Today's Featured Aricle. December, 2007


Couple
Dr. Schlachet, a New Yorker who received a doctorate in psychology in 1966, has written academic papers against the institution of marriage. She avowed that she wouldn’t buy a refrigerator if she couldn’t read the contract.
“How do I reconcile my beliefs?” she added. “I don’t.”
She was married to the father of her 2 sons. By the late 1960s she was a single parent rearing her boys on a diet of war protests & civil rights marches.
She was tear-gassed before she could walk, said her younger son, Daniel Schlachet, 40. He confirmed that his mother was not the marrying, or remarrying, type. When he told her of his own engagement 12 years ago, she said something like she just want you to know there are other options, he said.
So the last thing anyone expected was that she & William Mitchell, companions for 15 years, would marry. No one would have expected them to be a couple in the first place.
Mr. Mitchell, a robust man of 63, received a football scholarship in 1963 to Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pa. He later coached. He said that if they had met then she probably would have thrown tomatoes at him.
But they didn’t meet until 1991.
Mr. Mitchell yearned for a career he could be equally passionate about. Likewise, Dr. Schlachet, after decades as a psychotherapist, was seeking a more expressive vocation.
They independently decided to become actors. She used the stage name Barbara Bleier. He Liam Mitchell. They happened to join the same acting class in New York.
He had just moved to the city from Pennsylvania and had recently divorced, and she had just ended a relationship with a man she had lived with for 19 years. Between classes and auditions, each offered a sympathetic ear.
“We comfort each other,” Mr. Mitchell said.
“He blew all my stereotypes,” she said. “Here was this jock, but there was this kindness and warmth to him.”
Their first date was Halloween 1992 and they quickly fell into a steady rhythm. But Mr. Mitchell was new to the city, newly single and acting the part. After six months, Dr. Schlachet could no longer ignore what they both described as his heavy drinking and an unwillingness to make an exclusive commitment. She reluctantly broke off the relationship. It got his attention.
“I realized what I was losing,” said Mr. Mitchell, who was determined to show her how important she was to him.
“He stopped drinking cold,” Dr. Schlachet said. “I don’t know how he did it.” It took six months to regain her trust, and he said he has been sober and devoted to her since.
Still, as the relationship deepened, she remained protective of her independence and they kept separate homes. “I was in love with him, but I wasn’t determined to live with him,” Dr. Schlachet said. He, too, resisted taking the next step.
“I didn’t want to give up my apartment,” he said. “In New York, you can never get it back again.”
But in 2004, after 12 years of dating, he moved into her West Village brownstone. “We realized the nights we didn’t spend together we weren’t as happy as the nights we did,” she said.
Last June, while lazing on a beach in Puerto Rico, the conversation turned to a friend’s wedding. While congratulating themselves on avoiding marriage, he admitted it would be nice to celebrate their relationship. “Are you asking me to marry you?” Dr. Schlachet asked.
He responded by getting down on one knee.
On Dec. 8, Dr. Schlachet, a slender woman with regal posture, descended the century-old staircase at the Players club in New York with Mr. Mitchell by her side.
The Rev. Jane Brenon, an evangelical minister and a cousin of Mr. Mitchell’s, led the couple in their vows to live and laugh together.
If they were somewhat dazed by their decision, their friends and family were dumbfounded. “One of my sons said, ‘Can I speak to my real mother?’” Dr. Schlachet said with a laugh.
“I can’t tell you why I’m doing it other than the pure joy of it,” she said.
They do not downplay their differences. He enjoys action movies and televised sports. She prefers reading and is a member of the Raging Grannies, an activist group.
“There doesn’t need to be common interests,” he said. “Uncommon is better.”

Janet Reno & American Songs

While her nephew-in-law, producer Ed Pettersen, may have done a lot of the heavy lifting on "Song of America," which features new interpretations of seminal songs like "Dixie's Land" & "The Times They Are A Changin'," the set reflects Reno's vision. Through 50 songs, reinterpreted by artists including John Mellencamp, the Black Crowes, Martha Wainwright, Devendra Banhart, the story of America & the different challenges it has faced, from war to racism to the Depression, is retold for today's audiences. Though Reno, 69, is slowed these days by Parkinson's disease, she is forceful and passionate. She's been working on this project for a while.
Her niece was visiting Janet with her husband, Ed Pettersen. Ed played two pieces that he had help compose, or composed himself, that talked about various parts of American history and Janet said, "Ed, why don't you write a song of America, a history of America?" He went after it, & it was just amazing to see what he did. They attracted artists who were willing to spend their time, give their time to perform, create a piece for the project, which Janet thinks is just tremendous.
Janet Reno could have just gotten archival recordings of these songs. But she wanted to give them a new interpretation. Ed with his colleagues contributed so significantly to this project. They wanted something that represented a real sense of the song & what is involved. They found a new version of "Dixie" that could illuminate the fact that you've got to have "Dixie" as part of a project like this if you're going to tell the history of America because that is one of the essential pieces of that history. The basic reason why Reno thinks these songs are going to make a difference is that that they show that they are constantly new and changing ideas. It is important to keep up with what has happened. It is important to inspire people. If you are defeated and you accept defeat & wallow in it, you're not going to do very well. If you pick yourself up, motivated & inspired by song, you move forward. Song can be a vast motivator. "John Brown's Body" is one of the more inspiring songs to you in Reno's life, she said. It's a beautiful piece. That with the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" are two songs that spell out what the war was about, & what we tried to do here is divide it into segments of united we stand, divided we fall, she added. If America can come together with its history explained as in these songs, we have a better chance of moving ahead for the future, Janet Reno said. Songs are going to appeal to people & what they are interested in. If we can tell the story of the challenges that lie ahead, if we can forecast what we are going to have to deal with, we can do it in a clearer, more objective way if we are motivated by song that is not diminished by bickering between people. If the strength of the song can come out above partisan politics, the song is going to have a much clearer, resonant message for all concerned, Reno added. Reno thinks that people can learn more about their country, can be inspired by what they hear, from some of these songs. People can remember when they are facing adversity that they were able to overcome terrible situations in their life & in the history of USA. When people think about it, the Depression, which this project talks about in clear detail, was such a dark cloud over this nation. Janet remembers her mother's stories of the Depression. If her mother could carry a tune she would have composed one of these songs that talks about the Depression, because it was so much a part of her life. And then to come out of the Depression into World War II, into the greatest war U.S. have ever had, & to face the challenge of the atomic bomb, ever present after that war, gives people a sense of the challenge we face. But it's also there to say, "Look, we did it, we can overcome, we can get past this time in our history..."



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