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2.02.2011

The Danny Rose Thanksgiving

I got wiped out the past couple of days by the perfect storm. Our cable TV and internet went down (still is), I got a stomach bug that kicked me in the guts like the Hulk's fist, and the huge snowstorm kept the kids home from school one more time. What a line drive. We've been going down to the library and pub to get our emails and post blogs.

While I was lying on the sofa late last night clutching my guts hoping the toast would stay down, I put in one of my favorite movies: Woody Allen's "Broadway Danny Rose". This film affected me profoundly when I first saw it. I left the theater in a bit of a stupor with my date and sat through supper filled for the first time with the understanding of how we're meant to look after each other here on Earth. You say, Woody Allen? Profound? I know but after growing up in a left leaning family that talked about how people should care for each other, it never personalize for me until that night.

The film is about a not so good theatrical agent who handles some real loser acts. A one armed juggler, a stuttering ventriloquist, singing bird acts and so forth. Whenever he gets any real talent for clients, they drop him when they start getting successful. All of this leads up the final scene where Danny's flat broke and lost another rising star and opportunity for his own success. He's serving frozen turkey TV dinners to his lost soul clients for Thanksgiving in his apartment. These hapless performers have no clue about their place on the ladder of life and Danny has lifted them well above their expectations.

Inside this pathos, I realized that the symbol of how much you can help people isn't in the quality or even the odds of success. It's in the process, the doing, lifting expectations, offering a hand, a positive influence. I didn't know that night how I would be able to share this in my life, but was sure that some day I would.

Decades have passed and it took many years for me to realize my inner Danny Rose. I've served in local public office, worked for campaigns, fought multinational waste company to protect my town, created new ways for flutists to keep their careers after hands injuries, and a small host of other projects. None of this is newsworthy on any grand scale, like The Gates Foundation or Mother Teresa, but it's given hope and a future to the people in my reach.

Right now, I'm raising my grandsons expectations and hope. It would make Danny Rose proud.