Fifth in a Series
In 1984, PBS aired a ten-episode series called The Constitution: That Delicate Balance. It was created by CBS News legend Fred Friendly, who had been Edward R. Murrow’s producer during the McCarthy hearings. (George Clooney played Mr. Friendly in Good Night, and Good Luck.) The premise of the program was that a distinguished panel (including former President Gerald Ford, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senator Orrin Hatch, then-Planned Parenthood president Faye Wattleton, etc.) were asked a series of increasingly-challenging hypothetical questions, usually by Harvard Law professor Arthur Miller.
The questions would start simply enough. A young…
In 897 A.D., a proceeding that has been called the strangest trial in history, the Cadaver Synod, took place in Rome. The late pope Formosus, the first and last of that name, was disinterred from his crypt, dressed in the papal vestments, strapped to the papal throne, carried to the Lateran Basilica, and placed on trial. A young deacon was appointed to speak for the decidedly non-verbal corpse, and in short order Formosus was found guilty, the three fingers he had once used to bless people were snipped off, and the body was buried in unsanctified ground. …
In conjunction with BeAnArtsHero.com and The Dramatists Guild, playwrights and other artists were invited to submit a letter to the incoming President and Vice President about our “hopes, dreams, and vision for what America can become with the arrival of a new administration.” This letter is one response to that campaign. #ArtsWorkersUnite #First100Days @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris @WhiteHouse @BeAnArtsHero @DramatistsGuild
Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris:
Fourth in a series
“Opinions,” the vulgar like to say, “are like @$$holes. Everybody’s got one.” As with everything vulgar, the implication is that opinions are every bit as nasty as the thing to which they are being compared. That’s the point of vulgarity: to sully, to make dirty. To show one’s superiority through one’s contempt for, well, everything. It’s nihilistic and dark. Everything and everyone, and all of their opinions, are no more than $#!t.
What’s remarkable is not how many people say this, but how many people believe it.
There are non-vulgar, but still nihilistic, ways of expressing…
Third in a Series
My wife is smart. When another driver on the road does something that I find objectionable, when the blood tide of testosterone rises, my wife is fond of reminding me that the other driver may not have seen me before cutting in front, or whatever; that I shouldn’t be so quick to assume malice. “He’s just trying to get home safe and sound, like we are.”
My wife is very smart.
The Crucible of Performance
Every performing artist knows a certain experience. People gather from all over. Different kinds of people. Left, right, independent, atheist, devout…
Donald Trump is an IV bag full of rage.
In the hospital, after certain procedures, you are sometimes given a morphine drip to ease the pain. This IV bag is attached to a machine that does two things: it provides a clicker so you can self-administer the relief you need when you need it; and it limits how much clicking you can do, because morphine is powerful and addictive.
Donald Trump is an IV full of rage rather than morphine, and the machine is gone. His followers don’t need to self-administer because he gives them a steady, unceasing supply; and…
Second in a Series
The McConnell “Rule”
In the political arena, perhaps the most outrageous bad-faith argument in recent years has just leaped back into the news: Sen. Mitch McConnell’s blatant theft of a Supreme Court nomination in 2016. In February of that year, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly. President Barack Obama nominated the well-regarded U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland in March, which was considered to be a replacement of a very conservative justice with one more moderate but by no means ultra-liberal. …
First in a series
There is No Safe Space
When the Coronavirus lockdown began in March, the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation started a clever promotion: three free months, to anyone who wanted them, of their FenderPlay music-instruction program. I was working from home like so many others, and I had an acoustic guitar that had been hanging on a wall since my first attempt to learn how to play it a decade ago, so I decided to give it a try. …
Says Hamlet to his wayward mother:
Assume a virtue, if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this,
That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery,
That aptly is put on. Refrain to-night,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence: the next more easy;
For use almost can change the stamp of nature….
Or, to put it in more contemporary language:
Fake it till you make it.
What They Mean When They Accuse You of…
Sunday, May 31, 2020…
In Los Angeles, it’s usually not good to hear helicopters hovering overhead. It’s either reporters covering terrible traffic when you need to leave for work, or police searching for a suspect who’s on the run somewhere in your neighborhood, or a fire that’s broken out that could spread in your direction, spark to spark.
On this should-have-been-calm Sunday, there have been helicopters overhead in Santa Monica all day. It’s early evening, and that sound of blades grinding the air has been our companion since mid-morning. A protest had been scheduled for just a few blocks away…
Dramatists Guild member, Climate Reality activist. Words WILL save the world, dangit.