The Widdershins

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Happy weekend Widdershins!

This week has been a cray-cray rollercoaster. Dump continues to Dump, but we did get further confirmation that everything he touches dies. He has not been good for the GOP. And I don’t just mean that he has corrupted them (in fact, we all know Dump didn’t corrupt them. This is how they’ve been for a long time. Dump is a symptom, not the cause of the infection.) He is bad for the GOP because he is causing “minority flight.” It’s like white flight, but the reverse: non-white people are fleeing. Except by fleeing I mean running to the polls. We have witnessed stunning upsets in elections all over the country, locally Democrats are taking government seats previously occupied by Republicans in deep red places like Oklahoma. And nationally we have seen two stunning upsets for the GOP: Virginia and Alabama. Democrats actually won a US Senate seat in Alabama. And Doug Jones didn’t do it by running as a conservative Democrat. That has been one of the remarkable features of his campaign. He didn’t waffle on choice or gay marriage. He didn’t run by blasting Pelosi or Schumer. So by Alabama standard Doug Jones is a far-left nut job. Except he won the election anyway. He won because black women (and black men) came out in higher than expected numbers and voted. Even though GOP tried their darnedest to stop them. Many irregularities were reported all day. And still, they came out to vote. White men and white women chose the accused pedophile. But it didn’t matter: non-white voters came out to vote. They have lived for a year under the horror of Dump. And this is what happens when Democrats bring out their base to vote: Democrats win. If Democrats managed to win a seat in Alabama, every state should be in play in 2018.

The fact that Roy Moore refuses to concede the race is irrelevant. He will have to exit the stage regardless. There are speculations that Bannon’s reputation is greatly damaged because he went all in on Moore – as did Dump. And Moore losing is a humiliating defeat for Bannon and Dump. So let us imagine for a minute that this is the beginning of their grand exit off the stage too.

Omarosa is existing too. Actually she was escorted out.

So many exits this week. Let’s wish some of these people good riddance.

 

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In Brief

Posted on: October 18, 2017

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Hello Widdershins,

My apologies for being an absentee poster. I run out of hours in the day and have no computer at work. Only a very weak signal on my iPhone. But I’m sure the news keeps everyone busy. I’ll be back to my regular schedule in a week!

The worst thing I read all day is Dump’s awful phone call to the widow of slain U.S. Army Sgt. La David Johnson. After ignoring the 4 American soldiers killed in Niger for weeks (he golfed though), he finally brought himself to call a family. And he told the pregnant Myeshia Johnson: “He knew what he signed up for.” There truly is no end to Trump’s depravity. But we should read the names of the 4 soldiers killed and a hold a moment of silence because our president doesn’t care.

From one kind of depraved to a very different kind of depraved, the story of Harvey Weinstein is continuing to reverberate in the entertainment industry. There are now at least 47 women who have accused Weinstein of harassing or assaulting them. Of the well-known actresses the most recent story comes from Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on the hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The story, of course, is bigger than Weinstein. The singer/actress Björk, who has starred in only one movie, critically acclaimed “Dancer in the Dark,” wrote a letter in which she referenced being abused by a Danish director. Since she only appeared in one film and that film was made by a Dane, the unnamed director is Lars von Trier. Von Trier makes controversial films (I personally detest each and every one of them). In 2011 he stunned the Cannes Film Festival when he announced during a press conference:

“I found out I was actually a Nazi. My family were German. And that also gave me some pleasure. What can I say? I understand Hitler…I sympathize with him a bit.”

Molly Ringwald has also said she’s had “plenty of Harveys of my own.” She says she was first assaulted when she was 13. Reese Witherspoon says she was sexually assaulted by a director when she was 16. And America Ferrera said that she remembers the first time she was assaulted was when she was 9.

On Monday I went out to grab a Starbucks while at work. Crossing the street on 49th St and Park Avenue (a short distance from Grand Central station), I saw an SUV almost run over a young woman. He was backing up against his light and not paying attention. He side-swiped this woman (she was not breaking any laws), and only reason he didn’t actually run her over was because she jumped out of the way in time. So she started yelling to him to watch it, he hit her with his car. This man, big man, in his late 40’s, looked out of the window and said: “Oh did I hit you? Let me see. Where? In the back? Show me. Turn around baby, let me see you from the back.” As she began to turn to show him…she froze. I think all the witnesses did. It became obvious he was literally trying to see her ass. He was sexually harassing woman in the middle of the street that he just literally hit with his car… You could see her face changing as she realized what was happening and that dumbass grinned at her. It was truly breathtaking.

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To make you feel maybe 1% better about all this insanity – there is the story of the immortal Carrie Fisher. After being told by a friend, screenwriter Heather Robinson, that a studio executive sexually assaulted her, Carrie Fisher took matters into her own hands. She personally delivered to the executive a Tiffany box. Inside the box – a cow tongue. And a note: “If you ever touch my darling Heather or any other woman again, the next delivery will be something of yours in a much smaller box.”

And finally, if you follow reporters on social media you may have noticed that a few voices have been oddly missing for several days. New York Times voices. The normally rambunctious Maggie Haberman has been MIA. Glenn Thrush quit twitter altogether. And then we found out why. The bosses have slapped down their on-line behavior. Dean Baquet (a man who has a lot to answer for as far as the 2016 coverage) announced new social media rules for his reporters. And poor Maggie and Glenn, their entire gig is up. The stuff they are best at – snide condescension and sarcasm are discouraged. I think these rules broke Maggie.

So what’s on your mind Widdershins?

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Harvey Weinstein is a very important man in Hollywood. As the co-founder (with his brother Bob) of the film production company Miramax in the 1980s (named after their parents Mira and Max), and then of The Weinstein Company in 2005, they (with Harvey as the real creative force) have produced and/or distributed some of the most recognizable and prestigious films of the past 30 years. The list is extraordinary for just two men from Buffalo: The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love, Cinema Paradiso, The Piano, The Crying Game, Good Will Hunting, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Queen, The King’s Speech, Pulp Fiction and every other Quentin Tarantino movie, Scream, There Will Be Blood, No Country For Old Men, Aviator, Chicago, Muriel’s Wedding, Madonna: Truth or Dare, Amelie, My Left Foot, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Bullets Over Broadway, Clerks, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Hours, Sling Blade, Life Is Beautiful, Fahrenheit 9/11, Dogma, etc. He also produced Broadway shows like The Producers, The Color Purple, La Cage aux Folles, Bernadette Peters’ Gipsy, The Addams’ Family, Al Pacino’s revival of Glenngary Glen Ross. And one of TV’s most famous shows: Project Runaway.

Look at that list! It’s understandable why this story has become so huge in the news and entertainment industry. Harvey Weinstein is a cultural giant. Whether or not anybody outside of the entertainment industry truly cares is a different matter. The larger story of a powerful man sexually abusing women for decades (famous women to boot) and getting away with it is an important one. Coming on the heels of exposure and falls of Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, Weinstein is another reminder that these men have existed for many years – and continue to exist now. Perhaps Louis CK will be next, who knows. These men exist in every industry, not just entertainment. Does this put the fear of god into any of them? I don’t now… I fear not. Beyond the reaction to Weinstein himself, the reaction to the women has also been shocking. The media’s demand that Hillary Clinton comment, and that Meryl Streep’s comment wasn’t good enough, is a perverse cycle of blaming victims. The story has stopped being about Weinstein abusing women and now it’s more about “what do famous women think about Weinstein abusing women?” It’s sick.

I worked at Miramax back in its heyday of 2000 in a very unimportant position. Shakespeare in Love was in production (code name: Project Plague.The Lord of the Rings (code name: Jumboree) was just a script collecting dust in the closet, soon to be sold to a different studio, though the brothers retained their producer credit. What everybody knew about Harvey then is that he was an awful bully. His emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse of employees (throwing things, like a phone or a book) was known to all. In the 1990s Premiere magazine (now gone) published an article about the worst people in the industry to work for. Harvey competed for the top spot with producer Scott Rudin (also producer of some of the best films of the past few decades like Clueless, Regarding Henry and Wonder Boys; as well as huge Broadway shows like The Book of Mormon.) Rudin is gay and I have no doubt there are many demons there which perhaps some day will also land on the front pages of newspapers. But Harvey did more than just produce big movies, he dominated the industry in a way no other film producer had in decades. He inspired awe and fear from other studio heads because of his knack for picking remarkable films and turning Oscar campaigns into both an art form and a brutal contact sport. He was a throwback to the old, golden Hollywood age when studios developed, nurtured and made stars, and then reaped the rewards: people like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Gwyneth Paltrow and Quentin Tarantino were synonymous with Miramax, and they owe big parts of their careers to Harvey. Without Weinstein turning Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love and Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction into cultural phenomenons, it’s very likely they would not have turned into the superstars that they are today.

While Harvey’s explosive temper and rage were known by all, his sexual deviancy was better hidden. I had heard jokes about prostitutes. But anything beyond “paid companions” was not widely discussed at the time. So Meryl Streep’s comment that she didn’t know – which so many have attacked her for – is quite credible to me. One must also realize that celebrities – often through no fault of their own – live in a bubble. There are people in their lives who protect them and make sure they are uninformed. One example: One day Ben Affleck came to the office and the producer I was assisting who had an Israeli poster of Good Will Hunting on his wall. The writing was in Hebrew. Affleck said: “Oh that’s so cool! I’ve never seen that!” When he left 20 minutes later all hell broke loose as about 5 assistants spent two days trying to find another copy of that poster. Affleck didn’t now, he didn’t especially want it, but we turned the place upside down looking for another copy of the poster because Ben mentioned in passing that it was cool. Taking care of celebrities this way is an entire industry in entertainment. When I hear about celebrities being difficult I almost don’t blame them. Can you imagine what being treated this way can do to your brain?

As the media descends on the women in the industry, it’s obvious why people like Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t speak out against him in the first place. It wouldn’t just be a matter of telling someone and it’s over. No, look at the way Harvey’s victims are being treated by the press. They are torn to shreds. I wouldn’t have said anything either. Paltrow describes how Weinstein abused her before she became a star and it seems that only the interference of her then-boyfriend Brad Pitt saved her.

When Mr. Weinstein tried to massage her and invited her into the bedroom, she immediately left, she said, and remembers feeling stunned as she drove away. “I thought you were my Uncle Harvey,” she recalled thinking, explaining that she had seen him as a mentor.

After she told Mr. Pitt about the episode, he approached Mr. Weinstein at a theater premiere and told him never to touch Ms. Paltrow again. Mr. Pitt confirmed the account to The Times through a representative.

Soon after, Mr. Weinstein called Ms. Paltrow and berated her for discussing the episode, she said. (She said she also told a few friends, family members and her agent.) “He screamed at me for a long time,” she said, once again fearing she could lose the role in “Emma.” “It was brutal.” But she stood her ground, she said, and insisted that he put the relationship back on professional footing.

Even as Ms. Paltrow became known as the “first lady of Miramax” and won an Oscar for “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, very few people knew about Mr. Weinstein’s advances. “I was expected to keep the secret,” she said.

Besides Paltrow, other actresses openly accusing Weinstein of assaulting them are Angelina Jolie, Rosanna Arquette, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Mira Sorvino, Asia Argento, among others.

Though she never mentions Weinstein by name, Tori Spelling wrote in her book in 2009 that a refusal to do a nude scene in a Miramax film led to the studio nearly cutting her out of the film altogether, and turning her starring role into a cameo.

It’s also important to note that while the NY Times might claim to have brought Weinstein down (along with a near-contemporary report from The New Yorker, which includes an audio recording of Weinstein harassing an Italian model; Ronan Farrow wrote the story for New Yorker because his bosses at NBC refused to air it), Times are also the paper that helped keep Weinstein in power for so long. They killed a story in 2004 about Weinstein, as detailed by the author of that story and founder of The Wrap, Sharon Waxman.

I also tracked down a woman in London who had been paid off after an unwanted sexual encounter with Weinstein. She was terrified to speak because of her non-disclosure agreement, but at least we had evidence of a pay-off.

The story I reported never ran.

After intense pressure from Weinstein, which included having Matt Damon and Russell Crowe call me directly […] the story was gutted.

I was told at the time that Weinstein had visited the newsroom in person to make his displeasure known. I knew he was a major advertiser in the Times, and that he was a powerful person overall.

But I had the facts, and this was the Times. Right?

Wrong. The story was stripped of any reference to sexual favors or coercion and buried on the inside of the Culture section, an obscure story about Miramax firing an Italian executive. Who cared?

The Times’ then-culture editor Jon Landman, now an editor-at-large for Bloomberg, thought the story was unimportant, asking me why it mattered.

So now the fallout is: Weinstein has been fired from his company. The company just announced that they will have a new name shortly. (And if anybody knew everything – it would have been his brother Bob.) Weinstein’s wife has also announced that she has left him.

There are a lot of powerful people in Hollywood afraid tonight. Hopefully there are a lot of powerful men in all industries taking note of how quickly and how hard they might fall.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?

 

Happy Saturday (and Sunday) Widdershins.

We have survived another week. This week was off to a rough start because Hillary Clinton’s book about the 2016 campaign, “What Happened,” was released and before its4c498a1fa3498d0d740dfb69e25bea87--american-life-time-magazine.jpg release virtually every pundit on TV and Twitter had a meltdown about it. How dare Hillary say anything? People have been talking about her publicly for 30 years, but at this point, they said, she needed to go away. But an odd thing happened as the week progressed: as people actually read the book, they found they liked it. Ok, so maybe not the usual pundits. Those have a case of Clinton Derangement Syndrome so strong that nothing would appease them. (No really: Slate wrote an article questioning why Hillary isn’t angrier… like really, this happened.) But the more reasonable types found themselves not unhappy. And Clinton gave a number of remarkable interviews, everyone from Vox (Ezra Klein) to Rachel Maddow to The View. Turns out what Hillary has to say is not only interesting, a lot of it is important. Like the discussion about Republicans potentially working their way to a Constitutional Convention. This needs to make bigger headlines.

So, we found ourselves lifted up by Hillary Clinton once again. She may not run for office, but she herself said that she is not retiring from public life and from politics. Things are too important and too dangerous to step away from.

So, like Hillary, we will continue to fight.

Our weekend fight: Trumpcare is back folks. It’s back, like a zombie that will not die. Republicans are trying to repeal the ACA again. This is not a drill and not a joke. Start telling your friends to call their Senators and Representatives again. It is important. It is happening. Start calling 202-224-3121.

And for our weekend musical theme, the theme is: Fight. Fight. Fight.

What’s on your mind Widdershins?

 

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Happy Friday Widdershins!

If you are reading this then good news: a nuclear was hasn’t started yet! But it is early, so we’ll see how things play out.

This morning I won’t bore you with my thoughts on Dump and whatever the latest shitnado he has unleashed on the world. There is so much happening and it’s happening so quickly that sometimes the brain feels like it will short circuit. So we will stay current on the news in the comments section, as always. If Dump launches a nuke at North Korea or California, please post here ASAP!

Instead I will tell you about a nearly forgotten artist. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and I have not heard of Maryla Jonas until just a week ago when Sony released a remastered box set of Jonas’ complete recordings made for Columbia in the 1940s and 50s. Granted, her recorded legacy was not big, only a bit over 3 hours of music. But it’s amazing how an such an important artist of her day could be so nearly forgotten, even though at the time famed critics like Virgil Thompson and Edward Downes counted her among the greats.

Maryla Jonas was born on May 31, 1911 in Warsaw, Poland. She became something of a child prodigy at the piano and though her father had serious misgivings about his daughter having a successful career as a musician, she did make her concert debut at the age of 9. At the age of 11 she was accepted to study at the Warsaw Conservatory. Over the years she studied with the famous pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

‘When I was no more than seventeen. I played a Ballade of Chopin for [Paderewski], and he said, very calmly and quietly, more pedal here—less pedal there—there, more tone—there, more speed. Such things. Also, he took my music and marked everything down in red pencil. Good! I went home and studied hard everything he had said. Like a parrot.

‘Then I went for a concert to Denmark. I played this Ballade, exactly as Paderewski had said. Well, a friend of his who was there, said it was no good! He told Paderewski I had played it no good. So the next time I came to Paderewski, he asked me what I did to play so badly, and told me to sit down and play the Ballade for him. I did, exactly as he had said. And this time he too said it was no good! I said he himself had told me all this, and he said, ‘No, that was impossible!’ I showed him his own red writing on the music, and again he said, ‘No!’ At that time, I was heartbroken. But today, I see exactly what Paderewski meant! He meant that the first time, he was in a mood to want the Ballade one way, and the next time, not. That is all. But it showed me that teaching can never be a matter of do-this or do-that’. (“The Etude”, February 1947, interviewed by Rose Heylbut).

When she was eighteen , Miss Jonas says an incident happened in her life which, more than anything else, influenced her subsequent career. ‘I had finished playing a whole program for Paderewski and he took me to the window and pointing, he said: “You see that street over there? You see how it winds down into that alley? It looks sordid, doesn’t it. Well, there is life. Go out and find out for yourself. Live an experience and come back to me in a year. You’ll be a better pianist”.

Throughout the 20s and 30s she toured across Europe, including recitals at the Salzburg Festival and Bayreuth. She married a famous Polish criminologist. And then Germany invaded Poland. Her husband and three brothers joined the underground resistance. Her sister, who had married a Viennese Jew, fled to Brazil. Jonas and her parents’ home was requisitioned by the Germans, so they spent months moving from shelter to shelter. They were eventually arrested and after an interrogation by the Gestapo Jonas was offered to be sent to Berlin if she would join the Nazi party and become an official Nazi artist. Jonas refused. She and her parents were sent to a concentration camp.

After several months in camps, a German officer recognized Jonas as a pianist he had heard perform before the war. He arranged to have her released from the camp and advised that she go to Berlin and appeal to the Brazilian embassy for safety. Jonas walked from Warsaw to Berlin: about 321 miles. She slept in barnes and under the moon, eating only scraps that she could find. Finally in Berlin the Brazilian embassy arranged to smuggle her out of the country on false papers, pretending to be the wife the ambassador’s son.

Jonas joined her sister in Rio, but her health had very seriously deteriorated from the long and arduous journey from Warsaw to Berlin. She then received news that her parents, her husband and one of her brothers had been killed in Poland and she suffered a nervous breakdown. She spent several months in various sanatoriums in Brazil. She decided that she would never play the piano again, but at the encouragement of her sister and a chance visit to Rio in 1940 by one of the most famous pianists in the world, Artur Rubinstein, changed her mind.

He had known Maryla in Warsaw, and called on her. He urged her eloquently to resume playing. He told her she was now a representative of Poland. It was her duty, he said, to keep reminding the world that her country had stood for something, and to work and earn money to help rescue other Poles from their Nazi-dominated homeland. She agreed with every word. But she could not play.

Rubinstein was rehearsing for several recitals he was to give in Rio and asked Jonas to come to the theater to offer him advise. At the theater he said he wasn’t sure what the img041_a_200dpi.jpgacoustics of the hall were like, so he asked Jonas to play while he walked to the back of the auditorium to sound-check. Jonas obliged… and found herself musically reborn. She decided to start playing again and within few months was giving recitals across South America. In 1946 she came to the United States and on February 25 gave a recital at Carnegie Hall. That seems to have been a very lightly attended show (someone joked the ushers outnumbered the audience), but a glowing review from the highly regarded Jerome D. Bohm of Herald Tribune: “the finest woman pianist since Teresa Carreno” he wrote. He continued that on her next appearance Jonas “will be greeted not by a handful of listeners . . . but by the sold-out house which such artistry as hers deserves.” Five weeks later her second Carnegie Hall recital was sold out. Olin Downes of the New York Times wrote that “The shimmer of the harmonies, the haunting song that they half revealed and half concealed, was something to remember.” Soon Jonas was engaged to play a Beethoven concerto with the New York Philharmonic. Sold out concerts and glowing reviews, and a record deal with Columbia followed. Jonas also married a surgeon.

During a Carnegie Hall recital on January 27, 1951 she got sick.

Persons familiar with the Schumann work [Carnaval] sensed that something was wrong when some passages were skipped. They were puzzled when the pianist got up after a gentle number about two thirds of the way through. She walked unsteadily to the left side of the stage and just beyond the edge of the dusty-rose curtain she fell.

… Miss Jonas had not been feeling well all week, according to her representative, so her physician, Dr. Franz Groezel, and her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, both were in the auditorium. They went back-stage to attend her and ten minutes later John Totten, manager of the hall, emerged from the stage door to say she would continue the program.

The pianist returned to the stage looking white and shaky, but once she was seated she seemed all right. She played the Nocturne, the Waltz, the Berceuse and two of the four Mazurkas she had scheduled. She also managed two encores, though the last one was given with the house lights on as a hint to the audience not to expect a third.

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In 1952 Jonas was stricken with a rare blood disease and put her concert career on hold. She was bedridden for two years. She returned to Carnegie Hall on December 1, 1956. It seems that physically she was no longer able to play well. Edward Downes of the New York Times wrote:

The Andante cantabile of the middle movement was an achievement of rare artistry. But toward the end of the sonata Miss Jonas began to sound nervous. As the Mozart group progressed there were moments of exquisite lyricism, but they became rarer as one sensed that Miss Jonas’ strength was ebbing under physical and nervous strain.

[…]

Friends who inquired backstage after the program were told that a physician was attending Miss Jonas. Later it was announced that she was not ill but suffered only severe nervous tension.

This was Maryla Jones’ last concert. She died on July 3, 1959. (Her husband, Dr. Ernest Abraham, was an amateur cellist and encouraged his wife’s career. He died a few weeks after her.)

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You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone, and we are all part of the same compost pile.

So wrote Chuck Palahniuk in his 1996 novel “Fight Club,” later adapted into a popular film by David Fincher starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton and Helena Bonham-Carter. Palahniuk proudly claimed that he coined the phrase “snowflake” to describe libtards, but – alas – Palahniuk is not a beautiful and unique snowflake, and his claims that he invented the insult are alternative facts. It’s a little hard to figure out Palahniuk’s politics. He has a  bit of a Milo Snuffleupagus vibe going. He likes to yell, shock and act like a jerk.  Palahniuk, who is gay, also approved the use of “snowflake” to describe liberals. And yet, the characters of “Fight Club” who resemble what one day would become the alt-right (angry, violent white men who wreak havoc upon the world and commit acts of terrorism) aren’t heroes. And it’s main character is literally a schizophrenic with multiple personalities.

In any case, whatever Palahniuk’s personal feelings on liberals and snowflakes, the term is very old. It has been traced as far back as 1860s to describe white people who opposed abolition of slavery. The alt-right’s embrace of it – and liberals’ attempts to claim it as ironic – has been an interesting fight over words. Who thought that the age of Trump would usher in a war over language.

And who would have thought that Shakespeare would be reestablished as politically relevant 400 years after his death. “Julius Caesar,” written in 1599, humanizes a despot, showing that assassinations of leaders – even the bad ones – is a terrible idea. Portraying Caesar as a contemporary is hardly a new tradition. They did it in 1930s’s Germany, and more recently on our own shores Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all been portrayed as Caesar. But it’s the Trump version in NYC’s Central Park that has incensed Trumpkins. Multiple performances have now been interrupted by the alt-right and I suspect this will continue for the duration of the production’s run.

How triggered Trumpkins are by a 400 year old play. They accuse the liberal elitists who read Shakespeare of inciting violence by showing Caesar being assassinated. And then they accuse the same liberal elitists of being snowflakes. It’s a little difficult to square the two off. I don’t know what to wear to be a snowflake terrorist!

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.”

Leon Trotsky

(This quote is frequently attributed to Bertolt Brecht, but actually appears to be by Trotsky!)

Art has been making people angry for as long as people have been creating art. The Pussy Riotpower of art to heighten emotions – every emotion imaginable – is unparalleled. And its ability to inspire social change is undisputed. Pierre Beaumarchais‘ Figaro trilogy was banned in France and Austria in the decade before the French Revolution. Dmitri Shostakovich‘s opera “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk District” nearly got him executed, and he was on the brink of arrest by Stalin almost his entire life. The Nazis murdered more artists than one can count and created entire categories of degenerate art, which included everything from the film “Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” to the music of Kurt Weill. We have seen the Fearless Girl on Wall Street – bravely facing off the charging bull – attacked and disfigured. What are they afraid of? (One line of attack on the Fearless Girl, created by Kristen Virbal, is that it was commissioned by an investment management firm, which makes it not art. These people are ironically unaware of quite literally the entire history of art…) In our own times perhaps no act of political art has been more feared than the Russian female punk band Pussy Riot. Arrested, imprisoned, beaten by Putin and his followers: yet they persist. Perhaps in America political artists are fortunate to not be targets of government-led violence. It is imperative that we never allow it to happen.

Warning: this video by Pussy Riot is graphic.

Happy Sunday Widdershins!

Another week, more madness from around the world. The terrible attacks in London are just beyond words. I won’t even try…

So, while it may seem counter-intuitive – let us try to take a few moments to forget our troubles. And try to laugh. What makes you laugh? Is there a joke? A song? A scene from a movie? Sometimes laughter isn’t even about “I’m rolling on the floor, my belly aches from laughing.” It could just be something so bananas – that it makes you laugh. That’s what my first selection is. It’s the Act 1 finale from Rossini’s opera “L’Italiana in Algeri.” It’s 10 minutes of frolicking bananas composing, wordplay and singing. This concert performance is from the Metropolitan Opera’s Centennial Anniversary Gala. How can one not stare in awe and laugh… (Also, some of the other selections are a bit risqué…proceed with caution.)

This is an open thread!


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

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3 turds control fate of healthcare for millions

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

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“The” Book

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Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
3.1 years to go.

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Wise Words from Paul Ryan

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TELL PEREZ AND ELLISON HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT BRAZILE NUT!

Storify version of E. Rogers HVF explanation

Reason(s) to vote for Doug Jones