Woody Harrelson’s life would make an incredible film. The actor, activist, director, and playwright had a complicated childhood. His father was convicted of murder, yet when Harrelson tells about it he appears to be admiring his father’s zest for life. For his three daughters he felt they could be schooled by experience. However, when his daughter started college he’s quoted as saying “it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life when it was time to separate and she walked off to the dorm and I drove away and bawled my eyes out.” Many of us can relate to that feeling. I became aware of the actor’s work on the NBC sitcom “Cheers” (he was the bartender Woody Boyd). His nominations and awards have been numerous. Harrelson is an environmental activist. He was quoted as saying, “I love acting but thinking so much about career-related things, I missed hanging out with my friends and family as much as I needed to.” Perhaps Woody Harrelson learned to take advice from a celebrated comedy writer, actor, and director. You all know him and his work. Carl Reiner advises us “Enjoy the good times and walk away from the bumps. Even failures can turn positive if you just keep going.” I enjoy the title of his HBO documentary: “If you’re not in the obit, eat breakfast.” Ha!
Can you guess who John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. is? Here’s a hint: he’s a singer, songwriter, a record producer, a philanthropist, and, not least, an actor. Game over -- he is best known as the founder and front man of the rock band Bon Jovi. I became interested after seeing him on television. He appeared in “Sex and the City” and “The West Wind” plus other television sitcoms. As a songwriter Bon Jovi was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Among many other awards he was named sexiest rock star. My sports-expert granddaughter, Rachel, probably knows that Bon Jovi was a founder and is majority owner of the Arena Football League team, the Philadelphia Soul. His super power is writing rock anthems. In 30-plus years into his career he played a concert consisting of brand new songs -- fifteen in a row -- in New York City. What a scene!!! He had his audience members pumping their fists, clapping, and hopping up and down. Bon Jovi’s songs appear to be timeless models of what a big rock song should be - tough, defiant, loud (bring your sonic filters), and proud. The new songs appear right at home with his older favorites. When playing in New York City dressed in black -- so were his men -- as he pranced, pirouetted and commanded. His newest album seems to be largely about the rocker’s own career as he approaches what some (not me!) consider middle age -- ha! - he’s a young 55. Bon Jovi’s life is one to be admired by everyone: He married his high school sweetheart. The couple has four children -- one daughter and three sons. It appears that there is a pop music tradition of rockers writing self-reverential epics about the trials of being a big rock star. Diehard Bon Jovi fans (and I’m one of millions) will be happy to know that the rocker still rocks.
The lady is a humorist and social commentator -- and she makes me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. I’m referring to Fran Lebowitz. It was a pleasure to watch the 2010 HBO documentary film filled with her social observations and literary humor. Born in New York some sixty years ago she skipped college, moved to Manhattan, and pursued such jobs as taxi driving, apartment cleaning (“with a small specialty in Venetian blinds”), and selling advertising space. Her first published work appeared in a magazine when she was twenty years old. That went on to writing columns for several magazines. When interviewed, she stated that she always liked people who were older but “every year it gets harder to find them.” The humorist says that she’s also intrigued with little children too because “to me they don’t know what anything is so they have to make it up -- they have a fresh approach.” Surprisingly, I frequently agree with her. “I have a real aversion to machines. I write with a pen. Then I read it to someone who writes it onto the computer. Paper, you can feel it. A pen goes exactly to your speed. Whereas that machine jumps.” Lebowitz is known for wearing men’s suit jackets, cowboy boots, jeans, and tortoise shell glasses. In an interview she mentioned the Nancy Drew books. “All women my age loved them (me, too).” The humorist is a lifelong insomniac. She tried reading in bed -- “too stimulating.” She tried watching TV instead -- “too boring but not boring enough to make her fall asleep. “Instead of being overstimulated and awake, I’m bored and awake.” “The only time I read without feeling guilty is on a plane because what else can I be possibly doing?” She reminds me that many years ago, when my husband and three young children left in the morning, I’d sit down with a cup of coffee and read. I’d feel guilty but it didn’t stop me. The social commentator says she avoids science fiction and any kind of fantasy. “I feel real life is challenging enough.” It’s no wonder that Fran Lebowitz’s remarks are regarded as classic literary humor and social observation. “Great people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk.”
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