From now on, we are all living two lives: a macro-life in the choatic World of Donald Trump, where we are subject to the whims and blunders of this woefully in-over-his head man, and a micro-life in private with our friends, co-workers, and families, where things can be quite nice.
How do we live both these lives at once and reconcile them? I'm not really sure. Nothing is normal anymore. And we all know that things are going to get worse.
So what to do?
This week I made phone calls to Republican senators in opposition to the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. I called Susan Collins of Maine several times and left respectful messages on her voice-mail. (Never got a live body to talk to.) I also sent e-mails. When Collins came out against DeVos, I switched and contacted Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina and left messages.
As I've written before, I'm the son of a teacher and the father of a teacher, so I especially abhor the selection of Betsy DeVos, the enemy of public education whom Trump has chosen to be Secretary of Education. (The tragic/comic analogies are virtually endless: "It's like asking John Wayne Gacy to be your babysitter." ... "It's like asking Jeffrey Dahmer to be your chef.")
I am the product of public education – at least, K-12. I had great, dedicated teachers all through my childhood, and they prepared me for the world-class higher education I got at Columbia, Sarah Lawrence, and in Dublin. When I see the way that the Republican Party, exemplified by Ms. DeVos, has slandered, denigrated, and conspired to ruin public education in this county – and profit by its ruination -- it makes me sick.
Part of it is political: teachers' unions are an important source of support (both financial and person power) for the Democratic Party, so to weaken public education and the teachers who advocate for it is a way to Defund the Left. Part of it is religious: religious zealots are trying to find a way to make the public pay for religious education. Part of it is ideological: the twin chimeras of "choice" and "the free market" blind ideologues to the reality that one good system for all is the only rational, cost-effective way for a society to provide the greatest good for the greatest number.
DeVos looks like the most vulnerable of Trump's choices though Tom Price for HHS, Scott Prutt for EPA, and Andy Puzder for Labor are equally bad. As I'm typing this – on Monday, February 8th – I don't know when the vote for DeVos will occur, but it looks like the Democrats are going to try to hold the Senate floor all night to protest the selection of DeVos. RESIST!!
Perhaps the scariest scenario is that, as Trump's poll numbers go down and down – which they are already doing -- he might start a war, just to drive his numbers up. And with Bannon, Flynn, etc. advising him, there's not a rational brain in the building.
The only saving grace might be that the nightmare creates great comedy –
MELISSA MC CARTHY – as Sean Spicer on SNL – Give her the Emmy right now.
THE BEST OF MELISSA MC CARTHY
MELISSA MC CARTHY – "This Is 40" blooper reel – extremely funny
And so to combat the negativity of Trumpworld, I turn inside and live my micro-life. And it's not so bad in here.
I have my work on my novel-in-progress WHEN I GOT OUT, my constant companion, and a lot of other things, pleasures both great and small:
Music always works wonders in the fight against evil. Over the weekend, the TG and I saw a concert with the power to heal. It was my first exposure to Lisa Batiashvili, one the best young violinists on the planet. We saw her play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel conducting.
The thirty-eight year old Georgia-born, Germany-based musician was simply astounding. I know the piece pretty well, but she brought new shading and sensitivity to one of the most popular pieces in the violin repertory. I see why she was Musical America's Instrumentalist of the Year in 2015 and plays with almost every major orchestra in the world.
She is the child of musicians, is married to an oboist, had two children, and won't play in Russia. (She's that kind of Georgian.)
Lisa Batiashvili – in rehearsal with Daniel Barenboim – a trailer promoting their recording of the Tchaikovsky
Lisa Batiashvili – an excerpt of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto – in rehearsal
Lisa Batiashvili – "Classical Talk" – Part I – in-depth interview
Lisa Batiashvili – "Classical Talk" – Part II – in-depth interview
Lisa Batiashvili – playing Brahms – a trailer from Deutsche Grammaphon
Lisa Batiashvili – the complete Brahms Violin Concerto – with Christian Theilemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden – 45 minutes of sheer heaven
I've been catching up on last year's movies, and anyone who liked LA LA LAND should try to find the little 2016 movie musical SING STREET.
Directed by John Carney ("Once"), this charmer was released fairly early in the year and never found the audience it deserves. Despite rave reviews (96% Fresh Tomato score), the movie slipped through the cracks. Whatever it was – no stars or insufficient support from the Weinstein Company – the movie grossed only $3.2 million. Which means that there are a lot of people out there who haven't seen it.
It's about an Irish teenager who starts a band to impress a girl. Reminiscent of Alan Parker's wonderful 1991 film THE COMMITMENTS, this movie combines kitchen-sink realism with musical escapism in a wholly delightful way. This will be a cult film in the future.
SING STREET -- trailer
SING STREET – video for "Drive It Like You Stole It"
A TV interview with two stars of the movie – Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Mark McKenna
A TV interview with Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Lucy Boynton
THE SUPER BOWL
I wanted Atlanta to win, but who can deny the greatness of Brady and the Patriots?
The Falcons looked so good early in the game, but they ran out of gas and confidence as the Patriots played on despite being down 25 points. Amazing resilience.
I still don't like the Sudden Death rule. Each team should be guaranteed a possession in overtime.
Tom Brady in TED 2 – the semen-stealing scene -- pretty damn funny
I have a terrible sweet tooth. I've had one all my life. I really love cake, most of all. But I can't eat sweets the way that I used to and still stay out of Lipitor Country. So gone are the tubs of Trader Joe's cookies, the bags of Milanos, and Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips by the handful. I'm down to Graham crackers as my go-to sweet. Make that low-fat Graham crackers.
Fortunately, the Graham cracker is a wonderful food. Once considered to have medicinal value, the Graham cracker was inspired by the preaching of Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) American minister, temperance advocate, and dietary reformer. Graham believed that a vegetarian diet, emphasizing homemade whole grain bread made from coarsely ground wheat, was how God intended people to eat. His followers, the Grahamites, constituted one of the first vegetarian movements in the US, and graham flour, graham crackers, and graham bread were created for and marketed to them. Sylvester himself did not invent these products but he inspired their creation.
I bet there are gourmet Graham crackers now, but the Nabisco Low-Fat Honey Maid crackers I buy by the box at Ralph's aren't so bad. They are good with cold milk, good dunked into hot coffee, and good just by themselves. They are made with real honey, have 10 grams of whole grain per 35 gram serving, and contain no high fructose corn syrup. And when my sweet tooth needs filling, they do fine. Maybe they do have medicinal value.
Gillian Welch and David Rawlings – SWEET TOOTH
Big Maybelle -- CANDY
The Archies – SUGAR, SUGAR
Wilson Pickett – SUGAR, SUGAR
And the best thing about my micro-life ...? That's easy: it's living with – and every day being with – the Tiny Goddess.
We just celebrated the 45th Anniversary of our "annoyingly perfect" marriage. I thought I loved her a lot before, but now she's also Calder's adored "Nana."
(And she also edits my blog. How lucky can I be? It makes a person feel Trump-proof.)