Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sister!

In honor of what I hope is a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY for one of my favorite women - my sister Lori - here's an article from Gloria Steinem in today's Times Style Magazine. As reproductive rights, health care, and women's rights in general have been taking some punishment lately (that's putting it lightly) we can take some small comfort (while continuing the resistance to such hideous attempts) that the Senate and White House will surely stifle the attacks (right??) and that there is also some really good news out there in terms of women in politics and policy that should not be allowed to be buried under the depressing weight of "reality" TV.

I have some mixed feelings about the fact that this piece ended up in the Style Magazine, but no matter what ads surround it, this reminder is welcome and overdue. Thanks, Gloria.

Happy Birthday Lori!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

On Wisconsin

This is a bizarre time. There is something very much like a full-on attack on women's rights and workers' rights going on in the U.S. right now, but there are some heartening developments: the Justice Department backing away from the "Defense of Marriage Act;" widespread popular resistance in Wisconsin. (though I have to ask, as I did in November - where well all y'all on Election Day when your brothers and sisters voted those union busters in?)

Not surprisingly, both trends are easier to spot if you peek a little bit beyond the mainstream media. Ladies and Gents, I love the Times in a bunch of ways, but it is now what it pretty much always has been: a tool of big business. It's just extra-special obvious these days.

I went to a rally by the FOX news building the other day to stand with my union in support of the workers. I was glad to be part of it, but it was kind of deflating too. A few hundred people doesn't seem like that many in a city of this size. And there's something downright sad about hearing a 'the workers united will never be defeated' chant fall apart in disunity (while on the other side the "FOX lies!" chant faded away, in spite of its accuracy).

So today I thought I'd share with you something I never thought would get any space in this forum: a link to community access TV in Madison. It's every bit as cheesy as you'd think it would be in some ways, but Wayne's World it ain't. There was just a live stream of Amy Goodman and Sharif Abdel Kouddous speaking at a theater near the Square; and citizens talking in church basements about the practical aspects and repercussions of limiting Medicaid, and the philosophies of Bob La Follette's is actually pretty cool to see.

Photo from The Progressive Catholic Voice, copyright 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Empress of Sex

That being the title of the play we performed (well, in staged reading form) with the Hive Theater company a few weeks ago in Times Square. It was, of course, somber tragedy. Oh wait, no: it was a sex comedy. A ridiculous sex comedy. I have described it thusly: "Sort of a live-in-person cross of The Hangover, No Strings Attached, Twelfth Night, and that cable series Spartacus. Maybe a dash of Porky's." Like I said, ridiculous. BUT - with some good writing, some good acting, some good music, and plenty of laughs, if I may say so myself.

It was very staged for a reading, so there was also some skin. One purpose of a staged reading is to get a sense of how a show might work in full production, and this is one of those shows that you really just won't be able to tell how it works if there isn't a certain amount of boobage. And butts. And simulated sex acts. Cory came with our friend Joe and they were sitting at about the 4th table back (this happened in a comedy club with cabaret-style seating). One of her comments was something along the lines of: "I didn't have a very good view of that part where you were on the floor surrounded by those three topless muses and you had all those boobs in your face. Yeah, I was ok with that." It was a big mess, but legitimately funny, I think, and quite a bit of fun for a bunch of people.

And no, I did not show any excess skin of my own. Probably for the best...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

And Speaking of Birthdays...

Yesterday was James Dean's 80th. Which is worth mentioning.

I don't know where this photo is from or what photographer to credit, but I love it.

And tomorrow is JP's b-day. And Laura Dern's. Pretty good company, friend.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

More Fun with Economics

Would it be curmudgeonly, in this era of Celebrating Reagan's Centennary, to remind people that his so-called Economic Theories were big steaming piles of (oh, let's be kind) error? I say 'so-called' to modify the word 'his' in that sentence, because I remain unconvinced that the Gipper himself ever did so much as pay attention through an extended, detailed economic discussion, much less come up with any actual theory, even one as elementally flawed as Trickle-Down. [He sure was good at selling those bullet points, though, wasn't he?] The term 'so-called' also applies to the word "theories" in that sentence too, because I think what we're talking about as far as Reaganomics is concernes is more of a Sales Pitch. Or maybe a Snow Job. Or a really really BIG Big Con.

You see, a real live scientific theory is based on logic, evidence and/or applicable principles, is proveable and repeatable. Trickle Down is based on made-up logic, has no evidence backing it up, and counts on specious principles involving an impulse among profit-driven corporations to share with each other and with the workforce out of the goodness of their hearts, or maybe some sense of patriotic responsibility. (I know, I know - but a lot of people bought it then, and buy it now.) And what's been proved, repeatedly, is that these sorts of policies lead, not to increased job creation, but to increased poverty, and to a big increase in the gap between rich and poor.

Along these lines, read this piece by Robert Reich. It doesn't mention our dear departed national treasure by name, but it does paint a picture of the indelicate balance between Reaganomics and what's starting to look like Obamanomics.

...I've been watching (and occasionally trying to deal with) the Chamber [of Commerce] for years, and all I know is it has a deep, abiding belief in cutting taxes on the wealthy, eroding regulations that constrain Wall Street, cutting back on rules that promote worker health and safety, getting rid of the minimum wage, repealing the new health-care law, fighting unions, cutting back Medicare and Social Security, reducing or eliminating corporate taxes, and, in general, taking the nation back to the days before the New Deal.

There's no secret to creating lots of jobs by reducing the median wage, slashing benefits, compromising health and safety at the workplace, and, effectively, reducing the standard of living of millions of Americans. We've been doing it for years.

Those people who consider this situation to be perhaps less-than-ideal should pay extra-special attention to policy developments that are presented as 'victories.'

And, oh yes, no disrespect meant toward the Great Communicator who restored everyone's faith in Democracy and made people Believe in America (all rights reserved) again. National Treasure, American Hero, God rest and keep him safe in Mary's bosom.

(Not much of an actor, though...)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Some Kind of Sunday


I have my Packers t-shirt.

I have my GO PACK GO sign.

I have all the fixings for a big vat of chili.

My friend (from Green Bay, no less) who is hosting the party is putting together a big spread of Wisconsin cheeses to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

There will be beer.

One of my best friends who is doing very well in acting is THERE in Dallas playing in a 'celebrity' flag football game and gets to go to The Game too.

That is all. Carry on.

Oh wait, one more thing:

Go Pack GO!!!!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

from the "You Are F*%king KIDDING Me!" Files

I suspect you've heard about the Bill (H.R. 3) introduced in Congress by Representative Chris Smith. (who represents my own state of New Jersey, which seems to be going out of its way these days to restore the grimy, punchline-worthy reputation it seemed on the verge just a teensy while ago of shedding.) This bill endeavors to limit further the already minuscule Federal funding for abortions, which currently is available in cases of rape, incest, and when the health of the mother is in grave danger. Perhaps the most controversial element of the bill is its insistence that the funds be available only in the case of 'forcible rape,' presumably removing coverage from date rape, drunk rape, drugged rape, statutory rape.

Excerpted from my open comments sent to my Representative (not Smith, fortunately) via the Move On petition drive:

What does Congressman Smith's bill even hope to accomplish? A show of opposition to abortion that would be laughable if it weren't so cruel? It approaches the very heights of cynicism; and I wish that the supporters of this legislation will each take on the experience of going up to an assault victim whose unwanted pregnancy would be 'protected' by this bill, and explain to her how what she has gone through wasn't 'really rape.'

Please oppose this bill, immediately and loudly.

Update: There has been a seemingly positive response from the Sponsors of this bill, (who have, I think it's fair to say, relented in the presence of strong and immediate public reaction). They have removed the qualifier 'forcible' from the 'rape exception.' But, to quote NARAL's Ted Miller: "I would caution agains saying this is a victory, because the other provisions in H.R. 3 are so bad."

Just so.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Goings On Around the World

As the weather wreaks havoc nationwide, we are seeing some fascinating things globally. Tunisia has experienced a 'Jasmine Revolution' (well, some people are calling it that) resulted in the ousting of Ben-Ali; massive popular movement in Egypt has already produced a commitment from Hosni Mubarak that he will not seek office again (i.e. extend his term beyond thirty years) in September, and may yet result in his resignation; and we'll be hearing much about how social media is playing a part in other contested areas (and those 'contests' will continue to take a wide variety of forms).

There will also be many reports in the coming days about the high-end players behind the scenes who 'made this happen,' who spurred on the events via political channels and manipulation of social media. As all this happens, I think it will be fitting to remember Howard Zinn, who passed almost exactly a year ago, and how he continually reminded us that it is social movement that brings about change. Not that policy-makers, statesmen and important leaders don't play a part, but in the end it's pretty much always, without fail, popular movement that spurs meaningful change in a population.