There was a Rally for Sanity or Fear or something yesterday. The media couldn't swallow it they way they do other rallies for fear of being called partisan. The organizers insist it wasn't political. Counting the size of these things has become another way to spread lies and disinformation and a parlor game. Ain't life grand. Bottom line, now that all politics has become entertainment, none of it matters as long as someone watches. I love the complaints about the fact that these were comedians organizing the event. I love the defense that these were comedians organizing the event. As if the folks who pretend they are politicians aren't comedians, whether or not they intend to be. And vice versa. The world hasn't turned upside down as some think it has. But operators behind the curtain aren't hiding anymore now that the curtain has fallen. We've got a lot of emperors, or wanna be emperors, who aren't ashamed anymore to say they aren't wearing clothes. The thing is I trust the comedians more than I do the politicians. At least the comedians admit they are lying and their smiles are more sincere.
Some folks are agonizing big time about the election on Tuesday. No need. Nothing will change except some of the faces. The Dems lost this one long ago, the Republicans will lose by winning on Tuesday. The Tea Party folks will feel really good for a short time and then get angry again when no one listens. Nothing will change except the score cards. The ignorant will still think they matter, the smart ones will still think they matter. The ones with the money who do matter will pretend to let them both think so, and go back to counting their money.
Michael Arrington talks about being a pirate in the context of being an entrepreneur. Good read. He might as well be talking about being a politician.
Framed as Four Questions for Republicans, it should be framed as Four Questions for us all. But then that's not sexy and implies we would care about facts.
Well, blow me down. It isn't goats and monkeys, but it is a man who has turned a goat into, well, goat bagpipes. The restraint it too me to keep from headlining this post Man Blows Goat is amazing so early in the morning.
It has been quite some time since a post with this heading appeared here. Life intervenes sometimes. But here is some Sunday morning reading to share.
I think there's an election coming up in a week or so, or maybe it is just a carnival. Not sure which. Regardless of the event, it won't end up meaning all that much, even with some exhausting themselves telling you it does. Carnival hawkers actually have more success, I think. Frank Rich actually wrote a column that made me think twice about cutting him out of my reading list this week. Worth a read to prove the point if you ignore the headline.
Steve Ballmer says the next version of Windows is Microsoft's "riskiest" bet yet. Well, OK, then. I like what Dave Winer says about this.
NPR fires Juan Williams and that becomes a story? No, actually, Williams becomes the story. No, wait, journalism becomes the story. Stop. Journalism should never be the story. Nor should journalists. But then we've moved away from that sometime forever ago. This little skit proves why folks are tuning out everywhere, or only tuning in to see themselves in the mirror. Give me a break.
WikiLeaks releases more secret documents about the Iraq war. Shock and awe turns into shuck and jive. I haven't read them all, but based on what the news media is leading with in covering the story, I'd say there is nothing new here in the big picture, so I'm not sure what the fuss is all about.
Focus is starting to swing to what is being called a Mexican Drug War. Lots of grisly violence and even more angst about it. I imagine this will become a bigger deal as times goes on. But I'll just say this. The criminals with guns trying to gain or hang on to power through violence and destruction are at least more honest then the power games we deal with in this country. Call that honesty brutal if you will.
I'm glad to see David Hirson's La Bête getting a second big look on Broadway, this time with Mark Rylance playing the clown, Valere. I directed the play back in my Chicago days in a co-production with Pegasus Players and Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, and then again in my first season at Wayside Theatre in 1999. It's not an easy play to watch and it isn't meant to be. It is also not an easy play to put on the stage. But then, life isn't easy either.
Written entirely in iambic pentameter and turning on a battle over what exactly our cultural offerings should or should not be, the play can be as irritating as it can be funny. Intriguingly, in order to be done well, it may even defeat its own thesis. While the play offers much to chew on, the show piece is a 25 minute monologue by the street clown Valere that makes up most of the first act. Designed to make you laugh often and early at his low brow form of humor it then twists somewhere about minute 16 or so, you begin to want to kill the SOB and get him off the stage just to shut him up. That's what the two other characters who share the stage want to do and you're right along with them.
While the co-production we did in Chicago was much loved by many (I think I remember it ending up on one critic's Top 10 list somewhere), at Wayside it was universally despised, even though it was a better production in that instance. It actually became popular to say you hated it, even after you declared you had liked or enjoyed it. One critic said he'd rather spend time in the local prison than watch the show, which I guess says a lot about how he has spent time in the past.
As the New York Times review of the current production points out, La Bête had its first brush with the Great White Way at a time (1991) when how we defined culture was very much at issue. The keeper of the cultural jewels in the play, then as now is the character of Elomire, which is an anagram for Molière, and Valere, who admires him greatly is more than just a little rougher around the edges. Think an afternoon at the opera versus one at a NASCAR track. Think enjoying a bit of clever word play versus fart jokes. Elomire's patron wants him to spice up his work a bit and brings in Valere to hopefully make that happen. Well, he who signs the checks always gets to speak last.
In this country, at least, you can say that cultural battle has long been over on most fronts. Or has it just changed battlegrounds?
Unfortunately, we're at it again, and not just over what our entertainment should be. Now, it's into a more dangerous part of our lives and that's our politics and how they, sadly, govern how we live. We've got a lot of Valeres running around out there disguised as everyday Janes and Joes, and as it looks at the moment, the Elomire's are about to be the big losers. If Harry Reid and the rest of the sad collection of Democrats aren't stand-ins for Elomire I don't know who else is. Unfortunately, we've got too many Valeres to count. We've passed through the point where shame and indignity matter any more as we now celebrate, elevate, and make rich the liars, the uneducated, and the criminal. Note that you don't hear too many arguments about politics framed by ye olde "founding fathers" diatribe lately. They'd simply say, I warned you that democracy was dangerous. The street clowns and their distaste for anything associated with intellect have taken over, even as they get closer to achieving the success that will force them to use the intellect they pretend to deride. Yeah, these folks aren't dummies and neither was Valere. Their street smarts just help them play to the mob.
Don't get me wrong here. The sinking into this black hole has villains on all sides. Just like Elomire liked his art too much and dismissed those whom he thought lesser, the folks who are about to get upended have done the same thing. They've created the opening for those who can make the unwashed laugh at their street act and carelessly got lost thinking that there were enough smart people out there who wouldn't let this happen. Guess again.
Both the elites and the supposed non-elites want to occupy the high ground so that they have a better view of those wallowing around in muck below, as they slyly take advantage of them, while pretending to serve them. What Valere realizes at the end of the play, though, is that without a target to measure himself against, the battle may have been fun, but that view from the top isn't as pretty when the folks down below are watching your every move and eventually turn on you. That's history, not playwriting.
My mother, Virginia Crocker, completed her final journey Thursday morning, September 30 at 2:39. My two sisters, Jane and Susan and I were with her when she drew her last breath. It was both a heart rending and beautiful moment. We know that Mom is now resting peacefully after her difficult struggle and the many challenges she faced along the way. We also know that she's taking control of her new surroundings in ways that only she can.
My mother gave us many gifts throughout her life. In these last few weeks as we knew the end was nearing, as I guess is always the case, we spent a lot of time this week appreciating many of them over again, and some for the first time. She was a teacher by profession and more importantly in her heart, and she taught us much. None of the lessons will be any more important than the way she taught us through her actions and her choices once she was diagnosed with lung cancer last November. She lived these last months her way, confounding doctors, nurses, insurance companies, and often her children. As we all gathered last weekend to spend time with her, she was both confused and adamant that we shouldn't be there since she wasn't going to die that weekend. We found out later that she had told one of her nurses not only that she wasn't going to die over the weekend, but that the nurse would be bathing her in her bed later this week as she did reach the end. That came to be, and as I said, Mom was in control right up to the end and knew exactly how she was going to drive her bus on her road right up to the end.
Mom proved that F. Scott Fitzgerald's famous line "there are no second acts in life" was completely wrong. When my father passed away suddenly in 1987, Mom, a real product of her generation, found herself in a situation where she didn't know much about the family finances or how Dad had worked things out. Undaunted, she quickly learned what she needed to learn and embarked on a new life, and of course teaching us all a few things along the way. She took control of her life then in ways that amazed us all and stayed in control right up to the end. She've probably still very much in control even now.
Mom reveled in her children and her grandchildren's lives. One of the best gifts she, and my father, ever gave us, is that they delighted in our passions, our dreams, and our goals, even when they didn't understand what we were going after, or some of our choices. They both supported us to the hilt as long as we were happy. She loved hearing the details of everything we were living through and sharing them with others. That occasionally proved embarrassing, but that was just Mom's way of keeping us all humble. Even in this last week, when it seemed she wasn't completely cognizant of our presence, she would smile when one of us cracked a joke, or we told each other of something stupid or silly we had done. Even when she could hardly speak if any of us said something untoward she had her way of registering her disapproval.
One brief anecdote I'll share that typifies Mom's outlook on the human comedy we call life and death. When my father passed suddenly in 1987 it was a real blow to all of us. The morning of his funeral she came to me and said put on some shorts we've got something to do. She was wearing shorts at the time. When she told me what was up I lost it, laughing hysterically. Where we lived in Nelson County required us to make a trip to one of several garbage/recycling locations if we needed to dispose of trash. My father used to always chastise my mother because wherever we were going for whatever reason, if there was a "dump" on the way, we'd have to stop and dispose of the garbage. He'd tell her that "on the way to my funeral, you'll be wearing shorts and make a stop at the dump." It wasn't exactly on the way to Dad's funeral, but that morning she and I loaded up the car, in our shorts and headed to the dump. When we tossed the last bag in, she said, "well, I gave him what he wanted, and I hope he gets a laugh out of it." I"m sure he did. When the flights of angels took Mom to her great reward, I'm guessing those angels never had such a laugh filled trip.
My family is very grateful for all the love and support many of our friends have shown my mother and us through her final journey. Even those we haven't met personally but have come to know through the virtual world of the Internet. The warm wishes, prayers, and thoughts have meant a lot to all of us. Most importantly when we shared them with Mom you could tell that this was another way she was enjoying her children's lives albeit vicariously. If you know or knew any of us, you shared a piece of Mom whether you knew it or not.
I love you, Mom.
Her memorial service will be Monday, October 4 in Lovingston, Virginia at 2pm at the Wells Sheffield Funeral Home at 828 Front Street.