- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

G2 ventured up to Andrews Air Force Base on the last day of July for a special screening of “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” We spent much of our time on the red carpet with Marlon Wayans, star of the latest G.I. Joe flick. Mr. Wayans has previously worked with his brothers, Keenan Ivory and Shawn, on films that parody racial stereotypes.

We asked if he’d been following the coverage of the previous evening’s meeting of President Obama with Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cambridge (Mass.) Police Department Sgt. James Crowley at the White House.

Mr. Wayans laughed and then said, “It was great … but that’s Obama. I got no problems, man. What he did was smart, you know? Things can get out of hand, but what I love about him is the process of getting to a resolution: [He said,] ‘Here’s what I think about it. OK, you didn’t like what I thought about it? OK, … Now, what I want to do is, we’re going to meet on the White House lawn, and we’re going to resolve this. … We’re going to work toward solving a bigger problem which is cops and minorities.’ He’s wonderful at trying to at least resolve issues.”

We asked whether this so-called “post-racial era” since the election of President Obama has caused a decline in the popularity of “White Chicks,” a film that humorously deals with the racial issue. Mr. Wayans starred in and was co-author of the film.

“No, ‘White Chicks’ still does well,” he said. “We’re actually going to do ‘White Chicks 2’! We’re going to touch on some of these issues. Right now we’re just sitting back and collecting stuff.

“I think the world is maturing. … There are so many other things beyond color that we need to worry about — like our economy — that’s not a black or white issue, that’s a green issue. I think the world is maturing, and as much as I can and the world can, we should just embrace each other in love. Kumbaya!”

Birds, bees and trees

Chuck Leavell, the legendary musical director and keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, is a tree hugger and proud of it.

Mr. Leavell, who has been rolling with the Stones since 1981 and was an original member of the Allman Brothers, is on Capitol Hill today, advocating his other passion, besides music: trees.

“I was a child of the ‘60s, so we were all into nature then, but when my wife inherited a tree farm in 1981 from her grandmother, I really did some self-education, ” Mr. Leavell says to G2 about his 3,000-acre forest plantation outside Macon, Ga.

Since learning the virtues of life on the farm, Mr. Leavell has become the tree farmer’s tree farmer. He’s been named Georgia’s tree farmer of the year twice, and has written a 2006 children’s book called — you guessed it — “The Tree Farmer.” In fact, he’s been dubbed “the Bono of trees.”

Like Bono, the lead singer of U2 known for his activism, Mr. Leavell likes mixing politics with nature.

“If you put a gun to my head, I am a registered Democrat,” Mr. Leavell says. “But I have given fundraisers for [Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican], and he’s a friend.”

In January, Mr. Leavell launched the Mother Nature Network, an online environmental resource targeted at average Americans who “may not be extreme environmentalists, but want to help. There is probably sixty-five percent of people who are not on the extremes that we are trying to reach,” he says of the Web site that boasted a million page views last month.

“People always ask me what happened to Southern rock,” said Mr. Leavell, who wrote and produced the hit “Jessica” for the Allman Brothers. “I think it has morphed into country … but I don’t know if there will ever be another golden age of rock. … I would like to see the younger artists use more instruments and less machines.” Go natural, guys. Natural.

To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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