Saturday, September 1, 2018

Primary links

The New York State primary election is this month, and on paper, Cynthia Nixon's chances for becoming governor don't look good. Despite the groundswell of online support for her, rooted largely in her constant and justifiable criticism of incumbent Andrew Cuomo, she remains way behind in the polls.

There's still plenty of skepticism over whether Nixon, Hollywood actress and double-Emmy winner, has what it takes to run a state, but if nothing else, she's helped raise the consciousness of many people, both here in New York State and beyond, about some important issues — education, housing, marijuana legalization, and yes, the dreaded NYC subway — and she's proven that being a celebrity is not automatically an impediment when it comes to running for office, despite the presence of the one in the White House now.

For what it's worth, I intend to vote for her (in the primary, at least). She's earned my respect.


Last month, I learned how to sing in a chorus. There's a choral singing workshop Virginia attends every year in Massachusetts. She heard me sing months ago, as part of a group, and invited me to attend the workshop with her.

Now, I admit, I can carry a tune, but my sister is the singer in the family, not me. I've taken part in talent contests back when I was younger and contemplated a career as a musician — I have a keyboard and have taken lessons on the organ — but that doesn't make me Billy Joel by any stretch. Still, I was curious, and it provided an opportunity to travel with Virginia for the first time (we also visited friends of hers in Vermont).

The first day was the worst. Singing in Latin? Reading sheet music on sight? Focusing on my part while everyone around me sung different parts? I was angry, confused and lost and felt like I was letting Virginia down, since she was paying my way. She kept encouraging me, though, and against my instincts, I persisted.

Thanks to a terrific teacher, I got over my fear. He took my shaky bass voice and made it presentable through humor, patience and mostly by example. In addition, I found a song I genuinely liked, and wanted to sing. By the time my small ensemble performed for the other teachers, I was ready — and I even got some compliments! Virginia was impressed too, which meant more to me than anything.

Don't know for sure if I wanna keep up with this, but at least I can say I did it.


The original film version
of The Band's Visit
Virginia and I also went to see the Broadway musical The Band's Visit, based on the Israeli film from 2007. I never saw the movie; don't even remember it, but it got a 98 on Rotten Tomatoes. As a Broadway show it has enjoyed even more success, winning the Tony for Best Musical, and after seeing it, I can see why.

The premise is simple: a small Egyptian orchestra, invited to perform at a show in Israel, arrive in the wrong town. They spend a night with the locals and change a few lives in the process. It should have been Israel's entry in the Best Foreign Film Oscar race, but it was disqualified on account of having too much English.

In December 2016, the musical adaptation debuted off-Broadway and moved to the Ethel Barrymore Theater almost a year later. The version we saw last month had original production stars Katrina Lenk and Ari'el Stachel, who won Tonys, as well as Sasson Gabay, star of the original film.

We both loved the show. It was an exquisite, character-driven production with Arabic and Israeli flavored music; the whole thing felt different from what one normally thinks of as a Broadway musical. I still would like to see fewer film adaptations and more original material, but for what this was, it's the real thing.

More after the jump.


So about this thing with DT and his Hollywood Walk of Fame Star: first of all, I don't think he belongs there because he's not an actor, or a producer or screenwriter or composer or musician or anything like that, not necessarily for the things he's done as president. He hosted a reality show for a few years? Big whoop.

Then again, I question the worth of the WOF in general, if anyone can just buy a Star. Feel free to replace him with Carrie Fisher or anybody you like who has legitimately earned a spot.

This backlash exists because of who DT is and his conduct as president. Understandable...

...but why stop there? Let's get rid of all the Stars featuring people we disapprove of: Alfred Hitchcock, he was a sexual abuser; Ingrid Bergman, she cheated on her husband and got pregnant by another man; Jerry Lee Lewis, he was a pedophile; Barbra Streisand, her politics are irritating; Bill Cosby — do I even need to explain? The list goes on, depending on whether you're a liberal or a conservative, and the slope gets slippier the further you tread on it.

Believe me, I get why someone would take a pick-axe to DT's Star, but that won't get him out of the White House. If only it were that simple.


Your links:

Fritzi has produced, with the help of the Library of Congress, a DVD meant to simulate the experience of going to a silent movie a century ago.

Jacqueline throws a party for Ann Blyth's 90th birthday.

Phyllis visited Gary Cooper's grave.

Daily Variety's coverage of Cynthia Nixon's debate with Governor Cuomo.

New Plaza Cinema, the successor to the closed-down Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, will screen movies at Symphony Space this fall.

Blockbuster Video is down to one store left in America, yet Family Video keeps on keeping on.

Even the Razzie Awards think the new "Best Popular Film" Oscar is a bad idea.

Next April, here in New York, one of our subway lines will be partially shut down for repairs for fifteen months. A documentary on it is in the works.

How World War 1 was depicted in propaganda films.


  1. I was thinking that since folks pay for that star on the Walk of Fame, that they should pay to have it repaired. Can't see Donny forking over the necessary cash, so bye-bye.

  2. Thanks for including me, Rich. Good luck with the singing, sounds like a lot of fun.

  3. It was a new experience for sure, singing in front of actual musicians, sober, seriously, and with intent, and having them appraise me. The consensus, though, was I did okay, so I reckon I'll do it again.

  4. Oh, so YOU were the one who voted for Cynthia.
    I would have only because her opponent was a crook.
    However, being in a hit sitcom is not really the education you need to be the Governor of a state, let alone a state as complex as New York.
    She should have earned her chops, like she did as an actor.

  5. Well, in all fairness, she has a history of political activism and a number of pundits thought she did good debating Cuomo. It's not like she's a Kardashian.

    I agree, the lack of experience was a legitimate strike against her, but I had thought there was enough anti-Cuomo sentiment to at least make this a close race. Guess not.


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