July 21, 2017

FIFTY SHADES OF BEY

1.Would movie theaters sell even more popcorn if they offered no-cal ‘I Can’t Believe its Not Butter’ as a topping? 2. I always carry my own 0%fat butter spritzer to the movies! Sometimes patrons look at me weird hearing the pumping sound coming out of my lap. 3. How long until Mayor Bloomberg requires mandatory no-fat topping in all theaters?!? 4. Over and over conservatives gripe about ‘taking responsibility’. ‘Take responsibility for your own retirement!‘Take responsibility for your own healthcare!’ Can someone remind me who took responsibility for the phony WMD evidence in Iraq? Or the financial meltdown that left millions unemployed? I know who benefited from these disasters but I can’t find a record of who took responsibility for them… 5. “Girls’ is the most original new program on television, IMO. It is shocking, heartbreakingly sad, hilariously funny, outrageous and depressing all at once. 6. How many viewers were all set to hate the ‘girls’ on ‘Girls’? They came from privileged families with celebrity parents (the daughters of Brian Williams, David Mamet, well known rock and rollers and artists)…but I have to admit they are damn good actresses as well. 7. Why do the hosts on FoxNews seem like high school: (Steve Doocey (annoying drama club president), Bill O’Reilly (school bully), Sean Hannity (football team quarterback), Megyn Kelly (captain cheerleading squad), Alan Colmes (geeky valedictorian who gets pushed in the bushes) while the hosts on MSNBC seem like Graduate School: Rachel Maddow: (snarky Graduate TA), Chris Hayes (wonky grad student), Lawrence O’Donnell (self-righteous Dean of Students), Martin Bashir (brainy foreign exchange student). 8. Something I just learned: Abraham Lincoln was the only president to hold a patent. Want to know what he invented? Look it up. (Hint: It had to do with beached boats.) 9. If Mitt Romney wore two-tone saddle shoes to match his hair would it catch on like Pat Boone‘s white bucks? (boy, how old do you have to be to remember that!) Has any popular male figure created a shoe fad since Beatle Boots? (excluding Michael Jordan) 10. When did Ann Romney become a bright blonde and how come no one noticed? 11. Why do I always imagine Antonin Scalia wearing a lobster bib eagerly awaiting dinner? 12. It was sad, like vacation-ending-sad, when I watched the last episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ and realized it would be a year before I returned to King’s Landing. 13. I haven’t had a cigarette in two months and my blood pressure has dropped almost 10 points. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. 14. Republicans want to repeal Obamacare. Did they ever get around to repealing the Congressional resolution renaming French fries Freedom Fries? Shouldn’t they repeal that first? 15. ‘Awake’ had the worst ending for the best new series on broadcast TV. Of course, if it hadn’t been cancelled at the last minute there would have been no sucky ending. 16. The best acting I saw all year was on TCM: the movie ‘DINNER AT EIGHT’ (1932) with Marie Dressler and John Barrymore. Each had a scene that took my breath away. I ran the scenes back, watching them again to make sure they were that good. They were. And the movie itself, a Chekovian ensemble of the destitute and nouveau riche keeping up appearances is so appropriate to OUR times. 17. When apartments sell for $88 million and $100 million to Russian oligarchs and Arab billionaires don’t tell me it has no affect on rents surrounding them in Manhattan. 18. I never had professional psycho-analysis but old girlfriends did a pretty good job. Dana Delaney: “You have parts of Jeffrey AND Brian in you. You exaggerate the part that’s like Jeffrey. You ignore the parts that are like Brian.”

RICHARD, JEFFREY & BRIAN

Heidi Ettinger (Landesman): “Richard, you think if you’re having a bad day you should be able to walk down to the newsstand and see the newspaper headline declaring: ‘Richard’s having a bad day!” Joan Pirkle (Smith): “You don’t act like you’re G-d’s gift to women; you act as if women were G-d’s gift to you!”19. Something I just learned: The last living witness to Lincoln’s assassination was on the TV show ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ in 1956. He remembered being upset that John Wilkes Booth had hurt himself leaping from the balcony to the stage. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_iq5yzJ-Dk 20. Something else I just learned: Japanese-Americans live longer on average than Japanese citizens living in Japan (and I learned this from a wacky right-wing talk show host!) 21. If a corporation is 20% owned by a foreign investor, say a sheik or a Russian oligarch, and the corporation donates money to an American political campaign: are foreigners helping to influence an American election? 22. How come anti-immigration zealots don’t seem to get upset by dual citizenship when dual citizens are Israeli or Irish? 23. If I wore a hoody from the old TV show ‘Just Shoot Me’ would I deserve to be shot for wearing a hoody? 24. The older I get the more I realize the most expensive thing I’ve acquired during my lifetime was a conscience. 25. The older I get (and the older Kyle gets) the more I understand why my mother always said: “I wish you and your brothers were little again!” 26. The older I get the more I understand you cannot love life without loving transience. 27. Thinking back to the time when Herman Cain was top candidate for the Republican presidential nomination: doesn’t it seem now like an unreal bad dream? 28. I’ve eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and experienced unforgettable meals but is there anything better than a Dairy Queen Blizzard? 29. Now that we ‘reboot’ movie series like ‘Spiderman’ and ‘Batman’, can we reboot presidential candidates as well? I’d love to experience that naïve rush of believing in hope and change again!! 30. The ocean in Florida has more than fifty shades. Every evening at dusk I go to the beach to read and each evening it is a different color: lagoon blue or lime or turquoise or sky-blue or gray or sapphire or white-capped. Its different every evening and must have fifty shades of gray alone…31. I went to five colleges: UNH, UCSB, UCBerkeley and Yale but when I dream about college I’m always on campus at Santa Barbara. 32. There is an American fantasy that financial moguls must be SMARTER than the rest of us. After all, they were intelligent enough to make all that money. There are some, I’m sure, who are above average in intelligence but anyone who has lived through the last five years should realize many aren’t more intelligent. They are more ruthless, more reckless, less conscious ridden than the rest of us. This American myth made it easier for them to get away with their crimes. 33. Financial moguls who go bust are like Ann Curry: On Friday the market values you at tens of millions, on Monday: “Out with the traife!” 34. Speaking of network morning hosts: Savannah Guthrie looks like she’s being tortured each morning on the Today Show. She can’t even make believe she’s interested in making Martha Stewart’s pinto bean/guacamole parfait! And she’s a lawyer, why should she? 35. When will NBC realize the problem is not his female co-hosts but Matt Lauer. He is a neutral shade that needs strong colors surrounding him. His success is not in spite of his blandness but because of it. 36. Hey, NBC: Where is J. Fred Muggs when you need him? 37. My brother Jeffrey once told me remonstrating over my poor career choices: “You could have been the next Matt Lauer. Instead you’re the next Soupy Sales!” He was wrong. I could never do what Matt does. And I loved Soupy Sales! 37. When I met Mitt Romney in a greasy spoon on 55th street in December not one person in the place recognized him. I often wonder if those people would know who he was today. 38. When has Paul Krugman (the stimulus is too small, inflation will stay restrained, austerity stifles growth etc.) been wrong about the American economy? 39. When has Lawrence Kudlow (the BushGoldilocks Economy‘, the Celtic Tiger) been right? 40. In the same vein: “The Irish economy is showing encouraging signs of recovery!” The Cato Institute, June 2010. ‘Nuff said. 41. No matter how many times conservatives quote him on the cable news shows, Obama never promised the stimulus would bring unemployment down below 8%. He never said it. NEVER. (Christina Roehmer did make that prediction base upon incorrect projections on the economic damage but that’s not as effective a political statement.) 42. Excuse me, but if I remember the last three years correctly, the economy DID begin to improve after the stimulus. 43. I usually finish the Sunday New York Times by Wednesday. 44. I save the Book Review, (my favorite section) for last. Can I make one of those obnoxious commercials? 45. I still read the Style section for the wedding announcements but its been years since I’ve seen someone I know. 46. The last wedding announcement where I personally knew someone getting married was comedienne Marilyn Michaels. 47. I haven’t watched a Sunday morning network news program in years. I listen to every single one by podcast and don’t miss a thing visually. 48. ‘Up with Chris Hayes’ and ‘The Chris Matthews Show’ are not podcast so I guess I should amend that! 49. I might read FIFTY SHADES OF GREY if someone tells me its better written than THE STORY OF O. 50. So again: why are the days so short in Florida?

NYC DIARY

Last week I returned from 9 days in NYC and in a few days I’ll be going back for over a month. I’ve sublet an apartment on the Upper West Side and I’ll be filling in for Alex Bennett on Sirius Left, channel 127. More on that as it approaches. I hope I get to see a lot of you over the holidays but if I don’t be certain that you have my best wishes for a Merry Christmas…Kyle is an enthusiastic Harry Potter fan (he re-watched EVERY movie episode in chronological order when he was with me last summer!) so he was excited when I got tickets to see Daniel Radcliffe in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” on Broadway. After the curtain call Radcliffe and John Laraquette came back onstage to raise money for ‘Broadway Cares’, the yearly fundraiser for AIDS. The cast had autographed posters and playbills for sale but Radcliffe anxiously announced they were going to try something new that night. He had worn an electric blue bow tie throughout the performance, untied it from his neck and autographed it along with Laraquette. “Would anyone start bidding for it at $50?” Kyle looked at me pleading: “Come on! Its only $50!” Before I could even think about it the auction raced forward to $400. Kyle, I am NOT going to pay 400 bucks for a bow tie! Forget it…” Shortly, the bidding jumped to $1000…and there was a pause. Kyle stared back and forth between me and the stage. “Will anyone in audience go to 1100?” Radcliffe asked. There was another silence. “ONE MILLION DOLLARS!” shouted Kyle as my hand flew out to cover his mouth. A smattering of applause for this outrageous bid was overtaken by a wave of laughter as all heads turned to see us sitting on the aisle in the orchestra, my hand stifling Kyle from saying another word. When it faded a bit Daniel Radcliffe looked down at Kyle and said: “I think we’ll pass on the million dollar bid for the moment…” The bidding resumed and finished with a $5000 offer for the bow tie! I’m just grateful Kyle didn’t choose a more reasonable amount or I’d now own the most expensive neckwear on my tie rack!…I also saw ‘Seminar’ with Alan Rickman which was in previews. It was impressively acted (especially Lilly Rabe), wittily and cleverly written for the most part. The dramatic contrivance of evaluating an entire book from a minute’s perusal is too much to ask of an audience even with the suspension of disbelief and the play fell apart in the last scene; characters inexplicably reversed behavior, loose ends were tied in neat bows and arch dialogue melted into sentiment. But it was a fun evening and more fun to tell Kyle that after seeing Harry Potter a block away I saw Professor Severus Snape…I counted 8 different languages on my walk home from 45th Street to 55th Street. And two more I couldn’t identify! Is there any other city in the world where that would happen?…One night I was invited to a fundraiser for Primary Stages saluting past Pulitzer Prize winners in Drama. Marsha Norman (Night Mother), Frank Gilroy (The Subject Was Roses), Bruce Norris (Clybourne Park) and others were sitting at tables right next to ours. I met Wendy Wasserstein’s sister as we both signed in for the event. Her manner and speech patterns were so reminiscent of Wendy’s I choked up with emotion while I described how classmates loved and missed her sister. Edward Albee, who is in his eighties I’m sure, made a memorable speech from the stage. He’d received the Pulitzer three times (A Delicate Balance, Seascape, Three Tall Women) but informed the audience he thought he was missing a prize. In 1963 “Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolff’ was selected by the Prize Committee but the Trustees had found it ‘obscene or offensive…or something…If you look in your programs you will see there was no prize awarded for that year. So let me ask all of you here tonight: ‘Do you think I won three Pultizer Prizes?” After pausing for effect he sighed: “Or do you think I won four?” Supported by his cane, he shuffled back to his seat through the affirmation of resounding applause. As impressive as that was it wasn’t the highlight of the night for me! In 1977, when I was an actor at the Yale Rep, I used to eat alone, studying me script and memorizing lines over dinner. One night at the Howard Johnson’s over by the Long Wharf I spotted a guy at the next table poring over his script in a similar manner. “Sorry to bother you but are you working at the Long Wharf Theater?” I asked. He said he was and mentioned that he was a writer. I asked his name and he replied, “Harnick”. The way he pronounced it sounded funny to me so I quipped, “Harnick from the planet Ork? Like Mork?” (Yeah, this WAS the seventies…) No. He was Sheldon Harnick who had written “Fiddler on the Roof” and one of my favorite musicals “Fiorello”. As a kid I must have listened to the cast album of “Fiorello” a thousand times. I knew the lyrics to every song by heart and still do. Mr. Harnick was incredibly gracious (especially after my lame joke) and we talked throughout dinner getting very little script work done. Well, Sheldon Harnick, now eighty-seven was here this night. He’d won a Pulitzer for writing the lyrics to “Fiorello” and though he did have a complaint it wasn’t about NOT winning the Pulitzer for ‘Fiddler’. There was a short chorus sung in the show called ‘Home Again” celebrating the return of Laguardia and other doughboys to the US after WW I. Originally a much longer song and most of it was cut from the show before opening. The melody for his lyrics can still be heard in the overture. Well ‘Harnick’, for the first time performed the entire song. He was terrific. Robust, on key, inspiring. I sang along with the chorus. Thank you Mr. Harnick for once again making my night! And thanks to my good friend and former classmate Jeremy Smith for inviting me to this unforgettable evening…Things I learned picking up Kyle from school: 1. 75% of (white) boys these days have Justin Beiber haircuts. 2. ‘Mad’ is the new fad adjective, as in “OMG, I had me some mad detention today!” 3. Kids EXPLODE out of school with the energy of a bomb. Why do workers slink from the office enervated, completely drained? 4. Young girls hug each other constantly. I don’t remember girls doing this when I was a kid. They hug with the intensity family members show to newly released kidnap victims…I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and caught the latest exhibit on caricature and political cartoons: Infinite Jest
Caricature and Satire from Leonardo to Levine

The 19th century cartoons of Cruikshank, Rowlandson and Daumier are amusing and historically interesting but there was little 19th century American work and almost no Nast. British Napoleonic cartoons are colorful and spitefully funny but I could have done with a little more Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and less Bonaparte. There were, however, a few 20th century cartoons from Oliphant, Herblock, Levine and others that were more powerfully artistic in original sketch form than they seem in newsprint. Inexplicably, most of these are some distance down the hallway leading to the main exhibition rooms so make sure not to miss them if you go: a frightening Nixon with V-shaped fingers rising from forboding black void, a frail Clinton rebuilding his image on a flimsy scaffold after Monica, an Eisenhower who is all elephantine ears. And there is an entire wall of Hirschfeld’s that are fun to decipher. The last cartoon in the exhibit is called ‘The Headache’ modeled after a 19th century George Cruickshank cartoon, this version has Obama bedeviled by little devils with pitchforks. Despite it’s deficiencies it is certainly worth seeing and I may return for the guided tour the museum is offering on December 15th…I saw ‘Tower Heist’ with Kyle, which despite my apprehension going in, was enjoyable and well done. I am not a Ben Stiller fan and Eddie Murphy seems so perfectly buff and pampered these days that I can’t even accept him playing any facsimile of an actual human being anymore, let alone one who is struggling and downtrodden, but Murphy is funny here. Yes, there is something disconcerting about multi-millionaire movie stars playing proletariat class warriors from Queens and yes director Brett Rattner seems to be a pig…but go, if you haven’t already. You’ll have a good time. Finally, I saw ‘Anonymous’ with an old friend and former Shakespearian castmate. Ugh. ‘Anonymous’ is awful and offensive in the worst way something can be awful and offensive: it was boring. The movie makers obviously see themselves as clever and daring but the film is puerile, like watching a High School kid sniggering at obscenities he’s scrawled across the cover of his Signet Macbeth. And about as entertaining. With Derek Jacobi(a complete waste. Olivier‘s Polaroid commercials were compelling in comparison.)and Vanessa Redgrave (who despite everything creates a vivid acting doodle of Elizabeth in her dotage), I was anxious to see it and had anxiety before seeing ‘Tower Heist’. Just goes to show ya; ‘Ya can’t tell a movie by its trailer.’ (Well, some of the time you can’t!)…See ya back in NYC.

Yes We Cain!


At the top I must admit something: I am a supporter of Herman Cain. I want him to win the Republican nomination. Of course, my primary reason is that I think Barak Obama would beat him easily. But there are other reasons. Obama and Cain are such different characters (and not only politically) that it would create a fascinating race. Obama is thoughtful, sometimes to the point of ponderous, heavy with what the pundits call ‘gravitas’. Cain is breezy, shoot from the hip with what the pundits call ‘retail political skills’. (I first heard the term two months ago when the pundits were claiming Perry had them. Soon everybody on TV was using the term.)

It would also take ‘race’ out of the race. I don’t think you’d see too many Cain supporters carrying little monkey dolls to campaign rallies. And on a societal level it would be mind-boggling. As Howard Stern remarked: ‘If Martin Luther King came back to life he would say: “Whoa! Two Black men running for president?!? That’s a little too much, even for me!” A Presidential race between two black contenders might afford the most positive proof yet about how far America has grown up when it comes to matters concerning race. Perhaps then we could move forward and also deal more maturely with a female presidential candidate.

Or maybe not completely. Making a comparison between political camps Ann Coulter said to Sean Hannity: ‘Our blacks are better than their blacks.” Could you imagine someone saying:“Our Jews are better than their Jews”? And the charges of racism against the harassment claims are ridiculous. If this is a racial ‘high tech lynching’ than the Weiner whirlwind was ‘a high tech pogrom!’

Cain is not the most ignorant of the candidates (in my opinion Bachman and Perry get the low IQ awards) and if intelligence were a factor in the Republican primaries John Huntsman would be leading the pack instead of floating around it somewhere like Banquo’s ghost at the dinner table. Cain is also not the most egregious flip-flopper (Mitt Romney gets that award). Cain’s notorious changes of position are different, taking place over hours or days demonstrating a lack of thoughtfulness rather than a premeditated manipulation. He was a conservative talk show host and conservative radio hosts argue whatever position is in the playbook that day. When it comes to facts, whether its is WMD in Iraq, the shrunken, useless brain of Terry Shiavo, “Lying Louima” or tax cuts raising revenue conservative radio hosts will never admit they were wrong. Tomorrow is another day and another issue to inflame. Herman plays politics by talk radio rules and since most of his supporters are probably also avid listeners its no problem for them.

Early on the pundits were too easy on Cain: His explanations for his position on abortion were impenetrable. I still don’t know whether the electric border fence was a joke or not. And his bafflement over the Palestinian ‘right of return’ baffled even FoxNews, where Chris Wallace tried to help him out by explaining what it meant. Cain’s answer: “Oh, I don’t think the Israelis would have a problem with that!” Oh, really? And his latest gaffe about China ‘s attempt to gain nuclear capability makes one wonder if he also thinks we’d better catch up with the Russkies in the space race!

But later, after they had identified him as amorphous on issues, the media made every statement conform to their pigeonhole. Although I don’t support his 9-9-9 plan at all his apples and oranges explanation about state sales tax made perfect sense to me. The pundits played dumb, making believe they couldn’t understand that state sales taxes would exist either way, with or without a national sales tax. They weren’t part of the plan to adjust FEDERAL taxes. It WAS apples and oranges.

So I am dismayed that these latest charges of sexual harassment could derail the candidacy of polling frontrunner Herman Cain. Or I should say how he has handled those charges. What constitutes sexual harassment can be as relatively innocuous as telling an off color joke or as serious as molestation or coercive rape. Or a lot of noxious things in between. At this point we don’t know where Cain’s transgressions lie on the scale of severity. Still it seems odd to me that Anthony Weiner should be forced to resign over activities that were consensual and provoked no complaint and Cain should be let off the hook for actions and/or comments that were considered inappropriate and inspired serious complaint.

When I was a talk radio host I had an employee come to me, wide-eyed and clearly shocked. One of the on-air hosts, a powerful and popular man had offered her a ride home and on the way he pulled over and began to massage her thigh. He asked if she found him attractive and suggested that if they both were not married might something ‘happen’ between them. She was stunned, uncomfortable around him now and didn’t know how to proceed. I told her she had three options: 1. She could screw him. 2. She could begin the process of legal complaint (and all the negatives that might entail). Or 3. She could just not let herself get into any situation where they were alone ever again. She took a fourth option. As a man I hadn’t thought of it. She used the incident as leverage for her own benefit in the work place, a sort of tacit, teasing blackmail. As far as I can see that choice worked out better than any I had recommended.

I don’t mean to diminish the grievous nature of sexual harassment in the workplace but there is a difference between man-handling someone in the broom closet and saying a hair on a coke can looks like it came from a pubis. There are also different levels of tolerance. And different levels of sophistication. And different levels of dealing with things that make one uncomfortable. In short its difficult to form an opinion about the Cain allegations until one knows just what it was he did. On the other hand, it is entirely justified to believe that the way he has handled the scandal has only magnified the mess.

A friend of mine, one of a vanishing breed of intelligent and thoughtful conservatives asked me to explain Herman Cain’s appeal. I told him that I think a lot of politics these days depends upon emotion. Democrats want someone who will kick ass (Grayson, Weiner, both now gone)…they want their own Chris Christie (or more precisely: a Teddy or Franklin Roosevelt, someone who isn’t afraid to identify enemies and beat them.Grayson and Weiner, maybe because they were only Representatives, always seemed to me to be punching up and not always effectively. Still I cheered. Weiner originated one of my favorite quotes about current politics: ‘The problem with Democrats is that they show up at a knife fight armed with library books.’ Democrats want TOUGH. And that’s one reason Obama has toughened his talk. He’s already demonstrated to independents he can be reasonable. Now he has adopted a more Truman-esque ‘Give ‘em hell’ persona.

If Democrats want TOUGH, Republicans want PERSONALITY (they already have the market on tough!) …thats what Reagan had above all and made his policies more palatable to so many including Reagan Democrats. Who do Republicans have today? McConnell, Cantor, Ryan, Romney–guys who seem cold and robotic or Bohener, who with his crying and tan just seems weird. Palin has personality (not much else) Cain has personality plus (plus a record–I still can’t believe he was on the Federal Reserve!) One might argue that Bachman also has personality but it a forced, unnatural personality, grating after long term exposure–its the packaged responses, the oblivious response to what’s happening around her like a wind up doll with unblinking eyes and pre-recorded answers. Cain has what Reagan had—an easy going affable manner, comfortable in his own skin, a way to communicate simply and an unflappable nature no matter how many times his self-contradictory logic or ‘facts’ are challenged. Its also the ability of a good salesman who can sell 20 Mule Team Borax or the ‘city on the hill’, Domino Pizza or ‘9-9-9.

Or Juiceman Juicers, 1800-MATTRES and progressive politics!

NYC Diary

I just got back from two weeks in NYC, getting Kyle set up in school, seeing friends and enjoying the place that feels so much a part of me…Its still a city where anything can happen at any time. One day I ran into Laurie Dhu (the ex-FoxNews babe, now WPIXnewscaster) and Dr Judy Kuriansky (our resident psychologist on the Richard Bey Show) within minutes of each other on the same street. Later, on the same street, Ashley Simpson came out of a movie theater as I walked by. Yeah, I wouldn’t have known who she was but photographers were shouting her name…Even at night there are amazing surprises; one night at 10pm I went down to have a smoke on that same street, 55th street, and the Marine Marching Brass Band turned the corner. In formation, resplendent in full dress, medalled chests thrust forward proudly, playing ‘The Marine Hymn’ on trumpet, trombone and tuba as they passed by just feet away. It was awesome and I felt like saluting! The NYPD fife and drum corps in kilts followed them. And behind it all ambled an unorganized crowd of five hundred observers. This was the night before 9/11 and I had just watched ‘Flight 93’ with Kyle before my smoke. It was almost as if someone had purposefully staged a reassuring coda to the most dispiriting tragedy….I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Franz Hals exhibit. Itwas mesmerizing, both for his awesome talent for capturing the soul and for his startling techniques presaging painters like Manet and Sargent who wouldn’t be born for centuries. It made me wonder: Why is it that a great painting draws you slowly into the subject’s eyes but photographic portraiture has eyes that pop out grabbing the viewer? Photographers, (and I’ve posed for quite a few, including Bachrach Studios which does presidents) use the term ‘making the eyes pop’. Avedon’s portraits are generally an exception, but even his portraits contain eyes that seem wide and inert, deathlike. The geniuses of paint create eyes that are truly a window to the soul. Portrait photographers seem to strive for the fancy window dressing masking it…The most shameless muggings in NY are not crimes on the streets but on the faces of actors in billboards for the new TV season. There are endless, repetitive caravans of them in the subway tunnels. Each show is described in pidgin English for the proletariat. I guess they figure we can’t handle a complete sentence: “A PRUDE. A DUDE.” or “COP. AN ATTITUDE”. The facial contortions and ‘bon mots’ of somebody promoting the eponymous ‘Whitney” show made me want to reach into the poster and wipe that obnoxious smirk off her face! Ugh, these shows must be better than the ads selling them!…On the other hand, this subway ad for a storage company made me smile. It read: “In my fathers house there are many rooms– John 14:2JESUS MUST NOT HAVE BEEN A NEW YORKER…. While I was away for the summer the NY DAILY NEWS morphed into a conservative tabloid, a few steps short of the NY POST. They knocked Obama everyday about everything and covered the election of Republican Bob Turner as if it was a royal wedding! Just what we need: Two conservative tabloids in America’s most sophisticated city!…I saw Sondheim’s ‘Follies’ in its final preview, walked up to the ticket office and got a seat sixth row center orchestra just two hours before curtain. It’s a magnificent production with a superlative cast. I’d heard of but never seen Jan Maxwell live before and it’s hard to believe that her first talent is not musical theater but ‘straight’ theater. The cast is so superb it would be ungenerous to call her a stand-out…but she IS a standout. One small criticism: the character played by Bernadette Peters is described by her husband in detail as unreasonably argumentative, unfocused and depressive and although the term ‘bipolar’ wasn’t in fashion in 1971 when the play was written its pretty clear to me this character, per the description, suffers from it. But Peters’ character was not. It seemed like her husband was describing the wrong gal. It wasn’t until the final number that Peters displayed anything like her previous description. When she sang: ‘You said you loved me, Or were you just being kind…Or am I losing my mind?’ there was no doubt her last self-analysis was accurate. And it was a startling denouement, very effective…but she had lost her mind long before. We could have seen at least a hint of that in the first act. …. The saddest sound in New York? I heard it on the #6 subway platform. An old Chinese man played “G-d Bless America” on some kind of exotic zither. It wasn’t rousing. It was a mournful, dirge. It still haunts me…In NYC you do 10 things in a day and kick yourself for not doing more. In Florida you do two things a day and give yourself a pat on the back. Is it because the days seem so much shorter in Florida!

What if…?

OBAMA ESCAPES
US FORCES DETAINED IN PAKISTAN; RELEASE IMMINENT
OBAMA INSISTS: “NO APOLOGY FOR RAID”

The dramatic events early Monday, with a firefight that ended in Osama bin Laden’s escape, the deaths of 6 American servicemen and the capture and detention in Islamabad of 66 others and a dog

(May, 9 2011) Islamabad, Pakistan—One week after the tragic raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound the Pakistani military and intelligence service says 66 American serviceman detained in Islamabad are well treated , receiving all necessary medical attention and will be released to American authorities shortly. Many of the servicemen have been allowed to call their families in the States and all have received multiple visits by the Red Crescent humanitarian service. The bodies of 6 American servicemen killed in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter as the raid began arrived yesterday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and are in transit to the US. President Obama is scheduled to meet their arrival at Dover Air Base tomorrow morning.

The demand of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari for a formal apology from the Obama administration for violation of that country’s airspace has not been met but there are signs that both Presidents may come to some compromise agreement in a mutual statement in the days ahead. Along with an apology President Zardari has demanded that every US military action within his country’s borders meet prior approval on an individual basis. Transit of US supplies and munitions to Afghanistan have also been halted over the last week although there has been no formal discontinuation of this longstanding policy agreement. Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who authorized the encirclement of the compound and accepted the surrender of the 66 American pilots, Navy Seals and CIA officers has not made a public statement since removing his prisoners from the compound one week ago. At that time his incendiary comments about the incursion led many international leaders to criticize the US raid but to also call for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to the incident.

The whereabouts of Osama bin Laden are currently unknown although there have been unverified reports that he was inside the compound at the beginning of the raid but escaped during the confusion as Pakistani troops surrounded and disarmed the US raiders.

—————– ———————— ————————

So let me get this straight: If this was the headline story who would be accepting responsibility? Would FoxNews be running countless stories about how George Bush should share the blame? Would those e-mails be circulating that it wasn’t Obama who ‘got’ bin Laden; it was a US soldier? Would anyone be blaming the Navy Seals for ineptitude?

You know the game.

For right-wing talkers, FoxNews and conservative bloggers and e-mailers Obama can only receive blame when things go right…or wrong.

Its the inversion of that famous quote of Richard Nixon: “I accept the responsibility but not the blame…”

What if this had been the final story about the what happened in Abottabad?
Who would get credited with the failure? Isn’t that the same person who should be given credit for its success?

Madison: Your New Tropical Vacation Spot!

FoxNews ran clips of the Wisconsin demonstrations while a FoxNews reporter describes how liberal organizations (of which he could not name one–there were just too, too many of them!) were busing in out of state agitators. Funny how when Americans for Prosperity bused protesters into Madison from out of state (25 buses from Pennsylvania!) FoxNews was cheerleading them on.

For days we’ve been told how bitter cold and snowy its been in Madison, Wisconsin, that despite inclement weather a hundred thousand protesters showed up. Obviously, the main stream media is caught lying again. Its sunny and warm in Madison according to FoxNews! Protesters wear short sleeve shirts (CORRECTION: It has been pointed out correctly that no short sleeve shirts are visible in the video). Its almost tropical! Why Madison even has palm trees!

Take a look at the video:

Well, thank goodness for small favors. It could have been worse.

At least FoxNews didn’t try to slip in a shot of protests in Libya (also with palm trees)!

Next up: My old partner Steve Malzberg gets FoxNews presidential candidate Mike Huckabee to elaborate upon Obama‘s childhood growing up with the Mau-Maus in Kenya!

Gotta love Steve…I’ll never forget the time he railed into the microphone about Saddam having VX, sarin, anthrax and WMD. It was clear he was reading directly from NEWSMAX and didn’t know that WMD was an acronym (these were the early days of warmongering). I asked him what WMD stood for and he said it must be the chemicals in a poison gas. “Noooo,” I replied and began crooning the ‘Jeapardy’ theme song. I gave him the first word but he still didn’t get it.

If Steve heard that Obama was a ‘Keynesian’ he’d cite that as proof of his citizenship…

Krugman: Christmas Humbug

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/24/opinion/24krugman.html?src=me&ref=homepage

If you listen to the recent speeches of Republican presidential hopefuls, you’ll find several of them talking at length about the harm done by unionized government workers, who have, they say, multiplied under the Obama administration. A recent example was an op-ed article by the outgoing Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, who declared that “thanks to President Obama,” government is the only booming sector in our economy: “Since January 2008” — silly me, I thought Mr. Obama wasn’t inaugurated until 2009 — “the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs, while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.”

Horrors! Except that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, government employment has fallen, not risen, since January 2008. And since January 2009, when Mr. Obama actually did take office, government employment has fallen by more than 300,000 as hard-pressed state and local governments have been forced to lay off teachers, police officers, firefighters and other workers.

So how did the notion of a surge in government payrolls under Mr. Obama take hold?

It turns out that last spring there was, in fact, a bulge in government employment. And both politicians and researchers at humbug factories — I mean, conservative think tanks — quickly seized on this bulge as evidence of an exploding public sector. Over the summer, articles and speeches began to appear highlighting the rise in government employment and issuing dire warnings about what it portended for America’s future.

But anyone paying attention knew why public employment had risen — and it had nothing to do with Big Government. It was, instead, the fact that the federal government had to hire a lot of temporary workers to carry out the 2010 Census — workers who have almost all left the payroll now that the Census is done.

Is it really possible that the authors of those articles and speeches about soaring public employment didn’t know what was going on? Well, I guess we should never assume malice when ignorance remains a possibility.

OUT OF MY MIND

Remember the McCain ad skewering Obama for being a celebrity without substance? ( SEE HERE ) Isn’t it ironic that the same group that cheered this ad are now cheering their political heroes on Dancing with the Stars, hosting TV shows and joined at the hip with TV and radio celebrities at public appearances? Three of the foremost candidates for the Republican presidential nomination are even on a television payroll as celebrities, some with their own shows–(I know you are but what am I?)…. I’m always invigorated when I arrive in the city and completely exhausted when I leave it. I just flew back to Florida last night…..It could be that the best book I’ve read in a while (and recently I’ve read quite a few excellent books): ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I’m only halfway through it so I’m in one of those states silently praying to the author ‘please, please, don’t blow it in the end’. The chapter I read last night was so special I reread it this morning to make sure it was really that good. It was. Room is wonderfully, almost magically written, thrilling, horrifying and joyous at the same time with characters you will love and believe in (including some that aren’t alive!) And the narrator of the tale is someone you will never ever forget. I implore you to read it…Have you watched kids in a schoolyard recently? They run around in circles, do handstands and cartwheels, scream with hysterical joy, playfight—Its like watching the anarchic release of an explosion! Did we really erupt that wildly when we were that age? I remember punchball and ordered games, standing in line when they blew the whistle. I remember the resentment of order and orientation in elementary school, I just can’t remember that visceral kablooey when it was temporarily lifted…I know we’re all frustrated with Obama, and that woman at the CNBC Q&A expressed what a lot of Americans are feeling but at this point in the Bush administration he hadn’t even invaded Iraq yet!…If you want to really see how stupid pop music is these days read the lyrics on the videos without sound while running on a treadmill. (Take it off! Take it off!)…At least Channel 11 is trying to do something different with local news. All NY local newscasts are generic and the same. In the early nineties I proposed Channel 9 try a different format based upon a successful newscast in Japan. It may or may not work out at Channel 11 but at least the news director at WPIX has the imagination and guts to create something new…On the same topic, anyone remember when you could tell local anchors and reporters apart? Remember when they had personality? Roger Grimsby, Myra Wollinsky, Chauncy Howell, Tom Snyder (even the ill-fated, rape-happy Tex Antoine?). These days most local news people look like they just flew in from Des Moines…If its really YOUR money how come you can’t legally print it, deface it or destroy it? You can do whatever you want with your gold….and why do the days seem so short in Florida?