JENNIFER LIVINGSTON AND MIKE THOMPSON: Watching La Crosse, Wisconsin, morning television news anchor, Jennifer Livingston, and her husband, evening television news anchor Mike Thompson, on GMA this morning was, in my opinion, a refreshing demonstration of good people expressing themselves openly about some of the pitfalls of being public figures. Being a public figure also sometimes entails being a recipient of thoughts from people less tuned-in to the fact anyone in public life is a human being with all the pluses and minuses that come with that existence. In essence, from the time one "signs on" to make being a media "talent" their livelihood and profession, they also "sign-on" to being perpetual targets for brickbats as well as praise. It's not lovely, but it's unfortunately part of "the game".  I'm blessed to say I've received only three "hateful" missives in my electronic and print media career, and only one via the Internet. As Ms. Livingston stated about her bully/detractor this morning, paraphrasing here, the person didn't know her at all, or anything about what makes up her character. She divulged she has a thyroid problem which exacerbates her ability to lose weight. She also is a runner.

It was also learned her husband was the one who took umbrage at the insulting cyber message and encouraged Jennifer to speak out. Bravo to him, as well. I'm certain there are legions of those in the media who applaud Ms. Livingston's remarks delivered on her local station, as well as station management which allowed her to address her thoughts during a newscast. For those who might decry it was a personal message delivered on public airwaves, those are known as "editorials", very valid and "legal". In my opinion, and I'm certain in the opinion of many, a person's weight, looks or anything external has absolutely nothing to do with character or intelligence. Ms. Livingston proved herself to be unflinchingly articulate on her GMA appearance this morning. In THAT regard, she IS a heavyweight, but only in the most complimentary sense of that word. Congratulations to Ms. Livingston and her station's management for their wise decision to let her speak publicly.

THE MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA'S LOCK-OUT/STRIKE: A few months ago, while on a European tour, one of London, England's newspaper music critics labeled our Minnesota Orchestra, "the best in the world". Anyone who's ever had the joy to attend ANY Minnesota Orchestra performance would agree. Doc Severinsen has long extolled the virtues of our great orchestra's musicians. He once told me he would have praised them even if not employed by the orchestra as a guest conductor. I had the privilege to be exposed to symphonic music from age one, when my grandfather was first violinist for The Pittsburgh Symphony in 1938 under the baton of conductor Fritz Rainer. I also had the privilege, as a teenager "growing up" in NYC,  to attend those sorts of concerts with The New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, as well as enjoy the "tightest" orchestra (aside from ours) with friend Peter Nero's Philly Pops in subsequent years. Regardless, none of those quite match the energy, precision and mastery of ALL works, symphonic or otherwise, than our Minnesota Orchestra. Perhaps a simplistic solution to erase the three-million dollar deficit which caused the orchestra's management to suggest major slashes to the musicians salaries, thus causing the musicians to not accept management's offer: At least one orchestra board member's husband is a BILLIONAIRE, and several others in our fair cities have hundreds of millions of personal dollars. Why don't they just dip into their collective piggy banks and donate the deficit sum to the orchestra? Three million dollars, even to ONE of them, would never be missed by them, but our orchestra would certainly be if it no longer existed, or if underpaid musicians decided to go elsewhere to make the dollars they certainly deserve to earn. We're blessed to have their outstanding quality. Hopefully someone in the millionaire or billionaire strata will step up to the plate to preserve our superb musical treasure: Those who make it happen.

Thanks for taking the time to read these opinions and to hopefully view A SENIOR MOMENT on the Star Tribune's  webcast site.


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