Friday, November 21, 2014

STARS OF THE AVENUE SPEECH

by Michael Douglas Carlin

"Ed Herrscher was the visionary who created the concept of Century City. He was one day sitting in the office of Spyros Skouras, and he dreamed aloud of a city of magic that would pay tribute to the stars that have come before: Will Rogers, Shirley Temple, Betty Grable, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe—we sit here on sacred ground that once was home to a Dream Factory. We all love the Dream Factory.

"On January 8th, 1958, the concept was formally announced as a $400 million dollar city of the future. On Monday, April 17th, 1961, the Los Angeles Times announced the birth of Century City. When Welton Beckett entered the scene, he decided that the "City of the Future" should have monikers from the heavens. Avenue of the Stars referred to stars in the heavens and to other streets, like Galaxy and Constellation. The names were given at about the same time that President Kennedy announced his plan to put a man on the moon. Another visionary, whose dream came to fruition.

"Our country was founded by visionaries. Thomas Jefferson worked his entire life to eliminate slavery. Though he lived at a time when institutions existed beyond the ability of a single man to change, he set in motion sweeping changes when he wrote these words: 'We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...'"

"They were written at a time when only wealthy land owners had a say in the direction of the government. Less than a century after these words were written, slavery was abolished. Sixty years after that, women achieved the right of the vote and 230 years from the time that those words were written we have Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as candidates for the highest office in the land. If we came that far in 230 years, then what can we achieve in the next twenty?

"We are here tonight to honor another visionary who has had a tremendous impact on the Dream Factory and is now working to have an equal or greater impact on real social issues that face our world. I think about the many movies that have been made where a threat to the world caused bitter enemies to lay down their hatred and work together to vanquish their common enemy and save the world. Think about Independence Day, released by our neighbor 20th Century Fox. Aliens were attempting to take over the world. For that moment all humanity united to send the aliens packing.

"Today, humanity hangs in the balance. Climate Change, globalization, hunger, terrorism, homelessness, aids, cancer, and education is in crisis, Social Security is bankrupt, our national debt has swelled to historic proportions, and we face an ever growing prison population, tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, fires, floods, and civil wars.

"We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I would put forward that this means that we all have the right to three square meals a day, a roof over our head, health care, education, personal security and a job. For how could we ever feel liberty or begin to pursue happiness without the basic needs being met? This is A Prescription for Peace: Food, shelter, healthcare, education, and livelihood all leading to hope. Feeding the world creates jobs, building housing creates jobs, expanding health care to handle all humanity creates jobs, and further educating humanity will create jobs.

"A Prescription for Peace could include taking food to refugee camps in Afghanistan a month after 9/11. It could mean taking musical instruments to Cambodia, building homes in Sri Lanka immediately after the tsunami, building a hospital in Zaboanga, bringing clean water to a village in Honduras, shipping an ambulance to a village in Argentina, taking medical relief to Burma, training inner city kids to work at the dream factory, showing gang bangers a path to a normal life. It could mean raising money to cure cancer, it could be having retirees serve in the Los Angeles Unified School District immediately after retirement, and planting a tree on Westwood Boulevard.

"Our Pledge of Allegiance ends with the words, '...with Liberty and Justice for all.' Not just for Americans but for all of the world.  Mind you, bringing liberty to all of the world means we don't leave those behind at home. Affixed to the Statue of Liberty are the words by the poet Emma Lazarus: 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!' Liberty is now lifting the lamp to all of America and asking us to reach out to the 'huddled masses,' the 'wretched refuse,' 'the homeless,' 'the tempest-tost.' Liberty is calling on us to find them here in our land or in their lands and to help them to have choices, giving liberty and justice to all. Our work will not be finished until every man woman and child alive has three square meals a day, a place to live, access to quality health care, personal safety, an education, and a job.

"This award is a symbol of the efforts that will lead us to peace. Fifty-one years ago the street was originally named Champs Elysee, which means 'Fields of the blessed.' For nearly fifty years the Avenue of the Stars has had no stars. Today the Avenue receives her first star. The streets of Century City were named for bodies in the heavens. How fitting that the Stars on the Avenue should represent the best of humanity. How fitting that a city carved out of a Dream Factory should receive as her first star the most successful mogul turned servant to the community. A woman who has achieved the highest purpose of human achievement. A woman who puts service above self.

"I believe in the ideals of capitalism where people rise above their circumstances to achieve greatness. Each person in capitalism acts in his or her self interest to bring about an entire economy that functions beyond all other known economic systems. Out of capitalism some individuals rise above their own self-interests to serve the community. They achieve the spirit of giving that Sherry Lansing exemplifies, who has paved the way for countless who will follow her steps in the Dream Factory and in charity. Humanity may hang in the balance, but as long as there are people like Sherry Lansing in this world, they will cause humanity to be united to rise to even the most severe of challenges."


—May 29, 2008 Michael Douglas Carlin

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