I Had A Dream

I had a dream that I awoke to a world of rationality, patriotism, non-partisan peace among men and charity to those who mean no harm. Love, hope for the future and for those willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard the opportunities were there.  The churches and synagogues were an integral part of  jointly helping their rebounding communities ….and I felt safe. Malice, greed and hatred were words unfamiliar to us.  The year was 1947 and I was 8 years old.  

This morning I opened my eyes and the forward flight of  seventy years brought me back to reality that has no dream attached to it, but all the realities of our 2017 collective nightmares.  How did this happen?

I have lived through 14 presidential elections, my family’s preferred candidate not always getting elected, but my parents were patriots who lived through the depression and respected our Constitution and the democratic process.  With hate and malice toward none, they placed patriotism and love of country before politics. I am grateful for their strength that has allowed me to move forward in my life, sharing their same values.

My father always cautioned me that if I couldn’t say something nice, keep it to myself.   “There are other ways to give positive reenfircement than hurting someone with negative speech or actions,” he would say.  “Think before you speak. Always give someone the benefit of doubt and a chance,” he advised. “Do as your faith guides you, not as ‘they’ do.”

Well, it is evident everywhere I turn, all of this sage elder advice from my father years ago has evaporated in today’s divided political and hateful rethoric. 

 With  fake news running rampant on the internet and passed around greedily like Krispy Kremes, everyone salivating to get  their ‘two cents’ in to see who can be the most hatefully  divisive, politicians holding up the democratic process because they angrily feel like it, Facebook ‘likes’ attached to vile negative posts, it seems we are doomed to perpetual division. 

Where oh where has my country gone? Is everyone drinking denial Kool Aid? Hey folks, if you know civics, we have a new democratically elected president.  The electoral college has spoken. I understand, reality bites for some, but acceptance and support of our Constitution is part of the privilege of living in this great country.

 

I am off Facebook and only sharing my blogs. I have turned off the television and instead I am reading more and working at my own craft and thank God everyday for the beautiful  adoptive children in my extended family life who wouldn’t be here today if their birth mothers had had an abortion. 

 I am boycotting my once respected union peers out in Hollywood. I want to see them ply their craft and I care not a twit their stance on politics. Whether folks agree or not with you, fellow actors,  award events are not the platforms to share your political rage. Just because you can, doesn’t make it right, or even interesting.  

So, I don’t know how long my withdrawal from the political insanity will be, but  with malice toward none I am giving the new president a chance to keep us safe, improve the economy, and move us forward. If he doesn’t, then, lucky me, democracy will allow a change. 


In the meantime, for someone,  do or say something kind today, will you? One small step for mankind may collectively save all of us in the end.

Artwork by Norman Rockwell

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2017.      All  Rights Reserved

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Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

Home Is Where The Heart Is

  

I was born with an extra chamber in my heart. OK. That’s not exactly the truth. I just have love for three places where I can hang my hat and call home. Period. 

Some of us are happy wanders with a pack on our backs and home is our wanderlust. Some of us are gypsies at heart who pick up and can only live for a short time in one particular place. Then there are those like me and maybe you. We are nesters. I am a nester.

 When I am living on the water it’s the sea inside of me that makes my heart beat. When I am living in the tropical sun it’s the white sandy beaches and swaying palms that warms my heart. Then there is Chelsea. Chelsea makes my creative heart crave to do just that. Every time I’m in Chelsea I long to be back in the theater and back into acting. 

Many mornings in Chelsea I awakened at 4 o’clock to be on the set by six. Night after night, I have taken cab rides home at 1 o’clock in the morning from the theater district, both exhilarated and tired to the bone. The indoor sets for Law and Order were just three blocks away at the Chelsea Piers and many streets shoots were right here in our Chelsea neighborhood where producer, Dick Wolfe lived. It was a good time in my life. It’s not a big revelation nor secret to anyone that it always is better when you’re doing what you love.  

  

I have often had script reads here in our Chelsea apartment with fellow actors. Back in 1999, I wrote my memoir, BEHIND THE MAGIC MIRROR, on a word processor. I did it right here, warmed by the light streaming through our ivy covered windows overlooking the gardens of London Terrace.  All the while unknowingly inspired by the ghosts of numerous Chelsea authors. 
  

The Chelsea Hotel is just a block away going east from here. One must take a deep breath before diving into this list of Chelsea Hotel writers: Mark Twain, Arthur C. Clarke, William S. Burroughs, Leonard Cohen, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Edgar Lee Masters, Brendan Behan and so many others, not to mention all of the musicians who have lived and died there. 

I think most of us are a little schizophrenic in our likes and wants. Sometimes to survive economically we have to have a 9-to-5 existence that is not exactly us and we have dreams of another life we would like to live. Take it from this over-fifty woman,  “Don’t let those dreams die.” There are hours in your life away from the mundane where you can pursue your dreams if you just do it. It is up to you to make it happen.

Martin Luther said, “I have a dream.” He was not alone. Of course as individuals we each have our own dreams. Both you and I may have different dreams. Right now I’ve added a return to acting to my bucket list for next summer, but while we are still here we should each work hard to see our bucket lists fulfilled. Let your dreams awaken. Don’t let them die with life-long regrets. It is never to late.
Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights Reserved. 

Fair Play/Fair Pay

Whatever type of work you do would you ever give away your expertise, hard work and talent and never get expect get paid for those services? Of course not. Well,  this may come as a shock to all of you music fans, no matter what band or artist you love, none of these artists get paid for any type of radio, AM or FM, Internet or Satellite play for their intellectual property. Zip.  Zero payment.  Pandora only pays minuscule royalties.

Performers and songwriters get paid royalties for recordings, but not their intellectual properties in today’s streaming digital atmosphere. Our USA artists don’t even get paid overseas when their music gets played by those countries who recognize performance right of artists. Why? Because the United States doesn’t recognize their artists performance rights. Crazy, right?
There is a short world list of those counties that DO NOT recognize intellectual rights of performers/songwriters. Who are they? I am embarrassed to tell you. Iran. China. North Korea  AND the United States. Some company we keep, eh?
This morning I was privileged to watch a live streaming announcement by SAG-AFTRA of a bill that is being introduced to Congress by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY) and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (TN) called the Fair Play/Fair Pay Act that will correct this wrong and protect the performer’s intellectual rights to get paid for their intellectual rights when  used. 
As Roseanne Cash has spoken out so clearly on this issue, “…. an artist puts his spirit, soul and mind into his work and that has value. Music radio, digital services would not exist if it were not for the artists’ intellectual property.”
If you want to help by writing to your congressman go to: www.musicfirstcoalition.org to ask your congressman/woman to lend their support to this bill. The future of music and the next generation of musicians need your support. 
THANK YOU FROM ALL THE MUSICAL PERFORMERS/ SONGWRITERS BEFORE 1972 AND BEYOND!

FIFTY SHADES OF GREYISH

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(MORE magazine just announced that I am finally trending. Gray hair is in for 2015. Well, actually, I’m not grey, I’m platinum, but it’s all the same-all natural and it’s all me. I am not too sure I would’ve wound up letting my true self be exposed if I had not had a very negative thing happened to me in my late 40s that forced me to be who I am.)

Hair Today-Gone Tomorrow and Trending!

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They were the most beautiful roses I had ever seen. Their perfumed fragrance drew me toward them and instantly my face caught fire. Masses of giant red ants with glowing eyes enveloped my face injecting their poison into every available inch of my face.

I woke up with my heart racing. Only a dream, I thought, but in a millisecond I realized that in my subconscious nocturnal state I was living what was happening to me in reality. I could hardly open my eyes with the heaviness of what felt like hundreds of Lilliputians weighing down my eyelids. My face burned, mimicking the toxins of swarming bees stinging my face. I got up and looked in the mirror. Everything above my neck was red, swollen and was oozing with tiny blisters. My scalp was an inferno.

It took many doctors and two weeks of sleeping upright in pain until I finally got the proper diagnosis. The culprit behind my suffering? An acute allergic reaction to paraphenylenediamine used in hair dye.

How did I know, I was never tested. With the exception of one time in New York when I had my hair dyed Swiss chocolate, I have always had natural blonde hair. Right after that I experienced what seemed to be a slight facial eczema, but didn’t connect the dots to hair dye.

My acute episode happened in my late 40s when my blonde hair began to look very monotone and faded. I decided to have my hair reverse frosted. That is a process of placing dark blonde streaks going through my colorless hair to brighten it. (Of course my hairdresser never patch tested me for PPD allergy. In addition, that reaction, for years gave me cross reactions to other substances. A real nightmare sorting out to what I was newly allergic and not.)

For awhile my agent suggested I use the vegetable based red henna so that I wouldn’t be put into an ‘aging’ category and could get more acting jobs. But eight years ago, finally getting tired of the process, I said enough is enough and decided to just be me and see what was under all that henna.

And there it was, my white hair hiding under that red mop all those years. “Free at last!”

So I guess in a weird way I can be ever grateful to PPD for forcing me to be me and appropriately age with no pretenses of being other then I am.

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Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

The Evolution of Rock and Roll

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In 1979 my son, Emerson, his sisters and I piled into the car and headed out to our local ASPCA looking for the perfect pet for them to come home to after school. They quickly picked a black furry ball who never stopped wiggling in her cage. She was definitely the one. A schnauzer poodle mix, the nameless pup was placed in the middle of two kids in the back seat and had found a forever home at the Harts.

Now, if you have ever been to any of Emerson’s solo concerts, he often gives his big sisters credit for introducing him to music of the late 70’s and 80’s. Therein lies the name of our new wiggly friend, Quiche Lorraine, from the B-52’s 1979 song of the same name. It just seemed such an obvious fit.

So, in the end Quiche Lorraine, lived for 20 years; long enough to see her young master learn to play the guitar, write songs about girls and trucks, and grow up to write his first platinum album, Lemon Parade. She stayed around just long enough.

So here is on Flashback Friday a memory tribute to the early influence of rock in Emerson’s life, the B-52’s and Emerson and his sisters’ best friend, Quiche Lorraine. A child of the 50’s Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around The Clock” was my introduction to Rock, and of course that older guy with whom I celebrate a birthday, Elvis. A high five to the evolution of Rock and Roll.

I Was Somebody. Honestly.

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(Forty years ago, in 1975, is when my newest Face
of Miami decided this would be his last stop. Then a popular and inexpensive haven for retirees, Miami was sliding rapidly from it’s Magic City heyday into a senior citizen parking lot.
Then came along the popular television series Miami Vice with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. When they started filming here in 1984 they opened the lid to expose it’s sunshine, beautiful architecture, turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. And in 1992 Versace settled on Ocean Drive when it was filled with boarded up hotels and snow-birds. Both entities gave exposure to the wide and empty tropical beaches and so began the Renaissance of our tropical paradise. A paradise that those of us who have lived here for at least 10 years or more know that with today’s real estate values, unfortunately, only the super rich can buy into our cherished lifestyle.)

Faces of Miami

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On my way home from my morning walk with Sophie along the beach yesterday I stopped to peer into the windows of an empty space that used to be a restaurant, wondering what might be coming there next. In the 10 years we have lived here I think maybe there have been at least four different businesses that have come and gone in that same space.

“There’s a new restaurant coming in there,” said a voice behind me. I turned to see a well dressed elderly gentleman leaning against the bus stop pole with a much worn Priority envelope in his hand.”

“Another one? This corner seems not to be a very good place for any kind of business,” I replied. ‘Come and Go’ should be the name of the next one.”

He chuckled. Then he just looked at me. “Don’t I know you? I’ve seen you before.”

“Well, no, I don’t think so, but maybe you have seen me. I’ve done commercials, movies, television and things like that in New York.”

“What’s your name,” he asked leaning forward so that he could catch the answer more clearly.

I gave him my name and he knit his brows, trying to fit some kind of recognition between the face and the name. “I’m from New York, too. I lived on the upper Eastside and Hal Prince was my neighbor.”

Well, I certainly knew who Hal Prince was. The famous producer of Broadway shows with many of the best-known Broadway musical productions of the past half-century. He has garnered twenty-one Tony Awards, more than any other individual, including eight for directing, eight for producing the year’s Best Musical, two as Best Producer of a musical.

“Do you know the name Lindsay.” he continued.

“John Lindsay, the former mayor of New York?”

“Yes, that’s right. I used to work for him.”

And again I had to admit that I’m old enough to know the name John Lindsay. A U.S. congressman who was elected the mayor of New York City during the 1960s. He was known for his “ghetto walks” and clashes with labor groups. Not to mention he was very handsome in this young woman’s eyes. But eight years later, at the end of his term at City Hall and after a brief run as a Democrat for president in 1972, Lindsay retired. The New York Times Magazine featured his weary face on the cover, with crease lines highlighted by the crises he had. I still thought he was handsome.

“I’ve lived here 40 years now,” my new friend said. New York was a long time ago. See you again sometime. I have coffee at Joe’s every morning,” he offered as the bus arrived at the stop and he climbed aboard.

I continued walking the several blocks toward home once again wondering about chance encounters, the ‘blink-of-an-eye’ lives we all have on this planet and whether the brief connections we have with strangers even matter. I have always be an observer of people, remembering faces, not always names, but am I really so different from most? These chance encounters, conversations, always become the mosaic of who I am.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

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