Saturday, September 29, 2012


Saw this tonight and have to say, felt tense through almost the entire film. On the surface (and underneath for that matter) it's like one of those 1940s melodrama/thrillers that often were labeled "women's movies" like most of Joan Crawford's oeuvre (as they say). Only in this case Richard Gere is Crawford. And, like her, he makes it work (full disclosure, I used to know Richard and liked him very much, he's a nice guy in my experience).

The story is contrived and half the plot points don't hold up when considered in the light of street lamps on your way home, but while you're watching the film, or at least while I was, I bit every hook and held on. Because, though some of the storyline twists don't really make sense in retrospect, the story moves so fast and and plot points pile up so high I made quick adjustments (yeah, I was hurt in an accident and it looked like internal bleeding, but I survived by holding the part of my torso where the pain came from and my bruised spleen supposedly was located while ignoring doctors orders to stay in bed for a week and went out to the Peppermint Lounge instead to dance the night away) etc. so I could keep up with the unfolding story.

It really made me tense, while at the same time I was admiring some of the acting and critically observing the rest. Gere is up to a lot of his old tricks but, again, they work. And Susan Sarandon is as always brilliant. Tim Roth plays a New York cop with his usual panache (though I kept thinking wtf there aren't actors who are actual New Yorkers available?!). A young actor named Nate Parker does a great job with a more or less thankless role and cameos by all sorts of interesting actors would have been enough for me to have felt I got my money's worth.

I thought Brit Marling as the daughter, one of the major roles in the film, was uneven, some moments worked perfectly, some didn't. But that didn't keep me from still feeling the rush of tension and fearful expectations. Great soundtrack too, and great tracking shots and editing. A "great" film: no. A great escape for a couple of hours: yes. I forgot what had been on my mind before the movie started. Which is one of the main reasons I go to movies and watch them on TV. And though I had read somewhere that Gere looked his character's age, sixty, I was thinking he looked better than ever with some lines of experience and that leonine gray mane. Like the kind of wealthy successful character he played, and is.

Friday, September 28, 2012


"The first thing the whites liked to do with a great hostile was to dress him up and whisk him off to Washington to meet the president and other high potentates, thus, it was hoped, impressing him with the immensity of white power. It usually worked, too. Even Sitting Bull, once he saw the east, was impressed by white power, but was correspondingly depressed by the homeless beggars he encountered on the streets of the white men's cities. Such a lack of charity would never have been allowed among the Sioux, he pointed out."

—Larry McMurtry from CRAZY HORSE


Read it here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Found this photo of me and my late oldest brother sometime before he moved to Japan, where he lived and worked until a few years before he passed not that long ago. He remained a humble, moral, committed, spiritual, good Franciscan friar to the end. It wasn't until I was older and went through my own "spiritual growth" that we came to be as close as you would want to be to a sibling you loved.

He was a beacon to me through all my wayward years, never judging me, at least not to me, always praising my attempts to help create a world with more love and kindness, tolerance and fairness. I miss him, as I do all my siblings who have passed. Which is reassuring, because I couldn't wait to get away from them when I was a rebellious teenager. Isn't life a beautiful mystery?    

Monday, September 24, 2012


"these folk are serious as an outbreak of ebola; since nixon, they have been like ants and beavers, playing to the lowest common denominator, race/class, the silent buzz word of objectivism, selfishness as a virtue, and fundamental control of process, political, judicial and media along with think-speak...i still live in a world where me and my family pay dwb tax (800+/yr) and meet pinheaded lower reincarnates everyday and see this shit on the ground as part of daily life, so i'm serioso on a minute-by-minute basis.  diebold and the other voting machine producers have a monopoly on being able to flip the chip on their machines and because you don't get a receipt as you leave the poll, you don't have a clue as to the disposition of your electoral attempt; i did that election judge thing for three years, and stopped when i found the boxes stuffed, causing overcounts and requiring four recounts to balance, making the ballots late at headquarters; personally requesting an absentee ballot and missing a vote because they didn't send it; having a republican election supervisor give me the wrong ballot, and then say, oh how could that have happened?; or having my former neighbor, an attorney and poll watcher have to have the fbi arrest a republican disruptor who walked into our local library, which is used as a polling place, then come outside and start telling people the election judges were looking for people with outstanding warrants, and see the black people start to peel out of line..i could go on & on, but this is one reason why i still don't consider myself & those of my profile as citizens.  and we don't have the simple ability to say, none of the above,  i am armed, though so far have not loaded.  i think the fix is in, but even if o'bama wins,  you know he has been and will have to continue to follow the master plan or die like the kennedys and every other assassinated president.  this is a truly seminal moment, and if these jokers are not crushed and their metal penises put in storage, their colorstruck madness will pitch all of us into a real depression and an extremely uncivil war, at which they can't (again) be allowed to prevail-there lies chaos.  you were dealt violence for speaking your mind and trying to seek truth when you were growing up; i stopped speaking out (stapled my lips) when i saw what they did to non-violent eloquence and went about my business, and still had guns pulled on me by my alleged protectors, here in my hometown;  at least i have not  been vacuumed into the prison system (yet) like the 4 million men (& women) who can't march, due to shackles and an intentional corporate industrialization of that system (see Sloss Furnaces, birmingham,alabama 1880-1930+{hank rearden similarities}).

what i'm saying here is not directed at you or any people who seek truth, peace and justice, and have paid their dues, but to those who steal, using the system, hide their money overseas, don't pay taxes, sell weapons to the world & create mayhem for oil rights, encourage race/sexism, and attempt to continually minimize those whom they rob, cheat and lie to, based on standards which they continually shift when it becomes clear that more people are about to attain equity.  and then declare that somehow, by some top-secret formula, they are the only true 'murkans.  i admired martin luther king, malcolm x, the panthers, etc but as i said, they represent the death of speak-truth-to-power eloquence.  talk was and is cheap, especially if you're preaching to the choir, and the sinner ain't listening or going to, without a pay-attention whack.

in the movie independence day, the alien invaders were described as being like locusts, destroying everything and then moving on to the next victim planet; when the president asked the alien in area 51 what did they want the people of earth to do, the creature said, "die".  that's where i am after 72 years of incessant setbacks to progress initiated and promulgated by these throwbacks to pre-civil war golden years, who continue to transmit the disease to their offspring, and expect the rest of us to say, thank you boss for so graciously placing your boot on my neck, and suh, may i have some molasses wif dat?  enough is enough.  our children will not be prepared for the viciousness of what i think is coming, mike, and i hope that all i just wrote disappears into the past,  but the momentum is like the inertia exerted by an enormous mass- physics demands an equal & opposite reaction to enable either a gradual turn or an abrupt stop; whoever is steering has to be very strong, and, as jerry butler told us, only the strong survive.  peace, but maybe not...
didn't mean to blow off, but as james brown said-heh! i feel good...(horns)
dahda dahda dahda dah! 
boomp boomp boomp boomp..."
                                                              —Dedmon Walken

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I've got about thirty books next to my bed that people have sent me or handed me to read, either because they wrote them or a friend did or they published them or they thought of me when they read them. But every now and then I buy my own, and last time I was in the Berkshires I picked up a couple of books in my favorite used book store, I think it's called The Yellow House, in Great Barrington.

They were two books from a series I think James Atlas edited for Penguin of biographies of interesting historical figures written by interesting contemporary writers. It was such a great idea and so well executed it reminded me of when I was young and bought many books just because they were published by New Directions, or other publishers that seemed to know what I would love to read.

I was pretty certain that I had read every one in the series, that's how much I liked the idea of this series. But when I picked up Thomas Keneally's bio of ABRAHAM LINCOLN and Larry McMurtry's of CRAZY HORSE and read the first few pages of each I had no memory of ever having read the words before. When I got home I checked my bookshelves and sure enough there was the Lincoln bio, but I couldn't find the Crazy Horse one so I started reading it, though now sure I'd read that as well.

For some friends, this kind of memory lapse they'd take as just a part of aging, but for me it's been more a product of the brain operation I had nearly three years ago now. It's not like I don't remember many movies and books and recordings still, I do, or vaguely remember some things I'd read or seen before the operation, though that happens too, but with things like the two bios I bought I don't remember reading one word of them. Which in some ways is good, I get to read things I love as though for the first time.

Or see movies. Like GILDA. This classic was on TCM last night and I turned the TV on just as it was starting and thought I'd look for something else because I remembered being disappointed in this film, except for the famous scene where Rita Hayworth dances and strips off one long glove as though that were as risque as you could get. But as the first scene unfolded I felt like I had never seen this film before, so I kept watching, and in fact every scene in the movie, except for that dance number, seemed brand new. I had no memory whatsoever of having seen any of this film save that scene before. I was watching it for the first time, again!

I could see by the time it was over what I might not have liked about it whenever I'd seen it in the past—mostly the script and storyline not making sense a lot of the times like Glen Ford's character being so clueless about the obviously evil villain of the film—and loved much about it this time, especially Rita Hayworth's acting, often under appreciated because her glamorous and gorgeous screen charisma was so overwhelming.

I remember many decades ago when I was a guest at a fancy dinner party in a New York townhouse because I had a bit of celebrity at the moment on the literary scene. Almost everyone else was someone who I either admired or felt in awe of, like the poet and dance critic Edwin Denby or the poet Barbara Guest. When she mentioned some writing of Colette's, for reasons I can't remember, I must have looked a little unsure so she asked me what I thought about Colette and I had to admit I hadn't read anything by her.

There was a moment of what I took as embarrassed silence, embarrassed for me, broken only when Edwin thoughtfully said: "How I envy you having reading Colette to look forward to." It was typical, I discovered, of him to behave with such graceful manners, at least most of the time around me, and Barbara and I got to know each other over the following years better as well. And of course I went out and read everything Colette ever wrote that was still in print.

My experience with GILDA and McMurtry's CRAZY HORSE makes me feel like Denby did, or maybe pretended to, toward me that time. Instead of being distraught by these amazing lapses of memory I think of myself as lucky, because I get to have the pleasure of reading or watching or listening to some things anew. Like McMurty's CRAZY HORSE and the Hollywood classic GILDA both of which I discovered I was happy to experience, even if critically about some aspects of them. Just more to be grateful for.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I forgot to mention another new show I'm planning on following for a while. BOMB GIRLS. It's from Canada and has been on there for a while but just started on the REELZ station down here so I caught the first episode and dug it.

It's melodramatic soap opera-ish like most episodic TV dramas but at least it has some accurate history (and some inaccurate). Set in WWII in a bomb making factory where the women have the factory floor jobs putting the bombs together it's one of the very few TV series that's set in and actually stars people who do manual labor. Let alone women.

There's already been some fine acting (and some not so fine) in the first episode [Meg Tilly is excellent] and story lines set up to create some suspense and desire to see what happens. And with almost no violence and so far only indirectly shot sex scenes. A relief from the sensationalism of so many TV series including the ones I wrote about in my last post.

I'd say check it out if you can get it. If for nothing else but the jitterbugging scenes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


So I almost never get into a TV series and follow it the way so many friends and family did and do. But maybe because it's so much easier to watch them now with "on demand" and all the ways to stream them (no, I don't have Netflix yet but most of my family and friends do) I seem to be following more shows than ever before in my life.

I usually just turn on the TV to catch an old movie or see what the various news channels are doing to whatever's considered "the news" for the day. And documentaries. For instance I never got into MAD MEN or THIRTY ROCK or any of the various CSIs (though I did check out THIRTY ROCK in reruns and on DVD and was glad I did) or even many of the TV shows I actually acted in.

But here I am, still waiting for DOWNTON ABBEY to return and HOMELAND and meanwhile watching BOSS and now COPPER and the new season of BOARDWALK EMPIRE. And, I hate to admit it, but my soon to be fifteen-year-old has got me watching THE WALKING DEAD with him! [Old ones on demand]

BOSS is so over the top cynical it's ridiculous, but it's also an interesting attempt to dramatize serious mental health issues and some of the acting is pretty fine. The same could be said of BOARDWALK EMPIRE, over the top cynical with some pretty fine acting and gangsterism is a form of mental illness from my perspective. Though both shows have been disappointing so far this season.

Interestingly COPPER and THE WALKING DEAD, though even more sensationalist where sex and violence are concerned, have story lines that allow for a little less cynicism and a little more hope and redemption.  COPPER and BOARDWALK EMPIRE also have the asset of being historically interesting and at times original, whereas BOSS and THE WALKING DEAD just riff on past genres, political melodrama and cartoon horror.

None of these shows can really come close to HOMELAND or DOWNTON ABBEY for consistency of acting and story telling [or leading actors/actresses]. And of those two the one that's best, for my taste, in every way—acting and writing and directing and historical interest and originality and all the variety of human emotion and action not just the most sensational aspects or darkest—is DOWNTON ABBEY. I can't wait for it to return.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


It's the creative works that relieve my soul in times of trouble, which seems to be most of the time.  I had a birthday in May and just got around to using some gift cards for one of the local bookstores in the Berkshires. One of the books I picked up was WOOLGATHERING by Patti Smith.

It's an amended version of a little book she wrote in the 1990s, only with a new introduction and photos. Part poetry part prose and pretty much all memoir, there are a few chapters that read as swiftly and clearly as her masterpiece of memoir prose JUST KIDS. So if you liked that you'll like those sections.

Others are more prose poem explorations of the imagery of memory, sometimes becoming a little precious but always a clear expression of Smith's creative inspirations and impulses.  And the book itself is a sweet little art object (I'm talking of the hardcover which was all the store had; I don't even know if there's a paperback) beautifully produced.

Here's a random example of the more poetic prose sections, a paragraph that displays her original use of imagery as well as her sometimes arcane use of language in a way she totally owns and makes her own as well:

"It seemed like all of creation was mapped out above and I was drawn from the laughter of the other children into a stillness I aspired to master. Here one could hear a seed form or the soul fold like a handkerchief."

[Full disclosure: As I've written before, an anthology I edited in the 1970s, NONE OF THE ABOVE, had poems by Smith because I was a big fan of hers when I discovered her first little book of poems and the 45 record where she did my favorite piece of hers: "Piss Factory." But when she didn't respond to my request for the use of some of her poems the publisher of the anthology contacted the publisher of her little book and got permission to use them. I didn't want to do that without her say so, but he did it anyway.

I did meet her back then, and since, but she didn't have anything to say to me any of those times, once just patting my little boy's head (my oldest back when he was still a boy) and giving him one of her magnetic smiles. Last time I saw her and reintroduced myself was last year, and once again she said nothing, just gave me an enigmatic smile.]

Friday, September 14, 2012


I meant to write just about creative work I've been using as a respite from all the politics. But the Mideast situation seems to demand notice and comment, so...

What strikes me, besides the new dark ages lack of logic and reasoned arguments in much of the world population that gets most of the attention in the media, even the more democratic social media, is the disproportionate power of the few over the many in almost every aspect of life today.

The few corporations that most influence not just much of the worlds life styles but influence most of its politics (big oil being the main one, then weapons and drugs, the same trinity I've been writing about since the 1960s as the basis for most world power and conflict). Billions of people having much of their lives influenced and even controlled by a handful of big businesses.

And almost all societies seem to be subject to this disproportionate power of the few. Take 9/11. Approximately 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks. The proportionate response would be to track down those behind the attacks and bring them to justice. Like a criminal matter, track down the suspects, try them and hopefully justice will be done.

But in retaliation for those attacks, two wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of people in several countries including well over three thousand of our own people (troops mostly) have been waged and are still going on (at least the killings are).

A handful of weak thinkers who are bad filmmakers "create" at least a trailer that purports to be part of a two hour film in order to denigrate a world religion to provoke what exactly? It's not perfectly clear but from the evidence it would seem the least they wanted to start was yet another war.

So then mobs of people in various Mideast countries respond to this provocation by a handful of people with demonstrations and riots and military style attacks that have killed more than a dozen people so far, and are still going on and for all I know at this writing scores more have died.

And the world media, particularly here in the USA responds as though the populations of these countries are all taking part in or at least responsible for these mob outbursts, even though they represent a tiny tiny minority of the countries involved.

They often referred to the 20th century as the century of "the common man" but it seems the 21st is fast becoming the century of the elites, the handful, the 1% or less who dominate the news and events that create the news.  You would think in this age of instant communication and worldwide media and social networks there'd be a way to say: hey, a couple of idiots trying to provoke you did a stupid thing that happens to be legal in the country they did it in but that doesn't mean our government or the majority of our population agrees with their representation of your religion.

And to say to all religious fundamentalists everywhere, including the rightwingnuts in our own country, if there is such a thing as "God" why would he need you to defend him or her or it or however you see this all powerful entity? And why would the creator of the world and all life be threatened or even that bothered by a handful of idiots doing idiotic things?

Okay, it's late, I'm probably not even making sense, but before I crashed I just wanted to respond to some of you who wondered what I thought about what's been going down the past few days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Anyone else see more than coincidence in that anti-Muslim "film" causing "anti-American" demonstrations in Egypt and Libya and possibly elsewhere in the Mideast happening just before the election?

I believe in coincidence but I also believe in deliberate manipulation of the media to create a problem for a candidate, especially in presidential politics (as in the Iran hostage problem for Carter that was somehow miraculously solved the day Reagan took office etc.).

Obama is one of the few Democrats since before Johnsons' fiasco in Viet Nam, who has had a foreign policy success rate Republicans can't really criticize (though that doesn't stop them of course, by basing their criticism on lies rather than facts). Romney has proven himself totally inept at foreign policy and diplomacy. So it wouldn't surprise me if rightwing propagandists are connected to the making of and release of the video that is causing the demonstrations etc.

[PS: Just in the few minutes since I posted this, some Internet commenters suggest a tie between Israeli rightwing propagandists and the video with the same aim as I suggested above, to discredit our president because of his refusal to give in to the rightwing Netanyahu's insistence we basically declare we'll be going to war against Iran whenever he says we should, etc.]

[I also wrote this before I listened to the news and heard our Ambassador to Libya was killed along with three "security personnel" and what I'm now wondering is why we're outsourcing and privatizing the protection of our embassies and ambassadors instead of using our military like we used to? Especially since we have military all over the world anyway. Would a contingent of marines large enough to deal with what can be expected in whatever country in terms of governance and radicalism have been able to hold off the attackers? My guess is definitely.]

Monday, September 10, 2012


[The first one my daughter Caitlin posted and I have no idea how accurate the science is but the idea is brilliant. I can't remember where I first saw the second one, equally brilliant and more succinct.]

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I've been meaning to write about this BBC America dramatic show that began running a few weeks ago. I had the idea I already did, but when I checked the archives I didn't see it. COPPER is set in the Manhattan of the mid-1800s, beginning during The Civil War. The main character is a detective, which were known as "coppers" because of the coppers badges they wore on their otherwise civilian clothes.

Turns out the two competing police forces in Manhattan had joined forces and the unformed ones we mostly associate with the period were from one force and the un-uniformed detectives were from the other. The hero is a Civil War veteran, as well as an ex boxing champ, who saved the life of a wealthy Manhattanite whose father then got our man appointed as a detective. Our hero can often be sensitive and caring but at times his heroics can also be casually brutal and insensitive.

The period and the way its handled is a little reminiscent of Scorcese's GANGS OF NEW YORK but not as colorful. For budgetary and other reasons the sets are dark and cramped and mostly shot in what reads as sepia, like a photograph from those times, rather than the reality which Scorcese captured of the flamboyantly colored clothing and styles then.

The early episodes begin right after the days when GANGS OF NEW YORK ends, that is after the "draft riots" that paralyzed Manhattan and left many dead, including black New Yorkers who shared the poorest sections of New York with the immigrant Irish but ended being strung up by many of those same Irish when The Civil War dragged on and they kept being forcibly inducted into the army to fight.

One of the leads in the show is a free black doctor with forensic skills that our hero met in the war and relies on to help solve cases but has to pretend it's his own detective skills because using the knowledge of a black man would put both of them and their jobs in jeopardy. There is a bit too much sensationalism at times, but the hardness of the characters it comes from seems historically viable, and I so love the history of this period in New York that I'm able to overlook the sometimes seemingly contrived aspects of the plot because the details ring so true to my knowledge.

There's some fine acting as well, and from actors I don't know for the most part. I'll let you discover them for yourself, if you're interested. I know I am. I'm definitely hooked.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


So I went to the city today with my youngest and two of his friends so they could scout the merchandise in his favorite stores (or actually his favorite merchandise in the stores that carry it): SUPREME, on Lafayette, the clothing store my youngest's favorite crew (Odd Future) have something to do with, and another shop with skate boards and clothes and a room with old pinball machines down on East 12th Street whose name I forget.

But we got the train schedule wrong and were forty minutes early and they were grabbing stuff to eat and drink at the concession stand run by one of his friends dad's and I forgot to stash a New Yorker in my back pocket to read on the train while they worked their thumbs on Instagram and texting but there's a free book rack in our train station so I checked that out and discovered some books, mostly published in the 1980s, by authors I personally knew or knew their ex-spouses like Bobbie Ann Mason whose writing I've always loved and hadn't read in a while (though someone just sent me her collected stories I was planning to get into any day) so I chose that one called SPENCE + LILA.

The subtitle is "A Love Story" and it is. But probably different from most you or I have read. Mason's writing is so crisp and clear and individual you can't help but admire it, and she wields it in the service of stories about people not often tracked as emotionally honestly as she always has, in general rural white folk from the South or the Southwest. She makes them more articulate than most who write of the same people in the same regions if only in their minds at times, but more importantly she makes them as real as any reality show could never be but our lives and those we encounter in them really are.

I'm not going to tell you any story points other than to say Spence and Lila have been married a long time and live on a small farm in Kentucky. They got married and started a family back during World War Two when their folks were still just coming out of The Great Depression and lived a frugal and very old fashioned way of life. Now their children are grown with kids of their own and health problems have hit them both but  Lila's are first diagnosed as very serious.

That may sound depressing but the writing is so sharp and engaging and the characters so compellingly and individually vivid that I couldn't put it down, reading it in the station and on the train and in the skate shop and back at Penn Station and in the train, and now I'm almost done and wanted to stop for a minute to write this to say if you're looking for a good read that's quick (the writing and the length: 176 pages with illustrations) and truly satisfying you couldn't do much better than this book.

Friday, September 7, 2012


Today it was announced that the unemployment rate went from 8.3 to 8.1 per cent, a big change for the good. But there is and will be no acknowledgment of that by Republicans who are all in the thrall of their rightwing corporate and media masters.

Their response to this change for the good will be to dismiss it as a fact that only hides a worse reality because people have stopped looking for jobs or because the job creation numbers weren't as good as some expected etc. And I would accept that IF when it went in the other direction, from 8.2 to 8.3 they hadn't make a big deal out of how these numbers reflected the failure of Obama's policies!

In other words Obama can't win for losing, or to use another cliche, they will always move the goalposts so they can be smug in their dismissal of their president because they only revel in his failure no matter the consequences for the country and all of us. Just as they couldn't and can't even credit him for Osama Bin Laden's death when he initiated the policy, saying the capture or death of Bin laden was now a priority and he would even pursue him into Pakistan if necessary, where the previous administration after failing to get Bin Laden declared one man wasn't such a big deal and Romney said he would never pursue Bin laden into Pakistan.

And not only did Obama initiate that policy, he made the call to risk his political future on what could have turned out like Carter's attempt to rescue the Iran hostages, an event that contributed mightily to Reagan's beating Carter in the election that soon followed. Obama was aware of that yet took the risk to  fulfill a promise Bush/Cheney were unable to keep. But as soon as the cheers quieted Republican leaders in the Congress and media declared that it was The Seals that did it not Obama. The Navy Seals certainly deserve credit for their bravery and professionalism, but last time I checked they don't act without orders and under Bush/Cheney they never got those orders and under Romney according to his own statements they wouldn't have either.

The rightwing stalker on this blog commented first thing this morning on how the miserable jobs news was another sign of Obama's failure, although he put it in much more derisive and rightwing parroting anti-Obama words. But the news isn't bad. It's not as good as we all would want to see, but it is still good in ways that matter. Jobs WERE created, not as many as some expected or the economy needs to get out of the hole Bush/Cheney put us in with their unpaid for wars and giant tax cuts for the richest among us, but under them we were LOSING jobs and this month's figures show that I think for the thirtieth month our economy has been creating jobs (there have been more manufacturing jobs created, for instance, under Obama than in decades and under Bush/Cheney these jobs were sent overseas by corporations who get no tax benefit for keeping them here, something Obama has been trying to pass but has been obstructed by rightwing Republicans).

Anyway, I'll try to skip the politics for a while and get back to what saves my soul and my sanity, the creative endeavors of artists and writers and filmmakers and poets and writers and friends strangers and kids and the rest of us.


The Democrats finally made the case. And they did it in many different ways through a variety of voices. And the president capped it with a mix of honest humility, soaring oratory, clear facts and simple but stark choices.

Bill's speech may have been the highlight in many ways for those of us missing his feel for an audience and his charisma and the clarity of his argument(s), but Obama had me on my feet at the end along with the audience, and Michelle hit me in the heart, and so many others did such a great job, including Biden tonight, his old pol style still coming across as sincere to me.

Maybe they waited too long. Maybe the president is too much of a reader and writer and not enough of a glad handing pol. Maybe the gazillionaires outspending the Dems with their unofficial campaign ads spreading lies and reinforcing prejudices and division will overwhelm a tired electorate and convince them either to not vote or vote for the same old failed policies under two new haircuts.

But I know who I'm voting for and who I'm urging everyone I know to vote for and who the facts prove did more in less than four years to help the poor, our veterans, create jobs, lower our dependence on foreign oil, bring about peace, get rid of dictators, diminish the ranks of the the terrorists responsible for 9/11, make the workplace more fair for women, bring healthcare to more people and force the insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions and lower lifetime caps and more that has led to the smallest rise in healthcare this year than in decades, made it possible for gay and lesbian citizens to serve their country without having to hide who they love, and so much more: Barack Obama.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Man is anyone better than Bill Clinton at connecting with an audience and breaking complex wonky policies and programs into easily digested solid facts to build an argument on? No.

When I was young and my brain was running on all channels and I gave political speeches I was able to connect with audiences of hundreds and in a few cases thousands on a one to one basis, people told me. What I did was just talk like I actually was talking one on one. Clinton has perfected that to an art form and watching him pull it off is like watching Pavarotti in his prime sing a difficult aria perfectly or Picasso in that film where he paints on glass and you get to see his mastery in action.

Any great performance leaves you, or at least me, high, but without the hangover or damage done from artificially produced highs, if you know what I mean. Just a master at work as folksy as always as though we're sitting on a porch in Arkansas and he's just making a point in a discussion. Beautiful, masterful, impressive and effective. I hope whoever was undecided was watching.

After the highlight last night of Michelle's kick ass speech and now tonight Bill Clinton topping that won't it be great if Obama takes it even higher tomorrow night? Here's hopin'.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


There were a lot of great speeches on this first night of the Democratic convention—Deval Patrick, Governor of Massachusetts; Ted Strickland, ex-Governor of Ohio; Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL and too many more to list. But the two best for my taste were the mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, who I hope runs for higher office he was so good, I'd vote for him, and he looks like the future of the party and the country (and his mom reminded me of my mom God rest her soul), and Michelle Obama, who I would vote for tonight for president if she were running.

This woman can give a speech. There were others whose speeches were fine but who just didn't know how to deliver them. Like Tammy Duckworth, the veteran running for Congress from Illinois who lost both legs in combat in Iraq. She didn't seem to understand you have to pause when people are cheering and chanting because otherwise your words are drowned out, and they're showing their enthusiasm so let them, that's the point of a convention speech.

Or the poor mother of the little girl with the heart condition who broke my heart and it looked like everyone else watching from the convention floor when she pleaded for another four years for Obama because her daughter needs a heart operation next year and if Romney gets elected and has his way her and her husband won't be able to pay for it because Romney has vowed to repeal Obamacare on his first day in office. Her message was so powerful and she was so moved by it herself but when people cheered she just kept on speaking, out of nervousness or inexperience or maybe the cheers just didn't sound as loud to her as they did to the television audience.

But Michelle had a relationship with the audience that was moving to see, as was her speech for me. And man was that audience diverse. It did include old white men in Veterans of Foreign Wars service caps, but they and old white people in general were just one small part of an amazing variety of folks. It was so refreshing to see such a mix, people who were obviously gay and proud of it, every skin tone and shape and age and it seemed like more women than men which reflects the population.

I look forward to the next few night of speeches and before tonight I was actually not expecting much. The sad thing is probably not too many people who are undecided or apathetic watched and so will never know how clear and positive and truly patriotic and solution oriented the Democrats are.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I needed this. After a week of inane political unreality TV and the "discussions" (often arguments) that ensued on this blog and the Internet in general, let alone in person, I was walking through the parking lot in Great Barrington near the movie theater and noticed HOPE SPRINGS was playing and having wanted to see it I did.

It was just what the doctor ordered. Not perfect, but perfectly performed. It's basically a three character movie with Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep and Steve Carell. And man did they keep my attention and impress the shite (as me dear departed mother would say) out of me.

Carell had some wordless close ups that were so well done they bought tears to my eyes, tears of appreciation for his acting chops. And the same but even more so for so many of the scenes between Jones and Streep. Just a master class in film acting.

And as many who read this blog know, I never found Streep that attractive but after brain surgery inexplicably instantly did, and still do. I fell in love again with her watching this flick. Even when there were a few plot points that misled me or I thought weren't the greatest writing, I still never doubted her or Jones's characters reality, nor lose the sense of this being a woman I could love (even though I know it's a trick of my post-op brain, I surrender to it).

But despite the strange brain aspects of my response, the basic message is, as someone who has acted in films and understands the challenges I was blown away by what these actors accomplished with the lines and characters they were given to work with. Stunning accomplishments and I hope to see Oscar nods for everyone if life is fair.