Man runs his course”
-- W.B. Yeats, VACCILATION
This certainly is a time of extremities. So many bad things are happening, and they’re coming in bunches. All these super-storms came and went, leaving wrecked landscapes in Florida, Texas, the Caribbean, and especially Puerto Rico.
And now the horror of Las Vegas.
And Tom Petty, too.
It’s hard to keep up with each day’s new tragedy.
I used to spend time in Puerto Rico in the ‘70s when my sister-in-law lived in San Juan, and I have nothing but good feelings and memories for that island (except for the time I almost drowned in a nasty riptide off Palmas del Mar.) And now to see the pictures of this ruined land and hear the stories of ruined lives breaks my heart. Half of Puerto Rico is still without clean drinking water and 90% is without power.
Where do they go now? And when they rebuild, there will some day be another super-storm to savage the island. I think that’s inevitable. It’s only the beginning of the huge weather events caused by climate change. We’re in for a nasty, calamitous ride.
And every day, it’s TRUMP TRUMP TRUMP. Even the disaster in Puerto Rico is about Trump.
My life, like everyone else’s, is a daily battle between the good and the bad. I’m trying to match every bad thing with something good, but it’s not easy.
GOOD THING – FAMILY
My family will help get me through these negative times. Especially my two days a week with my grandson Calder. He is my antidote to Trump.
BAD THING – ANOTHER MASS SHOOTING
The US has 4% of the world’s population and 31% of the world’s gun deaths.
When will we wake up and put some common-sense restrictions on gun ownership?
GOOD THING – A KIND NEIGHBOR
I lost my wallet, but miraculously I got it back. Foolishly, I dropped my wallet somewhere and couldn’t find it for two days. I was fairly distressed, not knowing where it was and knowing what was in it: my life. Rather, my life in cards: credit, debit, Medicare, Blue Shield, insurance, driver’s license, medical records, museum and arts organization memberships, Costco, AAA, my lucky $2 bill, two blank checks, and a couple of ancient photographs.
After two days of frantic looking and re-tracing my steps, I went back to the last place I remembered using it: my local gas station. When I asked the kid behind the counter Sunday morning if anybody had turned in a lost wallet and he pulled out my wallet from deep in the back of their safe, I could have kissed him. Instead, I kissed my wallet. (It’s kind of unsettling, thinking how much mere things can mean to me, but when I think of the hassle I would have had replacing everything, I sigh with relief.)
I called the man who found it – he left his number – to thank him and offer him a reward. But he didn’t want anything like that, just my thanks.
BAD THING – TRUMP’S PEOPLE
Tom Price’s private planes, Scott Pruitt’s sound-proof booth, everybody’s private e-mails.
And why was everybody involved with the Russians??? Can you imagine if any of Hillary’s people had had truck with the Russians? “Lock her up!!”
GOOD THING – NOLAN ARENADO
Is the young Colorado Rockies star (four Gold Gloves in his first four years: no one’s ever done that) the best-fielding third baseman since Brooks Robinson?
Is he (sacrilege alert) better than Brooks Robinson?
Nolan Arenado – Top 20 Defensive Plays
2016 Gold Glove highlights
2014 Gold Glove highlights
BAD THING – TRUMP’S TAX PLAN
It’s still not been fully explained, but it’s an obvious giveaway to the super-rich and the corporations. And what happens to the deficit? As Dick Cheney used to say, “Reagan taught us that deficits don’t matter.” The rules change when the GOP is in power.
GOOD THING – THE GIFT OF GAB
I talked my way out of a speeding ticket. I was speeding, no question, down US 101, and a highway patrolman clocked me at 83 mph. I was passing cars, and he caught me. But I instantly admitted that my speed “just got away from me” and that I just wanted to get home, sir, pointing to all the luggage and stuff in the backseat. Then I told him about my clean driving record (no tickets in maybe twenty years). And, with a warning, he let me go.
That felt good.
BAD THING – DISAPPOINTING PERFORMANCES
I try not to dwell on the less satisfying things I’ve seen. I try to give a break to anyone who gets anything done; I know what a battle it is to get a play or film or book, etc. completed and before the public.
That said, the TG and I had a couple of bad nights out. We were quite disappointed with Paul Rudnick’s new play BIG NIGHT. Rudnick can be very funny (like his Libby Gelman Waxner stuff) and he can write a good, satisfying story (the screenplay for IN AND OUT), but this one was neither.
Worse was an inert, provincial CARMEN at the LA Opera. It was strictly “park and bark.” It’s hard to make CARMEN dull, but this director managed to do it. The best part of the night, besides dinner outside with the TG, was conductor/artistic director James Conlon’s pre-performance lecture
GOOD THING – POST-SEASON BASEBALL
The Dodgers are in better shape than they were a few weeks ago. “Best. Team. Ever?” I don’t think so. But they have a shot. There are a lot of good teams this year: Cleveland, Houston, Washington. But it’s been a fun ride with the Dodgers this year—we’ve watched almost every game—and it’s going to be an exciting bunch of playoffs. All these games will take a toll on my productivity (i.e., finishing this draft of WHEN I GOT OUT), but post-season baseball is one of my favorite things.
BAD THING – A BAD BOXING DECISION
GGG (that’s Genady Gennadyevich Golovkin, for non-boxing fans) beat Canelo Alvarez – easily – on September 16th. I had the fight 8 rounds to 4. The judges called it a draw, insuring that there will be a second fight. Boxing doesn’t change.
GOOD THING – READING
I’ve been doing some good reading. GENIUS OF PLACE by Justin Martin, a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted
And, very belatedly, THE BOYS OF SUMMER by Roger Kahn, in this heavy Dodger year of mine. And, yes, it’s that good.
BAD THING – THE FAILURE TO RE-AUTHORIZE THE CHIP PROGRAM
The Republican-led Congress missed the September 30 deadline to renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides health care to nine million poor children. Nine million children. Funding for 1,400 community health centers is also in jeopardy.
GOOD THING – ART BOOKS
Right now, I have THREE lucky friends who are in Italy. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Italy a couple of times in my life, but the last time was almost twenty years ago. That’s too long an absence. But fortunately, I have my art books, and for the past few days I’ve been pouring through my collection: Caravaggio … Botticelli … da Vinci … Raphael … Giorgione … the Sistine Chapel … the Uffizi … Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto … Fra Angelico … Piero della Francesca … Palladio … di Chirico … the art of Florence … the art of Venice
It’s not as good as actually being in Italy, but it’s not a bad substitute.
Art books aren’t just for decorating coffee tables; they are for reading and studying, especially after dinner, with a second glass of wine.
BAD THING – THE DEATH OF ALBERT INNAURATO
For many years, I’ve been a member of an Internet group Opera-L, which discusses this great art form. One of the most esteemed (and feared) members of the group was Albert I. Author of GEMINI, he never really repeated that early success – “Take human bites!!” – but distinguished himself as one of the most perceptive and informed opera writers around. He would go for long stretches without posting anything on Opera-L, and then pour forth with the most brilliant essays on singers (old and new), new productions, recordings, anything on his mind. He had a broad, deep nasty streak, and regularly insulted anyone who said something that he didn’t agree with. I never tangled with him. Most people on Opera-L like Albert have forgotten more about opera than I’ll ever know. I keep my mouth shut and learn.
I’ll miss Albert’s postings, and in his honor, I’ll list his favorite recordings, from an old New York Times article:
*Victoria de los Angeles’ ON WINGS OF SONG recital disc
*Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s OPERETTA ARIAS
*Claudia Muzio ITALIAN ARIAS
*Maria Callas’ 1954 recording of NORMA, with Tulio Serafin conducting
*Kirsten Flagstad’s TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Wilhelm Furtwangler conducting
*PETER GRIMES sung by Peter Pears, the role’s creator
*THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, sung by Victoria de los Angeles, conducted by Vittorio Gui
*FIDELIO conducted by Otto Klemperer, with Jon Vickers and Christa Ludwig
*FALSTAFF conducted by Arturo Toscanini
(I agree on a few of these.)
GOOD THING – MOZART
Always Mozart. Especially when conducted by Dudamel at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
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