Tuesday, June 18, 2013




By Cash Michaels

“BEHIND THE CANDELABRA” – Last weekend while still recuperating from a case of bronchitis (boy you don’t want to get that in this weather), I had a chance to watch some free HBO (we get Showtime on our system).
I had always wanted to see the controversial movie about legendary pianist Liberace titled, “Behind the Candelabra,” starring macho leading men Michael Douglas (“Traffic,” “The Streets of San Francisco”) and Matt Damon (“The Bourne” and “Ocean’s 11” trilogies).
This movie would be calling on Douglas, who portrayed Liberace, and Damon, who played Liberace’s boyfriend Scott Thorson, to kiss each other, and then some. Not something I ever watch, but to see what all of the fuss was about per this movie, directed by famed director Stephen Soderbergh (“ The Ocean’s 11” trilogy), I was willing to put up with it.
Well the faux gay affection aside, I was quite pleased with the well-acted production and great storytelling. Liberace was a Midwesterner who made it big on the American music scene during the 1950s, 60s, 70’s and 80’s, dressing up in outlandish, yet stylish outfits, and commanding top dollar in Las Vegas and television as one of the greatest pianists of all time.
But “Lee,” as his friends would call him (as family called him “Walter” because that was his real first name), kept his double life of gay sex and other indulgences a secret, inviting young men who he was attracted to into his world, only to tire of them and get new ones.
Such was the case with Scott Thorson, as portrayed by a hunky Matt Damon. The two are together for six years, during which time Liberace treats Thorson like a prized possession, even ordering plastic surgery for Scott just so that he could look just like the famous singer.
The relationship all begins to fall apart when Liberace can’t control his sex drive, and Thorson gets hooked on drugs. The two take a hard split, nasty headlines follow, and Scott is kicked out of Liberace’s world, replaced with a younger blond male paramour.
In the end, though, a dying Liberace calls Scott one last time to say goodbye. The maestro is dying of AIDS (his manager tries to hide it from the press).
What I like about the film is that it could have been one big gay soap opera, but it wasn’t. Both Douglas and Damon give tremendous performances, making you care about these two men, but also being shocked by what they considered to be normal living with no rules.
Soderbergh said no American movie company would touch the film for distribution because the story was “too gay.” Happily HBO came along, because this complicated film deserves to be seen.
So if you enjoy good performances, and can put up with a scene or two which may jolt your sensibilities, check out Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in “Behind the Candelabra” on HBO. It’s worth watching.
NO “MAN OF STEEL”  - Even though it made $125 million domestically on its opening weekend, I’m not hearing good things about the latest Superman movie titled, “Man of Steel.” No question that it’s got great special effects. But story-wise, many of the top critics agree that the flick is a downer, lacking a sense of humor on any level. It’s no wonder that the movie theater doesn’t sell Prozac with the popcorn.
Check out this one of many critical reviews which put its finger on the problem:
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: "'Dark Knight'-style makeover never quite comes together. Sure, Superman is still faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. ... But he's been transformed into the latest in a long line of soul-searching super-brooders, trapped between his devastated birth planet of Krypton and his adopted new home on Earth. He's just another haunted outsider grappling with issues."
The reference to “Dark Knight-style makeover” is key, because one of the producers of “Man of Steel” is Christopher Nolan, the producer/director of the “Dark Knight” Batman trilogy.  Nolan, who is a fine director, made that series as dark as possible, and it fit, though I’ll admit that I couldn’t stand the last film, “The Dark Knight Rises,” which was so humorless it was like chewing on dry bones.
The second in the Nolan Batman trilogy, “ The Dark Knight,” was great only because the incredible Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker was so skillfully over-the-top that Nolan couldn’t lose.
There is no one in “Man of Steel” with the acting chops of the late Heath Ledger, thus, the film suffers.
That kind of flick I rent from Redbox, not pay ten bucks to see at the theater. So sorry, “Man of Steel,” but you will miss my money!
IS HOWARD U IN TROUBLE – Black academia is abuzz with the rumor that Howard University in Washington, D.C. is in bad financial shape, and could close in three years. So said Renee Higginbotham-Brooks, Howard U Board Vice Chair, in an April 24th letter to fellow board members, which was leaked to the press, creating a firestorm.
“In three years, Howard will not be here if we don’t make some crucial decisions now,” Higginbotham-Brooks wrote, warning that current school leadership and management, in addition to lackluster fundraising, must change.
Part of the problem, which is impacting HBCUs as a whole, is that now that standards have been raised, many black students are not getting the scholarships and loans they once were, thus cutting into black college enrollments.
Obviously, the chairman of the Howard U Board, Addison Barry Rand, counter his board VP’s dire assessment, saying in his own letter that it was “unduly alarming.” Rand assured that the school was, “…academically, financially and operationally strong.”
We’ll see.
Make sure you tune in every Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. for my talk radio show, ''Make It Happen'' on Power 750 WAUG-AM, or online at www.myWAUG.com. And read more about my thoughts and opinions exclusively at my blog, ‘The Cash Roc” (http://thecashroc.blogspot.com/2011/01/cash-roc-begins.html). I promise it will be interesting.
Cash in the Apple - honored as the Best Column Writing of 2006 by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Columnist Cash Michaels was also honored by the NNPA for Best Feature Story Journalist of 2009, and was the recipient of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP’s President’s Award for Media Excellence in Sept. 2011.
Until next week, keep a smile on your face, GOD in your heart, and The Carolinian in your life. Bye, bye.
                                                      US REP. MAXINE WATERS


by Cash Michaels

            Saying that she was “proud of you for what you are doing,” California Congresswoman Maxine Waters hailed the NCNAACP-led “Moral Monday” movement, which has attracted thousands of diverse participants, and gained significant national attention in recent weeks for its nonviolent demonstrations against what it calls “regressive” Republican policies.
            “The ‘Moral Monday’ protests, originally organized by the NC NAACP, demonstrate what people around the country should be doing to these right-wing Republican efforts to eliminate the fundamental elements of a free and fair society,” Rep. Waters told those gathered last Friday at the NC Legislative Black Caucus Foundation Scholarship Dinner at the Sheraton RTP in Durham.
            “Y’all ought to invite the [Congressional] Black Caucus to come down here and march with you on ‘Moral Mondays,’” Waters then joked. “I just have a feeling that people are going to be coming from everywhere.”
            “What’s happening here in North Carolina today, you recognize some of the same old [Republican] tricks,” Rep. Waters said.
            “Moral Monday…you’re doing the right thing.”
            Noting that the NC Republican Party now holds the Governor’s Mansion for the first time in twenty years, and a super-majority in the state Legislature for the first-time since Reconstruction, Rep. Waters said, “They have fought to rollback every people-centered progressive policy this state has ever enacted,” including cutting unemployment benefits and the education budget, and refused to expand Medicaid to over 500,000 poor North Carolinians in need, among other policies.
            “Same old tricks. New strategies. No poll taxes, don’t have to count how many jellybeans in a jar. Just reduce the early voting periods, end Sunday [voting] and registration. Play tricks with redistricting. But here in North Carolina, you are leading the way,” Waters said.
            “You’re revitalizing the spirit of resistance. You’re demonstrating leadership and courage with the “Moral Monday” response. In light of the hard right-shift of North Carolina’s legislature, I cannot be more proud and enthusiastic by the way you have responded,” Waters applauded.
            “The people of North Carolina are pushing back.”
            During the seventh “Moral Monday” demonstration last Monday, 84 more demonstrators were arrested, bringing the seven-week arrest total to 480. On “Witness Wednesday,” the NC NAACP led student protestors from across North Carolina to the State Capitol to challenge Gov. Pat McCrory to veto, “…some of the most regressive bills being passed by the NC General Assembly.”
            The eighth “Moral Monday demonstration has been already announced for June 24th, with buses, once again, bringing hundreds of people from across the state, expected.
Waters said that Democrats in the US Congress are faced with, “…the same ultra-conservative Tea Party-led Republicans, who are in the majority, and are attempting to use that majority to dismantle government as we know it.”
            She lamented the cuts to programs like Head Start early education programs as a result of GOP-supported sequestration on the federal level. Waters called cuts to Head Start and education, “ a lack of vision.”
            She said given the extent of the conservative Republican agenda that Democrats have to face, they can’t only fight it through legislating, but must also “…do it in the streets.”
            “We’re all going to have to do what you’re doing here. We’re going to have to join with the people of this nation and say we’re not going to take it. We’re not going to allow this country to go backwards.”
            Rep. Waters, who has served in Washington since 1991, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is the most senior of the twelve African-American women currently serving in the US Congress.
Hailing the historic work of the NAACP in its struggle for civil rights, Waters said despite all of America’s social and racial progress, it cannot be said yet that the nation is, “…a more fair, more tolerant, more accepting and more equal society.”
            “It would be like putting lipstick on a pig,” Waters quipped, noting the deep political diversions spurred by the conservative Tea Party movement, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to work with Pres. Obama.
            “There are forces out there that intend on eroding the gains we have fought and dies for,” Rep. Waters added.
            The California congresswoman noted the “tremendous gains” made in voting rights in North Carolina which allowed the state to vote for the election of President Obama in 2008, gains that are now being rolled by a Republican-led NC General Assembly which has passed a voter ID law which many say will suppress the black and youth vote.
            “The mean-spirited right-wing conservative Tea Party, leading public policy, creating new laws and regulations, and they’re advancing pretty fast…and are so evident here in North Carolina’s Republican legislature, and we’ve got to deal with it,” Rep. Waters said.
            “And you are dealing with it.”
            Rep. Waters lauded the work of North Carolina’s Democratic delegation, including congressmen David Price (4th District); G. K. Butterfield (1st District) and Mel Watt (12th District), who has been nominated by President Obama to head up the Federal Housing Agency.
                                                  L to R: Daughter, Ronnise, Rev.Dr. Ronald Owens & wife, Gwendolyn

The New Pastor of Durham Church Returns Home to North Carolina

                   Bishop William DeVeaux Makes a New Appointment to African Methodist          
                                                            Episcopal Church

Durham, NC--- Reverend Ronald Owens preached his inaugural sermon as the new Senior Pastor of St. Joseph A.M.E. Church, Father's Day Sunday, June 16, 2013.  Owens has returned to his North Carolina roots,  as a native of Morganton, NC, he received his license to preach in 1980 at Willow Tree A.M.E. Church, Morganton, North Carolina of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. Rev. Owens was ordained an Itinerate Elder in 1985 in the Augusta Georgia Annual Conference, in the 6th Episcopal District. He has achieved a Master of Divinity degree from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Psychology of Religion, Pastoral Care and Counseling in 1993, and his Doctorate of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary, 2013. 

His doctoral  project, "Leading A Wounded Congregation To Mission Engagement", is the mission he will bring to the St. Joseph A.M.E. Church congregation. "My desire is for the Church to join God in the reconciling power of renewing relationships with one another and the community. We will reach out as Jesus said, 'to the least of those who have been overlooked or ignored.' "

Rev. Owens' inaugural sermon was entitled, "Honoring Mature Christian Fathers", the sermon was sprinkled with the history of Father's Day, along with lots of humor centering around family life. His emphasis on parental and family relationships, showed evidence of him being a licensed clinical pastoral counselor, and being the founder of the non profit organization, RELATIONSHIPS MATTER.

 Owens is certified in Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and Crisis Intervention. He has trained care providers in grief and suicide prevention. His ministry is one of reconciliation and the healing of souls. He is a retired U.S. Army Chaplain, having reached the rank of Major and being of service for 21 years.

Prior to being assigned to St. Joseph A.M.E.Church of Durham, NC, he was the Senior Pastor of New Bethel A.M.E. of Lithonia, Georgia, since 2006.

Rev. Owens is married to the former Gwendolyn Rakestraw. He and his wife are the parents of three children, Ronald, Karawn and Ronnise, and have four grandchildren.



            [RALEIGH] More than 20 advocacy groups and nonprofits from across North Carolina are calling on Gov. McCrory and legislators to take action on behalf of the more than 70,000 out of work North Carolinians who are at risk of being pushed over the unemployment cliff on July 1.
The groups, which included the NC Justice Center and the NC NAACP, sent a letter to the Governor and North Carolina lawmakers Tuesday, asking them to reverse the damage done by House Bill 4, which cuts North Carolina’s unemployment benefits beginning on July 1. After that date, individuals who are looking for work will be abruptly cut off from the benefits they rely on to pay their rents and mortgages and to feed their families. North Carolina will also become the only state in the U.S. to lose the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program (EUC). Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers cut jobless benefits in an effort to pay back a massive federal loan to the program.

            [DURHAM] Numerous activities in North Carolina are ramping up to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of seminal civil rights history. This Sunday, June 23rd in Durham, crucial local civil rights history will be discussed at 3 p.m. at the Durham County Main Library on Roxboro Street. “Civil Rights Spring of 1963” will detail the struggle to integrate the Bull City’s theaters, restaurants and institutions.
            In Raleigh and across the state, civil rights organizations are joining to sponsor ten buses which will travel to Washington D.C. August 23rd-25th to commemorate the 50th anniversary on the historic March on Washington, where, in 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. Anyone across the state who is interested in attending can email info@king-raleigh.org or call 919-834-6264.

             [RALEIGH] The first North Carolina governor of the 20th century has died. James Holshouser, 78, passed Monday after a longtime illness. Holshouser was elected in 1972, serving one term, and setting the state up for two-party politics. He was known for trumpeting policies addressing education, health care and job creation. Holshouser supported black business creation, and the development of Soul City in Warren County. Both Democrats and Republicans spoke of Gov. Holshouser's legacy fondly. At press time his burial service had not been announced.



            In the midst of Moral Mondays, a group of noted college professors from Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina will speak out about the current state of politics in North Carolina during, “ Scholars Speak Out On the Destructive Course of the NC General Assembly,” Friday, June 21st, 7 to 9 p.m. at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 East Martin Street in Raleigh. The professors will give their brief overviews, and then answer questions from the audience. The event is free and open to the public.

            Despite pressing needs, both the Raleigh City Council and Wake County Commissioners passed new fiscal year budgets this week that raise some fees, but no new taxes. The Raleigh City Council passed a $707 million budget that raised the solid waste fee by one dollar, and rates for water and sewer services. Wake County Commission approved a $983 million budget that left the property tax rate untouched for the fifth consecutive year, gave public schools $344 million, $115 for public safety, and $190 million for public health. Both budgets begin July 1.

            By 5-3 vote, the Raleigh City Council this week approved putting a $75 million transportation bond referendum before voters this fall. However no details were forthcoming on exactly what the bond would fund. Officials say they will flesh those at a coming June 24th meeting.

GOP OBJECTS TO NEW WAKE SUPT. - Even before new Wake Schools Supt. Dr. James Merrill could offically say "hello," the Wake School Boatrd's two Republicans - Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco - voiced their opposition, saying they preferred Dr. Ann Clarke from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Observers say expect Prickett and Tedesco to remain critical of Merrill after he takes over in August. [file photo]                                 

Special to The Carolinian

The Wake County Board of Education voted June 18 to appoint Dr. Jim Merrill as superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, effective August 1.
Merrill, a former Wake County Associate Superintendent of Finance and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources began his career in 1973 as an English teacher, spending a total of 16 years in Wake County. Merrill is currently Superintendent of the Virginia Beach City Public Schools, the third largest school division in Virginia.
"I am both excited and honored to be chosen as the next superintendent of the Wake County Public School System. This system has a legacy of high student achievement, a community that supports its schools, and is viewed as a leader in the state and the nation," Merrill said. "We shall continue to herald our student successes and push each child to his or her next level of accomplishment."
Board Chairman Keith Sutton said, “Dr. Merrill outlined an impressive program of growth for Wake County schools, and brings with him the skill set and institutional knowledge to lead the state’s largest public school district into a new era.”
Prior to his service in Virginia Beach, Dr. Merrill served six years as superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System.
Dr. Merrill has earned numerous accolades and awards, including the 2005 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year award and the 2013 Virginia Superintendent of the Year honor. He has also been elected to the Executive Committee of the Governing Board of the American Association of School Administrators. The UNC-Greensboro School of Education awarded him the Outstanding Achievement Award and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education honored him with its Distinguished Leadership Award. 
Dr. Merrill was a Morehead Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary English. He earned his master’s degree in education administration from Appalachian State University and his doctorate from UNC-Greensboro.
Dr. Merrill will become the 9th superintendent of the Wake County Public School System since the merger of the city and county school systems in 1976.

LAWMAKERS SUPPORTING "MORAL MONDAYS" - As the number of "Moral Monday" protesters at the NC General Assembly grows, so do the number of Democratic state lawmakers supporting their cause against the regressive policies of the Republican legislature. Here, state Sen. Earline Parmon (right) and state Rep. H. M. "Mickey" Michaux Jr. (left) - two members of the NC Legislative Black Caucus - applaud during a recent Moral Monday gathering [photo courtesy of the NCLBC]

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