Saturday, September 07, 2019

Earl Rich, gone but not forgotten

Earl Rich, Valley Forge PA, January 1995
More photos here
I found myself thinking of my friend Earl Rich a couple of weeks ago, thanks to a tweet from Newt Gingrich.

Earl has been dead for twenty-two years, as of today. Tempus fugit.

Gingrich first came to public prominence when Earl and I worked together in King of Prussia, PA and Earl liked to joke about supporting him, so there's always a chance I'll think of Earl when Gingrich is mentioned. Or tweets.

Which is annoying because Earl Rich is a beautiful angel in heaven now, while Gingrich is still here, being a complete asshole.

I even mentioned Gingrich the last time I observed Earl Rich's death on this blog, two years ago.

I included a scan of Earl's obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer in that post two years ago, and while re-reading it preparing to write this blog post, I wondered if I could find out whatever happened to John S. Pluta, the guy driving the truck that Earl smashed into. And thanks to this Age of Internet, I believe I found him. Right name, right location and exactly the right age. He died in 2013.

Twenty-two years later and thinking back on Earl and my strange workplace relationship with him, he seems even more special than ever. I don't know why I was able to come to know this co-worker so much better than any other coworker I've ever had, except maybe Rosemary, who now lives in Australia, and who coincidentally I just received a postcard from yesterday. Rosemary and I are friends because Earl thought we had a lot in common and encouraged us to talk.

Oddly Rosemary is the only woman I knew at work who was immune to Earl's beauty. And she's not gay, she's been married to her husband for twenty years now. And plenty of men were attracted to Earl as well, although of course back then, especially, they weren't likely to admit it. But for some reason, she alone was not completely enthralled by Earl.

I don't know how I ended up exchanging so many emails and confidences with Earl. Was it our ages? Was it that office email was still new? Congruent personalities? A happenstance of time and place? I can't imagine now being so open with someone at work now.

I wonder what he would look like now. He had such beautiful hair. He would have been 53, it would surely be thinner or greyer now. But of course his charm wasn't only dependent on his physical beauty, as impressive as it was. He had a certain sweetness you rarely see in men although he could also be funny and silly and a wise-ass. And he was far more nervous about social situations, which he mentioned to me, than I would ever guess of someone so perfectly suited to society. He would complain about how popular he was, saying he was exhausted by all the socializing on weekends. I wonder if that would have lessened, once he got into his 50s, the way casual socializing fades off for so many people at that age. But with Earl, who knows. He was sui generis.

It seems odd that other people who knew him don't mention him online. I know this because I looked -  it's just me and his widow Michele who, I assume, paid for the domain name earlrich.com and who set up the web site. Such a phenomenon as Earl should have a great number of tributes. But really who was Earl, to the world at large? For all his beauty and charm he was a nobody, a tax-paying citizen with a 9-5 office job, and a wife and a house. A technical writer. A guy who enjoyed riding his motorcycle, his damned accursed motorcycle on weekends.

If only it was raining that day, or he decided to drive his car, or he had stopped at a convenience store to get gum. An infinite number of things could have prevented Earl Rich from dying at 31 and who knows what he would have made of himself. I'm sorry for all the things he didn't get to see, save of course for 9/11 and 11/9. I think he would love today's laptops, and high tech gadgets. And I bet he would have enjoyed the TV show Archer. And he might still be teasing me about Newt Gingrich.

While Googling around for any traces of Earl online I came across his father-in-law's fairly recent obituary. I had no idea he was a bigwig in the Philadelphia journalism scene. I feel like Earl should have had the same kind of full-page tribute, so important, oddly, inexplicably important he was in my life. But he didn't really have a chance to do much. "He was robbed" is what my coworker Rachel, who also knew Earl, said of his death at the time.

A year after Earl's death I was invited by Michele to meet at The Ugly Mug in Cape May New Jersey. Cynthia, Earl's sister was there too. I don't remember the conversation now, which of course centered around Earl. But I was flattered to be invited to meet these two strangers with whom my only connection was knowing Earl Rich for a mere three years, compared to their ties of blood and marriage. I heard from Michele a few times after that by email, but nothing in the last twenty years.

Earl once confided to me that his dream was to be a writer living in Greenwich Village. He was a great reader of fiction and got me to read Crime and Punishment, Lolita and A Confederacy of Dunces. I like to think he would approve of me living in Manhattan, albeit not in Greenwich Village but maybe the next-best thing, the Upper West Side, as a technical writer, playwright and blogger. And since he is not around to contradict me, I say he would, definitely, approve.

And Michele, when you're in New York City you should look me up, I'll buy you and drink and we'll reminisce.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

RIP my old tormenter

Jack is the one wearing sunglasses
I have a hobby, or maybe call it a compulsion. Every now and then I'll think of someone from my past and wonder whatever happened to them. And thanks to the fact that we live in the Age of Internet, I can find out whatever happened to them, usually in under five minutes.

The Internet is how I found out that my old junior high school friend Rita was dead, although the obituary did not say how she died, which makes me wonder if she killed herself. I hadn't seen her in over ten years and we were less firm friends than on-again off-again friends as the mood took Rita. But I was shocked and saddened anyway.

The Internet is how I learned the long-haired hippyish young priest, Father Ed, in my New Jersey town had left the priesthood after being accused of raping a teenaged boy. I felt revenged because the last time I saw him I was pregnant and trying to figure out if I could marry my Jewish boyfriend in the Catholic Church to make my parents happy. But it was a no-go because we wouldn't promise to raise the child in the Catholic Church.

The former Father Ed said I lived "in the eye of a whirlwind." Who's in the whirlwind now, bitch?

Recently I Googled the name of my worst grade school tormenter and was doubly surprised, although after the first two Google finds just mentioned, I suppose I should not have been.

I attended Our Lady of Fatima school in Cornwells Heights, a suburb across the tiny Poquessing Creek from the north-eastern corner of Philadelphia. By the time my family moved to Cornwells Heights (we moved to New Jersey ten years later) it was transforming from a semi-rural to semi-urban suburb, with convenience stores and apartment buildings popping up around our neighborhood of single-family homes.

Our Lady of Fatima got most of its students from my neighborhood and the neighborhood up the road, called "Nottingham." Thanks to the Internet I found a billboard erected on Street Road while Nottingham was being built, to entice dwellers of row homes into the suburbs. The billboard said "Phila's Newest Suburb" and under, in quasi-ye olden tymes font the name "Nottingham" and under that a drawing of what looked like the carriage and horses conjured up by the fairy godmother in  Disney's Cinderella. The billboard promised three bedroom ranch homes starting at ten thousand dollars. 

My neighborhood was called "Stanwood," a name so bland I didn't know that's what it was called until I spotted it on a map long after my family moved away. I never heard anybody refer to my neighborhood by any name at all, just by individual street names. The homes and yards of Stanwood were a little larger than Nottingham's (which was known to all as Nottingham), but the children who lived there were just as likely to be foul-mouthed little monsters.

Our Lady of Fatima's student body was full of second-and third generation descendants of immigrants from Catholic countries in Europe. In my class there was a Sarappo, a Pileri, a Harrigan, a Dougherty, two Brennans (not related), a Grabowski, a Jankowski,  twin Matuseks, a Mussay and even a Finkelstein. I'm not sure what the deal was with Beth Finkelstein, if her mother was Catholic or her whole family were converts or they simply used the Catholic school as an affordable private school, as some non-Catholics do. And there was Christopher Elinich (the name is Ukranian) whom my mother considered a saint. I just Googled him and am pleased to report that he's a registered Democrat.

Christopher was not part of the gang of boys in my class who were my tormentors. There were cruel girls too, but the boys were the cruelest, contrary to the "mean girl" stereotype. And their cruelty was compounded by their filthiness. I assume they had fathers who were careless with their copies of Playboy and Hustler, or perhaps the boys had access to the adult magazines at the Seven-Eleven that sat on the outer edge of Notthingham. In any case it was clear that they had throughly perused girly magazines, and the more explicite ones, by the time we were in fourth grade and gleefully told those of us with no access to adult materials that you got babies when a man put his wee-wee inside a woman near where she peed. It took me several years to realize they didn't invent the entire thing just to be gross. They were also racist and as I recall at one point claimed that Puerto Rican women had hideously long underarm hair. That sort of thing.

As for awkward freckled red-haired girls with overbites, their name for me was "Red Dog" occasionally alternating with "Sea Monster."

They were all crude and mean but one in particular I always remembered as the worst, a boy named Jack (name changed) who was from Nottingham. Although I'm sure that the incessant cruelty from this gang of boys formed my character as much as anything else, I can't say that I thought much about them after we moved, but when I have thought of them over the decades, Jack always stood out in my mind as the worst. I don't remember specifically all that he said now, but I remember that in spite of the pain I was impressed by the creative and original ways he came up with to express his contempt for me.

If I met someone like that now, of course I have the psychic defenses of an adult and would not let it bother me so much, but when you are ten, eleven and twelve, which were the years of the worst bullying and cruelty, and you are trapped in the classroom with monsters five days a week, autumn, winter and spring, it resonates intensely, and you feel it for the rest of your life, as fading but still perceivable sensation.

Jack was the only one of the gang I ever confronted. From the station wagon, as my family drove to Sunday Mass, I saw him, sitting alone in the empty lot at the corner of Street Road and Mechanicsville Road, with buckets of flowers for sale. I didn't wonder why a twelve-year-old boy was sitting by himself on the side of a highway (Street Road was four lanes by then ) engaging in commerce. I didn't wonder where he got the flowers. I only saw an opportunity. He noticed me in the station wagon and made rude gestures at me as we cruised passed. Neither of my parents noticed.

Directly after returning home from Mass, I headed out to confront my tormentor. The lot he sat in, which is now a strip mall with a large parking lot (thanks Google Maps Street View) was at that time full of sand-colored dirt and rocks and a little bit of scrubby grass, the perfect Western-looking environment to have a showdown at high noon.

I admit I didn't plan my offense well, or at all. The lot was only a block away from home and I got there in five minutes. I stood there looking at him, and I told myself he felt threatened. But he had a long slender tree branch with him, perhaps anticipating I would show up, which he used as a whip. As soon as I got anywhere near him he would snap it at me. So all I could do was tell him how much I hated him and he just laughed at me. And of course he tormented me even worse the next day in school with his gang of little monsters.

It was a relief when my father announced we were moving to New Jersey. And I never saw Jack or any of the rest of my classmates again. Not counting Facebook, of course, where I discovered that one of the Matusek twins, Bernadette, is a big Trump supporter. Ugh.

At work last week I suddenly had the urge to find out whatever happened to Jack. I Googled his name, which is a fairly common one, and up popped his photo. I knew it was him immediately although it was a photo of a thirty-something man and I hadn't seen him since he was twelve. I could never forget that thin-lipped smirk. I clicked on his photo and from there found his obituary. He had died in 2011. The obituary said he was "a friend of Mike" but didn't mention any other family except his mother and sisters.

I found his sister's Facebook profile and eventually found his photo, the same one I found in my initial Google search, and his sister mourning his loss on her timeline. Turns out their family owned a flower store in Philadelphia. That explained why he was selling flowers, but even by the laxer child-safety standards of the time, I think it's odd they let him sit on a corner by himself, with a job that expressly involved speaking to strangers in cars.

Jack's obituary revealed he was almost my exact contemporary, he was born a day before me. It said that he sold the family flower shop in the mid-1990s and moved to Delaware. It said he loved traveling, creative writing, storytelling and dancing. It mentioned Camp Rehoboth.

That's where I found the real Jack. CAMP Rehoboth is, according to its web site:
a 501(c)(3) non-profit, gay and lesbian community service organization, originally developed to “Create A More Positive” relationship among all the people of the Rehoboth Beach area.
Jack's photos are all over the web site. The first one I found is from 1998 and he's looking tanned and healthy. In 1999 he can be seen in drag, in the photo at the top of this post. In 2005 he's pictured smiling, looking a little thin but strong with an earring in one ear and a tattoo.

He contributed several brief but appreciative comments in the CAMP Rehoboth publication "Speak Out" over the years. In 2006 he mentions he is sick:
Being on disability with a life threatening illness is difficult. I am thankful for all the help and support I receive from Epworth United Methodist Church, the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, the Rehoboth Beach Film Festival, and many individuals. These people are always there to lend a hand, a shoulder to lean on, or a ride when I need one, and I now have the privilege to call them my family. 
With the help of those on my Recovery team, I not only live each day one at a time, but I cherish each day. My neighbors and friends help nourish my soul and keep me eating healthy. Meals on Wheels makes sure I eat properly everyday, their cheerful smiles make my heart leap with joy. The staff of the Wellness Clinic encourage me and monitor my health. My therapist keeps me focused. My mother, Grace, who embodies her name, and my biological family, bring me joy. Everyone here in Rehoboth makes this town truly a place for all.
By 2009 he looks old enough to be the father of the man in the 2005 photo. And in his last photo from July 2011 he's shrunken and in a wheelchair.

So much for shadenfreude. 

I don't know if he discovered empathy once he became a teenager or by the time he became an adult. But he certainly was able to express gratitude and appreciation. 

What I didn't expect from this research into the life of my childhood tormentor was how it would change my old pain. When I think of the boy who tormented me, the memory is altered forever by the knowledge that the boy would die in middle-age of a horrible disease. 

Rest in peace, my old tormenter.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Space exploration & James Burke

Eleven years ago I was excited to find videos of James Burke talking about the US space exploration project. Including footage of Burke riding the "Vomit Comet."

I just discovered some excellent person has put this hour-long compilation of James Burke space content - including video documentation that Burke had, at one point in the past, hair.

This compilation includes part of the Vomit Comet footage. James Burke sure loved being weightless.


Monday, July 08, 2019

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Ain't he unglamo-rays?

I'm old enough to remember this theme song from, if not the original run then re-runs on kids cartoon shows. I never understood what the lyrics were except the "Hulk Hulk!" at the end.



Thanks to the magic of the Internet I now know;

Doc Bruce Banner
Belted by gamma rays
Turns into the Hulk
Ain't he unglamor-ays?
Wreckin the town with the power of a bull
Ain't no monster clown who is as lovable
As ever-lovin' Hulk!
Hulk!
Hulk!

People on Youtube complained it was a bad song but I think it has a charming, rough New Yawk wise-ass wit to it with the ain'ts and the goofy rhyme stretch - gamma rays and unglamor-ays

You have to admit there are few theme songs like it.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Ugh. Summer

Summer in New York is hell.

It is worse in Florida - I was there a couple of years ago in late July - early August. I ended up driving around in Miami in the middle of the night and I was blasting the air conditioner in the rented SUV all the way to Key West.

I'd love to visit my friend Rosemary who now lives in Sydney Australia. Today is the first day of winter in Australia.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Quelle smartass, Siri

My conversation en français avec Siri, with translations.
      MOI
Je n'ai pas dit les gros mots. 
(I did not say curse words.) 
     SIRI
Ce n'est pas gentil. 
(It's not nice.) 
      MOI
Vous êtes fou. 
(You are crazy.) 
      SIRI
Eh bien, si on regard de plus pres, c'est vous qui parlez a un être virtuel qui vit dans un nuage. 
(Well if one looks closer, it is you who talks to a virtual being who lives in a cloud.) 
    MOI
(avec resignation) 
Vous avez raison. 
(You are right.) 
     SIRI
Merci, Nanettes. 

     ~ FIN ~

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Terrence McNally on PBS


Running NYCPlaywrights you sometimes get a heads-up that you might not otherwise. This past week someone from PBS reached out to me to ask if I could help promote, on the NYCPlaywrights web site, the PBS "American Masters" episode on Terrence McNally, which is currently running in free streaming mode. I said I would.

I watched it. I hadn't been aware that McNally had had  romantic relationships with both Edward Albee and Wendy Wasserstein, which are discussed in the PBS piece.

I was aware that McNally had a relationship with Gary Bonasorte, because I met Bonasorte while they were an item, and in fact not too long before Bonasorte died. I was briefly involved with Rattlestick Theater in 1999, which Bonasorte had founded in 1994. I created an early version of their web site interface, which can still be found via the Wayback Machine, which I present here. 

It's pretty interesting now to see the names listed on the advisory board and Board of Directors. Although I had been writing plays since 1992, by 1999 I still had little knowledge of theater history so names like Marsha Norman and Joe Mantello and even Terrence McNally meant nothing to me at the time I was posting them on the web site. 

Neither did the name Abigail Disney, whom I don't remember ever hearing about before I friended her on Twitter because of her very cool left-of-center views.

It was thanks to this Rattlestick connection that I met a guy who was crashing at Edward Albee's apartment (while Albee was vacationing on Montauk) and thus have my stories about Edward Albee's apartment, which I have mentioned on this blog before.

I met Bonasorte but I didn't exactly hang out with him. I had one conversation with him but I remember it pretty clearly because it was along the lines of "aren't men exasperating" and I found Bonasorte very sweet and relatable.

I would later find out who Joe Mantello was when I was sued over my tiny little off-off Broadway play TAM LIN  and Mantello's lawsuit against a theater for using the set, as described in the published version of LOVE! VALOR! COMPASSION!, was used to justify the lawsuit against my former partner and I by the litigants, even though the Mantello case was settled outside of court and therefore legally useless as a precedent.

Mantello makes an appearance in the McNally PBS show, but they don't mention the lawsuit.

I haven't done much theater lately - those of us who have to make a living can't depend on theater, which will soon become exclusively, I fear, a hobby of those with trust funds. Although I do have several plays percolating in my mind, and will probably do readings of them soon. And of course I do NYCPlaywrights ever week.

But lately I've been spending my time on my Pinkerite web site.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Kung Fu

I've been getting into the 1970s TV show Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, may he rest in peace. It's almost exactly ten years since he was found dead.

I'd seen clips from Kung Fu and thought I had a pretty good idea of what the show was like thanks to Gabe Kaplan's comedy bit.

But the series was more complex and subtle than that. And sometimes there were moments of sneaky humor, like in this clip. The hotel owner/boxing impresario played by Leslie Nielsen decides to make Kwai Chang Caine a fighter and names him "The Shanghai Kid" - and Caine's response, so perfectly in character, and yet unexpected, that it's hysterically funny. At least I guffawed when I heard it.

Carradine really was an amazing actor to play this character so perfectly. There is a short documentary on Youtube about the show which includes clips of David Carradine discussing the show.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Trudeau again

I just don't think it's possible to take a bad photo of Trudeau.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mozart's piano concerto #22 in E-flat K. 482

I've always been a fan of this piece but never really paid enough attention to it to know its name, number, key signature and Köchel listing. But recently I have been looking up performances online.

I collected a bunch of live filmed performances on Youtube.

Milos Forman made good use of the third movement in a sequence in "Amadeus" that shows Mozart traveling to his concert and then performing and conducting the piece outdoors for the Emperor.

Unfortunately the only available clip from the movie is overdubbed but it shows one of my favorite parts of the concerto, right at minute 1:15 of the clip below (which opens with a very young Cynthia Nixon as Mozart's maid.) The orchestra is playing a little heart-beat rhythm as a form of dramatic tension and then the piano comes in. The moment represents a perfect combination of beauty and control that I think defines not only the best art, but the feeling you get when you are in the flow of creating intellectual or artistic work that you have confidence is good. There are few better feelings than that.

And in his genius Mozart pairs that moment of dramatic tension with one at the end. In this clip at minute 33:12 it sounds like the concerto is coming to an end but just before, one more time, there is that little moment of tension and it's even better than the first, with the woodwinds in the background filling out the pulse.

Just amazing.


Sunday, May 05, 2019

How to get to Sesame Street






The show has been headquartered in New York City since 1969 and has always been based between West 63rd and West 64th Streets.

Sesame Street becomes a real intersection in New York City

When I was doing my volunteer gig as a greeter in a kiosk in Central Park recently, a young woman came by to ask me how to get to Carnegie Hall. 

I couldn't resist. I said "practice."

She didn't crack a smile. I don't think her English was very good and she wasn't familiar with corny American jokes.

So I told her how to geographically navigate to 57th Street and Seventh Avenue.


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Trudeau vs. Nazi Barbie

Justin Trudeau ignoring Faith "Nazi Barbie" Goldy of far-right Sun News. And I gotta say, looking mighty fine doing it. That hair - I love it when he lets his hair grow a little. And those jeans. Oh dear god you're killing me over here JT.

I'm just going to turn the sound off and watch it on a loop. 


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Adam Scotti

Adam Scotti is the official photographer of Justin Trudeau. What a great job. I would pay to do that job.

And Scotti does great work too. He has also on occasion been mistaken for Prince Harry.



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

What a shame, Aquaman


The Aquaman movie had some pretty good trailers and best of all it has the glorious Jason Momoa. 

I was really looking forward to seeing it. I finally did. 

I was not impressed. 

I rented it via Youtube so I was able to skip ahead over the deadly dull fight scenes of which there were a LOT until I got to the part where Nicole Kidman was going to show up again because you knew Aquaman's mom wasn't really dead.

Ugh, what a shame. What a waste of amazing visuals, and I don't just mean Momoa.


Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Bernie Sanders, Millionaire

My name is Bernie J Sanders, millionaire.
I own a mansion and a yacht.
The brocialist left hates Hillary Clinton for being rich.

It turn out that Bernie Sanders is a millionaire.

Bernie Sanders, Now a Millionaire, Pledges to Release Tax Returns by Monday

Although that was kind of obvious when he bought his third house.

So here's how it works with brocialists: if you're an old white man who wants to be president, it doesn't matter if you're a millionaire. 

If you're a movie star like Susan Sarandon who worships Bernie Sanders it doesn't matter that you're a multi-millionaire who earned some of the money shilling for Big Pharma. You aren't looking for power for yourself, you know your place.

But a woman wanting to be POTUS and has money? BERN THE WITCH!

That's the misogyny logic of brocialists. 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Frida Kahlo in Coco

I recently saw the movie Coco which I liked a lot. One of my favorite parts was the portrayal of Frida Kahlo. I couldn't find an English language version to post so had to go with this Spanish version. It's still pretty amusing and the movie pokes a little fun at Kahlo's tendency to put her own image in virtually all her paintings. We later see her ideas fully realized as part of a stage show. 



Saturday, March 23, 2019

Will this Canadian lawlessness never end?

Canada is a country so lacking in real scandals that their news media has to get its scandals anywhere it can. It's especially a problem since Canadian media looks south and sees that Donald Trump probably breaks the law more in a typical week than Justin Trudeau has done in his lifetime.

I really think that the press holds good people who are politicians - like Trudeau and Hillary Clinton and Obama and Macron - to a much higher standard than assholes like Trump. 

Anyway, so the Canadian media takes any little thing they can and blows it up into a scandal.


Just stop, Canada. Count your blessings and stop.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Nancy's Best Beatles

My Youtube collection of Beatles favorites. Not many considered part of their greatest hits.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Velvet Beatles

There is a treasure trove of Beatles music on Youtube now posted by the Beatles company itself. Not only all the official albums but a ton of outtakes and alternative takes.

This acoustic version of "Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey" sounds like the Velvet Underground.

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Jersey represent

I didn't know about this video until somebody on Twitter posted a link to some band covering "Because the Night" and I went Googling to see if Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith had ever performed their only co-written song together. 

I was born in Philadelphia and I've lived in NYC for ten years now, but I spent my young adulthood in New Jersey and most of that time Springsteen and Smith were rock and roll icons - Springsteen from North Jersey, Smith from South Jersey.

There's something so cool about seeing them together.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Back to Sheplers

About twelve years ago I realized that the online seller I was buying my cowgirl boots from, Sheplers, was selling merchandise with Confederate flags as "rebel wear."


I am pleased to say that I've just been through their web site and no longer find any hint of treason, so I can now shop at Sheplers again.

Things can change for the better.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

RIP Miss Willow



RIP Miss Willow.

I knew she didn't have much longer to live, she had hyperthyroidism and the medicine didn't seem to be working anymore, but the vet told me to give her twice as much and see if that helped. 

Her hyperthyroidism made her always want food and she loved to drink from the dripping faucet in the bathroom and she would wake me up to be fed.

She had such regular habits and I was so invested in her well-being in the past year, buying her special foods and baby foods. At the end I had to wipe her face after eating since she stopped grooming. 

But still, it was a shock to find her dead under the bed this morning.

She was semi-feral and did not like to be held, but she had the heart of a lion - if there was ever a threatening noise outside the door she would always run *towards* it, growling. 

Rest in peace brave little soul.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Kathy Griffin, American hero

My opinion of Kathy Griffin has gone up and down over the years - mostly up but every now and then... although I have been defending her for years.

No matter what though, I think there's no denying she is a true blue American hero.




In this video, for what appears to be a venture capital company, she seems disappointed and frustrated with the audience response. But I think she's expecting the kind of adulation she gets from her stand-up audience - but this isn't her stand-up audience. I think they like her though, they are just quieter than what she is used to.

The letter she reads towards the end of this clip, written for her by a board member of CBS to send to Trump (she names him in a different interview as Arnie Cobolson) is so groveling it reminded me of something out of "I, Claudius," of the way people would speak to Tiberius or Caligula.

That's the kind of tyrant that Trump would be if given a chance, his personality is exactly suited to being a Roman emperor. And the disgusting sleaze-bag Republican party and all the filthy monstrous MAGAs would love to give him that chance.

Watch the video. Griffin has been through some serious shit.

Funny story about me and Kathy Griffin, sort of. Years ago I had a huge crush on a guy, an actor, who didn't care for me but for whatever reason my feelings for him hung on for a long time in spite of that. I wrote poems about it and all. (Most of them are not good, but I think a few hold up.)

Kathy Griffin on
Law and Order SVU
This image forced her
character to come out
as a bisexual.
During the tail end of the crush, the actor played Kathy Griffin's boyfriend in an episode of Law and Order SVU. He got very little screen time - in fact most of his exposure in the episode was a still image - a selfie from his character's cellphone, kissing Kathy's character. In the plot this was a big deal because Kathy's character was an outspoken lesbian.

At the time the SVU episode was made, Kathy, although clearly a liberal with strong political opinions, mostly steered clear of politics to talk about celebrities. But she's become much more political thanks to being harassed by Trump and by MAGAs - so that she seems now much more like her SVU character than before.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Sprinter is here 2019


Sprinter is our shortest season - sometimes lasting only a day or two.

This year Sprinter was delayed thanks to the cold snap in the past week or so. But today it was just warm enough for Sprinter.


Saturday, March 02, 2019

We meet again Dag Hammarskjold Plaza

Seven and a half years ago I blogged about the significance of the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in my life. Little did I dream when I was getting arrested for civil disobedience at an anti-nukes demonstration that one day I would be working right next door.

I also finally discovered that I was pronouncing the name of the second Secretary-General of the UN wrong - I was saying it like "dag hammer-shold" when apparently it's pronounced "dog hammarhwehlld."


 

Friday, March 01, 2019

Mon anniversaire

I admit I've asked Siri several times when my birthday is, just so she will wish me a joyeux anniversaire.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Monday, February 25, 2019

No escaping Sophie Blackall

LinkNYC kiosk with blessedly non-Blackall content
Well so much for my hope that the dread Sophie Blackall would stick to illustrating children's books after winning the Caldecott medal.

When the LinkNYC kiosks started popping up all over the UWS I was inclined to think they were, on the whole, good things. 

But then.

I was schlepping my laundry down the street the other day and was approaching the kiosk on the corner of my block, not really paying attention. Then I felt an inexplicable sickly feeling and my eyes beheld that all-too-familiar combination of faded colors, shoddy draftsmanship and humanoid characters with faces all built on the same weak and simpering template and instantly I knew what the source of my sickness was.

Blackall!

I tried to get my phone out quickly enough to document the atrocity but by the time I found my camera app it was gone and I was not about to stand out in the cold with twenty pounds of laundry on my back waiting for it to show up again.

It was bad enough I had to look at her hideous work in the subway, still a traumatic memory almost seven years later, but now it's ambushing me on my own block. And the thing is you never know, when looking at one of these kiosks, if a perfectly useful subway status is going to suddenly be replaced by a Blackall image.

Clearly there are some people who like Blackall's work but I can't explain their bad taste. All I know is that Blackall cannot draw for shit and I despise her work and it pisses me off that there are so many good artists all around and yet people keep encouraging Blackall and giving her money to perpetrate her awfulness. And then sticking it in my face without warning or mercy.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

KRUGMAN MASTERCLASS WHOOHOOOO!

Anybody reading this blog (now in its fourteenth year!) knows how much I admire Paul Krugman.

So of course I absolutely had to sign up for the Krugman Masterclass which was advertised on Youtube videos for Rachel Maddow. It was a little pricey at $90 but I decided to treat myself for my upcoming birthday (I share the date if not the year with Krugman.)


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

When Black Friday comes I'll be on that hill, you know I will

When Black Friday comes I'll fly down to Muswellbrook, gonna strike all the big red words from my little black book.

Gonna do just what I please, gonna wear no socks and shoes with nothing to do but feed all the kangaroos.



Sunday, February 17, 2019

Eileen's sister the Communist

Unlike my own mother, my friend Laura's mother was interested in politics and culture. My strongest memory of Eileen McGowan was her at her usual spot on the living room sofa watching the Watergate hearings. My first political involvement was going door-to-door giving out McGovern campaign flyers at her behest. My parents voted for Nixon.

And because Mrs. McGowan (I never called her Eileen myself) was interested in the arts, she took an interest in my cultural affairs. She knew that Laura and I had written our own fan fiction for "Tom Sawyer" - something my mother never knew, and frankly would not have cared had she known.

My mother has never recommended any literature to me, because she has no interest in literature herself, and has bragged that she got through high school English courses by reading the Classic Comics versions of novels.

Mrs. McGowan recommended I read "My Sister Eileen." I was never sure why exactly, other than, I guess, she enjoyed the book herself and wanted me to enjoy it. But I could not have been any older than eleven or twelve when she recommended it to me - in fact I wonder now if she recommended it to me because the author, Ruth McKenney, died in July 1972, only sixty years old. Her NYTimes obituary is here. Mrs. McGowan herself died in the mid-1980s and was in her late 50s.

I think I tried to read the book but didn't find it interesting. Primarily because it was about adults and at that time I was only interested in books about people my age.

So on Saturday I was researching for the next NYCPlaywrights podcast and wondering if I should put an audio clip from "His Girl Friday" into the podcast, since the theme is "romantic comedy" and I think the movie counts. Also, it's now in the public domain.

So while watching the movie for the tenth time, I was Googling around about the people in the movie and saw that Rosalind Russell, in addition to starring in "His Girl Friday" also starred in the first adaptation of of the book "My Sister Eileen." So I read the Wiki page for that and saw that the book was based on stories McKenney first published in The New Yorker - and since I have a New Yorker subscription which provides access to its entire archive I tracked those stories down.

Then I read McKenney's Wiki. Very very sad. "My Sister Eileen" was based on McKenney's adventures with her sister Eileen, who died at age 27 in a car crash, days before the theatrical adaptation of the book opened. McKenney's husband killed himself on her 44th birthday.

Over the opposition of lawyers for a company owned by President Donald J. Trump, State Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten ruled Thursday that a condominium on the Upper West Side could remove the bronze letters spelling out his name from its 46-story building.
McKenney became famous for her humorous stories about her family but what she really wanted to write about was labor issues. And until they were ousted by the Party, she and her husband were Communists.


McKenney's husband Richard Bransten, writing under his pen name Bruce Minton and speaking on behalf of himself and McKenney makes it clear that the couple believed that the US Communist party was not hard-core enough for their liking:
The leadership does not emphasize the great truth that workers must learn; Only socialism can make the people free, only socialism can rid the world of war and fascism. By no word does the American Communist Party at its National Committee Meeting hold the capitalist system to the full light of scorn. The leadership does not educate the American masses to the horror and evil of capitalism, to the awful reality that capitalism offers only terror, lynch, poverty, oppression of women, persecution of minorities, starvation, exploitation, racism, enslavement of peoples and nations, fascism, and war.
Wow, they took their Communism very seriously.

I'm afraid like all serious idealists they were doomed to disappointment. I was first disabused of political idealism when I sat in on a food co-op meeting when I was eighteen and for most of the meeting it was simply people complaining about other people in the group.

No organization of any significant size, from a Philadelphia food co-op to the Communist party will ever be peopled by enough obsessive policy wonks and nerds to satisfy the purity tests of idealists.

More people than not would rather get by with Classic Comics than making the greater effort to read the original. 

Would-be organizers of human beings ignore that at their peril.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Thank you once again, Kwame Anthony Appiah

Appiah in Foreign Affairs writing in defense of Cosmopolitanism 
Furthermore, societies have moral and legal duties to admit at least some foreigners—namely, those escaping persecution and death. Those obligations are shared by the community of nations, so the burden must be distributed fairly. But each society must contribute to meeting the need.  
The fact that the localists share societies with cosmopolitans in countries that have duties to asylum seekers constrains the ways in which the localist camp can achieve the comforts of home. But the existence of the localists constrains what the cosmopolitans can do, as well. Democracy is about respecting the legitimate desires of fellow citizens and seeking to accommodate them when you reasonably can.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Speaking of poetry...

Public domain, baby.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

It's nice to be appreciated



I wrote this haiku six years ago. When Jordan Davis, who I follow on Twitter, tweeted  this morning "I would like to read some poetry now please" I impulsively tweeted him my haiku.

Davis is poetry editor for The Nation so it was especially nice to have him react positively to my work.

According to Wikipedia Davis is a "flarf" poet.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Pinkerite


One of these days I'm going to get the Pinkerite podcast off the ground. In the meantime I've been adding to the blog of the same name.

I created the logo. I think it's pretty snazzy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

More obnoxiousness from the brocialists

I've mentioned on this blog before I have issues with Barbara Ehrenreich so I wasn't surprised by her recent idiotic tweet:


Absolutely standard brocialist talking point - any woman Democrat who isn't Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is garbage. 

When Ehrenreich released "Nickeled and Dimed" I thought it was a great idea for a book - Ehrenreich went undercover as an unskilled laborer to see what a shitty life it was.

But she could have just asked me, the ex-wife of her buddy Zvi in Key West, how shitty it was. 

I struggled as a single mother all those years raising my daughter with almost no support from my ex-husband. Once in awhile I would get a big payment from him if he had sold a lot of marijuana, but overall he got away with paying a very small amount of child support. So I did the usual thing poor people do - got welfare, got food stamps, got free government cheese, and then through being in the right place at the right time was able to use the personal computer revolution to work my way up to a decent living one less-shitty-job at a time. Without a college degree.

And of course my ex contributed nothing to my daughter's college education which was financed through a combination of grants and loans taken out by my daughter and myself. I finally finished paying off the loan for my daughter's education this year. Unlike me she was able to go to college for four years and graduate.

But why should Barbara Ehrenreich care? Zvi was devoted to what really mattered to him - marijuana rights - so why should he have to worry about getting a job to pay for his daughter?

It's just like Bernie Sanders who was too busy writing for obscure political rags that paid nothing while his son was little - Sanders, like my ex-husband, prioritized himself and his ambitions over his kid. And that doesn't bother people like Ehrenreich at all. Or my ex-friend "Reverend Bookburn."

I'm sure that Sanders' baby-momma made sure she had enough food in the house and paid the electric bill for the sake of her son - meanwhile Bernie was stealing electricity from his landlord for power, just like he tried to get power through the Democratic party while shitting on Democrats.

I hate these people with their self-satisfied ignorance and their hatred of women struggling uphill to actually be effective and get things done - people like Nancy Pelosi.

Fuck you Barbara Ehrenreich and your whole brocialist misogynist mob of shitheads.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

More Beatles awesomeness


I have my annual cold this week so I'm watching/listening to Beatle stuff to cheer up.

I re-watched Ron Howard's Beatles: Eight Days a Week the Touring Years on Hulu - I saw it when it was first out in the theater and had forgotten the part where it mentions the Beatles were vocally anti-segregation. The Youtube video here is the excerpt.

It turns out that the Beatles had an anti-segregation clause in their contract. But they also said they were anti-segregation publicly, in interviews as the clip above demonstrates.

I am convinced that this is the root of the anti-Beatles hysteria in the South in 1966. I think the racists were just looking for a chance to punish the Beatles and Lennon's "bigger than Jesus" gave them their excuse. In this interview McCartney seems to be alluding to just that.

 I think there's the makings of a play here.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Rom Coms again


Well I decided to do another call for submissions on the theme of "romantic comedy" for NYCPlaywrights again. This time for the podcast.

I bitched in several blog posts about the unromantic and uncomedic nature of so many of the submissions back in December 2014. And again. And again.

This time around the thing that annoys me the most are the "meet cute" submissions. That's when two people meet and fall in love, in the present context within the real-time span of a 10-minute play. The plays are almost always ridiculously fake because they are utterly derivative. They are based on movies the author has seen and certainly not on lived experience - because people don't meet and fall in love in ten minutes. If people in real life do go off together in real life after ten minutes it's because they like how the other person looks, not thanks to pun-ridden witty badinage, and it isn't about love it's about lust. And straight women almost never, ever decide to go off with some random man they just met.

The absolute worst of the meet-cutes are the meet-cutes on a first date after connecting on an Internet dating site. In real life those are never romantic and almost always extremely uncomfortable and disappointing. 

On the up side, this time around we only have to choose one play, not eight.




Thursday, January 17, 2019

Right-wing racists flipping out again because I created infographics


Obviously I'm never going to understand the thought processes of the racists who gather round Steve Sailer at Unz ~ so I despair of ever understanding why they have such a phobia about information in graphic format.


My graphics about Steven Pinker are the subject of controversy over at Unz. But the information I presented is virtually the same as the information that Bari Weiss presented in her Intellectual Dark Web article, connecting Steven Pinker to extremists:
Go a click in one direction and the group is enhanced by intellectuals with tony affiliations like Steven Pinker at Harvard. But go a click in another and you’ll find alt-right figures like Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich (the #PizzaGate huckster) and Alex Jones (the Sandy Hook shooting denier).
And yet they don't seem to think the Weiss article is crazy.

One of my Unz reader critics took exception to my criticizing the art of Sophie Blackall - but presumably doesn't mind that Steven Pinker devoted an entire chapter in "The Blank Slate" to ranting about modern art

You can't expect consistency from those wacky "race realists."

Monday, January 14, 2019

As anyone could have predicted Steven Pinker and Pinkerite Jesse Singal go the full Quillette

Look it's the gang from Unz.

Given Singal's well-known transphobia, and given that bashing trans people is one of Quillette's favorite activities - it was not only inevitable but I wonder what took him so long to start working with Quillette.

Quillette and Steven Pinker have long had a mutual admiration society, but this is the first time I am aware that Pinker has a byline in Quillette.

The text in the Pinker diagram will be updated to reflect his intensified connection to "race realism."

Infamous eugenics proponent Toby Young lists members of the race realism gang.




Young celebrates Pinker going the full Quillette.




Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Thank you New Republic

Finally the New Republic has published an article in the face of the great leftist romanticization of the "gilets jaunes" 


From the article:
Unfortunately, this is a challenge the main left-wing opposition has largely failed to meet, a balance it has refused to strike. Just as populists see “the people” as something pure in the face of corrupt elites, so, too, do certain elites desire for there to be an essential purity in the idea of an uprising of the alienated masses—the “neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls,” as Hannah Arendt once described them. 
First, the gilets jaunes have always been inseparable from far-right politics. Supporters of Marine Le Pen have the most favorable views of the yellow vests, and a hypothetical gilets jaunes party would sap significant support from Le Pen in the upcoming European parliamentary elections.
Feckless stupid leftists have been cheering on a group who - it should have been OBVIOUS to anyone - are the people who wanted Marine Le Pen to win. That's why even after Macron gave them what they said they wanted the gilets jaunes turned around and called for Macron's resignation.

That was ALWAYS the goal of the gilets jaunes.

If Trump had lost this is how his followers would have acted. Complete with NYTimes articles soul-searching why the "real" America wanted to tear down the government. 

Mark my words, it's going to turn out that Putin has been helping the gilets jaunes too. 

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Sophie Blackall and the 2016 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee

I thought it was odd that one of the worst professional illustrators I have ever seen, Sophie Blackall, won the 2016 Caldecott Medal for children's picture book illustration. Especially when you look at the vastly superior work of the 2016 runners-up.

I didn't immediately leap to the conclusion of cronyism when I heard the news. But after looking at the names of the people in the Medal Selection committee, I'm definitely considering it. The Chair of the 2016 selection committee was Rachel G. Payne of the Brooklyn Public Library.

I did a little research and it seems, if the online location sources are correct, that Blackall and Payne are neighbors - they live about a mile from each other in Brooklyn.

And they are also Facebook friends, although I don't know if they were friends before Payne gave Blackall the medal. It would be very surprising if they were not, since not only do they apparently live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, they have both been to at least one conference at the same time prior to 2016.

Now it's possible that Payne and the rest of the selection committee simply don't know shit from Shinola, and that's why Blackall won the Caldecott, but I have my doubts now.

But again, if the awful Renoir is still beloved by the masses there is no reason why Blackall can't have a thriving, award-winning career forever. There will always be tasteless idiots to champion mediocrities while the vastly superior are ignored - superior artists like Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot.

There is no justice in this world. And plenty of bad taste. And cronyism.

This book...



...was judged better-illustrated than this book...


and this book...


and this book...



and this book...



...by the 2016 Caldecott committee. Completely insane.