After September 11th whenever I heard anyone say if we live in fear they win, I would jokingly say "OK, they win."
And now 12 years later, the attack in Boston has brought it all back. We live in a scary, unpredictable world with people who really hate us and only want to hurt us.
The thought of a bomb that may have been triggered by remote control only makes me want to stay away from crowds, big stadiums full of people, rock concerts and parades.
I know. Feeling this way they win.
But the reality of a dead eight-year-old boy with a severely injured mother and little sister who lost her leg, a two-year-old with a head injury, two brothers that each lost a leg and a photographer at the scene saying that the first thing he saw were legs blown off is horrendous. All on a beautiful spring day. Patriot's Day. A day that Bostonians love to celebrate.
I can't imagine I am alone. I want to hang with my children, my husband, my dogs and my friends. I want to read good books, to continue to work and write but as for big crowds -- no, thank you. I will wait until I feel a little safer.
Which brings me to my theory about reality TV. Why is our society so obsessed with Kim Kardashian, bachelors and bachelorettes that profess love after a couple of dates, Honey Boo Boo and her dysfunctional family, the Octomom and overly self-indulgent housewives who behave like junior high teens?
Why are Americans obsessed with lots of mindless shows?
Because following September 11th, the world got way too serious. I believe the popularity of reality television is directly related to terrorism. After Americans watched people jump from the burning Twin Towers, doesn't it make sense that a little mental pabulum was needed in their diet?
Many brilliant intelligent people have spent evenings watching everything from the most inane like the Jersey Shore, The Osbournes and Here comes Honey Boo Boo to shows that are somewhat educational like Top Chef, America's Top Model, The Apprentice or Celebrity Rehab. Or just entertaining like American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. And then there are those who love all those Real Housewives. Why? We come away thinking we are more grounded, a better friend and a lot less botoxed than these women in Beverly Hills, New York, New Jersey, Miami and Atlanta. They legitimize us.
So before you criticize those who spend mindless hours watching reality television just remember. There are no pipe bombs or people who want us dead in our living rooms.
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4:36 p.m. CDT, April 8, 2013
By Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune
Reminiscent of the elegant simplicity of her mother, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy captivated the approximately 300 guests of the Highland Park Library with stories about her family and love of poetry.
She was the keynote speaker on April 5 at an event celebrating the library's 125th year.
Kennedy discussed her new book, "Poems to Learn by Heart," a companion to her bestselling "A Family of Poems."
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering introduced Kennedy, reciting the Eugene Feld poem "Wynken, Blynken and Nod" that she had learned as a fifth grade student at Highland Park's Braeside School.
"I haven't heard too many mayors do that lately," Kennedy said. "Maybe they get the profile in courage award if they do."
Kennedy said she was fortunate to grow up in a family that cared about words and ideas, and said her father, President John F. Kennedy, spent a lot of time reading because he was so sick as a boy.
"The time he spent reading about heroes, soldiers and leaders really shaped his view of patriotism and bravery and courage and really led to 'Profiles in Courage' and that indispensable virtue in public life that he is known for," Kennedy said, referring to her father's book.
Kennedy said that many people didn't understand her mother's love of the written word.
"After my mother died," Kennedy said, "People were so focused on her sunglasses and her fashion and all that, that I felt they were missing the really special person she was — and that was from her love of reading and words."
And so Kennedy began to look through the many poems her mother insisted she and her brother John Jr. copy and illustrate and give her for birthdays, Xmas and mother's day.
In her search, she came across this poem, her brother gave to her mother one Mother's Day:
Careless Willy with a thirst for gore
Nailed her sister to the door
Mother cried with humor quaint
Careful Willy don't spoil the paint
"I realized this summed up our entire relationship," she said. "I learned poems about flowers and love and he waltzed off with that."
Her grandmother Rose Kennedy loved the poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," which they recited when they were young.
"She absolutely loved that poem, because she grew up in Concord. We thought she was so old that maybe Paul Revere stopped by her house," Kennedy said.
Kennedy spent some private moments with two finalists in the Poetry Out Loud: Poetry Recitation Contest before she addressed the crowd.
She met with Rapheal Mathis, 18, a senior at Plainfield High School who won first place and will travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the national contest, representing the state of Illinois.
"I was sort of in shock to meet her," Mathis said. "She was so down to earth and such an inspiration."
Eli Singer, 16, a sophomore at Deerfield High School, said he was "a little star-struck" to meet Kennedy. He said he found her serious "but in a good way" and will relish this once in a lifetime experience.
Both students performed poems before Kennedy spoke.
Kennedy spent almost an hour signing books for the crowd. Among them was Pat Lee of Highland Park, who came to the event because she grew up in New York City with Kennedy's husband, Edwin Schlossberg.
Lee said she and Schlossberg attended The Birch Wathen Lennox School in Manhattan and walked to school together every day.
Kennedy promised to tell her husband she met her.
"I am nothing less than delighted to meet her," Lee said. "She is so much prettier and younger in person."
Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC
Theater community joins family, friends in mourning Elana Silverstein
By Susan Berger, Special to the Tribune
2:08 p.m. CST, December 19, 2012
Elana Ernst Silverstein loved singing and dancing, performing in plays at Highland Park High School, and in "Bye Bye Birdie" at the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire. At 18 she toured the country with the Broadway hit "Mamma Mia!"
She had a voice that many described as stunning, pure and haunting, and quite amazing for someone so petite. Her sudden death on Dec. 10 left friends, family and the theater community reeling. She was 29.
Silverstein died after a routine surgery — the result of a medication reaction.
Every seat was taken at Silverstein's funeral at Congregation B'nai Tikvah in Deerfield last week.
A tremendous outpouring of love and grief appeared on Silverstein's Facebook page, so notable that Rabbi Alex Felch quoted many of the postings during the service:
"Her talent was inspiring … the indelible impact (she had) on the life of so many … that gorgeous voice in that compact beautiful body … her singing always seemed supernatural, impossible even ... her heart was incorruptible … as a performer and as a person she was the real deal."
Silverstein was supposed to leave for the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati after graduating high school in 2000, but postponed college to perform in "Bye, Bye Birdie" at the Marriott Theatre. She then left for a 10-month tour of "Mama Mia!" leaving the tour due to a paralyzed vocal cord.
Her mother said it took two years for her vocal cord to heal, and yet her college professors were amazed at her success with only one vocal cord.
Silverstein went on to perform with the Music Theatre Company of Highland Park and the Chicago Children's Theatre and also performed in "Gypsy" and "Annie Get Your Gun" at the Ravinia Festival as well as in shows at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace.
She met her husband, David Silverstein, on an online matchmaking site. It was a fluke they found each other, he said, as he is 10 years older and lived in Minnesota. But they stumbled upon each other's profiles, and had texted for just 48 hours when Elana picked up the phone and called him.
"She's a go-getter," he said.
They married two years later and have a daughter, Maya Blue, who turned 1 on Dec. 11, the day after her mother's death.
"I have never met a better mom," David Silverstein said. "Everyone says they have never seen such a great baby. So much of our child is her personality. I am so grateful for every moment I had with Elana."
Bizar Entertainment, a DJ company that performs at bar and bat mitzvahs plans to honor Silverstein as well. Silverstein worked for the company starting at 16 and was the "the most requested dancer," said Dawn Bizar Berks, a close friend.
"There is a whole community of our staff from the past 13 years that are heartbroken," Bizar Berks said. "Elana danced at their bar mitzvahs and was such an inspiration. There are no words to convey how truly wonderful and special she was and how she touched so many."
David Silverstein shared a story at the funeral about how, after the surgery, every nurse told him how wonderful his wife is.
"I told Elana that people are saying all these fabulous things about you and they barely know you."
She smiled and said, "Good. I'm glad. I always wanted to live my life as a nice person."
Copyright © 2012 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC