Monday, August 21, 2017
"I can't remember the last time I went to a Broadway show that didn't receive a standing ovation -- even though, in my opinion, many didn't earn it." https://www.tdf.org/stages/art
icle/1723/taking-a-stand-again st-standing-ovations?ct=t(TDF_ STAGES_August_29_2015_copy_01_ 9_3_2015)&mc_cid=953161c2a8&mc _eid=02017501f5
I not only agree with the author, but with her earlier pronouncement that "I don't give entrance applause." https://www.tdf.org/stages/art
icle/1679/why-i-dont-like-entr ance-applause I remember my brother's out loud reaction many years ago to the applause at the entrance of a noted actress in a Broadway play, "She hasn't done anything yet."
. . .
Viviane T. had a reasonable reaction to reading the weekend's reports of demonstrations and counterdemonstrations, protests and counterprotests, all supposedly centered on the issue of free speech. "Who's on first?"
I am beginning to think that "free speech" isn't worth the fuss. For us, the concept is rooted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. It, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights, was intended to rebuff tyranny by a national government crafted by the Founding Fathers, a construct without precedent. But, from the outset, free speech wasn't free. The unamended constitution included the explicit limitation on free speech by protecting an author's copyright in Article I, § 8, ¶ 8. What could be a better example of free speech than repeating something you read or heard?
Since those early days there have precedent shattering, precedent bending and precedent discarding rulings by the United States Supreme Court about free speech, including granting corporations the right to free speech without obliging them to otherwise act like good citizens. In fact, it is corporations, our employers, who more effectively muffle speech than our government. There is no constitutional protection from your boss, since "free speech" is a matter between the citizen and the government. What you might say about the president on a street corner without reprisal will probably put you out onto that street corner if said in the office about management.
Admit it, only your speech should be free, the other guy's speech is dumb and unnecessary. We don't wake up in the morning anxious to be contradicted. Sean Hannity doesn't tune into Robert Reich at the earliest opportunity nor do I imagine that Reich seeks out Hannity's opinion on the issues of the day.
What good is free speech anyway? There are many sources for the concept of civil society in Western civilization. They are far from consistent on whether we should come together to seek pleasure or avoid pain, to regain the state of nature or flee it, but I can't think of one proposing the creation of civil society in order to sit around and talk. No, people assemble to get things done, build shelter, kill wolves, collect fresh water, trade things. With those goals, you are more likely to hear, "Shut up, and get busy," rather than "Is there another opinion?"
. . .
Personally, I was much more interested in the article, "Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It." https://www.nytimes.com/2017/
08/18/your-money/aging-parents -with-lots-of-stuff-and-childr en-who-dont-want-it.html
This reflects a long-standing personal dilemma. Over the many decades, I have collected things, not old, dusty, broken down things, but attractive, special things. Of course, that includes books and recordings, much like almost anyone else. I am more concerned about less common items, special to me, but holding little interest to others, relatives and friends alike. Whether I am remembered fondly or not, some of my possessions might well be regarded as, shall we say, a bit focused. For instance, my ten volumes of first day covers of U.S. commemorative stamps from May 1993 through September 2013, or one toe shoe worn by Darci Kistler in 1981, when she first danced Dewdrop in The Nutcracker for the New York City Ballet. Is eBay my only hope? Would any of you like to be in my will?
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
I must admit that, to a large degree, I am sustained by nostalgia. So, the news that the Village Voice will no longer be actually printed brings back many memories even though I have not been a reader for years. In late 1968, I moved to Greenwich Village. The nearest subway station was Christopher Street-Sheridan Square where a hodge podge of streets intersect. At the time, the Village Voice was located at the 12 o'clock position in this big open space. After I went to work daily by subway for a couple of months, I noticed strange behavior, but only on Wednesday mornings. A lot of youngish people, my contemporaries then, probably Gen P, would be hovering around the subway entrance, clustered at the newsstand right there. Looking around, I saw others lurking in the telephone booths on the several corners of this complex intersection. The prized location was the classic wooden telephone booths in the cigar store that still stands at the 9 o'clock position.
Here's the story -- Back then, the Village Voice was the premier vehicle for, among other things, classified real estate advertising, how to locate that hidden treasure of a rent-controlled apartment with exposed brick walls, high ceilings, maybe a fireplace, somewhere south of 14th Street. It was published Wednesday morning and delivered first to the newsstand in Sheridan Square, explaining the crowd gathered to pounce, protecting the nearest telephone (really the good old days). My own tiny roach-ridden apartment renting at $105 monthly was passed on by someone I knew, obviating the need to rely upon the Village Voice. However, I read it regularly and when I moved to Los Angeles (don't ask) in 1971, I took a subscription and continued to read it in an attempt to maintain my New York hipster pose.
. . .
It seems that Black lives don't matter. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/0
8/14/upshot/killings-of-blacks -by-whites-are-far-more-likely -to-be-ruled-justifiable.html
Thursday, August 24, 2107
Stony Brook Steve accompanied me to Chinatown today, where we predictably had lunch at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street. We shared an excellent plate of beef chow fun and a somewhat bland chicken with spinach, at least bland until adorned with hot mustard and soy sauce.
While Steve's company is always desirable and Wo Hop always excels, I had an ulterior motive for the trip today. Fortune cookies. The delightful Melanie S. asked if I could get her a bunch of fortune cookies on my next sojourn to Chinatown. I didn't ask why, just headed downtown.
Golden Fung Wong Bakery, 41 Mott Street, is only a few doors from Wo Hop and offers bags of fortune cookies, about 40 to a bag, for a mere $2.50. Prudently, I took 2 bags. I hope that Melanie will tell me of any life-altering revelations emerging from the cookies.
Friday, August 25, 2017
The issue of New York-themed movies aroused many of you to challenge the New York Times's list (August 7, 2017). With the all-city show date for the winner approaching, the paper explained its choices today. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/movies/the-city-so-nice-they-cant-stop-making-movies-about-it.html?_r=0
I understand some of the reasoning, such as, avoiding excessively adult language or themes (Midnight Cowboy) for an intergenerational audience, but we're talking New York here.
. . .
You will have to squint to read the 100 or so graphs representing the literal complexion of American undergraduate education, but the headline tells the story: "Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago"
The continuing inability of our black and Latino population to garner even a semblance of their share of educational opportunity is shameful. I admit that sometimes I default to blaming the victim, a position probably held by too many white Americans. Arthur Ashe, the African American tennis star, observed that top athletes demonstrate tremendous discipline and focus in developing their talents, yet black youth are rarely required or directed to apply the same rigor to academic pursuits. What he said over 25 years ago remains true today, "I strongly believe the black culture spends too much time, energy and effort raising, praising, and teasing our black children about the dubious glories of professional sports." This seems to suit the rest of us just fine.
The only good news that I found among the data was the ascension of Asian Americans at many of the toughest education institutions, notably Cal Tech, Johns Hopkins and MIT, and throughout almost the entire University of California system. On the other hand, the Ivy League and most of the top liberal arts colleges seem to be wary of a new race of greasy grinds.
. . .
Just as I was about to lay down my quill for this week, the New York Times released on-line a story that reflects on the sad state of our race relations. It will probably reach print over the weekend. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/24/upshot/how-redlinings-racist-effects-lasted-for-decades.html
The article states that "new research reaffirms the role of government policy in shaping racial disparities in America in access to housing, credit and wealth accumulation. And as the country grapples with the blurred lines between past racism and present-day outcomes, this new data illustrates how such history lives on."
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What follows is for pedants and triviameisters only:
I recognized the headline of the story above, "The City So Nice They Can't Stop Making Movies About It," as an hommage to the song lyric, "the city so nice, they named it twice." While several internet references point to a 1978 recording by an expatriate American musician, the phrase originated in a 1959 orchestral work, New York, N.Y., by jazz composer George Russell, featuring Bill Evans, John Coltrane, Art Farmer, Milt Hinton, Bob Brookmeyer, and Max Roach, a great collection of musicians, with Jon Hendricks in a speaking role. Of course, I have the album, stuck in the bottom of a closet, unplayed for 25 years or more. Which brings us back to the disposition of the loved one's unloved possessions.