Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Message to Myself

Once you pass 30 (remember "Don't trust anyone over 30?" ) its often difficult to get from the 'idea' stage to the 'remembering' stage. I have all these little ideas in the course of a day, things which would make a great blob topic, the kind of things you relish being able to share at cocktail parties and the like – but which, like the water streaming over the just cooked pasta in a colander, race out the little escape holes, and down the drain before you can write the damn things on paper. I’ve started to try and remember these items by sending myself a text message immediately, with a couple of words, confident that at a later moment, I’ll be able to reconstruct the idea as if I’d written it right then. Two words: “Doesn’t work!”

Going through my emails and texts I find all kinds of little clues which now seem as distant as spot quiz French tests in the 11th grade. I have a vague memory of them, but it remains truly vague. There is one called “Just Keep Breathing.” I think it must have had something to do with figuring out how to live a long life. I guess I’d read something about longevity. And you think about these things when your friends, particularly your younger friends pass away. That breathing thing was key… If you wanna be here at 47 years old, 55, 63 or 71.. you gotta keep breathing. It’s a key element in the overall scheme of things. When you read the obits, and more than half the people are younger than you are, it takes an extra moment of consideration. You kind of think you’ll never really end up in that world of the gone. I mean, don’t we all feel (by ‘we all’ I mean anyone able to buy Senior Fare tickets on Amtrak) like we’re 32 or 28 or on a bad day, maybe 40. I wonder sometimes if my folks felt that way as they grew older. My dad passed away at 88. He played golf regularly until the last couple of years of his life, and always lived with a very youthful gusto. I wonder, though if he had the same kind of feeling – comparing himself to his dad (his mom died when he was a child) all through his life. It’s a natural thing to do, and the older you get, I suppose the more philosophical you become about it. There was a great poster in the subway I saw today, showing the eventual rise of man, and the stops which it took to arrive where we are. (It must have been for the Smithsonian Natural History museum in DC) Worth thinking about..such that it started with these neo ape-like characters (yes, your great(167 power) grand dad) who began making small talk. Small talk. Small. Talk. In a cave, under a tree, 50000 years ago. Small talk indeed. And it probably didn’t have anything to do with getting Kindergartners into the right school, or wondering how to fix a Magic Bullet Express with a frayed wire. No, that small talk must have been pretty small: “Fire?” “Water?” “Buffalo” Imagine the first guy who made a tool. Took the tooth from a dead sabretooth tiger, and started to carve things like mad. Did he think Patent was a good idea? He probably wanted to share it, understanding that what was better for all was also better for him.

Some of the other little messages I send myself are intriguing enough to actually follow up on. (Besides the standard stuff like Airline reservation codes, and Amtrak departure information.) The latest came from Melanie B., a photog who recently moved from Texas to the City and was stuck with the NewYork problem many people face: how to get your sofa inside the apartment. Sounds simple, as if you can just measure a sofa and measure a door or hall way and see if it fits. Which of course, if you ever tried it, you have discovered that it's not a proper method for measuring anything. The concept of volumetric space and how it relates from one shape to another, is something that in this age you’d need a pc and some great software. In the 30s and 40s they did it with a slide rule and a pencil. I kind of like the old version myself. There was something attractive about a slide rule, which gave you a real sense of being in control of the math, instead merely a pawn to it. Thus was created a wonderful new vocation. That of Couch Doctor. Those two words were immediately sent to myself when Melanie told of how she and her befuddled boyfriend had to finally call in the Couch Doctor to handle things. What does the couch doctor do? He either “disassembles” or, in manner befitting that 95 year old house next to the new library in your hometown, he cuts it in half, moves it through the pesky hallways and door ways, and once back in place, reassembles the two parts so that the impossible is accomplished. I guess it’s kind of akin to building a sailing ship inside a glass bottle. If you troll on Youtube I’m sure someone has given that secret away by now. But the couch doctor, I mean, he’s not even listed in Wikipedia yet. That IS cool. I guess if there is a lesson to trying to follow these little ideas onward to their natural end, it’s that you can’t ever really know where they will lead you. They remain rather like a race with no finish line. In those little two and three word gems are hidden (at least from my mind) all kinds of wonderful possiblilties. And while you may not be able to reconstitute the idea which led you to write the message in the first place, they may lead you somewhere else, to yet another place where ideas grow. Fire? Water? Buffalo ? We’re just sayin’… David

Sunday, October 25, 2009

That Audience of One

Is Obama lost? He’s flying around hither dither, doing fundraisers and giving speeches about which no one gives a damn. It makes no sense to me. If I were advising him, I would suggest that he need to give the appearance of working hard to make change, thereby making a difference and fulfilling his promise to the nation. Note I said ‘appearance,’ because we all know that in Washington, as in most places and professions, it’s all about the perception. Perception is reality and if you can create the ‘smoke and mirrors’ necessary, whatever is your reality will be the public perception.

Hope that’s not too complicated to understand which explains why, of late, the only person to whom I have been confessing my inner core thoughts, about things like politics and life, is me. It happens quite unexpectedly. I will be walking down the street and the next thing I know I’m talking about one issue or another. Yesterday, when I saw the President in fundraising mode, I said, “What is he thinking? People are unemployed and starving, an additional 40,000 young men and women are going to have to serve in Afghanistan, the health care negotiations continue with limited success. What is he thinking?”

When I realize I’m doing this, I pretend I have a Bluetooth in my ear so strangers who pass by don’t think I’m nuts. In a routine I heard lately, Robin Williams said, “It used to be that we locked up people who talked to themselves. But now it’s hard to tell the sane people from the crazy ones since everyone who has a Bluetooth is walking down the street talking to themselves.” It seems to work and I remain free to blurt wherever.

A few days ago I was on the treadmill watching TV when there was an announcement about the police finding the body of a seven year old girl missing from Florida. I was at a fitness facility so I wasn’t alone. And when I looked away from the TV I noticed that people were staring at me. I had apparently had quite a discussion with myself about the cruelty of the kidnapper, and the pain the parents must have been suffering. When you wear earphones, it’s hard to moderate your volume—and mine was obviously turned up to ‘high.’

There are times when I am writing, or working that I find myself commenting on the value of my own work. Usually something like, “your spelling is not very good anymore – thank God for spell check”. Or, “That makes absolutely no sense, what happened to your ability to think like someone with a brain.” And even, “Where is the memory you used to have for people, places and things?” If I am cooking, I converse with the ingredients to inquire about whether or not I used enough of them. “Hello Mr. Salt, I want to use you sparingly because too much of you is not healthy.” There are even times when I pretend to be my mother or a friend and I talk as though they had inhabited my body and mind for those few minutes. I’m not sure if I change my voice to replicate theirs, but it is still done out loud, as opposed to in my mind.

Last night, we went to see Anna Deavere Smith in “Let Me Down Easy”. It is a one woman show where Anna, as 20 different characters (based on real people), reflects about death. It is clear that Anna has interviewed the people and at times they speak to her –being them. Although it is performed, as opposed to real life, it is the closest anything has come to mirroring my vocal behavior. The biggest difference is that she gets paid for her dialogue and I simply reprimand myself for acting like a dope. OK, there are other differences like her talent, ability to be creative, and prominence, but you get the point. Enough about talent, let’s get back to me. When I realize I am having this conversation with myself and maybe one or two inanimate objects, I say to myself, “Who do you think you are talking to?” Then I answer myself out loud and say, “Does it matter. She is clearly agreeing with me.”

How unfortunate that we are all reluctant to express opinions about anything sensitive. For example, I respect the President and his ability to remain calm and thoughtful in the face of national hysteria about many things. However, I would like to see him use the power of the Presidency to do simple things –like eliminating ‘’don’t ask don’t tell.’ It would be nice if we all felt some movement forward. He has become an easy target for opponents, elected or otherwise. But this is not something I talk publicly with anyone but me… and, as of now, my trusted following. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

It Ain't Just "Say Cheese" Anymore

DB by Dustin Ross/Contact (iPhone and some wacko kewl software)

Don’t look back. They are definitely gaining, no ifs, ands, buts or maybes. This is the weekend of the PhotoPlus exhibition at the Javits Center in New York. It you like cameras or dig anything to do with photography, then this is the “Santa’s Workshop” of the photo crowd. All the new announcements by the big companies are timed for one or another show similar to this one, and this year I’m sure will be no exception. Canon and Nikon, the big dogs are doing their collective things, but the way things are evolving, the fact is that software and ‘post’ production products are becoming as big a deal as the “taking” end of things. So now it’s not just a question of having a D3x or a 1D Mark 4. At one time (a few years ago, before digital took over the known world) your average photog would have loved nothing better than a new box in which to shoot tri-x or Velvia. In fact one of the great ironies of the ‘digital age’ is that at the time when 35mm film cameras were achieving the ultimate in speed, quality, and useability, an incredibly expensive, not very capable digi cam became the king. The one thing it could do was send a picture NOW. And NOW is what it was all about for those in the press. Now, a decade later the emphasis now seems to follow the “processing” side of the creative process. We have turned “photoshop,” the name of a wonderful and very capable editing program, into a concept, a view of photography which now assumes (“ah.. he must have photoshopped that!”) that far from being true, most pictures are suspect from the moment they are made, as to what they actually represent. I’m sure there are a few post-hippie types who would be able to tell me about what its like to trip on LSD, that festival of color and light. (I was always afraid of getting caught.) I suppose it probably looked, occasionally, like an overdone HDR picture (High Dynamic Resolution.) HDR is one of those processes which were originated to try and get photographs to more correctly replicate the human eye. It attempted to capture not only the shadows of s scene (the dark bits..) but the highlights, too, and everything in betwixt and between. We are used to looking at pictures which have come to look rather like how our eyes see the world. The new cameras go well beyond that range, and when you use an HDR workflow (isn’t that a sexy word?) it brings out all the detail in both the darkened shadows, and the bright highlights. God help you if the world really looks like that. But it is a “look” and one which can indeed be very eye catching. Sam Kittner, a Washington photographer has created a stunning set of HDR panoramas, of mostly DC subjects.
photo: Sam Kittner (
They arrest your view, and make you want to linger as you look. It’s as if we have taken photography and made a new painterly tool out of it. As someone who spent most of his life in the documentary/photojournalism world, I find myself torn: on the one hand there is something very captivating (or potentially so, when well done) and at the same time bothersome that we are messin’ around with ‘reality’ a bit too much. Of course you could also say that a 600mm lens with its sense of compression, creates a view of the world which is nothing like what you can see with your own eyes. In essence, it is an extension of that eye, a funneling of the vision into a very small cone, isolating the areas around it.

I’m actually glad the rules exist (such as they do) for my kind of work. It’s not that I don’t have a fanciful notion now and then to blast a picture with the latest software grooviness, and see what it yields. Certainly if you’re working in the realm of commercial or strictly artistic photography, pretty much anything goes. But at times it’s tough to turn that “Honest view of what I see” button on and off. I have often, however, loved quoting Bullwinkle, who was once portrayed in a smock and beret, with a palette of paints and canvas at hand: “I paint what I see…. And THIS is what I see…” camera panning to an absolutely incomprehensible Kandinsky-like bowl of artistic mush. Well, I DO shoot what I see. But it’s what happens to those images afterwards which is changing the world of visual communication as we know it. Credibility is often lost as pictures which were cheated along the way chip away at the essential believability of every image. I guess I am over that, already. I mean, who actually believes what they see anymore? The latest thing to pop me in the head is the software version of a photo techique which I have been working with for a few years. Using a lens which is slightly angled to the film plane (or the chip plane) you can create certain narrow fields of focus which basically let you emphasize what you want your viewer to see. Well, you could, I suppose say that this is as unreal a representation as something “done in post…” Maybe.. but I still feel there is something a little more holy about what we do in the camera. That may eventually lead to some wonderful little things which you can do to your camera, adjustments which would give you some other kind of ‘creative’ way of putting that image onto a chip. Today, Dustin Ross, the digital whiz kid at Contact wow’ed me with the new “Tilt Shift” program on his iPhone. Damn… its amazing what they can stuff into something the size of a ½ pack of smokes. In a few seconds he shot the picture, pulled it out of his “photo album,” worked it for all of about 30 seconds, and then emailed me the picture. Had I just dropped in from say, 1978, and seen that, my jaw would have dropped to my sneakers. We are already becoming so blasé about these amazing new tricks, that they have to keep getting reinvented, every month or two, just to keep one’s attention. I worry long term about the ability of the free press to exist, and should it exist, and maintain some modest level of credibility from the public. And of course there will always be questions about manipulation of images in ways which potentially go from creative artistry to propaganda. Wouldn’t those guys who spent their careers taking people out of Stalin and Mao’s pictures have had a field day with this stuff.

The only thing we know is that it’s not going back to those simple days of Velvia and Tri-x. But meanwhile, have a great time at the PhotoPlus show, push it one stop, and call me in the morning….We’re just sayin’… David

The Grown Ups are MIA

Last night we were out to dinner with two dear friends, both of whom are progressive Democrats. (Thought it was only fair to share all the information.) Dinner with these two smart and articulate people, is always fun and sometimes even rollicking fun The political conversation began right away with Billy asking me what was going on with Obama. I told him that when Barack called me yesterday, he said there was nothing new. “You’re not kidding, and nothing is the key word.” The discussion continued and I refused to take responsibility for this Administration’s actions, or inaction as it would seem. Billy said that when he listened to Obama speak he was always moved. But he wanted to see something accomplished beside the Justice Department deciding that you can no longer be arrested for using legal medical marijuana – if it is legal in the state where you are smoking.

It’s been ten months since Obama was sworn in and the question for most people is, has he accomplished anything? We are still in a war, health care is still pending, and even “Don’t ask don’t tell” remains military policy. Oh, except there is this ongoing ridiculous battle with Fox. This particular battle is a bit petulant for my taste. The White House says that Fox is an arm of the Republican party and so they should be treated like an enemy. There is even a Move On e-mail to rally the troops. It is a total waste of time and energy. The content is juvenile and preposterous, but worth sharing because it is what the people who drank the Kool Aid think makes sense:

"Democrats should support President Obama's effort to call out FOX. Please stay off FOX for as long as he does."
Dear MoveOn member,
All year, FOX has worked 24/7 to block President Obama's agenda—repeating lies about "death panels," promoting Tea Party protests, and whipping up fake political scandals. Now, President Obama is fighting back. The White House communications director said FOX is a "wing of the Republican Party...let's not pretend they're a news network." To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year. It's about time Democrats stood up to FOX! Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama's stance by staying off FOX as long as he does? We'll deliver it to Sen. Warner and Sen. Webb and Rep. Moran

It is hard to imagine what these people are thinking. The White House simply looks foolish trying to say FOX is not a network. By all the definitions, of course it is a network. Maybe the White House doesn't like it but there are many people who listen to it. Further, as my mother said, honey is much more palatable than salt when you are trying to convince people that you are right. Or was it "You get more using honey that salt". Who cares, you get the point. Why not appear to be open to every opinion and make them look short sighted and without credibility.

Today I went to a memorial service for a dear friend, Anne Wexler. She was the premiere Washington lobbyist – hard working, concerned, principled and tough. But she always got what you needed to do to get things done. Her firm, Wexler Reynolds was bi-partisan. There were incredibly talented people from both parties who she employed. They were successful because they understood that continued conversation was much more effective than refusing to talk. I think the problem for this Administration is that they have not transitioned to governing instead of campaigning. And there is a big difference, both in attitude and philosophy, between the two.

Anne probably would have said that an unsuccessful transition from political campaign to running the government is like being a cigarette girl on the Hindenburg. You are just passing time until there is an explosion. That’s what we are seeing now. The ship of state is trying to stay afloat with a commander who seems directionless despite his eloquent rhetoric.

It looks like he will commit more troops to Afghanistan, health care probably will not have a public option, and the media will remain the enemy. As Anne always said, “Talk to the press, tell the truth the first time, and move on”. She would have seen the FOX thing as an opportunity instead of a battle field. All I can think when I look at this kind of behavior from the White House is, where are the adults when we need them. When will there be another Anne to insist that the White House use a little common sense. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where Did It Go?

Whether you are 20, 30, 40 or 80, there is a time when you look back and say, “Where did it all go?” Obviously, it is different when you are twenty, and looking forward to the rest of your life, than when you are eighty looking at life in a rear view mirror. But people do, on occasion, try to figure out where their life has gone and what they want to do with the time they have left – no matter what age.

Some people (like professional Presidential political people –what a mouthful), measure their lives in increments of four years. And when they reflect they think about what they did in between campaigns. Other, like photojournalists may look at their lives in terms of the important stories they covered. Artists, like painters or sculptures, probably measure their lives by the art work they produce. I have no idea what lawyers or bankers do.

One of the ways we measure our lives is by our families. Usually the measure is the age of child or a parent. You will often hear a parent say, “My God, how did the kids get so old?” Or, “Can you believe I’m the same age as my mother when she learned to drive.” Or “I just had to take my mother’s driver’s license and keys away.” And you might hear a kid say, “When you were alive, what did you do for a social life?” If you are twenty, you can’t wait until you are 21. It opens so many doors, including to the local tavern. But you still look back at the way you spent your childhood, and you think about the things that were most important or had an impact that might be ever lasting – a first kiss, a last dance, a celebration of some academic achievement. Yet another kind of measurement.

We also measure our lives by our successes or failures. Sometimes that involves personal achievements and sometimes it is the achievement of a loved one. Like when our children have children. Who, as a parent, hasn’t said, “You should only get back double from your kids what you gave to me.” (You don’t have to have said it with a Yiddish inflection, but guilt usually works better with an immigrants accent.—Yiddish Italian, Chinese, it doesn’t matter.) Then when the kids have kids and you see their children acting out, something inside you makes you want to smile and say, “Thank you God.” But of course you don’t because then they would blame your curse for all the child’s bad behavior.

On occasion, when I’m feeling mortal (which happens infrequently), I think that everyone would be better off doing exactly what they want to do —no matter how unrealistic. For example, I never intended to work in politics or the government. My love was always the theater. But at someplace along my road of life, I took a left instead of a right and became a “political operative” instead of Cecil B.DeMille.

I have no regrets about the professional time I spent in academia, public relations or the Washington bureaucracy. I traveled all over the world, met unbelievable people, and made fairly sound policy. Actually, I have no regrets about anything but waiting a little too long to do the thing I most wanted to do – something on the production side of the theater. But, I believe, that as long as you are still breathing, it’s never too late to follow your dream. And whether you become an expert, rich or famous, as long as you are spending each day in a way that makes you happy, you cannot ask for more.

Anyway, when we talk about our memories and start with something close to “Do you remember…” -- the first day of school, the first day of camp, the first job, the first disappointment, graduating from college, when you fought with a dear friend, the passing of a parent, or the first day of your child’s chosen career, those are also a ways to measure how much of your life has passed.

As my mother would say, “Measure, Schmeasure.” What it really comes down to is how you want to be treated, remembered, and yes, measured by people on whose life you might have had some impact. We’re just sayin’… Iris

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Off With His Knife!

There was a time when I carried an elaborate Swiss Army Knife everywhere. It was not used for protection. From what was there to need protect? Nope, I used it whenever I was doing a political event and usually it saved my life – but not from a terrorist.

This week, a six year old child was caught in school with something similar and simpler—a Cub Scout knife. Yes, First-grader Zachary Christie was well on his way to a Delaware reform school for 45 days. There is a zero tolerance at his school and he was in violation. Yes, Zachary is a model student and not a troublemaker, but you can’t accommodate a student when the system has rules. Are they kidding? Is there no common sense anymore.?

Maybe if Zachary was in the parking lot shooting up, or shooting at someone. Or if Zachary was riding around in a stolen vehicle, I might get to that place where I would understand a punishment like reform school. Never mind, I wouldn’t ever put a troubled kid in reform school instead of therapy, but that’s not the point.

I’m not saying that because someone is only six, they are not big enough to be disruptive or dangerous. My friend Joyce works in a first to third grade urban school in Philly. The kids do have to go through a magnetometer before they walk into the school. But this is a way to avoid problems rather than send them elsewhere. Teacher and principals and grownups dealing with disciplining children should have to pass a common sense test. Forget English or math. Kids need to have role models with a brain.

I’m no big fan of the Boy Scouts. (I think their homophobia is inexcusable). But I guess Cub Scouts are still young enough to be OK. And although I think the cookies the Girl Scouts sell are overpriced – they are cute in their little outfits with their hard earned badges. I never made it to Girl Scouts. Nope, I didn’t fly up from the Brownies because Mrs. Sturtevant, (the Brownie leader), was anti-semitic and hated my family. But that’s another blob.

Anyway, in order to become a Cub Scout, Zachary had to take an oath and a pledge and swear things to God. just in case you don’t remember yours:

Cub Scout Promise
I, (say your name), promise
To do my DUTY to GOD
And my Country
To HELP other people, and
To OBEY the LAW of the Pack

Law of the Pack

The Cub Scout follows Akela.
The Cub Scout helps the pack go.
The pack helps the Cub Scout grow.
The Cub Scout gives goodwill.

(The pack stuff makes me nervous and who the hell knows what Akela is but nevertheless…)

And the piece of resistance (forget the French) the -- Cub Scout Motto

Who in their right mind would send a kid who did all that swearing to God, to reform school. Put on your big girl panties, people, and act like you have the ability to think like a reasonable adult. You just might be able to pull it off. We’re just sayin’…..Iris

Saturday, October 10, 2009

That Peace Prize

“It’s Bo’s birthday” was not the way I expected the President to acknowledge receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Maybe he, like the rest of us, was so shocked he just tried to put it in perspective and starting with “It’s Bo’s birthday” made as much sense as his receiving the prize. I know, it’s not fair just to leave it at Bo’s birthday. The President did say that he didn’t view it as a recognition of his own accomplishments. Which is good – since there aren’t any yet. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. He has only been in office for 8 months. I think the country has disappointed expectations because they expected too much. George Bush did eight years worth of damage. So this President has to help the country recover as well as move forward. Not an easy task.

Ok. We are all wondering that the Nobel committee was thinking when they awarded him the prize. Many of the cable pundits thought it was because they were hopeful that he would work to deserve it. Like, instead of committing more troops to Afghanistan, he would realize that; 1. we can’t win there and 2. it is clearly becoming his war, rather than Bush’s war. If I lived in Oslo, and was on the Nobel selection committee, and I was desperate to find someone who actually did promote peace—but couldn’t, I might try to nominate someone who might do something to promote world peace. But that is kind of a stretch.

Let me share that this is not the first time I was surprised about the Nobel Peace Prize. Former Vice President Al Gore shared it for making a movie about Global warming. The movie/seminar was incredibly informative, but I’m not sure it deserved that big prize. And speaking of Al, (who, when living at the VP’s mansion, threw a wonderful Halloween party every year which we happily attended in colorful costume), he called Obama's win, “extremely well deserved and an honor for the country.” And he cited Obama's “UN speech on abolishing nuclear weapons, his shifting of the missile defense program in Eastern Europe and Russia, and joining other countries to confront Iran on nuclear nonproliferation.”

I could be wrong (we know it happens infrequently), but one of those things sounds like a vision, one an intention and one an action, but nothing that merits the Nobel Prize for Peace.

But seriously folks, there are more important things to consider than who won the prize. There’s the party. Jada Pinkett Smith, and her talented husband Will are going to host the Nobel Peace Prize party. Did you even know there was going to be a party? Not to worry, it’s not until December, and I’m sure all our invitations will be in the mail.

Let’s start that sentence again. But seriously folks, what was the committee thinking. There were a record 205 nominees this year. Other than Sarkozy, surely there must have been someone who has actually done something to promote world peace. How about the US exchanges programs, or Seeds of Peace But who am I to pick a winner. So let’s start that sentence one more time. But seriously folks can you imagine how pissed off Bill Clinton must be. We’re just sayin’…Iris

Friday, October 09, 2009

In Retrospect....

In retrospect, I think that the President’s trip to Copenhagen was shameful. There would have been absolutely no need for the President to make the trip (as the Senator from Illinois), had he had a good advance team and advisors who proved to be boys playing with sports toys.

Not that every campaign I worked in was perfect, nor were they without screw-ups but at least we knew that you never send the principal into a place where you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s politics 101. Never leave anything to chance. Especially if you know that there are simple ways to avoid embarrassing situations. For example, when you took a candidate to a neighborhood to go door to door asking for support, you made sure that every door he/she knocked on was already a supporter. The last thing you want to see on the news, is a candidate getting a door slammed in their face. Which is basically what happened to Obama.

It seems that everyone in the world (except the President, his staff, and the people who live in Chicago), knew that the Olympics was going elsewhere. So, if they didn’t know, why didn’t they ask. (Not everyone in Chicago because that would have been too large a crowd, and probably would have made the Olympic Committee nervous.) This White House trip turned out to be more fodder for the right wing talk show hosts.

It is terribly disappointing for those of us who had such high hopes, to think that this President and his staff may just have bad judgment about the message and the media. During the Bush years, the President’s staff was careful to keep him under wraps because you never knew what he actually knew, or what he would say about it, that at the least was grammatically and structurally correct. But this group can’t wait to put Obama on as many TV shows as possible, without I might add, a message that resonates with the people. Do they not get who the people are? Do they not understand the concept of overexposed—even if you have your clothes on.

On one hand they throw him out to be devoured by the Sunday Talk shows, and every possible media outlet but Fox. And on the other hand, the only photographer that has access to the President is his personal photographer. This means that everything you see is what the White House wants you to see. You never get a sense of the man unrehearsed. Everyone who is allowed into the Oval office or gets access to an event, is so controlled that there is no perspective beyond the White House. You may think “who cares about White House photos”. But you should care, and the staff should care because the public has no idea who this man really is. If they did, they might be more willing to offer support for programs with which they not yet unimpressed.

So what can he do to regain the momentum and start to operate with positive rather than negative aspirations. The first thing I would suggest is to stay home and govern. Give the public the sense that he is actually working on health care, unemployment and the economy. Sure the stock market is up and the rich are back to getting richer, but he will never get anything accomplished if he doesn’t start to think about the consequences of his decisions, as well as what the pundits are going to say about what they have determined are his failures. Just stay home. We’re just sayin’…Iris

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Now THIS Is News

Don’t you love it when the issues of the day are so ridiculous that they provide entertainment rather than worry. When you can reflect in the realm of stupid rather than the reality of the economy and the war –wherever it is now. Such was the case this week with Obama’s trip to meet with the Olympic Committee, (who, anyone that has ever dealt with them knows, they are corrupt and obscene). And the Letterman revelations about having slept with a number of women who worked for him. These are so good, I hardly know where to start.

Let’s first talk about the President and why he made the pilgrimage to Copenhagen. I wish I had known he was going because my boyfriend from third grade lives there and would have given him a more genuine welcome. Never mind, maybe they’ll meet some other time. My guess is that the Olympic committee, having received more payoffs from Rio, had made their decision well in advance of the President’s arrival. So the trip was a waste of time, except to provide fodder for the right wing and additionally, humiliate the President (who happens to be an American regardless of what you’ve heard) because no one really likes Americans anymore. At least they are not supposed to on TV.

My only objection to the trip was that he is the President of the United States and not the Senator from Illinois anymore. He needs to be perceived as having a world view, rather than advocating for his home state. Some would say that the Olympics are an important world event. This is true. I doubt however, that he would of made the trip if Fargo, N.D. was vying for that sport’s prize. I could be wrong, but not usually.

The fact that Chicago was at the bottom of the list is no surprise and moot. The facilities available right now could not compare to the other places. They would have had to rebuild the city (it’s a livable wonderful city now), which is easy in Beijing, because you just tell people to pack and go, but which is certainly never going to happen in an American city – unless there is a hurricane or an earthquake. I just wish the White House “thinkers”, would stop thinking photo op and start thinking about what makes sense in terms of the President’s time.

On to Letterman. Let’s be honest. Who really cares about who Letterman slept with. I wanted to hear juicier, maybe even perverted stuff. In these times of “get over it”, when our elected officials are unfaithful, who cares about consensual sex. And what was this totally stupid CBS producer thinking? Why would you try to blackmail a celebrity with nothing to blackmail them about. You can be sure if Letterman had done anything unforgivable, like raping a thirteen year old girl, he would have paid the guy big bucks. (I also love that this was the third most important story of the week and I’m sure there will be more to come.

While the economy is in the toilet (despite the good PR), and there were more job losses this month again, and the health “care” issue seems to be on the back burner or, at least, not on the front page of every newspaper in the country, it is almost a relief to read and hear about stuff that is truly entertainment, rather than pretending it’s news disguised as entertaining. We’re just sayin’.. Iris

Friday, October 02, 2009


If you were going to invest your time, or dare I say money, in a unique new musical, I would bet on Michael Holland’s “Hurricane” now at St. Clement’s theater, as part of the New York Musical Festival. The subject of the show is the 1938 freak hurricane that decimated parts of Long Island and Connecticut, and totally destroyed Napatree, Rhode Island.

The book is an intricate series of personal stories about the people who lived and died during the storm. It is surprisingly easy to follow the story lines, despite the complexity of the people and their relationships. And the music is quite simply gorgeous and extraordinary.

The simplicity of the set combined with exquisite costuming all help to enhance what are already authentic and stellar performances by a gifted ensemble cast. And despite the opening night technical glitches, the combination of words music and talent show provided the audience with an overall incredibly moving experience.

But don’t just take my word for it. Mike Cohen of the Public Theater said:

HURRICANE's serious intent and high aspiration and musical complexity...?
I thought the performance as is communicated extraordinarily.

The choral work was stunning -- musical direction and the young man at the
piano were tremendous -- and I remain particularly haunted by "Norm's"
character and performance and the delivery of his numbers (I don't have
the program at hand right now. The actor's last name was Watt(s), I
think...?) His soldier solo and Boogeyman song and his handling of the
musical/dramatic scenes re: the loss and death of the children was
particularly moving and memorable, I thought/felt. Among many other
moments, of course.

I'm already looking forward to seeing the piece again in the future -- I
have no doubt it will have one -- and can't wait to see how it continues
to grow and develop

Well known producer, Ken Davenport, who has yet to see the show said:

Hurricane has almost 30 castmembers. I often tell festival producers to produce small shows, because they come off better. Well, in true "embrace your flaw" fashion, the Hurricane producers have come out saying they are proud to present a show with "the biggest cast ever seen on a NYMF stage." There are Broadway vets, kids, and even a couple of ghosts. Oh, and I've gotten three unsolicited recommendations to see this show. There's some sort of storm brewing . . . and I want to see what it is.”

Yes, there is a buzz about this storm. The show, which was to have 6 performances, added two additional shows and still the entire run is sold out. Let’s hope it has life beyond NYMF, so many people can share the experience. This definitely gets a Sadie 3.
For more info