Emily Wilcox: It’s all about the hugs
You remember things that mean something. You might not remember whether a friend won a prize, but you’ll always recall the love he gave when you needed it most.
During the April 17th Red Sox game against the Yankees, the camera cut to the dugout for a moment between pitches to focus on Manny Ramirez seated next to Dustin Pedroia.
Suddenly, Manny eyed the camera lens, smiled and gave Dustin a hug before returning to his main focus on the mound. Dustin’s face told the whole story as it split into a huge grin that said, "Manny loves me; I must be doing somethin’ right."
Two weeks ago, Paul Michael Glaser was passing around hugs after an interview with Plymouth Rock Studios executive Martha Cotton at which he endorsed the company’s movie studio project in South Plymouth.
We were on the 10th floor of The Tower Hotel in Beverly Hills, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many people have been changed by this guy everybody thinks of as Starsky from the ’70s TV series "Starsky & Hutch."
Glaser found the love of his life in 1975 when he bumped into Elizabeth Meyer at a red light on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. They had two kids before they found out Elizabeth and both children had AIDS, contracted through a blood transfusion years before. Elizabeth and the couple’s baby daughter, Ariel, died; their son, Jake, is HIV positive. How Paul Michael Glaser ploughed through that time is anybody’s guess.
But Glaser survived and continues to express himself in his acting, directing and writing. He has two master’s degrees under his belt, a boatload of talent and mind-boggling perseverance. But he’s quick to note what got him through was none of that; it was his friends and his family. It was those hugs, those people who were there no matter what life doled out.
Scientists confirm that human infants die without physical contact. You can provide food and shelter, but without love, a child will perish.
The lasting impression Glaser leaves is that theater, film and the arts, in general, may be a fake representation of reality, but the feeling is real and nobody should tamper with that. He doesn’t like corporate control of the arts because corporations are impersonal and tend to treat art and artists like commodities, convinced they can bottle them, package them, sell them and somehow reproduce them at cost.
Glaser is firm in his position that conformity and the arts are and ought to be always at cross purposes.
People love the Red Sox – not just because they win or play hard. It’s because of guys like Manny Ramirez, brave enough to look into a camera lens and hug the guy sitting next to him. It’s because David Ortiz is the guy everybody wants to hug. It’s because they don’t conform to the Yankees credo of short hair and pinstripes. The Red Sox are individuals, just like you and me, and nobody is going to tell them no dreadlocks allowed.
I liked Glaser for his courage to do his own thing and to heck with what anyone thinks. I liked him because he’s not afraid to hug the guy next to him.
He understands that, in the end, nobody’s going to care about his acting talents, his master’s degrees or whether he won an Emmy or an Oscar.