Happy Birthday America!

What do you say about someone – or something – on its 245th birthday?  I’ve been stumped other than to say –

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA!!!

Sure, OK, this.

Which begs the question: what do you get a 245 year-old?  Though it seems to me we actually gave the United States its birthday gift months ago by voting out #45 and installing as #46 someone who none other than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) once called as good a man as God ever created.

That would be Joe Biden.

I think you mean… Joe Cool!

I, for one, don’t go in for the God stuff as it relates to human beings, or actually anything at all.  Still, it seems like a universally appropriate compliment.  Joe’s the kind of guy no one can truly bring themselves to hate or proclaim as evil, or even bad.

The best they can do is label him slow or incompetent or a puppet that is controlled by a vast left wing conspiracy of gays and Jews (Note: That’s ME!) with space lasers and indoctrination pamphlets. 

Or they might say he’s at the mercy of gaggles of black and brown people bent on erasing white culture and bankrupting the country with endless financial reparations based on critical race theory.

But personally evil or bad – nah!

Plus — He’s Dr. Jill Biden’s husband!

Considering these times vs. #45’s times, that’s one HUGE step towards reuniting these United States.  And as we’ve heard Joe say so often by now – there is nothing this country can’t accomplish when we do it together and that it’s never a good bet to bet against the United States.

So —

LET’S HEAR IT FOR JOE!!!!

Well, I’m cheering, anyway.

USA! USA! USA!

In less than six months he’s taken a country closed down and paralyzed by a worldwide pandemic to a place where almost 70% of the population will soon be vaccinated (Note:  Probably in the next few weeks).  Cities have opened up, millions of jobs have been added since he’s taken office AND he signed a $1.9 trillion economic aid package into law in March that has rushed money out the door to the citizens who need it most.

What’s been the principle criticism on all of this from his opposition?  Well, it’s that all those extended unemployment benefits are discouraging people from returning to work.

I don’t know about any of you, but NO ONE I know is dying to get back into an office, with or without masks, and it has nothing to do with laziness or unemployment checks.

I swear it’s not because of my mask tan

It’s actually more like they don’t want to get sick and perhaps actually die (Note: Delta Variant, fear of the unmasked if you’re medically vulnerable) or they can’t get the child care of elder care they need to take care of those in their family that they’ve been taking care of.

Still, let’s not make this political, tempting as it is to do so on this Fourth of July in particular.

Instead, let’s consider that our 245-year history is rooted in our disagreements – political, judicial, social and way too many more to mention.

Just in case you need a reminder

On the downside this week – Cosby’s out of jail on a technicality and the US Supreme Court says it’s okay to repeal voting rights in states with laws where the historically disenfranchised in mostly non-white areas face additional obstacles to vote.

On the other hand, at least some (and one in particular) racist cops AND Capitol Hill cop killers are getting convicted of serious crimes.  Not to mention, even large-scale crime rings masquerading as hospitality businesses run by former presidents and their family members and enablers are being chased down and tried for grand larceny and likely worse.

Me trying not to be smug

In addition to that, my congressman, Adam Schiff (D-CA), and a Republican politician whose name I could never imagine uttering out loud without wanting to vomit… Liz Cheney (WY-R) are teaming up with a bunch of others to get to the bottom of the January 6th 2021 insurrection.

You might not be optimistic but I will remind you that people scoffed back in 1980 when Barbra Streisand and the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb teamed up to do her Guilty album.  Yet it is still her biggest selling album internationally out of the near SEVENTY she has released to this day and netted them a Grammy AND a string of Billboard hit singles.

So suck on that awhile, America!!

Plus as a bonus: So much good hair!

Of course, I josh, but only slightly.  Because in America it is the unlikeliest of pairings and the unlikeliest of people that have led us out of the dark times into brighter days.

On the other hand, it is also the likeliest of people that we knew would lead us straight down into hell that did so, and then often down further into a rabbit hole of what felt like certain and eternal Armageddon. 

Who me???

Or so it seemed at the time.

As we writers know, these are the consistent narrative choices that await us every time we sit down to face the blank, or partially filled page.  Dark vs. light, surefire damnation vs. as good of a man (or woman) that God ever created.

What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. once said?

The arc of the moral universe is long…but it bends towards justice….

In our 246th year, let’s hope so.

Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb – “Guilty”

Home Movies

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know what a movie is anymore. 

Movies used to be these films that you’d go out to your local theatre to see. 

Sure, you could watch them on your TV, or in recent years, via your screen/tablet of choice.  But this was only AFTER we had to move our asses out of the house and out to….well, somewhere.

Leave… the … house??

Now we have the chance the watch them sitting, lying or doing god knows what else in our living rooms, bedrooms or kitchens.

Heck, we could even be the FIRST on our block to view next year’s Academy Award winning best picture sitting on our bathroom toilets via our iPhones if we so desire.

Gonna work all day to get that out of my head

Too vivid an image, I know, and who’d want to?   (Note: Okay, you know someone would).  Still, this is more than possible and, in certain circles, could be viewed as progress.

The groupthink in the ad world right now is that consumers, more than anything, desire OPTIONS and will pay handsomely for the privilege of getting what they REALLY want in that moment.

And, let’s face it, which of us at some moment doesn’t desperately want to be the FIRST?

ME! ME! ME!

Of course, the latter doesn’t seem to apply to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine in far too many communities in the Deep South.  Despite more than 50% of the US having already received at least one dosage there are millions of holdouts determined to be the lastor in the (not) over my dead body category.

These are the kind of people who have stubbornly vowed to never watch Titanic or The Lord of the Rings.

And lest you think I’m any different, just know to this day I’ve never seen Jaws. Sure, I’ve always blamed it on my lifelong love of the beach and body surfing.  Why put those images and ideas in my brain?

But at this point, well, it’s just a matter of pride.  And since June is PRIDE month for all LGBTQ Americans, I don’t see any reason to end this 47-year boycott.

:: wink ::

Still, Jaws admittedly became a seminal MOVIE movie back when it was released in 1975.  Meaning, that not only was it a box-office smash action film but it also had a story and characters.  So much so, that it likely paved the way for films like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings.

That is, at least in the minds of the movie studios and film financiers everywhere. 

Jaws might not have actually won the best picture Oscar, but it’s worth noting that it did receive an Academy Award nomination in the best picture category.  And that’s really saying something since that year its fellow nominees were classics like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon and Nashville.

One of these things is not like the other

I’d venture to say the only one of those that would be likely to be given a green light as a movie today is Jaws. 

I think what THEY’RE really saying is that only the threat of a shark attack would be enough to get us all up and out of our homes and back to our local theatres.

The rest, well, they could be binge-watched.

Thanks, Steven (Note: Spielberg, that is).  Despite your penance with movies like Schindler’s List, Lincoln and the upcoming West Side Story, you literally did create a monster that has stayed with us to this day and morphed into all kinds of variants.

“You’re welcome Chairy”

Once studios realized they didn’t have to delve too far into the human psyche and take very many risks away from funneling their money into tried-and-true formulas, they didn’t.  Or mostly didn’t.

This brings us back to not leaving our homes and what the definition of a movie is.

In the last ten days, I’ve binge-watched two extremely watchable movies that are not considered movies at all – Amazon’s highly original, bold and superbly reimagined historical drama The Underground Railroad and HBO Max’s infinitely engaging murder mystery, character-driven drama about the American working class, and the rest of us, Mare of Easttown.

Both a must

The UR is 10episodes and M of E is 7 episodes.  Total then up and they’re approximately a 17-hour movie.

In 1975 they likely would have been 8 different movies made by various studios on similarly themed subjects over a decade. 

I’m not sure if that’s better of worse than what they would be considered now, which are stellar episodes of two contained limited series able to dig deep into the human condition in a way few theatrical features can or seldom try to do in 2021 (Note: Pandemic not withstanding).

Give them all the awards please

I only know that MOVIES like these, which are solely being shown on television, are the reason that I, as a young person, wanted to go OUT to the movies in the first place.

Oh sure, I’d leave my bathroom or get off the couch to be frightened to death by The Exorcist or Poltergeist or even The Shining. And as a prideful LGBTQ person I couldn’t wait for the spectacle of something like the next midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Or even, well, okay, Funny Girl. (Note: I was VERY young and my aunt and Mom took me when I begged).

Me, at the movies

But spectacle wasn’t ALL the movies offered.

What got me out of my bathroom, off my couch and out of my house was the chance to connect with something recognizable and human and identifiable.

It wasn’t solely the in-your-face thrill but the thrill of realizing, among a group of other humans, that you were not alone and that others had the same fears, loves, dysfunctions and battles with the establishment as you did and that it was okay – or could be.

Most importantly, it was finally, the knowledge that you were not alone.

Also you were allowed to openly weep in public

I loved feeling that not alone feeling among other people watching something deep and human that up to that point had, unbeknownst to me, been plaguing me in the darkest, most dangerous depths of dread in my brain.

Those are the movies I loved and the movies that, post pandemic, I still long to leave my home tablet and screens to return to.   And the ones I seldom find anywhere, pre or post pandemic.

Yet strangely, I do remain ever hopeful.   Because the one thing the movies have taught me is that I am NOT alone.

“Day After Day” – Badfinger