As my long-time readers know, every now and then we have to step back and reflect for a moment on the social issues of the day. Controversy continues to follow the death of Osama bin Laden-was the United States, under the watchful eye of the Obama administration, correct in taking bin Laden out?
Upon hearing the news of his death, my first reaction was to think of what it must have been like for the Navy SEALs-how intense it must have been entering into the enemy’s territory. They couldn’t have known what to expect once they entered the compound. Imagine the amount of courage, bravery and true grit it must have taken to go head-to-head with the man who has led the terrorists in terrorizing the world. Do any of us really know what it’s like to barge into a house where the people inside may be strapped with mega-artillery? I’m shivering at the thought.
My next thought was of 9/11. I clearly remember the day-I was working at Ogilvy & Mather as a strategic planner. The duty of the strategic planning department is to be the communication link between the consumer and the creative department.
You see, Ogilvy believes in truth in advertising. Their aim is to create ads that resonate with the consumer, which is achieved by learning about the consumers’ relationship with the product-that was my job. This is how brands are created. A brand is something that, if you walk into a store to buy it and the store is sold out, you don’t buy an alternative-you walk out and go to another store that has the exact product (the brand) you are looking for. There are no substitutes. The brand is part of your life, your everyday existence. Know any products like that in your home?
Anyway, we somehow heard the news that the World Trade Center had been hit. We immediately ran to the television. There we sat in silence as we watched the towers collapse. At that moment, the world changed forever. For the rest of the week, like everyone else, I sat glued to the TV.
There are four things I remember most from that time. I remember the people who were jumping out of the windows of the Twin Towers to escape the flames and the people running for their lives up Centre Street with a big, voluminous cloud of white smoke ready to engulf them at any moment if they didn’t run fast enough.
I remember a gentleman reporting that, as he led a group of people down the stairs, they passed a group of firemen running up the stairs. They had barely made it to the ground floor and out the door when the building suddenly collapsed; there was no way the firemen made it out alive.
Finally, I remember something that brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it: a young woman’s last phone call to her mother. All she had a chance to say was, “Mom, take care of the kids.” That was it. There are many sad stories-I’m sure we all know a few.
Former President George W. Bush stated, “There’s an old saying in the old West: ‘Wanted Dead or Alive.’” Somehow it all seems very apropos. I am also reminded, on the anniversary of the birth of Malcolm X: “By any means necessary!”
People around the world who believe in “Down with America” are entitled to their feelings. However, I would have a different feeling about the whole situation if bin Laden had taken his money, strength and power and built homes for his people, schools for his children and cities and towns where people could live and learn to love, not kill and hate. You just can’t go around, randomly taking people’s lives, creating a world of fear, terror and hate and think that’s alright. It’s not.
I’ve been told that when you cut off the head of a monster, the body dies. I hope that’s true. In the words of Rodney King, “Can’t we just all get along?”
A lot closer to home, I have to report the passing of Helen White. Helen was found in her apartment in the River Terrace Apartments when maintenance entered to investigate a leak from running water that had been reported. Currently, she remains in the morgue as there has been no one to claim her body. The only relative she is known to have is a cousin who is close to 100 years old and blind. If you know anyone who knows Helen, please contact the River Terrace management office.
Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre’s 40th reunion gala and benefit takes place on May 22 at the Edison Ballroom, 240 W. 47th St. Luminaries from everywhere are gathering to celebrate.
Woodie has been specializing in what he calls “minority drama” since 1970. Passionate about live theater, he created NFT as a vehicle for emerging minority playwrights, actors and actresses and an audience who craved Black theater. Artists who passed through his doors, working to hone their craft in the very early stages of their careers, are too numerous to mention, but they are all coming out now to say, “Woodie, we salute you.”
Until next week…kisses.