"GO without fear ... the final judgment is already happening," says Pope Francis, in the Rolling Stone cover story by Mark Binelli.
The reporter adds that the pontiff implores the crowds to think of the prospect of meeting one's maker as something to look forward to, "like a wedding, where Jesus and all the saints in heaven will be waiting with open arms."
Don't laugh. Papal events have already tripled to 6.6 millions. Binelli writes: "Pope Francis, the 266th vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, a man whose obvious humility, empathy and, above all, devotion to the economically disenfranchised has come to feel perfectly suited to our times..."
The pope! On the cover of Rolling Stone!? This is a magazine made famous and successful ages ago by its long-playing dedicated owner Jann S. Wenner and his first really dynamic editor-publisher, Texas' Joe Armstrong. (Yeah, they fell out, but not before they established the total success of raunchy rock talent and explorative "don't hold back" journalism.)
I never thought I'd see this day. Taken as I was with pop culture, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll and the good old bad old days of the '70s, '80s, '90s and now whatever the 21st century has to offer, I wasn't sure I was ready for judgment, redemption and forgiveness. But it seems to be happening.
"WHEN will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?"
This is the chilling and tragic lyric of the late Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"
Believe it or not, I recall Marlene Dietrich when I think on those words. Dietrich, during the last 15 years of her concert career, took up Seeger's anti-war anthem and made it her own. Virulently against war and famously opposing the Nazis, Dietrich's rendition of Seeger's ode took on a fresh meaning, coming from this icon of glamour.
She had denied Hitler her presence in German film; she had turned her back on her homeland, though her sister and mother still lived in Germany.
Her sister, who lived near one of the concentration camps, Marlene never forgave. (She would deny, in fact, that she even had a sister!) There is audio of Marlene speaking with her mother, as American and Russian troops advance on Berlin. It is heartbreaking: "Forgive me the suffering I have caused you!" To the jaded, black-tie audiences where she was glamour personified, Dietrich asked a human question, and revealed herself under the mask of make-up and movie-memory illusions.
PETE SEEGER's death led me to look up the songs he wrote -- so many I'd forgotten. ("If I Had a Hammer," "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," "Turn, Turn, Turn.") And I was impressed again to recall that he had been an activist from practically birth to death, at age 94. He was also an environmentalist before the environment was much considered. One of his songs, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," was censored by CBS producers when Seeger performed it on "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" in 1967. That tune certainly describes where we are politically, these days.
But, where have all the flowers gone? And when will the world ever learn? The aching truth, humanity and hope of Pete Seeger is still something to which we should aspire. Can anyone, anywhere, step up to the plate?
If you'd like to pay tribute to the legend that is Peyton Manning, as we approach the Super Bowl, do yourself a favor and read the classy words about him in the current Time magazine, where writer David Von Drehle has done him proud.
I am not much for sports, even though I did my time in the '60s writing for Sports Illustrated. (Or "Sports Illuminated," as my friend and housekeeper Alice West called it!)
But I know legendary writing about sports events and stars because I worked with so many writing legends in that time. And David Von Drehle is right up there in the proud Time, Inc., tradition.
EVEN people who don't care about football are carefully watching the Super Bowl this Sunday because nobody wants to miss the unusual, sometimes funny, celebrity-fueled advertising.
So, let's talk about advertising for a minute. I love that on Feb. 2, Bloomingdale's will be inviting us to the Year of the Horse -- a festive Chinese New Year event where you might win an $888 shopping spree prize. I want one of their red horse key chains, but I don't want to spend $125 to get one -- "free."
How about Jack Daniels evoking the spirit of Frank Sinatra, asking that we all "show some class; drink responsibly." They say Sinatra was "bold and timeless" like their "Sinatra Select." (I hope Nancy, Tina and Frank, Jr. got some money out of this.)
Well, I knew my ultimate pal Frank Sinatra, both when he was drinking responsibly and when he wasn't. What a guy! I loved him even when he thought he hated me and when he finally loved me -- well, that was an experience I would wish on any lady.
This makes me think of the current New Yorker cartoon where a liquor store is selling what they advertise as "Medical Wine."
Last and least, do you believe that someone has predicted that eventually Americans will embrace Mormonism as their favorite religion? I can't recall who wrote this but could it ever happen after the world has been exposed to theater's sarcastic take in "The Book of Mormon"?
Jon Stewart and others have lent their approval to this comedy by calling it "So F--king Good!" in new ads.
I think honestly they should just go ahead and write this ubiquitous curse word out. It may be, at this point, the most overused expletive in any language. As the great Lenny Bruce said, "It's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness."
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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