Thursday, September 8, 2016

Celebrating Three Decades of Love

Since much of Anne Buckley's career was in the pre-web days, much of this long-time Catholic editor's work can't be found online. So it is with the following newspaper column about a wedding in Nutley, N.J., in September 1986.

My wedding.

Nancy and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary next week, and this is an explanation of why we have an anniversary clock displayed in our dining room, between photos of us with my grandmother and Nancy's grandfather at St. Mary's Church.

Here's Anne's Editor's Report, as published in the Oct. 2, 1986, edition of "Catholic New York"...

Revolving Pendulum

The wedding gift ought to be special, since I am a friend of both the bride and the groom and they are both colleagues in the newspaper business, which is a little like fighting in the same platoon. Added to that, I was the one who introduced them to each other.

Nancy Cullinane, right out of college, joined the staff of Newark’s diocesan newspaper, The Advocate, where I was editor, and Bob Varettoni did the same thing at The Beacon, newspaper of the Paterson, N.J., Diocese, edited by Jerry Costello. We all moved on, Jerry and I to launch Catholic New York, five years ago last issue, Nancy to the Middletown Times Herald-Record, Bob to a Manhattan corporate publication.

When it came time to expand CNY’s staff of editors Bob turned up, ready for a change and with the required experience and awareness, from experience, of the professional standards that would be expected. He presided over the newsroom and production, and after nearly two years it became apparent that he was overloaded. As it happened, Nancy was now ready for a change back to the Catholic press, also aware of what she was getting into, professionally speaking. Some months later, when the romance surfaced, she accused Jerry and me of hatching a plot to replenish the supply of “little Catholic journalists.” We laughed, but I can’t say the thought did not cross my head that these two might hit it off.

Anyway, Bob had taken Nancy out to the campus of his alma mater, Notre Dame, and proposed at the grotto. He had also left CNY for the greener pastures of corporate communications, thinking of financial security for a family. Nancy had taken over Bob’s desk in the newsroom and remained calm throughout the preparations for the wedding because she said it was so much easier than getting the paper out each week.

And this day, I was in the gift section of a department store looking at a glass-domed “anniversary clock” with a revolving pendulum and thinking it might be an heirloom sort of memento of the whole association. Then I read the fine print on the tag: “Chimes the Ave Maria.”

Nancy and Bob are young urban professionals of the '80s, not the stereotypical designer-label, be-seen-in-the-right-places Yuppies. But the Ave Maria might not quite fit in with their ambiance. I envisioned them giggling every hour for the next 50 years about good old-fashioned pious Anne.

The wedding day came, and I still hadn’t found the right gift. Nancy seemed to be made of porcelain and lace, and Bob was in morning clothes, and the grubby business of editing copy and pasting up pages seemed never to have touched them. The decades of time that cause generation gaps didn’t seem to have touched them either.

Bob’s uncle, a pastor in Clifton, N.J., performed the liturgy. There was the lighting of the wedding candle, the roses presented to the mothers and Bob’s grandmother at the time of the greeting of peace, none other than “Panis Angelicus” at the Offertory, and near the end, the placing of a bouquet in front of the statue of Mary. As the couple knelt there, the soloist rendered the Ave Maria!

The next day I was back in the department story, purchasing the clock that I hoped would bring back memories of a special moment for them for the next 50 years. And thinking how symbolic it is that the pendulum does not swing back and forth, but revolves in a never-ending circle.


My own editor's note: Anne was a legendary proofreader. In working for her, I often joked that she could find at least one typo in ANYTHING -- including, on a dare, an inscription on a statue in New York City. So imagine my surprise when, in retyping this column, I discovered a typo of her own in the last paragraph. I think this was an Easter egg she always meant for me to find. And I did... on September 8, 2016.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hate Is Hate Is Hate... We Can Do Better Than That

Our lives are so filled with hate speech that tonight Comedy Central will offer up 90 minutes of entertainment based on a woman being called a c*** 19 times, a racist c*** just for added impact, and then being told that she really ought to just kill herself.

Lin-Manuel Miranda (LA Times photo)
The woman is Ann Coulter, and while I disagree with her politics, I find it amazing that people are shocked… SHOCKED… at the possibility that Donald Trump might actually be elected President in November.

Don’t Trump opponents realize that name-calling and bullying aren’t attractive alternatives to name-calling and bullying?

I can imagine the argument: “Relax, it’s a roast, anything goes; we’re all professionals here.” And I’m sure that the entertainers and comedians who participated in Comedy Central’s roast all understand this. But do the majority of voters?

Image result for i'm a liberal but for the left
Screen cap from "Annie Hall"
Saying the worst things possible about someone and then backing off because you’re “only joking” is schoolyard bullying of the worst kind. I do think that the majority of voters understand that.

What’s the end game here anyway?

Perhaps – just perhaps – Coulter is smart enough to make herself enough of a martyr to actually swing sympathy in her direction. And maybe – just maybe -- all the snickering professionals on stage are all too clever by half, doing more harm than good for their own righteous cause.

EW magazine ad
I’m in no position to judge. Besides, as St. Teresa of Calcutta once taught us: If you judge people, you have no time to love them.

In June, Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda recited a poem on stage while accepting a Tony Award in the wake of the Orlando shootings.

“We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger,” he said, then evocatively concluded that “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love” and “cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Tonight, Comedy Central will only remind Americans that hate and fear do seem stronger, and that “hate is hate is hate is hate is hate is hate is hate is hate.”

I think we can do better than that. Do yourself a favor: don’t watch the program. Spend that time with your family instead. In doing so, you’ll be making the statement that hate speech masquerading as entertainment should indeed by swept aside.

My social-media friend Michael Kasdan reposted this on the Goodmen Project site, where he is an editor. It elicited a mix of supportive comments, along with a fair number of hate-filled comments and personal attacks.