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Posts Tagged ‘DIANE SAWYER’

CELEBRITIES AND TRAGEDY–GENUINE AND SELF-INFLICTED

In Entertainment, History, Medical, Social commentary on May 10, 2018 at 12:18 am

Whtney Houston drowned in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 11, 2012. 

The cause of death: Coronary artery disease—and cocaine use.  She was 48.

Ever since, reporters and commentators have repeatedly used the word “tragedy” to describe her fate. 

But there are tragedies that are brought on by events beyond human control—and tragedies that are self-inflicted.

Consider:

Julie Andrews: Whose four-octave soprano voice has delighted audiences for decades on Broadway (Camelot, My Fair Lady) and movies (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music). 

In 1964, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (for Mary Poppins).

Her performance in The Sound of Music made it the highest-grossing film of 1965—and won her a second Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

Julie Andrews, in her best-loved role as “Mary Poppins”

In 1997, she underwent surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center to remove non-cancerous nodules in her throat. The nodules were removed—but so was her ability to sing.

Her husband, Blake Edwards, was widely quoted as saying that Andrews’ voice hds been all but ruined: ”If you heard it, you’d weep.”

Whitney Houston: Blessed with beauty, charm and a golden, intense singing voice that can turn even the almost-unsingable “Star Spangled Banner” into a rousing anthem.

As a beloved, internationally-recognized vocalist, she enjoyed even greater fame and wealth as a movie star (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale).

Whitney Houston Welcome Home Heroes 1 cropped.jpg

Whitney Houston

Meanwhile, she took on increasingly deadly habits. She chain-smoked cigarettes. And marijuana—“a lot.” She dove into alcohol, pills, cocaine.

During a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, she denied using crack. Not because it’s lethal, or because it would destroy The Voice that she believed was God’s gift to her.

No, it was because “I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”

Image result for Images of crack cocaine crystals

Crack cocaine

In 2006, the National Enquirer ran an interview with her sister-in-law, Tina, who charged that Houston spent her days locked in her bedroom “smoking crack, using sex toys to satisfy herself and ignoring personal hygiene.”

Then, in 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s season premiere, Houston finally admitted that she used drugs with her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine.” 

In other words, crack. 

So, apparently, crack wasn’t whack.

Over time, the once-magnificent instrument that was your voice started to change noticeably. She could no longer hit high notes, or hold one the way she did in her immortal hit, “I Will Always Love You.”

Her voice now sounded hoarse, raspy.

In 2010, she embarked on a “Nothing But Love World Tour.” It was a disaster. In Brisbane, she paused during singing to take a drink of water.

A critic said her performance in London was marked by a strained voice filled with coughs and wheezes.

Fans felt cheated—especially after paying $165 for a ticket—and reacted with jeers and boos.  Some walked out in mid-concert.

On the night before her death, Houston become belligerent and almost duked it out with singer Stacy Francis at the Tru Hollywood nightclub. Her boyfriend, Ray J, had to step in to prevent a fistfight.

Houston was seen leaving the club drunk, with scratches and blood-stains on her legs.

* * * * *

Whose tragedy was genuine—and which was self-inflicted?

The ugly truth is that Whitney Houston’s singing career ended long before her life did.

When people remember her monumental hits like “I Will Always Love You,” they’re recalling a time more than 20 years ago.

Another ugly truth is that each of us is responsible for our own actions.

Attorney and talk-show host Nancy Grace blamed Houston’s doctors for her death. She argued that they had kept writing prescriptions for “America’s songbird” when they knew she was an addict.

But Houston was the one who requested that they write those prescriptions. And she was the one who administered them.

The same chain of events occurred in the Michael Jackson case.

Jackson wanted his drug-of-choice: propofol, a hypnotic sedative used for general anesthesia.  And he got it.

He paid his private doctor, Conrad Murray, $150,000—a-month. For a salary that large, Jackson clearly expected to get more than the standard: “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

So he got what he wanted—and it killed him.

Houston, for all her charm, was also used to getting her own way.  Once. on an airplane, she tried to light up in the bathroom.  When the pilot warned that she could be fined $2,000, she offered to write out a check that moment if she could have her smoke. The pilot refused.

No matter how famous, talented, beautiful and/or wealthy you might be, in the end, you remain a mere mortal. Even if you are allowed to flout the laws of man, you will be held accountable by your own body for bouts of deadly excess.

That, in the end, is the real legacy of Whitney Houston. And Michael Jackson. And Elvis Presley.  And Marilyn Monroe. And a great many other now-dead celebrities.

Sadly, it is a truth that both celebrities and their worshipers must re-learn—over and over.

OBJECTIVE NEWS AND RELIGION DON’T MIX

In History, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2012 at 1:15 am

You expect this to happen every year, starting in early November.

Even the most hard-nosed reporters–including those for major TV networks–get misty-eyed as they speak wondrously about the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to a new-born infant in Bethlehem.

And how that child would grow up to be crucified and rise from the grave three days later.  And how, having taken upon himself the sins of humanity, he would become the long-awaited Savior of mankind.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with crediting this story to its ancient source, the Bible.  As in the phrase: “According to the Book of Matthew….”

But when you report as objective fact a fantastical story that cannot be objectively verified, you leave behind the world of journalism and enter that of theology.

Such as happened during the August 20 segment of ABC World News With Diane Sawyer.

Early in the broadcast, Jonathan Karl reported that a group of House Republicans had visited Israel in summer, 2011.  The trip was supposedly a “fact-finding” tour, including visits to Jewish holy sites and meetings with top Israeli officials.

But then, one night, several members of the delegation decided to mix alcohol with swimming at the Sea of Galilee.  Some jumped in fully-clothed.  One member peeled off all his clothes before plunging in.

Sea of Galilee

That member was Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor had accompanied the Congressmen to Israel but wasn’t present at the late-night frolicking.  When he was told about it, he was furious.

“The Sea of Galilee is a popular tourist vacation spot in Israel,” continued Karl, “but also a place of great religious significance for Christians.”

So far, so good–that is, for reporting objectivity.  But then came this:

“It’s where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.  It’s where he fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish.  It’s where he walked on water.”

Click here: GOP Reacts After Skinny Dipping Incident in Israel | Video – ABC News

That would certainly have been appropriate for a Christian Sunday school class.  But it was totally inappropriate for a reporter who is supposed to stick to what can be objectively proved.

Where, for example, is the evidence that Jesus–or anyone–was able to feed “5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish”?

How can we be factually certain that Jesus actually “walked on water”?

Karl would have been journalistically correct had he said: “According to the Bible,” Jesus performed such miracles.  Or if he had said: “Devout Christians believe” that Jesus fed 5,000 people or walked on water.

Of course, for devout Christians, such statements are those of fact.  For journalists striving for objectivity, such statements must be treated as subjective claims.

Because one man’s religious certainty can be another’s superstition.

Consider the following Q&A found at Catholic Answers Forums, which bills itself as “the largest Catholic Community on the Web.  Here you can join over 300,000 members from around the world discussing all things Catholic.

“Membership is open to all, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, who seek the Truth with Charity.”

On April 18, 2008, a member posted the following:

“A few days ago I came across some very interesting news.

“Everyone knows that after Jesus arose from the dead He Ascended into Heaven shortly afterwards, marking the fulfillment of His work on earth. I was always under the impression Mohammed ascended into Heaven when he was done preaching, in a way similar to Jesus.

“The place where Mohammed ascended was in central Jerusalem at a shrine called the Dome of the Rock (the gold dome you see in pictures).

Dome of the Rock

“It TURNS OUT that I was wrong this whole time, Mohammed did ascend to Heaven at the Dome, but it was not at the end of his life.

“According to Islamic history there was a time when he was in Saudi Arabia (Mecca) and a flying horse came and they flew off to Jerusalem, and from there the horse took him to Heaven to talk with the Prophets of the past. Afterwards they flew back to Mecca. This is the ‘ascension’….

“I think the Resurrection of Jesus and His Ascension is much more inspiring.”

Of course he did!  He was, after all, a Catholic–or at least a Christian–and he had probably heard the story of Jesus’ Resurrection as a child.  It was familiar to him.  And few people question what they feel comfortable with.

But if he had grown up a Muslim, he would have heard the story of Mohammed’s Ascension, and he would have felt comfortable with that from long familiarity.

Americans often complain about the lack of objectivity in the national news media.  It’s doubtful, however, that many complained about the utter lack of it in ABC’s report about the skinny-dipping Congressman.

In an age which pundits claim is witnessing a “clash of civilizations” between Christianity and Islam, members of both faiths would do well to remember that religious truth truly lies within the heart of the believer.

TWO LOSSES

In Social commentary, Uncategorized on February 16, 2012 at 12:30 am

Ever since Whtney Houston died on February 11 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, reporters and commentators have repeatedly used the word “tragedy” to describe her fate.

But there are tragedies that are brought on by events beyond human control–and tragedies that are self-inflicted.

Consider:

You’re Julie Andrews, whose four-octave soprano voice has delighted audiences for decades on Broadway (Camelot, My Fair Lady) and movies (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music).

In 1997, you undergo surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center to remove non-cancerous nodules in your throat. The nodules are removed–but so is your ability to sing.

Your husband, Blake Edwards, is widely quoted as saying that your voice has been all but ruined: ”If you heard it, you’d weep.”

You’re Whitney Houston, blessed with beauty, charm and a golden, intense singing voice that can turn even the almost-unsingable “Star Spangled Banner” into a rousing anthem.

You become a beloved, internationally-recognized vocalist. This brings  you even greater fame and wealth as a movie star (The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale).

Meanwhile, you take on increasingly deadly habits. You chain-smoke cigarettes. You smoke marijuana–“a lot.” You dive into alcohol, pills, cocaine. You admit as much during a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer.

You deny using crack–not because it’s lethal, or because it will destroy The Voice that you believe is God’s gift to you. No, the reason you give pulses with ego:

“Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”

Nevertheless, reports continue to emerge that you’re a hard-core crackhead.

In 2006, the National Enquirer runs an interview with your sister-in-law, Tina, who charges that you spend your days locked in your bedroom “smoking crack, using sex toys to satisfy herself and ignoring personal hygiene.”

Then, in 2009, appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s season premiere, you finally admit that you used drugs with your ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who “laced marijuana with rock cocaine.”  In other words, crack.

Over time, the once-magnificent instrument that is your voice starts to change noticeably. You can no longer hit those high notes, or hold one the way you did in your immortal hit, “I Will Always Love You.”

Your voice now sounds hoarse, raspy.

In 2010, you embark on a “Nothing But Love World Tour.” It’s a disaster. In Brisbane, you pause during singing to take a drink of water.

A critic says your performance in London was marked by a strained voice filled with coughs and wheezes.

Fans feel cheated–especially after paying $165 for a ticket–and react with jeers and boos.  Some walk out in mid-concert.

On the night before your death, you become belligerent and almost duke it out with singer Stacy Francis at the Tru Hollywood nightclub. Your boyfriend, Ray J, has to step in to prevent a fistfight.

You’re seen leaving the club drunk, with scratches and blood-stains on your legs.

* * * * *

Whose tragedy was the predictable–and preventable–one?

The ugly truth is that Houston’s singing career ended long before her life did.

When people remember her monumental hits like “I Will Always Love You,” they’re recalling a time more than 20 years ago.

Another ugly truth is that each of us is responsible for our own actions.

Attorney and talk-show host Nancy Grace recently blamed Houston’s doctors for her death.  She argued that they had kept writing prescriptions for “America’s songbird” when they knew she was an addict.

But Houston was the one who requested that they write those prescriptions.  And she was the one who administered them.

The same chain of events occurred in the Michael Jackson case.

Jackson wanted his drug-of-choice: propofol, a hypnotic sedative used for general anesthesia.  And he got it.

He paid his private doctor, Conrad Murray, $150,000-a-month.  For a salary that large, Jackson clearly expected to get more than the standard: “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”

So he got what he wanted–and it killed him.

Houston, for all her charm, was also used to getting her own way.  Once. on an airplane, she tried to light up in the bathroom.  When the pilot warned that she could be fined $2,000, she offered to write out a check that moment if she could have her smoke.  The pilot refused.

No matter how famous, talented, beautiful and/or wealthy you might be, in the end, you remain a mere mortal.  Even if you are allowed to flout the laws of man, you will be held accountable by your own body for bouts of deadly excess.

That, in the end, is the real legacy of Whitney Houston.  And Michael Jackson.  And Elvis Presley.  And Marilyn Monroe.  And a great many other now-dead celebrities.

Sadly, it is a truth that both celebrities and their worshippers must re-learn–over and over.

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