(y'know..Jane Goodall, the lady with white hair who played with chimps on Sesame Street/National Geographic) ------------------------- THE TICKET / THE CHURCH : ------------------------- My ticket reads: The Unity Church of Dallas presents world-renowned anthropologist and author Jane Goodall Sunday February 27, 2000 7:00-9:00 pm Unity Church of Dallas 6525 Forest Lane (between Preston and Hillcrest) Dallas, TX 75230 (972) 233-7106 My ticket cost me $45. There were tickets for the first 4 rows center that cost $60. There were nosebleed seats for $35. As I purchased this ticket I frantically examined it and the accompanying brochure for some sign of,'all proceeds benefit the Jane Goodall institute.' These signs were not there. I had been duped into funding Protestant/Franken-christian activities as bad as if I had been paying tithes. I had never been to this church, nor did I know what sort of Frankenchristian conveniences had been made by the redefinition of being a "Unity" church. I knew it was in a certain neighborhood (a wealthy one) and we drove there with no problems. As we walked up, Beth and I felt a growing sense of unease amongst the lidless eyed smiling mini-skirted avon-painted women clearly come to another protestant meat market. Indeed, just inside the lobby was a gift-shop and bookstore. We were directed into this bookstore to buy tickets. ALL the shelves were lined with new-age watered down versions of the Kama Sutra. "Mars and Venus in Bed," "Healing Massage for your Partner," et al. To be fair, they did have many copies of Jane Goodall's newest book 'a Profound Hope.' (forgive my unclear memory of the title). I began to fear the worst and I predicted much of the embarassment for Dallas that was to follow in the order of a Reverend Manchild, a poor organist, and stupid questions from the singles crowd audience. I had so hoped to see parents with their teenagers. There was ONE and only one child present under the age of ten and then ONE and only one lady who had evidently dragged her goth girl teenager with her (this goth girl would be asking a stupid question later). This crowd was all the dysfunctional traumatized 30's wanting to date crowd. I felt more unease. Perhaps more forboding was the lack of an older crowd: there were seemingly no octogenerians and very few (2 or 3 older lesbian couples) in their 50's/60's. The rows/pews were of the stadium movie bucket seat variety. They were covered in stuffed animals. I had to exit and ask the doormen whether it meant that the rows were reserved. The answer was, "No, those are part of the 'Care Bear' program; we invite you to hug the bears and give them a little love during the speech." Infantile, but harmless; I imagined and relocated a bunny under my seat. What's funny about this is that rather than go and ask like I had, many of the arriving Texas Dragon Ladies complained loudly about, "what's with all the animals?" and sat interspersed but not between or near the stuffed animals. ------------------- REVEREND MANCHILD : ------------------- Here is the right way to begin an event like this: The moderator/ introducer/ pastor takes the stage by himself says a maximum of 5 sentences that close with: "Let's give a round of applause to welcome Dr. Jane Goodall" at which point she comes out and smiles, waits for applause to die and then begins with "thank you." Here is what happened at 7:01 pm: Five people take the stage. The Reverend Manchild, his organist, some stagehands and Jane Goodall herself. They all came out so suddenly that no-one was ready to clap. Moreover, there were doubtless some folk who might not have been sure it was really Jane Goodall at the rear of the stage seated at a desk. (I truly wonder whether the comfy reading chair and the wood desk were her idea; she only used them during Reverend Manchild's intro~ from then on she was standing at the podium and pointing at her slideshow~ I know she needed them for the book signing later; but normally this kind of thing happens in a different room or at least allows for the auditorium to be cleared first~ more details later). Reverend Manchild is so called because he is. This man had a bald spot, a lidless gaze, a zealous smile, a beard, glasses, and "comfortable" clothes. He spoke for FIFTEEN MINUTES! I used my watch to time him and many times cocked my arm to hurl the bunny under my chair at him; Beth restrained me. He began with a litle 'welcome to my church.' okay, fine. Then he read from notecards very stiltedly and awkward a long description of her biography; which is absurd to do with the woman ON STAGE! Her lecture IS an autobiography, I couldn't imagine why he'd try to eclipse it with his own telling (I found out later). His reading was like this: "Jane idolized her hero," long-pause/glance at notecards, "Tarzan, and ...um" Comparing this to how seemlessly Dr. Goodall delivered her well-practiced speech; well, it makes you wonder how this man makes a living as a speaker. Then it came: the reason for his long speech~ he tried to frame her whole work as something protestant and he used the word "Unity" 3 times to do it. Then he opened her book and READ aloud a whole page of it! He read a passage about Jane visiting Notre Dame "in Paris" (duh!) and how she had heard Bach's Taccatta and Fugue in D Minor there and been filled with a "sense of the mystic." He announced they'd be playing it to honor her. Oh No! What nouveau riche Dallas idiocy! "We are all very proud of our church sanctum that looks inside like Lew Sterrett Jail from the outside~ 40 foot tall smooth sheets of gypsum board with a decorative sense of an AMC stadium movie theater~ and we want to recreate (mock) your sense of the mystic by having our organist butcher a Bach piece here in its entireity while you sit trapped on stage with no chance to speak while nouveau riche Dallasites gawk at you." Can you hear Bach's piece? It is kind of like something Captain Nemo would play. A Dark, villianous introduction with lots of grim authority. THE PIECE WAS TOTALLY INNAPROPRIATE! Worse, it was played in its entireity and it was played very poorly. Now I'm sure the organist meant well, perhaps he even practiced the piece a few times, and it is a complex piece; but it isn't exactly the Rach 5. I cannot believe that after his tenth mistake playing, that he didn't foreshorten his playing and fade out. It was so brutal to hear his Casio synthesized rendition with tempo mistakes and off key notes. It went on and on for another fifteen minutes. At 7:26 the religious nuts left the stage. ------------------ THE SPEECH ITSELF: ------------------ Jane began with a "distance call" from Chimpanzees. That alone is worth my $45. Okay, Jane Goodall is the MOST beautiful 63 (or so) year old woman EVER. She looks like Venus in a half shell with long straight white hair pulled into a pony-tail. She wears no jewelry, no make-up and yet has more elegance than the queen of England in her posture, poise and manner. She has clear bright eyes, a dazzling smile and direct unfaltering confident speaking ability. ~Her audience was dragon ladies in red business suits with panty-hose, gold earrings, necklaces, eyeshadow, base, perfume, and mean pickle puss looks from shrunken facial skin and plucked eyebrows. It made it all the better when at the end she mentioned environmental consciousness about hotel towels~ "please fold your towel if you do not want it laundered today" Our American women have been force-fed soap opera commercials for so many generations that your average American believes that blue jeans must be laundered after 12 hours wear. A salient point at a poignant moment, I wish I could have video-taped the crowd squirm. Her speech was totally unassisted by notecards, was totally free of "uh" and "um," and covered more material inside an hour than any college course one could ever take! She began with an autobiographical account of how she began her work and how her mother made it possible by accompanying her for the first 4 years. She then began her slideshow and ran thru personal histories of Flo, Fifi, Freud, Frodo, and Flint. The speech moved to atrocities committed to the environment the chimps live in, and the horrible things that happen to chimps worldwide: the worst for me was hearing how showbiz chimps have their teeth pulled and are beaten~ then at old age cannot be given to zoos (they are kind of retarded) and wind up being sold to animal testing facilities. I thought of the toothless gummy smiles of the chimps on recent commercials I have seen:  the movie-fone commercial  the superbowl commercial for some ISP/e-auction site. This protestant franken-christain mob comes to this church to get laid. They only want to hear good news about having sex with a spouse and they just about died as Jane hit them with the state of endangered chimps and human cruelty. This too, was almost alone worth the $45: to see and hear the squirming audience. She ended her lecture with a rousing call to arms for each person to feel empowered to make a little difference in being eco-conscious and supporting her work in Primatology through either the Jane Goodall Institute or beginning a Roots and Shoots program (kind of like Boy/Girl Scouts). --------------------- THE STUPID QUESTIONS: --------------------- It was clearly a bad idea to let these nouveau-riche Dallas sex-church idiots line up at 4 microphones to "ask questions." They are clearly used to weeknight support group testimonials and this is what most of them were up to. Reverend Manchild should have had a remote mike and walked to people who stood up like Donahue and thus abbreviated/rephrased their stupid questions. Here they are:  A fat "alternative" girl who listens to a lot of 10,000 Maniacs got up. She had bobbed red hair, dripping in jewelry, perfume, etc. and began a long repetitve story about "In my experience, I tell people about the whales, the bears, and they don't care and I can't forgive them..." This all came through strained, excited emotional at the verge of tears from this girl. She went on and on about "in my experience." I wished I could have seized her and whispered fiercely in her ear "You are 23! You come from the suburbs! You have NO observational experience at all compared to this woman who has lived observing chimps for 40 YEARS!" Worst of all, she didn't ask a question! There was something like "Do you agree?" but hardly suitable material. Dr. Goodall was very measured in answering this clearly traumatized girl, and deferred the bulk of the material to "come and talk to me afterwards."  An older Texas good-old-boy got up (at the back of the room) to grab a mike and begin unprompted a long, long embarassing bit about: "Do you know the woman who made this movie about gorillas, and do you know her, feel like her work was like yours, or paralled it, or I can't remember her name, but her work was like yours, and I know..." Dr. Goodall did interrupt to say "Diane Fossey" rather quickly; but this bullish nouveau riche Dallas oil-tyrant wouldn't shut up. He kept trying to dig himself out. Of course Dr. Goodall did know Fossey, and revealed that they were one of Lewis Leaky's 3 "ape-ladies." She went on to reveal some interesting interchanges between the two of them; mainly about how Goodall had cautioned Fossey against militarism. So, a really good answer to a very poorly delivered half-question. The Man tried to begin a second question at the end of her answer to which she AMAZINGLY (I almost clapped) told him to go to the back of his line to ask a second question.  This is the worst: A tall, thin 26 year old manchild in a lime green knit sweater with a mullet-fro took the mike to ask: "Do you believe in God? Do you believe in Evolution?" Throughout her lecture, Dr. Goodall had used the phrase/term "man's closest living relative" to describe the chimpanzee; so that this question could only prove that this man and all of Dallas that he presents seem like a unattentive slack-jawed mouth-breathing headline blurb society of conversationalists. Dr. Goodall had been so careful not to say "evolution" at a speech at a church, while hinting that of course she understands it. Moreover, within evolution theory; no-one thinks we evolved from Chimps/Gorillas, the idea is that we share a common ancestor. She very adeptly answered "Yes I believe in God. I don't see how evolution differs with an idea of God creating the world. Moreover, I think it is less important how we got here, than how we get ourselves out of the mess we are in." To which, she did get applause (thank you, Dallas).  A little boy. He asked a good question: "Where is Mr. H?" Her answer: "I left him home on my pillow by mistake."  A teenage goth girl: Repeated the evolution question. She tried to rephrase it to ask about the debate itself~ um, that debate happened FORTY YEARS AGO! It's over, we won. Earth to little girl! Come in little girl! Evolution can be taught in school.  A four-eyed pseudo intellectual: Because of his mumbling he had to repeat his stupid observation/question four times, even though I heard him clearly each time. It was something like: "I read a book about Africa. There was a Danish guy who made a bean in the 50's. Do you know him?" Earth to idiot: come in idiot. Africa is a continent, not a country! Dr. Goodall answered with 'Yes there was a guy who made a bean. There are many guys who make beans.' With this guy's question, Dr. Goodall announced that only two more questions would be taken so that there would be time for her to sign books. (Nice Save! I'd have said, "these questions are stupid. I won't answer any more.")  Almost the worst: A balding over-muscled mustache man asked: "How did you come up with the term 'cultural speciation.' I am very interested because I am high school teacher and I see it in the halls every day." Dr. Goodall, knowing this guy for a racist, was able to defer her answer to "come and see me afterwards." I should have followed this man outside and killed him. He was obviously looking for something to affirm his belief that he is a different species than the minorities he has to teach geometry to. ugh.  Some girl at the back awkwardly asked how she could become "the next Jane Goodall." This didn't need to be such a bad question, except that the whole of the lecture was her answer. She could have extrapolated from 'here's how I did it' and 'here's what you can do to help me (send money)' some ideas about how to work with animals. Dr. Goodall was kind enough to answer shortly that she wasn't taking many students due to the spread of bronchitis from Human to chimp and so on. I am picking on these questions in the hope of convincing either Jane Goodall +her institute, or other people in Dallas that not all of us are tone-deaf, religious, stupid, and self-centered. ------------------------- THE SIGNING + AFTERWARDS: ------------------------- I wanted to get outside and smoke. I needed to smoke so that I could forget about killing the racist high school teacher. The throng of idiots rushed to line up for the book signing which made it very difficult to get out of the church. On my way out, and later standing outside, I was unfortunately able to hear the complaints of Dallas cattlemen nouveau-riche fools. Highlights: woman : "I'm sure she is a very loving person..." man : "...well, I don't know about all that negative animal testing militancy... ...people are more important..." blah, blah. Not too surprising to hear in a state that sued Oprah for mad cow jokes. All these old men descend from cow punchers and they don't want to hear much animal rights sentiment. I went back inside to sign up for a Roots and Shoots mailing list and then noticed the brochure given to us had all the info I needed on it; so I left. I figured I could write this too; and properly scold the members of the sex-church and the stupid-questioneers. ---------------------------- ROOTS AND SHOOTS CRITICISED: ---------------------------- I'll probably go to hell for criticizing anything Jane Goodall has said; but I feel like I have her best interests at heart: Roots and Shoots is a deal where you pay $30 to join and get organizational material/packets sent to you.... then you find a problem in your immediate neighborhood and set kids to work to rennovate/repair it and send everything in to the JG Institute for approval/review. The problem is: People can't be trusted to think of good stuff. I would rather send Jane Goodall herself money to build chimpanzee sanctuaries than send money to USA for Africa and wonder where the trucks of grain get sent to (they were impounded by the military). Moreover, Dr. Goodall herself said that: "20 years ago we didn't know CFCs would harm the atmosphere" and then later that she met someone who has invented a way to make bricks that safely house toxic waste. These bricks get used to make hospitals, schools, etc. Well, who can say that this is a good idea? It sounds like asbestos paint to me~ sure its fireproof, but the removal/renovation process gives people cancer. Likewise, imagine that Roots and Shoots den-mothers decide that they want to paint fences in the neighborhood, so they go and raise money and then they paint fences with products from Dow. Dow makes napalm. 'nuff said. So, it is way easier for me to just give money to her for Chimp Sanctuaries than all of that. I know the membership slush fund can still fund chimp sanctuaries, so I hope her Roots and Shoots draws members anyway; but the success of a parallel organization like the Boy Scouts provides a better paradigm. Perhaps something like: plant a tree, receive a 'merit badge' does the same thing better (building confidence in children) without room for Dallas idiot den-mothers to paint fences with ecologically harmful chemicals. So, to anyone who gets this e-mail: go hit: http://www.janegoodall.org and bookmark it today. Send money directly to her institute. Chimps are very easy to feel good about "underwriting" whereas poverty/ urban reclamation/ etc are hard things to define and address.
B A C K to the I N D E X