Even as I’ve been working on my new website, getting ready for the publication of WHEN I GOT OUT on September 17th, and starting a new project that’s exciting me, the world has gone to even-more-hell.
From kids in cages to “Send her home!” to “infested” Baltimore to the Garlic Festival massacre to the El Paso massacre to the Dayton massacre, it’s been just one big American carnival of horror the past few weeks.
The let-down after Robert Mueller’s testimony was palpable, even as the evidence for impeachment grows stronger every day. GOP congressmen announce their retirement, but not enough of them. Not Moscow Mitch … yet.
And Toni Morrison is dead. Hal Prince, too.
It’s hard not to have a case of chronic, permanent heartbreak.
I have so much to be happy about: new book, new website, and lots of time with my grandsons. The Dodgers are doing very well, and we saw Clayton Kershaw pitch a gem last night at the stadium. (Another Bucket List item checked off.)
My micro-life is fine, but there’s a cloud over all of us.
I spend time with my glorious grandson, and it crosses my mind: kids just the same age as Calder are in cages right now. In conditions too horrible to contemplate for too long. I think of all the support that Calder gets – wonderful parents, devoted grandparents, and a whole range of family and friends – and I think about the kids Calder’s age in American custody with nobody. No parent, nobody to protect them.
Who reads to these kids? Who tucks them in at night? Who buys them toys? Who provides them with nutritious meals? Who watches them take swimming lessons and dries them off afterwards? Who puts sunblock on them before?
Kids are in cages. Paid for with our tax money, enriching the private-prison-for-profits industry. They’ve been in them for a while, and they’re not getting out anytime soon.
Kids in cages. Everything else is trivial.
I had to drop everything to read LAST WITNESSES, the newest book by Svetlana Alexievich. It’s the fifth book by the Belarusian master journalist/oral historian/ prose magician to be translated into English, although it was the second one she wrote. This one is about children during World War II. Quite simply, the book tears your guts out. The Russians are hardcore people: what they experienced and how they survived WWII makes for riveting reading.
After people finish my book, they should read this one.
I’ve been leaning on music to get me through these sad times.
Love Duet from MADAME BUTTERFLY (in German) – with Fritz Wunderlich and Pilar Lorengar – a good candidate for “Most Beautiful Singing of All Time”
Frederica von Stade – Dvorak’s “Song To the Moon” from RUSALKA
Patty Loveless singing “Crazy Arms” (at 1:33) and a superb “I Fall To Pieces” (at 6:33) with Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers
The Dixie Chicks singing Dylan’s “Mississippi” – I can’t stop watching this one – as great as any of Dylan’s Sixties songs
Toni Morrison’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech
Toni Morrison – good BBC documentary
“Wilkommen” from the original production of CABARET – from the 1967 Tony Awards (starts at 2:08) – the greatest opening number in Broadway history
Hal Prince – a conversation with directors
nice Hal Prince documentary from 1978
Hal Prince – on rehearsals