Wednesday, November 30, 2005

YOURS, MINE and…OH, JUST YOURS?

Gregory Peck, like many of his colleagues, worked hard for six decades to hone his craft and entertain millions of moviegoers worldwide. He was an American icon, and a legend in his time. So, at risk of shining a light too long on those who deserve none, I write this to the thief (or thieves) who took his star from Hollywood's Walk of Fame last Sunday: Mr. Peck earned that star, and the respect that placed it there in the first place. You have earned nothing, and your actions help nobody. Congratulations! You are now officially part of the problem in America.

In 1998 I attended the premiere screening of USA Network’s mini-series remake of “Moby Dick,” starring Patrick Stewart as ‘Captain Ahab’ and Gregory Peck in the cameo role of ‘Father Mapple’. Peck, who played ‘Ahab’ in John Huston’s silver screen version of Herman Melville’s story, had starred in over 50 movies by that time, and this was his last role. He died in 2003.

When Mr. Stewart entered the theatre on the Paramount Studios back lot, the room was sizzling with the excitement that comes with seeing a wonderful actor and familiar icon of a long-running science fiction television series in person. But when Mr. Peck walked into the theatre, it was as though Hollywood royalty had arrived. He smiled big and waved calmly to the crowd, which had burst into applause immediately.

Being in the entertainment industry for almost twenty years now, I’ve seen a lot of people do a lot of crazy things, perhaps too numerous to ever recount. And I have also been fortunate to meet and work with many of those whose talents I have admired throughout my life. However, only four times in history has someone stolen a star from the Walk of Fame, the most recent being Gregory Peck's.

I don’t know who stole it, but I know one thing about him/her/them and those who probably watched him/her/them do it: These people disrespect the property of others. And on the list of things that concern me in life, I might place disrespect squarely at the top.

Having a little or no respect is one thing, often rooted in opinion or belief. Yet "disrespect" is quite another. It is an active lack of regard, not something we quietly hide. While we all have a right to express those opinions and beliefs, we equally have no right to take the same away from someone else. This extends to property that belongs to someone else, whether legally or figuratively. For example: Our government is run by us, by the ‘People’, but we have no right to take a police car out for a joy ride. A child may love a toy on a shelf at Target, but it's not okay to let her take it home without buying it first. And, ultimately, Gregory Peck’s fans may have paid to see his movies for half a century, yet they have no right to take his star. It’s not only illegal, it’s disrespectful, and sometimes that’s worse.

This particular theft is representative of a society we’re continuing to cultivate, one based on the idea of “me.” It is a simple premise, really: Regardless of concern for anyone around them, some people care primarily only about what they think they need in order to feel satisfied. You know what I mean -- the angry horn honking behind us the moment the light turns green because that person apparently needs to get to work faster than we do? Or the people who talk on cell phones in theatres while a movie is showing, offering only the ridiculous reasoning that, "We paid good money to be here, too!"

Well, that’s not the way I was raised, and this behvaior is indicative of a great cancer that lurks in our culture. The good news is this cancer is curable with a healthy dose of respect.

Give back the star and you’ll be part of the solution.

[The LA TIMES article]

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

TECHNOLOGY IS GREAT...when it works

It's Tuesday morning in America, and I am sitting on an AmTrak train from Washington, DC, to Baltimore where I have a lunch meeting.

Seems this is a great time to demonstrate some of the technology that works, so I have posted this blog from my BlackBerry. I was in high school before I ever saw a real computer, so this still astounds me!

Have a terrific Tuesday.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

WHAT YOU WANT Is Important!

PLEASE VOTE ON TUESDAY, NOV. 8TH AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

Personally, I support the California Republican Party's positions on the eight statewide ballot initiatives, though I urge you all simply to vote, no matter what your choice. You have a voice, and YOUR voice needs to be heard!

As I progress in my Congressional campaign, I realize more than ever the importance of listening to each other. Too many politicians spend their time telling constituents what they should be doing, rather than listening to what they want. That's why I'm in this race: The people of California's 27th Congressional District - my neighbors - deserve a Representive who will listen to them and be their voice in Washington D.C.

Thanks for stopping by.

(I'll be on the east coast this week, so it may be a few days before I add a new posting.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

AND NOW: The Rest of the Story…

With a tip of the hat to Paul Harvey, sometimes learning the “rest of the story” is the hardest part, as it often involves admitting we’re wrong; that we've made mistakes. Before some of us can do so, we may want to remember that we have a right to be wrong.

Who among us hasn’t made mistakes? I have; my family and friends all have, and we’ll continue to. But the mistakes we’re likely to make won’t necessarily be the same ones each time. If they are, I might suggest that we’re missing the lesson. Nobody learns anything from success. We only learn from our failures, or, if you prefer, our mistakes.

If someone starts a retail business and fails to keep track of the inventory, chances are pretty good that business will fail. If a swimming enthusiast decides to open a pool cleaning service in Barrow, Alaska, chances are pretty good that business will fail, too. There are certain parameters within which our decisions in life must fall, both professionally and personally: Is my inventory shrinking disproportionately to my sales figures? Are there too few clients in my town to sustain a pool cleaning business? We all make mistakes. But if we don’t learn from them (i.e. regularly count the inventory, or choose a warmer climate), we will go "wrong”—meaning we simply won’t reach our destination. It doesn't mean we're "bad" people, or "stupid" people. It just means we need to alter course to get the job done.

I don’t know anyone who has started a business planning to lose money or go bankrupt. However, I know several people who have had to close their doors and layoff scores of employees because of extensive regulations and tax burdens imposed by the federal government: barriers to opportunity, business, and success. The government’s role in business is to remove these barriers, not to impose them.

America is the land of opportunity, and American ingenuity and entrepreneurship are unparalleled elsewhere in the world. The federal government’s job is to help Americans prosper. I think it’s time Congress admitted its own mistakes and stopped impeding the “can-do” spirit here in the San Fernando Valley and nationwide.

But we have to admit our mistakes, too: One might wonder why a member of the House of Representatives would continue to be re-elected after failing at the task of connecting with constituents for almost a decade. Where is the support for our community?

Well, I think we can do a whole lot better, and I've got some ideas in that area...