Remembering a Special Dad

Sorry I haven’t been blogging here much but I’ve been busy, having just released my second book, first novel, “Shrouded in Pompei.”  Writing priorities and life.

Fantino picnicYet, Dad’s Day is approaching. It’s a day that makes me miss my Dad all the more, even though I think of him every day. and have written about him both here and in my published memoir.  This year there seems to be a media push by today’s Dads touting themselves as Fathers 2.0, claiming they are more emotionally connected, more hands on, more in touch with their kids, more everything. It’s not only self-aggrandizing but untrue.

My Dad could not have been more hands on, sometimes literally, ouch! My Dad was a divorced, weekend Dad, who made sure he was never further than across the street, down the block or at the other end of a phone. Weekends had him cooking, washing and keeping us thoroughly entertained, while teaching us to dance on top of his shoes or make a quick throw across home plate.

He taught me respect and he taught me love by example. He did not seek accolades. He knew he needed to be different from his father but he didn’t bring attention to it, he just did it, without searching for anything but always hoping for our love and respect, which he always had.

When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, his first thought was to get him into a drug trial. “Let me be the guinea pig so you kids don’t have to go through this.”  Even in his darkest time, he showed us strength and taught by example.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my Dad was not perfect. Just ask my sisters. He was generous with his love and attention but a strict, Sicilian-Calabrese father, tight with a penny. It was a Father’s Day joke when all three of us wound up giving him the same card, referencing this weakness.  He was also strict when it came to our dating choices and all the boys in Batter Up!the neighborhood knew not to mess with him. Yet, during one difficult heartbreak for me, he gently told me “don’t worry, he wasn’t the one for you.”  I was shocked and asked why he always seemed to like the guy. “If I had given you my opinion would you have listened? So I accepted your choice.”

I think I am quite a lucky girl to have been his daughter when I hear others who did not have a great relationship with their Dad. Maybe today’s Dads need to take a back seat while being front and center in their child’s life rather than trying to pat themselves on the back with their achievements. Children and how they live their lives should be reward enough for any father.

By the way Dad, I’m taking your favorite grandson to the stadium next week to see the Yanks crunch the BoSox. It’s Jeter’s final season. Can you believe it?

50 Years of Beatles’ Memories

It was a Friday…I remember it well. My Dad, an eager, young architect couldn’t wait to see the new JFK Airport and I was excited by his enthusiasm.  We ventured into the weekend traffic to pick up my aunt at the airport and drove into history.  Hoards of screaming girls were everywhere.  Imagine if that were to happen today. They’d shut the airport down, thinking it was an army of invading terrorists.  How things have changed.

I knew The Beatles were coming to town.  We all did.  How could you not.  It was the first thing in just over two months to take our minds off the great national tragedy we had suffered with the Kennedy assassination.  As with any period of grief, it is different for everyone but when a nation shares such an overwhelming loss, the cloud of grief lingers because of the shared miasma.  When a ray of difference breaks through the cloud, there is no holding back the light that permeates everywhere.  The Beatles were the ray of light a nation in mourning needed.

Who knew what would happen next?  Come Sunday night my Dad asked, “So, are you going to watch The Beatles?”  Silly question, my family watched Ed Sullivan every night.  This would be no different.  Yeah, right.

Ed Sullivan smiles while standing with The Beatles on the set of his variety show on Feb. 9, 1964.

Express Newspapers/Getty Images

“Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles.”

That’s all it took.  We were hooked.  We were sucked into their world and they changed our world for the better.  My Mom and I laughed when the graphic under John’s picture read “Sorry, girls, he’s married.”  That’s OK, we still had three others to dream about.

Their music was inspiring and uplifting at a time when a nation needed something to drag it from the abyss.  Thank you John, Paul, George and Ringo for showing us the light. Thank you Mom and Dad for indulging my every Beatle whim for the rest of my life.

I went to Liverpool last year for my first Beatles’ journey, day trippin’ in Liverpool.  The BEST trip of my life and I can’t wait to go back.

A Time to Kill on Broadway

When my past as a college theater critic collides with my present as a litigator, a happy-stance happens on Broadway in “A Time to Kill,” Rupert Holmes’ dramatic adaptation of John Grisham’s first legal thriller.  I am leaving the multiple ethical issues presented to the play’s protagonist, attorney Jake Brigance, to my legal musings over at the NYS Bar Association blog for the Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law section.

Here, for Lady Litigator, I am merely a fan, a theater-goer who has not enjoyed a legit production in a long time and was quite happy to spend 2.5 hours with “A Time to Kill.”  For fans who did not read the 1989 book or see the 1996 film starring Matt McConaughey & Sandra Bullock, this staged production has some twists absent from both the book and the film and force the observer to perhaps think in a new way.

Sure racial bigotry still exists, especially in the deep south and this story takes place in race torn Mississippi, where a young black girl is viciously and brutally assaulted, raped and hung by two drugged out white men.  Her distraught father, Carl Lee Hailey, retaliates by gunning them down inside the courthouse and political and racial upheaval ensures.

The ensemble cast is brilliantly led by Sebastian Arcelus as Brigance and John Douglas Thompson as Carl Lee with veteran “legal” actor Fred Thompson (“Law & Order”) as the judge and Tom Skerritt as drunken, disbarred  attorney Lucien Wilbanks, a mentor to Brigance.

The story has a timeless quality thanks to the directing of Ethan McSweeney and the wonderful sets of James Noone.  The courtroom’s turntable stage is front and center but scenes change effortlessly as prison cells and living rooms are moved in and out with suspended walls.  However, this story takes place as much inside as outside the courtroom where the worlds of the KKK and the NAACP collide in protests in this small southern town.  The noise, the rancor, the visual imagery are all highlighted on multi-media screens suspended to the rear of the courtroom, out of view from the proceedings where justice is supposed to be blind.  But is it?

While those around Brigance try to make this case all about race, from Carl Lee’s plot and ponderings about a white jury to the politically ambitious prosecutor’s insistence that color does not play a role in HIS courtroom, the idealistic, young attorney focus on the humanity of the case.  He makes the predominantly white jury see the facts through the eyes of a father.  How would they react if this happened to their daughter, granddaughter, niece?  In the words of the defendant, “God had a son.  He didn’t have a daughter.”