Saturday, January 27, 2018

Get Ready For Stonewall 50!!

June 2019 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York. Like the rainbow flag, the riots have a symbolic meaning within the LGBT community.

No doubt every cultural institution in the city will be doing their part to celebrate that momentous event considered by many to be the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. And no doubt the Gay Pride Parade will be super, super long in commemorating Stonewall.

About a year ago, I decided to visit the Stonewall Inn for the first time. I knew that the interior of the bar wouldn't resemble what it looked like in 1969 but that didn't matter.What was important was the fact that I was standing in an historic place that had brought about historic consequences. To me, being there was very satisfying and gave me the opportunity to pay tribute to those who stood up against police mistreatment of LGBT people.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Books By Authors From Countries Disparaged By Trump

As a response to President Trump's recent labeling of Haiti and African nations  as "shithole countries," Book Culture, a book store on 112th Street near Broadway in Manhattan, created a window display featuring twenty-eight books from some of the countries disparaged by Trump.

On one of the windows was posted a message, printed in all capital letters, that said:

Some of the books and authors in the window display included In the House of the Interpreter: A Memoir by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story by Edwidge Danticat, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, Homecoming: A Novel by Yaa Gyasi, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Helene Cooper, and A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Donald J. Trump, The Terminator-in-Chief

Donald Trump is one of about 28 successful people interviewed for Harvey Mackay's We Got Fired!...And It's the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us (Ballantine Books, 2004).

Others interviewed for the book include boxing legend Muhammad Ali, talk show host Larry King, entrepreneur Michael Bloomberg, and tennis star Billie Jean King. Trump's is the lead interview.

At the time the book was published, Mackay was, and probably still is, a syndicated columnist and motivational speaker.

"In the early 1990s," Mackay remarked as a preface to the Q&A interview, "Trump was in the red. Not millions. But billions." Among the setbacks were his failing Atlantic City casinos.

"Although [Trump]was never in his life actually fired from any job," acknowledged Mackay, "Donald Trump experienced far worse. The financial community and the press pulverized him." This happened at a time when he was having a lot of financial woes and was an easy target for his enemies.

Mackay, in total awe of Trump's financial wizardry, referenced Trump's book, Trump: The Art of the Comeback, in which "he chronicled perhaps the greatest personal rebound in financial history." That led to his hit NBC-TV reality show, The Apprentice, which premiered in 2004 and ran for ten years with him as the host.

According to Joshua Green, the author of Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (Penguin Press, 2017), "Mark Burnett, the show's creator, had originally sold the concept to NBC as one where Trump would host The Apprentice for only the first season, after which he would give way to a succession of iconic business moguls, such as Richard Branson, Mark Cuban, or Martha Stewart." Following the airing of episode one, NBC decided, said a network executive, that "we want more Trump." And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Mackay, in a brief phone interview, asked Trump how he went about firing people. Trump told him that "I've fired people slowly, letting them down gently over a period of months and even years. And I've fired people on the spot. Whenever you terminate someone," he continued, "the end result is always the same. They always hate you. There are certain people whom I've not only eased out over a period of months, I even got them new jobs. [Italics mine.] Then I found out that they still hate me."

Did Trump try to find new jobs for former FBI director James Comey and former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara after he fired them shortly after being inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States? I'm certain that he didn't.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Penelope Cruz Is Not A Non-White Actress

Wendy McClellan Anderson, of Altadena, California, is a self-described "Angeleno, white woman and film fan.

In her letter that was published online by the Los Angeles Times (December 29, 2017), Ms. Anderson complained that she "was deeply upset to see only white women grace the cover of your latest issue and be interviewed as leading actresses of Hollywood."

She goes on to name non-white women who were snubbed by the paper such as Mary J. Blige, Tessa Thompson, and "[t]he entire cast of 'Girls Trip,' the biggest comedy of the year."

Included in the list was Penelope Cruz. Obviously Ms. Anderson thinks anyone with a Spanish surname is automatically non-white and probably from Latin America.

In fact, Penelope Cruz is a white woman, from Madrid, Spain, a European city and country.

James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room" Had An All-White Cast

In Rosalind Rosenberg's otherwise fascinating biography of black writer, lawyer, and women's rights activist Pauli Murray*, Jane Crow (Oxford University Press, 2017), there is one bit of information I disagree with. Ms. Rosenberg describes James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room as "an explicitly bi-sexual, bi-racial novel." The bisexual aspect is correct since David, the novel's protagonist, had a romantic relationship with a female and Giovanni,who was, if I recall correctly, a bartender in Paris. But the book is not biracial because all the characters in it are white, the only such book that Baldwin wrote.

Christopher Bram, in his equally fascinating book, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed  America (Twelve, 2012), writes that "Baldwin had several reasons for writing a novel with all-white characters. He wanted to escape the label of 'Negro novelist,' which was not only artistically limiting, it was commercially restrictive."  "Changing the race," continues Bram, "also enabled Baldwin to put distance between himself and his story: he wasn't writing about his life, he was writing about other lives. It gave his imagination more breathing room. In addition, there must have been bitter pleasure in putting himself inside a privileged white skin."

*Pauli Murray (1910-1985) believed herself to be a man trapped inside a female body, a belief others thought was a sign of some form of mental illness.

"Jane Crow" was the term Murray coined for gender discrimination. She saw it as a partner to "Jim Crow," the label for race discrimination. Black women were the victims of both forms of discrimination.

Note: Once again, Happy New Year, everyone! Let's hope 2018 will be a healthy, happy, productive, and prosperous year for all of us!