Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goodbye Indeed

Got this from Wayne. It's a bit long, but as we all approach Thanksgiving, and count our blessings, here's one I'm very thankful for - the end of the Bush presidency.


Goodbye and Good Riddance

Tuesday 11 November 2008

by Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

After eight years of President Bush, we almost don't know how to
function without him - almost. But before we move on, we should pause to
remember just what we're leaving behind.

Just over two years into George W. Bush's presidency, The American
Prospect featured Bush on its cover under the headline, "The Most
Dangerous President Ever." At the time, some probably thought it a bit
over the top. But nearly six years later, it's worth taking a moment to
reflect on the multifaceted burden that will soon be lifted from our
collective shoulders.

Since last week, I have stopped short and shaken my head in amazement
every time I have heard the words "President-elect Obama." But it is
equally extraordinary to consider that in just a few weeks, George W.
Bush will no longer be our president. Let me repeat that: In just a few
weeks, George W. Bush will no longer be our president. So though our
long national ordeal isn't quite over, it's never too early to say

Goodbye, we can say at last, to the most powerful man in the world being
such a ridiculous buffoon, incapable of stringing together two coherent
sentences. Goodbye to cringing with dread every time our president steps
onto the world stage, sure he'll say or do something to embarrass us
all. Goodbye to being represented by a man who embodies everything our
enemies want the people of the world to believe about America - that we
are ignorant, cruel, and only care about foreign countries when we
decide to stomp on them. Goodbye to his giggle, and his shoulder shake,
and his nicknames. Goodbye to a president who talks to us like we're a
nation of fourth-graders.

And goodbye, of course, to Dick Cheney. Goodbye to the man whose naked
contempt for democracy contorted his face to a permanent sneer, who
spent his days in his undisclosed location with his man-sized safe. And
while we're at it, goodbye to Cheney's consigliore David Addington, as
malevolent a force as has ever left his trail of slime across our
federal institutions.

Goodbye, indeed, to the entire band of liars and crooks and thieves who
have so sullied the federal government that belongs to us all. We can
even say goodbye to those who have already gone, to Rummy and Scooter,
to Fredo and Rove, tornados of misery left in their wake.

Goodbye to the rotating cast of butchers manning the White House's legal
abattoir, where the Constitution has been sliced and bled and gutted
since September 11. Goodbye to the "unitary executive" theory and its
claims that the president can do whatever he wants - even snatch an
American citizen off the street and lock him up for life without charge,
without legal representation, and without trial. Goodbye to the
promiscuous use of "signing statements" (1,100 at last count) to declare
that the law is whatever the president says it is, and that he'll
enforce only those laws he likes. Goodbye to an executive branch that
treats lawfully issued subpoenas like suggestions that can be ignored.
Goodbye to thinking of John Ashcroft as the liberal attorney general.
Goodbye to the culture of incompetence, where rebuilding a country we
destroyed could be turned over to a bunch of clueless 20-somethings with
no qualifications save an internship at the Heritage Foundation and an
opposition to abortion. Goodbye to the "Brownie, you're doin' a heckuva
job" philosophy, where vital agencies are turned over to incompetent
boobs to rot and decay. Goodbye to handing out the Medal of Freedom as
an award for engineering one of the greatest screw-ups of our time.
Goodbye to an administration that welcomed gluttonous war profiteering,
that was only too happy to outsource every government function it could
to well-connected contractors who would do a worse job for more money.

Goodbye to the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war. Goodbye to the lust for
sending off other people's sons and daughters to fight and kill and die
just to show your daddy you're a real man. Goodbye to playing dress-up
in flight suits, goodbye to strutting and posing and desperate sexual
insecurity as a driver of American foreign policy. Goodbye to the
neocons, so sinister and deluded they beg us all to become fevered
conspiracy theorists. Goodbye to Guantanamo and its kangaroo courts.
Goodbye to the use of torture as official U.S. government policy, and
goodbye to the immoral ghouls who think you can rename it "enhanced
interrogation techniques" and render it any less monstrous.

Goodbye to the accusation that if you disagree with what the president
wants to do, you don't "support the troops."

Goodbye to stocking government agencies with people who are opposed to
the very missions those agencies are charged with carrying out. Goodbye
to putting industry lobbyists in charge of the agencies that are
supposed to regulate those very industries. Goodbye to madly giving away
public lands to private interests. Goodbye to a Food and Drug
Administration that acts like a wholly owned subsidiary of the
pharmaceutical industry, except when it acts like a wholly owned
subsidiary of the fundamentalist puritans who believe that sex is dirty
and birth control will turn girls into sluts. Goodbye to the "global gag
rule," which prohibits any entity receiving American funds from even
telling women where they can get an abortion if they need it.

Goodbye to vetoing health insurance for poor children but rushing back
to Washington to sign a bill to keep alive a woman whose cerebral cortex
had liquefied. Goodbye to the ban on federal funding of embryonic
stem-cell research.

Goodbye to the philosophy that says that if we give tax cuts to the rich
and keep the government from any oversight of the economy, prosperity
will eventually trickle down. Goodbye to the thirst for privatizing
Social Security and to the belief that the success of a social
safety-net program is what makes it a threat and should mark it for
destruction. Goodbye to the war on unions and to a National Labor
Relations Board devoted to crushing them. Goodbye to the principle of
loyalty above all else, that nominates Harriet Miers to the Supreme
Court and puts Alberto Gonzales in charge of the Justice Department. And
goodbye to that Justice Department, the one where U.S. attorneys keep
their jobs only if they are willing to undertake bogus investigations of
Democrats timed to hit the papers just before Election Day. Goodbye to a
Justice Department where graduates of Pat Robertson's law school roam
the halls by the dozens, where "justice" is a joke.

Goodbye to James Dobson and a host of radical clerics picking up the
phone and hearing someone in the White House on the other end. Goodbye
to the most consequential decisions being made on the basis of one man's
"gut," a gut that proved so wrong so often. Goodbye to the contempt for
evidence, to the scorn for intellect and book learnin', to the
relentless war on science itself as a means of understanding the world.
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye to it all.

Though President Obama will be spending most of his time cleaning up the
mess George Bush made, we probably won't have Dubya to kick around
anymore. It's hard to imagine Bush undertaking some grand philanthropic
effort on the scale of the Clinton Global Initiative, or hopping around
to international trouble spots like Jimmy Carter. Republicans won't be
asking him to speak on their behalf, and publishers are reportedly
uninterested in the prospect of a Bush memoir. His reign of destruction
complete, Bush will return to Texas and fill his days with the mundane
activities of a retiree - puttering around the yard, reading some
magazines, maybe enjoying that new Xbox Jenna gave him for Christmas
("I'm the Decider, and I decide to spend this afternoon playing Call of
Duty 4").

This presidency is finally over. We can say goodbye to an administration
whose misdeeds have piled so high that the size of the mountain no
longer shocks us. In our lifetimes, we will see administrations of
varying degrees of competence and integrity, some we'll agree with and
some we won't. But we will probably never see another quite like the one
now finally reaching its end, so mind-boggling a parade of incompetence
and malice, dishonesty, and immorality. So at last - at long, long last
- we can say goodbye.

And good riddance.


Phillip Taratula in CALL ME ANNE at Blue Coyote

Saw a reading of this months ago and it is fantastic. Phillip - who was in "George Place" at WHAT this fall, is a staggeringly talented guy. (And a doll to boot.) Go see it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dear Local Nonprofit Theatre, Just in Time for the Holidays!

Dear Nonprofit Theatre,

After you reject my play, I'd appreciate it if you didn't add my address to your mailing list of potential donors.

Best of luck with your fundraising campaign,

David Johnston

Yet Another Cogent Argument for Gay Marriage

From a friend's email. He's in the midst of a separation from him wife.

" for gay marriage, I'm all for it. I see no reason why you shouldn't be allowed to suffer like the rest of us."

I Close the Iron Door on You

Went with Wayne to “White Christmas” last night. It was delightful, well-performed, well-executed - so of course it got a very snarky, dismissive review this morning from Charles Isherwood. Jeff Denman played the Danny Kaye part, and it was great to see him. (I had done stock with him in Buffalo about seven thousand years ago.) Jeff's a great guy - talented, terrific hoofer, and a real facility with this era's music.

Friday night, we watched “Dragonwyk” with Vincent Price and Gene Tierney – also, “Wall-E,” which is brilliant. Saturday I met Dave down at Film Forum, and we saw the Lombard double feature – “My Man Godfrey” and “Twentieth Century” with John Barrymore. Dave had never seen Lombard before. “Twentieth Century” I had not seen in forever, and it made me laugh till I wept.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quote of the Day

"It is a scandal and a disgrace to our play-going public, that the refuse and trash of the London theatres, minor as well as major, attract ...crowds, while the highest efforts of our own countrymen are neglected." - George Pope Morris, writing in The New York Mirror, 1823, quoted in Francis Hodge's "Yankee Theatre"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"American Briefs" Reviews

It's closing this weekend, so hey - if you're in London, go see it. Here's a batch of fresh press.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"What Have You Done to Its EYES!"

Saw "Back Back Back" at MTC on Friday night. Had never seen Itamar Moses' plays before - he writes good dialogue. This is one about doping in baseball, seen through the eyes of three fictional players. The actors - all young guys I've never seen before - are excellent.

Saturday afternoon was "Rosemary's Baby" at Film Forum with Dave. God, this is still a great movie no matter how many times I see it. Just a successsion of creepy, seemingly unrelated details - the suicide of the nice girl from the laundry room, the note left by the previous tenant on the desk, that says "I can no longer associate my self," the rival actor who wakes up blind one morning, the chocolate mousse with an undertaste. Ruth Gordon is as good as it gets on film in this one - the whole supporting cast of over-the-top theatrical neighbors - Gordon, Sidney Blackmer, Patsy Kelley - set off Mia Farrow's simple innocent lamb to the slaughter. Years after seeing this film for the first time, the Dakota still gives me the heebie jeebies.

Sat PM was "The Seagull." An excellent production. Simple, to the point, no onerous directing concepts inflicted on unsuspecting masses. Just a top drawer translation (Christopher Hampton) and a fine cast. That's all you need. Kristin Scott Thomas is the star - and she's aces - but everyone delivers in this cast. Some friends have problems with Peter Saarsgaard but I liked his low-key Trigorin. I knew I was in it when I was thinking as Constantin goes for the gun, 'don't do it, think about it, this is not a good idea.'

The rest of the time? Reading Sheridan Morley's "A Talent to Amuse," the Noel Coward bio. Perfect for the train. And I've been listening to a lot of Offenbach - don't ask me why. I have no idea. Maybe the weather is just so dang gloomy, I want to hear happy people singing about sex and marrying well when I get home. Right now, it's the Natalie Dessay "Orphee aux Enfers" - goofy and endearing - and "La Belle Helene" with a bunch of French people I've never heard, but they sound like they're having a great time.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Children, my very dear children, if I were a magician the gift I would bestow on you would be Lightness of Touch. But being just an ordinary man, I can only whisper to you a little advice; enjoy yourselves as much as possible, it will pass the time pleasantly and lead you into old age with a few gay memories to cheer you - and don't ask more than that." Noel Coward, "The Marquise"

Coney Island History Project

My new favorite site to browse.

Flu Shots

So my dad bugged me about it, so I went and got a free flu shot last week at Actors Equity. I was also in line next to Dylan Baker, and all I could think was, "You were in Spider Man! You can't afford your own flu shot?" But he was so good in "Happiness," I let it slide. Anyway, for those who need them, here's the info on the free shots through the Actors Fund and MusiCares, a great organization that helps musicians, run by a terrific lady named DeeDee Acquisto.


MusiCares, in conjunction with The Actor’s Fund’s Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic, North General Hospital, and the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention will be sponsoring a Health Fair for musicians, music industry professionals and all entertainment industry professionals. Free services available at the health fair include:

• Flu shots
• Glucose testing
• Blood pressure screening
• Cholesterol testing
• Hepatitis C screening
• Alexander technique consultations
• Chiropractic consultations
• Health Insurance Information

The fair will take place on Thursday, November 20th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm at the Aurora, 475 West 57th Street, 2nd Floor Community Room, New York, NY 10019. No appointment is necessary.

Friday, November 7, 2008

End of the Week

President Obama has a nice ring to it. Here's a great piece my friend Jonna sent along to me, from the Huffington Post before the election.

Wed night my fabulous boss sent me to the Met to see Doctor Atomic. She said, "I think it's important and you need to see it." It's a stunning piece, and I have not usually been a fan of John Adams in the past. The act one closer, set to John Donne's "Batter my heart, three-person'd god" is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard in a long time. (Plus, I sat right behind Marian Seldes.)

Last night, I watched Charlotte Rampling in "Under the Sand." It's a compelling movie by Francois Ozon, whose "Water Drops on Burning Rocks" I loved. "Under the Sand" is a movie for grown-ups, a study of grief and denial. Oddly for such a depressing subject, it's an exhilarating flick.

Also watched a nice DVD of Murnau's "The Last Laugh" with Emil Jannings. I wished I was watching it on a big screen, but Murnau was one of the greats. I'm nuts about "Sunrise" and "Nosferatu." This one - about a doorman who loses his job and spirals down to death in the course of a day - is incredibly touching. And weird. You've never seen neighbors turn so fast on anyone.

Tonight- Cecil Taylor at the Village Vanguard. I'm really excited about that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

AEA Showcase Code

This is from my friend & colleague, Michael Bell, regarding the Actors Equity Showcase code in New York City.

"Wanted to let you and your readers know that Equity is re-evaluating the Showcase Code, and I'm on the sub-committee. This may be a chance to bring about some changes in the Code that will make it easier to do Off-Off-Broadway theater. So if any of your readers are actors (Equity or not) who work regularly under the Showcase Code and would like their voice heard, here's one way: Drop me an email at What about the Code works for you? What doesn't? How could it serve the needs of Off-Off-Broadway actors better?"

Follow this link for more info.