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Artist Will Barnet dies at 101…

Will Barnet, a titan of the visual art world, died at his home in New York on Tuesday. He was 101.

His family said the cause of death was old age. “He died peacefully in his home,” said Phil Alexandre of New York’s Alexandre Gallery, which represented Barnet.

Barnet, an art educator and a lifelong champion of the arts, inspired generations of artists and lived long enough to enjoy many honors that most artists receive only posthumously. In 2011, President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor for an individual artist in the United States.

This year, France recognized him with the insignia of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Barnet and his wife, Elena, lived in a duplex at the National Arts Club on Gramercy Park in Manhattan. They were without power for a few days because of Superstorm Sandy, and had to move to a warmer apartment.

“Woman Reading” by Will Barnet

Barnet got “a touch of pneumonia” during the power outage, Alexandre said, but had been feeling better in recent days.

His daughter, Ona, said her father visited many art galleries on Saturday, “doing what he loved the most.”

Hard of hearing and unable to walk, Barnet never allowed his physical ailments to limit his love of art, said a longtime friend, Ira Goldberg, executive director of the Arts Students League of New York, where Barnet studied and taught.

He was as committed to his work at 101 as he was when he was a young man making his way in New York, Goldberg said.

Barnett was probably best known for paintings and prints of women with their cats.

[thanks to the Portland (Maine) Press Herald]

 

Favorite Television Shows?

Since I’ve been forced to stay pretty still most of the day I have been watching a lot of television (and thanks to Infinity I can go back and see many shows I’ve missed over the months) and have developed a list of shows I don’t want to miss. Act6ually, I’d repeat watching many of them several times (I often fall asleep before the end due to my condition and I want to find out what happened.)

Yesterday my daughter Cassandra and I discovered we liked a lot of the same shows. Oh, there were differences, but so many of the major ones were on both of our lists that I was sure I had had a child who was just like me.

I know you probably have favorite shows, too. Here is my top seven:

  1. The Mentalist – I don’t know what it is about this one, but I am totally hooked on it. It’s Cassandra’s number 1 show as well.
  2. “Corky” Corcoran, my favorite “Copper” Cop

    Copper – Have you seen this one on BBC America? It’s the story of NYC cops in the 1860s during the late Civil War era and the conflict between the Irish slums of Five Points and the rich folk on 5th Avenue… not to mention the Confederate conspiracy to burn down New York with an explosive called “Greek Fire.” This one has finished it’s 10 shows of the season and is now running repeats. I guess the new season starts in January.

  3. Suits – New Episodes start in January, but you can see all the older one’s on USA Network‘s web site.
  4. White Collar – waiting for January for this one to come back for another season… really miss it.
  5. Covert Affairs – the current season is just ending, but I LOVE this little CIA girl and the stuff she gets into.
  6. Big Bang Theory – Got to have my favorite comedy in there.
  7. Burn Notice – which just came back for a seventh season last week. Watching Mike, Sam and the folks at work is sooo exciting.

I like “Vegas” on CBS, but the rumor is running around that it will be cancelled for low ratings. Too bad.

So, what are yours? Do you have the same esoteric crime and conspiracy lust that I do? If they had more shows like PBS’ Broadway Musicals (from 2004) which I have been watching the re-runs from, I’d be watching that stuff more.

I get most of my news from MSNBC and PBS. What’s life without starting the day with “Morning Joe?” or Sundays with CBS “Sunday Morning?”

 

The questions you ask yourself…

I’m discovering as I face brain surgery and it’s unknown consequences that I find myself asking questions about what I have and have not accomplished over the last 66 or so years. It’s not a pleasant experience, btw, only one that makes me realize how many things I REALLY wanted to do which will probably never be realized. I guess, however, that this is common to just about everyone.

(Sorry… this is much longer than I expected and it will not hurt my feelings if you sign out right now,   – Bill)

Starting with the basics:

  • I have a wonderful wife who is taking care of me when she also maintains a full time teaching job that keeps us supported and in our mandatory health insurance mode.
  • I have three impressive and incredible grown children, Cassandra, Penny and Will (who we call Buddy… I don’t know where “Will” came from), and four wonderful grandsons, 3 in Maryland and one in Connecticut. (Allow me to say while I’m in this particular note about how lucky I am to have my son-in-law Matthew Corrigan in Connecticut who has made sure Cassandra could be down here with me during all of this.)
  • I set out many years ago for a life in the Arts, something I really discovered while a prep-school student at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA.  Between painting and sculpture creation under Lou LaVoie, drama and theatre discoveries under Tom Weisshaus, ending as President of the Drama Club where i acted, but didn’t do much in tech theatre, I was poised to take off when I headed for The School Of Speech/Theatre Department at Northwestern University in 1964.

And just what did I do that I remember proudly?:

  • After I discovered systems analysis through an amazing engineer, art collector and professor, Dr. Gustave J. Rath, I created my first small theatre company, Systems Theatre, which applied this amazing intellectual technology to performance creation. Our first major production was an adaptation of Frank Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy” which eventually played Chicago’s Performing Warehouse between sets by the two great bluesmen B.B. King and Albert King (who I got to give a ride home to later… wow!) When I ended up in NYC in 1971 I restarted Systems Theatre with some of the same people who were with me at Northwestern
  • There were a couple of plays that we did at Theatre at St. Clement’s, one of the really great off-off Broadway locations in the city. Well reviewed, well attended and most important to me was my adaptation of Thomas Merton’s “Original Child Bomb” which had gothic-y chants composed by a wonderful musician, Ed Roberts, who I had met when teaching for a year at Tabor. Ed and I went on to do several shows together… at St. Clement’s and other places. My greatest pride came in a project we did a little later:
  • Lewis Carroll’s “The Hunting of the Snark”, an opera for children, was presented at the Whitney

    The Whitney

    Museum of American Art, thanks to a contact I made with one of the most  influential people in my life and someone who I am so proud to call a friend today, Berta Walker. Berta was working as the Administrative Assistant to Steve Weil at the Whitney and was looking for children’s programming. Ed and I suggested doing “Snark” which we had just started working on and now we had a reason for pushing through. We opened to great reception at the Whitney and, a little bit later on, Berta and I produced it for a few weekends at a little theater on the East Side of Manhattan. Following that, it was taken to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, a major museum which had been started by Berta’s grandfather, where it was also successful.

  • My friend and former Northwestern student John Driver, who played the original Bellman in “Snark” had been writing a musical based on Samurai warrior Mushami called “Ride The Wind” with pretty much of a rock ‘n roll score and martial arts based choreography. This was during the time that “Kung Fu” was a big television show, and we thought we were really on something here, so Berta and I decided to produce it (the company we created was called Snarkophilus Productions after our big success). We started out aiming for Off-Broadway, but then the Bijou Theater, a little house at the end of Shubert Alley, became available and we booked it. We were now a Broadway show… albeit a very small one. My set design professor, Sam Ball, agreed to do the sets, which were built by Northwestern students and which I brought to New York driving a truck across country. A number of the actors who auditioned were folks I had known from the New Theatre Workshop, a small non-profit group which acted as a try-out location for new plays that writers were working on. I was their stage electrician for a year before they tore the theater down to build the CitiPlace Center on 57th Street.
  • Unfortunately, “Ride The Winds” didn’t pass the New York Times test and I was no longer a Broadway producer.
  • I had to work, so I took a job as Administrator of the Jamaica Arts Center in Queens, where I structured classes, set up concerts, scheduled movies and ran the books. It was there I met Elly, my current wife, who I hired to teach Photography in the class size darkroom I had built in the Center’s basement (I took up photography, too… something I really loved.)  Eddy came down and we did a little revival of “Snark” in Jamaica for the kids in Queens. When I was hired later on by The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, by their Board President (you can probably see this coming… it was Berta Walker), Elly came with me and we settled in on  lower Cape Cod. I helped the Work Center fund raise, grow and prosper over three years, then spent another three years on it’s Board. Elly and I however, moved down to the mid-Cape where we started a business that would keep us in debt and development for the next decade: Our photo studio, Photography Associates of New England Inc., and U-Design, Inc.
  • The appearance of the Apple Macintosh computer, the laser printer, a piece of software called Aldus PageMaker and things like scanners, modems, etc., inspired us to set up a rental-area business where folks would come in, rent space in a booth, and lay out, with our help, their ads and brochures. After a couple of years, we moved it to Hartford, CT… back in my home state. At one point we had U-Designs in three cities in CT (that was a mistake!) and we started doing more jobs for clients ourselves rather than booth rentals. We worked with major and minor companies, lots of non-profits, plus we offered desktop publishing classes. At one time we had a dozen or so employees. During this time I did no theatre, maybe a little painting, but not much (Elly was our painter and her work was wonderful.) While in Marlborough, however, I was recruited to be a Justice of the Peace, where I married several couples (I specialized in non-believers who I thought should have a person of their own.) I did start designing computer fonts at this time… still do it, especially my “picture fonts” which have been used on this blog many times. U-Design Type Foundry has attracted hundreds of buyers, for which I have great appreciation.

More recent years… “Things fall apart, the center does not hold” – TS Eliot.

  • We had built a passive solar house in Marlborough, CT, where we moved so Buddy could go to school there and we could lead the suburban life (eventually, we moved the last vestige of U-Design to Marlborough where it finally ended up in our house until it died.) I started going out and getting jobs as an Information Technologist at some larger companies, finally ending up at Computer Sciences Corporation, where I spent five working years. For most of that I was commuting to the Maryland-DC area every week to do a major piece of work for the Internal Revenue Service with a bunch of my colleagues. I made more money here than I ever had before. When my whole department was laid off after three years I even got six months of part-time work for the IRS itself to finish some of the project stuff.
  • Elly and I sold the Marlborough house and bought a historic co-op space in Old Greenbelt, MD, where I was still doing CSC work. Eventually, when there was no more work and a guy in his late fifties had a hard time finding IT jobs when the market was stuffed with lower earning young guys. I had to take early retirement which, thanks to CSC’s salary, brought me a higher Social Security than I had expected. Elly took a teaching job in Graphic Design at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD, and we eventually moved to

    Ride The Winds

    Hagerstown, then Shepherdstown (our favorite) and now Harper’s Ferry. While I was living in Greenbelt, I got involved with two community theatres, the Laurel Mill Playhouse and the Greenbelt Arts Center. Amazingly enough, with the entrance to all of this I made by meeting Linda Bartash, I directed several plays and musicals. The highlight of these was a revival of “Ride The Winds” which I got John Driver to rewrite the second act for. It was well-reviewed in the Washington Post and local papers and I breathed a sight of final relief. I also, amid all the shows I did, had a really good production of that unusual musical “Urinetown” at Greenbelt, also a success.

  • I got involved with a new Community Theater in Shepherdstown, The Full Circle Theater, where I

    The Hunting of the Snark, in Shepherdstown

    became the House Electrician and ran lights on a bunch of shows, And then, can you believe it, I go to to do a revival of “The Hunting of the Snark” and Eddy, who was then living in Pennsylvania, came down from time to time to help my friend and music director, Ruth Raubertas, get our favorite opera for kids off the ground. Everyone seemed to like it, but this was my last chance to direct anything and I sank into an ongoing depression hoping I would get to do it again some day. I don’t think, now, that it will happen. I have to say, though, that I made a great friend of John Case who played the Butcher in that last production. John had a weekday morning radio show on WSCH 89.7FM on Shepherd University’s radio station and originally he invited me on for an interview and eventually I was on every Friday, which John started promoting as “The Bill and John Show.” I guess I did OK, since a few months later the station manager, Todd Cottgreave, gave me a show of my own on Saturday mornings which I called “Talk To Me” and which I made into a call-in production. I think the radio shows really saved my intelligence and ability to carry on while under depression.

So those are things I’ve been thinking about. What I haven’t discussed here is this blog, which is the major occupation of an old, retired guy’s day. I hope I can keep it going for years (as you can see, I love to talk)… if it has to cease, however, someone will put up a final post.

Time to feed the dogs.

Gosh… did you see the news about recovery of a missing Roy Lichtenstein painting?

Famed Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein’s “Electric Cord” was painted in 1961.  If you weren’t an active viewer of pop art in the 60s, you have most likely never seen it. Why? Because in January 1970 art dealer Leo Castelli sent it to art restorer Daniel Goldreyer for cleaning. It was never seen again.

Lichtenstein, of course, is best known for his paintings based on printed cartoon images. The black and white electric cord painting was announced missing in 2006 by the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to the artist’s legacy. The Foundation published an image of the black and white work on the front of its holiday card and appealed to its community for help locate the work.

The late Roy Lichtenstein

Last summer, the painting was discovered at the Hayes Storage Facility in New York, where it was being stored by the Quinta Gallery art gallery of Bogotá, Colombia, on consignment from restorer Goldreyer’s widow, Sally Goldreyer. Apparently someone connected with the restorer’s consignments asked her to sell the “Electric Cord” for him. She claims that she offered to sell it to the Quinta Galeria, but refunded the gallery’s deposit when she found a missing notice for the painting posted on the Internet. It was not something she had been aware of.

“Electric Cord” has been returned to Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, Leo Castelli’s widow.

I was thinking about my own labor history…

 

Since I’ve been taking a look at unions today, it occurs to me that I have been a member of two unions back in my New York past.

As a theatre worker in the early 70s, I had experience as a member of AEA (Actors Equity Association) and LOBTET (the League of Off Broadway Theatre Employees and Technicians.) LOBTET was eaten up by Equity after a couple of years and does not exist anymore.

As an Equity member (which I had to join as a professional stage manager), I was involved in the Off Broadway strike in 1970 or 71. Equity was protesting the fact that actors in off-Broadway productions were often paid very little or nothing at all, but took jobs so that they might be seen by critics or casting direc tors or Broadway producers.

I had to picket the Theatre De Lys (now the Lucille Lortel Theatre) one night. I walked back and forth with my

Shelley Winters

picket sign, alone, while the General Manager of the theatre sat in the ticket booth and stared at me.

After a while I was joined by another Equity member, and this was one of the most interesting occurences in my theatre career. The other picketer was Shelley Winters!

Shelley and I picketed for about two hours, carrying on a neat social conversation, until we decided that it was past what would have been curtain time and we quit. She got a cab and I walked down the block to the subway.

That’s my Union Story.

 

Remembering the creation and importance of Labor Day…

The contributions made by unions to the betterment of America’s workers is primarily the reason we celebrate Labor Day. The influence of organized labor cannot be ignored.

Most of the benefits workers now enjoy are directly attributable to unions:

  • The 40 hour work week
  • paid holidays and vacations
  • sick leave
  • grievance procedures
  • collective bargaining
  • generally superior wages.

Unfortunately, we have come to take those benefits for granted. Benefits came about because of unions and soon became the norm for union workers and many non-union workers as well. All American workers owe a debt of gratitude to Organized Labor for its achievements.

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. By 1909 all U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.

On Labor Day, let’s look at the benefits brought to us by Organized Labor:

Benefits of Unions:

Reinforcement of  the middle class. States with higher rates of unionization have lower rates of poverty, crime, and failing schools.

Raise of wages for all workers. Studies show that a large union presence in an industry or region can raise wages even for non-union workers. Women in unions make 33% more non-union women, and are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and pensions.

Reducing wage inequality. Unions raise wages the most for low- and middle-wage workers and workers without college degrees.

Creation of mine safety laws strengthening mine safety standards and protecting the rights of mine workers.

The legal participation of Organized Labor has gotten many bills through Congress. In the last 50 or so years these include:

    •    The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009
•    The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
•    The Voting Rights Act of 1965
•    The Civil Rights Act of 1964
•    The Equal Pay Act of 1963

So as we celebrate Labor Day, let’s look at it as not just a day off from work, but as recognition of the relationship of the worker to democracy.

Geez… another one. Judith Crist, Film Critic, Dies at 90

 

She was one of America’s most widely read film critics for more than three decades and a provocative presence in millions of homes as a regular reviewer on the “Today” show… and she died this morning at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.

She began at The New York Herald Tribune, the first woman to be full-time critic for a major American newspaper; went to New York magazine, where she was the founding film critic; and then TV Guide, which most defined her to American readers.

Crist was considered by many to be the most popular film critic ever… but film directors often had a different opinion:

 “Inviting her to review one of your pictures is like inviting the Boston Strangler to massage your neck.” – Billy Wilder

 

Ivan Karp, noted art dealer and proponent of Pop Art, dies at 86.

Ivan Karp died yesterday at 86 of natural causes.

Ivan Karp by Andy Warhol

In 1958, Ivan became an art dealer at the Martha Jackson Gallery while publishing short stories in the Cambridge Review and the Evergreen Review. In 1964 his novel “Doobie Doo” was published by Doubleday

From 1959 to1969, Ivan was associate director of the Leo Castelli Gallery and played a significant role in the careers of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Chamberlain and many other artists in the New York Pop Art community. From 1966 to 1969, he taught contemporary art history at Finch College and at the School of Visual Arts.
In 1969, he opened OK Harris Works of Art, one of the first galleries in the Soho district. He was responsible for the burgeoning of that neighborhood to a vibrant residential and commercial district. OK Harris continues to operate in its original space.
In 1985, Ivan became director of the Anonymous Arts Museum in Charlotteville, NY, and restored 25 historic cemeteries and family burial grounds in Schoharie County.

She hid Mob Boss Whitey Bulger for 16 years…

Catherine Greig,

… and now they want to see to it that Catherine Greig, 61 year old girlfriend to the 82 year old Bulger, is sentenced to 10 years for harboring a fugitive and a number of other charges. Although the charges Greig faces could result in a maximum of 15 years in prison, prosecutors have said she could get as little as 32 months. The prosecution recommended a longer prison term and asked that Greig pay a $150,000 fine.

Bulger, who gained his reputation as head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang, was captured last year and has yet to be brought to Federal Court. He had covered his tracks during his career by working as an FBI informant, but used the information he gained in that role to commit a number of murders of his competitors in the crime world. He fled in late 1994 when an FBI agent told him he was about to be indicted.

According to prosecutors, Bulger and Greig spent the first year on the run posing as a married couple, traveling to Chicago, New York and Louisiana. They settled in Santa Monica, where they lived in a rent-controlled apartment not far from the Pacific Ocean. Behind a secret wall in the two-bedroom apartment, Bulger stashed 30 weapons and more than $820,000 in cash.

The Obies! My favorite awards of the year…

The Village Voice has announced this year’s off-Broadway awards… the Obies … for the past year. And here they are:Best New American Play, which is accompanied by a $1,000 prize.

A complete list of awards is given below:

Lifetime Achievement:

  • Caridad Svich—a playwright, translator, and teacher

Best New American Play (with $1,000 prize):

Performance:

  •  Cherise Boothe, Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons and the Women’s Project)
  • Steven Boyer, Hand to God (Ensemble Studio Theatre/Youngblood)

Sweet and Sad Ensemble:

  • Jon DeVries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robins, Jay O. Sanders, J. Smith-Cameron (The Public Theater)
  • Gabriel Ebert and Mary Louise Wilson, 4000 Miles (Lincoln Center Theater)
  • Jim Fletcher, Sustained Excellence
  • Santino Fontana, Sons of the Prophet (The Roundabout Theatre)
  • Linda Lavin, The Lyons (The Vineyard Theatre)
  • Susan Pourfar, Tribes (Barrow Street Theatre)

Playwriting:

  • Kirsten Greenidge, Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons and the Women’s Project)

Direction:

  • Richard Maxwell, Early Plays (The Wooster Group and St. Ann’s Warehouse)
  • Jay Scheib, World of Wires (The Kitchen)

Design:

  • Mark Barton, Sustained Excellence of Lighting Design
  • Mimi Lien, Sustained Excellence of Set Design
  • Matt Tierney and Ben Williams, sound design
  • The Select (The Sun Also Rises) (New York Theatre Workshop)

Special Citations:

  • Mark Bennett, Denis O’Hare, Lisa Peterson, and Stephen Spinella, An Iliad (New York Theatre Workshop), Elevator Repair Service

Sustained Excellence:

  • Erin Courtney and Ken Rus Schmoll, A Map of Virtue (13P)
  • Steven Hoggett, Martin Lowe, and John Tiffany, Once (New York Theatre Workshop)
  • Daniel Kitson, It’s Always Right

The Obies were judged by a committee of seven: Brian Parks, Obie Awards Chairman and Arts & Culture editor of The Village Voice; Michael Feingold, chief theater critic for the Voice, two-time Pulitzer finalist, dramaturg, and Obie Chairman Emeritus; Alexis Soloski, a Voice theater critic as well as contributor to The New York Times, the U.K. Guardian, and BBC Radio, plus theater professor at Columbia University; Annie Baker, Best New American Play Obie winner in 2010 for her plays Circle Mirror Transformation and The Aliens; Anne Kauffman, accomplished director, instructor, and 2007 Obie winner for her direction of The Thugs; José Rivera, two-time Obie Award winner for his plays Marisol and References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot; and Helen Shaw, a theater critic for Time Out New York and a past Obie judge. Her writing has also appeared in The Village Voice.

Revealing Quote for the Day – It’s all in the eyes…

“In this media-saturated era, the line between politics and performance has virtually vanished, and the public is having a hard time believing Mr. Romney’s persona (as in dramatis personae).

Listen to his laugh. It resembles the flat “Ha! Ha! Ha!” that appears in comic-strip dialogue balloons. But worse – far worse – it is mirthless. Mr. Romney expects us to be amused, although he himself is not amused. Freeze the frame, cover the bottom of his face with your hand, and study his eyes.

There’s no pleasure there, no amusement. Genuine laughter is triggered only by, and is completely dependent on, shared perception. That’s why we say we “get” a joke.

James Lipton, Inside The Actor’s Studio

I didn’t realize Mr. Lipton had a political view… but as an expert on theatrical presence, his views on Mitt’s speaking performance. I appreciate his view.

Here’s your chance to get a world famous artwork… got $80,000,000?

Notice from Sotheby’s NY:

Sotheby’s is honoured to announce that Edvard Munch’s masterpiece The Scream will lead its Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on 2 May 2012. The iconic work is one of the most instantly recognizable images in both art history and popular culture, perhaps second only to the Mona Lisa.

The present version of The Scream dates from 1895, and is one of four versions of the composition, and the only version still in private hands. It will be on view in London for the first time ever, with the exhibition at Sotheby’s opening on 13 April. In New York, and also for the first time ever, it will be on exhibition at Sotheby’s in advance of the sale beginning 27 April. The work is owned by Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen, whose father Thomas was a friend, neighbour and patron of Munch.

The estimate of value is $80 Million bucks for this pastel version of Munch’s famous piece. The question is, will this remain in private hands or be purchased by a major museum, making it accessible to the public?

Of the four versions of the work, the present Scream is distinguished in several remarkable ways: it is the most colorful and vibrant of the four; the only version whose original frame was hand-painted by the artist to include his poem detailing the work’s inspiration; and the only version in which one of the two figures in the background turns to look outward onto the cityscape.  This version has never before been on public view in either the UK or US, except briefly in the National Gallery in Washington D.C. decades ago.

I just checked my bank account and I can’t afford to bid on it. Can you?

Seymour Chwast hits it right on the head (with both faces)

Chwast is such a great illustrator. When I saw this I felt that it summed up women’s issues and Romney in a simple image:

Chwast, of course, is one of the great names in advertising and a founder of Pushpin Studios with Milton Glaser.

How to make public education worthless…

I guess new York City public school students will be the best motivators for home schooling in the future. Why? Read on…

This post was put up by Jonathan Turley, one of the legal bloggers I have the most respect for:

The New York City Department of Education has barred the use of “Dinosaur” on tests to avoid upsetting people who believe creationism.

Educations in New York decided that, with such things as Halloween and dancing, the reference to dinosaurs “could evoke unpleasant emotions in the students.” Also banned is the word “evolution.” It is basically designing a test for Sarah Palin to pass.

“Birthday” is also out because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.

Well, there’s a list of a couple of dozen more words which should not be included in the students’ education… words like “slavery”, “terrorism”, and “Religion.”

In commenting on the DOE, The New York Post came out with this:

Officials said there isn’t an absolute ban on the items, in that they do get included on some exams on a case-by-case basis.

“The intent is to avoid giving offense or disadvantage any test takers by privileging prior knowledge,” said Robert Pondiscio, a spokesman for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an education group.

“But the irony is they’re eliminating some subjects, like junk food, holidays and popular music, that the broadest number of kids are likely to know quite a lot about.”

This is the most absurd… most unbelievable approach to education that I’ve heard about anywhere. I’d love to know what New York teachers think and what they intend to do about the situation.
Any ideas?

The Restaurants folks eat in as an economic indicator…

The New York Times has pointed out that…

…when Americans feel better about their finances, they are more likely to eat at restaurants with full service, including bringing the food to the table, rather than at restaurants with limited service. At the moment, both the restaurant sales and the falling unemployment rate indicate the economy is doing better than the Gross Domestic Product figures would seem to show.

Here are the stats:

So where have you been eating lately? I’ve been going over our cc receipts for the last month or so and discovered that my wife and I fit right in with this recovery crowd… we don’t eat at fast food joints at all and our sit-down restaurant visits have been predominant.

Where have you been eating?

Davy Jones has died…

Davy was still performing this past week.

David Thomas “Davy” Jones (30 December 1945 — 29 February 2012) the English rock singer-songwriter and actor best known as a member of The Monkees, died today in Florida of a heart attack at age 66.

I remember first seeing Davy my senior year in prep school when I went to New York and saw him as the Artful Dodger in Lionel Bart‘s “Oliver.” I had seen him in the role on Ed Sullivan and was really thrilled to see him in person.

You can go to the following link to see the performance on Sullivan, singing “I’d Do Anything” with Georgia Brown and the cast of “Oliver”, 1964: http://youtu.be/P-fLLuQgIss

WASN’T THAT GREAT?

I’d also like to steer you to his audition for The Monkees back in ’66. It starts at around 6:07 on the video (but the other Monkees auditions are worth watching as well.)

Extreme violence as art…

Apparently there was some kind of football game on TV last night, blocking out what we regularly watch, so Elly and I watched a movie instead.

Christopher Walken

Since we replaced Dish with Comcast six months ago, we have access to their xfinity channel which is loaded with movies and catch-up shows that you missed during the week (wow… allows us to keep up with our favorite comedy, Big Bang Theory). Running over the free movies we discovered King Of New York  on the IFC Channel which we had never seen before.

This was a 1990 film with Christopher Walken, David Caruso, Wesley Snipes and

Larence Fishburne

Lawrence Fishburne, which IMDB said would be a “stylish and ultra violent modern twist on Robin Hood.” When they said violent, they were not kidding.

This was the bloodiest, most violent movie I have ever seen…and all the main characters (and most of the stringers) were dead by the end of the film, having been shredded by machine guns or blown up in their cars, etc.

The problem was, we couldn’t keep our eyes off of it. This was a remarkably well-made film (Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 71%, which is not bad – 10% above the average rating). Part of their description:

The gritty underbelly of New York’s complex, ethnically divided criminal world is exposed in this dark drama from director Abel Ferrara. Christopher Walken stars as Frank White, a drug lord who’s just been released from a long stint in prison. Aware that feeding off of society’s depravity has made him a wealthy man, Frank has become determined to give something back to the city, and he hatches a scheme to build a multimillion-dollar public hospital in one of Brooklyn’s worst ghettos

So it’s a kill all the drug competition and give the millions you make selling illegal drugs to the poor. The New York locations brought my 7 years there back to mind (a particularly nasty sequence on the Flushing Line, which I used to ride home on, made me feel like I was there.)

If you can take extremely bloody conflict, endless bad language, sexual and drug manipulation and not a good guy in sight, police or criminal, take a look at this one. But don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Utterly surprised…

…to get a call from an old theatre friend from Northwestern… Dan Einbender, who hails from upstate New York. A brief bio:

Dan Einbender

DAN EINBENDER  has spent much of the last 32 years working with folk-music legend Pete Seeger’s Clearwater organization, whose efforts have helped to restore the Hudson River, while also creating a new generation of environmental leaders. Einbender was also the Grammy Award–winning producer of Seeger’s 2010 album Tomorrow’s Children. Einbender lives in Wurtsboro, N.Y. His work takes him all over the world, primarily to Hellebaek, Denmark.

Danny was in my first Systems Theatre group at Northwestern in the 60s and was one of my favorite performers then. I really admire his work with children over the years, and you can learn more about him at Kid Friendly Music.

Not having spoken with Danny for over 40 years, this was great having him call into the Occupy Movement discussion on WSHC this morning.
Hope I hear from him again as I sit trapped and retired in West Virginia‘s Eastern Panhandle.

Occupy Wall Street is GROWING!

From Talking Points Memo:

Wednesday could be the biggest day of protesting yet. Some of the nation’s biggest unions plan to join in at 4:30PM in downtown Manhattan, including the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers, PSC-CUNY United NY, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, the Working Families Party, Vocal-NY, New York Communities for Change, Community Voices Heard and Alliance for Quality. One Facebook pageshows almost 3,000 people who say they’ll attend.

Progressive groups like Moveon.org are also planning to join with the unions on Wednesday, saying in an e-mail blast that “together, we’ll add hundreds of thousands of voices of solidarity from the American Dream Movement for the protests across the country and show just how widespread outrage at the Wall Street banks really is.”

And one union group is showing their support in another way: The Transport Workers Union, Local 100, asked for an injunction on Monday to stop the NYPD from forcing bus drivers to transport protesters arrested during the demonstrations, though a judge denied their request.

So what do the candidates think of all this?

“I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare.”Mitt Romney

“I don’t have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself! [...] It is not someone’s fault if they succeeded, it is someone’s fault if they failed.”   – Herman Cain

Cartoon(s) of the Week – Can’t we just agree on SOMETHING?

Jeff Danziger, New York Times Syndicate:

To quote the Tea Party Folks: “Let Them Die!”

- and -

Ben Sargent, Austin American-Statesman:

If you can’t love it, kill it.

- and -

Tom Toles, The Washington Post:

Will a new nation be born? Doubtful.

- and -

Mike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution;

of course, not everyone NEEDS to vote…

- and -

Ted Rall, L. A. Times:

It’s a good thing candidates believe in something.

Ban Fracking on 9/13 — Spread the Word!

Contaminated Water from Pennsylvania Fracking

Mark your calendar: Call the White House at (888) 498-2945 tomorrow and tell the President to Ban Fracking!
Don’t think that what has happened in Pennsylvania and new York State can’t happen in West Virginia!
Help build the momentum by spreading the word for the National Call-in Day to Ban Fracking — Tuesday, Sept. 13th! (THAT’S TOMORROW!)

What I remember on 9/11

Ten years ago, I lived in Marlborough, CT, a small town just south of Hartford, with a population made up mostly of commuters. Most of us worked in Hartford or other nearby towns (I was then working for Computer Sciences Corporation in East Hartford), but some went longer distances.

Marlborough is the kind of town where everyone meets everyone else over coffee on Sunday Mornings at the local bakery, or at the local grocery after work, or at town hall for our frequent, New England style, town meetings… or at our children’s sports events at the grade school basketball court or on our local baseball diamond.

Jim Hobin was one of the people you spoke with at these events.

Jim was one of the mainstays of the Marlborough Youth Athletic League which ran our local Baseball and Basketball programs for kids. In 2001 he was my son Buddy’s Basketball Coach. The previous year he had coached his baseball team.

Nobody worked better with kids than Jim Hobin… and he was always there fore the MYAL… he loved Baseball especially and you’d frequently find him mowing the grass at our small ball field, or  chalking the base lines, or painting the benches. He loved keeping that field ready for the teams.

He was particular known for training the kids and playing EVERY child for an equal amount of time… something that always amazed us, because his teams usually won.

While much of his work was done traveling all over the country for Marsh and McLennen, once or twice a month he had to go the 150 miles or so to New York to the company offices in the World Trade Center. September 11th was one of those days. Jim always left early in the morning to make it to the office on time… it was not like him to be late for anything.

When the first plane hit the WTC, I was at my East Hartford desk at CSC listening to the news on a local radio station as I worked on my computer. At first it was reported as a small plane accident, then the second plane struck and the whole event was devastatingly clear. My partner came over to my desk to listen to the report… then like all the employees in my division we gathered in the lunchroom and watched the buildings collapse over and over on television.

No work was done that day… we all went home to be with our families.

When I got there my wife told me that Jim Hobin had been at the WTC that morning and no one was able to get hold of him. His wife, Sheila, was especially upset at the lack of contact.

In fact, Jim was one of those whose body was never found or identified.

So, on 9/11, like most people who lived in Marlborough, I don’t think about terrorists, or war, or world politics… I think of Jim Hobin and what he meant to our children and to all of us.

10 years later, nothing has changed.

Earthquake.

West to Chicago, and down south as well. New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore closed their airports until things could be straightened out.

And I didn’t feel it!

When it hit I was driving up the long, bumpy dirt road to the Folly which always has the feeling that the earth is moving when you bump along on it. But when I pulled into the Folly, Bradley and Carol had just come out of their house which had been shaking for a few seconds and Ben Snyder, who was working at the shops, felt it as he put together Carnival stuff.

The news says it was a 5.9 on the Richter scale (other reports say 5.8) and they are expecting smaller aftershocks over the next few weeks, perhaps at a 4.8 on the scale.

We are apparently over something called the Virginia Fault. It is about 4.5 miles down and is in the midst of the shale deposits that run up through the Appalachians, so any quake reverberates up and down the geographic mass.

The last time we had a quake of this magnitude here was in the 1890′s… and we had a much smaller one in 2010.

Life, however, goes on… and this was much more fun than covering Republicans.

The State of Fracking May Be Changing…

In an update to our covering the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) production of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, there are things happening and statements being made worldwide against the practice… even from the industry itself (however, these are for capital reasons and not for the environmental dangers that most of us are concerned with.)

If you want to review how fracking works, the National Geographic has a very good animated illustration HERE (although it does not adequately address the polluting of the water table – indeed, it more or less shows the industry point of view.)

France, as a nation, has now completely banned Fracking because of the pollution of water supplies by chemicals used in the process such as Benzine (a carcinogen), Toluene (a central nervous system depressant) and Xylene (a neurotoxin.) French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said before the French National Assembly vote:

“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique.”

Official photo of Governor Beverly Perdue (D-NC).

Beverly Perdue, Governor of North Carolina

In this country, the New Jersey State Senate voted to ban the practice, which contaminates drinking waterand  North Carolina’s Governor Bev Perdue vetoed a state senate bill that would have allowed fracking in the state. Here in West Virginia, which is on part of the Marcellus Shale, the energy industry has so far retained its hold.  The New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is poised to lift the ban on fracking, however he state issued new guidelines for fracking that will prohibit the practice in state parks and in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

New York State Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, an opponent of fracking, in a statement on Cuomo’s position, said:

“If hydrofracking is not safe in the New York City watershed it’s not safe in any watershed. There’s a tacit admission on the part of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that it is not safe and yet it is being allowed.”
Despite claims to the contrary, hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This act was enacted in 1974 to ensure water supply systems serving the public meet appropriate health standards. However, Congress included language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 making it clear once and for all that underground injection fluids or propping agents were excluded from the SDWA (evidence, of course, of heavy industry lobbying.)
The industry has recently come out to complain that the cost of fracking is currently slightly more than the income that can be received from the practice and is reisting any regulation on it. Because of the cost problems, many natural gas companies have moved into oil drilling due to it’s subsidized profitability. This will not likely be a lasting situation if the Federal government refuses to regulate it. The Feds are waiting for an EPA report which will come out in 2012 (unless the Republicans can eliminate the EPA, which the conservative right is trying to do, supposedly as a deficit cut.)
We’ll keep you updated on more in the future.
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