“Switching gears from the contrast in international murder, let’s take a look at the week in racism (gun violence and bigotry are often inextricably linked in the U.S.A., but that’s an expostulation for another day). Today, May 19, 2018 is the day that the very English Prince Harry married a bi-racial, divorced American actress named Meghan Markle– and his father Prince Charles walked her down the aisle. The British Royal Family has officially taken the stick out of its arse and joined the 21st Century. What a time to be alive. I hope somewhere the late Princess Diana is smiling at the fruits of her own progressive battles with convention and tolerance. Cheers to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
Meanwhile over here in the United States of America, President Trump referred to undocumented immigrants as ‘animals’ during a Wednesday meeting at the White House. And since we already know that POTUS doesn’t care for pets and finds those that adopt them to be ‘low class,’ we can assume the name calling wasn’t misspoken affection.
The chasm between the national values and morals of the Land of the Free versus the Motherland has seldom felt wider. Time was, say during the Boston Tea Party days of 1773, we could creditably argue occupation of the scrupled high ground. Leaving aside the conditions of native people, women and men of color (which pretty much everyone did in 1773), the white male British subjects in the New World felt a superiority to those across the Atlantic. That belief was grounded in something more than delusion.”
“The simmering hate between the work’s characters is white hot as well. Press materials accurately describe the plot as structured around the mercurial (and possibly Oedipal) Violet (Mary K. Nigohosian). The dowager ‘has summoned a brain surgeon to her home. Her niece Catherine (Grayson Heyl) has been crazed and traumatized since witnessing the horrifyingly violent death of Violet’s son… unwilling to accept other facts about her son’s life, Mrs. Venable pursues extraordinary measures to keep Catherine silent.’
Of course, because this is a Tennessee Williams script, someone is in the closet and there’s also a plentiful portion of colonial racism. When people of color are not relegated to the periphery, as is the case with Miss Foxhill (played by understudy Song Marshall on opening night), they are forthrightly othered, evidenced in painful detail by Catherine’s story of her never-seen cousin Sebastian’s final days in Spain. At the apex of this moment of sociopolitical resistance, we’ve grown all-too-familiar with uncomfortable tensions between meaningful art, the artist and the cultural period in which he or she created.
So perhaps it’s appropriate that the interpersonal dynamics between Violet, Catherine, and the professionals and family members who spin in their orbit, induce another kind of queasiness. One thing we can say for Tennessee Williams, he liked to dive deeply into the caverns of human experience. It’s the spirit in which Suddenly Last Summer was intended and the talented cast turns in uniformly terrific work.”
“Then ‘Becky’ moved from big butts and marriage wrecking into the fight for social justice. For the last two years, I’ve come across social media posts from people of all races and genders calling out the ‘Beckys’ who make life harder for other women and people of color. Pals are usually careful to add an editorial comment absolving me of categorization – ‘of course not YOU Becky Sarwate.’ But seeing the name by which I’m known continually and casually conflated with toxic female whiteness does occasionally sting. It’s ironic that a woman who strives to develop herself as an ally to all, is undercut by the noxious brand associated with her moniker.
However the English language is nothing if not living and fluid. Very recently I became aware of another application of my name to stereotype. Only this time, instead of resignation or revulsion, I welcome the association with proud and open arms. I relish the combative occasions that the misappropriation affords. This Becky feels redeemed.
In April the incel community foisted itself upon mass cultural consciousness when one of its terrorists mowed down 10 pedestrians in Toronto with a van. Heretofore, the community of ‘involuntarily celibate’ men who share a mutual hatred of women largely kept to the Internet fringes where they belong.”
“As Comey and Cohen commanded front and center media attention this month, the bombastic corruption of Scott Pruitt’s EPA tenure receded into the background. But in today’s online edition of The New York Times, the former Attorney General of Oklahoma is back in a big way. In a story entitled Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money, reporters Steve Eder and Hiroko Tabuchi point out that the EPA Chief’s taste for the publicly-financed good life is nothing new. They write:
‘An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past…Lobbyists and others in Oklahoma state politics who encountered Mr. Pruitt recalled him as a tough competitor who always had his eye on a higher office….while others said privately that he had exuded a sense of entitlement — that rules did not apply to him.’
Pruitt’s natural gifts for graft and lawlessness made him a natural fit to serve in the Trump administration. However the EPA head has generated so much sustained bad press, the Grifter-in-Chief felt compelled to tell his guy to ‘cool it. Yes, really.
In this volatile era, trying to predict what happens next is a fool’s errand. But I believe Pruitt’s time at the public trough is coming to an end.”
“The consistently raw deal shown to my man Alberto Almora Jr. is another rant for another time. The 23 year-old outfielder batted a cumulative .298 during the 2017 season and made but one fielding error. And throughout a depressing National League Championship series, Almora was one of only two players who batted above .222. The other, unbelievably, was pitcher Jose Quintana. To those tempted to look at these stats and argue that Almora Jr. didn’t play every day, I say that’s exactly my point. Whose fault is it that a young and exciting player too often rides the bench?
Kyle Schwarber’s, or more accurately, Joe Maddon, who continues to put the 2016 World Series star on the field – with disastrous results. By any measure, Schwarber had a rough 2017 season. Things were so bad that the Cubs sent the young player to the minor leagues for a stint intended to help him get his act together. The ploy did not work very well. The 24 year-old batted an anemic .211 on the season, and was a constant source of stress in the outfield. Let us pause to briefly reflect on the two errors Schwarbs made during Game 3 of the 2017 NLDS – in the same play. Brutal.
It’s not as though irritated fans like myself don’t have affection for the guy. His personality is immensely likeable. And of course, the one-time Boy Wonder had a lot to do with finally bringing a World Series trophy to Wrigleyville Nation. Schwarber’s comeback from a season-ending knee injury to help his teammates end the sporting world’s longest losing streak is a story that deserves to be told for generations.
But this isn’t 2016 and Schwarber no longer deserves the benefit of the doubt at Albert Almora Jr’s expense. Especially in the field.”
“Over 45 years ago, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down an unambiguous 7-2 decision in favor of a woman’s right to make conscious choices about her own body. In the landmark case of Roe vs. Wade, the majority opinion cited the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, concluding that that the Constitution protects an individual’s ‘zones of privacy.’ The Court found that this protected zone is “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”
Case, quite literally, closed. Right? Wrong. Because as long as there are political movements led by men, women’s body parts and general freedoms will always be on the negotiating table – with, and most often without, our consent. Just a few years after the SCOTUS decision, writes Bennett Roth of Roll Call:
‘By 1980, the ‘right-to-life’ movement was a key pillar of the conservative coalition that helped elect Ronald Reagan, an anti-abortion Republican president whose administration sought to impose restrictions on groups receiving family planning funds.’
On the road to victory, Reagan carried the Evangelical Christian agenda and moved it right into the White House. And as a country, we’ve had a hell of a time shaking its hold on our national politics.”
“In theory and practice, the production’s goals are laudable. American women in the 1950s were asked to (pleasantly) accept fairly schizophrenic gender roles and norms. After serving their country during the 1940s in the military, factories and other labor and commercial enterprises, the very same ladies were asked to make do with a return to home and hearth management. For many, a “taste” of economic contribution and participation made reverting to more limited ambitions a disquieting experience. These stories are not told often enough.
At the same time, there are still far too few women at the helm of major theatrical endeavors. During the 2016–2017 Broadway season for example, of more than 30 announced productions, only four musicals and two plays are were directed by women. This iteration of A Taste of Things to Come is directed and choreographed by Lorin Latarro, who worked on the Broadway and National Tours of Waitress, among other projects.
The performers who comprise the cast, in particular, Marissa Rosen who plays doting domestic and frequent breeder Dottie O’Farrell, deserve to be household names. In addition to Rosen’s commanding vocals and sharp comedic skills, Cortney Wolfson (Joan Smith), Libby Servais (Connie Olsen) and Linedy Genao (Agnes), take the material they’re given and try to make it crackle. All are proven musical theater veterans that are fun to watch.
Yet I wanted so much more from A Taste of Things to Come. I came away from Sunday’s opening night feeling disappointed by the production’s fluffy overall experience. And it’s clear that the fault lies with the source material, rather than the work of the fine musical, technical and performance talent.”