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"Stronger Than Hate": Julian Edelman's Message + Notes on Opera and Film As We Await Spring Training

A cousin of mine just sent me an inspiring story about Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, a rare openly Jewish member of the NFL (though technically only his father is Jewish not his mother). After the slaughter of defenseless Jews at a Pittsburgh Squirrel Hill neighborhood synagogue this past fall, the Patriots wide receiver Edelman showed his solidarity with his co-religionists by inking on his football shoes, "Stronger Than Hate". 


It's a wonderful reminder that human compassion can win out over the forces of hate and bigotry that have been let loose in this country and implicitly encouraged from the top down.  I ran across tonight another inspirational quote from an emeritus archivist at Illinois Wesleyan University:  "The past is immutable, but history is up to us." 


I didn't know until researching a talk I'm giving at the NINE magazine baseball conference in Phoenix in early March that Illinois Wesleyan U. as well as Branch Rickey's beloved alma mater Ohio Wesleyan took a stand against racial segregation. In 1966 they refused to allow its baseball team play against still-segregated Mississippi universities. Instead they competed against other northern schools Illinois State, Xavier of Ohio, and Parsons of Iowa  at the Keesler Air Force base in Biloxi. 


Turning to baseball news, many sportswriters and fans are increasingly agitated that star free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are still unsigned. Now even Aaron Judge is getting into the act. He's been quoted that the Yankees could find room for Harper in right field and he'd be willing to move to center field.


Aaron, calm down please.  Last spring training you put in a pitch for Machado to join the Yankees.  You are a very likable fellow and a budding great player, even Yankee haters admire you.  But let Brian Cashman general manage and you just get ready for another stellar season.


It's bad enough when fans in too many cities have little hope to contend. 


With the Knicks and Rangers pretty hopeless winter teams in NYC and only the Brooklyn Nets giving glimmers of basketball hope, I've been enjoying the arts much more than winter pro sports. For those who love the work of Milos Forman - the Czech exile who came to the USA after the failed "socialism with a human face"1968 revolution in his home country - Forman's first American film, "Taking Off", is playing two more times at the Film Forum on Houston Street.  This Thursday Feb 7 at 220 and 620p. 


I saw it on Saturday and the 1971 film holds up well. It is a realistic farce about the panicked efforts of a suburban couple (Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin) to find their teenaged daughter who in the later years of the hippie craze has run away to the East Village. 


They discover that other parents are in the same boat so they join the SPFC - the Society for Parents of Fugitive Children.  The scenes where they are instructed in smoking dope and the aftermath are as hilarious as I remembered. 


For opera buffs, you still have a chance to see a rare double-bill at the Met Opera, Tchaikovsky's last opera "Iolanta" (1892) and Bartok's only opera "Bluebeard's Castle".  Both were inspired by Grimm and other fairy tales of the mid-19th century. 


The Met Opera orchestra remains one of the treasures of our town, and this time the inventive staging matched the music.   (You can hear "Iolanta" and "Bluebeard's Castle" live on the Met's long-running radio broadcast this Sat Feb 9 at 1230P EST.)


"Without music life would be a mistake," Friedrich Nietzsche said on one of his better days.  


That's all for now - in the meantime always remember:  "Take it easy but take it." 

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