ELEVATED
Judeophobia, Vietnam War for Kids, Meen E. Moneybank vs. Hadda Hardlife, Lorrie Morgan
by Leslie Vreeland
Jul 26, 2012 | 1151 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

On Wednesday, August 1, Telluride’s Wilkinson Library will screen a provocative documentary. Unmasked tells the story of “judeophobia,” the way anti-Semitism has become intellectualized and ideologized, and has begun to permeate culture and dialogue with few people even realizing it. In fact, Gloria Greenfield, who directed the film, believes the terms anti-Semitism or anti-Semite are no longer even viable. For starters, the terms were “based on a racialist distinction between ‘Semitic’ and Aryan/Indo-European. Furthermore, the term ‘anti-Semitism’ implies a distinction against all ‘Semites.’ So we face the absurd situation where Jew-haters like Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan claim the identity of ‘Semite’ in order to make the case that they themselves are victims of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of deflecting the fact [that they are] anti-Jewish racists themselves.”

It’s the kind of film that will get people talking, and that’s exactly what the Wilkinson wants. The library’s Program Coordinator Scott Doser views Unmasked as a sort of bookend to another film the Wilkinson recently screened, Israel vs. Israel, about four Jewish peace activists working to put an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. When Telluride residents Ziva Dahl and Marlene Silver approached him about screening Unmasked (they are flying in director Greenfield to talk about the film), he jumped at the chance. In this way, the library can be like Switzerland – famously neutral. “We’re not taking one side on any issue. As a public entity, we can’t,” Doser explains. But he’s happy to drum up a dialogue, and knows the perfect place for a discussion. The screening is free, and begins at 6 p.m.



MARJORIE HAUN AND VIETNAM

The phrases “war in Vietnam” and “books for kids” don’t usually turn up in the same sentence, but Grand Junction author Marjorie Haun hopes to change that. She recently polished off Little Bird Dog and the Big Ship, about South Vietnamese Air Force Major Bung-Ly, who narrowly escapes being shot down from Con Son Island in his little Cessna Bird Dog. As a press release puts it, “The plane is too heavy to fly for long because his five young children and wife are on board… Bung-Ly loads his terrified wife and children on to the little Bird Dog and desperately heads out to sea, not knowing where he will land…How will this story end for brave Bung-Ly and his family?”

Haun has a personal interest in stories of bravery in Vietnam; her oldest brother was a sailor in that war. When she was 8 years old, he was killed in a firefight on the Dam Doi River as his Swiftboat came under attack. Many Americans “either ignore or dismiss the Vietnam War as a terrible, unmentionable debacle,” she says. “It was also an era that saw great deeds of valor, compassion, service and friendship within our military.” The amazing thing about Major Bung-Ly and his family’s escape is, their incredible story is essentially true (the publishing industry calls this genre “historical nonfiction”). In doing research for the book, Haun was certain she’d find another children’s author who had taken on the tale of Bung Ly’s daring flight. But, she says, “I believe I’m the first.” In the process, she discovered that there was no other children’s literature devoted to the Vietnam War, period, and so decided to write a series called The Heroes of the Vietnam War “to try to fill the gap somewhat.” Book two, about Operation Babylift (which, like Little Bird Dog, took place at the end of the war) will be out in September, and book three will be about the Swiftboat boys. Little Bird Dog is available on barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com.



MELODRAMA IN OURAY



This coming Monday, July 30, is your last chance to catch the weekly melodrama at the Wright Opera House. Though a staple of mountain towns in summer, particularly mountain town opera houses, melodrama had been missing from the Wright until this year, when Crooks and Skulduggery at the Hardlife Hotel took care of that. It is by former Ouray schoolteacher Melissa Stacy, who had been asked by her friend and fellow schoolteacher, Nancy Nixon, to compose one. (Stacy has since migrated from melodramas to novels, and from Ouray to Durango.) Nixon’s friends, Ouray residents Enda Junkins and Dee Williams, came up with the basic plot, based very loosely on the story about the Dixon Boarding House in Ouray, where City Hall is now. Stacy brought her own experience to the mix; she’d always enjoyed the melodrama at the Henry Strater Theatre in Durango, and had volunteered several summers for the Silverton Gunfighters show, which is staged each weekend on the Narrow Gauge train tracks in town. “Gunfighter skits have simple plots, lots of wisecracks and are basically organized chaos,” she says. “So between the gunfights and Durango vaudeville” she was pretty much set to write a melodrama. Naturally, hers has an obligatory villain (dastardly banker Meen E. Moneybank), hero (Hadda Hardlife), damsel in distress (Hassa Hardlife), and (this is key) plenty of opportunities for the audience to cheer or boo them all. It’s great for kids, who can hiss and be noisy, says Joyce Linn, fundraising coordinator for the Wright. The melodrama’s run has been quite successful, particularly with out-of-towners, and there will almost certainly be another next year. Linn knows this one’s been popular with attendees who aren’t from around these parts. “We’ve watched people come in to the theatre,” she explains, “and we don’t know everybody.” The show starts at 7 p.m.; tickets are $7-$10.



Finally, country singer Loretta Lynn Morgan (better known to fans as Lorrie Morgan) plays the Montrose Pavilion August 10. Morgan’s been singing for years – she made her professional debut at the Grand Ole Opry at age 13, where she received a standing ovation for “Paper Roses” – and has recorded nine studio albums. Yet she continues to surprise. A Moment in Time (2009), for example, is Morgan’s album of “cover” songs, a trend “so commonplace in country that it nearly rivals the one in jazz and pop, with vocalists covering tunes from the Great American Songbook ad nauseum,” notes critic Thom Jurek at allmusic.com. Yet Morgan’s take on the classics is not only respectful, it’s unique: witness the “slippery gracefulness” in her reading of Webb Pierce’s “Leaving on Your Mind,” and her take on “the shimmering late-night cheating song” that is Mel Street’s “Borrowed Angel.” “Records like this are very rare, and were even in the classic country era,” Jurek notes. This one stands as a work “Lorrie Morgan made to satisfy her own heart’s desire. But is there any better reason?” The concert starts at 8 p.m. For tickets, call 970/249-7015 or visit ticketswest.com. 

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