Back on Stage with Ed

20 09 2015

Interviewing Ed

Interviewing Ed

The summer trumpets have sounded. Into the autumn we go. Noise of political campaigns consume much of my days and nights — my reporting automatic at this point. I can see what is coming and avoiding danger, drama and becoming a jaded, bitter journalist is what keeps me on guard.

I have joined a monthly writer’s group separate from my two main employers. This gives me hope. At our first meeting, they ripped up my writing style pretty good. Call it an intervention on my addiction to clichés. My writing needs more description, they say. More color. More flavor.

Well, here we go.

When I shook Ed Asner’s hand I was surprised at its strength. It was a firm grip from a meaty hook. We were in Orlando, at the Doubletree Resort at a conference for mature people. Asner is 85 and he doesn’t forget easily. The legendary actor remains ever vigilant in the causes he holds dear. Fighting for the disadvantaged and working poor.

“For so many of us he embodied what being a man was all about,” said Tomcat, the conference organizer.

At this conference, I was the moderator on a panel of two — Asner and moi. My chief concern was not embarassing this Hollywood legend. Asner was cranky and cut me off on several occasions, much to the audience’s delight. My youthful inexperience during the program seemed to be part of the draw. I told the audience this was a first for me — sharing the stage with a Hollywood legend.

But it was not my first time standing before a crowd.

Flashback to 2010 and the race for the Florida House.

On an early Friday morning on the campus of Florida State University, candidates gathered to give speeches to the business community. This chamber of commerce function was attended by all levels — local, state and federal.

I dressed in a suit with pin-strip black pants. During this campaign I was intent on demonstrating an air of worldliness. I knew — we all knew — I would be defeated so I might as well go down in style.

Introduced to the audience my the former Speaker of the House, I spoke atop a wooden structure called a “stump” that had been placed on the stage. It was my desire to deliver words that would make my campaign stand out. I wanted to be remembered and I knew that the issues I was championing would not be a big hit in this room. Panama City, once a stronghold of Democratic values, had been flipped, like much of the South to represent Republican positions.

I was not speaking to the choir — and that was part of the fun.

And so from atop a staged stump, wearing Wall Street threads (Even mentioned to the audience, I was wearing Prada label shoes) I basically for all intents and purposes told those assembled to fuck off.

“Let me close with these words,” I said — slowly and softly — into the microphone. “It is a complicated world out there and only the naive see it in black and white.”

Later in the campaign, the Democratic Party chairwoman would say that speech was a turning point. The Republicans began to fight my message even harder.

“You scared them, John,” she said.

Five years later, I was on a stage in Orlando with labor activist and screen titan, Mr. Ed Asner. This manly man, as his admirers describe, fought the establishment many times in his career and lived to tell about it. I felt rejuvenated by his side and ready for the fight once more. Asner was blacklisted by the Reagan administration. I was by the local GOP good ol’ boys.

Common ground, through adveristy, was forged.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: