Singin’ in the Rain

Speaking for everyone in California, because why wouldn’t I, let me assure the country and the world that the vast majority of us here on the left coast are okay.

More than 24.5 trillion gallons of water has fallen from the skies since the end of the year and it is continuing to pour at least through this weekend. 

Yet we soldier on. 

In Hollywood we know how to make it work

I mean, we hosted the Golden Globes between storms this week and gave the beloved Jennifer Coolidge an international platform so clearly NOTHING can stop us from providing you the entertainment you so richly deserve in 2023.  

On the other hand, more than 17 people have died in the last few weeks from flooding and trees falling. And if you factor in extreme weather related accidents across the world you’d likely find many hundreds more.

But still.  Still….it’s a Zen west coast thing to stay positive.  So let’s do so as our newly installed D.C. Congress works tirelessly to put an end to the deleterious effects of climate change by passing new laws and legislating against corporate malfeasance.

HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Clearly this has to be our energy for 2023

Okay, you know, what?  It’s true.  The rain and the fact that sociopathic liar George Santos (R-NY) not only remains in Congress but is GAY (Note: Wish I could say he was lying about THAT but he scores 112% on my personal Gaydar) has really gotten to me.

Though what hasn’t are the many calls, texts and social media messages I’ve received from friends, family, acquaintances and even strangers expressing concern for what they’re seeing happening to California on the news.

This is the case with lots of fellow Angelenos and other state residents I’ve talked to through this and truly it’s touching.  And kind of gives me hope for where we all could be going as a country if we ever get out collective acts together.

Us too!

That’s why for this week’s post I want to honestly reflect what it’s like be in the eye of the California storms all week.

What it truly means is…all week… everyday… all you think about are… rain…s ongs.

That’s right, songs. 

With the word rain in the title. 

It happens whether you want it to or not.  Or whether you like it or not.  Just when it begins to stop, like the rain, it recurs. 

Again and again. 

Gazing longingly out a rain soaked window

The minute you hear the patter or pounding, drive through a flooded intersection or up and around a slick winding canyon road, some god-forsaken tune imbeds in your brain and won’t let up.

Forget about what happens when you’re walking the dog or simply moseying down a sunny street and get drenched in an unexpected downpour.  That’s when a particularly relentless tune imbeds. 

And you can’t get rid of it all night or into the next day.

You’re welcome

No surprise that the Chair’s way of dealing with this endless melodic onslaught was to make a list.  Stumped by solutions to either global warming or George Santos and his gutless political party, it’s offered up as the 10 BEST of what you can expect when, not IF, extreme climate knocks on your back door.

(Note: Separate lists can be provided for snow, wind, frost or heat).

#10 – It Never Rains in Southern California – Albert Hammond

This seemed rather obvious but I couldn’t get it out of my f-n mind for FOUR days and had to include it.

#9 – Here Comes the Rain Again – Eurythmics

Thank God Annie Lenox came into my mind.  I felt really cool for the several hours I dared to hum HER song.

#8 – Fire and Rain – James Taylor

I was inside and working on writing something that took place in the past, the seventies to be exact.  It was a time when James Taylor (Note: And Me) had lusciously long locks and was a really, really, REALLY hard reality to let go of.

#7 – Rainy Days and Mondays – Carpenters

Do NOT laugh!  Karen Carpenter had the clarion voice of an angel.  And it was my late friend Deb’s go-to song when she felt the need to ditch high school and I felt the need to meet her after school and hang out in her tiny yellow bedroom listening to show tunes or top 10 hits when we were both too existentially low to deal with anything else (Note:  I, myself, was way too goody two shoes to ditch school).

#6 – I Can’t Stand the Rain – Tina Turner

Sometimes the rain makes you feel sexy and there is nothing sexier than Tina Turner, even for me.

#5 – Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

Other times the rain is a twee anthem and who does that better than Adele?

#4 – Don’t Rain On My Parade – Barbra Streisand

Must I explain this?  I’m Jewish and a gay man.

#3 – It’s Raining Men – The Weather Girls

See above.

#2 – Purple Rain – Prince

Prince literally reinvented and redefined rain till the end of time.  It was a pleasure to have him in my head at the peak of his popularity and actually made me feel like a rock star for a moment or two.

#1 – Singin’ in the Rain – Gene Kelly

Nevertheless, my heart belongs to the movies.  They say Hollywood is the Dream Factory, right?  Feeling like a movie star playing a movie star who is really just a regular guy in love with everything is the ultimate fantasy.  And it wins you over, whether you want it to or not.  Much like a really great Hollywood film does, regardless of age.

Did the Chair miss a rainy day classic? Comment below with more soggy suggestions.

Adieu ’22

I avoid ever saying this is the worst about anything because to me that is tempting fate.  

Invariably life will answer you back with, really, then try this, and you will find yourself wishing and dreaming and hoping of what you once thought was the worst because in retrospect you had no idea how truly “worst” things could get.

Somehow it can still get worse

All that being said, 2022 was by no means a STELLAR year.

If it wasn’t the WORST, and clearly it wasn’t in case life is listening, it was by no means the BEST.

I will cop to the fact that it was better than sitting quarantined at home in an infinity number of Zoom chats, as we were in 2020 and large swaths of 2021.  It was also preferable to the morning after Election Day 2016 or that time in 2006 when Crash won the Oscar for best picture over Brokeback Mountain (Note:  March 5th, somewhere between 8 and 9pm PST, to be exact.  Not that I hold grudges.  Much). 

Promise.

I watched Black Panther: Wakanda Forever the other night and I quite enjoyed it.  Or let’s say, it hit home with me and I wasn’t bored, which is more than I can say for the majority of critic’s darlings this year (Note:  I still want my 12 hours back for Tar and the other 18 that I devoted to _____fill in the blank___).

Side Note:  What is it with the length of movies this year, anyway?  Why has more become more, and even more be determined to be even better??

Me, after I finish Babylon

Nevertheless Wakanda.  At two hours and 41 minutes it is actually four minutes longer than Tar but to me plays like a short film by comparison.

And I guess that is the real point.

Taste, like life, or even year-end recaps and annual 10 best lists, is really all about point of view and perspective. 

For me, Wakanda summed up a several year period of loss and gave us a comic book blueprint about moving on.  If it wasn’t the best film of the year, and certainly it wasn’t even though that’s a pretty low bar, it certainly was one of the most relevant.

More Angela in 2023, please

What do you do when the world, as you understood it, disappears?  How do you survive when one of the people closest to you dies?  How do you move on when your hero (or heroes) disappears and your moral compass is gone? 

And what actions can you take when there is no one left to lead you but yourself and deep down you know you are nowhere near up to that task?

Wakanda answers that question in a reassuring, old-fashioned way.  That, of course, none of us are by ourselves if we’ve ever loved and lost because the memory of that person, or the good that once was, is always inside of us.  We merely need to go deep down and feel the joy, through the pain of what once was, and use it and all we experienced as the basis for a new path that we create for ourselves to move forward. 

A kind of moral, even informational, blue print, if you will.

Whoa, Chairy. That’s deep!

I heard some politician or theologian this year talk about the history of social movements as a relay race that one runs in during their time.  You advance the cause as far as you can and then pass the torch on to the next generation, in hopes that they can go even further   

The race never ends but neither does the spirit of anyone that has come before you, despite the inevitable losses.

That’s the way we move on and carry on and certainly it’s all far above the pay grade of anyone trying to summarize 2022. 

Except, clearly, some people.

Vibes.

The horrific invasion of the Ukraine by Russia began in Feb. 2022 and continues through this very moment and beyond. Yet Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor with little political experience, unlikely leads a shockingly strong and still standing Ukraine, and was just voted Time Magazine’s Man of the Year. 

Dressed in fatigue colors and armed with the ability to stay charismatically on message as bombs drop all around him, Zelensky has somehow risen to fill a leadership gap in the world by merely stepping up in a moment.  No more so then when he addressed the U.S. Congress a few weeks ago and proclaimed that the billions in military aid we are giving to Ukraine should not be seen as “charity” but an “investment” for freedom and all of our futures.

True courage

What could read like political tripe played as exactly the opposite merely because it was the truth and was said with conviction and a little bit of humor.  And it got him a standing ovation from the vast majority of blue AND red politicians in the chamber.  Not to mention the world.

To make a cheap comparison to movies – which is cheap because they are NOT real life despite what we think – it’s what happens when an actor so totally inhabits a role that the effect is undeniable.  Austin Butler in Elvis and Brendan Fraser in The Whale.  Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once.  Four high points of many low points overall in 2022 cinema.

… and the rocks. Of course, the rocks.

Actors, in particular, often get their moments in the unlikeliest of roles and/or in the strangest of times.  And many of them, like many of us, never hit that jackpot in quite the way they or we imagine they would.

Nevertheless, we all continue running the race, as the mere fact of you reading this proves.  And that is at least one other great thing about 2022.  We are all still running.

I could tell you The Bear and Wednesday and Smiley brought me the most fun on streaming platforms in the past 12 months, and that the Jan. 6th hearings were clearly the smartest and most interesting thing on network television but what would that prove?

… that you’ve been thinking about this dance for a month?

I can confess that re-watching select films on Turner Classic Movies this year probably gave me more pleasure than any other 2022 release (Note:  I marveled at Paris Blues (1961), a perfectly imperfect movie, and cried once again at Jacques Demy’s classic Umbrellas of Cherbourg) but who really cares.

It’s even less important than admitting that I loved Mary Rodgers’ autobiography Shy a lot more than the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning novel All The Light We Cannot See, which I tried reading over the summer but never finished because there is only so much description of items in a room (Note: Meaning, not much) that I can bear. 

This feels right

That fact is even less surprising than publicly stating I listen to almost none of the new songs and albums that made it onto music critics’ 2022 top ten lists (Note: I can’t anymore with Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé, though they and their admittedly oversize talents, should live and be well). 

Oh get over it!

Still, in fairness I must state that I do love me some Brandi Carlisle and was really, really, really disappointed that the forever young and forever cool indie rock group, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, had to bow out of the season finale musical guest spot on Saturday Night Live because one of them was ill.

They should live and be well (Note: When did I turn into my great-grandmother?) through 2022 and beyond, too. 

As should we all and then some for what a new, potentially fabulous year could have on the horizon.  Or not.

No pressure, 2023.   At All.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs – “Spitting Off the Edge of the World”