Author Archives: JoAnn Richi

Reality TV and the Demise of Innocence

photo– by JoAnn Richi

Amid allegations that Alana Thompson’s mother ‘Mama June’ took up with a sex offender, the reality show ‘Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’ is now history. However, in looking back at it’s long run one cannot help but ask why this tasteless display of  low living captivated millions of viewers for several years.

Perhaps the answer can be found in the original TLC program that catapulted little Honey Boo Boo, and her family, into the national eye; the equally mesmerizing ‘Toddlers & Tiaras’

Ever since the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the gorgeous six year old pageant winner of the mid ‘90s, America has been fascinated with, and horrified by, the phenomena of little girls transformed into miniature Barbie Dolls, sashaying across the stage to win beauty contests. We decry their loss of innocence, express disgust at the entire process and blame the mothers; but we can’t stop watching.

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Louie Anderson: Funny Man With Courage


By JoAnn Richi

A variation of this article was published in The Arizona Republic Nov. 11, 1997

Louie Anderson, one of the nation’s top comics, walked off the stage at the Tempe Improve Theater in late l997, during a packed Saturday night performance. A heckler, needling the comedian about his weight, must have brought back one too many memories of the lifetime Louie Anderson has spent fighting calories and petty cruelties.

I had a chance to see him perform the next evening, and on that chilly night in Phoenix I watched Louie climb back up on that stage and do what he has been doing for years; hold a crowd in the palm of his hand and make them laugh until it hurts.Louie-Anderson-4

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Katrina Jia Eleven Year Old Pianist Takes 1st Place in National Piano Competition

Katrina Jai at Piano (2)

 – By JoAnn Richi

Published  Apr. 5th 2012 The Asian American Times.

Katrina Jia, 11 is a shy little girl with a beautiful smile. In a long blue silk dress, and shiny new shoes, with her jet black hair neatly combed and tumbling below her shoulders she politely answers the usual questions.


Asked what she especially likes to do, her glance steals over to the massive Steinway piano dominating the cavernous studio

Under the proud gaze of her mother, and Fei Xu; her piano teacher “from her first note”, Katrina Jia appears to embrace the keyboard effortlessly playing, from memory, Scarlatti’s Sonata in E Major.

Fei Xu, founder and co-owner with his wife Hong Zhu of the New Century Conservatory are world acclaimed piano pedagogues, noted for training budding prodigies.
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High ACE Score? How Horses Help in Recovering from Adverse Childhood Experiences

Girl hugging hourse

– By JoAnn Richi

Baylie is eight years old. Born to a crack addicted mother and alcoholic father, removed from her parents at six months covered with bruises and cigarette burns, Baylie has spent her childhood shuffled from one foster home to another. She rarely speaks, makes little eye contact with adults, shows no interest in playing with kids her age, and recoils from any attempt at physical affection. Baylie’s ability to connect with anyone, or anything, seemed nil, until the day she met a horse named ‘Steady.’

Baylie got very lucky. Her court appointed therapist has found a way to combine her own love of horses with the little known, but rapidly evolving field of Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Once a week Baylie gets to go to the stables, be out in the sunshine, hold out an apple for ‘her horse’ to nibble from her hand, to pat, brush and talk quietly to him about the things she does not want anyone else to hear.

For children like Baylie, who have never been able to trust people, a horse can become a beacon of light in an otherwise dark world. Suddenly something big and powerful leans in, nuzzles you and looks you right in the eye. There is nothing to fear; this animal will not leave you, he will not betray you. With a trained Equine Assisted therapist, a child like Baylie can be gradually introduced to forming a relationship with this animal. This ability to bond, perhaps for the first time in her young life, will then hopefully expand allowing her to trust and connect with the wider world and to the people who exist within it.
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Great Escapes – Arizona’s Best-kept Secret

Robb Report Photo

The Robb Report  – Photography and Article by JoAnn Richi

For Larry Farren, the desert’s a metaphor for real life. “Mountains. Climbing up one, down another. Getting there, reaching for the top, and depending on other people.” His eyes sweep the surrounding desert. “Amazing breakthroughs happen out on those trails. People open up in ways they don’t on a golf course. Ideas flow. Things happen.”

Dark hair, darker eyes, a wrestler’s build, with a voice at once soothing and a little intimidating, Larry Farren’s an enigma. A desert lover with thriving businesses in Phoenix and Seattle, he’s a man with a mission, a company insider turned business consultant, with razor-sharp insights into what makes corporate America tick. He’s also the proprietor of a retreat center devoted to holistic health – mind, body, and spirit. Farren has a clear theory about what the average millionaire CEO needs in order to forge team-building skills among the executive troops, ignite creativity and enthusiasm for the job, and boost company morale: healthy food, a natural setting, total privacy, and the warm glow of personal accomplishment from hiking up the side of a mountain and down the other.
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Goodbye To A Great Professor

‘Dr. Kastenbaum I Remember You.’  Keynote Address by JoAnn Richi robert_kastenbaum

A few months ago I came across the obituary for one of my professors, a man who with his incredible charm and piercing intelligence made quite an impression on me. On impulse I started typing an entry into the on line memorial guest book. It evolved into a heartfelt tribute to a man I knew for only a brief period, a long time ago. Upon reading the entry, Dr. Kastenbaum’s wife, Beatrice contracted me and asked me to speak at her husband’s Celebration of Life at Arizona State University. I did. This is what I wrote, and what I read to the assembled guests.

Guest Book Entry in Memoriam Dr. Robert Kastenbaum August 2014

I was a student of Dr. Kastenbaum, who almost wasn’t. It was just by chance that at the end of my Master’s program, a few credits short of graduating, I stumbled upon his class; Death, Dying and Society. I thought; “How bad could it be?”

It turned out to be one of the most enriching and enjoyable experiences of my graduate studies. Dr. Kastenbaum was a captivating instructor. From the moment he started lecturing he drew me in and opened my mind to thoughts and concepts that had never before occurred to me. He had a way of illuminating dark areas so often avoided and infusing taboo topics with a breathless excitement. It was his creative curiosity and innovativeness that was so intriguing, and for those of us who loved that class, his thoughts and insights have stayed with us for a lifetime.
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