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COLUMN: A Senior Moment with Barry ZeVan: Martha Raddatz and World Turmoil, as well as a Lady who Made us Forget our Cares Temporarily

Updated: 07/23/2014 11:46 AM
Created: 07/23/2014 8:44 AM KSTP.com
By: Barry ZeVan

I deeply respect ABC-TV's indefatigable and truly intrepid reporter, and sometimes THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS substitute host, Martha Raddatz. She has been, and is, one of this country's reporters most frequently embedded in the midst of this world's most dangerous landscapes and confrontations, for well over a decade.

This past week, referencing the Israeli-Hamas conflict, the horrific downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, and all other chaos occurring more rapidly and more often than ever, Ms. Raddatz was asked by one of ABC-TV's anchors if she could ever remember any period of time in her career when global events were so out of control.

She paused, and in an almost heartbroken manner, stated "No. I really can't. I've never seen it this bad." Ms. Raddatz is a tough, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is reporter, and a credit to her profession. To see and hear her almost come to tears when stating what she did, certainly, to me at least, put an official stamp on how bad things really are in today's world.

In that regard, what the late Peter Jennings told me in February, 2003, was prescient regarding what the world is experiencing today. I was honored to have Peter as a dear close friend and colleague from 1974 until his death five years ago. He kindly accepted an invitation to appear on my KYCR radio program in the previously-referenced year to help celebrate my then 60th anniversary in broadcasting. I still have the tape and MP3 of that interview. Among the things we discussed was the world, post 9/11. Peter had spent a great deal of time in the Middle East and was married to a Lebanese/Egyptian woman named Annouchka when Peter and I first socialized at a party in my Potomac, Maryland, house in 1974. (Those were halcyon days, to say the least.)

I knew his encyclopedic and ubiquitous knowledge of Middle East mentality was deep, thus I asked him if he felt the Al-Qaedas of the world would ever not exist. He said, sadly, "No, sorry to say, I think events similar to 9/11 will never end and only occur with more frequency as time goes on." It was disheartening to have heard that, but perhaps recent events are evidence Peter may have been very correct in his assessment. 

My assessment is all the immature anger, frustration-to-extremes and need-to-vent (including domestically) stem from three of what I think may be the saddest words in the English language: Ego, power and greed. With those eliminated from human-nature and our lexicons, what a pleasant existence this would be. That thought also echoes the closing words, set to music, of a 1950s religion-oriented, syndicated television program entitled THE CHRISTOPHERS. That program concluded with these lyrics: "If everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world it would be". Amen to that. Of course, it will never happen, as Peter said, but it's nice about which to muse. (P.S. SIDEBAR REGARDING MARTHA RADDATZ: I was told she was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and used to watch me doing the weather on television there ((960-65)) during her formative and teenage years. I haven't confirmed it with Ms. Raddatz, but if that was the case, it would be fun to know.)

ELAINE STRITCH: It was sad to learn this morning, Elaine Stritch, one of Broadway's giants and a movie talent of equally explosive and compelling performance abilities...for six decades...passed away last night.

I met Elaine only twice, for television show interviews, but was interested to learn she had also acted a couple times on MISTER PEEPERS, the show on which I was blessed to have portrayed one of the students for two seasons (1952-53) and which has been referenced here in a previous blog or two. We "students" weren't on every Sunday's episode (understandably too expensive for the producers), regardless, it was fun for me to learn she'd been one of the actresses on the show, at least once. When she was here a few years ago in her great one-woman show, I spotted her walking downtown, stopped the car to exchange pleasantries and reminders of our two previous interviews. The conversation was warm and that was that. Born into a wealthy Detroit-area family, she was totally uninhibited, which propelled her to be the powerhouse multi-talented performer she was, and will be missed. As Alec Baldwin tweeted this morning (paraphrasing here) about her passing, "If God doesn't know she's on her way, He's in serious trouble". Tonight, all the Broadway theaters will justifiably dim their lights in her memory. Brava, Elaine.

Thanks, once again, and always, for taking the time to read my geezer thoughts.

Barry ZeVan is a columnist for KSTP.com.


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