Sunday, August 16, 2015

Show Me a Hero and Other Media Notes

They never called me back for my star turn as an extra on Show Me a Hero, and now the six-part HBO movie will begin Sunday night without me (

You may recall I attended an open casting call for extras at Manhattanville College last summer. About two months later I was contacted to show up in Yonkers for what normally is a 10-12 hour shoot for the princely sum of $100. That would be for the whole day, not an hourly rate.

Trouble was the day conflicted with the first day of Succoth. I opted for cries of hosanna instead calls for “action,” confident the producers would reconnect with me for another day as they indicated they would if I could not make the first day’s production. They never called.

So as I sit at home tonight and watch the depiction of the tumultuous time in Yonkers when the city underwent court ordered housing desegregation I will wonder in which scenes would I have been cast, and would I possibly have garnered a speaking part, even if it were only to shout verbal abuse at the mayor who reversed his election campaign position attacking the court ordered mandate only to later push for integration.

Ah well, a lost opportunity.

Woodstock Nation: Here’s another lost opportunity, this time Gilda’s, not mine. This weekend marks the 46th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival in Bethel, NY. 

Gilda had tickets to attend but chose to spend the weekend in Brooklyn with her boyfriend, another one of my ultimately less-than-worthy predecessors. She gave her tickets to friends, but they, too, did not make it to Yasgur’s Farm as Route 17 did not live up to its nickname as the Quickway to the Catskills, but rather became an impassable parking lot.

By the time the film Woodstock came out in 1970 Gilda and I were dating. When she saw conditions at the festival, the mud from torrential storms and the mass of people, Gilda had no regrets she passed on the opportunity to be part of counter-culture history. 

By the way, if you haven’t seen Taking Woodstock, a memoir-based 2009 film by Ang Lee on how the festival came to Yasgur’s Farm, it’s worth viewing.

The Man Behind Sears: For many years I thought of Sears, Roebuck & Co. as the prototypical WASP, or at the very least Christian, company. Nary an executive had even the slightest Jewish-sounding name.

The truth, however, was much different during the early years of the enterprise, as I learned when editor of Chain Store Age. The company became successful after Julius Rosenwald joined as part-owner. Rosenwald’s success allowed him to set up a philanthropic fund in 1917 for “the well-being of mankind.” Chief among the beneficiaries of his charity were Afro-American communities. A new documentary, Rosenwald, provides a picture of his commitment to the less fortunate but equally deserving (