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Mel Gibson

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Jun 2nd, 2009
Jun 2


Hypocrisy, thy name is Mel Gibson


Mel Gibson


The former religious zealot failed to practice what he preached


By Tony Sclafani
msnbc.com contributor
Mon., June 1, 2009

I’ve never been the type to throw things at the television screen out of anger. But I’ll admit I did shout something nasty at my TV when I caught Mel Gibson yukking it up with Jay Leno and calling himself “Octo-Mel” since his pregnant girlfriend is carrying his eighth child.


My anger, of course, was directed at Gibson’s hypocrisy. Not so long ago, Gibson was the world’s best-known Traditionalist Catholic, talking about his preference for the old-style teachings of Vatican I (no divorce, no Russian girlfriends while still married). These days, he’s not yet divorced and living the kind of life he preached against. What’s worse is that Gibson seems unrepentant, to use church lingo. Even publicity mongers Jon and Kate Gosselin seemed more chastened when confronted with their alleged indiscretions. And that’s saying something.


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Is Miss California Being Punished?

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on May 16th, 2009
May 16


The Miss California hypocrisy


Carrie Prejean


By Allan R. Ellenberger
May 16, 2009


As most people know who read my blog on a regular basis, I rarely get political. My agenda is to discover the history of anything Hollywood. But the recent Miss USA debacle really ticked me off. So please bear with me while I vent.


Everyone knows about Carrie Prejean, the current Miss California, who was asked about gay marriage and the reaction that resulted from her answer. She claims her rights were violated – that her freedom of speech was blocked and she was punished for speaking her mind.


Wait a minute, how was her freedom of speech taken away from her and how was she punished? She was asked a question and was allowed to give her opinion. She wasn’t immediately taken off the stage and put on a truck to the nearest concentration camp. Billy Bush (Miss USA host) did not hold her down and brand an “A” on her forehead.


She gave her opinion and there was feedback to that opinion. Miss California has to understand that that’s the way it works. Just because she wasn’t pleased with the response does not mean her freedoms were obstructed. There were just as many people who supported her opinion.


Personally I don’t care what Miss California thinks about gay marriage or any subject for that matter. But she is entitled to that opinion and to vocally express it, whether I agree with her or not — and I would fight for her right to have that freedom. But people are also entitled to respond to her opinion whether she likes the response or not. What bothers me is the hypocrisy she expressed in the press conference when Donald Trump allowed her to keep her crown. At one point she said:


“My grandfather served under General Patton in World War II and is someone I admire greatly. He never spoke about the Battle of the Bulge that he participated in as a rifleman or the honorary medals he received because of his bravery. But he did speak about the freedom he fought for and taught me to never back down and never let anyone take those freedoms away from you.


“On April 19, on that stage, I exercised my freedom of speech and I was punished for doing so. This should not happen in America. It undermines the Constitutional rights that my grandfather fought for.”


It sounds to me that she is trying to obstruct her opponents freedom of speech. For anyone to disagree or express opposition to her opinion should not happen in America? I don’t think so.


Well Miss California, my father also fought in World War II, received medals and fought for my rights. The difference is that on November 4, 2008, my rights were taken away from me.


As many of the evangelical right like to practice what I call a “cafeteria” approach to the Bible (where they pick-and-chose what they believe), it seems Miss California likes to do the same with the Constitution. She’s evidently for freedom of speech but not for equal rights.


The last time I looked, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution — that her grandfather fought for — said:


“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”


It appears she and many others disagree with that section of the Constitution.


So Miss California, please stand up and give your opinions on gay marriage or any subject you chose, and do it with my blessings (not that you care). But if someone disagrees with you, stop being a cry-baby and take it on the chin. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the pageant. That is my opinion.




Diane Keaton on The Ambassador…

Posted by Allan Ellenberger on Oct 13th, 2008
Oct 13


The Ambassador Hotel lesson



The Ambassador Hotel just before its demolition


Demolishing such iconic buildings not only destroys history, it wastes resources.


By Diane Keaton

From The Los Angeles Times
October 13, 2008


Last week, I drove past the 22-acre vacant lot once known as the Ambassador Hotel. As I looked at the rubble of our lost cause, I pulled over, sat back and gave in to a feeling I can only describe as guilt. I thought about my connection to the once-iconic hotel, about why places like it are so difficult to save, and about what it takes to be a better, more effective advocate for historic buildings.


I was just a little girl the first time I visited the Ambassador. My father held my hand and led me down a long hallway before we stopped in front of an ornate facade. I remember Dad’s smile as he slowly opened the door to … the fabulous Cocoanut Grove nightclub! In the magic of a perfect moment, I looked up and saw a parade of dreams etched across the face of the man I loved more than anyone in the world. It was at that moment that something clicked inside my little 9-year-old brain, something that helps me, even today, believe in the ability of the built world to change the trajectory of our lives.


In our battle against the Los Angeles Unified School District’s decision to tear down the Ambassador and put up a new school, we made many arguments. We focused on “reuse” as an economic incentive. The LAUSD wasn’t buying it. We hired a team of architects to come up with options that would transform Myron Hunt’s 350,000-square-foot building into a series of classrooms, administrative offices and low- and moderate-income housing. That didn’t fly either. Neither did the argument that the Ambassador was a national landmark, or that six Oscar ceremonies had been hosted there, or that Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and even Barbra Streisand broke hearts on the stage of the Cocoanut Grove. It didn’t matter. Nothing stopped the Ambassador from becoming another little death of no consequence.


Preservation has always been a hard sell in Los Angeles. But maybe in the years ahead it won’t be as hard as it used to be, considering several new facts. No. 1, as my Dad would have said, a building represents an enormous investment of energy — much bigger than we thought when we were fighting to save the Ambassador. No. 2, we now know that construction of new structures alone consumes 40% of the raw materials that enter our economy every year. No. 3, according to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the resources required to manufacture these materials and transport them to a site and assemble them into a structure is the equivalent of consuming 5 to 15 gallons of oil per square foot. No. 4, a Brookings Institution study indicates that the construction of new buildings alone will destroy one-third of our existing building stock by 2030. And finally, No. 5, the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years, according to the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


The Ambassador in its heyday


We’ve treated old buildings like we once treated plastic shopping bags — we haven’t reused them, and when we’ve finished with them, we’ve tossed them out. This has to stop. Preservation must stand alongside conservation as an equal force in the sustainability game. More older and historic buildings have to be protected from demolition, not only because it affects our pocketbooks but more important because it threatens our environment. Let’s face it, our free ride at the expense of the planet is over.


I’ll never understand why architecture is considered a second cousin to painting and film. We’ve never been married to our romance with architecture. A building, unlike a canvas or a DVD, is a massive work of art with many diverse uses. We watch movies in buildings. We look at paintings on their walls. We pray in cathedrals. We live inside places we call homes. Home gives us faith in the belief of a well-lived life. When we tear down a building, we are wiping out lessons for the future. If we think of it that way, we will begin to understand the emotional impact of wasting the energy and resources used to build it in the first place.


As for me, I’m keeping the door to the Cocoanut Grove open. I’m still holding on to my father’s hand and the memory that grew to inspire my dream of a golden — now green — future among structures that stand as invitations to a past we can only imagine by being in their presence.


Diane Keaton is an Oscar-winning actress. She is a former board member of the Los Angeles Conservancy and is currently a trustee of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.



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