NOBODY LIKES A BULLY: The loneliness of the would be leader of the free world

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How can no one at the G20 want to talk to President Donald Trump?  I tell you, he STILL gets NO RESPECT!  Why bother to try to talk to him.  He doesn’t listen.  He cannot and will not evaluate himself or others.

I would have thought that this picture would have outraged him.  It catches him “down” and not on, not performing for the camera.  Alas, pay no attention to that man there; he is only an “act”, a performance, a con man delivering his schtick; he is empty and without consequence.  No matter how much power he accumulates, he never feels like he is in charge and on top — and he never will.

A leader is someone of substance.  The Donald is all smoke and mirrors.  Inevitably there is no one there.  No positive life force — no moral compass — no integrity and no curiosity and intelligence.  Unless he thinks someone is watching, he is not there.

How could the American electorate be so vulnerable to this con man?

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CENSORSHIP: The Public Theatre’s Julius Caesar

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In many ways I’m glad that Shakespeare in the Park in New York City is causing such a fuss this summer.  It has been some time since we have had the arts’ nazis out in force because quite frankly our exhibits and productions were not controversial or even very interesting.  I hope we have finally passed that early part of a new century where we look back – a nostalgia fest – and are finally moving forward.

Of course Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare is hardly a new work.  The Public’s artistic director, Oscar Eustis,  has made some production choices that propel the play into today’s headlines.  Caesar looks a lot like Donald Trump with the bouffant blonde hair, the long red tie and the bulky physical presence.  Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife,  is tall and thin and speaks with a Slavic accent.  And Caesar’s assassination on the floor of the Roman Senate is bloody and graphic.  The liberal New York City audience loves it.  The Conservative Media is up in arms and demanding the play be censored as treason.

Ms. Sheaffer, a sales manager for Salem Media, a conservative-leaning media group, saw a performance on June 3. She described her dismay over the production in a conversation with the conservative radio host and comedian Joe Piscopo, then voiced her concern again to the media and politics site Mediaite, declaring “I don’t love President Trump, but he’s the president. You can’t assassinate him on a stage.” Mediaite made the most of the story, posting it with the headline “Senators Stab Trump to Death in Central Park Performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.”

Bank of America and Delta Airlines then got on board by withdrawing funding support for the production, with American Airlines and the National Endowment for the Arts clarifying that none of their funds for the Public Theatre had been used for this production.  It was CYA all the way!

Conversely NYC’s department of Cultural Affairs who also partly funded the production;  stated they are against any censorship. “Threatening funding for a group based on an artistic decision amounts to censorship,” said Tom Finkelpearl, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs. “We don’t interfere with the content created by nonprofits that receive public support — period.”

Theater provokes a discourse, and we accept that — not every theater piece can please everybody,” stated a Board member of the Public Theatre.  “It’s an upsetting play, but if there’s a production of ‘Julius Caesar’ that doesn’t upset you, you’re sitting through a very bad production,” said Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

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Art as protest is important. We need these lightening rods now and then to remember how important freedom of expression is — especially in the theatre. A graphic murder on stage is very powerful. This makes me want to fly to NYC to see the production and give $$ to the Public. When Joe Papp died I thought, oh dear there goes another important institution. But they seem to be carrying on the tradition of reaching for that which is new and provocative. Corporate funding IS problematic. When you get in bed with Delta Airlines or Bank of America you might be getting more than a good night’s sleep.

This “Julius Caesar” is a deeply democratic offering, befitting both the Public and the public — and the times. If in achieving that goal it flirts a little with the violent impulses it otherwise hopes to contain, and risks arousing pro-Trump backlash, that’s unfortunate but forgivable. Mr. Eustis seems to have taken to heart Cassius’s admonition to Brutus when Brutus is still on the fence about taking action. “Think of the world,” he begs. It’s a line that cuts two ways.

The Delacorte production, vividly staged by the Public’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, bears the same message and, for good measure, comes with careful usage instructions. “Those who attempt to defend democracy by undemocratic methods,” Mr. Eustis recently explained in a statement, “pay a terrible price and destroy their republic.”

Train Wrecks for Attention

Recently I have been fascinated and repelled by on-going stories in the media revolving around two Hollywood stars – Mia Farrow and Gwyneth Paltrow. Both women really pushed my buttons, and aside from the overall general coveting of their wealth and fame, I was determined to think this reaction through.
As a former actress, I very much understand that people who need attention are drawn to this line of work. Not all performers are exhibitionists, but often they are people who need validation and adulation.

Mia Farrow is my generation – her gamine 60’s face of Rosemary’s Baby is an icon of the era. She is Hollywood royalty – the daughter of actress Maureen O’Sullivan, best known for playing Jane in the early Tarzan films, and John Farrow, a film director and professional Irishman. She grew up surrounded by famous people and their children, and entered show business, the family business, by default.

Ms. Paltrow is at least 25 years younger and the daughter of stage and film actress Blythe Danner and Producer Bruce Paltrow. Her earliest work was alongside her mother. She too
grew up knowing everyone in Hollywood and joining the family business. Blonde and fair, like Farrow, she has the distinction of having a Best Actress Oscar from nearly her first leading role in Shakespeare in Love in 1998.

Farrow has had the more flamboyant life; she’s been around longer and has had more opportunity. She famously married Frank Sinatra when he was in his 50s and she was 20. That marriage ended quickly when Farrow asserted that she intended to keep working. She then married British composer/conductor Andre Previn with whom she began her life-long acquisition of children. They had two (twins) and adopted others. She went on to her well-known, long- term semi-relationship with actor/director/writer Woody Allen. Alone and with Allen she gave birth to two more children and adopted more. The grand total of children is 15 with two already deceased. She is in the news in the last few years because of allegations of sexual abuse against Allen with one of their daughters and his famously marrying another of her adopted daughters.

Gwyneth’s life has been somewhat less scandalous. Although she had a number of high-profile suitors and fiancees such as Brad Pitt early in her career, she settled down with Cold Play frontman Chris Martin in 2002. They had two children, Apple and Moses, and recently announced their separation, nee Compassionate Un-Coupling.

Both actresses are outspoken and politically/socially involved. Mia Farrow’s adoptions have centered on children from developing countries with disabilities and she is passionate about raising awareness of neglected children throughout the world. Ms. Paltrow is more involved personally in her website Goop where she gives advice about being the perfect wife and mother.
So what is the thread that runs so through with these two women? Both are “hot messes” when it comes to seeking attention and engaging with the media to maintain high profiles – for their causes, their children, their friends and their lifestyles. I guess Paltrow is the new age version of Farrow – she attempts to white wash all her linen for the press. Farrow seems to be focused on airing all her dirty linen in public. Changing times?

VANITY FAIR magazine, that harbinger of the current pop culture zeitgeist, has profiled both women. Most recently, they attempted to write a piece that may or may not have been critical of Ms. Paltrow; she contacted all her powerful entertainment friends who lobbied the editor to cease and desist. He did.
What fascinates me and what is so polarizing about these women, I believe, is their need for more and more and more. More causes, more children, more books, more lovers, more friends, more influence and affluence, more mentions, trending, column inches, more notoriety. More awards, more advice, more money. More respect – more love.

There is a new psychological syndrome called Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD). A newish personality disorder that is characterized by attention seeking, impulsive, unstable and manipulative behavior. Well, of course, some of us are guilty some of the time. But people whose life seems to be governed by this behavior may need to step back and learn to be more genuine and cooperative.

As you grow and learn, hopefully, you realize that you can’t ALWAYS be the star of your own or anyone else’s show. Indeed, older women are often marginalized because the bloom is off the rose. Both Mia Farrow and Gwyneth Paltrow are beautiful women at whatever age, whose life achievements and blessings are to be envied. Enough! Sit down and shut up already. You damn near have had it all. Stop rubbing it in and asking for more. Learn to listen to yourself, to love yourself and calm yourself and just Be Yourself.

Be grateful please.

WE SHOULD HAVE SEEN IT COMING — Women and the Election of Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s election to President of the United States has many demographic lessons that we need to learn.  But I think many, seemingly liberated women were blindsided by the number of their “sisters” who publicly criticized Trump but knew they would and DID  vote for him.

Women who read Romance novels and the most popular recently – 50 Shades of Gray and The Twilight Series  – BDSM and Vampires – are probably not wanting equality.  Those minimally educated (a Bachelor’s in something but I can’t remember exactly what, or a lot less), sweet, white girls 20’s – 30’s and their Moms who have made scrapbooking a zillion dollar faux creative industry are not about to accept the responsibility for freedom of choice.

They would rather let Daddy or Hubby tell them about those nasty political things.   And worry not, if I need an abortion, I’m sure I can get a quiet D & C from my family Dr.  No need for public programs here.  Besides I love babies and a few more will be fun.

The air heads won this election.  Air head women seem to always win with cleavage and giggles and short cheerleader skirts.  Some really savy women – like the foxes on FOX — manage to use all their assets, brains and subservience to get ahead.

I was raised without a father or even a father figure.  My dad died when I was 5.  I bemoaned this fact and whined about it in therapy for many years.  I thought that if I had had a big strong father who protected me, I would have been free to accomplish everything.  But really what happened was I did not learn to defer to a male authority figure.  Little did I know that never having that mythical safety net, I had learned to soar on my own.  Personal responsibility  equals personal freedom.

Poor Hillary Clinton, a work horse of a politician, a forgiving and loving wife and mother, a serious person who cares about the course of history.  All those girls from high school and college who said she was a nerd and a wonk got her but good!  How dare you not punish Bill for his infidelities!  How dare you call me deplorable (figured it out after looking it up).  Hillary wants to make everyone’s lives better – better health care- better work opportunities – better education – more money through less middle class taxes.  She has many specific ways she wants to do this.  She really is a dedicated public servant.

Trump is a blow-hard and not even a real politician.  He is a philanderer and denigrates women.  He is dishonest about his business dealings.  He’s a bully with major overtones of racism and sexism.  He wants to Make America Great Again.  No specifics.  He just does .  And this seems more real to the populace than all the policies of Clinton.  Pie-in-the-Sky grandiose beats practical and detailed every time.

Women didn’t get the vote in the United States until 1920.  We thought ice would have a female president after almost 100 years.  Guess we were wrong.  We underestimated our own power – AGAIN.  Really, we threw our power away.  AGAIN.

My heart breaks for lost opportunities.  When my daughter asked for a quote to tell her posse of girls she has known since middle school (They seem to think of me as always having something pithy to say.)  I said “Well, since I’m age 70, I guess I won’t mind dying so much if this is what I will miss.”

I still have hopes that I will see real change for women and see real women change.  Throw off the chains of patriarchy and join all humanity in equality and responsibility.  Democracy demands this of all women — of all persons.

The women of ancient Greece had it right. Aristophanes in Lysistrata had insight into the gender wars in 411 BC.  No grabbing of pussy or getting any pussy at all unless you treat us — all of us — with respect.  His play was a comedy; time to get real girls!!