Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CT Forum Family Reflects on Judge Sonia Sotomayor

Judge Sotomayor is a highly qualified and historic nominee who would bring extensive legal experience and a unique perspective to the Court. Senator Chris Dodd

I suspect her Catholicism may come in for a theocon inquisition. I don't like her affirmative action views, but I've always taken the view that a president gets wide lee-way in this kind of appointment. I see no good reason to oppose her - and some real perils for the GOP if they beat up on a brilliant and self-made Latina on SCOTUS. They must know the country they purport to want to govern. Andrew Sullivan

If confirmed, Sotomayor will be the third Yale law grad on the Supreme Court. The other two: Thomas and Alito. Arianna Huffington

Now that President Obama has wisely chosen Judge Sotomayor as his first nominee to the Supreme Court, I suppose I should let the cat out of the bag: I have been rooting for her all along. Not only because I know her, but because everything I know about her suggests that she will be a fantastic justice. Stephen L Carter

I want to congratulate Judge Sotomayor on her history-making nomination to the Supreme Court. Confirming a Supreme Court Justice is among the most important responsibilities the Senate has, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I look forward to joining my colleagues as we examine Judge Sotomayor’s qualifications carefully before confirmation. However, it is already clear that President Obama has chosen a remarkable jurist with an impressive record of accomplishment and a life story with which working families can identify. Senator-Elect Al Franken

"White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw..." Newt Gingrich

"Experience is everything. You want richness and diversity on the Supreme Court," Carville said. "She has a life experience she brings." James Carville

Como una latina joven, yo siento increiblemente orgullosa. Este nominancion refuerza el hecho de que nosotros estamos en una era nueva de cambio en este pais. El juez Sotomayor es una mujer de calidad y sustancia que fija un ejemplo perfecto para la gente joven por todas personas- pero especialmente para latinas. Ella es un ejemplo perfecto de alguien que vino nada y hecho en algo. Ella es un recuerdo a mi que el cielo es el limito.

How do I feel about the nomination of the first Latina U.S. Supreme Court Justice by the first African American president? As a young Latina, I feel incredibly proud. This nomination reinforces the fact that we're in a new era of change in this country. Judge Sotomayor is a woman of quality and substance who sets a perfect example for young people everywhere - but especially for Latinas. She's a perfect example of someone who came from nothing and made herself into something. She's a reminder to me that the sky's the limit. Jasmine Lopez, Age 21, CT YOUTH Forum Program Associate

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thoughts on our panelists: Duff Goldman, Anthony Bourdain & Alice Waters

[Anthony Bourdain, Alice Waters and Duff Goldman onstage.
Photo courtesy of Fox 61, Nick Caito.]

There was a lot of buzz surrounding last week's Forum; the excitement around Food for Thought was palpable. You could touch it. You could feel it. You could taste it. (Yup, we went there, and expect more food puns where that came from). Without a doubt, Hartford was a'buzz last Thursday, and we are still digesting it all. One thing is for certain: our panelists did not disappoint.

Duff was incredibly accessible, not to mention friendly, outgoing, and personable, every minute he was here. He high-fived every YOUTH Forum kid coming off-stage after the "Welcome Back" remarks to start the second half - even as the stage manager urged him back onstage. He did whatever was asked of him by his fans. Photos? No problem. Autographs? You got it. Call your sister's neighbor's best friend on his cell phone? Sure thing. (True story - a guest at the pre-Forum dinner mentioned that Geof was her favorite Charm City Cakes chef, and Duff promptly got Geof on the phone to say hello!) After The Forum was over, he jumped down into the audience to say hi to a friend and, while he was at it, a few more fans. He even stopped to talk to fans on the street outside of Trumbull Kitchen who, wide-eyed, disbelievingly, stuttered that they had been at the Simulcast earlier that evening. (Oh, did we mention he and Tony came to our staff after-party?!) You would never know he was the media-sensation that he is... instead, he just felt like a long-time friend. He was the sleeper-hit of The Forum. We knew he'd be fun, we knew the guy could make cakes and make us laugh, but he was more cool, smart, funny, articulate, entertaining, wise, and laid-back than you even realize on tv. (He told us he wants to come back to The Forum and promised that he could riff on any topic we asked him to!) His only demand was for The Bruins score as he came off-stage (and even then, he asked so nicely); we were so impressed with Duff that Doris is writing his mom a letter to tell her what a nice boy she raised.

Alice was ethereal yet firmly principled; it's easy to forget that so many of the things that we now take for granted about the way we think about food and eating come from her teaching. Tasty New England, in their write-up of The Forum, blogged: "she’d be anybody’s first casting choice for Mother Nature," and that about sums it up. In her visit to Billings Forge Community Works before The Forum, she visited - and purchased something from - every single stand at their Farmer's Market, and she even showed off her wares onstage that evening. It's clear that she lives what she teaches and that nothing is more important to her than promoting her life's mission. And even though the two guys teased her a bit about her inability to sell her own image for a tv show like theirs, that inability to brand - that purity - was perhaps what was most likeable about her after all.

Anthony - known as "the bad boy of cuisine" and the acerbic, often crude, irreverent and adventurous chef/author/world-traveling lush - was actually nice. Really nice. He even seemed a little nervous at the prospect of participating in a discussion in front 3,000+ people and was genuinely excited to meet his fellow panelists. Despite his public remarks against Alice Waters, both seemed happy to meet one another - they even exchanged contact information backstage. He and Duff really hit it off, and he interviewed Duff for a podcast which will appear soon on the No Reservations website. When he came into our office to film the podcast he shook all of our hands and engaged in small talk with the staff, despite the fact that many of us just stared, star-struck, unable to respond. Maybe he's used to eliciting that type of response from people, but he never seemed affected by his celebrity.

No, The Forum wasn't a complete love fest. Anthony got Alice on her choice for her last meal (Really? Shark fin soup? Is that local Alice?) There were certainly some select four-letter adjectives and all three at least nodded toward drug use in restaurant kitchens. But even amidst the onstage disagreements and heated moments all three panelists were accommodating, interesting and gracious.

Alice Waters, Anthony Bourdain and Duff Goldman debate about locally-grown, organic foods.

The panelists discuss the benefits of organic, locally-grown foods, food costs and the pleasures of a good meal.

For more videos from this Forum and others, visit our YouTube channel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Behind the Scenes of Food for Thought with Anthony Bourdain and Duff Goldman

Backstage at The Bushnell, there is a very small room that holds the signatures of the very big names that have graced the stage there. Ray Charles, Walter Cronkite, Al Franken, Carol Channing, Bernadette Peters, and hundreds more, including a slew of Forum panelists, have all signed their John Hancock on these walls.

Food for Thought panelists Anthony Bourdain and Duff Goldman couldn't resist!

Anthony accompanied his name with a bloody knife...

and Duff cheered it up with some hearts and smiley faces.

Stay tuned all week for more behind the scenes photos and stories
from Food for Thought!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anthony Bourdain, Duff Goldman & Alice Waters on the power of food.

Duff, Anthony and Alice talk about food as aphrodisiacs at the May 14 Food for Thought Forum.

Perhaps most importantly, we learned it's not the food, but the chef...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Digesting Food for Thought

We are still digesting all the delectable, curious, and fulfilling moments of our Food for Thought Forum last Thursday...
  • like when the Travel Channel camera crew arrived in our office Thursday afternoon and set up in our conference room to film a "Tony and Friends" podcast that will later appear on the No Reservations website
  • and the incredibly warm welcome Alice Waters received at Billings Forge, and how moved she was by the good and important work being done by their community
  • and then, of course, The Forum itself - a packed house at the Bushnell, a full crowd at the live simulcast at the Wallace Stevens Theater, and a panel of Forum favorites, including Forum Fave and Connecticut's own Colin McEnroe
  • Not to mention dessert: the oh-so-sweet back stage, off-camera, post Forum moments with our special panelists and friends
Like any highly anticipated and carefully planned meal shared with friends, we are still savoring the moments, bite by bite. Stay tuned for photos, videos, and all kinds of behind-the-scenes morsels sure to please.

In the meantime, you might wish to check out what others are saying:

Here's Colin's Sunday column in The Hartford Courant

And more Colin

And just a bit more Colin

And more from...

Fox 61

The New Haven Advocate

Fairfield Weekly

And blogs galore, including:

Eat Me Daily

Jules Pieri

Tasty New England

Were you there? At the Bushnell or the live Simulcast? What did you think?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Food Forum is Here!

The excitement has already begun here at the Forum. Tony Bourdain's people have arrived to set up for the podcast he'll be doing with Duff Goldman from the Forum office! (1:50 pm)

Yeah, that's Tony and Duff signing stuff at the office after the podcast.
Cool guys who seem to be really liking each other - should be an awesome Forum! (2:30pm)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards' Gives Lessons in 'Resilience' - Both in her New Memoir and at The Forum

Elizabeth Edwards will appear this afternoon in an anticipated interview with Oprah to promote her new book, Resilience, which discusses her battle with cancer, her husband's Presidential run and his well-known infidelity, and her children and family. Later in the week she will appear on other media outlets including Larry King Live and The View.

In September, Edwards was in Hartford as a part of a Forum on The Presidency, along with Matthew Dowd and Joseph Ellis, and she discussed what it was like to campaign with her husband.

The crowd later broke out in applause when she talked about her inspiring outlook on her cancer.

During the YOUTH Forum press conference Alexandra Gruber, 15, of Hall High School in West Hartford, asked Mrs. Edwards what it was like having "the whole world finding out your whole business. How do you deal with the world knowing about... cancer, those kinds of things?"

Edwards replied: "I don't have a corner on all those things. I see people all the time who do it. Actually, my being public about those things has allowed me to get an enormous amount of support. A lot of people who have all the same things I have, most of them without the kind of health insurance, for example, that I have, they don't have people calling them "inspiring". They don't have a spotlight on them, they don't have a camera on them, and so I get a lot of support. So as much as something is taken out of you, it's also given back to you in a real way."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Final Frontier

If you go outside right now and listen carefully, you will hear giddy giggling. That, my dear friends, is the sound of millions of geeks like me. Yes, Star Trek is coming.

As far as I am concerned there are really only two kinds of people in the world, Trekkers (Those who are fans of Star Trek) and those that are fans of that other outrageously successful space wars opera.

The question is articulated in a number of ways:

Enterprise v. Millennium Falcon (Uhhh, warp speed is multiples of "hyperspeed." Photon Torpedoes and phasers...there is no contest.)

Captain Kirk v. Luke Skywalker (Really? The double ax handle and overwhelming sexual many times did Captain Kirk have his hand cut off?)

Gene Roddenberry v. George Lucas (Progressive and forward thinking, the first on-screen kiss of a white man and black woman!)

There is no contest.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Pete!

Where I come from a great American is at least one of these:

A rabble-rouser
Thoughtful and conscientious
A terrific musician

What happens when you put them all together?

You get Pete Seeger.

Celebrating his 90th birthday on May 3, this composer and performer of the classics, 'If I had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)', 'Turn, Turn, Turn', 'Where have all the flowers gone?' has led a life bound to the principles of peace and harmony (literally and figuratively).

In the 40s he sang for the workers trying to organize and for Eleanor Roosevelt and the the soldiers.
In the 50s he formed The Weavers but refused to bow the the House Committee on un-American Activities and was banned from television and radio for more than a decade.
In the 60s he fought for civil rights and opposed the Vietnam War.
In the 70s he worked on cleaning up the environment by founding the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater.

And he did all that with the most powerful weapon he had, his voice. He sang, 'Where have all the flowers gone?' in the face of the guns of Vietnam and sang 'We Shall Overcome' to the police and dogs when he marched with Martin Luther King on Washington. He sang 'That Lonesome Valley' in the polluted Hudson River Valley.

There are few who are not captivated by the warmth, charm and ease of his voice.

Here's to a happy 90th and hopes that we have 90 more with this Greatest of Americans.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Forum mourns the loss of Jack Kemp

We were able in 1996 to spend an evening with Jack Kemp and Mario Cuomo.

Listen as Jack describes his idea of success.

Jack Kemp
July 13, 1935 – May 2, 2009