What the World Needs Now

Ten dead in the latest high school shooting by a deranged White teenager.

Fifty plus Palestinians killed in Israel protesting the moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

Trump ordering ICE agents to separate kids from parents crossing the border illegally and hold them in internment camps, calling them all animals and defiantly reiterating he always will.

And then – a Royal Wedding.

But not just any royal wedding because, honestly, who gives a rat’s ass?

This wasn’t me.. I swear… really!!

What was interesting Saturday morning (Note: Yeah, I stayed up, more on that later) was watching a member of one of the Whitest families in the world marry a biracial American actress where the most controversial thing about it was…well…nothing.

Except that —

In less than an hour they managed to school the world (an estimated 1.9 billion watching) on race relations, dignity and true international co-existence better than any combination of leaders – elected or self-anointed – simply by…example.

It’s not really very complicated.

It also doesn’t hurt to leave your wedding lunch doing a full James Bond #thiscouple

Not to get all 1960s on you – but then again, why not – it once again comes down to this little ditty written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and first sung to the top of the Billboard charts by Jackie DeShannon:

What the world needs now is love sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,
What the world needs now is love sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone….
 

Don’t stop reading.   Only I’m that cynical and I’m the one who brought it up.

Tell em Sally!

The truth is, when was the last time you heard a Black Reverend in the Church of England (Note: I could just stop there) sermonizing with the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Note: Or there) in a tribute to a Prince and his half Black/half White bride (Note: Or even there) in front of a crowd of lily white royals, lay people of various races, and celebrities (this includes movie stars, billionaires, singer/songwriters, icon talk show hosts and sports heroes, et al) from a pulpit:

We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world

Cause, see, it’s rumored Meghan and Harry are gonna have kids. Lots of kids. And what kind of world do you think they will be so inclined to help build?

He took us to CHURCH

Oh sure, I know this is a little like all of these things politicians proclaim a day or two after a dozen or two or three or more high school students or gay disco attendees are gunned down in cold blood and we’re all nodding our heads and agreeing that change will come from our better angels and that something must be done and if we put our collective minds to it as only we know we can we will all do it.

But when you get to a certain point in life (older) where you realize NOTHING is working you begin to suspect that change doesn’t and actually can’t happen from any one thing. It’s a cumulative effect built on a collective effort – a lot of spitting into the wind on a particularly windy day and having it all come back flying into your face.

Until finally it all doesn’t because nowhere in the world, not even London, has shitty weather every day. Certainly not London on that Saturday.

And we’re not just talking about this drop of sunshine #AmericanRoyalty

A lot of people talked about the sun coming out once again just as Meghan Markle arrived at the church in a car with her Mom – an L.A. social worker and part time Yoga teacher – yeah, put that in your marijuana pipe and smoke it.

For me, it was enough that a divorced, African American, single Mom had a private tea earlier that week with the Queen because her also divorced daughter was marrying the Queen’s grandson, who also happens to be three years younger than the California girl the single Mom had managed to raise on a single income all alone without a husband….a gal we will all now officially refer to as:

The Duchess of Sussex.

The real American Royalty  #moviestarangles

Who could make this up? On the other hand, who would dare to make any of this up??? #2016 #2017 #2018

I never got the whole Charles & Diana thing. Or even the Kate & William thing. And I was never intrigued, not one little bit, with the whole Royal Family of it all. Your majesty, bows and curtsies? Really?

Which doesn’t mean I don’t like The Crown or, well, Downton Abbey. But only as some escapist soap opera relic from an alternate universe I can happily say has no relation to 21st century life or to me.

The Royals, however, ARE real. And intriguing to…billions. I’ve never been exactly sure why. But any wedding that includes a Black Choir singing Ben E. King’s Stand By Me and then serenades a church full of multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-aged straight, gay, bisexual and no doubt questioning guests to the strains of This Little Light of Mine and the Negro spiritual Amen as they all begin to file out is just fine in my book.

Princess Charlotte waving away my cynicism #byegurl

Because it offers a much better strategy to effectively navigate through the minefields of today’s world, including everyday life, better than anything now being advanced on Fox, MSNBC, the BBC or Al-Jazeera combined.

Not to mention, it is a lot more reflective of how the #RealWorldMajority is now – finally – beginning to think.

“Stand By Me” – Performed by Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir

 

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Ya Mutha!

To all those celebrating… for the moms, grandmas, aunts, stepmoms, dog moms, cat moms, bird moms (sure!), and like-a-moms, we here at Notes from a Chair salute you! This day is about celebrating all of the important women in your life — past and present. Enjoy the day and spread the love!

So in other words…

What he said.

The Shirelles – “Mama Said”

Living in an ADD World

Do you find your mind shifting from topic to topic these days?  Do you interrupt people far too often? Perhaps you’re jittery, nervous, impulsive, argumentative or – all of the above?

A qualified medical professional or experienced lay person could quickly diagnosis you with A.D.H.D. – Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder – a condition that affects at least 8 million adults in the U.S. and approximately double that or more in children.

I know that because I am one of those adults and, though undiagnosed at the time, was one of those children.

I told you I was busy!

Relax, it’s not such a terrible condition. Medication can change your life. Simple organizational exercises and psychological coping mechanisms allow you to be highly functional and quite effective at any task at hand.   And even untreated, the condition can come with the ability to hyperfocus – which in my case meant the inordinately handy superpower of waiting until the last minute to complete absolutely everything (Note: And humblebrag, often to great results) for the entire first half of my life.

Still, if you’re just discovering all this in 2018, I’m sorry to say the overwhelming chances are YOU DO NOT HAVE ADHD.  

C’mon chairy!

Much as I’d like to welcome you into the club, I can’t.

Because what I believe, more than anything else, is that:

You simply have…HAD IT.

I can’t with all this, and neither can you. Who can? No one – not and remain fully functional and optimally effective.

YES TIM

And don’t tell me to turn off the news. What if this is 1936 Germany? (Note: If???). Would it be prudent to turn off the news? I just hate people whose diagnosis is to turn off the news. So don’t be one of those people.

Or, as Big Edie lectured to Little Edie in the brilliant musical Grey Gardens:

When are you gonna learn, Edie? You ‘re in this world, you know. You’re not out of this world.

Musical theatre aside, see if anything about this is familiar:

I started one morning this week walking my dog and reading, on my phone, a Business Insider story someone posted on the 90 Best picture Oscar movies ranked by top critics. Yeah, I was hoping to find Forrest Gump at #90 too but it was #84, which wasn’t too disappointing.

But then you have to live with things like All Quiet On The Western Front at #4 and Lost Weekend at #3? Have you ever suffered through either of them? Good, because before you do you’ll also want to know The French Connection is #10 while Midnight Cowboy is #54 and The Sound of Music is #64.

Nope. Don’t ask. NOT GOING THERE.

So f-ck this list.

Or any list because then I’m reading the actual paper (Note: Yeah, I do that sometimes) and see that Trump is saying his approval numbers are up to 50% in one poll and that they are higher than Pres. Obama’s at the time. And they’re particularly up among African Americans, which he attributes to Kanye West’s big fat virtual bear hug this week.

Well, it turns out Trump’s sort of right, but partly because it’s the Rasmussen poll, which always leans far right, but primarily because he has not taken an average of all polls across the board – which have him trailing Obama. Still, it’s in the ballpark and now I’ve spent too much time aggravating myself. But, well, at least I’m informed. Right?

Oh AMEN… on loop… forever #oruntil2020

Which leads me to seek some entertainment and I watch the work of two of my former students on DVR who write for the new Zack Braff sitcom Alex, Inc., which turns out to be a perfectly charming diversion from anything in my life. Except that it’s on ABC and one of the episodes I watch directly follows the dreaded, phony star of the people herself, Roseanne – a show and person I have vociferously boycotted because in 2018 I know there is nothing real or funny about her except her uncanny ability to get attention for herself under the guise of some fictional high ground (Note: Who does that sound like?).

Nevertheless, because I want to be loyal to my students I had set the DVR a few minutes early for Alex, Inc. so as not to miss a second of their show and instead am now stuck with the sickening spectacle of the new/old Roseanne sitting at her kitchen table, pretending she is a member of the white working class. Who, it seems, in real life, actually voted in the majority for Hillary Clinton and NOT for Trump. Yeah, that’s right.  Read this and think #NotFakeNews:

We’re talking nonfiction here people

At which point I later I see on Twitter that Stormy Daniels – my new hero because who doesn’t like a pissed off porn star with a real sense of humor who has an attorney smarter and way better looking than the president – dogging Roseanne. Which, okay, I cop to LOVING but not when I realize it’s only because Roseanne first dogged Stormy by categorizing her this way in a far larger fonted tweet:

To which Stormy responds:

To which I tweet back to both of them, and to Patricia Arquette, who was also somehow in the argument to begin with, don’t ask me to explain how:

And you think I should turn off the news? Or take my meds? #NotAChance.

delicious

Because then I would’ve missed Trump lying to a misguided (by him) crowd in Cleveland about bringing back jobs en masse to the Midwest that will never return, which allowed me to then laugh totally without guilt at Seth Meyers that night when Kathy Griffin referred to his First Sons as Date Rape and Eddie Munster.

Sure, I know it’s not right but I’m not perfect and when you’re desperate enough you will laugh at and/or vote for almost anything – as that rally in Cleveland so aptly demonstrated.

Still, this leaves me totally disarmed when Friday night I catch up with David Letterman’s new Netflix show, My Next Guest, where he interviewed Tina Fey and she actually apologizes for the last line in her brilliant SNL sheetcaking segment from last year that was in response the alt-right/Nazi /White Supremacist protestors of mostly young men marching in Charlottesville, VA where an innocent young woman was murdered (and many others injured) when one of their brood decided to drive a sports car into the crowd.

No regrets Tina

That was the line where Tina urged us NOT to show up to protest the Nazi brood there or in any other city but instead do precisely what these “chinless turds” don’t want us to – act like it’s the opening of a thoughtful movie with two female leads, don’t show up.

But because of all the blowback she got at the implication of silence as a strategy to resist Nazis she said she wishes she had a time machine to go back and change that line to something more like: fight them in every way except the way that they want.

Which then led me to ponder – do I now tweet Tina and tell her that despite the social media kerfuffle she needn’t rethink one line of her brilliant piece because these days there is no politically correct way to #Resist that will please everyone?

The fact that Tina wrote this line (from Mean Girls) is not lost on me

And thank God, or whoever you believe Her to be, for that because the next great moment of Resistance in my mind is scheduled for this summer in England. Trump is planning a state visit there July 15 and a crowd of 1000 drag queens (and growing) has already signed up to meet him at the airport in a massive demonstration. There is even a Facebook page for the event that states: Due to the appalling way the Trump administration has regarded the rights and welfare of LGBTQI communities of the US, the idea of a Trump visit to the UK is unacceptable.

CALL BACK TO RU 

Still even better is this further explanation by one of the organizers, Cheddar Gorgeous, stating that the strategy is really to be:

In solidarity with many other groups who feel marginalized along lines of race, class and gender.

Which finally leads me to accept this one simple fact –

Any world where someone named Cheddar Gorgeous can lead a massive anti-Trump rally in a country with one of the largest economies in the world (UK is #6, right behind….California…HQ of the #Resistance – ok, not a country but a state…of mind) — is not one where you to turn off the news – or to anything else – any time soon.

Meds or no meds.

Diana Ross – “I’m Coming Out”

United States of Handmaids

There’s a moment in the just released duo of episodes from the second season of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale where Elisabeth Moss’ title character finds a way to mourn the many dead in her dystopian world.

It’s a rare moment of grace in one of the most depressingly riveting series to ever be on television, yet it doesn’t tip the scales towards hope. More tellingly, it simply provides a road map by which she can go on.

These days I so get it.

I’d so like to see Donald Trump as a handmaid. Mostly because it would mean I wouldn’t ever have to see or hear from him again. (Note: Handmaids don’t get to back talk and if they do they get beaten to a pulp). Plus, he’d look so god damn awful in one of those god damn red robes and god damn white bonnets.

Yeah, this is what I’ve come to. Wishing very bad things – and worse – on other people. I don’t ever do that sort of thing. Except, well, I guess now I do.

We’re here for you Chairy

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, I’d like to see Kellyanne Conway, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, his entire meat and potatoes Cabinet and each member of his immediate, extended profiteering family wearing the uniform too. Including Melania. Let’s see if she can silently style her way out of that one while the rest of them long for their halcyon days while chowing down on virtual pieces of their Marie Antoinette-styled tea cakes.

There is nothing in film, television or, frankly, any other art form at the moment that captures the Trump era in America better than The Handmaid’s Tale. This was clearly not novelist Margaret Atwood’s intention when she wrote it 30 plus years ago since back then the occupier in chief at the White House was merely a New York tabloid punch line – the ultimate representation of the nouveau riche 1980s, with all of the tackiness, tastelessness and déclassé that represents.

… which is why this 1990 movie reads in a MUCH different way

But that was then and this is now – as the before and after narratives in Hulu’s small screen series so relentlessly point out. What was once a paranoid delusion (ICE agents in the street ripping apart families) can become as serious as a heart attack (women seen merely as sexual objects who double as baby making machines) in what feels like the blink of an eye (National security risks) in the world of dystopian fiction as adapted for television.

Or is that mostly real life mirroring television as adapted from dystopian fiction.

This is not a drill!

Beats me if I know the difference anymore. In many ways, it’s merely a matter of degree and where you sit when you’re looking at it.

Ask the overwhelming majority of us native New Yorkers who spent any time there in the eighties. Every day these days we rue any other day in the past when we dismissed Donnie, our loathsome homeboy, as nothing more than a corrupt, racist carnival barker.

That is because we know that we treated him as merely a delicious target of amusement – someone we allowed to skate through our headlines fueled by the disgrace of his Daddy’s money, an immoral streak as unrelenting as his motor mouth and as wide as the obviously receding hairline he was even then so desperately trying to hide during a decade where looks, money, and power, as typified by lots of gold gild, somehow became the ideal.

As Barack Obama once so eloquently told us: It is time to own their (nee OUR) failure.

GET ME MORE WINE

I’ll tell you what brought me back here – to that place of rage I was at right after the 2016 election.

— It wasn’t his continuing campaign against Muslims and other non-Whites from entering our country to stoke fear and division.

Uh oh… it’s happening

– It wasn’t his restrictions against transgender people in the military out of sheer ignorance or his order to not include gay families in the US Census out of purposeful spite.

– It wasn’t his constant rolling back of Obama era environmental regulations out of greed, anger and a powerfully personal, neurotic antipathy towards his predecessor.

Getting angrier…

— Nor was it his relentless totalitarian attacks towards what are now Pulitzer Prize winning members of the free press or his own unapologetic compulsion to pass off brazen lies as truth and cold, hard inarguable facts as fake news.

– It wasn’t even the constant lying about his ties to Russia, even by the standards of Alice In Wonderland-type logic (Note: How many of his “people” in the campaign and/or administration now have confirmed ties to the Russian rabbit hole and their various other regional oligarchs – a dozen, two dozen, three thousand?)

Can’t… suppress… the… rage

In truth, it happened with his remarks this week when he was hosting this year’s medal-winning Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their families at the White House.

Specifically speaking to the Paralympians – those being top tier athletes with a wide range of disabilities, including quadriplegia and intellectual impairment – the sitting U.S. president stated:

“And what happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me…. And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could. It was really fantastic, and I want to thank you.

Imagine, you have a disability you were born with or arbitrarily acquired and yet manage to train to the point where you are an international competitor, in games commensurate to the Olympics every four years, and a guy born into privilege who lives on a diet of junk food and undisciplined rage, stands up and says to you from the loudest bully pulpit in the world that it’s:

a little tough to watch you compete too much but (mea culpa) he watched you as much as I could.

How do you feel about that – you living a daily life of unbridled discipline in order to survive?

And what do you think, or feel, if you’re a friend of such a person, or a member of their family?

Moreover, what is your reaction as another human being to an off the cuff statement like that by some currently serving as you own…president?

Yeah we feel that

Reminder to a large swath (though not majority) of the American people who chose such an individual to be their leader:

Having one or two Black friends doesn’t mean you’re not a racist.

Attending a gay wedding or inviting a gay celebrity over for dinner doesn’t disqualify you from being a homophobe.

Nor does voting for or continuing to support one disqualify YOU from either label.

You’re all terrible

It is time YOU own our failures and for the rest of US who let you off the hook to give you HELL daily.  Especially if you continue to support such nonsense for your own personal convenience, peace of mind or greed.   You don’t like it – tough. You think it’s the wrong strategy? Bite me.

From now on, every day is the day after Election Day.  Or else #WeAreAllHandmaids.

Unless, of course, we already are but just haven’t been given the outfit or streamed till the end of the season.

Grace – “You Don’t Own Me”

A New/Old Golden Age?

Art, historically, is always at its best and most provocative when it can be in opposition to something – when the artist disagrees with the government she lives in. – Hanya Yanagihara, Editor in Chief, T Magazine

This week the New York Times published a special issue of its Style Magazine entitled — 1981-1983 New York: 36 Months that Changed the Culture.

Among the many articles, stories and sidebars is an accompanying 12-minute video of interviews at a photo shoot of 21 actors who had their breakthrough moments in the city as young artists at the time.

Click to watch the video!

There are lots of familiar names, many of them now stars, all of them respected at their craft not only onstage in New York but often in film and television.   Not to mention, one of them is now even running to be the next governor of New York.

Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick , Cynthia Nixon, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Willem Dafoe, Nathan Lane, Harvey Fierstein, Ed Harris, Loretta Devine, Joan Allen, Elizabeth McGovern, Mercedes Ruehl, Victor Garber, Amanda Plummer, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Michael Cerveris, Mia Katigbak, Stephen Bogardus and John Kelly.

It was impossible to know at the time who in the above group would:

1- Create roles so indelible that they’d live on forever in the pop culture landscape.

2- Become rich and famous beyond their (and our) wildest dreams.

My face when I think about SJP’s wallet. Yes, we’re looking at you shoe lady!

3- Continue to be doing avant-garde, cutting edge work so many decades later.

4- Change your life with a single performance or film appearance or, perish the thought back then if you were a true artiste, weekly TV show.

And perhaps, most importantly (at least for them):

5- Survive long enough to attend or even be wanted at a photo shoot/class reunion in the year 2018 organized by the NY Times about the city’s once-in-a-era cultural scene.

It is easy to look back and write about an iconically fertile or low period in artistic and political history. But it is one mean feat of supernatural ESP to know that this is what’s going on in your particular time at the time and be absolutely right about it.

Amen, Andy Bernard. Amen.

The truth is, everyone thinks that both the time they’re living in and the work they’re doing is important, artistic, relevant and potentially world and/or life-changing. Either that or they assume there is nothing at all important about it – certainly nothing people would ever look back on decades later in wonderment or nostalgia.

Of course, both viewpoints are incorrect. No one really knows which times are or will be relevant to other generations and how or in what way. Sure, you’ve got gut feelings about stuff, especially in 1980s NY where people on the artistic scene slowly began dying around you from an unnamed plague. But in that moment, it isn’t easy to fully realize how time will remember it or if you and/or your generation’s work will live on or be forgotten. What is even more likely is that you won’t be right about it.

OK maybe we had a good idea about this guy #legend

Cases in point:

— I remember working with a 17 year old Cynthia Nixon on a little known Robert Altman film, OC & Stiggs, in the early eighties and thinking: She’s so sweet and smart, not to mention natural in front of the camera – I hope the biz of show doesn’t eat her alive. I never dreamed I’d see her on Broadway a year later seducing a major movie star onstage right before my eyes, go on to win two Tonys, then follow it all by becoming a female role model/TV star on Sex in the City.  And now a run for governor? Are you kidding???

Oh she’s the real thing alright!

— As the arts editor of my college radio station I got tickets to see this off-Broadway play called Vanities in the seventies where a very young and very unknown Kathy Bates played one of three friends whose lives we trace though high school, college and post graduation. She was fun AND sort of sad simultaneously, the kind of fantastic NY actress you knew would work forever but would probably never be a star because, well, the business…SUCKED!!

Which it didn’t because in the eighties she became a local Broadway legend playing a suicidal daughter in night, Mother and in the early nineties became an Oscar winning, axe-wielding movie star in Misery.

And then win an Emmy for playing a HEAD in American Horror Story

The latter was, by the way, five years after I had worked on the movie version of ‘night, Mother and was tasked to arrange a private pre-release screening for Ms. Bates so she could take in the work done by Sissy Spacek in the role SHE had originated. Again, I thought, this business…SUCKS! Which, of course, it didn’t once again and, in fact, only showed how wrong one (okay, I) can be – TWICE. And in two different decades.

— Then there was the time in early eighties NY where I saw Harvey Fierstein playing a gay, Jewish drag queen in his play Torch Song Trilogy and considered just how wrong I was a third time (ok, maybe that was #2) about what could and could not be accomplished in a business that, at the end of the day, actually might not at all always totally…SUCK.

Oh.. hello, Mother

This might be hard for younger people today to imagine but the idea of a gay guy from the boroughs playing a gay guy from the boroughs in a play he had himself, a gay guy from the boroughs, written about the relationship a gay guy from the boroughs has with an impossibly closeted gay guy he’s in love with and his own impossibly know-it-all Jewish mother seemed…well… impossible at the time. Until it wasn’t. And never would be again (Note: Especially for this gay guy from the boroughs) thanks to people like “Harvey,” who worked in cheap, roach infested, barely standing stages far away from the harsh glare of world-changing and international recognition.

You can never be great – in life or in art – if you’re forever thinking about being great or are sure you will never be great because the odds are against you and the times you live in just don’t allow it.

Also avoid self aggrandizing

All you can really do is put everything you have into your work and your life (both of those being art) in the best way you can, revel in each action and task with as much enthusiasm as you can and – hope for the best.

I still have to remind myself about living in the moment and enjoying each task at hand, unconcerned with result and I saw most of the above unlikely actor/stars in their iconic performances all those years ago in the early eighties.

I was killin’ it and didn’t even know it!

Of course these days it sometimes takes journalistic behemoths like the NY Times to remind us that the eighties – a decade many of my peers consider hideous beyond words because of its ethos of Greed is Good, big hair and the AIDS plague – did indeed have its moments in hindsight.

That is among many other things we depend on them to remind us of daily these days. Which is the subject of another story. Though the lesson is the same – stay focused and do the work as best you can – even if you think no one is listening and despite what you perceive your odds are for success.  Because the future – yours and all of ours – just might surprise you — and us – if you (nee We) just keep going.

Nina Hagen – New York New York (1983)

The Foreman

The death of director extraordinaire Milos Forman this week makes one remember a time when movies were movies.

What do we mean by that?

Well, quite simply, he didn’t have a genre. He wasn’t an actor’s director. And his films weren’t all about how they looked, or how they were edited or how they sounded.

He didn’t really have a STYLE.

His movies were not all about the MESSAGE they sent.

Once upon a time, in a world that grows farther and farther away, movies were simply stories. About people. Who wanted something that was difficult or near impossible to get.

Tell em Norma!

They had real and imagined obstacles to get these things and whether they did or did not get them it was usually, at the end of the day, only about a handful of simple things: love, family, justice, or simply finding a place to belong where they could feel less alone.

This is generally why we tell stories. Yes, to be heard. But mostly, to feel less alone.

Oh you know.. just these little known films

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Hair (1979)

Ragtime (1981)

Amadeus (1984)

Valmont (1989)

The People vs Larry Flynt (1996)

Man on the Moon (1999)

Every one of them was about a recognizable person living on this planet. NONE of them had superpowers or were set safely in a dystopian future or reimagined past.

This is not a knock to sci-fi or action or horror or even the Marvel Universe. They can make for great stories on both the big and small screen. Heck, they’re even the setting for some cool books. Anyone remember those?

Allow me to get out my sweater…

These days we have a ton of imagined worlds and past, future and parallel-present imposing end-of-the-universe experiences. There is no lack of people who have cyborg-ish limbs which can throw an object the size of, say, the Empire State Building, from one coast to the other. Or perhaps even THE Empire State Building.

What we don’t have anymore are future movies from filmmakers like Milos Forman and very many film studios or large production companies willing to finance them.

Every detail indeed

One can argue every film creates its own pushed reality and exists in an alternate universe with larger than life characters not entirely of this world. Certainly Mr. Forman’s movies did just that.

I remember very distinctly seeing Hair at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood and being transported into a 1960s universe in Central Park exactly how I wished it could be – but probably never was – with the help of sound, editing and great music that enabled a group of joyous actors to simply do their thing.

Sing it with me now…. AGE OF AQUAAAAARIUS

Or the anger and rage at the government that The People vs Larry Flynt gave voice to at what still felt like for me to be the height of the AIDS crisis.

Not to mention the comic hysteria and sheer tribute to artistic will expressed in Man on the Moon that somehow became oddly healing to a generation of us moviegoers still idealistic enough to believe somewhere deep down that iconoclastic comedian Andy Kaufman had not really died of cancer at the age of 35.

Or how the behaviors of all the supposedly insane characters in One Flew Cuckoo’s Nest exactly mirrored what all of the rest of us normal people on the outside saw or even exhibited on any given day in the 1970s.

Me then, and let’s be honest, me now

And, finally — the way the same group of petty, racist and haughty rich, straight white people manage to show up generation after generation, in decade after decade in various modes of dress illustrated in films like Amadeus, Ragtime and Valmont – films that managed to give many of us OTHERS hope because they showed us categorically that the Haughties will always be defeated either by themselves or some other group of more thoughtful and ingenious OTHERS. People who were, more or less, just like us.

Mr. Forman made just seven major studio movies in over 24 years where he managed to win two best director Oscars for himself, another two best picture Oscars for his producers and countless other nominations in pretty much every other category of excellence offered by the Academy and elsewhere all over the world.

Thanks Milos

These films also generated enough revenue, attention and critical acclaim for him to be given subsequent chance after chance (nee $$$) by the powers-that-be to produce the kind of work that would change the lives of several generations of filmgoers, many of them aspiring artists themselves who would go on to inspire still others, in the process. (Note: And if you think those facts are being overstated, just read the endless tributes on Twitter).

Point being, this was all done without EVER having to leave the planet, imagining a dystopic and/or end of the world scenario, inventing a superpower or coming up with a single tacky line, scene or sequence offensive enough to alienate any one marginalized group of people.

Some might say, Well, everything was different back then.

To which we all might consider the one question that all of Mr. Forman’s films did manage to ask – and answer:

Were they, really?

Randy Newman, “Theme from Ragtime”

That Girl

This week, The Chair finds himself off recruiting young minds for the resistance (what else?).  But fear not! Pop culture criticism must go on!

In a fascinating example of film reconsideration, Molly Ringwald (in a piece for the New Yorker) revisited her classic film The Breakfast Club — a film that just recently entered the highly sought after Criterion Collection shelf space (like I didn’t already order my copy? please). Her reassessment of the film in light of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement makes for a provocative piece. With the Chair’s blessing… here’s a critical read that does not feature a porn star or a President (can I get an Amen?!):

Click here for Ringwald’s article!