Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blogging. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2019

‘Waiting for Someone to Explain It’ Now Published

Having written this blog for some dozen years, by the end of last year I felt it was time to make it less of “a job” and more focused on things I enjoy rather than those I obsess over.  That meant less political and current affairs commenting (although I’ll never say never to those subjects in the future).  The present political and economic landscape invites day to day commentary, but I’ve decided to resist it to preserve my sanity.  It is truly a case of existential dread and exhaustion.

Nonetheless, I also decided to mostly exit those subjects by making a declarative statement in the form of a book based on the extensive entries from the past.  Therefore, Waiting for Someone to Explain It; The Rise of Contempt and Decline of Sense (North Palm Beach, Lacunae Musing, 2019),348 Pages, $13.95 is now available in paperback from Amazon and their extensive distribution network. 

The irony of selecting Amazon KDP as my publishing platform hasn’t been lost on me as when I was a publisher I dealt with Amazon in its infancy and now it deals with me in my dotage. 

It is also ironic that it should be published the same week as the Mueller Report which to some extent provides some of the answers I’ve been “waiting for.”  Yet Trump is as much a symptom as a cause. The book reveals the deep roots of our cultural civil war and the intransigence of political polarization, and one person’s quest to come to terms with them. 

It argues that we’ve become inured to the outrageous and accommodative of the absurd.  It points to a deep vein of anti-intellectualism in this country, questioning the veracity of climate change, championing the “right” to open carry weapons, and leading to the worship of false idols: 24 x 7 streaming entertainment.  We’ve become a nation needing immediate gratification, no matter what the societal consequences of borrowing against the future or becoming somnambulists in front of liquid crystal display screens.

Who could have imagined the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States?  As his candidacy ramped up, so did my commentary, all encapsulated in “Waiting.”

The book documents the election of such an unsuitable candidate, who has proved to be worse than feared, a “crazy maker” a gas-lighter of reality, a believer in his own mendacity.  These issues populate the entries.  As Eric Hoffer said in his classic The True Believer (1951), “We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.”  During the period I sought out other expert journalists, psychologists, bloggers, economists, and even novelists in an attempt to understand.

The publicity release at the end of this entry explains the title and more about the rationale.  It is not simply a collection of entries from the blog.  There is a narrative tying things together and the entries themselves have been edited to minimize redundancies and present them better in print. 

As an ex-publisher it’s also been a labor of love, to write a book, even participate in its design, bringing me back to my start in publishing in 1964 as a production assistant.  So much has changed since then in the industry.  For me, the publication was as much about the journey. I think of it as an act of professional closure as well as a cry for the kind of democracy our forefathers envisioned. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Another Week of Wonder

How Samuel Pepys was able to keep up a detailed daily journal for some 10 years is incredible.  He was the Lou Gehrig of bloggers.  Not that I’m in competition, but his observations were all over the place, ranging from the profound to the commonplace, very personal as well as observational on significant developments during his time.  In an age of social networking though, with attendant privacy issues, I continue to walk the line.  And, as I am but one of an endless number of bloggers, I increasingly find myself writing more for my own needs, a form of an auxiliary memory bank.

Right now I’m sitting in a hotel room on NYC’s Upper West Side. The last entry was written while still on the boat.   Lots of water under the proverbial hull since then, one wave in particular, but I’ll take this temporally. 

Before leaving the boat we returned to the Westport Country Playhouse to see The Understudy by Theresa Rebeck.  This is a three handed farce / comedy which I would wage actors LOVE to perform.  In this production are Eric Bryant, Brett Dalton, and Andrea Syglowsik (who plays the little appreciated stage manager, a function many of us theatre goers take for granted, perhaps as important as the Director).  It’s a play within a play, supposedly an adaptation of a Kafka short story but in fact a Kafkaesque portrayal of life in the theatre itself.  Wish I had photos and more time to spend on this production, but if the play comes your way, or if you are in the Westport area, see it (through Sept 1).

Then onto the main event.  Our son, Jonathan, was married last Sunday to the daughter we always dreamed of having, Tracie.  It was an elegant but simple affair, the ceremony overlooking the water where we have spent countless days.  It was an informal, non-denominational event, casual, no jackets, and no ties.  This is the way they wanted it and we wholeheartedly approved! 

The wedding deserves its own detailed entry, and for that we must await our return to Florida.   It was a wonderful day, sharing it with family, old friends, and new friends, and Tracie’s parents, Alan and Pat.  More later.

After the wedding we were going to go home, but why not use the opportunity to spend some time in our old neighborhood of the upper West Side?  Two weeks in paradise, our hotel at 79th and Amsterdam, not far from where we both lived when we worked in the City.

There is a cornucopia of little reasonably priced al fresco restaurants here with a sea of humanity passing by, every ethnic group, young people, babies galore, dogs shitting on the sidewalks, but people picking  up after them, the blaring of horns, long walks early in the morning while Ann is having her coffee and getting ready for the day’s activities.

I’ve walked over to Central Park and up and down Columbus, Amsterdam, and Broadway.  Love the pulse of the upper WS and the fact that some markets are open 24 hours.  I could live like this.  I have recaptured my NYC walking gait of almost 50 years ago, maintaining the necessary speed to traverse cross-town blocks without having to wait for a red light.  I know that might sound silly, but it’s imprinted in my reptilian brain.  When I lived here I wish I had known that it was my moment, but time seemed endless and this neighborhood was not yet gentrified.  One lived here just to go to work.

It is impossible to recount everything we’ve done since being in the City this last week, but I’ll reference a few highlights.

Last year we focused on the theatre, but this year more on sites and museums.  Nonetheless, one of our first nights here we saw The Band’s Visit.  No time to do a “review” but I can well understand its several Tony Awards.  It had such an inspirational message, with the power of music to unite.  It starts slowly and gathers momentum.  Musicians perform on stage and in the pit.  Although the music is decidedly Middle Eastern, I could detect stains of melodies which reminded me of some of those in the movie La La Land.  Just a few bars here and there and when I’m home and at my piano, I intend to identify them.

One day we took the B train (subway hasn’t changed much since we lived here decades ago, other than the price and they’re now air conditioned) downtown to Grand Street. 

The D train went by as we waited for the B.

There were three reasons for this day trip.  First was to tour the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, choosing their Shop Keepers tour as it focuses first on my German heritage, and then on Ann’s Jewish heritage.  Their site on line provides all the details so I am not going to go into them, other to say one could make this an all day visit with the other available tours.

Some time ago the Tenement Museum had contacted me about recreating my great grandfather’s photography studio which was established at nearby 143 Bowery in 1866.  Unfortunately, nothing came of that.  But while downtown I wanted to see the building which is still there today, although under constant renovation. 

It was strange standing in the vestibule, probably on the very floor my great grandfather walked.  The photography business survived some 120 years although it later moved to 100 5th Avenue.

Then, how could we not have a late lunch at Russ & Daughters while there?  Here I’ll supply some detail, having shared a pickled herring trio on pumpernickel, potato latkes with sour cream & applesauce, a scooped bagel with nova smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato, onion and capers and finished with blintzes with fruit compote & sour cream. 

While Ann drank a white Spanish wine with the meal, I could not resist the beverage of my youth, a chocolate egg cream.  Ironic, there is no egg and no cream in the drink, just some chocolate syrup, a splash of milk and lots of seltzer.  As a kid it was what you ordered when you couldn’t afford chocolate malt, which was most of the time.

Yesterday we went to Downton Abbey: The Exhibition which is soon closing.  We had watched each and every episode over the last few years and even visited the castle in Scotland where their initial Christmas show was filmed.  Now we understand there will be a movie to continue the series.  Can’t wait.

The exhibit is incredibly thorough, on three floors, holograms of the major actors speaking to you, and virtually every costume designed for the show, as well as much of the furniture.  I was particularly impressed by the detail, right down to telegrams that were read on the air, but existed in the exact form they would have appeared at the time.  Here we are “with the family.”

Afterwards, we ate an early dinner / late lunch at the nearby Brooklyn Diner, sharing a pastrami sandwich -- as it was made in the days of Ebbets Field, exactly the period the Diner tries to capture.

As this is undoubtedly the last entry for this month, a brief political observation about Mr. Manafort and Mr. Cohen.  They can’t possibly be guilty as Trump appoints only the best people!  At least 33% of the public still believe that.  Add to the pot the admission of the National Enquirer about their role.  Their influence was as pernicious as Russia’s on the election, all condoned by an unknowledgeable, self-centered “celebrity” WE elected President.  How much longer will the GOP allow him to go on before destroying our country and any sense of respect for the office of the President?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Reassessing the Use of Time

BlogSpot tells me this is my 600th entry.  It only took 10 plus years, but it would make several books of writing.  I think in terms of “books” because of my publishing background.  Looking back it seems like I used these pages early on to frequently express my views about the Wall Street induced recession and then later on resisting the rise of anti-intellectualism in the age of Trump.  I still occasionally turn to comment on “the Zeitgeist” but I’ve been on Twitter over the past year for much of that, clocking in at nearly 1,000 tweets, realizing though it’s merely venting without the possibility of affecting change.

Progressively the Lacunaemusing blog has morphed into articles about cultural events, traveling, books, music, family history, reviewing plays, just about such event I feel compelled to write about. No doubt it will go more in that direction as time permits. 

Twitter is no doubt cannabis for the brain, seductive and addictive.  That is a New Year’s resolution, to cut back on Twitter.  Maybe I’ll have to go cold turkey altogether, but still find it to be a valuable news source, frequently seeing what’s happening even before it hits cable news.  But should I care about the slight lapse of time?  Maybe so if there is a Twitter post announcing the first Nuke has been launched.  Might give me time to scurry to the basement.  Wait!  I have no basement! T.S. Eliot: In a minute there is time / For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

I’ve used Twitter to say some things about my blog, including this recent one:
Indeed, no pay but plenty of satisfaction, for keeping it up, and by and large I’m proud of its contents.  The collected thoughts of an aging everyman.  

But how do I leave this entry without saying something about the Michael Wolff book, Fire and Fury, an expose about the chaos at the White House and the child-like behavior of our President who has defiled the Oval Office?  My question is why should this be “news” as his sociopathic narcissism was well documented by his own behavior well before the election?  We elected him nonetheless, but by an extremely thin margin of the popular vote in three states, WI, MI, and PA, which swung the Electoral College his way.  I had something to say about that on Twitter too:
H.L. Mencken so prophetically opined nearly 100 years ago:  “As democracy is perfected, the Office of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.  On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete moron.”

The time has come and our inner soul has been laid threadbare. We have met the enemy and we are them.

Monday, March 13, 2017

And Now a Word from a Guest

There used to be a day when if I saw anything interesting in a newspaper I’d cut it out or circle it for my wife.  As the printed venue has given way to the online world, I (like everyone else) now forward the links, sometimes with my comments.  One particular piece from The New York Times, Charles Blow’s A Ticket to Hell, merited such treatment. 

Ann in turn forwarded it to friends who coincidentally we saw for dinner a couple of nights ago.  Our friend, Joyce, forwarded it to her daughter, Terri, who within a couple of hours wrote an email response to her mother.  As I drove home, Ann read me her email and I said that it was remarkable she took the time to write, off the cuff, such a cogent piece.  It’s the kind of letter you used to see in “Letters to the Editor” column (when they permitted one of such length; nowadays, they just like brief, attention-getting ones).  One of the nice things about writing this blog, is there are neither length nor subject restraints.

But, first, a few comments regarding Trump & Co.:  we have seen the enemy and they are us.  We have invited this creature into our lives, laying the groundwork with social media conspiracy theories and a culture that prizes 24 x 7 streaming of mindless reality “shows” and movies dominated by computerized special effects and violence.  In our topsy-turvy world, unreality has become reality.  Talking about impeachment is pretty serious stuff.  I think it will come down to that over a black swan event which is still to rear its head.  After all, Trump has abandoned all moral authority which comes with the office, but that in itself is not impeachable.  However, not having that authority is going to leave us vulnerable to the very things the Presidency is supposed to protect the American people from, not to mention, historically, the world. 

When will an impeachable offense take place?  Perhaps the Russian connection will be substantially proven or, worse, North Korea launches a nuclear weapon while Washington is still embroiled in Trump/Bannon crazy making.  But, then what?  We still have a Twilight Zone world of our own making and a democracy that is a shell of its former self.  No answers here; we are dependent on our Congress so we better elect the right people, and I’m not talking about Democrat vs. Republican, but about people of principle, no matter what their political party.  Please, no reality TV people need apply.

This brings me back to Terri’s impassioned email.  The foregoing does not mean to distract from its heartfelt arguments.  So as a “guest piece” I reprint it below:

Here's my take if you care to read it... (just venting!):

The big question is, will these cowards in Congress wake up and realize that they are being had, just like the people who voted this unstable, increasingly paranoid megalomaniac into the highest office in the world? Will they do what they should to stop him?

Day by day, the big picture emerges: the pathological lying to the American people, the dark, dangerous and unsettling Russia connections, the mass firings of career State Dept. diplomats (who we need now more than ever..), the "Friday Night Massacre" yesterday of 46 US attorneys, many of whom are in the middle of investigations of high level government corruption and misconduct, the dismantling of any trust in anything the FBI and CIA uncover (unless it benefits Trump), appointing a bevy of unqualified, inexperienced loyalists to head major governmental departments (don't get me started on that one...), decrying that everything is fake news (unless it benefits Trump) and the just plain making shit up! The list goes on and on....

Then there is the "Trump Whisperer" and Puppet-master, Steve Bannon - who is behind the all of the conspiracy theories that Trump has been espousing since the birther movement...who is a sick, anti-Semitic, white supremacist who is in the most dangerous and influential position he could ever wish to be in:  in the brain of the President of the United States of America!  (Can you say "Manchurian Candidate"?)

Trump and Co. are systematically destroying and decimating this country from the inside out, as well as the outside in. As C. Blow laid out, many helpless and sick people who depend on the subsidies of the ACA won't be able to get help with this new bill and many will literally die. No, ObamaCare isn't perfect, but it gave millions coverage who wouldn't have any, which is a big deal.  Our country's stability and our diplomatic efforts (for the most part) is what have kept the world safe and in check since WWI - and in 50 days, yes, 50 days (!) it is coming apart at the seams. Our allies are freaking out just as we are! Our security and alliances are theirs, too. Secretary of State Tillerson didn't even know that the President of Mexico was in town meeting with Trump last week! - he is keeping everyone but his inner circle involved and no one is able to watch or report on him as he goes about his complete takeover of our government. How are we allowing this to happen?

Forget about Isis! The real and imminent threat is not Isis - It is Trump, and I am not being hyperbolic. Statistically speaking, the chances are much greater that Trump will do excessively more profound damage to our country and even the world order than Isis. Both inside and outside. We need him removed and impeached.

I can't believe I am saying this, but  - the answer is that more republicans like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have broken with the party to speak out, pretty surprisingly need to have some courage and actually stand up to this bully - for the sake of our republic.  Where are all the others? Are they really thinking he will give them what they want if they go along with him? Cowards!

 Only the republicans can do this - they have to eat their own! They have the total majority for the moment and dems don't have much of a say, so the country will have to depend on these guys to do the right thing for ALL of us!

Let's just hope they do it, and do it soon. We will see who the real heroes are!