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Free to Be You and Me

Free To Be…You And Me (Outro)


Free to Be… You and Me is a record album and illustrated songbook for children, first released in November 1972, and later in 1974 as a television special, featuring songs and stories from celebrities (credited as “Marlo Thomas and Friends”). Using poetry, songs, and sketches, the basic concept was to salute values such as individuality, tolerance, and happiness with one’s identity; a major thematic message is that anyone, whether a boy or a girl, can achieve anything one wants.

The album has become a cult classic across the United States amongst many who were children in the 1970s.

The original idea to create the album came from Thomas; she wanted to teach her then-young niece Dionne about life, in particular that it was OK to go against the gender stereotypes that were blatantly evident in children’s books of that time (e.g., Daddy’s a construction worker or a doctor while Mommy is a teacher or a nurse — if Mommy even works at all; boys do not play with dolls or cry; girls cannot be athletes or unmarried). The album was produced by Carole Hart, with music produced by Stephen J. Lawrence and Bruce Hart, with stories and poems directed by Alan Alda. Proceeds went to the Ms. Foundation for Women. The album has been published by Arista Records since 1983 (it was first published by Bell Records) and is still in print today. As of 2006 it had sold more than 500,000 copies. (A well-received sequel, Free to Be… A Family, was produced in 1988.)

Well-known songs include “It’s All Right to Cry,” sung by football hero Rosey Grier; the title track by the New Seekers; “Help” by Tom Smothers; “Sisters and Brothers” by The Voices of East Harlem; and “When We Grow Up” performed by Diana Ross on the album and by Roberta Flack and a teenage Michael Jackson on the special.

Other sketches, some of them animated in the television special, include “Atalanta,” narrated by Alan Alda, a retelling of the ancient Greek legend of Atalanta; “Boy Meets Girl” with Marlo Thomas and Mel Brooks providing the voices for puppets resembling human babies, who use cultural gender stereotypes to try to discover which is a boy and which a girl; “William’s Doll”, a story about a boy who wants a doll, much to the dismay of his father; and “Dudley Pippin” with Billy De Wolfe.

The children pictured on the original LP jacket were schoolmates of Abigail, Robin, and David Pogrebin, the children of Letty Cottin Pogrebin, then the editor of Ms. Magazine. Most of the children attended Corlears School.
Television special.

The television special first aired March 11, 1974, on ABC, earning an 18.6 rating/27 share and went on to win an Emmy. 16 mm prints of the special were also struck, and some schoolchildren from the 1970s and 1980s remember seeing the television special projected in schools in that period.

The special appeared occasionally on HBO in the 1980s. It was also seen on the cable channel TV Land, but has not been seen on any network since.

A Region 1 DVD of the television special was released in November 2001

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180px-Catull_SirmioneHappy Birthday Catullus, homoerotic poet: December 2

Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC) was a Roman poet of the 1st century BC.His surviving works are still read widely, and continue to influence poetry and other forms of art. Catullus invented the “angry love poem.” He was imitated by Tibullus, Propertius, Horace and Ovid, as well as Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick in English.  Most of Catullus’ poems are short. In a few concise lines he expresses love, friendship or bitterness. Most of his poems are heterosexual, but a good number of them are devoted to boys and are “particularly lusty.”

According to The Gay Book of Days most translations are watered down and only Peter Wigham’s Poems of Catullus (Penguin Classics) truly lives up to the explicit sexual flavor of the original.  In one 51FhU8IESGL._SS500_poem Catullus suggests “stuffing the boy.”  Since Catullus was a contemporary of Caesar his poetry has the prejudice of the period: “the taking of a boy is a manly act, but allowing another male to do unto you what you did unto him is sheer depravity.

Wikipedia says his “poems describe the Epicurean lifestyle of Catullus and his friends, who, despite Catullus’ temporary political post in Bithynia, lived their lives withdrawn from politics. They were interested mainly in poetry and love. Above all other qualities, Catullus seems to have sought venustas, or charm, in his acquaintances, a theme which he explores in a number of his poems. The ancient Roman concept of virtus (i.e. of virtue that had to be proved by a political or military career), which Cicero suggested as the solution to the societal problems of the late Republic, meant little to them.

“But it is not the traditional notions Catullus rejects, merely their monopolized application to the vita activa of politics and war. Indeed, he tries to reinvent these notions from a personal point of view and to introduce them into human relationships. For example, he applies the word fides, which traditionally meant faithfulness towards one’s political allies, to his relationship with Lesbia and reinterprets it as unconditional faithfulness in love. So, despite seeming frivolity of his lifestyle, Catullus measured himself and his friends by quite ambitious standards.”

You can purchase the best book of Catullus’ poems here.


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Terrible Splendor by Marshall Jon Fisher

a terrible splendorBefore Federer v. Nadal, before Borg v. McEnroe, the greatest tennis match ever played pitted the dominant Don Budge against the seductively handsome Baron Gottfried von Cramm. This deciding 1937 Davis Cup match, played on the hallowed Wimbledon grounds, was a battle of titans: the world’s No. 1 tennis player against the No. 2; America against Germany; democracy against fascism. For five superhuman sets, the duo’s brilliant shotmaking kept the Centre Court crowdand the worldspellbound.

But the match’s significance extended well beyond the immaculate grass courts of Wimbledon. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression and the brink of World War II, one man played for the pride of his country while the other played for his life. Budge, the humble hard-working American who would soon become the first man to win the Grand Slam—all four major titles in the same year—vied to keep the Davis Cup out of the hands of the Nazi regime. On the other side of the net, the immensely popular and elegant von Cramm fought Budge point for point knowing that a loss might precipitate his descent into the living hell being constructed behind barbed wire back home.

Born into an aristocratic family, von Cramm was admired for his devastating good looks as well as his unparalleled sportsmanship. But he harbored a dark secret, one that put him under increasing Gestapo surveillance. And his situation was made even more perilous by his refusal to join the Nazi Party or defend Hitler. Desperately relying on his athletic achievements and the global spotlight to keep him out of the Gestapo’s clutches, his strategy was to keep traveling and keep winning. A Davis Cup victory would make him the toast of Germany. A loss might be catastrophic.

Watching the mesmerizingly intense match from the stands was von Cramm’s mentor and tennis’s all-time superstar Bill Tildena consummate showman whose double life would run in ironic counterpoint to that of his German protege.

Also in the grandstand were a panoply of personalities who form a fascinating supporting cast for the drama on court. Movie stars, famous journalists, a Nobel-Prize-winning statesman, and one of America’s greatest humorists all make prominent appearances. The Great Depression, the rise of Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism and homophobia both there and also in England and the U.S., and the Holocaust are all important themes in this at a time when sports and politics were inextricably linked, A Terrible Splendor gives readers a courtside seat on that fateful day, moving gracefully between the tennis match for the ages and the dramatic events leading Germany, Britain, and America into global war. A book like no other in its weaving of social significance and athletic spectacle, this soul-stirring account is ultimately a tribute to the strength of the human spirit.

authorphoto2A Terrible Splendor’s author, Marshall Jon Fisher was born in 1963 in Ithaca, New York, grew up in Miami, and graduated from Brandeis University, where he played varsity tennis. He worked as a sportswriter in Miami and a tennis pro in Munich before moving to New York City, where he received an M.A. in English at City College. In 1989 he moved to Boston and began working as a freelance writer and editor.

He has written on a variety of topics for The Atlantic Monthly, ranging from wooden tennis rackets to Internet fraud, and his work has also appeared in Harper’sDiscover, DoubleTake, and other publications, as well as The Best American Essays 2003. His book The Ozone Layer was selected by The New York Public Library as one of the best books for teenagers of 1993. His book (with his father, David E. Fisher) Tube: the Invention of Television was published by Counterpoint in 1996 and by Harcourt Brace in paperback in 1997. Their second book together, Strangers in the Night: a Brief History of Life on Other Worlds (Counterpoint 1998), was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the twenty-five Books to Remember of 1998.

A Terrible Splendor: Three Extraordinary Men, a World Poised for War, and the Greatest Tennis Match Ever Played

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