Saturday, April 3, 2010


This was a post last June when JC-Beethoven was learning songs for Hal Prince's new show; but now Beethoven's working on "Scottsboro Boys."

Friday, April 2, 2010


Here's a picture of a small, un-inhabited island in the Bay of Bengal.

It disappeared last Wednesday. India and Bangladesh both claim it belonged to them.

The head oceanographer at Jadavpur University, in Calcutta, reported that a satellite image indicated that the island was no longer visible, and sea patrols confirmed it.

An official in India's foreign ministry told New Delhi newspapers that the island was gone, and asked that his name not be used, explaining, "I am not authorized to speak on international disputes."

Bangladesh officials were not available for comment.

I found four very brief articles on the Internet that said the island was gone.

"Gone..." It takes a second to translate "gone" from a feeling of death into what it means when an island that was on the map in the atlas, completely vanishes.

India called it "New Moore Island." It was 2 miles long and 1 ½. miles wide. Bangladesh referred to the island as South Talpatti.

There were no permanent structures on it, but India sent soldiers to hoist its national flag there, in 1981.

One of the online articles mentioned that another island in the area, Lohachara, disappeared in 1996.

I've seen pictures of homes on Fire Island and in the Hamptons losing most of their beaches, and houses that are in danger as well, and islands have disappeared in the Everglades, so why do I pay attention to a tiny, hardly ever used place on the other side of the world?

Maybe because my house feels as if it's in danger ... When the street is attacked by jack-hammers my house shakes. When trucks lower and drop onto the street, with a bang, huge steel plates, my house shakes. I worry about our electrical fixtures disconnecting, our sewage pipes cracking, and our plaster walls, which already have cracks.

Would that some worrisome places in my mind, not large thoughts, but troubling ones, could just vanish, disappear, un-heralded, not mourned, in the way New-Moore-South-Talpatti did.

For instance -- global warming is not so slowly changing the depth of the seas, which are washing away land, and submerging other small islands. Some endangered species are already gone. People all over the world have lost homes, and most of their possessions, because of rain, earthquakes, tsunami, and whatever else that's making the weather into an angry, punishing enemy.

Is this the story of the forty days and forty nights of rain, and Noah having to build an ark -- the same story with different numbers, different meanings to how long is a day, how long is a night and what protective something can be our ark?

When it happens to homes and land in the Hamptons, Fire Island, or Florida, with visions of the luxury, wealth and the casual "fun" the owners have, I don't feel very concerned.

But the disappearing island -- hardly noted -- is noted by me and mourned, with me quietly wondering where are we heading and what does this mean?

Thursday, April 1, 2010



What's going on with the Michigan Hutaree Christian Militia?

My shoulders are up around my ears!

It's a nightmare. I want to wake up, but I'm having a hard time.

These guys in this picture -- they're wearing camouflage, aiming their guns. They're quoting the bible -- not just talking about Obama as the anti-Christ --they're proclaiming that he is!

We're got arrests, FBI raids in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and suburban Chicago, rounding up other members of the group, a federal indictment calling the Hutaree an “anti-government extremist organization” intending to “levy war against the United States.”

The Michigan Hutaree Christian Militia is charged with seditious conspiracy, planning to kill a local policeman, kill people who came to his funeral, use weapons of mass destruction, (roadside bombs). Conviction could mean life imprisonment.

The Hutaree is one of 127 armed "hate groups" in the US. In 2008, when Obama was just a candidate, there were 42. When he was nominated, the Hutaree and other militias began to conduct military-style training.

The accused nine Hutaree -- David Brian Stone, his family, and five members of the group are being held without bond until the court determines the bond.

It's hot news on TV and the Internet.

I can't bear to hear it, read it, see it -- it's not okay -- I can't turn the page in my mind. I can't turn off what armed militias mean to me, and sit back and wait for more headlines, or hear what my favorite commentators say.

For more than a year -- good Lord, it's almost a year-and-a-half ... Ever since Barack Obama's election, people have been using their voices, their energies, expressing (every day more wildly, freely, uninhibitedly) their thoughts -- their fears, disappointment, frustration -- chanting about death panels, abortions, vowing not to obey the laws, belching, spewing out their outrage, ugly anger, shocking invective.

It's out of control and getting worse. Pro-Gun people are carrying guns openly into Starbucks, buying guns for family members, steely-eyed focused on the right to carry holstered handguns everywhere in daily American life. "Hey, " they say, "An un-exercised right is a right LOST, and the Anti-Gun lobby's furor over the presence of guns near the President is an attempt to reverse the normalization of guns!"

Have they forgotten (maybe they don't know) that U.S. Agencies still have the right they got during the Bush years, to assassinate Americans who are involved with terrorism? Oh sure, of Of course, there are rules -- a committee's permission is needed, but what committee, who's on it, why hasn't the signed G.W. Bush "Intelligence Finding" (that's what the law is called) been nullified?

With rules and laws being ignored, being broken everywhere, I'm trying to push away the sense that stuff is closing in on us, and we're racing, rushing, toward doom.

How can I do my day-to-day work, do good things, fun chores, and open new "cans of peas" (show biz lingo for finding new ideas) when I have to bang doors shut to keep out black thoughts about what's happening.

And black is BLACK -- my sense that the war against the BLACK man running the country is shutting out, closing off, common sense.

We have to be able to live and work and breathe together.

Have we forgotten how?

We'd rather be right about Health Care, and politics, than be alive?

"No, of course not," I tell myself, but I'm not sure that people on the other side of the fence will even agree with me about that.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm just one small person with a narrowly focused lifetime of doing-trying reaching-working-grabbing-growing-fatter-taller-skinner-smaller and now I am seeing what I don't know, and what I'm not sure I feel like learning.

I've just finished reading about Andrew Breitbart, which led me to the Drudge Report, which he writes with a guy named Matt Drudge.

Which led me to A. Breitbart's background and relationship with the Huffington Post, and that led me to A.B's website --, where I'm seeing names of his pals -- Michelle Malkin -- YOW -- she's a bull who's horning the matadors, and Sean Hannity -- YOW -- he's a Fox newscaster, teller of half truths.

And on and on -- it tain't small, the world of Breitbart, but gee -- there are too many new names! (I only discovered Malkin in January when I was shifting from blogging about myself into commentatoring.)

Hey, I'm just one small person. Yep, I can type, I can write, I get excited and touched and moved by lots of things, and scared, because I'm just one person who's more or less over the hill when it comes to youthful, confident. greedy-grabbing, and creating a new career to lay on top of my dancer-novelist-playwright-wife-mother other selves.

Pulling off the layers, of information I dredged up from fast, wild, clicking around the Internet, and lists of stuff that Breitbart has done and is currently doing --it's like reading a gossip column for the first time -- a world of names, places, get-togethers and big parties -- it's like reading Liz Smith or Cindy Adams for the first time!

I can't absorb the gossip, the opinion, the killing fields of conservative, very conservative, right wing, very right wing politics.

("Killing fields." Isn't that too too extreme, over the top, Em?)

The very conservative, very right winger-world seems like that to me -- it's all about getting dead and burying the very live guy we elected and the party we elected that is trying to put things back together after the horrific waste from the Bush years.

So I'm peep peeping out names like a fluffy newborn yellow chick, because its Passover, almost Easter, time to color eggs, and hide 'em, find 'em, smell the Crocus, see the green buds on twigs and branches.

Palin is already in full flower. In her leather jacket, she's you-betcha-ing, stumping for an all-over-the-place John McCain, helping him hang on to his seat in the Senate, hold on to his place in the world as an almost President, who's angry about everything the real President is doing, and McCain's wearing his stiff candidate's smile, inwardly shouting, "It should have been me! I'd have been a better president!. He's wrong. It's should have been me!"

YOW -- and now we have Michigan Christian Militia news -- we've got guys who want to kill the police and kill the folks who come to their funerals.

We've got Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck has been in full bloom for quite a while. We've got others (whose names I forgot), plus Breitbart who is jumping out of the bushes, hurling mucky mud, rotten eggs and rocks at the White House.

I've said the names. I'm having one of my "small person days" and can't formulate a constructive final comment, except BEWARE. They're hiding in the bushes and bushes are everywhere, growing, sprouting, expanding.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I wish we had Dan Rather commenting on the news every night.

Right now, I'm hearing passionate opinions, distortions, attacks, loud, logical-sounding threats about lawsuits and repeal that are frightening even though they're probably not going to be able to kill Health Care Reform.

This is a time when the older-wiser Dan Rather could maybe calm the older-wiser angry Republicans down.

He's one of the most famous journalists in the world. He has covered every major event in the world in the past 50 years. His resume reads like a history book, from his early local reporting in Texas on Hurricane Carla, to his covering the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; the civil rights movement; the White House and national politics; wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia and Iraq.

He's interviewed every United States president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George W. Bush and just about every major international leader, including Saddam Hussein. In 2004, as a correspondent for "60 Minutes II," Dan Rather broke the story of the abuse of prisoners at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.

In addition to his anchoring CBS nightly news, he appeared regularly on "60 minutes II" which aired on Wednesdays.

He quit CBS because there was a bruhaha over George W. Bush's military background. Dan Rather recorded a show about documents from a Lt. Colonel who said he'd been asked to "sugar coat" an annual officer rating for Bush when Bush was a 1st Lieutenant in the Air National Guard.

It was election time. The show was never shown. The Lt. Colonel's documents were alleged to be fakes. Main-stream news blared it into a huge scandal. CBS and Dan Rather defended the documents, but shortly before Election Day, CBS did an about-face and claimed they had been "misled." ( CBS fired Dan Rather's producer and three assistants.)

Rather quit "60 Minutes II" and sued CBS (and co-producer Viacom) for $70 million, claiming that he had been made a "scapegoat." In September 2009, the court dismissed Dan Rather's case.

There's much more to this story, and what it cost Dan Rather financially and professionally. He's not on the news every night any more. Since 2006, he has been the anchor and managing editor of "Dan Rather Reports" on "HDNet," continuing to land interviews with the world’s most important and compelling figures -- famous and infamous. He's on every Tuesday at 5 and 11 p.m.

I miss hearing him every night. Whenever I see him or hear him, I'm delighted. His news is NEWS ... not gossip ... it's who, what, when, where, and why it's important.

Recently on Chris Matthews' "Hardball," on MSNBC, while chatting about Obama and Health Care, Dan Rather used the analogy of selling watermelons by the side of the road.

Bad words, wrong word scandals are big nowadays, maybe bigger than sex scandals.

Here's some of Rather's explanation (not an apology), that was published in the Huffington Post: "... It's an expression that stretches to my boyhood roots in Southeast Texas, when country highways were lined with stands manned by sellers of all races. Now, of course, watermelons have become a stereotype for African Americans and so my analogy entered a charged environment. I'm sorry people took offense." Later in the article, he made this telling remark: "...What has caused this comment to 'go viral' is the trumpeting of an online and cable echo chamber that claims the banner of news but trades in gossip, gotcha, and innuendo."

Will Dan Rather be pushed to say more? I don't think he can be pushed. Anyhow, it's echoing, but fading. And I keep hoping Mr. Rather will speak about the Health Care war.

Meanwhile, with the Health Care attacks getting louder every day, I've tried to listen to Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer. Both are brilliant, but somehow too dressed-up, too beautified, too charming -- each has a smooth, poised, feminine style of delivery that distracts me from the news, and makes me click the remote.

Andrea Mitchell, Nora O'Donnell, Campbell Brown are okay but the only female I bend over backwards to listen to is Rachel Maddow -- she keeps me interested -- I love her fresh, clear, perspective on political news, though it's painful, sad, frightening -- what's happening to my beloved county. (It is my beloved country -- when my plane is landing, after I've been in one of those not free, not democratic other countries, I want to kiss the ground.)

Gosh, if I could listen to Rachel at 10, and at 11 ......

Okay, I'll admit it. I need an older-wiser, objectively truthful person, at the end of the day, enlarging my perspective, telling me what's important, steering my mind.

Right now, we need a nightly dose of Dan Rather.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I read her first book, "Kinflicks," when I was still at the height of my dance career, performing in my dance play "Zinnia" every weekend in New York.

(I was tired of doing one-night stands, determined to find a way to dance in New York and rented an off-Broadway theater.)

We ran "Zinna" for 55 performances at the Colonnades Theater (across the street from Joe Papp's theater complex), and thanks to my husband's name from "Shenandoah," his friendship with Richard Burton and Hal Prince," my agent, Audrey Wood, my husband's agent, Eric Schepard, who handled Tommy Tune and movie stars, we had a chic IN crowd buying tickets for my "Zinnia."

During the run, I arrived at the Colonnades a few hours early, and read Lisa Alther's first book. It was the late seventies, and I was thinking about quitting dancing, and trying to be a writer. The book grabbed me. I had to read every word. (And since I'm a voracious speed reader, and fly through pages, occasionally I skip.)

Lisa Alther creates a scene, and the characters in it with ... what is it? Is it instinct or craft? The pages read as if it's instinctive -- the author's huge desire to communicate what she knows, and say what she wants to say.

(Ouch! It hurts to remember that I'm a barely published writer, that if I hadn't found Fran Weil, a Website designer who happens to have been a theater critic -- who is deeply involved in the arts from jobs she's held, and the writing she's done -- if I hadn't found Fran, would I have my blog, and Website, The Readery -- my five unpublished books in an online library, that enables any visitor to read them for free?)

OUCH is because of what Alther did as a writer when she was in her early thirties. (She was born in 1944; Kinflicks was published in 1976 .) She is truthful, imaginative, passionate. brave, free, daring -- she speaks what is on her mind. And she's an actress/actor who can become anyone -- old, young, girl, boy, little kid, teenager, grandparent, any race, upper class educated, or lower class, illiterate.

Lisa Alther is what I would want to be when I grow up ... Yes, yes, sure, I'm already grown up, and I BE what I am.

Yesterday I finished re-reading Alther's "Original Sins," which is even more astounding (to me), than "Kinflicks." More than a favorite book, it is a BEST BOOK. It's a marvelous, important story -- more than a story -- a landscape of what young people in the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties were, and are.

I read her next two books as they came out. I was into my writing career working with the editor at Bantam books who'd edited, and gotten my first novel published -- edited it all wrong! It wasn't what I wanted to say but she thought I was talented, and I'd started on a second novel -- sent her my first 71 pages.

"I love it" my editor said. It was about a dancer and her best friend back in the twenties, (about someone like me, but not me.) BANG Crash! After saying she loved it, my editor said, " You have to kill the best friend."

The friend character was chubby, with "beach-ball bosoms," a passionately articulate secretary, who understood the body and soul of a would-be dancer, because she'd dreamed all her life of being a dancer, and knew she couldn't be. The chubby friend was my way of speaking to plain ordinary readers about the ballerina dream that many young girls have.

"Em," cried my editor,. "Don't make her fat, and for God's sake, Em, she sounds like ... she can't be a lesbian! It'll never get published."

I sputtered something about Lisa Alther's latest new book, "Other Women." The new book was chock-full of stunning, evocative, fascinating, touching scenes of "woman-loving-another-woman" love.

My editor had statistics, knew the publisher, knew the head of the book sales department, and told me in no uncertain terms, that the book had ruined Lisa Alther's career.

Well ... the dancer and chubby friend story was revised, re-conceived, and re-written four times, stymied, stifled, stripped of why I wanted to write it, and it died.

Is there a rule? My rule, based on experience, is -- you have to listen to your inner voice. If, as you're beginning a project, you get words laid on you --words that dull the glitter of what got you started -- s h e l v e it.

I went onto another big book. With the same editor, ignoring the advice from a first and then a second "therapist," -- that the editor was the "clobber," not "lesbian."

In fact, Alther's next books involving gay romance, gay love, gay sex, didn't boom and explode into bestseller-dom the way the first two did.

Was her career ruined?

RUINED with those remarkable big, huge, amazing astounding books in libraries, still able to be bought and read?

Get them, read them. They're great books.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


All those people on the street talking out loud to themselves ... Gee, what was it like before cell phones, the child in me asks.

I answer, nostalgically -- people moved along glancing at each other, not staring -- some hurrying, most just moving along at a leisurely pace, looking in store windows.

Nowadays, I sort of politely dodge around people who are talking out loud to themselves -- if I spy an earpiece -- okay -- I figure they're normal.

It reminds me of life before people stopped smoking.

A lot of people smoked anywhere, everywhere, whenever they were in the mood. There were whispers that smoking might stunt your growth. Also, rumors that smoking was probably bad for you. Then, people started saying it was definitely bad -- you could get cancer from smoking.

Even so, ads were still in magazines and on television, and smokers always looked especially attractive, more with it, than non-smokers.

But there was serious talk and statistics about lung cancer. And that became "it's an addiction" and lawsuits. Ashtrays disappeared. No Smoking sections appeared in restaurants, then bars, and laws were passed about no smoking in the work place. Then, it was NO SMOKING practically every place, and millions of smokers suffered.

Well, the world changed. Smokers are definitely frowned upon, pitied and generally ostracized. Of course, there are still resolute rebels -- on my street, young, non-conformist females cluster outside their offices at lunchtime, puffing away.

( I edge around them quickly, avoiding deadly second-hand smoke. )

Of course, characters smoke in movies and TV shows. Smokers actually seem ... braver? Maybe they're more attractive because they're "different."

Okay -- cell phones -- more than 270 million people in the U.S. have them. And fancier, more amazing do-it-all-do-everything phones keep appearing in the marketplace.

So, what about the rumors that have been trickling around? Do cell phones cause brain cancer? Are they harmful?

Is this relatively faint buzz the beginning of what we heard before -- before we knew, before it was proved that smoking caused cancer?

In the news, on the internet, in magazines, we keep hearing about cell phone radiation.

We're told: "Cell phones emit low frequency radiation that is stronger than FM radio signals, but still a billionth the intensity of known carcinogens like X-rays. The amount of radiation or SAR levels, (specific absorption rate) varies from model to model, but all fall below the FCC-mandated, maximum absorption rate of 1.6 watts per kilogram of body tissue."

(Um ... what's a kilogram of body tissue? If you're skinny, are you in more danger? And 1.6 watts is um ... similar to what?)

Here's a chart I copied -- ten popular mobile phones, listed with their SAR rates, from the worst to the best:

BLACKBERRY- 8820--1.6; MOTOROLA-I880--1.6;
SONY-ERICKSON-W518A--0.7; SAMSUNG-18000--0.6;

It certainly suggests that you better not buy one of the first three.

Worriers are surfacing, demanding that cell phone radiation rates be published on the phone with warnings. A Maine Congresswoman is publicizing -- "I keep my cell phone off when I'm not using it." The Maine Legislature is debating the bill she submitted, requiring warning labels on phones sold in the state, stating children and pregnant women should keep the device away from the head and body.

The National Cancer Institute and World Orgasnization, basing their conclusions on a study made bfore 2002, claim there isn't evidence to support a health alert. But authorities at major American Unversities, and also in Finland, Israel and France have issued guidelines. San Francisco is trying to get legislation like Maine.

Despite phone manufacturers claims that there's insufficient evidence, a 1995 study showed a two-hour cell phone conversation produced genetic damage in rats' brains.

Mmn ... it does sort of sound like the cigarette story ...

Both my child and adult selves are thinking, keep cell phones out of kids' hands until they're in their teens -- buy phones with the lowest radiation -- it may inspire manufacturers to make the newer phones with even lower radiation.

It'll probably be years until we know if cell phones create cancer, but the crowded street with people talking out loud to themselves is getting more crowded, and life expectancy is getting longer. So why not go with being careful -- use your cell phones less.