Is it over? Has he been impeached yet?
Almost every day, I wake up with thoughts like these, thoughts that eat away at my happiness. I read my three newspapers, watch my three news channels (if you count Fox as news), scan multiple websites, and things just keep getting worse.
The roll-back of Dodd-Frank … new attacks on Planned Parenthood … attacks on the rights of federal employees … attacks on public education … Scott Pruitt’s staff shutting out reporters from EPA events … separation of families at the border … attacks on the rights of professional football players to protest … increased violence in the Mideast incited by the unwise move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem … attacks on the Mueller investigation, the Department of Justice, and the FBI … every day lies from the White House
But, as I’ve said before, it’s not just Trump – it’s the whole GOP. Much of what’s happening is the old-line Republican wish list. Trump doesn’t even care about this stuff; he only cares about “winning” and things that will help him and his business. So if it pleases the owners of the party and the rubes who voted for him, he’ll go along with anything.
So what’s next? Impeachment? Constitutional crisis? Outright civil war?
Whatever it is, it will not be good. Trump is a crook, a liar, and probably a traitor. Article III of the Constitution says, “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
I think that Mueller (and common sense) will find that Trump “adhered” to Russian, not American, interests in trying to undo sanctions against Russia in exchange for help defeating Hillary Clinton in the election. And that’s just for starters. Maybe we can’t “lock him up,” but he should certainly be impeached.
He will not go down easily, and he has a lot of supporters – angry supporters with guns – and a news outlet – “State TV” – in Fox which will pump out the propaganda till the end. (I actually watch Fox News: you wouldn’t believe the constant stream of crap that flows from their hot, nasty women and dopey, angry men. They are preparing their viewers for a rebellion.)
AND MORE BAD NEWS
On top of all this horrible political news, Philip Roth and Tom Wolfe died. Two giants. I haven’t read all their books, but I’ve read quite a few of them. In particular, the story “Goodbye, Columbus” cast a big shadow over the writing of WHAT IT WAS LIKE, another poor-boy/rich-girl tale. An editor who read an early draft of that book advised that I re-read the Roth story and see what he did, especially with the character of Brenda Patimkin. (Remember her flick of the flesh in her bathing suit?) Roth is an impossibly high target, but well worth aiming for. For WHEN I GOT OUT, I’m under the influence of another idol and impossible dream—Saul Bellow—wrestling with a difficult old man.
I love reading Tom Wolfe. I remember reading BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES in the late 1980s, soon after we moved from New York to California, and how much of an authentic feel for “the City” that Wolfe got into that book. He, like Roth, is worth stealing from. For WHEN I GOT OUT, I’m stealing from Wolfe, structure-wise. And I’m trying to keep an eye out for “the lurid carnival of American life at this moment, in the here and now.”
Jack Johnson was pardoned, and Harvey Weinstein was arrested. I didn’t think I’d live to see either.
A stopped clock is right, twice a day, and Trump was right to pardon Jack Johnson. I’m a huge fight fan—a subscriber to Ring Magazine, “the Bible of boxing”—and I was happy to see this historic wrong corrected. I loved the play THE GREAT WHITE HOPE by Howard Sackler and saw it three times (twice with James Earl Jones, once with Yaphet Kotto). It’s a wonderful piece of theatre and it introduced me to the story of this great heavyweight, the Muhammad Ali of his time.
A short featurette about Jack Johnson
An hour-long documentary about Jack Johnson
THE GREAT WHITE HOPE – the movie with James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander
It’s hard to read Jack London on Jack Johnson. Let’s say it again, along with H. Rap Brown, “RACISM IS AS AMERICAN AS CHERRY PIE.”
But Harvey Weinstein is going to the pen … eventually. They’ll get him, just like they got Cosby.
And voters in Ireland struck down their abortion ban. Slainte!!
Maybe music can save me… or, at least, salve my feelings temporarily.
We’ve been seeing some very good live music: the two French piano-playing sisters KATIA AND MARIELLE LABEQUE, doing Ravel and a wonderful concerto for two pianos by Max Bruch, a composer whose works I have neglected. Which led me to his wonderful Violin Concerto.
The Labeque sisters play some of Ravel’s “Mother Goose” suite – just how our concert at the Walt Disney Concert Hall started – charming!
The Labeque sisters play a WEST SIDE STORY suite (with two percussionists) – stupendous arrangement!
The Labeque sisters’ million-selling version of RHAPSODY IN BLUE
And we were introduced to Sol Gabetta, a brilliant young cellist from Argentina, playing Schumann’s Cello Concerto, with the Dude conducting the LA Philharmonic.
A featurette on Sol Gabetta from German TV (with subtitles)
Sol Gabetta and pianist Helene Grimaud play some Brahms and Debussy
Sol Gabetta plays Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto -- remarkable
And we saw a very well-sung RIGOLETTO by the Los Angeles Opera, conducted by our new Artist in Residence Matthew Aucoin. Verdi is one of my idols. I listen to him quite a lot, and yet, I don’t listen enough because his work is so arresting, so dramatic, so boisterous, that it’s difficult for me to work while listening to Verdi. I can work to Mozart or Puccini or Wagner or Donizetti, but I can’t work to Verdi.
I checked my Opera List: I have six RIGOLETTOs.
1. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Warren/BjoerlingSayao – cond. Sodero (live Met 1945)
2. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Rosvaenge/Schlusnus/Berger – cond. Heger 1944
3. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Callas/di Stefano/Campolonghi – cond. Mugnai (live Mexico City 1952)
4. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Callas/di Stefano/Gobbi – cond. Serafin 1955
5. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Merrill/Peters/Bjoerling – cond. Perlea 1956
6. Verdi/RIGOLETTO – Scotto/Pavarotti/Paskalis – cond. Giulini (live Florence 1966)
I could have a few more, but I always go back to the Gobbi/Callas/di Stefano/Serafin. Gobbi doesn’t have the best voice, but he’s the best actor in combination with the rest of the creative team. Though it’s a genuine “greatest hits” opera, with one hit tune after another, what makes RIGOLETTO so historically and dramatically important is the unforgettable character of the jester Rigoletto, one of the great anti-heroes in all Western art; in the memorable phrase of George Bernard Shaw, “burnt into music by Verdi.” And no one tops Gobbi.
Here are a couple of YouTube gems from this genuine popular masterpiece, a hit at its premiere and a hit ever since:
“Bella figlia della amore” – the magical Act IV Quartet – with Pavarotti, Sutherland, Nucci, and Jones
The whole opera!! –with Pavarotti, Gruberova, Wixell, conducted by Chailly
And I marched with my local Democratic club in our Memorial Day parade. I remembered my father – LESTER ROBINSON – who served in the Pacific in World War II as a Master Sergeant. He fought in New Guinea and the Phillipines. He hated the Army, but I bet he was a good soldier.
(Actually, I drove my convertible in the parade, conveying three of our older members who couldn’t walk, behind the group of Democratic marchers who were led by our congressman ADAM SCHIFF, American hero-to-be. I was the end of the Blue Wave.)
And I swam with Calder. And we took him to the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center, all the time keeping him away from any talk of death. Not an easy thing when dealing with ancient Egypt.
And I’m doing a last round of small but vital changes on WHEN I GOT OUT, suggested by my very smart editor. Anything to make it better.
And in a couple of weeks, the TG and I will see Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville in LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT. Maybe that’ll cheer me up.