In the last century, Senator Pat Moynihan coined a term for the creeping erosion of our standards and values - he called it defining deviancy down, and it referred to our escalating acceptance of abnormal behavior in mainstream society. One of the handmaidens of this worsening tendency is the media which exposes us to a barrage of borderline perversity as if that were just another lifestyle or artistic choice. An example is the front page article in the Style section of the NYTimes (2/28) titled, “A Hush-Hush Topic No More.” The accompanying photograph is of two people in what appears to be a cage: the seated woman sports a prim hairdo, blouse and jacket, her bare legs in shiny patent leather pumps rest on an ottoman while before her, an unclothed man lies bent over, head at her feet, in a submissive pose. The article details the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, a documentary called Kink, a student group devoted to kinky predilections at Harvard called The Harvard Munch Club, and The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense & Education Fund (surprisingly not acronym friendly) which seeks to pressure the American Psychiatric Association to depathologize certain sexual practices so that people who enjoy them don’t face discrimination. One can only wonder what questions would come up in a job interview or a real estate purchase that would result in such discrimination, but the truth is that the organization is seeking something else and that is normalization.
STUNNING: U.S. takes Serbia’s side over KLA monument; issues “warning” to Albania over NATIONALIST rhetoric as Albanian officials openly call for UNIFICATION of “Albanian lands.” State Dept in bizarre departure from accusing and threatening Serbia over such things
Imagine being told by your doctor that you needed a double organ transplant and if it didn’t happen within two weeks or possibly a month you wouldn’t live. That was the fate faced by Bobby Rydell, one of the most talented and popular singers to come out of the “teen idol” era of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
It’s unusual for an artist to perform a CD from top to bottom as a cabaret act, but that’s what Tom Wopat did in his one nighter at 54 Below in NYC. He opened his show Monday evening with the title song, “I’ve Got Your Number,” followed by “The Good Life.” Wearing a vintage suit (“Sinatra wore a suit,” he quipped), white shirt and tie, he described his show as “more like a saloon than cabaret.” For Wopat, that translates to less story telling and “more of a vibe”. . . or perhaps, more of a publicity opportunity. Wearing a baseball cap, he personally passed out CD’s to his fans before the show.
CHICAGO — Three films nominated for Best Picture at this weekend’s Academy Awards are based on actual events. All three received critical acclaim, even though the historical accuracy of each has been challenged.
A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to interview computer scientist David Gelernter from Yale University for a documentary on the translation of the Bible into English. A brilliant thinker, I saw that the Wall Street Journal did a recent story on his answer to the 2013 annual question of Edge.org, “What should we be worried about?” In today’s digital and disrupted age, his answer is worth reading – especially if you’re a writer, filmmaker, speaker, or other professional communicator:
Last November, I wrote a piece concerning The Other Israel Film Festival at the JCC on the upper west side. Ironically, no Arabs would get to enjoy the Israeli filmmakers’ critical representations of their country’s politics and attitudes because Arabs exercise a wholesale boycott of all things Israeli. Now two Israeli films are nominated for Oscars in the category of documentary film; as usual, both find fault with their country’s leadership and policies. One of them, 5 Broken Cameras, is a collaborative effort between an Israeli and a Palestinian on the subject of the treacherous occupation in the Palestinian’s village. The Palestinian expressed regret that he would never get to screen this film in his own village or any other Arab country because there was an Israeli name attached to it. There are no comparable films being made by Palestinians or other Arabs concerning their violence towards Israel or the corruption, misogyny and indifference of their own leadership towards their populations’ poverty and plight. There are few films being made by Israelis or anyone else concerning Muslim anti-semitism and the indoctrination of their children with this poisonous legacy; they don’t get screened at Film Festivals, art theaters or other major venues such as HBO and PBS.
Stylishly dressed in black tux and a sequin lapel on her bare-shouldered jacket, Lorna Luft paid tribute Monday evening at “Lorna’s Living Room” aka Birdland in New York City to three influential female composers who impacted her life: Dorothy Fields, Betty Comden and Laura Nyro. Luft, who began her career at 11 on her mother’s TV show, exhibits a strong stage presence and energy which compensates for any notes she misses. Even off pitch, she can belt out a song and is a sensational entertainer.
Members of the mainstream media have finally had a “light bulb” moment. After five years of getting the runaround or of being simply shut out from access to President Obama, it’s finally dawned on them that Obama loathes them and doesn’t give them much access at all—ever.
David Brenner, now graying a bit, but as sharp and edgy as ever, felt right at home at the Metropolitan Room this week. It’s the site of the former Gotham Comedy Club where he first performed stand-up comedy in the seventies. And just in case the audience forgot, he opened his show with a quick video collage of his TV appearances. He holds the record for the most guest shots on The Tonight Show as well as surpassing other performers with the most guest appearances on all TV talk shows.
There’s a moment in the classic John Hughes movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” when the John Candy character (Del Griffith) asks the Steve Martin character (Neil Page) if he has ever traveled by bus before. When the answer is no Griffith says, “I don’t think your mood is going to improve any.” Republicans assessing future prospects are in the same fix. The outlook is not a mood enhancer.
On the Arab Spring President Obama committed to insure “universal rights to all people in Egypt.” Which means that these rights are under attack, two years after the revolution. Indeed daily images from Cairo, Suez, but also Tunis and other Arab cities are showing a greater discontent by civil societies against the ruling Islamist regimes. The President remained abstract by not mentioning the abuse of these rights by the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt and its comparable regime in Tunisia. It is unfortunate that the state of the union address missed an opportunity to speak to the American people about the struggles of peoples in the region, validating further America’s role in the Middle East, as an ally to freedom seekers. As in June of 2009 in Iran, President Obama missed a historic opportunity to speak to the youth, women and minorities in countries undergoing a massive change affecting a large part of the Planet.
I admit that I was taken aback when the young prime channel weatherman, showing pictures of animals frolicking in the snow on Sunday, laughingly interjected that he tried to take his cat out to play but his husband wouldn’t let him. Just like that - a throwaway remark brought home how enormous the change in our acceptance of gay lifestyle has become - it’s less the legality of gay marriage than the freedom to proclaim it unexpectedly in a very public workplace , in a completely random context. Later that morning, in reading the Sunday Times, I came across two more references by men to their husbands: one was in the Advice Column and was irrelevant to the subject of the letter, as was the second in a column by the noted writer Andrew Solomon. In other words, nobody was campaigning for gay rights - these were simply gay men talking about other things and by the way, referencing their spouses. The very casual use of this familiar term, “my husband,” had a greater impact on me than all the debates I’ve seen and heard and all the admonitions concerning civil rights. It signaled the type of comfort people feel when they’re not concealing secrets and therefore, aren’t worried about revealing them.
Following a 15 year absence from the New York stage, Pia Zadora presented an incredibly slick comeback show. “Pia Zadora–Back Again and Standing Tall” was well-rehearsed and more Las Vegas than the laid back Metropolitan Room in style. Dressed in a long, low cut Bob Mackie bronze sequin dress with a high side slit, she exuded sex and wowed the men in the room.
It’s been a stellar double-header this week at NYC’s 54 Below (for award-winning vocalist Eric Michael Gillett. He not only presented his own show, “Careless Rhapsody: An Evening Dedicated To The Lyrics of Lorenz Hart,” but the multi-talented star of Broadway (”Sweet Smell of Success,” “Kiss Me Kate”) and New York’s cabaret circuit directed Tovah Feldshuh in her show, “On, Off, and Now Under Broadway!”
Every time I hear the haunting words and tune, “From A Distance,” it always captivates me. The Grammy winning song was used as a wake-up call for the astronauts when the Americans and Russians met in outer space for the first time. It brings to mind Bette Midler, who popularized the peace anthem. That is, until Monday evening, when I heard composer Julie Gold perform her masterpiece at the Duplex in the West Village. Wow! Gold at the piano sang this and other songs she’s written accompanied by backup singers Margaret “Madge” Dorn and Emily Bindiger. Their well-balanced harmony complemented Gold beautifully.