Wednesday, October 17, 2001
Our kids, our future - the start of Jennifer Lopez
Do you remember a play in which the narrator sees his town as the center of the universe, in the eye of God? That's how I see the T&V country. Our people are the hundreds of faces at the corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue at 8 A.M. waiting for the 15M bus, the moms and kids going to school in dungarees, in blue blazers and tartan school clothes. Our people are the big highschool kids with tattoos, the hospital and office people going to work. And the thousands out on the street at lunch hour on Union Square, the Greenmarket sellers and shoppers, the young people having medieval encounters on Tuesdays after hours in the Greenmarket space, and the roller bladers , hockey players and skateboarders on other afternoons. Today we will talk about the kids of our town.
We all live a dream, la vida es un sueno. Some dreams are fulfilled while others fail. My friend Arnie who has toiled for 30 years in daily tasks, with an eye to the stars, has two sons, both fine ballplayers, affectionately known by the office colleagues as Adam and Clayton. Arnie and Marlene have spent hundreds of hours and energy taking the boys through untold neighborhood Little League matches, ascending to the National Championships. In his office he keeps pictures and blown-up newspaper reports of the feats of the kid's uncle, a 6'4'' pitcher,xx, as as a reminder that it can be done. But after years of the dream, reality struck home, no one offered contracts, and the boys went off to college to pursue more mundane careers - in accountancy and biology. But the love for the sports never died, and now both young men have switched to doing physical therapy, sports-oriented. A dream fulfilled.
John, another toiledr on Union Square, coaches soccer ot home, in New Jersey. He had this boy Tony, the sweetest little youngster, who ran like a whirlwind and tried hard but could not control the ball nor score a goal. This kid was an artist, drew Tony the Tiger in contests and won two or three bikes but could not ride them. He was always the last player in the school's piano recitals, where other kids played chopsticks and he could do Mozart. He was on the soccer team because his parents wanted him to stop studying and get out and play sports. Tony wound up at Notre Dame studying in computer sciences, best in the class, beating out a serious girl, whom he ended up dating. He grew a foot in college, and was offered several fellowships, of which he took the one at Indiana, because they had one for Diane too. They are now married, and Tony is a teacher, poor but happy. He still cannot ride the bike or play soccer. A dream fulfilled.
Another friend David, is the father of a little girl wo liked to dance. I met her when she came in the office on holidays, to play computer games, a lively and expressive child. Mom took her to dancing classes and auditions, with not too much success. Jennifer, after highschool, took a job as a secretary with Dad's employer, on Union Square, enrolled at Baruch and started thinking of a law degree. But then she went to yet another final audition, at 19, and got a job dancing on a TV show, In Living Color. Having turned into a sultry Latin beauty, Jennifer Lopez went to Hollywood and did supporting roles in movies, My Family and Money Train, then played Robin Williams' fifth grade teacher in Francis Ford Coppola's Jack, dancing between takes when she was happy with her performance. Recently she played a Cuban nanny who cannot decide between her suitors Jack Nicholson and Stephen Dorff in a crime film, Blood and Wine, directed by Bob Raffelson. She is now in a dream role, the story of the Tejano singer Selena, slain by her fan club president, for director Gregory Nava. And another role is under contract, that of a documentary film maker who has jungle adventures, in Anaconda.
Looking at Jennifer's sultry publicity pictures, there are the unmistakable features of David, a gentle person who never misses a day's work, keeping a computer system on track. Soft-spoken, he carries pictures of Jen and tells stories of her phone calls home and the support group that the family provides. Not all kids of her generation have the background that the family gave her. And it is evident in her attitude towards the family. She calls home frequently, comes to stay with the family for Christmas, Easter and Mother's Day, and recently brought them to san Antonio for a long weekend, to see her in the filming of a Selena concert.
Her younger sister, Linda, 24, graduated from C.V.Post University, and now has a rock DJ program on WBAB, in Babylon, N.Y. Older sister Leslie, 29, was a schoolteacher until her recent motherhood.
David, who has worked for the same company for 25 years, has an level-headed attitude towards success in life. A house and a home for the family has to be earned with work. Easy life after retirement comes from saving and sacrificing. Good schoolwork comes with good parenting. If you work, you can succeed in life. A dream fulfilled.
Are all the dreams fully attained? Of course not. But a half-filled cup