Assault

 With Mueller vs. Taylor, women who were victimized saw the prospect of being hauled into court and victimized again. Because singer Taylor Swift stood up to radio host David Mueller _ who groped her and then accused her of ruining his career by reporting him to his employers _ the singer  got the satisfaction of eight jurors hearing her truth. She also got an opinion from the judge that I am sure will be cited in any future such cases confirming that a victim cannot be accused of acting legally improperly for reporting a crime.

While it may seem a small step forward, perhaps the broader victory here is that a new conversation has been started in which behavior like Mueller’s is called what it is: criminal.

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America

The death and mayhem brutal racists brought to a colonial college town in Virginia seems to cry out for a dramatic response.

Another kind of response is expressed in the quiet ways so many of us live our lives every day.

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West

I started visiting the Denver Art Museum long before we moved to town in 2012. For years, I skipped the museum’s collection of paintings and sculpture celebrating the American West. I didn’t expect to connect to sunset vistas that, despite their expansiveness, offered a narrow view of our history.

But now comes the current DAM show, The Western: An Epic in Art and Film.

The show includes art and artifacts – a pamphlet guide for pioneers back when the migration debate was a bit different; Sergio Leone’s passport (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a favorite of mine); a sleek Harley from Easy Rider. It tells a story of 19th century artists’ depictions of the American West influencing 20th century filmmakers, and then painters, artists and directors maturing to address more complicated issues.

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Confederate

Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” and Ben Winters’s “Underground Airlines” show how to look at history through imagination’s lens and come up with revelations about both our past and our present.

So, the concept was proven before the men behind “Game of Thrones” announced plans for an HBO series in which the South seceded and slavery survived to become a modern institution. “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are white, have assembled a multiracial team for their new venture, with Nichelle Tramble Spellman and Malcolm Spellman as co-writers and executive producers.

Still, I’m skeptical Benioff, Weiss & Co. can pull off what Whitehead and Winters did. And I’m a “Game of Thrones” fan. 

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Fourth

Marine veteran Jared Bolhuis detests the Fourth of July, a holiday that can evoke battlefield horrors with its celebratory reenactments of war: rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air.

Bolhuis is not alone. In 2014, a social media post on the subject of vets and the Fourth was shared widely. The post was simple: a photo of a veteran holding a sign that said, "Combat veteran lives here, please be courteous with fireworks."

In its story on the post, USA Today sought perspective from Barbara Van Dahlen, a Washington, D.C. area psychologist and founder of Give An Hour, which provides free behavioral health counseling to troops, veterans and their families.

“The sensitivity here is that if you know that your next-door neighbor served ... and you're planning to have a fireworks display in your backyard, it's probably the thoughtful thing to do to let them know," the psychologist told USA Today. She said emotional reactions to loud noises or sounds that bring memories of traumatic events can be very common among both veterans and non-veterans. The concern is not that the veteran might react violently, she said, but that he or she could experience "a very painful, stressful, emotional experience remembering a firefight or a buddy who was killed."

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Daddy

They weren’t arrayed with Arlington’s military precision. But the markers I found planted in the red Georgia soil are the same gravestones you see standing at attention at the national military cemetery. They are just under hip high, wide as a coffin, thick as a family Bible, cut along the top edge to curve like the horizon.

I spotted the markers as I walked on a carpet of pine needles in the African-American part of Commerce, the town of about 6,000 near Atlanta where my father was born. Not all the graves I passed were of veterans, but those were the ones that especially intrigued me. Many bore my family name _ Bryson. Time had roughened and stained the markers and worn away the oldest inscriptions. From the dates I could make out, it was clear the fallen soldiers were the sons and grandsons of slaves and had themselves lived and died under Jim Crow. Here was proof set in stone that men fought and died for an America that spurned them. Talk about asking not what your country can do for you.

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Henry

When he wasn’t misspending his youth, my husband Fred was building sets for Henry Lowenstein. There is so much to say about this Denver theater icon who was a dear friend to us and to so many others. Tony Garcia, who worked with Henry and now runs his own Denver theater, found room in his tribute when Henry died in 2014 to mention Festival Caravan, a free summer series Henry conceived and ran for the Bonfils, the grande dame of Denver performing arts venues.  

"Festival Caravan gave thousands of people access to theater and ideas and art in communities where survival was a day to day activity,” Garcia said. “For communities in need of bread, Henry also brought roses.  For young people of color, whose parents brought them out to see the theater, they were able to see surrogates of themselves on the stage sing and shine. Those shows offered a most valuable commodity — hope."

Today the Carson Brierly Giffin Dance Library at the University of Denver opened an exhibit and premiered a fluid and engaging documentary exploring Festival Caravan. Fred was interviewed for the documentary – and then they asked him to narrate it! 
 

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