Thursday, July 20, 2017

RIP St. Andrews

Although to be fair the waiters at
St. Andrews were not quite this hot in general...
I've been taking people to St. Andrews restaurant in the Times Square area for well over a decade, but when I tried to do it last Friday I discovered they had gone out of business. I can't find anything online about why. NYMag gave it a strong review and I always enjoyed it. And where else can you go to see men in kilts? Well apparently there's a place in the West Village.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

North Korea is evil

My ex-boyfriend's father escaped from North Korea when he was young. He's in his 70s now - North Korea has been a hellhole of evil for at least fifty years now.

Why have we allowed North Korea to be so evil for so long?

An American was apparently tortured to death in North Korea and North Korea has paid no penalty for that, as far as I can tell. Why? 

Monday, July 17, 2017

When worlds collide: Damon & Jo & 23 & Me

I was just blogging about Damon and Jo a month ago.

And I just sent my saliva to 23andMe a few weeks ago (results still not available yet.)

And then on Facebook I see that Damon and Jo are advertising for 23 and Me. They are sure coming up in the world.

I'd rather Damon & Jo be the face of 23&Me then the creepy animated character they had.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Enchantment

Dude can rock a tux
I went to see The Enchantment. My actor pal Matt DeCapua played a lady-killing sexyman, although the literal killing is done by the lady herself.

I was intrigued by the provenance of the play which was written by a 19th-century Swedish woman, Victoria Bennedictsson, who slit her own throat and left the play unfinished.

But I was nervous because one of the selling points of the play is its connection to two Scandinavian plays written by contemporaries of Bennedictsson, Hedda Gabler by Ibsen and Miss Julie by Strindberg. As I've mentioned on this blog, I'm not a big fan of Scandinavian plays - and you can throw Chekov in there too even though as a Russian he's not technically qualified.

I don't like Hedda Gabler and I hate the misogynistic Miss Julie. I thought a piece in Ms. Magazine about a Neil LaBute adaptation of Miss Julie, from a few years ago, has a perfect synopsis of the play:
On a midsummer night at Julie’s father’s estate, the patriarch is away and thus the servants are at play at an offstage party in the barn. Miss Julie takes a break from dancing with her servants, which is scandal enough, to flirt with Jean and have a few drinks in the kitchen. An overt display of sexuality and mutual seduction culminates in sex, after which Jean proposes they run away together and open a hotel. When Julie says she wants to go with him but cannot supply him with the seed money (the money is all her father’s, obviously), Jean turns cold, calling her a whore... 
And then he convinces her to kill herself.
Miss Julie is considered a classic and is produced again and again in spite of its extreme misogyny and  unbelievable ending.

The Enchantment is mainly a long suicide note. The author killed herself over a man who rejected her. The play indicates that the man decides, too late, to make the protagonist of the play his wife, which is not only unbelievable in the context of what we've been told about the character in the rest of the play, but also is so obviously an example of a "you'll be sorry when I'm gone" wish fulfillment.

If Bennedictsson wrote the play and then killed herself in a spectacularly gruesome way in order to be remembered post-mortem, she certainly did succeed: her play is being produced internationally, in addition to her (possible) influence on Ibsen and Strindberg. Meanwhile, the man whom Bennedictsson allegedly killed herself over, George Brandes, is, I'm guessing, mostly unknown outside of Denmark.

I suspect the translater/adapter Lexen was reluctant to make changes to the original work in order to retain the purity of the author's intent - but a suicide note is not the best original source for a contemporary play.

And the set for this production was wrong in that a small stage was made even smaller by a doorway which partitioned off a quarter of the stage to indicate a garden, which was barely used - not enough to warrant cramping up the stage that way, anyway.

But that's nothing compared to the problems of the script. The Village Voice review of this production of The Enchantment was pretty harsh, especially in reference to the male actors, but I thought that was unfair. The review notes:
Ironically, in a piece about the female gaze, the men seem to have been chosen for their beauty alone — it might be a power reversal, but it’s not quite the one we’re looking for.
But I believe the critic is blaming the casting and performances for what is really a problem with the playwright's handling of the male characters. Benedictsson uses male characters the way many playwrights even up to the present time use female characters - for support, for exposition and for objects of desire. Benedictsson's male characters are the suitor and the brother and the sexyman - mirror images of the thankless roles female actors complain about all the time. 

And about the much-touted Swedish "realism" - I doubt that these plays were especially realistic in staging or content even when they were first written. The ending of Miss Julie is especially absurd - I seriously doubt many Swedish women were so easily talked into killing themselves for having extra-marital sex, especially before any pregnancy was discovered.

Maybe it's because nowadays the realism is so extreme that playwrights like Annie Baker (I'm actually not sure if any other playwrights are imitating her in this) include long paint-drying silences which do a perfect imitation of life, but there's nothing realistic about the opening scene of The Enchantment, in which the sexyman strides in and immediately starts in on the seduction patter. He's written much too chatty and obvious for the irresistible Frenchmen he's supposed to be.

But maybe compared to the artifice that came before in Swedish theater, this is what passes for slice of life.

In any case, I think there is some worthwhile material in this play, but it needs some work to make it a satisfying piece de theatre.

One more observation I have - the play seems to be saying that "free love" is dangerous in its impact on some people. But the play does not actually make the case. Because, would the pain experienced by Louise in being rejected by Alland be any better if instead of declaring himself unbound to any one woman, he just up and married someone else? It seems to me that would be even worse. I suspect far more people have killed themselves because of rejection in favor of a single real rival than dozens of potential rivals. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Macron woos Trump to Paris not Pittsburgh

My honeys at G20
To borrow a phrase from Wonkette, whoah if true:

I assumed that Macron invited Trump to France for Bastille Day in order to try to coax him back into the Paris accord, but I didn't expect him to get results so quickly:
"On climate we know what our differences are," Mr Macron said in Paris on Thursday, adding that it was important to move forward.

Speaking alongside Mr Macron, Mr Trump then hinted that the US could shift its position but failed to elaborate.

"Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord," he said.

Mr Trump added: "We'll see what happens."

I expect that Macron realizes most of Trump's opinions on important political issues are incredibly shallow - based on ignorance and whoever has spoken to Trump last. No doubt Macron saw his chance to use his considerable charm to flatter Trump right back into the fold.

If Macron can't do it, then the job will be up to Justin Trudeau.

And if neither Macron nor Trudeau can do it, then it cannot be done.

We will see.

Meanwhile the French media was having a good time over Trump's handshake with Brigitte Macron:

(Brigitte Macron does not escape Donald Trump's bizarre handshake.)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Le jardin français

Part of the Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Oh oh oh oh oh, you don't have to go-oh

So I'm in the supermarket and I vaguely hear a rhythm, a familiar rhythm over the PA system and I realized it was D'yer Mak'er. I rocked out to it a little, I admit, just this side of making a complete fool of myself - I like to think.

It still sounds good to me. But I still find it weird to hear what once was considered "hard rock" being played in the supermarket. Because dear baby Jesus I am so fucking old.

Sheryl Crow pronounces the title in the South Jersey mode.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Someone told me...

My French teacher turned the class onto the music of Carla Bruni (now the wife of former French president Nikolas Sarkozy, particularly her justifiably popular Quelqu'un m'a dit.

It's a lovely song and also, it seems to me, quintessentially French in its quasi-philosophical lyrics interrupted by the refrain in which the singer hopes she is still loved by some unnamed individual.

But not just the content - the way she briskly clips along is just like French speakers - talking too fast for anglophones to keep up.

Here are the lyrics in French:
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses.
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos chagrins il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit.
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?
On me dit que le destin se moque bien de nous
Qu'il ne nous donne rien et qu'il nous promet tout
Paraît que le bonheur est à portée de main
Alors on tend la main et on se retrouve fou
Mais qui est-ce qui m'a dit que toujours tu m'aimais?
Je ne me souviens plus c'était tard dans la nuit
J'entends encore la voix, mais je ne vois plus les traits
Il vous aime, c'est secret, lui dites pas que je vous l'ai dit
Tu vois quelqu'un m'a dit
On me dit que nos vies ne valent pas grand chose
Elles passent en un instant comme fanent les roses
On me dit que le temps qui glisse est un salaud
Que de nos tristesses il s'en fait des manteaux
Pourtant quelqu'un m'a dit
Que tu m'aimais encore
C'est quelqu'un qui m'a dit que tu m'aimais encore.
Serait-ce possible alors?

The refrain is translated as:
That you still loved me
Someone said you still loved me.
Can it be true?
And the lyrics...
They say our lives are not worth much
Passing in an instant like fading roses.
They say that time is a bastard
Who makes coats out of our pain.
But someone told me (lyrics)
They say fate mocks us,
Promising everything, giving nothing,
Happiness is within reach
But we get nothing but craziness.
But someone told me (lyrics)
But who is it who always told me you loved me?
I do not remember, it was late at night
I can still hear the voice but I can not see the features
"He loves you, it's secret, do not tell him I told you"
You see, someone told me ...

Ooh intrigue.

The first line of the refrain has a handy demonstration for why French (or I supposed all Romance languages) is difficult for anglophones - the word order is mixed up:

The line is:
Que tu m'aimais encore
Which is literally translated as "That you me were loving still"

The concept is easy enough to grasp in writing, but when you're listening to someone speak French you're constantly going back to earlier in the sentence. Like "OK so they said "you were loving still... who? - oh right, the "m" which stands for "me" is tacked onto the beginning of "were loving" so that's who.

Oh and "encore" can mean both "again" which is how English-speakers know it but at the same time also means "still." Because of course it would.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

On sait jamais

Voting for himself

I don't know how many times I've watched French in Action at this point, but I'm only now realizing that in a couple of episodes the phrase "on sait jamais" (one never knows) appears several times. 

It's a good expression. And very true although sometimes it's hard to remember, when life seems endlessly grim and predictable and hopeless, as it has so often for me in the past eleven years.

You can see his original world tattoo before it was
augmented with aboriginal artwork
Thinking over the political careers of my 21st Century men, of the three, only Justin Trudeau's life and career seems entirely predictable.

Since Trudeau was a baby, people including Richard Nixon had been predicting he would become prime minister.

And not only that, his choice of his wife Sophie was absolutely typical: pretty, blonde, a few years younger and from the same social background - in fact she was a classmate of his youngest brother and they knew each other slightly. Then they had three adorable children. 

Trudeau did declare, when he was in his early twenties that he would never go into politics but by the time he was in his late thirties he was a member of Parliament.

But this is a good time to show Trudeau at perhaps his hottest - this is a still from the video in which he declares he does not want to be a politician, but rather a teacher. He famously was a drama teacher for a few  years - it's one of the things people like the detestable Ezra Levant harped on when Trudeau first got into politics.

Meanwhile Obama was born to a black father and white mother at a time when it was still illegal for whites and blacks to marry in some parts of the United States. Then he was raised by a single mother, who was kind of hippie, and who took him all over the world in her academic pursuits. And in spite of all this, he had enough confidence in himself to run for president of the United States. And win.

Speaking of Obama, I see that felon Dinesh D'Souza is still as ugly on the inside as he is on the outside. But it boggles my mind that he and the 6.4 thousand people who liked this tweet believe the insanity they do. It's like they are literally space aliens who do not perceive the world as we do. They believe that good is bad and bad is good. It's as if the planet Bizarro World really exists and they come from that planet.

How is it possible they believe in such bullshit? By any known human metric Donald Trump is not only a horrible human being but is clearly the worst president we've ever had. He golfs more than any other president, he knows less about the way our government works than any other president - and he is most likely a traitor who colluded with Russia. You really have to wonder what is wrong with Dinesh D'Souza - other than being a criminal, of course.

With thousands of wackos like D'Souza in the United States, it still blows my mind that Obama was ever elected. I certainly never expected to see a black president in my lifetime.

And speaking of improbabilities, I am pretty sure that when Mrs. Auzière the high school drama teacher (the same job held at one time by Justin Trudeau) realized that something was starting between herself and one of her students, and she was weighing the pros and cons of leaving her husband with whom she had three high-school aged children, a thing that was not on her pro list was: "if I choose Emmanuel he will become rich, marry me in ten years and then he will become president of France."

Such an occurrence is not even so much improbable as unimaginable. Even besides the president of France part, what are the odds of a romance with such a young man (Macron was maybe eighteen by the time they had sex the first time) turning into marriage, let alone marriage with a woman 24 years older, and then that marriage lasting another ten years and counting? It would seem far more predictable for Brigette Auzière to leave her husband to go off with her irresistible young lover only to have him leave her a few years later when she was in her mid-40s and the chance of finding a worthwhile man to have a relationship with almost impossible, and she ends up alone for years or maybe forever. As I know from experience. Although my younger man was only 8 years younger and in his late 20s when we began.

And then there's the belief Macron had in himself that he could become president of France at such a young age and with so little actual government experience, and without an established political party. And yet he tried it, in spite of the odds, and he succeeded.

On sait jamais.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

L'incident de la Cordon Bleu

Macron: "Moi, j'aime bien les cordons bleus"

I think the documentary on Macron, "La Coulisse de la Victoire" has been instrumental in increasing Macron's popularity, and it seems like the favorite part of the documentary for the French is when Macron has stopped for lunch on the road at some kind of IKEA-style shop with a cafeteria, and he gets shot down when he asks for cordon bleu - he's told that its on the menu for children.

You can see them making brief, goofy videos about the incident on Youtube here, and here and here.

I mean, it's kinda cute, but he barely reacts at all to being denied cordon bleu and immediately says: OK, I'll have the salmon then.

But for whatever reason, the French think this is amazing. Maybe because he seems like a typical Frenchman and not the banquier despised by the left nor the immigrant-lover despised by the right. Peut-etre. 

Europe 1 media wrote an article about the best bits in the documentary and this was the top of their list.

My favorite parts are when he giggles over being hit with an egg, and when Macron returns after the first round debate and asks his team how he did and somebody says that Richard Ferrand fell asleep and Ferrand's all "no I didn't" and Sibeth Ndiaye who in my opinion is the star of the documentary second only to Macron himself goes "we all saw you dude."

The dude who made the film talks about it here. One of these days I will be able to understand everything they say. On sait jamais!

The Goguettes made a song about it. Which I still don't know French well enough to catch more than about 20% of the words. Merde!

Friday, July 07, 2017

More about Canadian doucebags ~ Halifax edition

And speaking of asshole Gavin McInnes, it appears that his "Proud Boys" decided to make trouble during an event for indigenous people in Halifax Nova Scotia. Great, can't even get away from McInnes and his neo-Nazis for my vacation in Halifax.

Ezra Levant, who probably paid them to do it, of course wants to turn around and paint them as martyrs.

 I missed this story in The Walrus written by a staffer who passed himself off as a Canadian alt-righter to go on a cruise with Levant and his true believers. I enjoyed the cover illustration by frequent New Yorker cover artist Barry Blitt. The article though didn't have nearly as much about Levant as I would have liked. Not that I expected The Walrus to speculate on Levants sexual orientation, but he's barely quoted at all.

And the Walrus has another article about the way Levant's employees like Gavin McInnes are pretty damn anti-Semitic:
No, there is something more fundamental going on here. This is about more than just the ideological pathologies of one weird Canadian media company. It is about a warped new ideological arena where Zionists and creepy Nazi apologists are willing to overlook their differences in service to a common hateful cause.
The entire Trump-Brexit-Le Pen phenomenon has shifted the conversation from informed discussion to wild gestures and hysteria, especially on any issue connected to Islam. Whether it’s Alex Jones and his conspiracy theories, or the US President and his fake-news fetish, anything goes. Outrage is the currency of the new right, and McInnes is a master of the genre. While he makes it look easy, few media commentators have either the hate, or the lack of scruples, to perform this shtick convincingly. And Levant apparently isn’t prepared to give up the clicks that this star generates.
The cruise story maintained that Levant really believed in what he was doing. This second article seems to be arguing that Levant really doesn't care how hateful the rhetoric of the people he employs, as long as they make money for him.

I maintain he's a self-hating closeted gay man who is well-practiced in living an integrity-free life and therefor has no trouble turning his back on his Jewishness either.

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Garth admired Gavin McInnes.
Another one-side relationship
Since yesterday's post about my old enemy Laura Garth I have been reading her blog.

I'm fascinated by her so much because I knew her, we were briefly part of the same social circle and she had an impact on my life, if only to speed up my eventual divorce. 

We had much in common but I was blessed by a father who would never imagine sexually abusing his children, and she was cursed with a father who did abuse his children. And that makes a big difference

I certainly had my share of troubles as a single mother, failed relationships, etc., but Garth seems to have run into especially rough times thanks to her choice of a husband made when she was already in early middle age. Apparently he was an emotionally-controlling scam artist who she claims stole a whole bunch of her money.

After she got away from him, she found a relationship that apparently made her happy, although as she admitted it was rather one-sided. She wrote after he died:
While I have written frequently about the largely one-sided open relationship I had with Axel and the importance of negotiation in a relationship, what I haven’t written about is how easy that “negotiation” was between us. Since I was so in love with him, it was easy to say and believe that whatever made Axel vital and full of enthusiasm for life and love was OK by me. Since variety was the spice of his life, variety it would be.
I made the condition however that pillow talk about yours truly be preempted by the phrase, “buy the book,” but otherwise wholly trusted his judgment as well as awareness of “safe sex”.
We didn’t know that he was going to die of a sexually transmitted disease that had likely been incubating for decades but for which he attributed to his being a first responder to Katrina in terms of the shock to his system and immune system. 

After several months of illness he died, in 2015. Garth died of a heart attack a year later.

She had it rough. But she seems to have decided that the real source of all her problems, and the world's problems is feminism.

According to her blog, she did attempt to remain sexually active after her boyfriend died. I don't know if she was successful or not, but the cognitive dissonance is bizarre. She greatly admired hard-core misogynists like Gavin McInnes, who absolute despise women who are not young. Men's Rights Activists believe that women hit "a wall" at around the age of 30 after which we are completely undesirable as sexual partners. 

Garth's existence was an affront to the belief-systems of McInnes and his ilk.

How could she not be bothered by this?

I think the answer most likely for her and other women like her who support organized misogyny is to believe they are different from other women, as Garth's blog post I am Not Like Other Women demonstrates.
Not only do I sympathize with many of men’s complaints against women, I can empathize. As a large woman curiously deprived of protection or chivalry as a young girl now fully expected to be self-reliant, strong, and independent because I wasn’t presented with an alternative and who was also a victim of a vindictive spouse (vindictive toward all humanity it would seem but most particularly my phenotype and archetype) and have been intimate with many (many!) male victims of domestic violence and abuse, of course I have empathy with Men’s Human Rights Advocates. In fact, I take it a step further. I am more than willing for my rights and all rights of women to be rolled back just so that I won’t have to be the scapegoat of the next feminist petty dictator or bureaucrat who decides that it is my responsibility to pay for all her personal grievances. I have female ancestors who made history—huge differences in civic life—who did so without even the dubious benefit of “the vote”. I’m eager for a regression to The Stone Age. I’m strong and resourceful. Bring it on!
So she joins with insane misogynists like Gavin McInnes against women - for not protecting her well enough from men "as a young girl."

It's a struggle when I read the far-right nuttiness on her blog and Facebook posts, but I can't help but feel bad for her ultimately, ending her life dying of a heart attack that could probably have been prevented by the Obamacare that she despised, seemingly alone and alienated from virtually everyone, with nothing to do but blog and especially post anti-liberal messages on Facebook, which she averaged 20 times a day in the weeks leading up to her death.

My friend Bob remained in touch with her which I find remarkable - Bob - AKA "Reverend Bookburn" has a political outlook exactly the opposite of Garth's and yet they remained friends, if distant ones. I don't know how it's possible to be friendly with someone who stands for everything you spend your life fighting against, even if you've known them since you were young adults.

The levels of self-loathing of a woman who admires a pathological misogynist like Gavin McInnes must be off the map. 

RIP Laura Garth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Nourishing the Predator: Recipes to Preserve and Enhance Virility in the Dominant American Male

Taki's Magazine, A Voice for Men, etc. Garth loved all the biggest misogynists

I can't say I thought much about Laura Garth since I last saw her, which was when I was still married to my ex-husband. So it surprised me how much hatred I still had for her when I happened upon her on Facebook a few years ago, through a mutual friend of ours.

My daughter was born in November and then we had a New Years party at our apartment/hippie hangout in Palmyra New Jersey. And so there I was, with an infant in my arms and Laura Garth decides to makeout with my husband. The fact that he didn't push her away was the beginning of the end for our marriage, which is just as well, in retrospect but at the time I had a full-blown freakout.

Laura was a whack-job even then, with weird personal boundaries as a result of being sexually molested by her father, a minister. I once had an argument with her father - who happened by our hippie hangout one night - over "Why I Am Not A Christian" by Bertrand Russell. I took Russell's side, of course. This was before we all were aware of the molestation. Looking back it's possible he wanted to get in my pants too. There's no telling what other kinks are possible with a daughter-molester, and especially the perv factor of getting it on with a barefoot and pregnant red-headed seventeen year old, which I was then. I had assumed at the time he was impressed by my erudition and debate skills but now that I think about it... 

In any case, I had not given a rat's ass for my ex-husband for decades. But still, I ended up in a Facebook scream fight with Laura Garth, and I said some things I'm not proud of, and which are inexcusable in spite of her own extreme nastiness. And then I blocked her. 

But in truth it was especially easy to refrain from forgiving Garth when I discovered she was a champion of Men's Rights Activists. And I don't mean a casual supporter. She was hardcore and adopted the nom-de-plume Caprizchka and wrote a freaking book - self-published, but still - called, and I kid you not: Nourishing the Predator: Recipes to Preserve and Enhance Virility in the Dominant American Male.

And if that isn't enough, here is Garth promoting Doug Henwood's "My Turn" on Facebook.

Yep, like I said, Garth loved all the biggest misogynists.

I spite of our opposite political views, Garth and I had quite a few things in common besides growing up in South Jersey: like me, she made a living as a technical writer. And she kept a blog.

I actually didn't know how extreme Garth's political views were at the time I blocked her. My animus towards her was more personal than political. And I may never have known, but for whatever reason I happened to be thinking of some especially nasty thing she said to me and I was suddenly possessed by curiosity to see what the hell she was up to. So I unblocked her.

She was up to nothing. She died last August.

I feel bad for her - she clearly had a life so fucked up that her bitterness turned into hatred against herself and other women.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Back among the living

In the Pinetum
I catch a cold once a year, on average. This year's cold was a doozy. I caught it the day after my last class in French 201 and I have been down for the count until yesterday. That's almost three freaking weeks!

I still blogged of course, it takes more than a cold to stop me from blogging. Hell I blogged the same day I had an operation to remove a spot of cancer from my kidney three and a half years ago. And anyway, I was too weak to do much else besides sit around on my sofa and blog.

I finally walked further than two blocks away from my apartment yesterday and it was so great. Normally I like to have a destination when I go for a walk or else I feel like an aimless loser but yesterday, taking a leisurely walk through Central Park was the destination.

To be fair I did leave my apartment for a whole three hours to attend the first class of French 202 last Tuesday, but that was a big mistake. Right in the middle of the class I had to run out because of a massive coughing attack - I thought I was going to die. One of my classmates later reported the others and our teacher were worried about me, so ferocious-sounding was the coughing they could hear in the hallway.

So I learned my lesson and stuck close to home after that. Although since I can work from home I didn't miss a lot of work, only two days, although I can't say I was at my most productive the other days. But I did skip my next French class - luckily we have off today for the Fourth of July so by Thursdays class I hope to be good as new with all my homework completed.

So I'm glad to be done with that damn cold, hopefully for at least another year.

I was sorry I was missing out on the strawberry update but I wasn't missing much. The only thing I found close to a fruit was this little burnt out thing. Oh well, considering how shady it is I guess that's what I should have expected.

The Pinetum was wonderful. It smelled even better than usual - it was dusk and a quick thunderstorm had freshened everything right up. Also since it was dusk there were fewer tourists around than usual and I had the place almost to myself.

There's a semi-enclosed area of the Pinetum with a semi-circular bench inside and there is almost always somebody in there already, but not last night. I had it all to myself. This area probably has a name but I don't know what it is. I should have looked around for a plaque.

Path to the enclosed area

No matter how deserted Central Park is though, you can never forget you're in the middle of a city with all the racket going on. The helicopter in this photo looks far away but it was really loud from where I sat. Oh well, life in the big city.

The Jackie Onassis Reservoir at dusk.

Monday, July 03, 2017

More Can-American theater inroads

Well in addition to someone from the National Theatre School of Canada crashing at my apartment a couple of weeks ago, and my planned road trip in August to see Trudeau Stories, I have made another Canadian theater connection, this time to SoulPepper - I contacted them thanks to this article which said in part:
“We need to have colleagues and collaborators thinking about issues outside our borders,” he said. He wants to work with Americans, and since the American theater is not going to come to Soulpepper, Soulpepper is going to it. The company will place itself in New York long enough, and offer a wide enough selection of its work, to give audiences and theater professionals a sense of what it does.
Mr. Schultz hopes to foster discussion, both formal and informal, with fellow artists. Ideally, new relationships will follow with theater makers he already knows by name and reputation who don’t yet know him or his company. July is meant to be an introduction.
I offered to help give them publicity - I suggested they might want me to run an offer on the weekly NYCPlaywrights email blast (every Saturday at 5PM) for a voucher for a pair of free tickets to see the show(s) - which they took me up on. I gave the voucher away within 30 minutes of the weekly email going out.

Then I discovered by way of this article that Justin Trudeau, the man himself, had tweeted about SoulPepper. Wow. Shows you how tiny Canadian society is that the Prime Minister would tweet about a theater company performing shows in the US.

The only way you'd catch Donald Trump tweeting about an American theater company in Canada would be to attack them for the audience's reaction to a member of his administration, or for their portrayal of Julius Caesar or to insult the physical appearance of one of the female cast members.

Meanwhile Trudeau is playing Trump hard.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

This American Life: Who's Canadian?

The Prime Minister of Canada (center) and his family. 
To his right, their Limey overlords.

A Canadian-focused episode of This American Life from twenty years ago.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Happy Canada Day!!!

I'l n'est pas le Premiere Ministre de mon pays, mais il est le Premiere Ministre du mon coeur!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lennon or McCartney

I want to say McCartney. Partly because Lennon is the "cool" choice, and partly because I'm a big admirer of Paul McCartney's character and I'm in awe of his drive and his artistic imagination.

But when I review my favorite Beatles songs, I have more Lennon than McCartney songs in the list.

My list has changed over the years, of course, but this is where I stand now.

  • A Day in the Life
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • Ballad of John and Yoko
  • Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
  • Hey Bulldog
  • I've Just Seen a Face
  • Rain
  • Strawberry Fields Forever
  • You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

Sgt. Peppers - 50 years ago this summer
The only one of those that's primarily McCartney is "I've Just Seen a Face."

But it's entirely possible that I've listened to the classics like Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude so often I've gone right off of them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Albee's art

No underwear art
Edward Albee died last September and they are getting around to selling his art collection to fund his foundation.  I've blogged about his foundation on NYCPlaywrights, since it is an opportunity for writers.

I was sorry to see that the NYTimes article about his art did not include a photo of the art of Albee's boyfriend, but then I was in Albee's loft back in 1999 so he could have redecorated many times since then. 

I blogged about my tour of Albee's apartment here. I'm lucky to have survived thanks to the "elevator" in his loft at that time.

No underwear art here either

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trump '97

In contrast to Obama, Trudeau and Macron, whom I blogged about recently, is Donald Trump. Trump is definitely not a 21st century man, he embodies all the worst aspects of 20th century men.

The New Yorker did a profile of Trump twenty years ago and it's clear that Trump has not changed at all during that time. In contrast to the 21st century men, Trump's utter contempt for women is ancient and pure:
Trump introduced me to “our resident physician, Dr. Ginger Lea Southall”—a recent chiropractic-college graduate. As Dr. Ginger, out of earshot, manipulated the sore back of a grateful member, I asked Trump where she had done her training. “I’m not sure,” he said. “Baywatch Medical School? Does that sound right? I’ll tell you the truth. Once I saw Dr. Ginger’s photograph, I didn’t really need to look at her résumé or anyone else’s. Are you asking, ‘Did we hire her because she’d trained at Mount Sinai for fifteen years?’ The answer is no. And I’ll tell you why: because by the time she’s spent fifteen years at Mount Sinai, we don’t want to look at her.”
Dr. Ginger is still around, by the way.

As much as I despise Trump, even I was a little shocked by the way the article ends:
What about the Trump Tower apartment? Would that sit empty?
“Well, I wouldn’t sell that. And, of course, there’s no one who would ever build an apartment like that. The penthouse at Trump International isn’t nearly as big. It’s maybe seven thousand square feet. But it’s got a living room that is the most spectacular residential room in New York. A twenty-five-foot ceiling. I’m telling you, the best room anywhere. Do you understand?”
I think I did: the only apartment with a better view than the best apartment in the world was the same apartment. Except for the one across the Park, which had the most spectacular living room in the world. No one had ever seen a granite house before. And, most important, every square inch belonged to Trump, who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul. “Trump”—a fellow with universal recognition but with a suspicion that an interior life was an intolerable inconvenience, a creature everywhere and nowhere, uniquely capable of inhabiting it all at once, all alone. ♦
The author Mark Singer literally says that Trump does not have a soul. Wow. But then I've long believed that Trump is a sociopath. Using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist:
...the clinician scores 20 items that measure central elements of the psychopathic character. The items cover the nature of the subject's interpersonal relationships; his or her affective or emotional involvement; responses to other people and to situations; evidence of social deviance; and lifestyle. The material thus covers two key aspects that help define the psychopath: selfish and unfeeling victimization of other people, and an unstable and antisocial lifestyle. 
The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:
  • glib and superficial charm
  • grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • poor behavioral controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • early behavior problems
  • lack of realistic long-term goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • revocation of conditional release
  • criminal versatility

Is there a single one of these items that does not sound like Donald Trump?

The article also reveals that the current strategy that Trump is using in the White House is an old and completely deliberate one:
His strategy—suing the Malkin-Helmsley group for a hundred million dollars, alleging, among other things, that they’ve violated the leases by allowing the building to become a “rodent infested” commercial slum—has proved fruitless. In February, when an armed madman on the eighty-sixth-floor observation deck killed a sightseer and wounded six others before shooting himself, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Trump, ever vigilant, would exploit the tragedy, and he did not disappoint. “Leona Helmsley should be ashamed of herself,” he told the Post.
One day, when I was in Trump’s office, he took a phone call from an investment banker, an opaque conversation that, after he hung up, I asked him to elucidate.
“Whatever complicates the world more I do,” he said.
Come again?
“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”
Another aspect of Trump that is the most striking is his aloneness - the New Yorker article is titled "Trump Solo" and that aloneness is the focus of a recent essay by Rebecca Solnit entitled "The Loneliness of Donald Trump." I thought the ending was especially powerful:
The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.
And of course the sane people of the world, who oppose Trump, like to imagine Trump self destructing. But there's little reason to doubt that as he descends into the dung he will use his favorite tactic, complicating things:
“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”
And there's no telling the disasters that may be generated by Trump's complications.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Backstage drama out on the street

An actor friend invited me to see a show he's in, opening this week. So I looked around on social media to see what it's about and I appear to have stumbled on some backstage drama which the director of the show has put out on the street. 

I came upon this message on her Twitter feed - she is speaking about herself in the third person.

And it looks a lot like she's talking about my actor friend, based on what I've seen of the rest of the cast.

Three years ago, I was directing/producing a play of mine. One day, in the middle of our run, I happened to end up standing behind one of the actors in my show, we'll call her "C", who was waiting for an elevator. It was crowded around the elevator and I didn't get a chance to get close enough to say hi to her and I couldn't get her attention. 

She began chatting with the literary manager of a theater company which had offices in the same building as our theater - they knew each other from a production C had done for his theater company. The literary manager, whom I had never met, was facing me. He asked C how the show was going and I couldn't hear what she said but I could hear what he said in response and it was something like "oh, OK, we'll talk about something else then."

Now the thing is, I had already begun to get a sense that C did not like me - even before I offered her the role. But I felt that I owed the role to her since she had been part of readings of the play while I was developing it - for years - and I almost never paid her for the readings, at least in the early years.

And this is why I now always pay actors for readings, no matter how informal. So I will never feel guilt-tripped into casting someone ever again. But I always have to learn everything the hard way. *sigh*

During rehearsals with C it became even clearer that I had been right - she did not like me. She would pull stupid diva stunts like demanding that instead of clear plastic cups for the "wine" (white grape juice) in a scene, they had to be real stemware. Luckily the other actor talked her out of it. And she insisted on filling the grape juice to the top of the cup, which made it difficult for the stage crew to strike the cup without spilling during the scene change. I was the stage crew.

So the elevator finally came and I got in with the literary director and C. I could tell C was nervous that I might have overheard her, but I said nothing about it. Instead I gave the literary manager a postcard to our show and invited him to attend for free.

Obviously I had no plans to ever work with C again, but I was certainly not going to let her know that, not during the run of the show. I always treat my actors well during the run of the show, no matter what, because it's my show, and the less stressed out the actors are, the better my show will be. So I can't imagine giving into the impulse to publicly attack an actor during a show.

Based on the rest of the director's social media issuances it appears theater director is her full-time job. To say that posting this message on Twitter during rehearsals is unprofessional - especially since my actor friend is a follower of hers on Twitter -  is an understatement. She is basically sabotaging her own show.

And the thing is, the actor in question has always been a consummate professional, in my experience. He's almost never late to rehearsal, and in fact he's often early. He has ideas of his own about his character, some of which are very good, but he also takes direction beautifully, and is almost always upbeat and friendly during rehearsal and the show's run. And he's always off book way ahead of everybody else and learns other actors' lines too, sometimes before they do. And because he learns the entire script inside and out, and because he has a laser-like focus on what is happening while he is performing, when other actors forget their lines he will rescue them. I've seen that happen on several occasions and I have been incredibly grateful for it. 

So I can't imagine what this director's problem is with my actor friend, although I have my theories, based on other things she has posted on her Instagram account during the course of rehearsals. But whatever her issues are with him, throwing it up on social media for all to see is completely wrong and she needs to reconsider her career as a director.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

21st Century Men: Macron, Obama, Trudeau

I finally saw the movie "20th Century Women" on the recommendation of an actor I worked with this year. I'm not sure exactly why she recommended it to me, possibly because I'm around the same age as the character played by Annette Bening - although I think the hair style they gave her character is awful and makes her look older. But the actor also might have recommended it to me because it mentions feminism - a lot more than any non-documentary movie I've ever seen - and I happened to mention during one of our rehearsals that Justin Trudeau was the perfect man because of his self-declared feminism.

I'm sure he isn't really a perfect man, but he's pretty damn great. Of course people on the far left complain about him because no politician is good enough for them since Lenin. I've already had unpleasant exchanges with some of them on Twitter. It's my theory that the Far Left is forever hoping for a perfect father figure to make all their socialist dreams come true - and Bernie Sanders was happy to try to step into that role.

"20th Century Women" was OK. There isn't much of a story but it has some nice moments. And there's that talk of feminism. But if you had told me back in 1979 that one day there would be a head of state who proudly declared himself a feminist, I'd have thought you were smoking too much weed.

And it's funny because the principles of feminism were fairly well-agreed upon in the young person circles I traveled in back then. I guess I just never expected the rest of the world to catch up to feminism as fast as it did. Which doesn't make sense since the rest of the developed world has long since caught up with us quasi-hippies on the issue of natural foods and vegetarianism: Whole Foods has been a national chain since the 90s. In 1979 if you wanted tofu or herbal tea you couldn't get them at the grocery store, you had to go to a small funky health food store in a big city.

Justin Trudeau was the first head of state, male or female, that I ever heard of who referred to himself as a feminist.

I just melt every time Justin Trudeau declares himself to be a feminist as he did yet again recently in this appearance in Toronto sponsored by the NYTimes.

But only fairly recently have I discovered there are other self-declared feminist heads of state.

But one thing that makes me optimistic for (his daughters) is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.
Emmanuel Macron is also a self-declared feminist as I wrote about recently.

Here's Macron teaming up with Arnold Schwarteznegger to make the planet great again.

Obama, Trudeau and Macron all had very different upbringings. Macron is the son of two small-town doctors, Obama was raised by a single mother who was a kind of academic bohemian, and Trudeau spent much of his childhood with his father the Prime Minister. But one thing they all have in common is that none of their mothers were stay-at-home housewives. And Obama and Macron both seemed to have had very close relationships with their maternal grandmothers.

Obama had been braced for the possibility the woman whom he credits with raising him might not live to see possibly his proudest moment as he headed into the election in which he is favoured over John McCain. With so much at stake in the final hours before the polls, Obama carried on campaigning last night, telling a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina: "She has gone home, and she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side."
But his refuge was the flat of his grandmother Manette, where he went after school and at weekends. Manette’s mother, a cleaner, had been illiterate, and education had become a family obsession. Manette, who had worked as a headteacher, spent hours having her grandson read aloud. “After school, we’d drink hot chocolate and listen to Chopin,” he recalled. “His self-confidence comes from his grandmother,” said François-Xavier Bourmaud, Macron’s biographer. “She was a reformist socialist who coloured his political engagement very young.”
As for Trudeau, I don't know what his connection with his grandmothers was like but he certainly had a very complex relationship with his mother as I blogged about here.

It should be noted that Obama, Macron and Trudeau all have apparent admiration for each other - Obama and Trudeau famously have a "bromance"; Trudeau and Macron were videotaped having a long talk during the G7 summit - in French of course - and Macron called Obama during his presidential campaign for advice - and for an excellent public relations coup.

How wonderful that these most excellent of men declare themselves to be feminists - outloud, in public proudly. The word "feminist" matters.

Don't tell Obama words don't matter.

The three of them all seem to have excellent relationships with their wives and with women in general. But it's one thing that these three excellent men are good husbands and fathers (step-father in Macron's case) and self-declared feminists - it's another thing that each of them has achieved the highest elected office in their respective lands.

And that just blows my mind. I never thought I'd see such a thing. A failure of the imagination on my part? Or an inclination to be anti-authoritarian, or maybe a life-long pessimism habit. 

But seriously, wow. 

I love these 21st Century Men.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Finally it can be admitted - summer is horrible - especially in NYC

Illustration from the article
I was very gratified to read this article in the NYTimes recently, Admit it, Summer's Terrible:
On summer days, New York City can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than its surrounding areas, because of the asphalt, concrete and metal that trap the heat. We’re certainly living on an urban heat island, one that seems to shimmer and expand during the long, sweltering days. Everything gets louder, closer, brighter.
I completely agree. I wrote a sonnet about the coming of Autumn and expressed my contempt for summer.

Of course plenty of people feel differently. People who like heat. People who like to be outside doing physical things more than they like to be inside doing intellectual things. People who have somewhere nice to go and someone nice to go with them. 

The only time I ever managed to have a whole week long summer vacation with a romantic partner was September 1999, when my ex Jonathan and I rented a house in Cape May Point. We invited a bunch of friends to visit us and they all unexpectedly took us up on it and it's when I realized my former friend Mary Kay was a raging bitch when she refused to give up the large master bedroom she had claimed for herself when my friend Rebecca and husband and baby showed up and were forced to take the much smaller room. A little later Mary Kay causally mentioned she had declawed her cat and that was the final straw.

They all stayed for a few days at the beginning of the week. As they were leaving I came down with the flu and was bed-ridden for the next few days, and then as I was feeling a little better we were hit with Hurricane Floyd. The last day of our rental it was nice and sunny but I was too weak from fighting off the flu to do anything much and we went home.

Summer has always been hyped up so much it's bound to be disappointing. Much like life itself.

Only three months until blessed Autumn.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

MSM catches up with me ~ Ezra Levant begins to achieve the notoriety he craves

Screen cap of Levant right before he declares:
"Justin Trudeau is a gorgeous man."
I've been writing about Ezra Levant for awhile and on Monday I posted a blog post about his connection to the Public Theater protest - and now Salon has caught up:

Loomer, 24, is a journalist and activist for The Rebel Media, the Canadian right-wing organization founded by Ezra Levant. “Through a mix of online engagement, commenting, advocacy, and events, we don’t just report the news, we participate in it,” their site’s About Us page states. Loomer argued that she rushed the stage and disrupted the play because she was standing up for her country, as well as President Donald Trump. She also called the production’s depiction of the president as Julius Caesar to be “assassination porn.”
It appears that Loomer was prepared for the both the promotional and legal consequences of her actions.

I'm glad Ezra Levant is becoming known for the asshole he is. And Levant is such a shady character, so lacking in integrity that even though he is Jewish he's happy to support anti-Semites, as Joe Conason reports:
It’s important to note that Loomer works for right-wing Canadian media outlet Rebel Media, and until late May, so did Posobiec. The blog Canadaland describes it as a Breitbart-esque site filled with contributors who “have called for a new Crusade to expel Muslims from the ‘Holy Land,” outlined what they “hate about the Jews,” and most recently, said that British Muslims are “enemy combatants,” at least some of whom should be placed into camps.”
I was excited to discover Canadaland via Conason - they really don't like Levant and they keep track of him. And they report when his employees, with his help, rant against Jews:
On Tuesday morning, a day and a half after denying he hates Jews, The Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes posted a video entitled “10 Things I Hate About Jews.”
But within 12 hours, and after receiving some blowback, The Rebel made the unusual move of changing the title to “10 Things I Hate About Israel.”
“I chose both headlines,” Rebel head Ezra Levant tells CANADALAND in an email. “I liked the first one because it was provocative; but then I changed it to the second one because it was more descriptive. I should probably have stayed with my first instincts.”
Well I already believe it's very likely that Levant hates himself for being gay, so I wouldn't be surprised if he also hates himself for being Jewish. He's a seriously screwed up person.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Canadian road trip, take 2

On consideration I realized that my original Canadian road trip plan had far too much driving involved and so decided to prune the trip down to only Nova Scotia and then plan to visit Montreal another time. 

But also instead of driving the whole way I'm going to take trains and a ferry to get to Nova Scotia and then rent a car when I'm there because frankly Nova Scotia has a virtually non-existent public transportation network. Although you can take two ferries to NS. 

And Brooke Johnson's one-woman show is selling tickets finally.

Now I just have to renew my passport.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Global Alt-Right Movement Part 3 - Ezra Levant again

Another person associated with Canadian alt-right Rebel Media, owned by Justin Trudeau-obsessive Ezra Levant is inserting themselves into American politics:

A woman who later identified herself on social media as Laura Loomer jumped onto the stage just after the assassination of Caesar and began shouting, “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right,” and, “This is violence against Donald Trump.” Ms. Loomer describes herself as a “a right-wing investigative journalist and activist” who has previously worked with James O’Keefe, the conservative activist known for selectively edited undercover video investigations.
Ms. Loomer’s interruption of the scene was being recorded by a man in the audience who began shouting, “You are all Goebbels,” a reference to the Hitler aide and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. On social media, Jack Posobiec, an activist who supports President Trump and has been associated with conspiracy theories, identified himself as Ms. Loomer’s collaborator.

The article doesn't mention The Rebel or Levant, but a quick glance at Loomer's Twitter profile indicates she works for Rebel TV.

The article mentions Jack Posobiec, whom I blogged about last week - another associate of Ezra Levant.

Legitimate Canadian journalist Jeet Heer provides some insight via Twitter into the operations of Rebel media:

The link via Frank Magazine Ottawa gives more details.

So Rebel Media is basically paying its people to attack American institutions.

More evidence.

I still think Levant does most of what he does to try to get the attention of Justin Trudeau. I discuss his apparent homoerotic fascination with Trudeau here.

And I still think this was the happiest moment of Ezra Levant's life.

Levant interviews Trudeau for Sun Media directly after Trudeau won the boxing match against Patrick Brazeau

There were protestors outside the theater for last night's showing of JULIUS CAESAR but so far I haven't heard any of them work for Rebel.

So where have I been, while all this excitement is going on and the Delacorte Theater is a 10-minute walk from my apartment?

I've been sick in bed all weekend with a nasty cold. *sigh*

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Watergate & me

I came to awareness of the adult world during the age of Watergate.

My parents never spoke about politics to us kids, being fairly apolitical, if generally right-leaning, but my best friend Laura's mother was a fervent Democrat and I had been recruited by her to come along with her and Laura, putting George McGovern flyers in mailboxes around the neighborhood. My very first introduction to politics.

While I was attending Our Lady of Fatima school we had a school assembly with a lawyer, I have no idea why. But during the Q and A I took the opportunity to raise my hand and ask: "can you explain Watergate?"

As I remember it, this brought the house down - or at least the nuns and the lawyer laughed and shook their heads. I forgot what the lawyer said in response, but he did not explain Watergate. Looking back now, they were probably all Republicans and it was probably a distasteful subject to them.

One of my most enduring memories of Laura's mother was her spending hours every day on her sofa watching the Watergate hearings.

My family moved away from that neighborhood, to Pennsauken New Jersey, as the Watergate train rolled along and my adolescence kicked in. The book "All the President's Men" was release and the woman I babysat for had a copy so I read it. Then when I went on my first date with my first real boyfriend, I chose the film we would see - the movie version of "All the President's Men." I've watched that film several times since and went to an event - is it really almost eight years ago? - at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Redford, Woodward and Bernstein.

So now we have the Trump administration which seems will inevitably end in resignation or impeachment. Or given Trump's age and bad personal health habits, possibly a heart attack.

Although I wouldn't completely rule out the Trump presidency ending with Trump, one step ahead of treason proceedings, being granted asylum in Russia, while other people, including Jared and Ivanka, are left holding the bag.

MSNBC showed a video this weekend, "All the President's Men, Revisited." This was originally released in 2013 during the notably scandal-free second term of Barack Obama. And yet in spite of that, a recurring observation made by the interviewees (including Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart) is "this could happen again." And James Carville goes so far as to say:
"One thing about Watergate, it was going to change the culture of Washington. It did no such thing. Of course this kind of thing is going to happen again and it's going to happen on a much much bigger scale."

This was four years ago, when the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency was still a punchline.