
during typical working hours like 9-5 or
10-6. In this post 9/11 era, our country
has become much more of a military
state. Safety and security are major
concerns. Law enforcement professionals
in Westchester County, police, correction
and probation officers and sheriffs have
responded to these concerns by increasing work hours, adapting to new federal
policies and procedures and sacrificing
time with family and loved ones in an
attempt to keep our communities safe.
Even with health and safety precautions, Law Enforcement Professionals face
exposure to diseases such as Aids, MRSA,
Hepatitis and more recently, the H1N1
virus. With all these dangers, they must
still don the uniform of Justice, go to work,
and remain extra hours when needed to
keep our streets and jails safe for the communities they serve.
Nobody can deny that law
enforcement professionals have one of
the most stressful jobs in the world and it
tends to be regarded as inherently stressful because of the personal risk of exposure
to confrontation and violence and the
day-to-day involvement in a variety of
traumatic incidents.
The FBI has found that agencies
often use a late stage treatment strategy
because police managers sometimes lack
faith in early detection approaches and
view them as ineffective. Yet, if agencies
intervene before officers get into trouble,
they can help officers onto the road to
recovery, avoiding damage to both their
personal and professional lives.
The FBI also recommends numerous
strategies for early intervention for Law
enforcement departments
• Help to improve the fitness and well
being of officers
• Provide information on lifestyle
• Initiate stress management programs
• Shift the responsibility of detection to
individuals other than the affected officer
There is a real need for Psychological
interventions in our many law enforcement departments. This should include
programs to build resilience among law
enforcement personnel and their family
members. Police psychologists offer
numerous services to benefit employees
and the families they serve. They strive to
prepare law enforcement employees to be
better prepared to deal with the stressors
of their jobs, to make healthy adjustments
when confronted with difficult situations,
and to affect the culture of policing by
likening therapy to going to a family physician or dentist.
It is incumbent upon local law
enforcement unions and fraternal
organizations to maintain better relationships with the communities they serve.
Taxpayers should know what our job
entails, completely. We cannot continue to
allow others to tell our story for their own
political reasons when it comes to addressing the issue of mental health for officers.
Sometimes we must abandon political
correctness and speak the truth on the
safety of our members. It just might save
a life.
Damon K. Jones, New York Representative,
Blacks in Law Enforcement
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register at the Horse Fountain plaza
near Crate and Barrel on the Retail
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Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 7
Hysteric and Historic
knows how to write dialogue that
manages to be both utterly benighted
and totally believable. And, in John
Rando, he has, as usual, the ideal
director, who finds the perfect physical
analogues for mental befuddlement or
quirkiness, and manipulates a fabulously
flexible cast to riotous effect. In this case,
they are Arnie Burton, Carson Elrod,
Rick Holmes, Kelly Hutchinson and
Liv Rooth, ruthlessly having us roll in
the aisles.
By John Simon
Lives of the Saints
David Ives is a very
funny fellow—he may
well be the funniest
American playwright around, with only
Chris Durang and A.R. Gurney for
conceivable competitors. He possesses
a uniquely fantastic imagination and
when the wit and fantasy fuse, there is
no stopping him from splitting our
sides. Equally remarkable about him is
his mastery of the one-act play of which
he has written only heaven knows how
many. Now when you are offered a
smorgasbord of six or seven of those, the
quasi-infinite variety adds immeasurably to the fun.
The ironically titled “Lives of the
RICK HOLMES in Lives of the Saints;
© 2015 James Leynse.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who gave
us the charming “In the Heights,”
is back with the more spectacular
musical, “Hamilton.” Based on Ron
in Lives of the Saints; © 2015 James
Saints,” comprises six one-acters, some
new, some old, but just as fresh. The
first half begins with “The Goodness of
Your Heart,” wherein friendly neighbors
Marsh and Del are enjoying twilight
beers in the latter’s back yard. Marsh
complains about his rotten old TV
and suddenly suggests that Del should
buy him one like his own fancy largescreen, out of the generous quality of
the playlet’s title. When the stupefied
Del is finally shamed into complying,
he expects the customary two words of
gratitude, but Marsh cannot begin to
think of “Thank you.”
“Soap Opera,” in a takeoff on the
loafing repairmen of the Maytag commercial, has a Maypole repairman arrive
at a fancy French restaurant asking the
maitre d’ for a table for two: himself
and his date, a beloved Neptune IT-40
LIV ROOTH in Lives of the Saints; © 2015 James Leynse in the Primary States
production of Lives of the Saints by David Ives. Directed by John Rando at The Duke
on 42nd St., NYC.
in Lives of the Saints; © 2015 James Leynse.
washing machine. The Maitre d’ is
dumbfounded, especially as it emerges
that the guy has a perfectly good girlfriend tailing him. But it turns out—or,
rather, up—that an amorous, glamorous, demanding female pops halfway up
from the machine, and complications
ensue. As well as word play: Ives, a
pundit of puns, comes up with more
play on wash and washing than a lesser
punster could dream of.
In “Enigma Variations,” a pair of
female “doppelgänglers” are patients of
a pair of “doppelgängler” doctors. That
extra second L is one hell of a duplication and, like so much else, doubles the
fun. The girls are Bebe 1 and Bebe 2; the
doctors, Bill 1 and Bill 2, in a barrage of
Bs, until an androgynous Fifi shows up
as a solitary double F.
The second act starts out with
“Life Signs,” in which at the bedside
of the decorously dead Helen, we find
son Toby, daughter-in-law Meredith
(whose name everyone bungles) and
Dr. Binkman, all platitudinously
signing off on the deceased. As Toby
murmurs goodbye, Helen utters “Hello.”
To general consternation, the puritanical mother proceeds to Rabelaisian
memoirs of the most pornographic
nature, evaluating lovers (the Doc
included) according to the size of their
genitals, far superior to those of her
husband and son. Discomfiting revelations about Meredith and mama’s boy
Toby ensue.
In “It’s All Good,” New York writer
Stephen Rivers leaves his wife for a
lecture in his native Chicago. There,
on a train, he encounters Steve, a man
who turns out to be married to Amy,
the girlfriend Stephen left behind. He
accepts Steve’s invitation to dinner,
where he meets the now frumpy Amy,
and, in Steve, the lower-class self that,
as Rivzikowski, he was and could have
gone on being.
Finally, in “Lives of the Saints,”
two middle-aged, lower-middle-class
women, Edna and Flo, are preparing a
post-funeral breakfast for twelve. They
titanically cook up every imaginable
Polish dish while indulging in the most
stereotypical dialogue, but all in pantomime on an empty stage, with only the
sounds of it ghoulishly vivid. At one
point the back wall disappears, and we
see three stagehands creepily contriving
those sounds.
Ives has a way of surrounding one
weird, preposterous given with the most
commonplace, pedestrian people and
actions, making by contrast the torpid
or philistine even more laughable. He
Daveed Diggs (center), Anthony Ramos,
Carleigh Bettiol, and Thayne Jasperson
in Hamilton, with book, music, and lyrics
by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by
the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron
Chernow, with choreography by Andy
Blankenbuehler, and directed by Thomas
Kail, running at The Public Theater.
Photo: c. Joan Marcus.
Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company of Hamilton, with book, music, and lyrics by
Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow,
with choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and directed by Thomas Kail, running at
The Public Theater. Photo c. Joan Marcus.
Page 8
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Hysteric and Historic
Chernow’s 800-page biography of
Alexander Hamilton, this is the truthabiding story of an obscure Nevis island
orphan (absconded father and slatternly,
soon deceased mother), who makes it
big among the Founding Fathers in
American politics. Miranda handles it
with cogent compression: five minutes
for Chernow’s first hundred pages,
Of major interest is the multicultural casting: Washington (Christopher
Jackson), Lafayette and Jefferson (both
Daveed Diggs), Aaron Burr (Leslie
Odom, Jr.), Madison and Hercules
Mulligan (both Okieriete Onaodowan)
are all black, as are several others. As for
the famous Schuyler sisters, Angelica,
Hamilton’ soul mate (Renee Elise
Goldberry) is black, Eliza, eventually
Mrs. Alexander Hamilton (Philippa
Soo) is Asian-American, and Peggy,
later Maria Reynolds, Alexander’s
adulterous, scandalizing lover (Jasmine
Cephas Jones) is light-skinned black.
But they are all perfectly convincing,
regardless of race or ethnicity.
Of further interest is that Miranda
has written a largely through-composed
score, for which his steady collaborator,
Andy Blankenbuehler, has provided
nearly through-danced choreography.
The eight capable dancers, four men and
four women, keep weaving into most
of the proceedings, front, rear or on the
sides, all to good effect.
Of the 34tunes, I found only
“Washington on Your Side” memorable,
but none less than serviceable. The lyrics
can be quite clever: “Alexander is penniless’/ Ha! That doesn’t mean I want
him any less.” Or, about Washington,
“The best he can do for the Revolution
is turn n’/ Go back to planting tobacco
in Mount Vernon.” I do not mind his
use of near-rhyme, e.g. “abolitionists/
ammunition is” or “Movement/ prove
went,” but I do mind not infrequent
anachronism, showy borrowings, and
poor grammar.
Another problem is repetition. “The
room where it happens” or “happened”
is repeated 41 or 42 times, not consecutively to be sure, but still excessively. Yet
at its best, we get about Alexander: “Our
Phillipa Soo, Renée Elise Goldsberry, and Jasmine
Lin-Manuel Miranda (center) and the company of
Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos,
Cephas Jones in Hamilton, with book, music, and lyrics by Hamilton, with book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel
and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton, with book, music,
Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book “Alexander
Miranda, inspired by the book “Alexander Hamilton”
and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, inspired by the book
Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, with choreography by Andy
by Ron Chernow, with choreography by Andy
“Alexander Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, with choreography
Blankenbuehler, and directed by Thomas Kail, running at Blankenbuehler, and directed by Thomas Kail, running at
by Andy Blankenbuehler, and directed by Thomas Kail,
The Public Theater. Photo c. Joan Marcus.
The Public Theater. Photo c. Joan Marcus.
running at The Public Theater. Photo c. Joan Marcus.
Barcelona: City of Genius, City of Gaudí
By Author Rozsa Gaston
Antoni Gaudí’s genius imprints
itself on Barcelona in a way no other
artist leaves so singular a mark on any
other world-class city.
Gaudí’s mystical blend of architectural virtuosity rooted in forms found
in nature will leave an unforgettable
impression on you. It is impossible to
walk away from any of Gaudí’s greatest
works without feeling a profound dislocation: have I viewed something ancient
and gothic? Have I viewed something
so post-modern and surrealistic that
Pixar should be making a movie out of
it? What exactly have I seen and why
does it make me so uncomfortable?
At first glance, Barcelona’s Sagrada
Família Basilica looks like a standard
gothic cathedral. Then one draws close
and the mouth gapes. What are those
fruit clusters doing on top of those
towers? Who scrawled red graffiti on
the stonework behind them like tattoos
on the fingers of someone’s hand?
Gaudi, of course. Who else could it be?
Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was
not only ahead of his time, he was
ahead of anyone’s time. What first looks
like whimsy, on closer study turns out
to be the most profound workings of
a genius who drew from nature and
grounded everything he did in the
most simple, elegant, and geometricallybased designs. Example? His use of the
catenary arch as a solution to Gothic
architecture’s biggest problem: the need
for support. Gaudí used arches with
the most natural curve of all—a curve
created by the weight of a structure
hanging from two ends, like a chain
would hang from two posts at either
end. For math majors to visualize, a
catenary curve looks like the hyperbolic
cosine function on a graph. Goodbye,
flying buttresses!
Second only to the Sagrada Família,
Gaudí’s most well known structure
in Barcelona is undoubtedly the Casa
Battlò. Visit it, enough said. The Gaudí
building I recommend touring is the
Casa Milà, more commonly known
as La Pedrera, an apartment building
designed between 1906-1920 with
man saw his future drip dripping down
the drain/ Put a pencil to his temple,
connected it to his brain/ And he wrote
his first refrain, a testament to his pain.”
The fine actors are neatly directed
by Miranda’s steady collaborator,
Thomas Kail.
David Korins has designed a simple
unit set that really works. There are idiomatic costumes by Paul Tazewell, and
Howard Binkley’s lighting has a good
period feel. In the comedic role of King
George, Brian D’Arcy James is hilarious,
but has to leave for another show by the
time you read this; too bad. Miranda,
in the lead he has written for himself,
manages to be surprisingly unassuming.
The show, sold out, will transfer
to Broadway in July, after, we are told,
“some fine-tuning.” But what does that
mean? How and why do you “fine-tune”
a show that already received universally
glowing reviews?
John Simon has written for over 50 years on
theatre, film, literature, music and fine arts
for the Hudson Review, New Leader, New
Criterion, National Review, New York
Magazine, Opera News, Weekly Standard,
Broadway.com and Bloomberg News.
He reviews books for the New York Times
Book Review and for The Washington Post.
To learn more, visit his website: www.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 9
Barcelona: City of Genius, City of Gaudí
Europe’s first underground parking
garage below.
Night tours of La Pedrera are spectacular and surrealistic. Gaudí’s stone
structures on its rooftop will inspire
science fiction fantasies of extraterrestrial visitations. The interior of La
Pedrera at night looks like a combination of a super hip night club on South
Beach with Fred Flintstone’s fantasy
vacation with Wilma in a 5-star luxury
cave. Nighttime tours end with a glass
or two of local cava in the main foyer,
reinforcing the exclusive nightclub
ambience of the experience.
Gaudí was the first noted artist of his
day to incorporate waste materials into his
works, using bits and pieces of discarded
colored ceramics, known as trencadís, to
decorate his curved designs. Parc Güell,
Barcelona’s most famous park, designed
by Gaudí from 1900-1914 is decorated
with walls and sculptured animals made
out of trencadís.
The cave-like overhang along Parc
Güell’s most famous walkway curves like
a giant seashell in Gaudí’s signature style,
rooted in nature and geometry. Walking
under it is a mind-bending experience.
Barcelona is a city of zest and color,
easy to access with direct flights from
New York, and delightful for children,
due to its ambience of playful whimsy.
There are two tourist bus routes: the East
Route and the West Route. The East
Route stops at Gaudí’s most famous
buildings in Barcelona’s bourgeois and
fashionable neighborhoods, although
Antoni Gaudí was neither bourgeois
nor fashionable. A man of simple tastes
and profound religious beliefs, Gaudí
was fortunate to find a patron in Count
Eusebi Güell, a man of deep pockets
and considerable taste.
The West Route takes one to the
outskirts of the city, where Barcelona’s
story becomes much larger and more
political. On the less fashionable West
Route one is likely to see plenty of
Catalan graffiti scrawled on scruffy
walls, offering insights into the separatist history of this proud capital of
Catalonia, Spain’s richest region and
one that has frequently not been part of
Spain at all.
Gaudí died in 1926 at age 74. Run
over by a tram while crossing the street
in front of the Sagrada Família Basilica,
he was taken for a beggar and sent to a
public hospital where he lay unidentified for several days, until he died. He is
buried in the crypt of his beloved masterpiece, in which he lived and on which
he exclusively worked the final eleven
years of his life. The Sagrada Famiília
Basilica is scheduled for completion in
2026 and is now a UNESCO World
Heritage Site. The Archbishop of
Barcelona proposed Gaudí ‘s beatification, in 1998. The outcome is as yet
undecided, hinging upon verification of
Gaudí producing at least two miracles.
I vote yes.
About the Author Rozsa Gaston is a
Bronxville author who writes playful books
on serious matters; women getting what they
want out of life is one of them. To learn more,
travel online to www.rozsagaston.com or
contact her at [email protected]
Page 10
Thursday, March 5, 2015
NICE—More Than A Nice Vacation
By Richard Levy
If it were not for
Bridget Bardot, I would
never have fallen in love
with the French Riviera.
When I was 19 years old I went to the
Jewel Theater in Brooklyn to see “And
God Created Women”. This movie not
only made Bardot famous, it turned the
Côte d’Azur into the Mecca for the rich
and famous, and to confess, I became
obsessed by this French sex-kitten.
Unfortunately she was spoken for and
too old for me. So that Summer I went
to the Côte d’Azur to find my “Bridget
Bardot look-a-like”. Alas, I did not fare
too well, because the bronzed, bikiniclad French beauties I encountered
wanted nothing to do with me. You
see, I only knew a few French phrases
and couldn’t compete with the bronzed
French guys wearing Speedo bathing
suits. (I wore boxers and was as pale as
the boiled chicken my mother made on
Friday nights.)
Well, I never found my “Bridget”,
but did fall head-over-heels in love
with the Côte d’Azur: a love affair that’s
lasted over fifty years. There’s no place in
my travels that compares to the special
“Joie de vivre” you experience with every
breath you take on the Côte d’Azur. The
special mystique of the French Riviera
oozes from every portal: an air of excitement, tranquility, mystery and romance
you don’t feel anywhere else. Even the
wind here is intoxicating as it softly
embraces your face: fragrant, sweet and
salty, with a hint of the French beloved
Gauloise cigarettes.
As you sit in a sun-drenched
Building Façade photo c. Atout-France / Cedric Helsly
oceanfront café taking in the magnificent view, you’ll feel like you’ve escaped
reality and are instead perhaps an extra
in a French movie, expecting to see Jean
Paul Belmondo seated at a table nearby,
smoking a cigarette and slowly sipping
Absinthe. Love is in the air; and on the
Côte d’Azur, you can almost taste it.This
Promenade des Anglais at Night / Hotel Negresco c. Atout-France / Emanuel Valentin
the perfect place to escape for romance.
You can let your hair down and allow
“the other you” to come out.
The Impressionists descended upon
the Côte d’Azur to capture “the special
light” of the sun here, which has inspired
some of their most famous paintings.
Bay des Anges; Quais des Estats Unis c.
Atout-France / Robert Palumbo
Château de la Messardière (Hôtel de Prestige). View from the grounds. Photo c. AtoutFrance / Cedric Helsly
(Take a lot of photos: the “special light” advice: wear clogs and rent a beach chair
will enhance them.) Pack a small canvas or straw mat; a towel does not offer sufboard and painting kit, get up early and ficient cushioning.) Topless bathing is
create your own Côte d’Azur master- the custom in France. It’s distracting
piece. Picasso lived in a village behind at first, but by the end of your first day
Nice for many years, once he became you won’t even notice; so if you want to
famous. He’d venture into a beachfront blend in with the locals, don’t gawk and
café and while lingering over a glass of don’t forget the sunblock!
wine or grilled sardines, with a twinkle
You’ll love the ocean on the Côte
in his eye, make a quick, simple drawing d’Azur: it’s the bluest blue: very clean
on the paper tablecloth and sign it. Then and gentle. Folks on the Côte d’Azur are
as soon as he’d leave, the cafe owner quite friendly and hospitable. They love
would pounce on these “original Picasso it when you attempt to speak French
drawings”. He’d also buy Côte d’Azur to them, as it demonstrates your effort
picture postcards, make quick drawings, appreciate their culture.
sign them and mail them to friends.
What makes Nice very special
When to go to Nice? Not in May besides the spectacular weather and
when the “Cannes Film Festival” and fashionable beaches is the old, charming
“Monaco Grand Prix” take place and city: “Vieux-Nice”, filled with narrow
don’t go in August when all of France cobblestone streets, colorful cafes, restautakes their vacation. The best time to go rants, food markets and great shopping.
is March, April, June or September. Be It hasn’t changed much since the 1700’s.
advised that the beaches in Nice are not On your first day, take a 20 Euro tour
covered in white powdered sand; they in an open-topped bus with “Nice Le
are disconcertingly full of small stones
Continued on page 11
that take time to get used to. (Take my
Yachts moored at Cannes harbour at night. The château is in the background. Photo c.
Atout-France / Robert Palombo
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 11
NICE—More Than A Nice Vacation
Continued from page 10
Grand Tours”. This is a great way to
get an over-view of Nice and you can
get on and off the bus at 14 stops. The
main street along the beachfront is “The
Promenade des Anglais”, a majestic
walkway adorned with towering palm
trees: take a stroll from end to end.
The Côte d’Azur also has many small,
first-class museums and galleries with
paintings by the “new impressionists.”
Nice is ideally nestled between the
sea and the Maritime Alps and the
scenic foothills just beyond the city are
dotted with picturesque villages. You
will be astonished by all the impressionist paintings that cover it’s walls of
the famous Colombe d’Or restaurant,
located in the little village of St. Paul ‘d
Vence, not far from Nice. Many years
ago, still unknown French impressionists were starving artists, so they traded
paintings for room and board with the
art-smart owner. Even the terrace walls
are covered with impressionist paintings
and you’ll gasp as you pass a Picasso,
Matisse and Renoir unassumingly
hanging on the walls, on the way to the
restroom. The food here is also artistic,
expensive and worth it.)
After lunch, museum hop: The
Fondation Maeght presents modern
and contemporary art; open every
day, without exception. The Matisse
Chappelle Du Rosare is located inside
an old church which Matisse decorated
with his huge paintings. Both museums
are located in St. Paul d’Vence. The
Renoir Museum is not far away, in
the village of Cagnes-Sur-Mer visit.
(Art lovers will feel as if they were in
Impressionist heaven.) A short trip to
Grasse is a visit worth taking. Grasse
is famous for it’s perfumeries and fields
of violets, roses, mimosas and orange
blossoms used to make perfume and
you can have your own scent created for
approximately 69 Euros.
Village of Eze, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and its luxury yachts. Photo c.
Atout-France / Franck - Charel
Tram in Place de Messina Photo c. Atout-France / Nicole Lejeune
Baskets of Roses in Grasses photo c. Atout-France / Emmanuel Valentin
Fondation Maeght, Museum of Modern and Contemporary art in Saint-Paul-deVence, near Nice. Photo c. Atout-France / Cedric Helsly
One night, drop by the old-world
Nice Casino. Be sure to dress up, and
guys, if you are wearing Gucci loafers,
wear socks (!) -- or they won’t allow
you in. For a memorable brunch, make
reservations at classic “Hotel D’ Cap”
in Antibes, a short taxi ride from Nice
where they offer a wide selection of fish
that were swimming just that morning.
Brunch includes the hotel amenities,
including their scenic sunning-terrace
over-looking the sea. Afterwards, stop
by the “Antibes Picasso Museum.
For an exciting day-trip rent a
car (splurge for a sports car) and drive
to Monaco on the famous “Grand
Corniche”, one of the world’s most
fabulous vista drives. Spend your day
exploring the old city of Monte Carlo,
have dinner at a beachfront restaurant
and go to the classic Monte Carlo
Casino where you’ll expect to see James
Bond playing at a table near by. (Bring a
change of clothes as you must dress up.)
Where to stay in Nice? Two lovely
and not too expensive beachfront hotels
are the “Le Perouse” and “Hotel Villa
Rivoli.” For a splurge, stay in the NeoGothic, famous “Hotel Negresco” on the
Promenade des Anglais.
When dining on the Côte d’Azur,
order anything from the sea: it’s local,
freshly caught and simply grilled with
butter and local herbs. The popular
local wine is a refreshing pink Rosé,
inexpensive and of course, looked down
upon by Parisians. Try their delicious
Bouillabaisse (shellfish and fish stew
with broth that’s to die for.) Two lovely
restaurants which won’t disappoint you
are “Le Bistrot d Antoine Brasserie”
with it’s traditional but creative local
specialties and The Olive & Artichoke
with its’ inventive French-Fusion dishes.
For lavish, traditional French cuisine go
to the “Le Chantecler” located in the
Negresco Hotel. In Nice, I usually prefer
eating in one of the many beachfront
outdoor Cafe’s on the Promenade des
Anglais, where local dishes are served at
reasonable prices and you get to watch
the parade of tourists strolling by. (Wear
sunglasses at night in restaurants and
in the Casino so the other tourists will
think you’re somebody famous.) One
morning, take a 2 ½ hour cruise to St
Tropez, bronze yourself on their great
beach and have lunch in the scenic
harbor lined with luxury yachts. The
best way to get to Nice is on Air France,
with non-stop flights every day. But I
actually prefer flying into Paris. I spend
a couple of days there and then take the
superfast TGV EuroStar train to Nice,
which takes about five hours. (Do the
same on the way back.) For a relaxing
vacation, spend 6-7 days in Nice and
2-3 days in Paris. To get the most out of
your few days in Paris, (assuming you’ve
already been there), don’t try to do too
much. (Stay mellow the way you were
in Nice.) Stay in my favorite, “Hotel
Luxembourg Parc” and spoil yourself:
it’s that special. (You deserve it.) Or
stay at the lovely, less expensive Hotel
Odeon Saint-Germain. (Check Trip
Advisor for the hotel that tickles your
fancy and wallet.) If this is your first time
in Paris, in one day you can easily visit
the, “Eiffel Tower”, “Arc de Triomphe
and Cathedral de Notre Dame; then
take a scenic boat ride the historic canals
of Paris. Stop by Hemingway’s favorite
café, Les Duex Magots for a Pastis.
Splurge for an amazing dinner at “La
Table d’ Eugene” recently rewarded its’
first Guide Michelin Star. This will be
one of the best meals you’ll ever have.
Make reservations before you leave
NY. (I’ve discovered that the “OneStar” restaurants try harder.) Try to
plan time to visit some museums: my
favorite is the “Pompidou Museum” in
Les Halles with great bistros nearby.
And you must visit the Louvre. If you
are pressed for time, be sure you at least
see: the Winged Victory of Samothrace,
the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. The
Impressionist collection is now housed
at the Musée d’Orsay.
Make reservations for a very
entertaining show at “Moulin Rouge”.
Before you go pick up Hemingway’s
“Moveable Feast,” and read about his
wild and crazy days in Paris of the 20’s
when he schmoozed with Gertrude
Stein, got drunk with James Joyce and
boxed with Ezra Pound.
If you go, be sure to visit:
us.rendezvousenfrance.com for further
information about Nice, the Côte ‘Azur
and the beautiful country of France.
Many thanks to the staff at atoutfrance.fr who hold the copyright on all
photos used to illustrate this story and
graciously made them available to us.
Page 12
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Film Retrospective
Citizen Kane
By Robert Scott
On a warm July day in 1939, a freshfaced young man sat in the Hollywood
office of George J. Schaefer, president of
RKO Radio Pictures.
His name was Orson Welles. Barely
24 years old, he was there to discuss a
contract as a film producer.
Orson Welles
Only eight years before, he had
been in the 1931 graduating class at the
Todd Seminary for Boys, an unusually
permissive prep school in Woodstock,
Ill., a northwestern suburb of Chicago.
Orphaned at 15 and forgoing
college, upon graduation young Welles
made his way to New York intent on a
Broadway career. In three years, he was
acting in a lavish Katharine Cornell production of Romeo and Juliet.
A month after the close of the
Cornell’s Shakespeare play, Welles
opened in Panic, an ambitious musical
by Archibald MacLeish that lasted only
two performances.
Undaunted by this disaster, Welles
formed a new acting company. Its first
offering, a modern version of Julius
Caesar, received rave reviews at its new
home, the former Comedy Theatre
on West 41st Street, newly named the
Mercury Theatre.
A series of successful Mercury
Theatre stage productions followed.
Radio work by the Mercury players
culminated in the sensational 1938
Halloween broadcast of the Welles
version of H.G. Wells’ classic War of
the Worlds. So realistic was the Welles
script, it convinced the entire country
a Martian invasion was taking place.
Hollywood took notice.
Movie magnate Schaefer lured
Welles--widely described as a “boy
Orson Welles in an iconic scene from Citizen Kane
wonder—away from New York with a
two-film dream contract guaranteeing a
broad degree of artistic control unusual
in the highly compartmented movie
Welles’s first film was to be an
adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel,
Heart of Darkness. But Conrad’s novels
are not easily adaptable to the screen, and
the film’s million-dollar budget made
it difficult to find outside financing.
The project was eventually abandoned,
leaving Welles at loose ends.
Another project, The Smiler with
the Knife, an adaptation of a mystery
novel by Nicholas Blake (British Poet
Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis), was briefly
considered. It, too, was allowed to die.
Citizen Kane Is Born
At this point, the idea for what
would become known as “RKO
Production #281,” the movie that
would eventually be titled Citizen
Kane, came into being. To create a
script, Welles immediately sought the
services of a screenwriting professional,
Herman Mankiewicz, a heavy-drinking
Mankiewicz moved to Hollywood
in 1926 and soon became the movie
industry’s highest paid screenwriter. His
famous telegram to Ben Hecht back in
the East summed up his amazement:
“Millions are to be grabbed out here and
your only competition is idiots. Don’t let
this get around.”[
For Welles, Mankiewicz came up
with the idea of a biographical film
loosely based on the life of newspaper and magazine publishing tycoon
William Randolph Hearst. The story
would be told retrospectively in a series
of flashbacks after his death by those
who knew him best.
With Mankiewicz’s story line,
Welles at last had found a movie subject
that offered timeliness, vast wealth and
fodder for tabloid gossip. The subject
was also tailor-made to suit Welles’s
own reputation for daring brashness and
love of publicity.
Mankiewicz, aware of the cumbersome nature of multiple, repetitive
flashbacks, came up with the idea for
an ingeniously simple plot gimmick. A
mysterious deathbed utterance would
be the key to the film’s subject, Charles
Foster Kane.
The film opens with a tight
close-up of the mouth of an aged Kane
voicing the single word, “Rosebud.” Not
until the final scene is the significance of
“Rosebud” revealed. A child’s sled with
that trade name is consigned to the
flames of a bonfire during the disposal
of items hoarded by now-deceased publishing magnate Kane.
Years later, in a 1989 article in The
New York Review of Books, novelist
Gore Vidal revealed that Mankiewicz
had slyly chosen the word “Rosebud”
because Hearst’s alcoholic mistress
Marion Davies had told friends that it
was Hearst’s pet name for an intimate
part of her anatomy.
To create a script, Mankiewicz, who
had a serious drinking problem, was
sent to a desert ranch at Victorville, Cal.,
miles away from the temptations of
Hollywood. Welles’s Mercury Theatre
associate John Houseman was delegated
to watch over him. A secretary accompanied them to transcribe his dictation.
Six weeks later Mankiewicz
produced an overlong 250-page script
with the working title of The American-later changed to John Citizen, U.S.A.),
embodying many of the elements that
went into the final film.
Welles and Mankiewicz next set out
to reduce its length. During this process,
Welles supplied many details from his
own life and experience. Which of the
two collaborators made most of the
changes to the original script is still in
dispute to this day. With fierce proponents for each side, the question may
never be settled.
Three months later, a seventh draft
labeled “Third Revised Final Draft”
was accepted and became the shooting
script. (The film had been titled Citizen
Kane ever since the fourth preliminary
A total of $1,082,798 was budgeted.
More than a million dollars was not
Continued on page 13
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 13
O’Neill it was nominated for the 1941
Academy award in that category.
Such technical advances opened a
new world of striking visual effects for
Welles in Citizen Kane, including long
takes, daring camera angles, and the
absence of conventional back-and-forth
intercutting between players in a scene.
so a private showing was set up for her.
Parsons stormed out while the film was
still running when she realized how
unhappy its thinly disguised portrayal
of Charles Foster Kane would make her
Hearst eventually heard about the
film and banned advertising it, reviewing it, or even mentioning Citizen Kane
in his newspapers. With the pages
of Hearst newspapers closed to ads,
exhibitors declined to book the film.
Word next spread that Hearst’s papers
were about to print editorials attacking
Hollywood’s use of refugee directors and
actors in jobs that could have been filled
by Americans.
To placate Hearst, alarmed movie
moguls got together and offered to
reimburse RKO for the total cost of
Citizen Kane if the studio would burn
the negative and destroy all prints of
the film. RKO President Schaefer later
revealed that he had not disclosed this
offer to his board of directors out of fear
that they would have agreed to it.
When management at RKO’s
flagship theater, the Radio City Music
Hall, succumbed to pressure and
canceled its premiere of Citizen Kane,
RKO opened the film at the studio’s
Palace Theater in Times Square,
followed by openings in other major
Reviews everywhere were universally positive, with encomiums like
“staggering and belongs at once among
the great screen achievements,” and
“one of the outstanding films of all
times.” Despite widespread predictions
that Citizen Kane would win most of
its nine Academy award nominations,
it received only one Oscar--shared
by Welles and Mankiewicz--for Best
Writing (Original Screenplay).
Following its initial release, Citizen
Kane was neglected and forgotten until
RKO became one of the first studios to
sell its film library to television. Over
the years, this trail-breaking film has
become widely recognized as one of the
greatest films ever made.
In an annual poll, the British
magazine Sight & Sound placed
Citizen Kane first on its Top Ten list
starting in 1962. In 1998, the American
Film Institute named Citizen Kane as
#1 in its list of 100 best films in 100
years of filmmaking. It retained the top
position when the AFI repeated the poll
in 2007.
Film Retrospective
Citizen Kane
Continued from page 12
considered excessive for an A-type
production, but a budget crisis at RKO
reduced this number to $737,740.
Welles cast the film largely with
Mercury Theatre players imported
from New York. Joseph Cotten, Everett
Sloane, Ray Collins; Agnes Moorehead
and Paul Stewart all went on to have
long careers in films and TV. Welles
himself played Kane as a young man
and, with elaborate makeup changes,
at all the stages of his life until the
deathbed scene.
The final film actually came in at
$823,240 (over budget by $85,500).
Set construction costs for Citizen Kane
totaled only $59,207. Compare that
figure to RKO’s The Hunchback of
Notre Dame for which the set cost was
Youth Predominates
Director and lead actor Welles was
25. No small part of the critical success of
Citizen Kane as a film can be attributed
to the work of two other comparatively
youthful professionals: art director Perry
Ferguson, 39, and cinematographer
Gregg Toland, 36.
Ferguson made Kane’s Xanadu
even larger and more baronial than
Hearst’s own castle at San Simeon in
California. Welles later said proudly
that Citizen Kane looked like it had cost
more than it actually did.
Toland broke many of Hollywood’s
filming rules to give Citizen Kane a
Release and Reception
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane
new and startlingly dramatic look. A
diminutive man (he stood a little over
five feet tall), Toland was an innovative
giant and a veritable human dynamo as
a cinematographer. Welles later called
him “the greatest cameraman I ever
worked with—and also the fastest.”
Toland would die in 1948 of a coronary
thrombosis at the comparatively young
age of 44.
Cinematographer Toland also
introduced Welles to deep-focus photography, made possible by a series of
technological developments. In 1932,
the Mitchell Camera Corporation
Orson Welles in Citizen Kane
introduced a new motion picture
camera, the BNC, which incorporated a
built-in noise-damping device. Eastman
Kodak introduced its new Super XX
film stock n 1938, four times faster than
its Super X. In 1939, light transmission
in lenses was improved by coating lens
surfaces with an ultra-thin layer of magnesium fluoride.
Toland had used BNC cameras on
Wuthering Heights, the film for which
he won the 1940 Academy award
for black-and-white cinematography,
and on John Ford’s The Long Voyage
Home. Based on four plays by Eugene
Filming began on June 29, 1940,
and was completed five months later. By
maintaining a closed set, limiting access
to dailies (Hollywood’s term for the
unedited prints shot the previous day)
and closely managing publicity, Welles
downplayed the film and William
Randolph Hearst’s connection to it.
The title character was actually an
amalgam of several well-known wealthy
tycoons. Having grown up in the
Midwest, Welles had “borrowed” several
details from the life of Samuel Insull,
Chicago utility magnate, who had built
that city’s huge Civic Opera House for
his wife, an aspiring opera singer.
With a planned release date in
February of 1941, it became necessary to make arrangements for advance
screenings to meet magazine deadlines.
Citizen Kane quickly became too hot to
A rough cut was prepared and previewed by a number of carefully selected
writers. When it was discovered that
Hedda Hopper, one of the two bitter
rivals among Hollywood gossip columnists, had not been invited to any
of the screenings, a private showing
was hastily arranged for her. This made
Hearst writer Louella Parsons furious,
Orson Welles
Page 14
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Westchester Community College Unde
News and Notes from Northern Westchester
By Mark Jeffers
Open 7 Days A Week
NYC’s #1
• Gentlemen’s Club
• sushi RestauRant
• Fine DininG
252 West 43rd St.
(Between 7th & 8th Ave.)
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Escape to
First Class Adult Entertainment,
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@ Entertainment,
and Lounge.
Mon – Sat Before 9PM
As always, the
Academy Awards Show
was filled with moving
music, heartfelt tributes
and touching acceptance
speeches, speaking of touching, what
was with John Travolta grabbing Idina
Menzel’s face on stage, well his weird
actions gives us our opening for this
week’s “Oscar Oddity” edition of “News
and Notes.”
Just in time for Easter, the
Westchester Rabbiteers will teach you
everything you ever wanted to know
about rabbits on Sunday, March 29th,
1-3pm at the Muscoot Farm on Route
100 in Somers.
Do tax woes keep you up at night?
Help is available free of charge, every
Thursday at 11:15am from now until
April 9th an AARP tax aide is available to answer questions and help you
prepare your forms at the Ossining
Library’s Budarz Theatre.
I always thought birds flew south
for the winter, but that is not the case
check out “Project Feeder Watch” on
Saturday & Sunday, March 7 & 8 at the
Croton Point Nature Center, in Crotonon-Hudson. Join members of Saw Mill
River Audubon to identify and count
birds at the feeders.
The Small Town Theatre Company
will produce a staged play reading
of “Orphans” at two local venues.
“Orphans” will be performed at the
Katonah Village Library on Friday,
April 17th and Saturday, April 18th
as well as The Hergenhan Center in
Armonk Thursday, April 23rd and
Saturday, April 25th.
Bring the family and your appetite
to Trailside Nature Museum at Ward
Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross
River on Saturday March 7th at 10am
for a Pancake Breakfast; pre-registration
is required at (914) 864-7322.
An information session on the
recently updated Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) Flood
Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will be
held on Wednesday, March 11th at the
Westchester County Center in White
Plains. The FIRMs, which identify
Escape to The VIP Club!
Mon – Sat Before 9PM
20 W. 20th ST. (btwn 5th & 6th)
TWO WITH THIS PASSs thevipclubnyc.com
303 TOWER DRIVE, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec.
of State (SSNY) 1/23/15. Office in Westchester Co.
SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process may
be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to Mr.
Luis Otero, C/O SKD Capital Corp. PO Box 1311 Yorktown Heights, NY 10598. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
SIMON PRODUCTIONS, LLC Articles of Org. filed
NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 1/6/15. Office in Westchester Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom
process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of
process to The LLC 200 West End Ave Apt 19B New
York, NY 10023. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
Ruth DeLuca, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of
State (SSNY) 01/28/15. Office in Westchester Co.
SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process
may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to
The LLC 3 Lincoln Ave. E. #2, NY 10604. Purpose: Any
lawful activity.
filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/24/14. Office in
Westchester Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon
whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail
copy of process to The LLC 14 Burling Ave White
Plains, NY 10605. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
PALMIERI ARMONK, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY
Sec. of State (SSNY) 11/26/14. Office in Westchester Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom
process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of
process to C/O Anthony Palmieri 820 S Fulton Ave
Mt Vernon, NY 10550. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
149 LOCKWOOD AVENUE, LLC Articles of Org. filed
NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 2/5/15. Office in Westchester Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom
process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of
process to C/O John Flannery 19 Gray Rock Lane
Chappaqua, NY 10514. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
MIGHTY SYSTEMS, LLC Articles of Org. filed NY
Sec. of State (SSNY) 1/29/15. Office in Westchester
Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom process
may be served. SSNY shall mail copy of process to
The LLC 11 Forest Ct Larchmont, NY 10538. Purpose:
Any lawful activity.
LLC Articles of Org. filed NY Sec. of State (SSNY)
9/17/14. Office in Westchester Co. SSNY design.
Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served.
SSNY shall mail copy of process to The LLC 618
Warburton Ave Hastings-On-Hudson, NY 10706.
Purpose: Any lawful activity
NY Sec. of State (SSNY) 1/13/15. Office in Westchester Co. SSNY design. Agent of LLC upon whom
process may be served. SSNY shall mail copy
of process to The LLC 7 Little Bear Dr Yorktown
Heights, NY 10598. Purpose: Any lawful activity.
MLG PROPERTY LLC Arts. of Org. filed NY Sec. of
State (SSNY) on 12/1/14. Office in Westchester
County. SSNY desig. Agent of LLC upon whom process may be served. SSNY shall mail process to:
c/o Link NY Realty LLC, 141 Parkway Rd. Suite 13B,
Bronxville, NY 10708, Purpose: any lawful activity.
20 W. 20th ST. (btwn 5th & 6th)
[email protected]
914.216.1674 • M-F 11A- 5P
Community College is the
latest public institution to
at-risk areas ofcome
in the Long
under scrutiny
of the
Island Sound and Hudson River coastal
New York State Inspector
municipalities of Westchester County,
was revealed
that a former
by itinsurance
determine a property’s flood insurance
transcripts and forged an administrator’s
As a know
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Did you
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Chef Peter Kelly in
the “Teaching
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Former Mt. Vernon
on Friday,
20th. This
Jamell Walker
was March
a star player
for WCC
the school
differand explore
was at the
a full of
ent nuts and show you ways to feature
them in several dishes.
Get ready to sing along as Yorktown
High School presents “Hello Dolly” on
March 6-8.
The Katonah Village Improvement
Society’s inspired program series
presents “TheByScience
of Yoga” on
Friday, March 6th,
On 7:30-9:00pm
the Katonah November
Village Library.
evening, a
the research findings that demonstrate
was held
in front
yoga’s health vigil
for Diabetes,
scholarship. He played on the award winning
was granted,
was thought
to beDiseases,
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local yoga
and ball
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Not One
long after
at Florida
of my
s favorite
taurants, Le Chateau, in South college
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that Walker’
s scholarship
has closed
its doors
after over
40 years…
been stripped
a year prior,
he only July
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ablea full
load. platform and the
party (beer,it food,
Upon further
You simply
revealed that there are several
create students
a team, who
ask are
to basjoin
also playing
your team
and then
enjoy yourselves
for Division
1 schools
and that they
race night. I can only assume the beer
too might be at a new school under less
and food are post 5k…
than transparent circumstances. St John’s
Congratulations to our friend
University, famous for their Red Storm
Leeza Gibbons and her charity the
team, has opened an investigation into the
Leeza Care Connection for taking the
crown on Donald Trump’s NBC show
“Celebrity Apprentice,”way to go Leeza.
My spirits are lifted a bit from this
long cold winter as each day is brighter,
for longer, then the day before. Sitting
on my porch for my evening beverage is
of aWhite
dream and
of a date now
to gone
that the Safety
snow has
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of the
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Community Marks 3 Years Since
Reserve Now for Holiday Parties!
Zagat Rated “Excellent”
Voted “Best Italian Restaurant ” Westchester Magazine, 2006
Open 7 Days : Mon.-Thurs. Noon - 10PM • Fri. Sat. & Sun. Noon -11PM
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Thursday, March 5, 2015
Page 15
and The Wicked
Lady (1983), a
The duo of
then went on to
films: Death Wish
sequels that revived
Charles Bronson’s
career; the Missing
in Action Trilogy
and The Delta
Force and Invasion
U.S.A. with Chuck
Norris. Cannon
the career of
Michael Dudikoff
through American
Ninja and that
Van-Damme through Cyborg. There is
lot of fun stuff about these action films
that the audience will discover as they
watch the documentary, so I will not
give away “behind-the-scenes” secrets.
I will only mention that Missing in
Action 2 was released before the first
one because they thought it was a better
film. Golan also paid Sylvester Stallone
somewhere between ten to twenty
million to star in Over the Top, a film I
personally enjoyed and I have had its
poster in my bedroom since I saw in the
film in 1987. The soundtrack includes a
very nice song by Kenny Loggins called
Meet Me Halfway. Stallone later starred
in Cobra, produced by Cannon and distributed by Warner Bros. Cannon was
also responsible for casting Italian star
Franco Nero as the blue-eyed ninja in
Enter the Ninja (1981) along with two
sequels. Ninja III: The Domination was
described as a cross between Enter the
Dragon, The Exorcist and Flashdance!
Believe it or not, after making these
super commercial films along with
strange musicals like Breakin’, Breakin’ 2:
Electric Boogaloo, Golan-Globus went on
to produce Art House films with internationally renowned directors, including
Love Streams (John Cassavetes), Otello
- a film version of the Verdi opera
(Franco Zeffirelli), Tough Guys Don’t
Dance (Norman Mailer) and Runaway
Train with Jon Voight who received an
Oscar nomination for his role (Andrei
Following Golan’s departure from
Cannon Films, he became the head of
the 21st Century Film Corporation.
Golan continued to produce and direct
films until his passing on August 8, 2014
in Tel Aviv. Globus is now the president
of Globus Max, which produces and
distributes films and also operates a 140screen cinema chain in Israel. Last May,
another Israeli documentary called The
Go-Go Boys: The Inside Story of Cannon
Films was also shown during Cannes
Film Festival.
Fun Documentary on Z-Films
Sherif Awad
One of the important features at the
(IFFR) is Signals, which explores
cinema’s treasure trove, screens restored
classics, inexplicably forgotten masterpieces and films and documentaries
that center on cinema itself. Showcased
in that section, this year was the fun
and fast-paced documentary Electric
Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of
Cannon Films, directed by Mark
Hartley and produced by Brett Ratner.
The documentary tells the story of
Director Mark Hartley
Menahem Golan, the Israeli-born
producer who came to Hollywood
along with his cousin Yoram Globus
in 1979 to take over a failing production company,The Cannon Group, Inc.,
from its founders Dennis Friedland
and Christopher C. Dewey. Initially,
Cannon mostly specialized in American
and European-imported soft porn, but
under Golan-Globus’ control, Cannon
grew from a small company, making a
few obscure pictures a year, to a studio
that produced 35 pictures in 1987 alone
ranging from romance and action, to
We learn that Golan grew up as
a film buff, as well as a man obsessed
with moviemaking. He, and we are
quoting one of Boogaloo’s interviewees,
“was capable of mortgaging his wife and
kids in order to wrap a film production.”
Globus was the shrewder businessman
who often put the brakes on some of
Golan’s decisions and the combination of Golan-Globus was exactly
the right one to secure loans from
American banks in order to get their
films produced. Golan had a really crazy
approach for getting money: he created
teaser posters of still-unmade films and
publicized them across US trade magazines in order to get some cash on the
table, beforehand.
The documentary is highlighted
with dynamic videobytes and interviews
with Golan-Globus former collaborators: editors, directors, and actors like
Richard Chamberlain who starred in
two Cannon’s B-movies playing Allan
Quatermain with a then-unknown
blond newcomer called Sharon
Stone; Catherine Mary Stewart who
made her debut in The Apple (1980),
dubbed as the “Mount Everest” of bad
musicals;” and Bo Derek, who starred
in Cannon’s Bolero in which she spent
much time unclothed. Golan-Globus
also produced erotica films, including
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1981) and Mata
Hari (1985), starring Sylvia Kristel; The
Last American Virgin (1982) a remake
of Lemon Popsicle (1978), an Israeli teen
sexy comedy produced by Golan in his
homeland before coming to Hollywood
Masters of the Universe Poster
Sylvie Kristal in Mata Hari
Menaham Golan and Yoram Globus
Over the Top
Born in Cairo, Egypt, Sherif Awad is a
film/video critic and curator. He is the film
editor of Egypt Today Magazine (www.
EgyptToday.com) and the Artistic
Director for both the Alexandria film
Festival , and the Arab Rotterdam Festival
in The Netherlands. He also contributes to
Variety, in the United States and is the Film
Critic of Variety, Arabia (http://amalmasryalyoum.com/ennode189132
and The Westchester Guardian: www.
Page 16
Thursday, March 5, 2015
McFarland USA
Whites recruits seven Mexican
immigrant teens who get up at 4:30
A.M. to pick crops, go to school and
then return home for a few more hours
By Mary Keon
of work. These are tough, resilient kids
Uno, Dos, Tres, McFarland! Let’s who are in phenomenal shape already
hear it for all of the dedicated coaches, and who long for the opportunities that
who give so much of their time training their white schoolmates are able to take
student athletes to achieve their true for granted. Coach White determines,
correctly, that these kids also have the
Set in 1987, McFarland USA tells mental toughness to become track stars,
the story of High School teacher Jim if someone just takes an interest in them.
White, played by Kevin Costner, who
Once the students are on board, the
moves his family to the small town of parents must be won over as well. There
McFarland, CA, one of the poorest is a hard economic calculation here since
school districts in the state, where he the teens make a significant contribulooks forward to coaching high school tion to their family’s income.
football. As often happens in life, things
White, or Blanco, as his Mexican
don’t exactly go as planned and football
students fondly or disparagingly (as circumstances
warrant) call him, struggles
mightily to understand the
lives of his track team, ultimately winning the support
of their families, as well.
Never doubting that his
students will be among the
elite runners in the state,
he points out that success
on the track field will likely
lead to college scholarships
and better lives for the them
and their families; something their lives, to date, had
not prepared them to even
Based upon a true story,
the actual Coach White, in
fact recruited many more
than seven runners and the
story line compresses his
seven-year effort to create
a championship team that
went on to win nine state
Poster byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures,
titles in fourteen years.
An uplifting story, McFarland
quickly becomes a no-go. When
White realizes that some of the school’s USA demonstrates how one man’s
Mexican students can run really fast, he commitment to a group of students
is motivated to organize their first Cross changed the lives and the expectations
of a desperately poor immigrant comCountry team.
“Jim, let me ask you something,” munity. Please do not head for the exits
says the dubious principal: “You have early - stick around and find out what
coached Cross Country before?” “No,” became of these students as they grew
says White. “Track? “No.,” he replies. into adulthood.
Costner does great credit to Jim
“But you ran… competed in high school
maybe?”“No.”“Well, you sound perfect,” White. Carlos Pratts is excellent as the
he says, happy to empower anyone who frustrated Thomas Valles who despairs
volunteers to do anything for his under- over his prospective future as a croppicker and channels his frustrations into
served students.
success as a runner.
I urge all of our readers to see this
film, to better understand the lives of
the hard-working people who literally
put food on our tables. I promise you
that having seen this film, you will never
again take for granted, the produce
that fills our grocery stores and you will
have new respect for the back-breaking
efforts of crop-pickers, who come here
for jobs and who are willing to work
really long hours at jobs that no-one else
wants, for their shot at the American
Directed by Nick Caro for Disney
Studios; Cinematography Adam
Arkapaw. Running time 129 minutes.
MPAA Rating PG.