Television and the country are drawn to vigils: Zoom-in shots of tear-stained faces. Resolute gazes in flickering candlelight. Mournful songs of loss and resolution. Funerals.
People go home. The news crews pack up. As people walk away, there’s the always hopeful murmur or vow that this time it will be different.
With social media allowing us all to decamp into our worlds of like-minded groups, our fractured sense of country may well make it harder to see unity of purpose. And all this comes as our already criticized presidential campaigns head into their national conventions.
■ Heading to Cleveland on Sunday. NBC4 anchor Chris Lawrence and your Notebook will be reporting next week from the Republican National Convention. We’ll try to bring you local stories of the delegates from Maryland, Virginia and the District, who they are and how they are reacting to national events and the presumptive party nomination of Donald Trump.
Given the intense political feelings for and against Trump, with protesters as well as ardent defenders expected, it may be a remarkable week. Your Notebook has attended a number of these conventions for NBC4 and, before that, The Washington Post. None has promised the uncertainty that lies ahead in Cleveland.
■ Family leave snag. The D.C. Council held public hearings last winter on an ambitious plan to require city businesses to offer 16 weeks of paid family leave to address care for newborns, elderly parents or other family issues. Many business groups say the costs of the legislation would endanger small businesses and discourage large firms from hiring.
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Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, who had expected a vote before the council’s summer recess, said Monday the proposal would not be voted on until later this year. The council held three hearings on the bill last winter, with family groups urging relief for hard-pressed families and for the well-being of infants and the elderly.
Council insiders say a majority of the council supports some type of family leave legislation, but it likely would be eight weeks instead of 16. Funding details are still being worked out. It currently would depend upon a 1 percent payroll tax.
■ “Born for This.” If you’re looking for a happy diversion from the above, you might seek out tickets to Arena Stage and its entertaining production of “Born for This: The BeBe Winans Story.”
We don’t claim to be a theater critic, but Saturday night your Notebook and a few friends joined a full, enthusiastic house for the play about African-American gospel singers BeBe Winans and his sister CeCe Winans. They are played by actors Juan Winans and Deborah Joy Winans, nephew and niece to the real BeBe Winans, who is co-author of the play with veteran playwright Charles Randolph-Wright.
The play recounts how the young teen siblings were first given national exposure on the “Praise the Lord” telecasts — “The PTL Club” — hosted by North Carolina televangelists Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker. Kirsten Wyatt plays Tammy Faye in melodramatic fashion. She alone is worth the admission ticket if you recall any of PTL’s over-the-top history.
But the play itself is focused on family, religion, rivalry, parenting, growing up and confronting the world. The play, filled with musical numbers, has some predictable emotional moments that feel a bit staged. But any of that is lost in the fine telling of a warm, funny and heartfelt story.
“Born for This” is a collaboration of Arena Stage and the Alliance Theatre of Atlanta.
Arena artistic director Molly Smith writes in the program that it’s “a powerful new musical about a prominent African-American family and their contributions” to music, community and life.
■ Fun to cost more. The costs for using city athletic facilities are going up after Labor Day, according to the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation.
The city’s parks and recreation department makes it clear that the fees were approved by the D.C. Council. The new fees affect athletic fields, community rooms, tennis and basketball courts, gyms, picnic groves, pool lanes and equipment. The list is too long to repeat here, but let the Notebook know if any increases seem too much. Enjoy the rest of your summer.
■ Correction. Last week, we wrote about the District’s latest effort to push for statehood. We quoted some political commentary on WAMU radio from professor George Derek Musgrove of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. We got the quotes right, but we misspelled the last name of WAMU’s senior news editor for special projects Jacob Fenston. It’s right this time. Our apologies.
Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.