Different worlds

It's amazing to see all the second-rate so-called comedy and entertainment on television these days. For many, I suppose, today's audience never were exposed to the brilliant comedians and entertainers of days past. As a longtime, avid student of the theater, Bob Hope, Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman, Frank Sinatra, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep were some of the great ones I often saw, and in some cases knew. In fact I knew all of the above, with the exception of Bergman and Streep. The combination of having a first cousin as a top rated professional musician who performed regularly in the movies, on television and on Broadway and in Boston and meeting great entertainers while selling newspapers in the lobby of Blinstrubs Village Night Club in South Boston as a kid, and later while playing college basketball at least 2 weeks every year in Manhattan for Providence College -- whose priests and coaches had great contacts with leading entertainment executives in New York City -- has given me a unique insight into these talented performers.

Even as poor city kids, we knew great talent when we saw it. We also could see the big changes that have taken places in movies, television and live theater over these many years. I remember seeing "Julius Caesar" on the live stage in New York and "Camelot" several times with Richard Burton and Sir Lawrence Olivier and "My Fair Lady" starring Julie Andrews twice in one day. No, at the time, we would not be looked at as the theater elite, but just like all the female ushers who still work in the big downtown theaters in cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago, we knew talent and brilliance as well as anybody.

Recently, we've all read about the nonsense that is substituting as comedy and entertainment. There's Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" in Central Park with the trash about the killing of our president. Then there was acclaimed actor Johnny Depp's sick comment calling for the president's assassination before an audience in the U.K., and of course the photo shoot of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a replica of the bloody, severed head of President Trump. These are among the sick spectacles that are called entertainment by second-rate writers and producers. Let me say it for all to hear: These people are a disgrace and embarrassment to the entertainment profession, and our federal authorities should prosecute them for inciting a riot, and contributing to the decline of our children's moral standards through the airwaves, which belong to the public.

On the other hand, this week at the Celtic Music Festival, I watched thousands of children and families listen to great live Irish music, play and have a fun afternoon sponsored by the great people of Milton in Hutchinson Field. Selectman Dick Wells organized a great fun family event which would put today's big corporate sponsored events in Central Park to shame. Before that, I watched a hundred kids play in the Donnie Higgins stick hockey tournament in South Boston. And just before that I listened to a missionary priest, Father William Ojulo from Uganda, at Gate of Heaven Church talk about the desperate need and all the great work going on in his poverty-ravaged community in Africa.

Talking to the visiting priest before Mass, I told him that I was very familiar with his community, because I had visited and assisted that very same community back in the 1990s on behalf of President Clinton and Pope John Paul II when I was Ambassador to the Vatican. When he got through speaking during Mass, the large gathering of parishioners applauded him warmly, including the McGuire family who were attending the anniversary mass for Ed Sr., Elaine and Ed Jr. -- a wonderful, caring Irish-American family. The entire gathering also contributed to Father Ojulo's missionary work. This is Boston Irish and America at its best, which we never read about in the press. But the people see it all the time.

- Raymond L. Flynn is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and Mayor of Boston.