We have come far, having elected Barack Obama as our first African-American President. Yet, still we see how racism still ravages our country. How can we move past such intolerance, such primitive thinking? This quandary brings to mind the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the great actor, Gregory Peck, who won an Oscar for his role as Atticus Finch in 1962, a time when Civil Rights was an issue confronting the USA.
Gregory Peck plays a widower with two children in a small Southern town during the Depression. He is an attorney and decides to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman.
Atticus Finch represents the highest ideals of a human being, someone who is not only handsome and charismatic but a decent, courageous man of action. Those are the kinds of roles that Gregory Peck primarily played throughout his acting career.
He was born Eldred Gregory Peck on April 5, 1916, in La Jolla, California. "My mother found 'Eldred' in a phone book, and I was stuck with it," he said.
In the spring of 1939, as he was graduating from Berkeley with a B.A., Peck sold his Model A, and, with $160 in his pocket, he took a train to New York to seek his fortune as actor. On the three-day journey, he changed his name to Gregory Peck.
Peck missed World War II military service because he ruptured a disk in a dance class with Martha Graham, when she put her knee against his back and pulled, trying to help him bend.
Because most of Hollywood’s leading men were at war, Peck became popular as a leading man. In the years to follow, he would play many roles, including that of a priest, combat heroes, westerners, King David, sea captains, F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of the short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) and Abraham Lincoln.
But the apex of his career came in 1962, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Peck said: “I put everything I had into it – all my feelings and everything I’d learned in 46 years of living, about family life and fathers and children. And my feelings about racial justice and inequality and opportunity.”
Here is part of his speech from “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “The defendant is not guilty. But someone in this courtroom is… Now I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence that you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this man to his family. In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson.”
Tragically, even with all the evidence in Tom Robinson’s favor, the jury ends up convicting him, and he is shot to death while trying to escape from prison.
Gregory Peck seemed to embody those qualities that made Atticus Finch such a beloved character.
A committed liberal and defender of human rights throughout his life, he marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. for civil rights and almost ran for Governor of California against Ronald Reagan. I wish he had, as Reagan almost single-handedly dismantled social services for people who truly need it and now many are homeless who should be treated in mental hospitals.
In 2003 when Peck was 87, he died in his home. Almost 3,000 people attended Peck’s funeral. Let me conclude with the eulogy which Brock Peters, who played Tom Robinson, gave at Gregory Peck’s funeral:
"In art there is compassion, in compassion there is humanity, with humanity there is generosity and love. Gregory Peck gave us these attributes in full measure. To this day the children of Mockingbird ... call him Atticus."
Do you have something in your life that you feel passionate about? Think of all the things you can do that cost nothing, that bring joy to your spirit. My husband, Mark, and I love to mountain bike the local trails, and have done so since 1986. This is a pasttime in which exercise is a by-product of having fun! If you like to mountain bike and live in San Diego, let's hook up! San Diego boasts some of the best trails in the world!
If you are interested in learning more about mountain biking, check out this trailer for our documentary "Full Cycle: A World Odyssey." In 1993, Mark Schulze and Patty Mooney, intrepid mountain-bike duo, set out on a mountain bike adventure around the world, a la "Endless Summer." They sought the best trails in nine countries, including the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, Wales, Switzerland, Greece, Australia, Tahiti and India. Of course, the conclusion is that there is no place like home, but it sure is fun to check out the terrain on the other side of the fence.
This project which was one of the first "reality shows" ever produced, would be impossible to undertake in this day and age. For one thing, imagine carting 900 pounds of video and bicycling equipment along with both hot and cold weather gear through various airports, railroad stations, taxis and steep stairways. You'd have to arrive not one or two hours earlier at the airport for check-in, but days!
"Full Cycle: A World Odyssey" won over 13 international film festival awards and yet it has never been broadcast on television, as it went straight to home video release. This is a shame, as the cinematography is quite remarkable.
Take some time for yourself and get passionate with your time.
I have been a devotee of independent women's music for many years, and at times I have taken my video camera along to special concerts to record these performances for posterity. These are not "professional video productions." That would entail - at the very least - a professional video crew comprised of a Director of Photography with a broadcast camera and an audio technician with a sound mixer. No, these are casual and off-the-cuff recordings that I like to call "Pocket Productions." Many times, if I was not there to record the moment, the performance would have been but a wisp of wind on the wing of a butterfly. I have posted several of these videos up at youtube, and I figured I would turn all my blogger friends on to a few of them today. I hope you enjoy them!
When I went to pick up my niece, her mom handed me a photo of myself. It was a slightly dog-eared graduation photo. "This is the only photograph of anyone that was found in Joe's safe. He LOVED his sister."
A moment of searing grief from out of nowhere then hit me. Just when you think you are fine, you have accepted he is gone for good, and you'd just better be happy his spirit is free, it hits you. I AM happy his spirit is free. I just miss him so much.
Nobody was ready for you to go, Joe, least of all you, I am sure. I just wanted you to know how moved I was about that photo. How much of you I see in your daughter, and how much of you I see in me.
A humorous look at how our dogs might like us to behave
Bill Rosen standing in front of Stephen King's house
"Equal," that's all any dog wants to be. They don't want to be placed on a pedestal and treated like royalty, nor do they want to be treated like a beast. "A dog is only a perfect human," (says Stephen King) and I think he is on the right track. They just want to be one of the gang and hang out, tag along, and yuck it up with the rest of us. Below are some do's and dont's you may find useful and that will make your dog proud of you and brag about you to the other dogs when you aren't around.
First and foremost, allow your dog to love you. More often than not this will come in the form of a kiss--a great big "Grandmom kiss" that is not unlike a drive-through car wash and quite possibly rivals the Atlantic Ocean. Dogs are blessedly ignorant of germs so when they offer you a kiss, not only are they extending love, but they believe they're actually grooming you, cleaning you, and making you presentable to the general public, while remarking to themselves how cute you look. It's one of the highest compliments any being can bestow upon another. Accept this graciously and go wash your face later. They say a dog's mouth is cleaner than our own mouth, but do "they" know where that tongue has been? You can't believe everything you hear.
Another thing, never underestimate a dog's I.Q. They will, however, floss when pigs fly. People are smart, people are dumb, and dog intelligence works the same way, so look at this realistically; there's "overlappage." Although the consensus among the two-legged, upright being is that people are smarter than dogs, dogs may or may not agree with this. Some dogs are smarter than some people, although they will never flaunt, taunt, shame, or brag about this. They accept us as the inferior beings that we are. They are incapable of judging others, which make them rather unique. They simply love all people regardless of their station in life.
Some dogs actually enter the realm of genius and are capable of thinking "outside the bowl" but still see us as an "equal." Ever watch "The Dog Whisperer"? Who is the trainer really training, the dogs or their owners? Watch the dog try to conceal a smile when Caesar reprimands the owners. I've seen Basenjis actually wink into the camera when this occurs.
Play games with your dog and let him win sometimes. Be a sport. Let the stick slip out of your hand on purpose and play it up a little. Act disappointed. Dogs see this and react the same way you and I do. Act as if you don't see their rook about to capture your queen.
To really make a dog's day, chase him. If you're playing with a small dog, feign being uncoordinated when you go to grab them and let them slip through your fingers. If you have a fast dog and there's no way on God's earth you could even touch the tail, chase after him anyway. Scream and make noises too. Dogs love this and it makes them feel important. Fake a fall and when they double back to make sure you're okay, then jump up and run after them. Everything's fair in love and tag.
Avoid the word "stay." Okay, I admit it's a necessary ingredient in life, but to a dog it's a four-letter word meaning "You can't come with me. I don't want your company." There are times when this is unavoidable, but do your best to not say the "S word." If you must part trails, always bring back a reward: a biscuit, a piece of chicken... one of those beef or hog byproducts creatively shaped into a little slipper and such.
Last but not least, take your friend with you. For a dog, one of the greatest thrills in life is hanging his head out the window at 60 MPH, and no dog should be denied this. Running after a ball or a stick or a Frisbee is fun, but the freeway is "Heaven on wheels!" Meeting another dog is high on the list, and exploring the other dog's scent from end to end (literally) is exciting, but nothing beats rush hour experienced through a partially rolled down window.
Note: This attractive dog is Yoko the barkless Basenji.
Author and dog lover Bill Rosen is a freelance web content writer from Marietta, GA. Some of his allegorical poetry and fiction writing can be found on the Internet at Associated Content.