Monday, March 28, 2011
The new GT Tower East in Seoul, Korea. The vogue in architecture for lengthy, unsupported projections (as in Boston's Institute for Contemporary Art on the waterfront, below), have been melting, literally, into buildings with highly irregular "skins" that seem to defy interior structural support. Transparency remains the watchword of the day in the totally glass skin. This East tower will eventually have a twin.
The news has probably spread pretty universally that Elizabeth Taylor's will leaves massive amounts if not all of her estate (estimated at over $1 Billion) to AIDS charities. During her life, Liz didn't just give of material goods but put herself and perhaps her reputation on the line standing by gay men in an age when most had to be closeted to survive in public careers, and later when so many others were afflicted by AIDS.
It may have seemed to some, with her marriages and sometimes scandals (the Vatican was particularly vicious over her original liaison with Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra in Italy), the jewelry and generally hedonsitic life style, that she was shallow and self-absorbed. But she was a close friend and supporter of gay colleagues such as Montgomery Clift; and when she went to the airport and escorted the gurney on which a gaunt, AIDS-wasted Rock Hudson came back home to die, any thought of shallowness on her part vanished.
In the last couple of days since her burial this lovely letter to the committee that oversees the Kennedy Center Honors has been released to the public. It advocates an award for Barry Manilow and, characteristically for her, focuses on the theme of charitable giving by the super-wealthy.
“I have the good fortune to count among my friends an extraordinary man, a man whose talents have touched so many hearts and whose heart has touched so many lives. That man is Barry Manilow.
“One of the greatest names in popular music, this prolific singer-songwriter-performer has created the soundtrack for our lives. Ever since he first took the stage in the 1970, he has proved himself to be an unstoppable showman, a true musical genius who cranks out hits at a dizzying pace. His songs are as well-known as Beatles tunes, and it’s impossible not to sing along. I'm truly a fan.
“And then there’s his work as a humanitarian: Barry is tireless in pursuit of his charitable endeavors, which include raising funds and awareness for The Prince's Trust, United Way, The Starlight Foundation, The Foundation Fighting Blindness, and for many HIV-AIDS organizations, for which he holds a special place in my heart. I will always remember back to the early days of my fundraising work,when the stigma of AIDS was so great. I was seeking talent to perform at our first benefit event, and was receiving nothing but rejections--until Barry alone had the courage to come forward and say "yes."
“Barry has established The Manilow Fund For Health And Hope, which supports education, health and care efforts locally, and the Manilow Music Project, which supports musical equipment to local schools whose art programs have been eliminated. It is Barry's fervent belief that music changes lives: I know he's changed mine with his enormous talent.
“I can think of no one more deserving of a Kennedy Center Honor than Barry Manilow, and hope you will accept this letter of nomination and support. Thank-You in advance for your kind consideration.
“(in her own hand in ink matching the color of her raised letterhead simply) Elizabeth Taylor."
(Also, a shameless plug.)