Thursday, May 23, 2013

Michelle, ma belle

My friend Michelle Cottle recently emailed me that her friend Norman Kelley is raising $10,000 to finish a movie about Charlie Peters, the founding editor of the The Washington Monthly.

What Michelle, a former TWM editor herself, neglected to tell me was that she had just had a bilateral mastectomy.  She only alluded to it by pointing me to one of her links -- what she had written about it:

It catches you, news like this.  It really catches you.

With such hard news, I sent her a link to a Burt Bacharach song.  That may be a laughable statement, but it's true.  Straight out of the Brill Building in Manhattan, Bacharach and his song writing partner Hal David got the 1960s right on the mark and wrote a beautiful lyric when they wrote: "What the world needs now is love sweet love ..."

At the risk of triteness, what Michelle had was not breast cancer, it was courage. Both courage and language.  Language to talk about it.  Courage to endure it.  Courage to share it.

These are words that go together well.

You can hear a wonderful YouTube medley of Bacharach tunes played by Stevie Wonder, Arturo Sandoval, Diana Krall, Lyle Lovett, Sheryl Crow, Shelea and others at a White House ceremony for the Gershwin Prize here:


You also can support Norman Kelley's efforts to record the importance of Charlie Peters and TWM by going to his website where he's running a '100 x 100' campaign to raise the funds.  Both Charlie and TWM are Washington institutions, and for good reason.  Peters is the apostle of a brand of journalism that does not renounce opinions but embraces them.  Foremost among these is the thesis that government can do good and should try.  Its creed seeks neither softness nor toughness per se but honesty and a secular faith that our capacities are to be admired and employed, not denigrated and hamstrung.  His magazine meanwhile has served as a starting point for many of Washington's best writers, editors, and journalists for decades now.