Monday, July 30, 2007

What I Wish Dick Cheney

A friend of mine who is more clever by three halves than Cheney,(pronounced Cheee-ney, which sounds more like what the man is, but no one gets right except Chris Matthews on MSNBC) sent me what amounts to a psychological background check of our benighted Vice President. It seems that in Natroma County High School, where my friend also went, the lovely Lynne, whose strong-willed mother carried a deputy badge even though she did only clerical work for sheriff's office, had this tendency to go after girlfriends' boyfriends, baton-twirling her way to the state championship, with what was referred to in the piece from "" as a "Playboy figure"which my friend, who was in high school with them says is an exaggeration-- she wasn't that sexy. But apparently she was to little Dick, who had been a fairly pleasant fellow up to that point, according to friends, which he had then. She took him from her closest friend, Joan Frandsen, became Homecoming Queen, at which point he became her campaign manager for Mustang Queen, another Wyoming honor. Passive and dazzled by her, he followed her urgings, abetted by a scholarship she got him from a rich Casper donor, to Yale where he flunked out.
I have to say now, intruding myself, that I am in a great struggle not to chortle. He floundered at Yale, and eventually flunked out. From the University where 'W' got Cs.
As Cheney himself later explained it, Lynne "made it clear she wasn't interested in marrying a lineman for the county." So she pushed him along and ruined the world for us all, except for those who have relatives or stock in Halliburton.
He went to Casper Community College, then the University of Wyoming, married her and got five draft deferments, the fifth one three months into a pregnancy the fruit of which was their daughter, (that daughter?) born exactly nine months and two days after Selective Service eliminated special protection for childless married men.
I have to interrupt this bloodless(except for other people's) saga to tell you that I had an emergency sushi run yesterday afternoon, where I talked to a man, an Iranian, who now lives in Dubai, and very well, too, I would imagine having heard some stories about Dubai and seen his card. Having just come from reading this piece, I imparted some impressions about Lynne being a strong woman, and the real cojones of the operation. "You think that's why their daughter is a lesbian?" he asked me. (Did you know Lynne once wrote erotic lesbian books? And when Wolf Blitzer tried to talk about that on her interview on CNN she blew him to blitz?)
Anyway, it's all very sad, especially as the authors, one a college professor specializing in the creative process, the other a retired psychotherapist, conclude Bush, like Lynne, offers the role of bully to Cheney's passive. So it's really Bush who's in charge, in spite of all the jokes. Oh, Hurry clock! Tick us alive into better days. And let nothing happen to that failed Wyoming lineman, except, since he's such a fiend for secrecy, that he die by a thousand revelations.
Another one, my life being sweetly serendipitous: when Cheney shot his friend in the face, my Jewru was in Bali. And as his life is more than serendipitous, he was at the time with a co- owner of the ranch where the shooting occured. It turns out the reason it took so long for Cheney to call in about the shooting was not because of his blood alcohol rate(which probably might have high, and so illegal, at least for shooting a buddy, and he had a history of drink as an anxious post-schoolboy) but because he was at the ranch with a woman, the wife of a European ambassador, and had to get her out before Lynne found out.
My friend, whom I believe is the country's greatest libel lawyer, even knowing my history, wants me to do something with the early part of this tale as fiction. Oh, I would, I would, but I doubt I'd be able to afford him to defend me.
As Fitzgerald might have said, the very Republican are different from you and me. Yes, might have answered Hemingway: they have passively aggressive Dicks.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

As the Dollar Plummets

So as I look forward to my brief European sojourn at summer's end, today's New York Times tells me how I will hardly be able to afford a coffee. The good news is that I had a visit from my most wonderful souvenir of Belfast-- you remember, the place that was the apotheosis of problems until George Bush switched the focus-- Fiona, who was, when I visited there for a piece for the Journal, the Lady Mayoress, married to David Alderdice, a moderate, a philosophy and position no more favored there than it is here, given as we seem to be to an age of extremists. Fiona is more than a breath of fresh air, she is a zephry. So I was able to fully appreciate where and how I live through her very clear, blue eyes. Also we went to a spa in Lake Arrowhead where none have gone before from my circle, which is about the size of a rubberband. All the men wear baseball caps, so my mother, if alive or reincarnated, with her addiction to believing men were the solution, would not find it good prospecting. But it was interesting to discover the high desert region near San Bernardino, and having missed the turnoff to 10 on the way out of town, we traveled unintentionally to El Segundo, where surely no one from Northern Ireland has ever been. Anyone can go to Las Vegas.
Having returned Sunday night in time to go to the theater, in order to make her trip as close as you can in LA to cosmopolitan, we attended the Pasadena Playhouse re-production of 'Can Can'. Here, my review.

The much touted re-do revival at the Pasadena Playhouse of the 1953 Cole Porter-Abe Burrows musical 'Can Can' did not live up to expectations, yet another argument why you shouldn't have them. In spite of great sets by Roy Christopher, promises in the program and in publicity for the show, which features for all of its failings a few miracle songs, it remains a disappointment. The problems of the original book have not been solved; the first few songs are third rate Porter, and silly. But when a male lead with a truly wondrous voice opens up his throat and his talent in the bridge of a ballad, "I am in Love"-- you remember what a great musical comedy was about. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Not that this was that good in the first place. But it is an elevation to the spirit to hear a truly musicianly phrase sung by a genuine Broadway voice, even if Broadway is three thousand miles away, and this kind of musical is over half a century old. Kevin Earley, as Aristede Forestier, the uptight magistrate who doesn't want those naughty dances, has the glorious pipes, and is winning (enough) in a role that is stilted and cliched. Allegedly this was written as an homage to the late, great Abe Burrows, whose son Jim, the writer, is a hero to David Lee, the re-Creator, in partnership with Joel Fields. Lee is one of the brains behind 'Frasier', but his real love is supposedly the theater. In particular, the musical theater, which 'Can Can' is a sometimes satisfying remnant of. But the show that failed the first time isn't fully rescuscitated now, in spite of all efforts to breathe life into it. Still, Lord, Lord, there are those songs! "C'est Magnifique." "I Love Paris." Not even Porter at his best, they are still pulse-quickeningly better than most of what we've had since, and anything we have now. Hum me a ballad from 'A Light in the Piazza.'
MIchelle Duffy makes a noble go at the role of Pistache, the scampish proprietress of the Bal du Paradis in Monmartre, circa the '90s(the ones before the last.) In rehearsal and in full view, derriere too, is the dance that's causing all the fuss. Pistache has a passion for the success of her demimondaine dance hall, and a past deep amour for Forestier, the back story Lee and Fields have given them to enrich the book and make it work. It still doesn't. But she looks darkly attractive, in wonderful gowns by Randy Gardell, and tries to seem savvy in the songs, but isn't. Her voice is okay, but as Pistache she makes a Pastiche of such simple and wonderful lyrics as 'Oo La La... c'est magnifique!' running the words and the notes together in an arythmic way, a clear try for originality in a song she treats as though we have heard it every day and are tired of the same old delivery. In fact, we have not heard it, or anything like it in a musical for far too long, so it would be a treat to have it sung straight out, authentically.
Wonderful things are done by the orchestra, a good joke that is played on and with the audience. Adorable as a would-be dancer in the Bal du Paradis, is Yvette Tucker, whose energy and smile are radiant. She is partnered with Amis Talai as a sculptor who lives off her and whose supposed talent is later revealed as ludicrous which is supposed to make a comedic point. It doesn't. Except maybe 'Let Sleeping Musicals Lie.' But, wait a minute! Isn't it great to hear those songs?

So there you have it. My debut as a theater critic. You will not be stunned to know that the online theater website I wrote that for as a favor turned down the review, saying... what was it exactly...? that I should make it kinder and gentler, that that was what gave critics a bad name. Really? i thought that was what made them honest and sometimes witty.
In the same e-mail slog that brought me my debut's rejection came news that three Jane Austen novels, author disguised, character's names changed, chapters and outlines offered, had been turned down for representation by eighteen British literary agents, saying they would not know how to place them.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

With Liberty and Justice for All

So on our nation's birthday, like 60% of its citizens, I am incensed. Oliver Stone, having been turned down for a documentary on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "as part of the Great Satan" by Iran's president wished "the Iranian people well," and hopes "their experience with an inept, rigid, ideologue president goes better than ours," a statement that is smarter than any of Stone's pictures. I have a call in to a friend at the Department of Justice which she asked me not to make to her at work, for unspoken but obvious reasons, and a copy on my bed of 'Breakfast of Champions," one of the delicious books by my late but early as far as consciousness is concerned friend Kurt Vonnegut, who quietly railed in that book at the stupidity of 'The Star Spangled Banner,' empty as the lyrics were of any salute to the American people, an anthem composed of 'gibberish,' exclamation points' and 'question marks.' Thus it is that I turn to the words of our salute to the flag, that piece of cloth that Kurt points out is the only one in the world that it is an offense to let touch the ground.
When I was little, as everyone was once, I struggled with words, as most little people do. Having been lovingly incarcerated in a nunnery by my mother who was seeking her fortune or at least her survival and didn't know what to do with me at that moment, the first of many, I had to pray every morning with the other children who, I assume, were all Catholics, in front of the nuns. I was filled with terror, not so much of the nuns, scary as they seemed, but of God, who knew, unlike those around me, that I was Jewish. I was sure He would be mad at me for praying to Mary, with Jesus waiting in the wings. The prayer went, according to my recollection now, "Holy Mary, Mother of God,' etcetera, 'blessed be the fruit of thy womb." Womb. A tough word for a five year old. I never heard it clearly, and afraid to ask, for fear that would brand me an Israelite, said what I heard, which was, "the fruit of thy woo."
In the same way, when I got to P.S.9 in New York, my parents having reunited as was their erratic custom, I put my hand on my little heart in assembly and recited my allegiance to the flag. And what I heard and repeated was "One nation invisible." It was not until I stood next to an eight year old patriot, quick to correct my stupidity, that I learned the word was 'indivisible.' But I think now that my child's intution was probably correct. Maybe even in both cases. All those who believe in immaculate conception have my apology, but reason will prevail.
Except in our nation's capital. I am so sad. Sadder, I think, than angry, because I spent the whole day the day before yesterday being in a rage when the news of Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence came in, accomplishing nothing, I was so incensed, too infuriated even to take it out on the pool going swimming, or on the sidewalk walking my dog, and then Beverly Sills died. And I thought "I have wasted the whole day Beverly Sills died," and thought how much she would have enjoyed being aBle to go swimming, or to walk her dog. And I sorrowed not only for her and the great artist and woman she was, but for my country, which I loved with a great passion, even when Nixon was president.
John Edwards said at the fund raiser I attended for him, where a woman as unbending in her wish to get rid of Bush as Bush is in his wish to get rid of democracy as we knew it insisted on wasting his question time by asking about impeachment. Edwards wisely said, having served in the Senate at the time of Clinton's impeachment proceedings, that the process in Congress would interfere with anything else being accomplished. But I wonder if, indeed, the country can survive until the day he is gone. A friend gave me one of those little tickers that reads 'Bush's Last Day,' counting off the seconds and the moments and the hours until he goes, and something went berserk in its mechanism, as something has gone berserk in Washington, and it kept adding on days till I got so upset I had to throw it away.
We are hated all over the world, our spiritual stock having fallen even lower than the dollar against the Euro. England suffers for Blair's having supported this retard, a word that is no longer politically correct, but as politics is no longer correct, the hell with it,-- let's call a spade a spade except when it involves a spade. I said to my friend Billy Danoff who wrote 'Country Roads' and 'Afternoon Delight' and just got back from Ireland where at least in Shannon airport people saluted our troops, suicidally on their way to Iraq, "isn't it sad what a little moron can do?" and he suggested I put it to music, the tune of "ooooooooooo, what a little moonlight can do." OOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo, what a little moron can do. I don't know. What's the next line? Have we got time for the next line?
I remember a 4th of July where we stood on the South Lawn of the White House even though Nixon was still in it, loving our country, waiting for the fireworks, and one of our cadre-- I won't give her name, in case the Justice Department is rifling this website-- said "Let's smoke a joint for Mama Cass(who had passed that year)" Why do all the wrong people die too soon? How many stints can work to save the heart of a man who has none?
Keith Olbermann went on the air yesterday with a Zola speech, J'accuse!, accusing Bush and Cheney of everything of which they are guilty, and calling for them to resign. In Hong Kong the people marched at great personal peril on the 10th anniversary of the handover to China, pleading, insisting on the promise of democracy being fulfilled. We didn't just have a promise. We had it. How could this have happened? Why aren't we marching?
When The Little Prince got to a planet inhabited by a king, the king greeted him as a 'subject.' And the little prince wondered how the king could have known who he was if he'd never seen him before. "He didn't realize that for kings," wrote Saint-Exupery, "the world is extremely simplified. All men are subjects."