Saturday, April 29, 2017

Oh oh oh oh oh Tel Aviv

I don't know if it was the poor quality of my radio back in the day, or what, but I used to mishear the refrain of this Emerson Lake and Palmer song as "Tel Aviv."

The only reason I can think for why Tel Aviv is because Israel was much in the news in the 1970s. But still. Pretty dumb. But then I didn't know any French and didn't know that accordion music always means France.

Anyways, I haven't heard this song in probably thirty years. But here it is handy on the Internet.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Seen around Manhattan recently

Going to or from French class.

Chelsea Handler amuses me. East 60th Street.

This Madison Avenue store appears to have  genuine taxidermied ostrich.

I tried to get a picture of myself standing in front of the ostrich. This was the best I could do.

Also on Madison. Je voudrais beaucoup de chocolat! So could you refer to this as Chez Chocolat?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Secrets of the alt-right 4-Chan Trolls

A Buzzfeed contributor on Twitter shares a conversation from alt-right 4-Chan Trolls. Apparently supporters of Putin and Le Pen and Trump can't decide if they want to make Macron gay or doing his daughter-in-law.

Monday, April 24, 2017

WAT homestretch

Finished another Women in the Age of Trump video - only one more left!

I enjoyed doing this one a lot, and Keona Welch gave me exactly what I wanted in the dual roles of "Pippy" and "Dippy" - we completed the whole thing in under 30 minutes.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The coolness of Laurie Anderson

I've been aware of Laurie Anderson since the 1980s, and she's just very cool. Always was, and is. I was thinking about Laurie Anderson lately because the NYTimes ran an article about her.

So I did some googling and I found this really cool image of her from 1977 (above). I would love to find the original image and make a poster out of it.

And also this really cool video. You just have to love the openminded engagement of Laurie Anderson.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Crêpes Nanette

The course in French I am taking at FIAF makes good use of Youtube videos, and an especial Youtube French lessons channel favorite of my teacher is Francais aver Pierre.

We were instructed to watch a video of Pierre making crepes. So now I know how to make crepes. Although admittedly I used the recipe of Alton Brown of Good Eats fame (for whom I have a disturbing semi-conscious desire which I have documented on this blog over the years.)

Admittedly I knew very little about crepes. They are like very flat pancakes, and they cook much faster than pancakes. But the tricky part about cooking crepes is flipping them. Unlike with regular pancakes you don't use a spatula, traditionally, with crepes, you just flip them with the pan.

I used up an entire batch of batter trying to get the hang of flipping crepes. The result was a plate full of undercooked, half-flipped and generally badly-fried egg and milk-based specimens.

But with the very last scraps of batter I managed to completely cook and flip one single small crepe. YAY. I feel so accomplished.

But then there's this guy.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Oui nous pouvons!

French presidential contender Macron checks in with everybody's favorite ex-president Barack Obama.

Lovers of democracy must stick together to oppose the Putin puppet show featuring Trump and the Nazi Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile the NYTimes ran a big article about Macron yesterday:

If the ever-precocious Mr. Macron is to succeed, his first challenge is to sell a product still largely unfamiliar to almost everyone: himself.
That Mr. Macron is such an unknown underscores his unusual position in a French election that, to some degree, is a referendum on the future of Europe. The far-right leader Marine Le Pen threatens to take France out of the European Union. By contrast, Mr. Macron is ardently pro-Europe and has portrayed himself almost as the anti-Le Pen.
Le Pen, of course, is a big fucking Nazi and a crook too.

Even before Ms. Le Pen’s remarks this week denying France’s culpability in a notorious wartime roundup of Jews, recent revelations in the French news media, including a well-documented new book, revived nagging concerns about the sympathies of the woman who would be France’s next president.
Two men in her innermost circle — Frédéric Chatillon and Axel Loustau — are well-known former members of a violent, far-right student union that fought pitched battles with leftists and took a turn toward Hitler nostalgia in the mid-1990s.

Mr. Chatillon’s company, Riwal, served as the exclusive supplier of campaign materials to the National Front in elections from 2012 to 2015. Prosecutors suspect it of systematically overcharging for posters, fliers and the like sold in campaign “kits” — and then, milking giant reimbursements from the state.
Under French law, the state reimburses the campaign expenses of candidates who earn more than 5 percent of votes. Mr. Chatillon had refined the system to an art, according to a high-ranking French campaign finance official and Mr. Chauprade, as well as two new books that closely examine the National Front’s finances.The official and one of those books, “Le Procès Interdit de Marine Le Pen,” or “Marine Le Pen’s Forbidden Trial,” by Laurent Fargues, describes how that system worked.
A printer would charge Riwal, say, 180 to 220 euros, or $191 to $233, for 400 posters; Riwal would then charge a small front party affiliated with the
National Front, called Jeanne, €500 for the posters. Jeanne, in turn, would charge the candidates the inflated price.
After the election, the candidates would claim reimbursement from the state for the inflated amount, and that reimbursement would be turned over to Jeanne.
At least some of that money would wind up in the coffers of the National Front, according to the French campaign finance official, who requested anonymity because of the continuing presidential campaign.
“They’ve constructed an economy out of reimbursements from the state,” said Mr. Chauprade, who has been interviewed by prosecutors about the party’s financial affairs.
Mr. Chauprade said he had been pressured by Ms. Le Pen herself to buy a kit, but refused, to the fury of party officials.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ma timonerie française

Good times in my French class ce soir - one of our exercises was to look at a comic strip about a couple out at a restaurant: there is a problem with the woman's dish - instead of a cooked snail (yummy) there is a live slug (icky!). Our task was to enact our own version of this story.

Our class was divided into three groups and I must say that my group was the best. Our group, two other woman and myself, were not content to merely borrow phrases and concepts from our lesson book, we did some serious improv - I played the man and I opened with "bon anniversarie, je t'aime! And the woman playing ma femme ordered salad from the other woman in our group, who played the waiter. The man (me) ordered three bottles of the Beaujolais and then we saw the slug on the plate de ma femme. "Quel horreur! C'est un scandal! I'm never coming back to this restaurant again!"

And then our waiter offered us a refund.

And scene.

Not bad considering none of us is exactly fluent in French and we had to do free-form dialog all in French. It was loads of fun. Our teacher declared us les trois actrices.

Speaking of speaking French and fun, the titular story in the David Sedaris collection "Me Talk Pretty One Day" is available online. I sent the link to my French teacher and she seemed to like it. Luckily my French teacher isn't a terror like Sedaris's teacher. In fact my French teacher is a heroine. Which is much better for learning French, although not quite as funny. An excerpt from Sedaris:
Over time it became impossible to believe that any of us would ever improve. Fall arrived and it rained every day, meaning we would now be scolded for the water dripping from our coats and umbrellas. It was mid-October when the teacher singled me out, saying, “Every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section.” And it struck me that, for the first time since arriving in France, I could understand every word that someone was saying.

Understanding doesn’t mean that you can suddenly speak the language. Far from it. It’s a small step, nothing more, yet its rewards are intoxicating and deceptive. The teacher continued her diatribe and I settled back, bathing in the subtle beauty of each new curse and insult.

“You exhaust me with your foolishness and reward my efforts with nothing but pain, do you understand me?"

The world opened up, and it was with great joy that I responded, “I know the thing that you speak exact now. Talk me more, you, plus, please, plus.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cassis & Orange

I discovered what I could do with all the leftover creme de cassis I had after failing to enjoy kir - turns out that five parts orange juice to two parts creme de cassis is absolutely delicious. And it's the simplest possible cocktail to make, only two ingredients. Much like the ever-popular screwdriver which is orange juice and vodka, except for creme de cassis and orange juice tastes much better than vodka and orange juice.  Also it's more French than a screwdriver. Most cocktails hardly seem worth the effort to me, they usually have five or six ingredients, and the results are not always delicious. I think cassis and orange might be the best cocktail ever. 

Speaking of French alcohol, I recently discovered The Local, aka "France's News in English" which provides this informative Ultimate Booze Map of France.

Also handy, this cheese map of France.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Global Far-Right Movement

It seems pretty clear that Putin always favors the most extreme right-winger in any country's national election. Not only is it increasingly undeniable that Putin gave all kinds of assistance to Trump in winning the election, he's also clearly hoping that friend-of-Nazis Marine Le Pen will win the French presidential election. Le Pen met with Putin in March.

And it's clear that there is a well-funded network of right-wingers aiding and abetting Putin's campaign of destabilizing the West.

Here is a response by Gerald Butts to a tweet by Mike Cernovich praising Ezra Levant. I have blogged about Levant over the past few months, primarily focusing on his insane obsession with Justin Trudeau (which I suspect is partly fueled by homoerotic desire.) Cernovich is a deranged nut job who pushed the deranged Pizzagate conspiracy that almost ended up getting people killed.

Meanwhile Alex Jones, the deranged nut job who also pushed Pizzagate has his lawyer claiming that he's a "performance artist." 
“He is a performance artist,” attorney Randall Wilhite told a judge, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
The radio host has been known to peddle conspiracy theories without any evidence, including that 9/11 was an inside job, Sandy Hook was “completely fake with actors” and the government is using chemicals in the water to turn people gay.
He also perpetuated the “Pizzagate” theory that Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders were running a child sex trafficking ring run out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria, before eventually apologizing.
I immediately thought of Mike Daisey, an actual performance artist who dabbled in hard reporting before being repudiated by This American Life. Daisey's excuse for why he should be forgiven for making up stories about Chinese employees of Apple was that he is a performance artist and nobody should have ever taken him literally.

Now I despise Mike Daisey, a hateful Berniebro and all-around asshole, but not even I think he's as bad as Alex Jones. Nobody almost got killed thanks to Daisey. But Jones and Daisey both feel they can say anything they want and then refuse to be held responsible for it. And they get away with it. Neither seems to have suffered in his career in the least from this behavior. But Alex Jones is a monster, Mike Daisey is just an asshole.

So who is Gerald Butts? He's "Principal Secretary to PM Trudeau" according to his Twitter profile. I first heard of Butts while reading Trudeau's autobiography. They go back to college. According to his Wikipedia page:
Stemming from a two-decade-long friendship, Butts became the senior political adviser to Justin Trudeau in 2012.[2] Therefore, he is among the five people with whom Trudeau consults regularly.[8] He assisted on the vast majority of policies on which Trudeau campaigned.[8]
And according to Trudeau:
Butts & Trudeau in college about 1993
(a mutual friend) beckoned to a long-haired guy standing nearby, and introduced him as Gerry Butt, Vice-President of the McGill Debating Union. Today, almost twenty-five years later, Gerald is not just still a best friend; he is my closest advisor as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. 
[obviously the team went onto bigger things after Trudeau's autobiography was published.]

On Gerry's invitation, I joined the Debating Union, where we became fast friends and I spent the next year honing my skills and traveling to tournaments. It was an education on its own, focusing my ability to think on my feet, to spot a weakness in an opponent's argument and exploit in with the right combination of logic and turn of phrase.

Probably we have Butts to thank more than anybody except Pierre Trudeau for mon premiere ministre d'amour.

But also, if Butts believes there is an interconnected, international far-right movement, chances are Trudeau believes it too, although it's not guaranteed since Butts does explicitly say in his Twitter profile that "Tweets are personal views."

But this is important. The Canadians are fully aware of the danger of the far-right network. Something I'm not sure American politicians are paying enough attention to.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Esquire Archives

You can click the image to view the
amazing line-up for this issue.
Yes I find old magazine archives interesting and they are incredibly accessible now thanks to the Internet.

I never had any interest in Esquire though, it always struck me as a kind of New Yorker for men, or perhaps a cross between The New Yorker and Playboy. It had a cartoon face as its mascot, like the Playboy bunny logo, I suppose, except the cartoon face seemed to exist to leer at women. Which makes this cover from December 1959 pretty creepy given that the face appears, on the left leering apparently at a reindeer - who looks appropriately nervous.

But look at the line-up of literary greats in this issue. Arthur Miller, Dorothy Parker, George Bernard Shaw. In a magazine aimed at men. Did men really read so much sixty years ago?

 Shaw was the reason I ended up buying access to the Esquire archives because I discovered, while researching the latest topic for the weekly NYCPlaywrights email, that he had written a tiny playlet in French called UN PETIT DRAME.

Esquire published it here for the first time. It's interesting to note that Shaw had died only nine years earlier in 1950 at the age of 94. I was ambitious to try out my French translations skills but they provided an English translation - I still might try it anyway.

It's interesting to contrast the Esquire archives from this period with those of the New Yorker. Strangely I think there are fewer sexist and xenophobic cartoons in Esquire. The ads are very similar, except that the New Yorker didn't include this very curious page devoted to hobbies called "Hobby Den: which features opportunities to buy stamps, musical instruments, all kinds of things. I guess men in those days had to fill up those long hours outside of work, which were certainly not being taken up by childcare. It was either foreign stamps or reading great literature I guess.

Arthur Miller was one of the subjects of Esquire's March 1961 issue with the story of the making of the Misfits. I read it, it contained little I hadn't already heard about.

One of the articles listed is "Cast Your Own Broadway Show"
Straight men were certainly different back then.
The magazine probably felt a little proprietary, and possibly defensive about the movie, which was based on a short story that Miller published in Esquire in 1957.

According to the 1961 article:

The basic story appeared in Esquire in October, 1957, Arthur Miller's tale of three cowboys who take mustangs from the Nevada mountains in order to sell them for meat. Miller had gone on a roundup with three such cowboys when he was obtaining a Nevada divorce fro this first wife. What had caught the imagination of the Manhattan-born playwright was the mechanization of catching wild horses in the West: one man flew an old plane into the mountains, flushed the herd down a canyon to a dry lake bed the two other roped from the rear of a trick. Miller ws displayed by the fate of America's feral horses ("misfits" because they are too small to ride), but was even more haunted by the lives of the cowboys who killed them. As soon as he got away from the public hysteria over his marriage to Mairlyn, he settled down and wrote the novelette.

I will say I was impressed that instead of including photos of Marilyn Monroe, they instead used illustrations, even on the cover. I might have to reassess my impression of old school Esquire.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Like a Surgeon

I've bitched about New Yorker covers before but I do miss subscribing to the print version of the magazine in part because I miss the covers. They are posted on the New Yorker site, but not right at the top, you have to scroll way down the home page to find them.

They aren't all great but some of them are masterpieces of illustration, and I have praised them - and bought large framed versions of them (this one hangs in my kitchen) and been told I look like a character in one.

This recent New Yorker cover is a case in point - well done graphic but also ground-breaking. The New Yorker didn't make a big deal about it, but all the medical personnel preparing to operate are women (using the standard graphic short-hand of well-manicured eyebrows and long eyelashes to signify female.)

They didn't make a big deal out of it but people did notice which resulted in the Twitter hashtag #ilooklikeasurgeon

Here are a few examples below.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Canadian Road Trip

It looks like I'm taking a Canadian road trip in August!

Brooke Johnson, who does a one-woman show about her friendship with Pierre Trudeau (I blogged about it in January) emailed me to let me know that she's doing the show in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Coincidentally I recently noted that my great-great grandfather Alexander Wolfington was born in Halifax, which makes me at least 1/32 Canadian.

So I plan to go to the show and then travel from there to Montreal by way of Quebec city where I can practice my French. I'm into the third week of French class and hope to be semi-fluent by August. So it will be a 3-province trip: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec.

Brooke also asked if I could host some Canadian theater women at the end of May. They happen to be working with Jeanine Tesori, the composer of the songs from FUN HOME, and of course I said yes. I'm excited to be able to further the cause of US-Canadian theater exchange. Justin Trudeau has been inspirational in that regard as in so much else, inviting Ivanka Trump to join him to see the Canadian musical COME FROM AWAY about helping refugees. More about these Canadian theater women later.

Oh Canada!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Working my side hustle

In the latest NYCPlaywrights email I asked readers to offer any advice they might have about the web site.

I expected complaints, of course - if you ask for feedback in this kind of situation the people who are mainly motivated to write are the ones with complaints. And while some of the complaints were valid some were ridiculous.

One guy in particular, a college professor in his 70s (we have several mutual Facebook friends), sent me a list of complaints that were especially absurd. One of the complaints was that there were occasional non-calls for submissions items in the blog, which were according to him, "just free advertising."

Actually they are not free advertising - they are paid advertising.

But the best part was him whining about the fact that some of the calls for submissions are targeted to certain ethnicities, or have a women-only stipulation. He wants me to post on such calls for submissions: "This call may be in violation of Equal Opportunity Employment Protection guidelines."

Somebody needs to retire.

The most ridiculous feedback came from another guy, in his 60s at least who said that there are just too many words in the calls for submissions and the words should be in exciting fonts and there should be graphics. Apparently he thinks the function of the NYCPlaywrights calls for submission are not simply to provide information but to be aesthetically pleasing too.

On the positive side, several people wrote in to say they like the web site and everything I do. Not that I was primarily motivated to fish for compliments but that was a nice bonus.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Another video from the Women in the Age of Trump series

The monologue for this one is quite short and doesn't actually mention the Trump presidency, but I made sure there's a clear connection, which you will see by watching it.

Listening to Trump supporters chanting "Lock her up" absolutely enraged me every time I heard it, so I had to make sure to work it into this video to represent one of the ugliest aspects of the Trump campaign, which is really saying something, since Trump's was the ugliest campaign ever.

The video and audio quality of this one is much higher than the other two, since instead of shooting it with my iPhone, actor Diane Quinn's husband Bill, a professional sound engineer, recorded it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Paternal great-great grandfathers

My family thinks of themselves as Irish, and certainly my father being a McClernan and my mother being a Maguire helps that belief, but we seem to be at least as much other nationalities as Irish. As I noted on my mother's side, although there are plenty of Irish ancestors, there are also as many who appear to be English (Smith) or from other UK countries and territories.

It's the same story on my father's side. Of his paternal grandparents, certainly the McClernans are Irish. One of my great-great grandfathers is John McClernan, a "milk dealer" from Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland. But my Grampop McClernan's maternal grandfather, Alfred Hall (could that name be any more English?) is from Yorkshire England (like the Brontes) although his mother at least was Irish. Patrick Bronte, the father of Charlotte, Emily, Ann and Branwell was from Ireland originally.  Alfred died in 1918, possibly another victim of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

One of my father's mother's grandfathers was John Francis Dalton, born in Ireland in 1843, moved to Pennsylvania at the age of 4. started out as a coal miner but became a tea salesman. The other was Daniel Dreyer from France. He was a "laborer" living in New Jersey from around 1853. I've already written about the Dreyers who can be traced back to the late 1600s in north-eastern France. My grandmother's grandmother was Gertrude Pfeiffer from Germany.

So the tally of my great-great grandfathers is:
  1. John McClernan, born in Ireland, milk dealer (his son William my paternal grandfather's father was an entrepreneur who owned two bars.)
  2. Alfred Hall, born in Yorkshire England, occupation unknown
  3. John Francis Dalton, born in Ireland, coal miner/tea salesman
  4. Daniel Dreyer, born in France, laborer
  5. James Maguire, born in Ireland, Union soldier, liquor magnate
  6. Alexander Wolfington, born in Nova Scotia, son of a sea captain, carriage/auto magnate
  7. James Lawrence Wert Smith, born in Philadelphia, worked for the Reading Railroad
  8. William H. Young, born in Philadelphia, Union soldier
Of course there are also eight great-great grandmothers, but less information is available about them so I stuck with the great-great grandfathers.

So based on this tally: three great-great-grandfathers were from Ireland; two were from Philadelphia, probably of English descent (Smith, Young), one from Nova Scotia (probably Welsh), one from England and one from France.

So yeah I'm only about half Irish. Which is fine with me, I'm not interested all that much in celebrating ethnicity, which seems to be one more way to keep people apart.

Monday, April 10, 2017

My other maternal great-great-grandfathers

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, two of my maternal great-great-grandfathers were an odd couple. Although both fought in the Union during the Civil War, one ended up as a captain of early 20th Century industry, becoming a millionaire through liquor distilling and distribution and the other was a ne'er-do-well alcoholic who left his family destitute except for his Civil War pension.

But that still leaves two other great-great-grandfathers on my maternal side, and four more on the paternal side. So let's have a look.

My mother's father's mother's father was Alexander Wolfington and he was also a captain of industry. My cousin dug up a whole bunch of info about the company he founded, which started out as a carriage company and then became a bus company. Apparently he was a Canadian(!) from Nova Scotia, which explains why he didn't fight in the Civil War. Like my maternal grandfather's other grandfather, he started from virtually nothing and worked his way up
Alexander J. Wolfington, the son of a sea captain, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1850. Following a single trans-Atlantic journey with his seafaring father, he settled upon a land-based career as a blacksmith, and became apprenticed to a local master of the centuries-old art. Following the War Between the States, he traveled south to New York City, where he accepted a job at Brewster & Company.

He worked as a journeyman blacksmith for the New York City coachbuilder for three years, then followed his newly-betrothed sister to Philadelphia, just before the start of that city’s 1876 Centennial. He had saved enough money to purchase a small building at the corner of North Twentieth and Filbert Streets (now John F. Kennedy Blvd). Due to a bit of luck, his blacksmith shop was located right next to the new Pennsylvania railroad spur and he turned around and sold it for a $500 profit, a substantial amount for the time.
Perhaps not surprisingly, my grandfather, the grandson of an auto company owner and a liquor distributor/distiller started his working life as a truck driver for breweries. He became a Teamster leader but in his forties quit to start his own business. But unfortunately he got lung cancer and died at age 47, leaving my grandmother with a  pile of debt which she eventually discharged through her secretarial work. Perhaps if he had had any sons, the son would have been another go-getter, but my mother is one of seven daughters, and not a one of them seems to have had any serious career ambitions. Career ambitions were not so unheard of when they were young - Gloria Steinem is two years older than my mother. But they all seem to have been content to be wives and mothers, except of course for the nun.

My brother Brian, the right-winger, is a truck driver so I guess that counts as continuing a family tradition.

Of the fourth maternal great-great-grandfather, very little is known except that James Lawrence Wert Smith worked for the Reading Railroad. So he was as working class as my grandmother's other grandfather, although hopefully not also the victim of alcoholism. And whatever else you can say about my grandmother's family, they were in Philadelphia for a long time. My cousin traced the Smith side back as far as the 1700s. They probably go back to the days of Benjamin Franklin at the very least.

Tomorrow I will look at my paternal great-great-grandfathers.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

The Lord is on the Broadloom

Here he was at the age of 22.

Speaking of comedians, I had a relationship for over a decade with a man who was seriously funny. He could have been a professional comedian, I guess, except for his extreme manic-depression.

And he also appreciated when other people were funny so he told me an anecdote from a guy with whom he was once in a band, a guy named Russ.

As I remember, Russ was once an altar boy and participated in a Mass wherein a consecrated host (the "body of Christ" that Catholics consume in ritualistic cannibalism) was dropped during a Mass.

And according to Russ this was a major disaster in the chapel. I should mention that Russ, John (the comedian) and I are all atheists so we were unimpressed by the magic of ritualistic cannibalism and dropping "the host" - which by the way tastes like cardboard - is no big deal to us.

It was the way Russ described the horrified reaction of the faithful to this event that was so funny: "oh no the Lord is on the broadloom!"

I first heard this over twenty years ago but it still makes me laugh when I think about it. So I thought I would share it with the world - or the twenty or so potential people who will ever read this blog post.

Speaking of "the host" it's fun to watch French Canadian films like "Les Grande Chaleurs" because they frequently use "sacres" - the religious paraphanalia-based set of swear-words unique to the Quebecois. Luckily I heard about "sacres" prior to seeing Les Grande Chaleurs because if you only study the French language you won't normally be told  about the sacres: French people from France use the traditional swear word concepts (shit, bitch, etc.) So if you don't  know about sacres you will be very confused when the English subtitles for the French Canadian film say things like "tabernacle" and "host" and "chalice" (tabernak! osti! calice!) for no apparent reason.

Nowadays almost anything goes on television but when French in Action was made in Paris, in the 1980s, several people are portrayed in typical quotidian scenarios using words like shit (merde) and salope (bitch). But then again they are French. When I was growing up and going to the Jersey Shore you could always tell who the French Canadians were - they eschewed bathing trunks for men and instead went with banana hammocks. Osti!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Stand-up Comedians are Geniuses

I don't think anybody has ever stated this as a fact publicly, so I'm going to go ahead and be a pioneer: all successful comedians, meaning people who make a good living as a stand-up comedian are geniuses.

That includes: Kathy Griffin, Margaret Cho, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Amy Schumer, Hannibal Buress, Sarah Silverman, Eddie Izzard, Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Rivers, Stephen Colbert, Dave Chappelle, Wanda Sykes, Ali Wong, Louis C. K. etc. etc. etc. And yes, even Bill Cosby. Being a genius doesn't make you  a good person. Just smarter than most of humanity.

I saw Louis CK's most recent special 2017 and that reminded me of this fact. Louis CK made me laugh hysterically by doing a riff on the fact that Christians "won" because all over the world human cultures observe the current date as the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ.

Everybody knows the date thing is true. It takes a genius to make it funny.

Louis C. K. is especially brilliant, which I've said before. He's so brilliant that his comedy walks a very thin line between humor and philosophy. The same is true of Stephen Colbert. So when the two of them get together, the purest truth cannot help but explode into the world. Watch.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Black Currants & White Wine

During several episodes of "French in Action" the leading characters Robert and Mirielle are at a cafe drinking Kir. For the longest time I had assumed that Kir was a brand name for a French liqueur because the waiter in the episode also mentions Dubonnet when listing, at Mirelle's request "typical French" offerings. I know Dubonnet is a brand thanks to the many classic French posters associated with it.

But it turns out that Kir is the name of a cocktail that combines one part creme de cassis (black currants) and four parts dry white wine - or in the case of Kir Royal, the white wine is swapped out for champagne. 

I finally got around to buying creme de cassis and trying it out. I'm actually not that crazy about it, I find the creme de cassis is a little bitter for my taste. I'm really not a cocktail person, I prefer my alcohol to be unmixed. Although it looks pretty, the diluted creme de cassis: it comes out of the bottle as a thick syrup but becomes a light crimson when mixed with the white wine. But really, I felt like I just ruined a perfectly good class of Sauvignon Blanc. Well at least I gave it a try.

But now I have a $26 bottle of creme de cassis that I really don't have any use for.

Luckily it turns out the NYTimes has a bunch of recipes for Creme de Cassis.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Another French Canadian Connection

Well it seems that Xavier Dolan, the actor/director of Les Amours Imaginaries also made a movie J'ai Tue Ma Mere, in the same year 2009 and look who is in the movie with him - Francois Arnaud the guy who plays the love interest in Les Grandes Chaleurs. All Canadians know each other and there's your proof.

This clip is not especially safe for work.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

En March à New York

The French really seem to like New York. The video I mentioned last week about Marcon and Trudeau has a section on Macron coming to New York which is amusing - they kick off that section with a little jazzy number as Macron sits talking strategy in an airplane headed for NYC. It starts at 13 minutes in on this video.

In other nouvelles français, my French class started last night. It was quite an experience to get to talk to other people in French so much.  Siri just is not much of a conversationalist - she will answer questions but then she's done. She doesn't continue the conversation.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Quel petit monde du Canada

Cast members with the director of the movie
and the author of the play Les Grand Chaleurs
So last blog post I mentioned two Canadian movies as well as a video of the Trudeau/Brazeau boxing match and scenes from the TV show Sensitive Skin. And I observed it's a tiny world in Canada. Well it turns out even tinier than I thought.

I've been watching the movie Les Grande Chaleurs with both English and French subtitles in order to help figure out what was being said. The English subtitles weren't shown over the credits - but nevertheless I managed to make out that it said the movie was originally a play first performed in Quebec in 1991. So I did some Googling and discovered the play was written by Michel Marc Bouchard. And on reading his entry in Wikipedia discover this:
The adaptation of his play Tom to the farm produced by Xavier Dolan in 2013 and scripted with the author received several awards including that of the international critic (FRESCI) at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. The Girl King , written by Michel Marc Bouchard for Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki and shot in Finland will be presented in 2015.
The name Xavier Dolan rang a bell - and that's because the other movie I mentioned in the same blog post as Grande Chaluers was directed by (and performed by) none other than Xavier Dolan. 

Do like a hundred people live in Canada?

Friday, March 31, 2017

French Canadian Rendez-vous

A Canadian dude analyzes the Trudeau-Brazeau boxing match.
To mark the fifth anniversary of Trudeau’s third-round win by TKO, Postmedia enlisted the expertise of Armand Teodorescu, the head coach of Atlas Boxing Club in north Toronto. Teodorescu’s father, Adrian, coached Canadian boxers Lennox Lewis and Egerton Marcus to Olympic medals in 1988. More recently, Atlas veterans Mandy Bujold and Arthur Biyarslanov each won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Teodorescu had never watched the Trudeau-Brazeau fight before last week, but he knows a favourite when he sees one. And in his eyes, the smart money would have been on Trudeau.
“Physically speaking, the advantages are more on Justin’s side,” he said. “Sometimes, you look at two fighters and you see one guy thick and built, and you have the common thought that he should win. (But) it just depends on skill.”

Sun News, the now-defunct network, Canada's answer to Fox News was the foremost provider of footage and commentary for the boxing match, but there is also a French version.

And speaking of French Canadian things I've been watching French-Canadian movies which are so far much more entertaining than French France movies. First is this funny and atmospheric movie about a love triangle Les Amores Imaginares, called Heartbeats in English. They use the song Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) first recorded in the 1960s to a stylish slo-mo effect. The dialog is all in French.

The first fully-staged production of a play of mine, NEW RULES was on the subject of a straight woman and a gay man competing for a bisexual man. Way back in the 20th Century. Although the object of desire in this movie is... well you'll have to see it.

The TV series Sensitive Skin uses a version of "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins under its slow-mo sequences. It is set in Toronto and in English, but a major plot line in Season 1 (much much better than Season 2) is the protagonist Davina (played by Kim Catrall who dated Justin Trudeau's father - small Canadian world!) getting involved with a French Canadian guy.

Last but not least is Les Grande Chaleurs which I just saw last night. The movie isn't especially great although I like the May/December plot line. The plot was fairly predictable though - in spite of the fact that it's in French and I could only get about 40% without the help of Google Translate even with French subtitles. But I am obsessed with its soundtrack which includes both a beautiful song which I cannot find the title for - I've narrowed it down to either Donne Donne or Ch'T'Attends  and a completely addictive song called Bon Swa written by the mysterious DAZMO of whom I can find no information except credits at IMDB, although it might have something to do with this web site. There may also be a Facebook Page.

I cannot find lyrics online for this song, and my translation apps won't touch it because it's a song and they can't understand sung French. All I can make out is:
Bon swa, doo doo bijoux (something) belle bebe - (something) bijoux (something something something something) and then some French talking.
Bijoux, if that's what he's singing, means jewel. Once I start taking my Frenchy-French classes on Monday - and on Wednesday since my Monday-only class was cancelled due to low enrollment so I had to take the more expensive and twice as long course on two nights - I will get somebody to tell me what is being sung here.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Les problems avec "French in Action"

Oh yeah, and Robert is also a stalker
Or "Le français en action" as Google translate would have it.

I'm getting excited because my French course at FI:AF begins on Monday. 

I'm doing extra French studying this week. I'm on like the fourth time through French in Action and I'm picking up more and more of the dialog. 

Robert's father is supposed to be rich - he's the Vice President at a bank (newsflash - in the 21st century, at least, almost everybody who works for a bank is a Vice President, commee moi) but Robert does not take his father's money.

I finally realized all this as well as the reason Robert can afford to travel around France without his parents' money - since he was born his grandparents gave him a hundred bucks every Christmas and birthday and so he now has $4200, which means that Robert is 21.

Anyway, now that I know most of what is happening, I'm not very impressed by the story used to impart lessons in French. In my opinion the story is ruined by the whole "Man in Black" aspect. Spoiler alert, le mec en noir is a talent scout and the reason he's been stalking Mirielle in alarmingly bizarre ways (including coming to chez Mirielle disguised as a nun, but wearing a mustache) is because he wants her to star in a movie.

And another problem with the story is that although it is presented as having two protagonists, Mirielle and Robert, the story favor's Robert's point of view. After they meet we hear all about how Robert feels about Mirielle, but we never hear about how she feels about him, her feelings are a complete mystery. No doubt the male writers of the show didn't even realize they were doing it, they probably take the male gaze so much for granted.

It makes me want to write my own French-language course with a better story. And as it happens, I'm toying with the idea of attempting to translate my NORMA JEANE play into French.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feminism en français très bien

Cette femme aux cheveux bleus a présenté une bonne chape sur le sujet des hommes stupides qui envoient des photos aux femmes de leurs pénis. Regardez!

Wow, and now I find this woman is a sort of asexual. It's really not fair that an asexual could be so pretty - such a waste.

Turns out there's a whole Youtube world of asexuals out there.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bitter Gertrude on the Bechdel test and "white feminism"

And of course, like the brocialists, SJWs
lie about and smear white feminists like Gloria Steinem.

Steinem and Dorothy Pittman Hughes in 1971
Bitter Gertrude, AKA Melissa Hillman bashes the Bechdel test and pushes the bullshit racist notion of "white feminism."

Intersectionality means that every time there's talk about discrimination against women the SJWs start screaming - BUT ALL WHITE WOMEN ARE PRIVILEGED.

Which, while true in a general and relative sense compared to non-white women, does not negate the fact that all women are disadvantaged as compared to men. And it's constantly noted that the Bechdel test isn't everything - it's a low bar. But that doesn't make it NOTHING.

Social Justice Warriors are consistently willing to sacrifice feminism on the altar of "intersectionality" - and their tactic is exactly the same as that used by Berniebros and brocialists and Susan Sarandon: hold women, especially feminists, to a much higher standard of behavior than anybody else. Unlike every other advocacy group, women are supposed to bend over backwards to consider every issue before their own. That's what "intersectionality" is really all about - for the SJWs the intersection is gender and race, for socialists the issue is gender and class, but in every case feminists are attacked for being so selfish as to think of women's rights first. How dare those bourgeois bitches.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

C'est mon premier ministre d'amour!

That's my Prime Minister of Love! That's how you handle douchebags, Justin Trudeau!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Men are capable of expressing love

An interesting article in the NYTimes entitle The Love Letters of Many Men which observers:
Tenderness hidden behind a tough guy facade may explain why an immaculately handwritten love letter from the slugger Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe went for far more ($62,500) than any of the several typewritten love letters to her from the playwright Arthur Miller ($1,024 to $9,728). Miller had an easier time expressing his feelings, but his prolixity comes off, perhaps, as more annoying than enchanting. For context, one of Ms. Monroe’s brassieres went for $16,000.

It should also be noted that a brief scrap of an undated love letter from Monroe to Miller fetched $43K - I mentioned that fact, along with the text of the letter, in the NORMA JEANE AT THE PAYNE WHITNEY PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC program.

And while I'm at it, here's another photo from the production. Those are a couple of beautiful people.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Backwards and in heels on Broadway

Apparently the source of that famous quote about Ginger Rogers comes from this cartoon from 1982. It's interesting that the Astaire-Rogers films were made in the 1930 - 40s but nobody remarked about Rogers' disadvantage until 40 years later.

The NYTimes recently published this enraging piece - Two Female Playwrights Arrive on Broadway. What Took So Long?

As the article notes:
“Indecent” and “Sweat” are the only new plays by women this Broadway season; by contrast, there are eight new plays by men (none of whom has credentials comparable to those of Ms. Vogel and Ms. Nottage). The disparity is sometimes worse; in 2013-14 there were no new plays by women. Such imbalance remains a striking incongruity for Broadway, where an estimated 67 percent of the audience is women.

So in other words, Broadway producers consider male playwrights who have not won the Pulitzer Prize more worthy of productions than female playwrights who have won the Pulitzer Prize. This in spite of the fact that women make up a majority of theater-goers.

The article continues:
Both playwrights arrive scarred by the journey — each frustrated by how long it has taken, and still aggrieved that their best-known, and Pulitzer-winning works (Ms. Vogel’s “How I Learned to Drive,” and Ms. Nottage’s “Ruined”) never made it to the big stage. But both are also thrilled to be here now, and savoring the sweetness.
I've been writing about this issue since the beginning of this blog, for eleven years. Talking about this issue lead to a clash with top Hillary-hating Bernie-bro Jason Grote who became furious at me for suggesting that women might have obstacles to getting their work produced. I also got some nasty messages from friends of actor/playwright Nat Cassidy for pointing out that even though a clear majority of theater audiences are women, plays by men about manly-men are still favored. (I should admit here that I didn't get such a big response because my blog has such a big audience of theater people, but rather because Mr. Cassidy told his friends to have a look at my blog post that mentioned him. I really should hire him as a promotions manager.)

The hostility you get when you mention these issues might indicate a serious level of denial in the theater world about its own deep-rooted misogyny.

And it's funny how the rules never seem to work for women. 

Normally if your play wins the Pulitzer Prize it gets a run on Broadway, even if it's absolutely mediocre like Anna in the Tropics

Normally if the audience is composed of a certain majority demographic, the field caters to that demographic - much like the reason given for why so many big studio movies are all about superheroes and explosions is because adolescent males are the biggest movie-going demographic. 

Golly, it's almost like there is a deliberate pattern of discrimination against women.

Will there ever be a day when women are no longer hobbled by a world that forces us to compete with men backwards and in heels?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Krugman's prescience & the value of curating

Paul Krugman... veterinarian.
The Baffler, a magazine written and edited by idiots with a superiority complex has two articles in a recent issue ripped right from the NYTimes' favorite genre "liberals are to blame for Trump" as I mentioned a few days ago.

The more ridiculous of the two was about the dangers of "curating" to wit:
A world without fake news might really be awesome. So might a shop where every bottle of wine is excellent. So might an electoral system in which everyone heeds the urging of the professional consensus. But in any such system, reader, people like you and me can be assured with almost perfect confidence that our voices will be curated out.
Curators are the bad guys eliminating the voices of the prosperous centrists like poor Thomas Frank who publishes books and articles for a living.

Frank is a co-founder of The Baffler and of course deciding what will be selected to be included in each issue of the periodical isn't curating, it's editing, so Frank & company are the good guys. Got that?

But I happened to be reading Krugman's brilliant piece, written over twenty years ago, White Collars Turn Blue - the conceit of the piece is that Krugman is writing from the year 2096, a hundred years from the actual publication date - and it got me to thinking about the Frank piece when Krugman writes:
Most important of all, the long-ago prophets of the information age seemed to have forgotten basic economics. When something becomes abundant, it also becomes cheap. A world awash in information is one in which information has very little market value. In general, when the economy becomes extremely good at doing something, that activity becomes less, rather than more, important.

But actually information does have a big market value, but it depends on what kind, as any insider trading convict can tell you. The world is indeed awash in so much information that filtering is the big problem. That's where editors come in - or, in other words curators.

Curating is basically what I do with NYCPlaywrights - I decide which calls for submissions are included. That's why playwrights come to the site, because not only does it save them the trouble of searching for the information themselves, but I make sure that the opportunities do not charge submission fees. That's a value judgment on my part and no other calls for submissions sites  (there are about four other regular, reliable sources in addition to NYCPlaywrights, by my count) filter those out - they all include submission calls that charge fees just to email or snail-mail your work to somebody.

The Huffington Post includes original work (including the review of my play) but it got its start basically reusing the work of other newspapers as a news aggregator.

So I think it's clear that people who are willing to curate the information tsunami are going to be ever more important to the economy. I just did some calculating and if I had about 50 web sites that earned as much in a year as NYCPlaywrights does I could make blogging my full-time job. It's worth thinking about. The only trick is figuring out what kind of information people need you to curate and whether it's profitable to get it to them. I stumbled upon the money-making aspect of NYCPlaywrights almost accidentally - I started out just trying to share info with members of my group which met up in-person. Then I realized that the international reach of the Internet meant I could make money sharing that information. Although of course we are limited to the anglosphere - until I learn French.

I put about 4 hours a week into running NYCPlaywrights, on average, so if I had 50 sites I'd be working 100 hour weeks, unless I hired help or figured out how to do a site in 2 hours per week in which case I could work a more reasonable 50 hours a week. Hmm... worth thinking about.

Krugman ends his 1996 essay in a way that really hits home for me - he's talking about scientists but it goes double for playwrights:
Luckily, the same technology that has made it possible to capitalize directly on knowledge has also created many more opportunities for celebrity. The 500-channel world is a place of many subcultures, each with its own heroes. Still, the celebrity economy has been hard on people -- especially for those with a scholarly bent. A century ago, it was actually possible to make a living as a more or less pure scholar. Now if you want to devote yourself to scholarship, there are only three choices. Like Charles Darwin, you can be born rich. Like Alfred Wallace, the less-fortunate co-discoverer of evolution, you can make your living doing something else and pursue research as a hobby. Or, like many 19th-century scientists, you can try to cash in on a scholarly reputation by going on the lecture circuit. 
But celebrity, though more common, still does not come easily. That is why writing this article is such an opportunity. I actually don't mind my day job in the veterinary clinic, but I have always wanted to be a full-time economist; an article like this may be just what I need to make my dream come true.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Clinton v Trump

Another video for Women in the Age of Trump completed. Three more to go.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Vive les jeunes loups!

Jeune Macron - très beau!
Just in time for my new-found interest in all things French comes the French elections in which centrist Emmanuel Macron appears to be France's last best hope to keep the fascist Marine Pen from becoming president of France:
The centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is running neck-and-neck with far-right Marine Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential elections, according to a survey published Sunday.
Macron has gained on Le Pen and the two are now polling at 26 percent, according to the survey published by the daily Le Figaro. The conservative candidate François Fillon, who has been beset by a scandal, is at 17 percent while the two leftist candidates, the Socialist Benoît Hamon and Jean-Luc Mélenchon of the far left, are both at 12 percent with the former losing 4 points and the latter unchanged in the last two weeks.

A centrist in France is probably very similar to a liberal in the United States.

Best of all, Macron represents one more strike against the evolutionary psychology claim that men essentially prefer younger women and women essentially prefer older men - essentially in the sense that they believe the system of older-man/younger-woman has nothing to do with thousands of years of a cultural system of male dominance of human inheritance and financial systems, and instead is the result of our far distant female ancestors preferring older men with money. Macron is wealthy and yet has been married to a woman 23 years his senior for the past ten years - and he was the one who pursued her, from the time he was fifteen.

Back in June, Marie Claire ran an article - illustrated with a photo of Macron and his wife - which mentions that the rate at which marriages are between older women and younger men has jumped from 10% in the 1960s to 16% in the present. Needless to say, 50 years is not an evolutionary time span - so there must be some reason why women are now marrying younger men at a significant rate besides evolution. And it's because the younger woman/older man status quo was never evolution based.

There's all kinds of evidence like that which demonstrates that the belief-system of evolutionary psychology is absolute bullshit - culture is a much stronger control on mating variations than biology. But evo-psychos have never been interested in data or testable theories. Their theory pleases the patriarchy and that's good enough for them.

It should also be noted that people are just not marrying as much as they used to - in large part of course exactly because women are no longer compelled for financial reasons to get married. So the number of couples in which the woman is older is probably much higher than 16% if you count domestic partners.

According to this article Macron's wife Bridgette comes from a wealthy family herself, which might mean something except that Macron went on to become wealthy and still married her. Macron was so cute when he was younger - he's not bad now, for a politician. I mean, he's no Justin Trudeau. But the way he wears his hair isn't attractive - but look at the picture from this article of the young Macron which I posted above. With all that hair - I love it. I'd definitely hit that, assuming he was legal age. And I'm considerably closer in age to Macron than his wife is.

Speaking of the Prime Minister of Love, I found an interesting Youtube video about Macron (age 39) and Trudeau (age 45) from GlobeTV entitled "Complément d'enquête Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau jeunes loups et vieilles recettes? " Which translates as "Additional investigation". Macron, Trudeau: young wolves and old recipes?

It compares the two of them. I haven't finished watching it - I will have more thoughts once I have - but so far my impression is that both politicians are very much influenced by the campaigns of Barack Obama.

What I like about them both is that they demonstrate how the best men of our times have been influenced by feminism - Trudeau proudly calls himself a feminist. I don't know if Macron is a feminist, but he also shows the way to a better future where humanity has broken free of the double standards concerning human sexuality and desirability.

And of course I can watch hours of both these guys speaking in French as a way of learning French. So I say Vive les Jeunes Loups - avec tout les recettes, vielles ou jeune!

And I have to gloat - I was months ahead of the rest of the world in discovering the extreme hotness of the young Justin Trudeau. And that looks like another excuse to post another hot photo of Justin Trudeau.

Oh hell yeah.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Men need to stop it

Emma Lindsay has lots of good things to say. Unfortunately she's also on the "liberals are to blame for Donald Trump" bandwagon which was a real disappointment, but she says things that need to be said. This article about how porn ruins men for real sex is a good one. And especially this part:
Anyway, we now just act like that’s the normal state of things; women have lower sex drive than men cuz testosterone! But, frankly, I’m surprised women have sex drives as high as we do given how little of our culture is devoted to appealing to feminine desire. We’re fed lines like “looks don’t matter to women” to which I would respond HA HA HA HA HA. Yeah, looks don’t matter if women aren’t expecting to get any sexual pleasure out of the relationship. Which many aren’t. If you want to attract women for something other than your wallet, however, put some effort into your physical appearance. The average straight guy sets the bar so low on this one, frankly, you probably don’t need to do too much to be pretty good looking. And, even if you don’t end up looking good, looking like you care is probably good enough. It signals that you value a woman’s physical attraction to you.
Of course men like to believe that women don't care about appearances because then they can be lazy slobs. I don't know how many times a man has said to me that he wears his hair the way he does because it's just the easiest way. 

And of course idiot evolutionary psychology proponents keep pushing the idea that women don't care what men look like, even while they point to animal behavior as something that reveals the secrets of human behavior. Jerry Coyne, who likes to attack feminists and Muslims when he isn't pushing bullshit just-so stories, and a pal of that other feminist hating idiot Steven Pinker:
...the conditions for sexual selection hold—a greater variance in male than in female reproductive output—probably explaining why men are bigger and stronger than women, and have beards and other secondary sexual differences. It also explains why male peacocks have showy tails, why male sage grouse do “jumping displays” to attract females...
Funny how male peacocks have showy tails but in many human cultures women are expected to be more showy than men, including our own. Coyne tries to cover that by suggesting that beards are an example of something that has been sexually selected for, but unfortunately for him, women find men without full beards more attractive. 

At least he doesn't try to suggest in this post that baldness is sexually selected for - some other evo-psychos have suggested that very thing. But that's how mindless, how reflexive the evo-psychos are about human culture. While they constantly accuse critics of evolutionary psychology of denying biology - or just science in general - they constantly deny the role that culture has on human behavior.

And human culture is huge. Money does not exist in nature. But in human culture, for millennia, men had all the money. They bought women from their parents to get wives. Eventually, in the twentieth century, women had more opportunity to select the man for themselves, but the principle was still the same - the man had all the money and the women was his "housewife" and traded sex in exchange for room and board.

The last forty years have changed that - the idea of women earning their own money and being able to use it as freely as men goes against all of human cultural history - and culture-deniers like Pinker and the other evo-psycho freaks eternally refuse to acknowledge that much of what they insist is  biologically-endowed behavior is in fact culturally-endowed behavior. And men not needing to care about their appearance is part of the old tradition of men having all the money and using that to buy female beauty.

Men are still in denial about how the world has changed thanks to women having their own incomes. Because where women had to look nice in order to be eligible to be bought by a man, now we have the luxury of choosing men for their appearance too. But looking good does take work, and men think they don't have to work at it. They think they can just keep dressing like truck-drivers and lumberjacks with hideous full beards and ugly short hair - or even worse, the "Hitler youth" look - officially called "the undercut" - and women should still find them irresistible.

Men have to stop being such lazy assholes and think about what women want for a change. They no longer have the luxury of not caring about women's desires.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A tale of two great-great grandfathers

James E. Maguire was born in Ireland in 1833.

William H. Young was born in Philadelphia in 1840.

Young volunteered for the Union army in 1864, and Maguire also joined the Union army but I don't have the date he joined. According to my cousin Lorraine he received a medical discharge due to heart problems.

Meanwhile, William Young had a drinking problem. It's unclear exactly how he earned a living after he got out of the army, but he was such a bad husband and father that in 1874,  according to his wife, Cecelia McAleer Young:
When my said son was about six months old my husband had become so dissipated that I had to have him arrested for non-support and he was sent to Moyamensing Prison where he remained a month and then his mother begged me to let him out so I did.
After that they became so estranged that Cecelia was not certain which year he died:
William H. Young, was killed somewhere up country by falling out of a Wagon, as I understood. I do not remember what year that occurred but I think it was sometime in 1879 or 1880...
...I knew nothing about him for three or four years before his death. He was a very dissipated man during the last years of his life.
My great-great grandmother, in her successful bid to get her late husband's army pension revealed all this information about herself to US government officials. And it's clear she had always had a hard-scrabble life. Her one hopeful moment was meeting John Pfingstag, but luckily he committed bigamy to marry Cecelia and it was the evidence of that bigamy that allowed her to obtain the pension.

Meanwhile after the war James Maguire got a job in "woolen manufacturing" and by 1871 had his own wholesale liquor business that was so successful he was able to become a partner by 1893 in a whiskey distillery.

This recent knowledge of James' career helps clear up the mystery of how his son ended up marrying Mary Wolfington of the Wolfington carriage/car company: they were members of the same socio-economic class.

So how did the granddaughter of William Young and the grandson of James Maguire end up together?

Well things started to go downhill for the Maguires. First, James died in his 60s of his heart condition in 1900. Then his son Thomas died in the 1918 influenza pandemic (along with his oldest son). I'm not sure where that left the James Maguire Co. and its holdings - the company seems to have closed in 1915, but since it was based entirely on alcohol, that would have all been wiped out by Prohibition in 1920.

So my grandfather Martin Maguire, instead of being the heir to the Maguire liquor empire became a driver for the liquor industry, eventually becoming President of Brewery Drivers Local 830, Teamsters Union (AFL). Which he quit in 1948 just in time to die of lung cancer and leave my grandmother with staggering debts, which she eventually paid off through her work as a secretary. So the Maguires went from wealthy to working poor in two generations.

But also there is the mystery of my grandmother's father, George Smith. Because although the Maguire family fortune was on the ropes they still had assets, which was why my grandfather Martin was given a house to move into on his marriage to my grandmother - who was pregnant before the marriage. But my grandmother's mother came from the union of Cecelia McAleer and William Young and she, Mary Young was the only one of their children to make it past early adulthood alive and without a disabling injury.

So was George Smith able to support his family and raise his two children, a son named George and my grandmother Marie Smith well enough to give them a stable family life?

Well just before Cecelia McAleer got her pension in 1904 she wrote:
I had four children by Mr. Young, two of whom are yet living, to wit: Mary C. Smith, wife of Geo B. Smith who live in the same house with me now. 
But it's unclear whether they were living with her, or if she was living with them. My mother, who was born after George Smith died, knows nothing about him. Her grandmother Mary she remembers as being devoutly religious and constantly cooking and cleaning.

In any case, according to family lore, Marie Smith aged 17 met Martin Maguire, aged 16, a lifeguard in Atlantic City and had enough in common to get together and stay together until Martin's death. 

Hearing about Cecelia's life does make Prohibition more understandable - millions of families were in the same predicament: their sole bread-winner, in a time when women were discouraged from having independent incomes, becoming chronic drunks like my great-great grandfather. And even John Pfingstag, a better man than William Young, would occasionally, as Cecelia said "go on sprees."

My mother is a teetotaler and was traumatized by memories of her father coming home drunk and how upsetting that was for her mother, who, assuming George Smith was not an alcoholic, at least heard horror stories about her grandfather's "dissipation." And maybe I just haven't met the right whiskey but I've never been able to get past its turpentine-like smell and harsh taste. I guess I'll stick with pinot noir.