There was a six-part docu-series on HBO that I became addicted to much to my regret. It aired last February and March and I still feel uneasy when I remember “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst.” It was extraordinary and admittedly addictive television. The millionaire murder suspect is an eccentric, perhaps murderous, scion of a Manhattan real estate empire. I cringed when I looked at him with his self-satisfied smirk on his face. He’s a master of spinning false narrative, seemingly incapable of telling the truth. Durst has residences in several states and wherever he has lived there has appeared a multitude of unsolved murders and disappearances, stretching back more than 46 years. Now 71 years old, and currently incarcerated, thank goodness, he’s been locked in a New Orleans jail since his March 14th arrest. Laughingly it’s been on federal gun charges and his trial is set to begin on January 11th. The FBI and investigators in several states are looking into his possible ties to missing persons cases. Could Robert Durst be a serial killer? I’m sure many folks involved are hoping for closure. Unfortunately there’s the likelihood that “The Jinx” director and producer could do additional episodes to update the story down the road. Please – I could use an unfettered night’s sleep.
Mention theme parks, resorts, movies, TV programs, characters, games, music, shopping, and even more magic, and you would easily guess that the man who generated all of that was Walt Disney. “American Experience,” a two-part film on Channel 13 told the story of the man whose creativity pulled the strings (and I’m not just talking about “Pinocchio”) of our popular culture. He was a super genius of entertainment. A major step began with the mogul-to-be’s effort to find professional acceptance. Personally he felt that he lacked that. However, not to worry. In 1928 in an animated short subject, “Steamboat Willie,” Disney introduced a character by the name of – you guessed it – Mickey Mouse. Being a workaholic, he was forever seeking the next challenge. It came in the form of a California theme park, still known as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” An entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer (whew!) there’s no question that Disney was a cultural icon. In watching the four-hour program it was interesting to learn that he himself was the original voice for Mickey Mouse. And guess what became the most successful motion picture of 1938 — an animated feature-length version in Technicolor, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Can you name all seven? Keep reading. Disney said “We’re not making cartoons. We’re making art.” The man even invented a new kind of American vacation, an amusement park that was and is a destination. He said of California’s Disneyland, “I want it to look like nothing else in the world.” Well, he certainly succeeded. In 1966 his new pet project was the City of Tomorrow, Epcot, in Florida. With all of this Disney wasn’t a sweetheart of a guy – he was a hard-driving guy. Unfortunately, he smoked all his life and in 1968 at the age of 65 he died of lung cancer. Walt Disney founded an empire with a mouse and gave us hours and hours of entertainment in the 20th Century. In some way everyone was touched by Walt Disney. Oh, I didn’t forget – did you name the Seven Dwarfs? If you can, you’re older than you think! Here they are: Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy.
It’s hard to believe but we found a fine restaurant (that is, if you enjoy Thai food) that offers most enjoyable entertainment as well as – and here’s the kicker – no cover charge! Broadway Thai is on 51st Street off 8th Avenue. On weekends the Rick Bogart Trio with additional vocals by petite Louisa Poster makes wonderful music and wonderful fun. The personable leader swings New Orleans style on his jazz clarinet any song that’s requested and does a fine job singing, too. The unusual aspect is that he encourages diners, many of whom have become great friends of his, to get up and do their thing. If you sing (and you don’t have to be in tune), dance, play an instrument, or simply tell jokes, you’re coaxed by the affable Rick to strut your stuff. On my most recent visit, among all the extroverts, I spotted Bayonne’s Ruth Preminger and her Al doing their ballroom dancing. Of course, I, myself, thoroughly enjoyed singing with Rick and his trio, especially since they are so capable. They can play all songs in my key. Another audience member was so inspired by the music that she tap danced around the whole room. There’s a song that says “forget your troubles, come on get happy, you’re gonna chase all your blues away.” You can certainly do just that with the Rick Bogart Trio at Broadway Thai.
Can you name the first two female Supreme Court justices? Interestingly enough the two had their differences yet both have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all America. Sandra Day O’Connor, one woman in a class of about 500 at Harvard Law School, the first woman to be appointed to the Court, was refused by at least 40 law firms to be interviewed for a position as an attorney because she was a woman (1952). Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice, was quoted as saying that male colleagues have a “blind spot” for women’s issues. The two paved the way for the present two female justices. It amazed me to read their biographies because they came from completely different backgrounds. The third female justice, Sonia Sotomayer, is the first of Hispanic heritage. Raised by an alcoholic father who died when she was nine, she was left to a mother known for emotional chilliness. In spite of that background she got through Princeton and Yale Law School. In her memoir, “My Beloved World,” she expresses strongly that it is important that girls and women not eye marriage to define their happiness. Elena Kagan, the fourth woman to serve on the Supreme Court, was more fortunate. She was inspired by her father, a partner in a law firm. Her mother, an educator, shared her strong belief with her daughter: it was a very cool thing to be a smart girl (sounds like my mom). These powerful women dare to tread in a man’s world. To get back to the first two — if you’re interested in learning more about Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and how the sisters in law went to the Supreme Court you have to get to the New York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, on Wednesday, November 18th. Linda Hirshman, a lawyer and cultural historian, will be exploring their relationship and how the two helped shape the legal framework of modern feminism. If you can’t get to the New York Historical Society, go to the Bayonne Library and find Hirshman’s book, “Sisters In Law.”
You can e-mail June Sturz at email@example.com