When you have a beautifully restored theater that’s also an international architectural landmark, letting it sit quiet is not an option. The Robert Frost held back to back ‘Talks” this week with CULVERTalks on Feb, 5, 2019 followed by Live Talks Los Angeles with Madeline Albright and Larry Wilmore on Feb. 6. The distance between a Culver City High School senior and a former Secretary of State might seem daunting, but the stage at the Frost was a venue for democracy, insight, wit and warmth.
The Associated Student Body production of CULVERTalks was MC’d by Thistle Boosinger, a CCHS student and activist, who presented each of the speakers in turn with their TED-style talks. Thought provoking, amusing and challenging, the ten speakers each gave a power point and a perspective. Royce Stuckey, the only speaker who was not a student- he is a math teacher at the high school – offered a very personal story of his father’s addiction and how he dealt with the challenges of it while growing up. His outreach to students who may be dealing with family issues while they work on their academics and cope with social stressors was an ideal example of why ‘talks’ are so audience worthy.
The crowd coming to hear Madeline Albright and interviewer Larry Wilmore filled the Frost to capacity, and the slide show that played on the video as they waited for the main event showcased many of Live Talks celebrity interview at other local venues; The Aero in Santa Monica, the Alex Theater in Glendale, and a full catalogue of the authors, athletes and entertainers that Live Talks brings to the stage.
Albright was given a standing ovation as she entered, and Wilmore reminded her many historical firsts – U.N. Ambassador, Secretary of State – to a gathering that seemed well aware and very appreciative. Her latest book “Fascism; A Warning” was the center of the conversation.
She sought to clarify the definition. “Everyone throws it around these days. Anyone you don’t like, well, they are a fascist.”
Her own personal history was one severely punctuated by fascism – her father was a diplomat in Czechoslovakia in the mid-twentieth century, her family emigrated to America in the late forties. She cited jokingly that her own training as a diplomat began during her European childhood as “a little girl at the airport in the national costume, handing out bouquets of flowers to the arriving delegations.”
Mussolini was her prime example of a fascist, the word itself being of Italian origin. Albright noted that Mussolini and Hitler both came to power constitutionally. “There was no coup, no revolution – it was all quite legal.”
She pointed out that Vladimir Putin emerged as Russia was suffering an economic and national decline similar to that experienced by Germany between the word wars. Wilmore eventually mentioned the current situation in our own country; is the President a fascist? Albright held that he was not. “He’s very manipulative, and very susceptible to flattery. He’s a user who knows how to get attention.”
“People ask if I’m an optimist or a pessimist,” Albright said, “and I say I’m an optimist who worries a lot.”
Hundreds stayed to have their books signed by Albright at the end of the event, and as people who made their way out of the Frost – well, they talked.