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Lawrence Howe <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 23 Sep 2011 15:34:54 -0500
text/plain (297 lines)

Thanks for the fuller picture of all the multiculturalism/social justice work you're doing.  I didn't know about these efforts.  In addition to offering my "Brava!" I'd like to echo something 
mentioned by a couple of attendees at the Hannibal conference: Gladys Coggswell's performance of "A True Story" is magnificent.  I didn't realize that there was a DVD available.  Anyone who teaches this text will surely want to have it ready at hand.  All who admire the story, and I don't know anyone who doesn't, will be happy to have it as an addition to their Twain library.  


--Larry Howe
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Cindy Lovell [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 3:16 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: This year's winner . . . . and the real topic, Music

Hi, Sharon (and all),

I agree with everything you're saying.

Racial tensions exist in most U.S. towns. Hannibal does not corner
the market on this, and the Museum is proactive in resolving it here.
I serve on the Community Partners for Reconciliation board comprised
of Hannibal residents whose sole purpose is to eradicate racism.
Half our members are black; half are white. We have hosted
an anti-racism workshop at the Museum and are launching
an anti-racist film series next month. We have been working
with local black residents to assist them with creating a
local museum that tells Hannibal's African American history.
There are numerous, similar projects here, and we're proud
to be working on these fronts.  I teach a course called Prison
Nation across the river in Quincy, IL, and we delve into the
industrialized nature of U.S. prisons and what many are
calling the new Jim Crow. We have our work cut out for us.

I'm not sure when you last visited the Museum, but the
boyhood home now includes an exhibit dedicated solely
to the issue of slavery in the Clemens household. Years ago
our Interpretive Center was redone to emphasize similar information
specific to Hannibal. When we finally have the funds to
complete it, Laura Hawkins's house (aka: the Becky Thatcher)
will devote attention to Sandy.=20

Last year we hired renowned storyteller Gladys Coggswell
to recreate "A True Story" here at the Museum. She performs
four times daily, five days a week. We created a DVD of her
performance and sell it here and to other museum gift shops
as well as on Amazon. The Museum has no desire to
whitewash the past.

So, we're not avoiding this compelling part of Sam's
story. We're embracing it. We made the CD with donated
funds and donated talent. Without saying names, I will
just say that not everyone we asked could come on board.
The "omission" of a black voice on the project was not

We gave a quick overview of his life, trying to touch
on the main points in a way to conjure interest in
people not as familiar with Twain. And, as Huck kind of said,
"If I'd a knowed what a trouble it was to make a CD..."

We hope those who hear the CD will feel the urge to pick
up Sam's writings and let him work them over as only he can.=20

We appreciate everyone in the Twain community
who pitched in and helped with this project. It's been a
labor of love, and we are very proud of it.

Thank you,

From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sharon McCoy [sdmcco=
[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 2:01 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: This year's winner . . . . and the real topic, Music

Hi, Cindy,

I think that your project is a wonderful idea, and I understand that you're=
trying to go for period music, but rather to tell the story.  I think that =
is terrific.  As  you point out, others have worked on the period pieces--t=
you mention, but also Bob Hirst and the Twain Project's _Mark Twain and Mus=

Please know that I am interested in the CD and in supporting the Museum in =
crippling economy.  I do not question the value of what is there and am loo=
forward to hearing it.

But it still seems to me that the omission is unfortunate.  Twain was a wri=
who knew that the way you tell a story and the voices you tell it in matter=
great deal.  The manuscripts are a testament to how often he revised to get=
inflections and the voices just so.  Voice irrevocably marks and alters the
story; it also determines which aspects of the story you can tell.

And I'm not quite sure how the story of the "story about the boy who became=
Twain" will come across if it is told in a way that excludes so many of the
voices that impelled that boy to become Mark Twain.  I have to say that it =
me wonder about what the vision is of the "new audience" and what composes =
vision of the "general public" that the story is aimed at.

Numerous writers have pointed out the racial tensions that have existed in
Hannibal and continue to do so (such as Shelley Fisher-Fishkin, Ron Powers,=
Terrell Dempsey) and countless books and articles have focused, and I guess=
I would love to really see and believe that we are actually moving onward.

And, while this may be too provocative, the mischievous ghost of Sam Clemen=
will not allow me to refrain from pointing out that the link for the CD on =
museum home page, under "Community Projects," is right beneath "Black Histo=
Irony is something we all need to enjoy, and Sam was better than anyone I k=
at laughing at himself.


From: Cindy Lovell <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Fri, September 23, 2011 11:23:24 AM
Subject: Re: This year's winner of the MT Award is . . . .

Hi, Sharon,

Yes, all white.  Not by design,
but because these are the singers
Carl works with and who were available
to record. We tried to give an overview
of Twain's life for the general public using
excerpts and songs. One hope is to generate
interest in Twain from a new audience
and perspective. Only one song is from
Twain's era. The others were chosen
or written to compliment a particular
story segment. Others (John Davis,
Jacqueline Schwab) have tackled Twain's
music. Our approach was completely
different. Our hope is that folks who
hear the album will feel compelled
to read more Twain. We'll see...

From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Sharon McCoy [sdmcco=
[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 10:00 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: This year's winner of the MT Award is . . . .

May I ask what may be a provocative question?

Looking over the CD, it seems to include some wonderfully talented folks.  =
it seems odd to me, especially given what we know about Twain's taste in mu=
that a CD called "Mark Twain:  Words and Music" seems to be composed entire=
ly of
white musicians and performers.   Some of the names were unfamiliar to me, =
when I did a quick Google search, they all appear to be white.  Odd.

Just thought I'd ask.


From: Cindy Lovell <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Fri, September 23, 2011 10:31:35 AM
Subject: Re: This year's winner of the MT Award is . . . .

I'm hoping one of the great satirists
of the day will get it one of these
years - Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart,
or Bill Maher. In the meantime,
we heard from the producers,
and they are including music this
year (at Ferrell's request) and are
interested in using music from our
new CD. Fingers crossed for that kind
of promotion. I hope you'll all
consider buying a copy. The CD came out
this week and is doing well.  It's=3D3D20
cheaper on the Museum website
than Amazon. Go figure!


Cindy Lovell, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
120 N. Main St., Hannibal MO 63401
Phone: 573-221-9010 ext. 402 | Cell: 386-748-1256 | Fax: 573-221-7975
Email: [log in to unmask]
Web site:

Have your ordered "Mark Twain: Words & Music" yet?  Details here:

"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker wi=
ll be sorry." ~Mark Twain
From: Mark Twain Forum [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Harold Bush [bushhk@=
Sent: Friday, September 23, 2011 7:54 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: This year's winner of the MT Award is . . . .

Will Farrell.

not sure if that tidbit has gotten out here on the LIST or not.

personally I think Farrell is really very funny.  he's one of those guys,
like Twain, Steve Martin, etc., who can walk out on a stage, not say a word=
and still seem funny.

My wife finds him pretty adolescent, and barely above Adam Sandler, but of
course opinions do vary.  As in years past, the award producers seem pretty
driven by ratings and notoriety, and so as a result the younger crowd gets
honored while the older, lifelong contributors to American humor get
overlooked again and again.

I really do wonder about that -- Farrell could win 20 years from now --
while the likes of Robin Williams, Woody Allen, Dick Van Dyke, David
Letterman, and so many other veterans (___________ fill in your name here)
continue to be ignored.  At least Carl Reiner, Bob Newhart, and Jonathan
Winters got it in the early days of the Award.

As usual I assume some LIST members can now feel free to sound off on the
naming of this year's awardee.

past winners =3D3D3D

   - 1998 - Richard Pryor <>
   - 1999 - Jonathan Winters <
   - 2000 - Carl Reiner <>
   - 2001 - Whoopi Goldberg <>
   - 2002 - Bob Newhart <>
   - 2003 - Lily Tomlin <>
   - 2004 - Lorne Michaels <>
   - 2005 - Steve Martin <>
   - 2006 - Neil Simon <>
   - 2007 - Billy Crystal <>
   - 2008 - George Carlin <>
   - 2009 - Bill Cosby <>
   - 2010 - Tina Fey <>
   - 2011 - Will Ferrell <>

Harold K. Bush, Ph.D
Professor of English
Saint Louis University
St. Louis, MO  63108
314-977-3616 (w); 314-771-6795 (h)