Just did my first Aspen Ideas Festival, which is where you can sit in the main tent and see Jeffrey Goldberg, Leon Wieseltier, David Brooks, and Katie Couric munching from a “make your own trail mix” bar, which — you heard it here first — is an invention that will sweep the world like nothing we’ve seen since the great fro-yo-lounge tsunami of 2013. Granola and chocolate pieces and wasabi peas? Give whoever came up with that a MacArthur genius grant.
But the two highlights of the festival, for me, were the dramatic reading of Michele Norris’s Race Card Project. I joined Michele, Gwen Ifill, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and others to read dozens of 6-word essays submitted to the project by people all over the US. Ever since I retired from acting at age 20 after an ignominious career on gymnasium stages, I have been eager to get back onstage, and I can’t think of a more fun return to action than what I had Saturday evening at Aspen’s Belly Up club.
BUT what was even better was that, while at the Belly Up, I noticed that the next night Angélique Kidjo (above in the video, with Joss Stone) would be performing there. So I bought a ticket. And on Sunday I went to a shamefully undersold show by the great Beninoise pop star. And she rocked. At the end, she invited people onstage to dance with her, which meant I got to shimmy with Kidjo and about 50 other very white audience members brazen enough to hop onto stage when invited. This makes up for the time that I was 7 years old and my dad took me to see Diana Ross (the “Upside Down” tour), and she invited all the children onto stage to dance with her, and I was too shy.