Monday, April 30, 2007
The Bushies continue eating their own. Don't you just feel terrible for poor George Tenet. His new book in his own defense, which is due out today, accuses Bush/Cheney of not fully discussing the Iraq war before proceeding. But George Tenet, you told George Bush that Iraq would be a "slam-dunk." Come on George Tenet, you had to know that if you told clueless, dumb George Bush something like that then you'd be enabling him. There would be no further discussion needed. It would be slam-dunk! On 60 minutes last night, Tenet tried to say that he meant something else by "slam-dunk." Give me a break. You have to be of questionable character to take the job of CIA chief. I could never do it and I don't know anyone who could. The CIA is a necessary evil. But to take the job under Bush/Cheney, now that would require someone really special, wouldn't it?
Here's an update on the former Imus slot on MSNBC. This week they are simulcasting yet another local radio show talking head, one Stephanie Miller from somewhere out on the Left coast. Supposedly a "liberal," she claims she is too liberal for Republicans and right wingers, but too un-PC for those on the left. Where do they get these people?
Sunday, April 29, 2007
The musical values of the three operas were strongly delineated by Maestro James Levine. And the Met cast all three works from strength, with such fine singing-actors as Barbara Frittoli, Stephanie Blythe, Maria Guleghina and Salvatore Licitra. Yet the size of the production, described by the Met as the largest in its repertory, started me thinking about the current peculiar double standards that exist in opera stagings in this country and in Europe.
Usually, realistic productions are decried by the New York press. Is there a single New York Times critic who admires Franco Zeffirelli? If so, I've yet to read such an opinion. Most critics praise minimalism (like Robert Wilson's) and the distortions of countless European regie directors. Wilson's staging is done solely with lighting effects and he forces his actors to stand still as statues for long periods of time. Such practices rarely add anything to Wagner's operas or the other pieces he directs. The other type of staging popular now in theater and opera is called "Regie," from the German word for 'direction.' This usually involves updating the story and tossing in clumsy symbolism. A current example at the Met is this season's new production of Richard Strauss' opera Die Agyptische Helena. English director David Fielding included such distractions and (by now cliches) as a group of warriors in suits who carry suitcases onstage and leave them spread about the floor to no discernible effect. This type of direction has been discourteously and quite accurately labeled "Eurotrash." Though such practices are just as often done now by American directors, as the New York City Opera's unfortunate production of Rossini's La Donna del Lago proves. Certainly it's not impossible to update an opera and make a powerful statement, as the Met's production of the Shostakovich opera The Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District demonstrates.
But a double standard seems to exist, to read the reviews of the Met's new Il Trittico. The Times applauded the production, and rightly so. Yet if the same designs and realistic directing had been created by Zeffirelli the whole production would have been lambasted. It could be that realistic and 'traditional' versions of stage design and direction may be on the way out for good. If that happens, it will be a sad world for future audiences and the masterpieces such directors trash.
"The pinnacle of the convention, however, was the keynote address given by Dr. Frank Kameny, a World War II combat veteran. Kameny, 82, was fired from a Civil Service position for being gay in 1957, ending his career as an astronomer in the Army Map Service. He went on to become one of the earliest LGBT equal rights pioneers. “I have taken the strong position,” said Kameny, “that by denying military service by people with a lot to offer, [government officials] are giving aid and comfort to the enemies of our country. Giving aid and comfort to the enemy is the constitutional definition of ‘treason’,” he added. “Anyone who supports ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ starting with traitor [former U.S. Senator] Sam Nunn, should be indicted, prosecuted, convicted and hanged,” Kameny said to applause. “And I will gladly pay for the hangman’s noose out of my own pocket.”
Now, I admire Frank Kameny and agree with his sentiments, er, well, I don't believe in capital punishment, so I wouldn't hang anyone, but I think he has the wrong villain. Let's be perfectly clear about this: Bill Clinton is responsible for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Clinton promised to issue an executive order and then didn't' do it. Yes, Congress would have reversed it with legislation, but issuing the order would have put the executive branch of government on the record in favor of gays serving openly. Eliot Spitzer essentially is using the same strategy with his introduction of the gay marriage bill in New York state. He knows it will fail initially, but it sets a precedent. Clinton waffled, and he ended up setting the wrong precedent. Frank, it's Bill Clinton that you really need to hold accountable.
The train ride gave me an opportunity to read a few magazines and other items of mail that I had stacked on my desk. The most recent issue of The New Yorker has a few great articles in it including one on Barbara Stanwyk and another on what happens to us physically as we grow old (it is not pretty.) Adam Gopnik's commentary on the VA Tech shootings and the need in the U.S. for handgun control hit the mark:
When the medical professionals and police were removing the bodies of the dead kids from Norris Hall, cell phones were ringing in the victim's pockets. It was their parents frantically calling to check on them. What a horror, but no, we don't need gun control laws and strict enforcement to prevent mentally unstable kids from purchasing 9 mm Glocks, do we?
"Rural America is hunting country, and hunters need rifles and shotguns-with proper licensing, we'll live with the risk. There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun. At some point, that simple truth will register. Until it does, phones will ring for dead children, and parents will be told not to ask why."
Saturday, April 28, 2007
The photo is of Sufjan Stevens at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia taken last fall. It was a great concert.
My Episcopalian friends are justly proud of their leadership in standing firm against the anti-gay bigotry of the reactionary elements within the Anglican communion. It's interesting to watch this play out. The big disappointment is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has sided with the bigots. He knows better.
I had a brief discussion at dinner the other evening with a friend. The topic was power in relationships. He feels that, in relationships one partner has the most power and the other is "needy." I don't think it's quite that simple. I think a partner that has a lot of power power can be needy, and the "needy" partner can have quite a bit of power. Successful relationships play out over time and lots of interpersonal "territory," and shifting dynamics of power and need.
We're off to the Big Apple today to enjoy the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Puccini's "Il Tritico."
Friday, April 27, 2007
This photo shows the new Fire Island Pines Pavillion replacement structure, which is nearly ready for the summer season.
I missed the Democratic candidates debate on TV last night because we went out to dinner with friends. It was" Dining Out For Life," an AIDS fund raiser that has been a tradition for years. News coverage has it as a lovefest between the Dems at the expense of the emperor. I suppose that's a good thing at least at this point in the game.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
I'm fighting the computer wars here. The four year old desktop died. I have an old laptop that I can use, but I actually got a tired 10 year old desktop working that I had stored in the attic. I guess it's time to buy a new machine for the island house. But that means wrestling with compatibility problems since new boxes are packed with MS Vista and probably nothing we have will work with the new system.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Monday, April 23, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
This male Cardinal is the mate to the female in the picture I posted below. They sure are photogenic.
So I missed Gonzales' Senate testimony, and Harry Reid saying that we lost the war in Iraq. Gonzales should be toast and Reid is right. It will be interesting to see if Gonzales lasts the weekend. Hopefully, the Dems will hang tough with the emperor Bush on a bring the troops home timetable.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I took this photo in Washington, D.C. in early March of 2003, at a rally I attended that was organized as a last ditch attempt to stop the invasion if Iraq. Unfortunately, we who marched then and protested Bush's mad plan to invade Iraq were not successful in preventing the lawless invasion that took place on March 20, 2003. Now, over four years later, as the seemingly endless war drags on at a staggering cost in human life, I wonder, as we mourn those poor kids who were killed yesterday in Virginia, if we have become numb to the thousands and thousands of innocent civilian deaths that have occurred and continue to occur each day in Iraq? Where are the protests? If we had a non-volunteer armed services, would even more people be demanding that we get out of Iraq?
Monday, April 16, 2007
Until the recently decided Federal Circuit Court decision that threw out Washington, D.C's handgun ordinance, no federal court decision had supported an individual right to bear arms. Read the Constitution! Law enforcement officials everywhere support strict handgun control. The D.C. decision will be appealed and, I hope overturned. Let's hope this happens before yet another massacre takes place.
No, I think Imus is gone, and that's a good thing. His "humor," done largely at the expense of others who are not in a position to hit back or defend themselves, is not funny. That type of humor takes little talent to present. Imus, I've seen and heard real comedy and you're not talented enough to do it. Instead, you relied upon your clearly bigoted on air cronies to feed you sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic hard balls that you were usually smart enough not to repeat, but for the times you slipped up, like with the Rutger's women's team. You're not fooling most of us. We know what's in your heart, because it came out of your mouth.
Some of the members of your all white circle of political media cronies have defended you with lame references to you being "an equal opportunity offender," but that doesn't wash. I don't have any friends or associates who use the epithets or say the kinds of things I heard on your show, and I don't want any that do. So why would I want to hear you and your on air thugs use such language? Oh yes, and there is the defense that you do a lot of charity work. Too bad that good work cannot offset or negate the massive amounts of offense and hurt you've caused over the years to so many people including myself. Well, now you'll have more time to devote to your causes.
Oh, the hypocrisy of it all! - that's the defense of Imus coming from supporters like Frank Rich, who should know better. But he's a straight, white man, and didn't present much of a target for Imus' bigot squad. Others in Imus' former circle of cronies have seen the light, like John Meecham at Newsweek. Still others remain in hiding, such as Harold Ford and Tim Russert. It was wonderful to watch Gwen Ifil criticize Russert on "Meet The Press" for his tacit complicity in all of this as a repeat Imus guest. Yes, there are hypocrites out there, but how does that in any way excuse what happened?
Finally, there's the attack on PC that is used as a defense of Imus, as if being civil and respectful of diversity is bad. The right wing has managed to so demonize calls for civility using the pejorative tag "political correctness" that people run from it, just like they've demonized "liberals" to the point where no one wants to be called one. However, the Imus story has shown that we must return to a culture of civil discourse in the media and elsewhere, one that respects our sexual, social, ethnic and cultural diversity. What we need is an end to the uncivil antics of the rest of the bigoted shock jocks and pundits. They're on notice now. I can't wait for the next firing.