"We write what we like - we write frankly and freely, but then we 'modify'
before we print" - I
think I've got the quote right, from the washed-up editor aboard one of
Twain's riverboats, and
it came to mind with this "short" from Thursday's (May 3) International Hera
ld Tribune, credited
to The Associated Press (which should have some of the best editors and
'modifiers' around, one
should think. Perhaps they can correct the mistakes by October).
Here's the story, exactly as the IHT printed it:
WHOOPI GOLDBERG WINS MARK TWAIN PRIZE
WASHINGTON -- The comedian Whoopi Goldberg will be awarded the fourth annual
Mark Twain Prize
for Humor, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced.
"Our dear Mr. Twain put it best," Goldberg said, "when he said,
'Humor is the good-natured side
of a truth.'"
Born and raised in New York City, Goldberg performed later in the
San Diego area. Working with
the Lake Street Hawkeyes Theater Group, she created the characters who
became "The Spook Show."
She has written two books: "Alice," for children, and another simply titled
"Book." She has
starred in many films, including "Sister Act" and "The Color Purple." In
1991, she won an
Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role in the move "Ghost."
The prize will be given on Oct. 15 at a gala in the Kennedy Center
Concert Hall and the
proceeds will be used for the education of young humorists. The prize was
awarded for the first
time to Richard Pryor, in 1998, and in succeeding years to Jonathan Winters
and Carl Reiner.
It reads well, but it's obviously written by an East Coast writer. It's
nice they printed the
news. However, in defense of my adult home city, San Francisco, the
following corrections should
be made before they print her bio in the program in Washington:
While she was born in New York, she went west to Oakland, CA and performed
with the Blake Street
Hawkeyes, an experimenting theatrical troupe with a literary and dance bent
from Iowa City
(hence the name "Hawkeyes"), in a low-cost warehouse space on Blake Street,
in Berkeley, where
the MT Papers were and are. (She likely hung out there some). To then, she
had been for a time a
homeless soul on Oakland's streets, and created her later famous "Bag Lady"
character, in her
self-produced "big show" in nearby San Francisco, a good five hundred miles
up the coast from
San Diego, and a universe away in its level of tolerance and appreciation
for her humor or
anyone else's. It's reported that humor has been outlawed there by now, or
at least not
practiced - same as in Texas, though I can't verify this.
I personally loaned her some spotlights, and drove them down to the Victoria
Theatre in the
Mission District, then climbed the ladder and hung and focused them, so I'm
sure of this fact.
She then got a special award from the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre
Critics' Circle for
creating the character. She accepted it in costume, in the North Beach award
ceremony, and got
everybody howling - even those who'd been too scared to venture down to see
her in the Mission
District. (true!). I'd gotten some sort of an award from the critics just
before hers, and was
in the process of being hooted off the stage for some anti-Reagan
comments -- and she rescued
me, so I remember the incident well, and that place in the city's North
Beach district where my
life was saved that night.
She should get a prize for her contribution to integrating Hollywood as
well - moving it "maybe
a millimeter," at least, as her fellow San Franciscan/New Yorker said later
of the Beats of
North Beach and their influence on American society. Maybe there isn't such
an award, but she
and another San Franciscan, Danny Glover, together with North California's
Luis Valdez (Teatro
Campesino), should all get them. She's maybe the funniest of the trio - I'm
not sure, they have
their moments, though not given chances on screen.
That's my "modification," AP. Hope the Kennedy Center fixes the text of
their press info by
Richard Reineccius, Lodz, Poland
With an afterthought, and WARNING: Should we be trying to educate young
humorists? Perhaps we
need to educate educators to not whip the sense of humor out of our young
'uns! (Bob Dylan,
turning 60 this month, said for the BBC series on his life: 'The easiest way
to do something is
just don't ask anybody's opinion.... I've asked people's opinion and it's
been a great