Scream Against Bloody Murder: Today marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on Genocide.   For most of the last year, Christine Amanpour, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent has been conducting interviews for her documentary “Scream Bloody Murder,” which premiered December 4, on CNN.  In the Washington Post’s Guest Voices on Faith, Amanpour writes that when she returned from her travels, discussing them often became a struggle. “I often wonder, when I’ve come back from a place like Rwanda or Bosnia, why people ask me: Is it really that bad?”

 

I wanted to know what made them do what they did. Some were idealists. Others were pragmatists. All were stubborn. And none considered themselves heroes. Even though the international community was indifferent when they tried to stop the killing, their moral courage gives us hope. For what they witnessed on their watch was genocide, unchecked evil that they would not let pass without a fight.

… I guess [people] not want to believe such evil can exist. Or perhaps they just do not want to be pushed into that moral space where they would have to take a stand and do something. The heroes we profile stood up to confront and speak out against the evil they saw. Their governments thought they too were exaggerating. They, too, were not believed.

We’re always told that evil happens when good men, and women, do nothing. Well these heroes did something, and the question — my question as a reporter and as a witness to history is: Will we ever learn? Or will I or my children or my successors be reporting on this same kind of atrocity and inhumanity for years and years to come?”

Giving peace, and memory, a chance: For some  – especially Yoko Ono – today will also mostly be the anniversary of the death of another voice for human rights Monday, December 8th, marked the 28th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder.  All over the world, Beatles fans gather and pause to remember the day.  In New York, thousands of international fans travel to Strawberry Fields and brave the cold to sing Beatles songs. This year, Yoko Ono, 75, returned to Tokyo for a benefit concert at Japan’s Budokan Arena, the same venue the Beatles played on their only trip to Japan.  In a confidential memo written at the time, British ambassador to Japan noted: “In sober truth, no recent event connected with the UK – apart from the sole exception of the British Exhibition of 1965 – has made a comparable impact on Tokyo,”

That impact continues to the present day, with fans gathering for concerts or quiet contemplation on December 8th.  Many fans brought bouquets of flowers to the “Imagine” memorial at the John Lennon museum in Saitama. “Now I’m getting philosophical about it, I think that my ancestors, the spirit of my ancestors, is calling to me saying, ‘Yoko, you should come back to Japan once in a while.’ So I’m now saying okay.”


Ono explains she has always been sensitive to spirits and feels her husband’s presence keenly when she is in her home country. “He loved Japan so much. I don’t think it was to do with his wife – well maybe a little bit!”

Acting Up For AIDS awareness. When she was first arrested at an ACT-UP protest TV journalist Ann Northrop was 39, older than most of the members of the AIDS activism group.  Her most publicized arrest as part of an ACT-UP protest was at a December, 1989 protest outside of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.  Northrop tells the Vassar Quarterly that she and over 100 others were arrested for lying down in the cathedral’s aisles and disrupting a service  to “draw attention to the Catholic Church’s opposition to safer-sex education and legal abortion.”

Northrop describes her activism in the 60’s and 70’s as “mild, run-of-the-mill attendance at antiwar or feminist marches and protests.”  The energy of protesting was what drew her, “away from the paralysis of doing nothing.”  After covering the discovery of AIDS for Good Morning America and the CBS morning news she began work with the Hetrick-Martin Institute as an AIDS educator, a position which spoke to her convictions, and led her into activism with ACT-UP.  Northrop now anchors a news network called “Gay USA,” which “not only reports the news but endeavors to explain it.

Rooting for Liza – and our past: Jan Simpson, reporter and former TIME Magazine arts editor,  reflects on Liza Minnelli’s most recent show for her invaluable theater blog Broadway and Me. Liza, she reflects, holds for many people the keys to the history of musical theatre:

The second half of the show is dedicated to her godmother Kay Thompson, a legendary Hollywood vocal coach, arranger and performer (as well as the author of the “Eloise” children’s books) and it largely recreates the nightclub act that Thompson developed in the late ‘40s. It includes a couple of songs written by Liza’s godfather, Ira Gershwin. “Wow,” my sister leaned over and whispered. “She had great godparents.”


And that, of course, is a large part of our endless fascination with Liza. As the daughter of Judy Garland and director Vincente Minnelli, she is true show business royalty. She’s also probably our last link to the era of vaudeville and big movie musicals and razzle-dazzle Broadway shows. We’ve followed the family’s ups (Oscars for mom, dad and Liza, Tonys for mom and Liza, Emmys for Liza) and downs (substance abuse, bad marriages and divorces, weight issues and health problems for all three) for over 70 years now and in the process, we’ve developed a fondness for Liza that has developed into a protectiveness. We root for her to succeed.

Liza is now 62 and in just this decade alone, she’s been through a much-publicized divorce, had hip replacement surgery, survived a bout of viral encephalitis that nearly killed her, ballooned in weight and then slimmed down again (click here to read a New York Magazine profile). And yet, there she is up on the stage of the legendary theater where her mother made her own comeback in 1951, dressed in her trademark shimmery Halston-designed outfits and giving all she’s got.

It’s not as much as she once had. Even though the choreography was gentle (more shoulder rolls and head tilts than high kicks) she seemed out of breath during most of the songs and actually stopped in the middle of one, gasping “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” But then, she went on. My buddy Bill, who did get to the theater on time, later told me that it wasn’t much different during the first act. But none of that mattered. Technical abilities are one thing. Artistry is another. Liza’s artistry has always been that she works directly from the heart. And the audience on opening night wrapped her up in its own.

Folks in the front row stood after almost every number. I’m told that it was filled with friends who get those seats because they promise to give her that visible show of support. But I don’t think there was any similar deal with the four guys sitting in the mezzanine right behind Joanne and me and they jumped up, stomped their feet, and shouted “Diva” just as often.

[Elizabeth W.]

Join the conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • jan@broadwayandme December 10, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Many thanks for the nice shout out.

    Reply