Sculpture by Lana Cochrun
The recent work by Lana seems an appropriate symbol of this post.The woman wears life and the cumulative affect of unseen forces and her manner is haunting.
Photo by Playboy
Hugh Hefner's passing at 91 is a moment to consider who we are and what we have become.
It seems a mistake to consider only the lifestyle of Hefner who seemed to patent the idea of a playboy. There is much about how he portrayed and used women that people can find offensive and demeaning. But Hefner and Playboy made an impact on America that is to our benefit.
He was an early advocate for racial equality and took bold steps to make an integrated society the norm.
He was a tireless advocate of free speech and expression. He fought against censorship and a government's heavy hand.
He was an advocate and supporter of feminism a maturing of his own sexual views.
His early TV show was the essence of hip, cool and intellectual discussion and fostered a new format.
Playboy brought sexual behavior and practice out of the bedroom and into the light of analysis, study and public discussion.
And as cliche' as it may have been, he provided a forum for writers, published excellent literature and journalism. It published scores of brilliant articles and probing interviews.
He advanced music, art and genuine scholarship.
In a roundabout way he helped launch Gloria Steinem's writing career.
Yes, he published pictures of naked women. But the naked human body is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a rather marvelous signet of life on this planet.
One's view, on possibly everything we consider, may well change over time and the arrival of heirs.
I did not hope that my daughters would grow to be Playboy Bunnies, and there was a time when both of them thought the magazine was exploitative. As they aged they came to see modern sexuality in their own enlightened ways. Hugh Hefner contributed to America's maturation.
As a high school and college boy I enjoyed the magazine, including the beautiful women. I make no apology for that. My hormones were kicking on, sexual experience was a very present motivation in my life and I enjoyed the slick and polished style of Playboy magazine.
In college I was able to visit a couple of Playboy Clubs and enjoyed the experience. Later, as a journalist and speaking with "Bunnies" and Playmates I gained a broadened view about what those women experienced and the difficulties of it. I saw the truth behind the pretense.
As a correspondent I profiled one of the magazines leading photographers and accompanied him as he and his crew shot for a feature on mid western women. Let me explain a moment that forever changed my attitude about the models.
I'll start with the finished photo. It featured a beautiful young women, partially dressed with a come hither seductive look on her face. The truth is she was an 18 year old kid who found poses only because the photographer's assistants helped her attain them. The seductive look on the page of the magazine was in real life a confused "what do you want me to do?" expression. There was nothing sexual in her mind or behavior and the "look" the magazine was trying to attain was an accidental moment that a skilled photographer was able to glean. The "sexiness" of the shot was nothing in that kid's mind or experience.
I met Hefner and he was an endearing man, well read and highly intelligent. Years later I interviewed his daughter Christie when she became CEO. She too was endearing, articulate and deep thinking.
In later years Playboy seem an anachronism and even a bit silly. Hefner's lifestyle seemed the same and perpetually adolescent. But that does not negate the innovation he brought or the good battles he fought. He was an original.
It surprised some the NFL Owners and Commissioner lined up with the players in the battle of words with the occupant of the White House.
It would be nice to think these plantation owners firmly believe in the full benefits of free speech and expression. But consider another angle.
The players and the league are locked in a battle over the NFL's policy of dropping player's medical insurance after a time. That time is usually about the time the players begin suffering the maladies of the game's brutality.
The biggest concern now and one that some of the public is finally starting to pay attention to is CTE. The statistics of former NFL players with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) is shocking. Many are wondering if it is not a matter of IF, but WHEN NFL players begin to experience the disastrous destruction of their brains and their lives.
Getting locked into a battle with the twitter in chief is a great diversion from the CTE concerns. Remember this is a league that tried to prevent a popular movie about CTE from being made, released or advertised. Changing the subject is like an audible change made at the line of scrimmage.
See you down the trail