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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Donald Trump Uber Alles

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016



Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY After more than a year of trying very hard to discern why anyone regardless of IQ or level of education, regardless of income or economic status, regardless of race or ethnicity, regardless of religion or belief, regardless of political affiliation or philosophy, could bring themselves to support an inane bigoted dunce like Donald Trump for President, I’m going to do my level best one last and final time to lay bare the incontestable facts and incontrovertible reasoning behind my astonishment-turned-bald-headed frustration that so many as ONE American voter (other than tRUMP himself) could cast his or her ballot for such an asinine excremental imbecile.

It’s important to note that this rampage-worthy shock to my senses originated from the fact that obviously NOTHING WHATSOEVER — and I mean NOTHING — the tRUMPster says or does has swayed or even shaken the faith of a single one of his supporters. NOT A SINGLE F _ _ _ ING THING! NOT A SINGLE F _ _ _ ING ONE! They simply do not care. It is indeed a political phenomenon with which I am totally unfamiliar … and would very much like to have it remain as such.

And then all of a sudden the epiphany! Voila! Where had my brain been?! Hell, down deep this tRUMP phenomenon hasn’t been about the Republican party or the Democrat party or Hillary or walls or guns or cops or foreign policy or the economy as such or even tRUMP himself … “today”! I’m convinced that this whole damn thing has been and is about ONE word and one word only and that word is “AGAIN”! Yes, folks, for tRUMP and his dyed-in-the-wool goose-steppers it really is all about making America great again, but the operative word for damn sure isn’t “great,” it’s “again.” And that “again” isn’t about what’s happened over the past eight years or even the past fifty for that matter, It’s all about those two and a half decades or so beginning around 1950 and tRUMP’s inferences that if elected he’ll be bringing them back … AGAIN!

Of course! It’s all about those halcyon days when the coal and asbestos industries were kings and black lung disease and mesothelioma were thrown in for free! Back when “separate but equal” was considered a “generous concession.” When living in ethnic and racial enclaves on the “right” side of the tracks was ordained by nature! When displaying a pale complexion, speaking unaccented Americanese, and being in possession of a high school diploma or less was enough to get you a well-paying job and a decent two-story home in one of those enclaves with a car and a motorcycle in the garage and a hammock and a boat in the back yard … and a picture of a benevolent “white” Jesus Christ on the kitchen wall! Did I mention, however, that spics, kikes, wetbacks, niggers and wops were purposely and unmistakably excluded?!

Yes indeed! Therein lies the essence of the tRUMP phenomenon! It’s all about dreams of George Wallace defiantly blocking the U. of Alabama’s entrance way, and forebears of David Duke in flapping white sheets and pointy caps galloping their white stallions around crosses roaring with windblown flames! Back when a coat hanger or a back alley abortionist were a pregnant woman’s “choice”! Back when nearly 40,000 brave American young men were being slaughtered in a senseless war that was a harbinger of future American wars without conclusion. Back when having learned absolutely NOTHING from the aforementioned Korean experience, America’s “best and brightest” were again intently huddled around their Magic 8-Balls developing a “sound strategy” to stop the “yellow peril” in its tracks in a tiny little-known country called Vietnam. Back when half of all Americans had no health insurance and no hope of ever getting any. Back when a power-craving national-scene political neophyte but would-be dictator sadistically ruined established reputations and careers through fabrication, intimidation, accusation and implication while a previously assenting nation felt helpless to stop him!

Back when a traitor to nearly everything America was supposed to stand for by the name of J. Edgar Hoover was in the process of fashioning one of the most misused, abusive, intrusive and LAWLESS policing/investigative agencies in American history! From what has been exposed about its actions throughout the civil rights movement said Federal Bureau of Investigation might as well have been named the Federal Bastion of Iniquity! Back when beating up on your wife and children was considered “discipline.” Back when a woman’s place was in the home … married, cooking, cleaning, raising the kids, and being sexually “available” whenever and however the man of the house demanded. Of course there’s plenty more about those great “again” days worthy of forgetting, but hopefully you’re getting the gist of my conjecture.

Anyway, I think Anna Quindlen pretty much summed it up when she penned, “Raging crime, class warfare, invasive immigrants, light morals, public misbehavior. Always we convince ourselves that the parade of the unwelcome and despised is a new phenomenon, which is why the phrase “the good old days” has passed from cliché to self-parody.” So, by all means, let’s bring back those good old days! It’ll be a tRUMP fan’s dream come true … and an unholy nightmare for the rest of us!

RELATED: The Nazi Echoes Of Trumpism

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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VIC BERGER: Melania Speaks

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

This is what CNN would be like if David Lynch ran it. If only.

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A LIFE IN PARTS: Q&A With Actor Bryan Cranston

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016



BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Bryan Cranston is arguably one of the greatest actors of the modern era. He will forever be known for his electrifying performance as Walter White, the mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher turned murderous, Machiavellian meth lord, on Breaking Bad, a show that many argue represents the pinnacle of television as an art form. He drew equally swooning critic’s notices for his indelible performance as Dalton Trumbo, a gifted screenwriter whose life crans1and career was destroyed by the House Unamerican Activities Committee. In All The Way, Cranston uncannily channeled President Lyndon Johnson, who dragged Congress, and by extension the nation, kicking and screaming out of the darkness of the pre-Civil Rights era with a winning blend of charm, cunning and intimidation. He’s just published his must-read memoir, A Life In Parts, which brought him to the Free Library earlier this month for a sold out reading and book signing.

PHAWKER: Congratulations on the book, it’s a great read. You’ve led a very interesting life and much of what’s really so interesting happened before you even started acting. Your childhood was not easy but somehow you managed to come through the fire largely unscathed, or somehow it made you stronger. Your father was an aspiring actor who never quite made it. That drove him to drink and other destructive behaviors and he eventually abandoned the family. As a result, your mother sank into alcoholism and retreated emotionally from you and your brother, never to return. And early on in your acting career you dealt with a lot of rejection which is, of course, a staple of your profession. But somehow, you’ve managed to not let it warp you. You write in the book about how, at one point, you just detached from these auditions after they were over, and if you got the part, fine. But if you didn’t, you weren’t emotionally invested. Can you speak a little bit to that: how you managed to compartmentalize these things?

BRYAN CRANSTON: Well, I think it took a while for me to get into it and realize how I was making a mistake before I could figure out how to get out of the mistake. I think most actors and most people going into an audition process look at it as a job interview. It’s an audition, you’re going there to try to get an acting job. So, ok, you think about it in those terms. And if you stay in those terms, you realize that this is going to start eating away at your soul because there’s never going to be a shortage of actors. There’s always going to be many, many more actors than there are roles for those crans1actors. So, if you buy into that aspect that, “I’m there to get a job,” you also do something else that’s detrimental, and that is, you give up your power.

We know that, in life, when we want something from someone else, we are not in control. But if you are in a position where you’re actually giving someone something, if you got someone, a friend of yours, a gift, it’s a powerful feeling to feel like, “Oh, they’re going to love this sweater that they talked about. I know she loves this or is going to need it,” or whatever the case may be. You’re looking forward to being in that position to give to your friend a present. It’s a very powerful feeling to do. And we feel it, also, when we donate our time to a charity, we feel empowered by it. And all of a sudden it kind of dawned on me, that I was going about this audition thing the wrong way. Because I was going there thinking that I was there to get something from these people, that they had something I wanted, and I need to get it.

That put me in a position where I wasn’t in control. I wasn’t in the power position. And I was also kind of then performing to try to please someone else and you can never do that in the arts. You have to have a high standard to please yourself and that unquenchable desire to continue to find deeper meaning to your work. And I realized, with a simple turn of phrase, what I was doing wrong. And that was I needed to realize and accept that I wasn’t going on an audition to get a job, I was going there to do a job. My job was to act, to create a compelling, complex character. Something interesting, something that was appropriate for the text. And present it to them as an acting exercise, present it to these people. And then my job was done.

And then I would assess: did I do what I wanted to do in that room. Did I do all those beats, the things I worked so hard on? And then I assess it on my way home and I go, “yeah, yeah, good, ok, that felt good.” And that was my victory, every single time. This happened about 25 years ago that I made this switch in my head, this change of perception and it changed my life. And this is the one thing, if I can only tell one thing to any young artist, whether they’re actors or musicians or painters or whatever, if I could tell them one thing, that would be it. Go there to do your work, not there to get something from someone else.

PHAWKER: The book opens with you shooting a scene in Breaking Bad where, to make a long story short, Jessie’s junkie girlfriend is blackmailing Walter White and has threatened to turn you into authorities. High on heroin she’s nodded off and is asphyxiating on her own vomit and you have the choice between rolling her over so she doesn’t choke to death or letting her die. If you save her life, you will surely go to jail for the rest of your life, if you don’t save her life you may not ever be able to live with yourself again. You write in the book that as ycrans1ou were doing the scene you thought ‘this is someone’s daughter, what if it were my daughter?’ and that triggered a very powerful and emotional response in front of the cameras that really took the scene to the next level. Can you elaborate on your process for using emotional memories from real life to trigger certain emotions on camera?

BRYAN CRANSTON: As an actor you, one of the tools that you need to have is the ability to unlock the reservoir of your emotions, what you’ve experienced in your life. The insecurities, the fear, the anger, the resentment, as well as the positive things. And you have to be willing to expose them to the world in order to truly be authentic. And while I was there, doing that scene I was imagining all the reasons I should let her die and all the reasons I should let her live. And one of the reasons that came into my head was: this is someone’s daughter, this is just a little girl, this was someone’s baby and one point, do something. And I guess, because I allowed myself to feel that, the manifestation of that, emotionally, came to me, and all of a sudden, for a flash, I saw my daughter’s face in place of Krysten Ritter’s face and it just took my breath away because that’s really what I was thinking. What if she were my daughter, would I save her? And I hope that a stranger would attempt to save my daughter, though I’m in that position now, what should I do? And it’s a horrifying place to be. And one of the costs of being an actor is emotional stress and strain and you’ve got to be willing to go there.

PHAWKER: I will spare you the Breaking Bad questions you’ve no doubt had to answer a million times. You were great in Trumbo, what drew you to that story?

BRYAN CRANSTON: It is a story about a prolific and excellent writer who found himself in a battle that I don’t think he wanted to fight but he was prepared to fight. He was an assertive man to begin with and, you know, a wordsmith, and someone was threatening, in this case, an entity, a government body, was threatening to take away his freedom and his first amendment rights because of his belief system. It is no right of anyone to ask what religion I practice or who am I in love with, what is my party affiliation. Those are private matters. There were long and arduous battles fought for freedom of speech, assembly and association, people shed blood to obtain those rights for all of us. Trumbo is a cautionary tale not just in Hollywood history but in American history.

PHAWKER: You turned in another incredible performance as Lyndon Johnson in All The Way. What drew you to the role?

BRYAN CRANSTON: It was the same as Trumbo: A man with a phenomenal responsibility, thrown into this position of power and expectation. A man who was built on a multiple of characteristics – good and bad – and tremendous ambition, tremendous ego and so the combination of the story – the historical importance of that – and the character itself.

PHAWKER: As you say, Johnson is a very complicated figure, with both good and bad crans1attributes, like everyone. But there’s a scene in one of the [LBJ biographer] Robert Caro books that I think kind of sums up who he is and that’s where, as a young man, he is teaching English to poor little Mexican children in Cotullo, Texas. And before class, he would come early and teach the janitor, who was also a Mexican immigrant, to speak English. They sat on the steps of the school at the break of dawn when there’s no one around, there’s nothing to be gained by him doing that, there’s no one to see him doing this and give him credit for it but that was obviously very important to him. I thought that really represented the measure of the man in a lot of ways.

BRYAN CRANSTON: Good call, that was defining for me too. Without that experience, not just with the janitor, helping him with his English, but also with those children. It was the first time that, as a white man in Texas, he experienced kids being brutalized on a regular basis. Innocent little children because of the color of their skin and without that experience, I don’t think he would have had the gumption, the guts, to put his political career on the line and push for The Civil Rights Act of 1964. MORE

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INCOMING: You Don’t Have To Live Like A Refugee

Monday, October 17th, 2016



Several of America’s most popular musical acts are coming together for a multi-stop concert tour — coming to the Merriam on Thursday October 19th, with Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant in tow — to raise awareness of the unprecedented worldwide refugee crisis. Lampedusa: Concerts for Refugees will feature Grammy Award-winning artists Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, and The Milk Carton Kids. Special guests at select shows include Robert Plant, Joan Baez, Ron Sexsmith, Ruby Amafu, and Nancy And Beth. The concerts will be intimate evenings of acoustic performances benefiting Jesuit Refugee Service’s Global Education Initiative. The Lampedusa tour helps displaced people heal, learn, and thrive by providing educational opportunities for refugees living in camps and urban settings in 45 countries. FYI, Plant has been performing this song at the Lampedusa concerts.


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JOHN OLIVER: Third Party Like It’s 1999

Monday, October 17th, 2016

Third party candidates want to be serious contenders, so John Oliver considers them seriously as potential presidents.

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CINEMA: Bye Bye Miss American Pie

Friday, October 14th, 2016


AMERICAN HONEY (2016, directed by Andrea Arnold, 163 minutes, U.K./U.S.)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Writer/director Andrea (Fish Tank) Arnold’s perspective is apparent from the first frame of her immersive youth epic American Honey. Being a British director shooting in the U.S. for the first time, you might imagine that Arnold’s instinct would be to use the widescreen frame to capture those endless horizons of the American Midwest. But no, Arnold uses an unusually boxy 1.37:1 aspect ratio to tell her story, a story of young characters enjoying a rambling freedom but not necessarily endless possibilities.

The film laces us into the sneakers of Star (played by first-timer Sasha Lane) as she leaves her rapey, oppressive, working class family and their dead end town and joins a transient “mag crew.” With about twenty others she spends the day riding in crowded vans from town to town, working in pairs to sell magazine subscriptions door-to-door. This could be seen as a dead end shady job yet compared with what she’s leaving behind (exemplified by her mother’s stone-faced country line dancing in a dive bar) this adventure seems unmissable. So Star gets on the van to find out if the land still oozes milk and honey and we go with her as she finds money, romance and a bit on danger in this ragged land of ours.

I can imagine someone the same age as the teens and twenty-somethings that populate this world jumping to join the first mag crew to come to town after seeing this film. Not that the tribe and the world Arnold explores are overly-romanticized. They live crowded into cheap hotels and travel smashed into Econoline vans all funded by their semi-con salesmanship, trying to drum up subscribers on people’s front steps with invented tales of woe. There’s also brutal fistfights staged for the member with the lowest monthly numbers. While the film hints at the violence and drudgery but also portrays the thrill in talking people out of their hard-earned cash and in doing so, achieving elevated status among the peers in your crew.

What American Honey ultimately evokes most vividly is the euphoria of youth, making all the first-time discoveries of love, sex, singing in groups, dancing, fighting and figuring out who you are and where you stand in the world For Star this involves a slow-building romance with top salesman Jake (a rat-tailed and eyebrow-pierced Shia LaBeouf) who is something like a sex slave for the group’s queen bee and organizer Krystal (played by Riley Keough, who evokes the same sort of sleepy-eye surliness her grandfather displayed in Jailhouse Rock). Their romance could have them thrust from their little society (there’s a “no romance” rule among the guidelines) but Arnold makes you feel the irresistible pull between Star and Jake.

This relationship triangle may hold a skeleton of a plot together but the overwhelming sensation left by the film is dreamy hyper-real sense of being amongst this crowd of mostly good-spirited young folk, free of cares and connections. Being basically homeless with no future visible beyond tomorrow is a burden they seem to carry but at their age they aren’t overloaded. As a comment on life in the U.S. today, the film unconsciously seems to evoke a bit of the optimism that this generation brought to the Bernie Sanders campaign earlier in the year. I feel like most male directors would not be able to end this film without some violent confrontation but Arnold leaves her characters little better off but still intact. The future might look bleak but American Honey lets you hang unobtrusively with a generation that isn’t too cynical for hope.

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OPPO: The Hands Of Donald Trump

Friday, October 14th, 2016



…are,like God’s eyes, always upon us. Unless you’re an uggo.

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HOW DOES IT FEEL: Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize

Thursday, October 13th, 2016



NEW YORKER: Then came the news, early this morning, that Bob Dylan, one of the best among us, a glory of the country and of the language, had won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Ring them bells! What an astonishing and unambiguously wonderful thing! There are novelists who still should win (yes, Mr. Roth, that list begins with you), and there are many others who should have won (Tolstoy, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Nabokov, Auden, Levi, Achebe, Borges, Baldwin . . . where to stop?), but, for all the foibles of the prize and its selection committee, can we just bask for a little while in this one? The wheel turns and sometimes it stops right on the nose.

And please: let’s not torture ourselves with any gyrations about genre and the holy notion of literature bob-dylan-icon-croppedto justify the choice of Dylan; there’s no need to remind anyone that, oh, yes, he has also written books, proper ones (the wild and elusive “Tarantula,” the superb memoir “Chronicles: Volume One”). The songs—an immense and still-evolving collected work—are the thing, and Dylan’s lexicon, his primary influence, is the history of song, from the Greeks to the psalmists, from the Elizabethans to the varied traditions of the United States and beyond: the blues; hillbilly music; the American Songbook of Berlin, Gershwin, and Porter; folk songs; early rock and roll. Over time, Dylan has been a spiritual seeker—and his well-known excursions into various religious traditions, from evangelical Christianity to Chabad, are in his work as well—but his foundation is song, lyric combined with music, and the Nobel committee was right to discount the objections to that tradition as literature. Sappho and Homer would approve.

NEW YORKER 1964: Five minutes after seven, Dylan walked into the studio, carrying a battered guitar case. He had on dark glasses, and his hair, dark-blond and curly, had obviously not been cut for some weeks; he was dressed in blue jeans, a black jersey, and desert boots. With him were half a dozen friends, among them Jack Elliott, a folk singer in the Woody Guthrie tradition, who was also dressed in blue jeans and desert boots, plus a brown corduroy shirt and a jaunty cowboy hat. Elliott had been carrying two bottles of Beaujolais, which he now handed to Dylan, who carefully put them on a table near the screen. Dylan opened the guitar case, took out a looped-wire harmonica holder, hung it around his neck, and then walked over to the piano and began to play in a rolling, honky-tonk style. […]

Dylan came into the control room, smiling. Although he is fiercely accusatory toward society at large bob-dylan-icon-croppedwhile he is performing, his most marked offstage characteristic is gentleness. He speaks swiftly but softly, and appears persistently anxious to make himself clear. “We’re going to make a good one tonight,” he said to Wilson. “I promise.” He turned to me and continued, “There aren’t any finger-pointing songs in here, either. Those records I’ve already made, I’ll stand behind them, but some of that was jumping into the scene to be heard and a lot of it was because I didn’t see anybody else doing that kind of thing. Now a lot of people are doing finger-pointing songs. You know—pointing to all the things that are wrong. Me, I don’t want to write for people anymore. You know—be a spokesman. Like I once wrote about Emmett Till in the first person, pretending I was him. From now on, I want to write from inside me, and to do that I’m going to have to get back to writing like I used to when I was ten—having everything come out naturally. The way I like to write is for it to come out the way I walk or talk.” Dylan frowned. “Not that I even walk or talk yet like I’d like to. I don’t carry myself yet the way Woody, Big Joe Williams, and Lightnin’ Hopkins have carried themselves. I hope to someday, but they’re older. They got to where music was a tool for them, a way to live more, a way to make themselves feel better. Sometimes I can make myself feel better with music, but other times it’s still hard to go to sleep at night.” MORE

DAVID REMNICK: For Dylan, the greatest and most abundant songwriter who has ever lived, the most intense period of wild inspiration and creativity ran from the beginning of 1965 to the summer of 1966. (Yes, I get how categorical that statement is. If you’d like to make an argument for Nas, Lennon & McCartney, Smokey Robinson, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Jacques Brel, Irving Berlin, George bob-dylan-icon-croppedGershwin, Jerome Kern … or fill-in-the-blank, write to Before that fifteen-month period, Bob Dylan, who was twenty-three, had already transformed folk music, building on Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams. Now he was scribbling lyrics on pads and envelopes all night and listening to the Stones and the Beatles and feverishly reading the Surrealists and the Beats. In short order, he recorded the music for “Bringing It All Back Home” (the crossover to rock that ranges from “Mr. Tambourine Man” to “Subterranean Homesick Blues”); “Highway 61 Revisited” (the best rock album ever made; again, send your rebuttal to; and “Blonde on Blonde” (a double album recorded in New York and Nashville that includes “Visions of Johanna” and “Just Like a Woman”).

In that same compacted period, Dylan travelled the U.K. as a solo act, a tour which is memorialized in D. A. Pennebaker’s documentary film “Dont Look Back”; scandalized Pete Seeger and much of the crowd at the Newport Folk Festival, on the night of July 25, 1965, by “going electric” and performing raucous versions of “Maggie’s Farm,” “Phantom Engineer” (later known as “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry”), and “Like a Rolling Stone” with members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band; and toured North America and the U.K. with the Hawks, a rootsy Canadian-American combo that soon became The Band. (The record of the U.K. tour, “Bob Dylan Live 1966: The ‘Royal Albert Hall’ Concert,” is, as a live album, in a rarefied class with James Brown’s “Live at the Apollo” and B. B. King’s “Live at the Regal.”)

Dylan was exploding with things to say and sing. As he later acknowledged, it was as if he were taking dictation from somewhere, from somebody. And, at the same time, he seemed on the brink of self-annihilation. Amped up on nicotine and speed and who knows what else, racing from place to place, thought to thought, song to song, and embittered by the jeering and booing he encountered from the bob-dylan-icon-croppedfolk-loyal fans from Newport to Manchester, Dylan was headed for a crash. One day, while riding his motorcycle near his house, in Woodstock, he was, according to one account, blinded by the sun, hit a slick in the road, and was smashed to the ground. The bike ended up on top of him. Having suffered a concussion and some broken vertebrae, Dylan “retired” to spend time in Woodstock out of the public eye with his wife, Sara Lownds, and their children. “I couldn’t go on doing what I had been,” he said later. “I was pretty wound up before that accident happened. … I probably would have died if I had kept on going as I had been.” MORE

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The Evangelicals Have Failed The Anti-Christ Test

Thursday, October 13th, 2016


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THIS JUST IN: Leonard Cohen Is Ready To Die

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

Illustration by LIEZLS

There is probably no more touring ahead. What is on Cohen’s mind now is family, friends, and the work at hand. “I’ve had a family to support, so there’s no sense of virtue attached to it,” he said. “I’ve never sold widely enough to be able to relax about money. I had two kids and their mother to support and my own life. So there was never an option of cutting out. Now it’s a habit. And there’s the element of time, which is powerful, with its incentive to finish up. Now I haven’t gotten near finishing up. I’ve finished up a few things. I don’t know how many other things I’ll be able to get to, because at this particular stage I experience deep fatigue. . . . There are times when I just have to lie down. I can’t play anymore, and my back goes fast also. Spiritual things, baruch Hashem”—thank God—“have fallen into place, for which I am deeply grateful.”

Cohen has unpublished poems to arrange, unfinished lyrics to finish and record or publish. He’s considering doing a book in which poems, like pages of the Talmud, are surrounded by passages of interpretation. “The big change is the proximity to death,” he said. “I am a tidy kind of guy. I like to tie up the strings if I can. If I can’t, also, that’s O.K. But my natural thrust is to finish things that I’ve begun.” Cohen said he had a “sweet little song” that he’d been working through, one of many, and, suddenly, he closed his eyes and began reciting the lyrics:

Listen to the hummingbird
Whose wings you cannot see
Listen to the hummingbird
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the butterfly
Whose days but number three
Listen to the butterfly
Don’t listen to me.

Listen to the mind of God
Which doesn’t need to be
Listen to the mind of God
Don’t listen to me.

He opened his eyes, paused awhile. Then he said, “I don’t think I’ll be able to finish those songs. Maybe, who knows? And maybe I’ll get a second wind, I don’t know. But I don’t dare attach myself to a spiritual strategy. I don’t dare do that. I’ve got some work to do. Take care of business. I am ready to die. I hope it’s not too uncomfortable. That’s about it for me.” MORE

PREVIOUSLY: For the next three hours, he dispenses what amount to be prayers and we will need them where we are going. For he has seen the future, baby, and it is murder. Everybody knows the war is over, everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the rich have got their channels in the bedrooms of the poor. And, he says, there is a mighty judgment coming, though he might be wrong. But this much is true: we may be ugly, he insists, but we have the music. Because everybody knows the rich write history, but the poor write the songs. His mind is still sharp as a razor blade and he remembers them all: the one who gave him head in an unmade bed, the sisters of mercy with dew on their hem, the one in the famous blue raincoat who was gonna go ‘clear,’ the bird on a wire, the drunk in the midnight choir. All of them, the Great Man included, have tried in their own way, to be free.

We have paid dearly for this audience with the Great Man and he is eternally grateful for our sacrifice, humbled in fact. He delivers many a song on his knees, and doffs his cap with humility after every standing ovation, every exclamation of adoration from the back row of the highest balcony. “So much of the world is plunged in chaos and suffering, it’s remarkable that we have the opportunity to gather in places like this,” the Great Man says, his eyes scanning the Academy of Music’s gilded splendor. “I haven’t been here in a long time, it was 15 years ago and I was 60, just a kid with a crazy dream,” he continues, and we all laugh even though we know he is only half-kidding. “Since then, I’ve taken a lot of Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Ritalin and double strength Tylenol. I also plunged into a rigorous study of religion and philosophy, but cheerfulness kept breaking through.” Which is another way of saying ‘there is a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.’ Hallelujah. Amen. Over and out. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: “Leonard Cohen Is NOT A Great Man”

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016



FRESH AIR: America has a long and storied history with marijuana. Once grown by American colonists to make hemp rope, by 1970, it was classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Possession of it was — and is — a federal crime, despite the fact that in recent years 25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use. Author John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, traces the history of America’s laws and attitudes toward cannabis in his new book, Marijuana: A Short History. He tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies that the recent shift in public policy is, in part, a recognition of the drug’s medicinal value, which became apparent in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. “People were saying, ‘If I smoke this and I get the munchies, maybe it will help people dying of AIDS who are so nauseated that they can’t eat and they’re dealing with clinical anorexia as a result of that,’ ” Hudak explains. One significant argument in favor of adult use marijuana that not many people talk about is a simple one, and that is some people just like to get high. The grass-roots movement turned political, and in 1996, California became the first state to pass a medical marijuana ballot initiative. Other states followed, though the impetus for the movement grew beyond the medicinal. “One significant argument in favor of adult use marijuana that not many people talk about is a simple one, and that is some people just like to get high,” Hudak says. “I think in this policy debate, oftentimes seeing marijuana as a recreational product, it is frowned upon to discuss it, but it’s a reality. People enjoy it like people enjoy wine or people enjoy a good steak.” MORE

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CAPTAIN’S LOG: A Fanboy Q&A w/ William Shatner

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

meavatar2BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS Pretend, for the length of this introduction, you are me. Your earliest television memory is Star Trek, back when you thought you could talk to the people on TV simply by yelling at the screen. In the ‘70s, Star Trek reruns ran in seeming perpetuity. You watched every episode many times over, your thirst for the show was unquenchable and you became the ultimate fanboy — an obsessive, jock-mocked, girl-repellent Trekkie. You still have your copy of the Star Fleet Technical Manual you bought at the mall with your paper route money when you were 10. Your father passed away that year and so from then on you learned everything you need to know about being a man from Captain James T. Kirk. This would prove to be a dubious choice of role models, but it’s too late now.

Years later you’ve grown up to be a mild mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper and one day — last Thursday to be exact — you get the chance to interview William frickin’ Shatner in advance of his October 13th appearance at the Keswick Theater where he will perform Shatner’s World, his hilarious and hugely entertaining two-hour journey to the center of the Platonic Ideal of Shatner. Where no man. Has gone. Before. (Sorry, had to.)  You vow not to nerd out and ask him about boinking the green space chick or the trouble with Tribbles or why every time Kirk got into a fist fight his tunic always ripped in the exact same place (right shoulder, though occasionally underboob) and why did Star Fleet hand out such crappy shirts?

No, you are a professional. You will ask him the hard questions others are too chicken to ask. Like, how the hell does a classically trained Shakespearean actor wind up starring in Kingdom Of The Spiders? And do you know that The Devil’s Rain still gives an entire generation of Gen. Xers cold-sweat nightmares 41 years later? And were you flattered or horrified when GQ declared your squirrely midnight-black TJ Hooker rug The Greatest Hairpiece Of The 20th Century? Why does the entire cast of Star Trek seem to hate you with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns? Why would you write a book about your decades-long friendship with Leonard Nimoy when he refused to speak with you for the last four years of his life? And how can you not know, as you repeatedly insist, why Mr. Spock stopped speaking to you? But you don’t. Instead you ask him these questions…MORE


CONTEST: Win tix to see Shatner’s World @ The Keswick Theater Thursday!



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Lin-Manuel Miranda Slays The Howling Hate Beast Of Trumpism With The Righteous Sword Of Love

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

PAJIBA: Taking place in a phone booth in the middle a corn field — an image that evokes both the loneliness and the vulnerability of the immigrant experience — Miranda plays a Latino immigrant who uses a calling card to phone home to talk to his mother. He speaks in Spanish, except when referring to the huge, bizarre wonders of North Dakota — the marshmallow salad, Little Debbie snacks, big mounds of yellow and orange foods — and he tells his mom about the friend he made working as a dishwasher. Preston. He’s the QB of his high school football team, and Preston took him to watch the fireworks in the bed of his pick-up truck. He has dinner with Preston’s family. They’re full of American platitudes, and they make him feel at home. Miranda speaks of what a great country America is — big, wonderful, strange. It’s not a funny short (it’s more akin to the melancholy “Sad Mouse”) but it’s not meant to be, either. It captures the vulnerability of those who enter this country earnest and hopeful, who miss their families but who relish those new connections they make in America, connections that remind them of their long-lost connections to home. MORE

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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