Archive for August, 2011

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What Would The Dalai Lama Say? A Reflection on Hurricane Irene

August 27, 2011

This week I will experience an earthquake and a hurricane.

Is there karma here? Am I (are we) being sent a message?

I only think of this because when I covered the Dalai Lama in May, a journalist from Japan was also there and he asked His Holiness about the recent tsunami, “did the people of Japan do something to bring this on ourselves?”

I thought it was a fascinating question and one I would never have thought of.  But as a Buddhist, the journalist was himself soul searching how such a catastrophe could befall a people.

The Dalai Lama gave a characteristically in depth, if rambling,  response.  No, it wasn’t the fault of the Japanese people, I recall him discerning,  but calamities are a time to reflect on our interactions with each other and our spirituality, in the context of promoting a peaceful world.

If Hurricane Irene climbs the East Coast as violently as the experts predict, I hope what follows in her wake is a time of neighbor helping neighbor, repairing and rebuilding with integrity, and a new commitment by all to the people and values that matter most.

 

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Hurricane Irene Bumps My Time Slot…ON THE SCENE Airs Later

August 26, 2011

With Hurricane Irene threatening the Eastern Seaboard my television station will dedicate this weekend to wall to wall coverage of this storm. Unfortunately, as much as I was looking forward to your thoughts on the latest ON THE SCENE episode which includes Rita Rudner, Richard Belzer and Judith Jamison of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, it’s being pre-empted this weekend for important live coverage of Irene.

This episode will air within the next couple weeks and I’ll announce the date here on the blog.

Stay tuned, stay safe and stay in touch.

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Rita Rudner, Alvin Ailey and the Earthquake of 2011

August 24, 2011

Almost 2pm, putting the finishing touches on this weekend’s ON THE SCENE in an edit suite…with pen and note card I’m intensely writing a line of narration that I am about to record…I look up, my editor Shannon is looking at me oddly, I notice the tv monitor shaking and suddenly a page over the loud speaker, “Did anyone feel the building shake?”

Yes, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit. And I didn’t feel a thing. Inexplicable how Shannon, two feet from me, felt the whole episode, got dizzy, knew something was wrong. Was I so fixated on writing that I blocked it out? How is this possible? Really, somebody tell me!

Later, I went on the air and told this story to viewers. I said that I felt disappointed, left out of the drama. But also that I’ve always been terrified of earthquakes. Maybe now I don’t need to be since I’ve been through one and never noticed it.

So editing my interviews with Rita Rudner and Judith Jamison of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will also be remembered as the day the earth shook, and I missed it.

Oh, and if you’re local, ON THE SCENE airs August 27th and 28th at 8:30 AM, 11 AM, and 2 PM each day.

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To The Count Basie Master Class…

August 20, 2011

To each and every one of the smart, engaged, interesting people who came to see me at the Count Basie Theatre, THANK YOU!

I hope in some way my master class/lecture gives you tools to make your work and life richer. Best of all, I learned so much from everyone there.

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Ready To Get ‘Em Talking At The Count Basie

August 19, 2011

I can’t wait to meet the people coming to my master class on interviewing at the Count Basie Theatre tomorrow. It’s going to be informative, for the class and me. It’s a great experience when I learn as much as I teach. Because it’s such an interactive event, I always learn something.

If you haven’t signed up yet and are interested be fast about it, the cut off is this afternoon, check out http://www.johnbathke.com homepage for a link.

 

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Editing A Dance Legend, Even When A Beautiful Night Beckons

August 15, 2011

I’m about to reach for a stack of neatly printed, tightly stapled pages. The document is sitting here in front of me on the ottoman. Waiting, calling for, demanding my attention. I hear the ticking of a clock when I look at it. It reminds me that my life is deadlines. It reminds me that there is necessary work to be done and that I must do it.

It’s not what I want to be reminded of on this summer Sunday evening.  I’m being lulled into a trance by the gentle rain cascading on the leaves of the oak and cherry trees outside my wide open living room windows. It’s dusk, the stillness of night is setting in, this moment is fleeting, I want to take it in.

My eyes come back to this stack of pages. This is why it’s compelling me:  it’s the transcription of my interview with Judith Jamison. She is the legendary dancer and the former artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.  And on Tuesday an edit session is scheduled for this piece for the next ON THE SCENE episode. That means I need to decide which parts of the interview will be used for tv, the structure of it, the “feel” of it. It’s in my hands. Jamison is candid, charismatic and deserving of the attention this requires.

So I make the choice we all knew I would: to cut short being immersed in the beautiful scene that I love outside my window,  to pour my thoughts into the show that I love more.

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Baron Wolman And The Rolling Stone Years

August 6, 2011

I know it’s been a great interview when I feel lighter after we’ve finished. It happens when I interview an artist for “ON THE SCENE” who inspires me, or makes me laugh, or just happily shares their insights and passion for what they do. That’s what I experienced today when I interviewed photographer Baron Wolman.

Wolman was the original chief photographer of “Rolling Stone” magazine in the late 1960s.  He photographed the genesis of musicians who became rock icons including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and Tina Turner.  Wolman is a natural born storyteller, animated and willing to vividly take you inside his photo sessions like they happened yesterday.

I interviewed him in a break from his book signing in Westwood, New Jersey for his just published, “The Rolling Stone Years,” 175 pages of photographs but what I love more, it includes the story behind the picture.

Wolman and I lamented how difficult it is between artist management and publicists and sometimes restrictive venues to get access to properly document and produce  unique artist portraits (in my case, journalistic profiles).  Then he asked me, “let’s see, how should I sign your book?” I thought for a minute and answered, “how about ‘here’s to all access?”  He loved it and that’s how he signed it, I guess that is our common ground.  Can’t wait to take it all in page by page.