Sorry, No, Not quite

My dear friend, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, and who is also a Jewish lesbian married to a blonde, native-born German woman both she and I and my husband adore, told me to write about this.

Not that I wouldn’t have.

The this is one of thousands of takeaways I had the day after watching the hours-long live stream of what now looks like approximately 5000 (mostly) White domestic terrorists storming the doors of Capitol Hill more than a week ago.

But first a Quick Recap of Their Mission:

To HANG MIKE PENCE!, kidnap and/or murder House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and stop the count of the Electoral College votes that were about to ratify Joe Biden as our new president.

All so they could ultimately… keep Donald J. Trump in the White House?

Still… trying… to… understand

Yeah, as crazy, unlikely and run-on-of-a-sentence-and-scheme all of the above would seem, especially to friends of mine who died in the eighties and nineties, every bit of it is true.  

What is also true is the cornucopia of crazy among the crowd.  A veritable live basket of the very same metaphorical deplorables that Hillary Clinton got castigated for calling out, say, some 1000 years ago at this point.

She won’t say “I told you so” but we know… we know.

You had the conspiracy theorists and the racists.  The amateur militia men and women playing dress-up, as well as the real-life former, present or retired men and women of the military and/or law enforcement who decided, well, enough is enough with the rule of law they’d spent most of their lives defending. There are some things that are simply worth dying and defacing for.

There were also the tourists there for a good time taking selfies, the scatological freaks who wanted to relieve themselves somewhere in the Capitol Rotunda so they’d have a story to tell their grandchildren (Note: What other reason COULD there be???), as well as any number of regular people that like to blow off steam at massive Trump rallies, especially ones where he says he’s going to fight along with them but fails to deliver on his promise (Note:  Are there any other kind?)

Easy to identify because they have a uniform

And then, somewhere in this very large and very motley group, because why wouldn’t they be, were the Jew haters.

Now I’m not saying there weren’t haters of many other stripes and colors worth noting.  But with so much hate boiling over so many in the US citizenry these days it’s surprising that I, Jew that I am, wouldn’t take this for granted. 

For when it comes to attempted executions and hate-filled rhetoric in a White nationalist revolution, we Jewish people have a permanent place on the menu.

No need… we know how this goes.

It’s like I know it, and yet, I sometimes forget, what with all my other offensive identities during the Trump years.  These include:

  1. A gay man from New York
  2. Who lives in Hollywood
  3. And alternately works as both a screenwriter AND as a college professor
  4. After being trained as a journalist and starting out as a reporter, nee member of the fake media
  5. A person who is and always will be a liberal Democrat, NEVER hesitates to share that with anyone and is ALWAYS up for an argument
My own version of a Golden Ticket!

Any one of these could probably get me trampled, pummeled, kidnapped or killed at any Trump event.  But add Jew to the mix at an insurrection and, well… it’s practically overkill.

So when I got a glimpse at the photo now seen round the world of the Jew-hating Trump supporter wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words CAMP AUSCHWITZ (Note: the renowned Nazi concentration camp) along with the sub-heading, WORK BRINGS FREEDOM, the English translation of the expression tacked right above the gate of the camp that tens of thousands of Jews entered but never exited from, is it any wonder all I could think of to do was roll my eyes and sigh,

Really, is THAT the best you can do?????

Full Miranda moment

It’s not that the man and his outerwear are not disgusting and outrageous but the truth is that just felt soooooo 1950s, standing there in a sweatshirt that was just that plain dumb and that plain uninspired. 

Where did you buy that, at the Third Reich outlet store in Boise?  Or Alexandria?  Is it poly cotton or all polyester?  Like we don’t know what you’re trying to do.

Sure there’s an element (well more than an element) of danger about it, but there’s not as much safety to be had these days as there used to be.  The key is to speak out to the imminent threat but to do so in a way, and with the folks and at the time, it will be the most effective… and most worth it.

It made me think of the incident writer-humorist Fran Lebowitz recently recounted in the great seven-episode limited Netflix documentary series her friend Martin Scorsese just directed about her, Pretend It’s A City.

Maybe the only person they’d hate more than me

Sometime in the eighties or nineties there became renewed interest in Nazi propagandist filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, whose fetishized images of the Third Reich and Hitler in such technically innovative films like Triumph of the Will and Olympia, began to be rediscovered and re-examined in light of her talents as a female filmmaking pioneer.

So much so that Ms. Riefenstahl had traveled to New York City, where a member of the artist crowd Fran knew invited her to a small dinner party he was planning to have with, um Leni, in attendance.

I have no interest in having dinner with her, Fran (LEBOWITZ) cuttingly replied.  And when he tried to get her to admit Leni was a great artist and how could she blah, blah, blah, she reiterated –

I. HAVE. NO. INTEREST. IN. HAVING. DINNER. WITH. HER.

It needed to be repeated #icant

It’s like arguing Hitler was a brilliant politician and for that reason alone he’d be worth a chat.

Or if Trump manages to avoid jail in his post-presidency and somewhere down-the-line he tries to get re-examined and re-invited back into mainstream acceptance, well maybe we can learn something from being in his presence again that we couldn’t discern on our own.

Can you even imagine?

Though one can’t help but wonder what would that inevitable dinner party look like?  Who would attend?  It certainly wouldn’t be any of the types just seen barnstorming Capitol Hill.  They are not how you rehabilitate an image.  They are simply an inconvenient truth.

Speaking of which, Trump’s alternative fact master, the very nimble though not a smidge more sincere Kellyanne Conway, proved this as a guest on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night,the first stop on her mainstream rehabilitation tour.

Revealing it has been 8-9 months since she’s done a TV interview, to which Mr. Maher politely thanked her for choosing him because she had soooo many choices, the two paired for a cutesy old friends fest of polite jabs, fun times (Note: Remember that red, white and blue suit KCon wore to Trump’s inauguration – Bill loved it!) and gentle political banter.

Nope… no thank you… please go now.

Not only was it off-brand for the usually prickly Mr. Maher, it felt like the first step towards another type of revisionist history.  This would be a 21st century version of rehabilitation for yet another woman who, for reasons only truly known to herself, chose to employ her talent to promote a white male sociopathic political leader intent on bending the world to His Will and taking down anyone, and any country, including his own, in his way.

There should be no dinner parties, no Dancing with the Stars appearances and certainly no intellectual reexamination of anyone from those patently obvious end times we’ve just barely managed to live through.

Never forget this shanda

Instead we might consider justice through a series of trials for all those culpable like they did in Ms. Riefenstahl’s days, as well as the re-adoption of that age old, timeless slogan Never Again as we all attempt to pick up the pieces of our country and truly soldier on.

I know that’s this Jew’s plan.

The Chicks – “Not Ready to Make Nice”

Check out the Chair’s newest project, Pod From a Chair , now available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Revolting

Any era but this one seems to be the mantra of the day and who can blame any of us?   If the world isn’t falling apart, or at least regressing, well, it’s doing a pretty darn good imitation.

This is where nostalgia comes in because, well, when things seem this bad who can blame us for wanting to escape to the gauzy dreams of pre-selected luxurious times gone by?

This is where artists come in and in Hollywood there is no higher art than being a creator in film and/or TV.  Or is that TV and/or film.  It’s so confusing these days as to which medium gets first billing.

Don’t ask this guy what Netflix is… #spoileralert #heiswrong

But let’s table that discussion for now.

Much has been made about Quentin Tarantino’s latest, Once Upon A Time in… Hollywood in recent weeks.  Everyone seemed to love the recreation of the period but many balked at the context.

Are we really supposed to look back nostalgically at the 1969-era machismo of a nearly washed up leading man of TV and spaghetti westerns and his loyal, impossibly handsome stuntman?  Well, when the almost has-been is Leonardo DiCaprio and the sweet natured uber-hunk is a delectably shirtless 55-year-old Brad Pitt…come on, we all know the answer to that.

That’d be a YES MA’AM

And anyway, I dare you or anyone to look away when Brad peels his vintage tee off on that roof.  Because you won’t.  And you can’t.

But why spend all this money revisiting the Manson family murders for the umpteenth time, bathing Margot Robbie in impossibly flattering sunshine and white go-go boots as Sharon Tate?   Is presenting her in this new Tarantino-esque light (Note: No spoilers here) really worth all the trouble?  And who the heck is Quentin to take it upon himself to do that, anyway?

The latter is the real issue for critics of the film and its nostalgia.

Mary McNamara, the LA Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning culture critic, went so far as to call out Once Upon A Time… as nostalgia porn, likening it to the equivalent of a cinematic MAGA hat for its narrow, reductive and mythologized view of a world that didn’t exist.

Girl said whattttt?

That is unless you were a member of the white, male, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied, culturally conforming, non-addicted, mentally well, moneyed elite.

Okay but….what film world really does exist???

Every artistic project is told through the lens of its maker, for better or worse.  The worse is that there are not enough non-white, non-male, non-Christian, non-heterosexual, non-able-bodied, non-culturally conforming, non-money, non-elite making the highest profile content in order to round out the picture.  (Note:  I purposely left out non-addicted and non-mentally well because it’s show biz and, well, who are we kidding?).

I was driving in the car with my husband the other day listening to an old John Mulaney comedy special (Note: Yes, we do that sometimes) where Mulaney did a hilarious bit about all of the illogical characters and plot holes in the classic Back to the Future. 

In it, the comedian muses at how any mainstream studio could green-light a film where a teen travels back in time and almost sleeps with his mother, one where his only real friend is a man in the neighborhood three times his age who he meets with secretly AND is a crazed, criminal loner of a “scientist.”  Not to mention a thousand other twists of logic and convenience that were as likely to happen as not anything ever.

I HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS FOR 3 DECADES!!!!

Now I can’t tell you how long I have been waiting – okay, THIRTY PLUS YEARS – for someone, anyone, to bring up these and many other moments of silly suburban wish-fulfillment contained in the script pages and prized cinematic moments of all three Back to the Future films.  Cause as a gay kid from the boroughs of NYC all they ever offered to me was a twisted Leave it to Beaver on steroids non-reality that I could never relate to or imagine ever truly existed.

Where is/was MY Back to the Future, I used to wonder?  Well, until someone creates a gay, Jewish superhero kid who is befriended by an eccentric Holocaust survivor down the street, I guess that it doesn’t exist.

I would see that movie #doitchairy

Sure, I’m being a bit flip but the truth is that is some small way, I am STILL waiting for it.

Thinking about all this and more led me to recently begin writing a period piece all of my own.  In doing so, I discussed the idea with a female friend and former student/now colleague who suggested I watch a one-season now defunct but very fine Amazon series that took place in a similar era entitled Good Girls Revolt.

Now how is that I, a journalism school grad who majored in magazine writing and came of age (and came out) in the seventies could have missed a show about a group of twenty-something gal magazine researchers who were aspiring to be writers in the 1969/early 1970s era?

feeling that Mad Men-esque energy #whereisjonhamm

If they couldn’t have been me they certainly could have been the older sisters I never had or the more experienced mentors I wish that I had met and related to at the time.  Because god knows I wasn’t getting very many breaks or invitations to hang out after hours from the straight guys in power.

Well, the fact is, gay or not I’m still a guy and the title, I don’t know, it seemed strange – like one of those borderline offensive Girls Gone Wild  vintage videos.  And with so much out there I guess it wasn’t a must see.  I mean, much as I don’t run for the macho stuff do I really go out of my way to look for shows with four female protagonists??

I guess not, since once I started my binge and got into the show I began to vaguely remember having heard more in its initial run about it, the book it was based on and the real female writers who wrote and created both based on fictional and real characters, some of whom even I knew about at the time.

Boo for me for not paying attention..  Like – BOOOOOOO, boo, boo.  What kind of typical faux macho…guy….was/am I?

I am ashamed.. so very ashamed

But more to the point, why was there only ONE season of this very fine and, for me, unusually period accurate depiction of a world that, after watching, I couldn’t imagine millions more wouldn’t be fascinated with?

After all, this was an early streaming series on Amazon, a service that wanted to take chances.  And it was female-centric (a key demographic), got good reviews, great audience reaction and respectable ratings in comparison to other Amazon renewals at the time.  Well, a lot of factors worked against Good Girls

#1 was that its premiere was two weeks before the 2016 presidential election, a time when a significant number of males in the country were rebelling against anything too female-centric, especially if it was on TV and let off even a whiff of women’s lib. (Note: #Hillary4Evah).

Me, thinking about November 2016

More importantly and #2 –

The head of Amazon at the time was Roy Price, a guy who didn’t get the show and at one second-season story pitch asked the show runners to use the actresses’ names when proposing future episodes because he hadn’t taken the time to learn the names of the characters they were playing.

Of course, little did he or any of the rest of us know that in less than a year he would be forced out of his job amid accusations that he harassed, this time sexually, Isa Dick Hackett,  not a character name but another real female show runner of another Amazon show, The Man In The High Castle.  Coincidentally, Ms. Dick Hackett is an out lesbian who also happens to be the daughter of Phillip K. Dick, the novelist who wrote the book on which the High Castle series is based on.   (Note: A play on words based on the surname of both the novelist and the show runner were among Mr. Price’s more noteworthy utterances reported during that time period).

This, in turn, was followed by the many revelations surrounding Harvey Weinstein from his accusers and the emergence of what we now sometimes all too glibly refer to as the #MeToo era.

There’s nothing glib about the story of the cancellation of a promising show like Good Girls Revolt, of course, most especially when it’s considered in light of all the attention a film like Once Upon A Time in…Hollywood is now receiving.

The only IT girl of the moment

Sure, I admittedly very much liked the Tarantino film but after watching the one season of Good Girls and learning of the circumstances of its cancellation, and my own initial indifference/ignorance towards it, it’s easy to see why so many are currently so publically over the whole Tarantino/DiCaprio/Pitt of it all. (Note: And not only women).

The fact is, until many more diverse voices get to create material with actors and directors from their communities who are every bit as bankable as a Tarantino, DiCaprio or Pitt, an inequity of point-of-view that is as world worn as the nostalgia those names so often propagate will dog their every achievement in the zeitgeist.

That’s not so much an objection to their POVS but to the fact that so many of us don’t get to see ourselves and our worlds reflected back at us at a time when being seen and heard is no longer a luxury of entertainment but a necessity for our very survival.

“Big Yellow Taxi” – Joni Mitchell