Take Me For a Ride in Your Car, Car

Here’s a brief collection of new chum articles, all having to do (in some way) with automobiles:

  • The Emblem. Here’s an encyclopedia of automotive emblems and their meanings. If you find logo history interesting, this is for you. I still remember the old Mazda emblem and the emblem on my 1977 Toyota Corona. For example, did you know that, with respect to the Toyota logo: “The ovals overlap one another, symbolizing trust between the automaker and its loyal customers. The white space that occupies the emblem signifies Toyota’s future potential. And the three ovals together represent the collective hearts of the customer, the cars and the technological opportunities ahead.”
  • The Computer. Car security is a big risk. Here’s a good article looking at all the risks in your car from the internal computer systems. Hmmm, that old-school Corona is looking better and better. The key point is near the bottom of the article: “For end users, the first thing they can do to protect themselves is demand that manufacturers put in place the security requirements that’s been mentioned. If their customers stand up and demand something, you can be certain that manufacturers will listen or they could face losing revenue as people walk away from them.”
  • Parking. If you drive, nothing infuriates you more than how others park. Why can’t they park within the lines? Why do they insist on parking their SUV in a compact space? It turns out that Americans are very ugly parkers. The article notes: “Parking lots inspire a unique rage in Americans. They’re one of the few public spaces citizens feel emboldened to police themselves, and reprimand those who don’t follow an assumed set of etiquette. Americans spend an average of 17 hours a year parking, but rather than get used to it, drivers allow themselves to become entitled and aggressive — emotions that don’t bode well in communal spaces, but which Americans are very good at showing. A 2014 study found that 20 percent of men and 12 percent of women have had a verbal confrontation with another driver in a parking lot, and 8 percent of men and 2 percent of women have actually gotten physical over a parking incident.”
  • The Smell. Here’s one of those list articles on smells that are slowly disappearing. #3 and #8 are car related: the smell of diesel exhaust (those who grew up in the 1960s will remember the smell as the bus pulled out), and #8 is that new car smell. Of the latter, they write: “That aroma we smell today upon delivery of a brand new set of wheels is very different from the new car smell of 30 or so years ago. A lot of that smell comes from off-gassing synthetic materials, plastics and chemical additives that are used in modern vehicles. In 1960, the average American-made car contained 22 pounds of plastics; in 2012, that quantity had increased to 250 pounds. And there’s also matter of the flame retardants and antimicrobials that are now added to the carpeting and upholstery for additional “safety” (even though some of the fumes have been proven toxic).” Me, I still really miss #1: Spirit Duplicators.

Legal Immigration and Racism

userpic=trumpIn the aftermath of Trump’s “shithole” comment, aboth Neo-Nazi’s groups and those who want to reduce legal immigration are celebrating. Why? Because the dog-whistle of “merit-based” legal immigration that Trump is championing is implicitly racist, and allows them achieve racist goals while deluding the public.

Don’t think Trump’s comments were racist? Do you believe they were just talking about bad countries? You’re wrong. Trump’s comments are clearly racist, talking in a blanket sense about all people coming from a particularly country. Further, it just so happens that the people coming from countries that Trump likes are white and economically advantaged, and those coming from countries that Trump places in the “shithole” category are brown and black, and economically disadvantaged. It may not be explicit to you, but it still is racism and it still is classism and it still is elitism.

Why do I care about this? Why do I — a well educated, white man (three things going for me in this administration) care? Because I’m Jewish, and the exact same view of “shithole” companies were used to justify not admitting Jews to the US — and essentially sentencing them to death. Because Jewish immigration to the US used the exact same approach of bringing over family members to save other Jews. It was these family members that enabled the immigrants to start new businesses and use their family as workers to grow the business, giving us many of the largest businesses today.

Those arguing for a move away from “chain” immigration and immigration lotteries to a “merit-based” approach ARE being implicitly racist, in the same way that many companies hiring policies are implicitly unequal and work against diversity. The “merit” based approach is one that selects for economic advantage, and economic advantage is often clustered in first world “white” countries, and for male leaders. Economically disadvantaged people — primarily minorities and women — don’t have the means or opportunities to acquire the “merit” based skills. Those escaping as refugees from the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, and East Asia are dealing with war and poverty, and don’t have the same opportunities for higher education. It is the exact same implicit education that kept blacks and minorities down, when they were in school districts that didn’t have the funds to educate and prepare them for college, and so they were considered less skilled — when they just economically had fewer opportunities.

This is why the neo-Nazis celebrate these views: because they advance white people, and work against people of color.

But having fewer skills does not mean the people are any less intelligent, or have any lower of a work ethic. It just means they had less advantage. Given the opportunity to work and to learn, people from any country succeed spectacularly. Often, in fact, it is the least disadvantaged that do more, because they have the most to gain.

Diversity is vital to the US. This episode of Reply All does a great job of explaining why. Diversity gives us different ways  of thinking. Different ways of problem solving. It gives us new ideas. It gives us new energy. Diversity is what makes America strong.

Lastly, think about the other implicit problem: Why does the “Party of Trump” want to reduce people coming in from what they call “shithole” countries — which is essentially reducing legal hispanic and black immigration? Because those immigrants, if admitted legally, will work towards citizenship. As more and more blacks and minorities get the power of the voting box, what does that do to the power of the base that is electing people like Trump? What does that do to the country? Answer: It is the same thing that Israel is fighting against as the number of Arabs and non-Jews in the country grows. Loss of Power. The “Party of Trump” (and I use that term because I don’t believe all Republicans agree with Trump) saw the election of Barack Obama as a sign that the minorities they hate are winning, and if mobilized, have the power. They expertly, and with outside help, manipulated the environment in 2016 to get the minority coalition to see the Democratic candidate as “not one of them” and against their interests, and got them to stay home. The combination of minorities staying home in 2016, combined with a whistles to constituencies that had stayed away from the ballot box, gave Trump the election. Now that they are in power, they don’t want to dilute that power, and will do anything to preserve it. False news, propaganda, distractions, and fighting immigration — legal or not — are just tools in that battle.

This country was started by people fleeing economic and religious persecution. It was founded on principles of freedom and equality (never mind the slave trade behind the curtain). It grew on the backs and the hard work of immigrants — Jews, Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Chinese laborers, slaves, and others — who were not asked about their merit (only that they were healthy). It grew even stronger as they brought in their families, cementing their ties to this country, keeping money in this country, and building businesses in this country. Immigration and diversity is American’s strength and America’s bedrock, not something to be feared.

</end rant>



Transitive Hate

userpic=trumpDo you remember how, in high school, you learned that if a=b and b=c then a=c? Do you remember learning that what you say is important, because your words often reflect your innermost beliefs? Today, you need to put that learning into action.

I do not care where you are on the political spectrum. I do not care what your personal position might be on financial, immigration, or any of the myriad policy discussions floating around right now. If you do not believe that your Senator or your Congresscritter must push for a resolution to censure, condemn, or otherwise reprimand the President for his language today, then you are guilty of holding the same racist, sexist, and hateful beliefs that are espoused by this man.

We’re all aware of the President, on tape (before he was President) talking about how he behaves towards women.

We’re all aware of the President, on tape (during the campaign) mocking the disabled.

We’re all aware of the President saying America is “going to hell” because the NFL defended openly gay player.

We’re all aware of what happened in Charlottesville, where he implied support for the antisemitism of the marchers.

But today … today …  Growing frustrated while discussing immigration with lawmakers in the Oval Office, President Trump suddenly asked why people from “shithole countries come here” — referring to people from Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations. He also asked why more people from Norway don’t come here. (ref: Buzzfeed, Vox, Los Angeles Times)

Just unpack that. We need more white Nordic people. We need fewer people that look like shit (i.e., coming out of a shithole, i.e., brown and black). That is so incredibly racist, especially in this day and age. It harkens back to the worst of America — the treatment of the Irish, Italians, Jews, and other minorities. It harkens back to the attitudes used to incite Germany against foreigners and those who are not Christian. It is language that in multi-cultural American must be universally and soundly condemned. This is not how our President talks. This must not be how our President thinks. The President is not the President of White Christian American, but of all America, and he is bound by law and oath to follow the principles of equality enshrined in our Bill of Rights.

The President’s speech is not an impeachable offense. However, offensive speech demands a response, rebuttal, and accountability. Every American must demand that their representative introduce / publicly support a resolution stating that such speech does not represent America, and is not appropriate to be said by a President of this nation. It must say that such speech — from the President — is unacceptable, and does not reflect the views of Congress or America.

Any representative or senator that does not condemn what has been said, by the law of transitivity, in my eyes is considered to hold the same view. I hope that you view them similarly, and that on election day (if not before) you remember this behavior.

[ETA, with a hat tip to Jay L.: This echoes what I say above, as well as giving the background of why censure is the appropriate response.]


The Importance of Visualizations

Visualizations and charts make our lives easier, and sometimes can give us insights we hadn’t considered before. Here are three examples:



Difficult Decisions

A few days ago, I wrote a post titled “Navigating the Minefield” where I discussed three interesting societal divides: (1) how do we deal with old, potentially problematic, music; (2) the divide about coats on the UW Madison campus; and (3) how autonomous automobiles may have a significant impact on privacy. WIth respect to the following news chum items, item (1) is particularly applicable. Titled “The Music I Love Is a Racial Minefield“, it explored the problem of music, and playing songs that had problematic history, origins, or words — such as the Star Spangled Banner, where the full version as written includes a verse in which slave owner Francis Scott Key, an outspoken white supremacist, rails against “the hireling and the slave.”  I recommend everyone read that piece, which includes the following paragraph by an artist I enjoy, Dom Flemons (the American Songster):

“People are trying to find modern sensibilities in stuff that was not built on modern sensibilities,” Flemons told me. In 2015, he performed an instrumental version of Stephen Foster’s “Ring, Ring de Banjo” at a Foster-themed event with the Cincinnati orchestra. Foster’s racist lyrics are “absolutely unacceptable” nowadays, and “I would never think to perform that song outside the context of that specific show,” Flemons says. But these once-popular songs “are a document of what happened,” and failing to acknowledge that history would “completely devalue the strength of how far we’ve come.”

The following three news chum pieces evoked in me similar feelings to the “Racial Minefield” article, and are worthy of your consideration:

  • Sexual Predators. How do we separate the art from the artist? That’s a big question in these days of #MeToo and TimesUpNow. In particular, how do we treat the art created by these individuals we now know were predators and harassers? Can I still enjoy Fat Albert and Bill Cosby’s routines, knowing his history? What about watching “Annie Hall”? Vox has a great opinion piece on the subject titled “How to think about consuming art made by sexual predators“. It’s conclusion is that the answer is not easy. The basic conclusion, according to a historian consulted in the article, is to put everything in context: “As a historian, I strongly believe that it’s important that we keep these men’s work accessible. Woody Allen films are a genuinely important part of American film history. The Cosby Show is key to understanding representation in media and tangled issues of race, class, and acceptance. But I also can’t imagine watching old episodes simply for entertainment.” But where do you fall on the subject? Can you listen to Bill Cosby, or watch the artwork of Gaugain, the same anymore?
  • Smoking. In a somewhat similar vein is an article by Peter Filchia in Masterworks Broadway about the context of musical plots or dialogue that centers on smoking. Many shows were written at the time that smoking was ingrained in American society. Certainly the classic musicals of the 1950s make jokes about smoking. Look at the lines in musicals that refer to smoking, and look at the musical writers that also penned cigarette jingles. Filchia doesn’t draw a particular conclusion, but does really demonstrate how musicals are a product of their times. (Which, I’ll note, is why shows like Showboat remain problematic, as does the behavior of Rosemary in How to Succeed — how would we view today a woman that predatory towards her male boss?)
  • Confederate Iconography. The last article of interest is from Religion News, and has to do with changing names of things named after Confederate Icons. It is one thing to take down a stature, or to rename an elementary school that has no connection to the person. What do you do if you need to rename a church where he actually worshipped or was memorialized? This article, titled “Our church was named for Robert E. Lee — here is how we changed it” explores just that issue. It talks about three churches : (1) St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond, which is the church Robert E. Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis attended during the Civil War; (2) Christ Church, in Alexandria, a 1773 Episcopal parish that claims George Washington and the Lee family as former worshippers; and (3) R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington VA, where Robert E. Lee was senior warden after he joined the church in 1865.

All four of these articles, which are fascinating reads, demonstrate why reconciling the facts of history with the emotion of people and with common sensibilities is never easy.


Behind the Story

Have you ever watched a show or listened to a podcast, and wanted to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story? Here are a few of those for you:


Willkommen… No, A Real Cabaret | January Cabaret @ Chromolume

Chromolume Cabaret - 2017: A Year in Revue

January tends to be a quiet month for live theatre. New shows in small theatres are rare, as they don’t like to rehearse and produce during the holiday season. Of course, there are the tours and concerts at the major venues, but it is hard to find the kind of small shows we like in the first two weeks of the year. We were planning on going to the Jason Graae/Faith Prince concert at the Rubicon Theatre (FB) in Ventura, but the tickets were expensive and they weren’t showing up on Goldstar. But then I started to see announcements of the monthly cabaret at one of the theatres at which we subscribe: Chromolume Theatre (FB). This cabaret, which is “pay what you can” (meaning the show is free, and you make a donation), is a way of showcasing artists they like in an informal setting. As Chromolume started to list their artists — quite a few of whom were were familiar with from past shows of theirs — the show grew more and more interesting (and trudging out to Ventura seemed less and less interesting). So last night we went down to Chromolume, which is basically at the edge of Culver City and the West Adams district of LA, to see our first Chromolume Cabaret. The BLUF (bottom line up front) is that this is something we’ll do again, although likely not every month given our schedule. It helped build the connection to this theatre as family, something that has been missing since Rep East Playhouse (REP) in Newhall went dark. In fact, I’d encourage those folks who were active at REP to consider exploring this cabaret and venue: it has the same family feel of “just good” people.

As an aside: This is why I tell people to subscribe at the small theatres: to build and support these families. We’ve rapidly made the family connection with the people at Chromolume Theatre (FB), and we’re slowly making it with the folks at  Actors Co-op (FB) (they are a larger organization). That’s something you don’t get with the Hollywood Pantages (FB) or  Ahmanson Theatre (FB), where you subscribe just to get good seats at shows. At the small and medium size venues, your subscription can help them survive, and you get to meet really great people. But I digress…

For this show, which was hosted by Bonnie Joy Sludikoff (FB), each artist got two songs that they used to reflect back on their 2017. There was good, and there was bad, but it was basically just an informal (i.e., the artists sat in the audience, instead of hiding backstage) fun evening with great music. Here are the performers and the songs:

🎶 Claire Buchignani (FB). Claire was first up; she’ll be performing in Chromolume’s first production of 2018, Dessa Rose. It was a delight seeing her excitement about her engagement. Her two songs were:

  • “A Quiet Thing” (from Flora the Red Menace, Fred Kander/John Ebb)
  • “Don’t Rain on My Parade” (from Funny Girl, Jule Styne/Bob Merrill)

“A Quiet Thing” is a harder number given its range, and Claire did a reasonable job with it. She was stronger with her second number, “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. Both songs brought back memories of seeing the shows: Flora was done back in 1990 by the Pasadena Playhouse, and Funny Girl was done in 2016 by a guest company at the Colony in Burbank.

🎶  Jason Bornstein (FB). Jason we’ve seen before at Chomolume when he was the lead in Zanna Don’t. His two songs were:

  • “Michael in the Bathroom” (from Be More Chill, Joe Iconis)
  • “Soliloquy” (from Carousel, Rodgers/Hammerstein)

I really enjoyed both Jason’s singing and performance in “Michael”, and that’s on top of the already enjoyable Joe Iconis song. Be More Chill is a show that really needs to be done in LA; the music is great. “Soliloquy” was an interesting choice — Jason was right that it is not a role he’s likely to be cast in … which is too bad, because he nailed the song and its emotion.

🎶 Tal Fox (FB). We saw Tal earlier in the year in Hello Again, and I recall enjoying her performance then. She didn’t disappoint. Her two songs were:

  • “Women”  (from The Pirate Queen, Boublil/Schönberg)
  • “The Other Side of the Tracks” (from Little Me, Cy Coleman/Carolyn Leigh)

I had not heard “Women” before, and I truly liked the song for its words and emotion. I need to get that cast album (alas, the cheapest I can find it is around $40 on Amazon, as it is out of print). So Tal wins the first “Stump the Daniel” award by having a show song I don’t recognize. She did a great job with it, as well as with “Other Side of the Tracks” (which also made me realize that Little Me is another show that needs a Los Angeles revival).

🎶 Everjohn Feliciano (FB). Everjohn was also in Zanna Don’t. His songs were a lot less energetic than most:

  • “Beautiful City” (from Godspell, Stephen Schwartz)
  • “Dreamer in Disguise” (from Carrie, Dean Pitchford/Michael Gore)

On “Beautiful City”, the lyrics seemed somehow different, so I wonder if a different version is being licensed from what was in the show (well, at least it didn’t fit my memory of what was in the show soundtrack or cast albums). He did a nice job with it, nevertheless. Although I did see Carrie in the recent immersive La Mirada production, I didn’t recall the “Dreamer” song.

🎶 Bonnie Joy Sludikoff (FB). We’d seen Bonnie before in Chromolume’s 2017 Fringe Festival Show. (as well as the CSUN production of Hair) Her songs were both from the musical Ordinary Days (Adam Gwon), which we saw a few years ago at the Victory Theatre Center in Burbank:

  • “Calm”
  • “I’ll Be There”

The two numbers are very different: one is frenetic and full of energy, which Bonnie captured quite well. The other is more reflective, dealing with moving on after a tragedy. She did great with both of them.

🎶 Marissa Mayer (FB). Marissa was new to us, and so was her first song (which isn’t a surprise, as it is from the current pop world):

  • “I’m Going Down” (Mary K. Blige)
  • “Times are Hard for Dreamers” (from Amalie, Daniel Messé/Nathan Tysen)

As noted, I hadn’t heard the first song before, but that’s not really a surprise as I rarely listen to modern pop music. Interesting song. I enjoyed the second — it is nice to see songs from the recent Amalie getting a new life after the show closed in New York. Amalie was a show that I really enjoyed at the Ahmanson, and I hoped would succeed on Broadway.

🎶 Jaq Galliano (FB) and Gina D’Acciaro (FB). This was a duo that had been doing a bunch of cabarets and performances around town (although we did see Gina in Lucky Stiff at Actor’s Co-Op). They were mostly telling the story of how they met and got engaged in 2017, which was so cute. Both of their songs were from the pop world, and I hadn’t heard either:

  • “Not in That Way” (Sam Smith)
  • “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” (Meghan Trainor)

Both songs were well performed, and the couple was cute together.


Daniel Yokomizo (FB) accompanied the performers on the piano (Jaq and Gina added their friend Isaac on Guitar and Ukulele). Lauren J. Peters (FB) was in the booth.

As noted at the top, Chromolume Theatre (FB) does these Cabarets monthly, so watch their Facebook page and their website for the announcement of the next show. I’m not sure we’ll make February, but do plan on attending some more. I also encourage you to subscribe to Chromolume: for $60 you get their three mainstage shows (Dessa RoseJane Eyre – The Musical, and Stephen Sondheim’s Passion), plus whatever they end up doing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June.

We discovered Chromolume Theatre (FB) when we went to go see Prez, a solo show written by playwright Willard Manus about the Jazz musician Lester Young, who was played in this one-many show by Leslie Jones (FB). The production of Prez is being remounted with Leslie at Write Act Repertory (FB) in celebration of Black History Month as part of a Festival Series at Write Act Rep’s Brickhouse Theatre called THREE BY WILL IN REP.  The Series includes two World Premiere’s along with the return of Prez.  The intimate drama is produced by John Lant II, and will be directed by Daniel E. Keough.  The show is set to open February 4th, 2018.  All performances for Prez will be on Sunday at 2PM, through March 11th, 2018. Additional information is available at http://www.writeactrep.org/index.html.


The Greatest Showman (Movie)Christmas Movie: The Greatest Showman. I was remiss in not writing up the movie we saw on Christmas Day:  The Greatest Showman. In short: we truly enjoyed it — both the music and the performances. I had seen some criticism that the story wasn’t true to real life of P. T. Barnum, but then again, neither was Cy Coleman’s Barnum. Barnum himself would have enjoyed the humbug being sold and how it was presented. Unlike the musical, however, The Greatest Showman focused primarily on the American Museum period in Barnum’s life; the musical went beyond this into his ventures into politics, into building utopias, and the eventual creation of the circus and the merger with Bailey. There were also some aspects of the American Museum that were left out — I can understand (perhaps) leaving out Joyce Heth, given the increased sensitivity of the subject and the tone the movie was going for, but to leave out “This Way To The Egress” was a bit more questionable.  The two taken together, however, create an interesting picture; the movie demonstrates that perhaps it is time for a Broadway revival of Barnum. However, there are some odd timeline clashes between the two (particularly in the timing of the creation of the circus as distinct from the museum). Perhaps some of those issues could have been handled through a more detailed epilogue or disclaimer at the end — I’m not sure.

I was particularly taken by the musical numbers and their accompanying cinematography and choreography: they had a movement and a rhythm that one cannot do on the stage, and it was engrossing. The song that was submitted to the Golden Globes — “This Is Me” — I could see being a wonderful empowerment anthem (and it goes very well with Coleman’s “My Body” in The Life). I enjoyed the singing of the leads — I’m more and more impressed with Hugh Jackman the more and more I see of his performances. Just a delightful show, and the Golden Globe won by Pasek and Paul for the music was well deserved.


Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FB) in the West Adams district, and a mini-subscription at the Saroya [the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

Next weekend brings our first touring show, Aladdin, at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). The next weekend currently has no theatre; instead, there is a So Cal Games Day and a Walking Tour of Jewish Boyle Heights. The last weekend of January brings The Pirates of Penzance at The Pasadena Playhouse (FB).

February is busier. It starts with the Cantor’s Concert at Temple Ahavat Shalom (FB). The following weekend brings our first Actors Co-op (FB) production of 2018: A Walk in the Woods. Mid-week brings opera: specifically,  Candide at LA Opera (FB). That is followed the next weekend by the first production of the Chromolume Theatre (FB) 2018 season, Dessa Rose. The month concludes with a hold for James and the Giant Peach at the Chance Theatre (FB) in the Anaheim Hills, and tickets for Dublin Irish Dance Stepping Out at  the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB).

March was supposed to start with the MRJ Man of the Year dinner, but that shifted back a week, so we’ll go to it after our first show in March, the LA Premiere of the musical Allegiance at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (FB). This is followed by a HOLD for Steel Pier at the UCLA School of Television, Film, and Theatre (FB). The penultimate Friday of March was to bring Billy Porter singing Richard Rodgers at the Saroya (the venue formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)) (FB), but that has shifted to June and that weekend is currently open. The last weekend of March is open for theatre, but there will be the Men of TAS Seder.

April looks to be a busy month. It starts with Love Never Dies at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) [as an aside, there was just a great interview with Glen Slater, the lyricist of that show, on Broadway Bullet that is well worth listening to). The second weekend brings A Man for All Seasons” at Actors Co-op (FB). The third weekend brings The Hunchback of Notre Dame at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) (nee Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)), as well as our annual visit to the Original Renaissance Faire. The last weekend of April sees us travelling for a show, as we drive up to San Jose to see friends as well as Adrift in Macao at The Tabard Theatre Company (FB). Currently, we’re booking all the way out in mid to late 2018! We may also be adding an  Ahmanson Theatre (FB) subscription, given their recent announcements regarding the next season.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.


Navigating the Minefield

One has to tread very carefully these days. Topics, words, and even clothing can trigger deep divides between people. Here are three examples:

  • Your Music. Some music is timeless. Other music, however, is more “of its time”. Every holiday season this is driven home to us as we listen to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” in a whole new context. Now I tend to love both cast albums and folk/bluegrass, and both have the same problems: Some of the music, when heard in today’s light, is clearly racist and problematic. This is something discussed everytime “Showboat” or “Annie Get Your Gun” is remounted; it is even a larger issue with folk music. Many of our folk songs make use of stereotypes or motifs that are problems, starting with “Wish I was in the land of Cotton”. The author of our national anthem was a white supremacist. Here’s one fiddler that tackled the issue head on. I love his mention of Dom Flemons, the American Songster, who does great stuff.
  • What You Wear. My daughter goes to school in Madison WI, and she alerted me to this divide: The attitude towards the “Coasties” in the North Face jackets. Here’s the requisite background:A UW–Madison student wrote in 2008 that he could distinguish between coasties and sconnies—or, Wisconsin locals—by looking “at their distinctive clothing.” While focusing on the “female Coastie” appearance, the student argued that the “natives begin to resent these outsiders who are so different.” This student’s editorial in the Badger Herald,perhaps unknowingly, invoked a history of compounding stereotypes of “outsiders” wearing conspicuous or expensive clothing on campus that reaches back to the 1920s. His comments also highlight what is at stake in making assumptions about a Canada Goose owner in 2017. In 2007, two Wisconsin students recorded a song called “What’s a Coastie,” describing the Wisconsin-based label/slur as an “east coast Jewish honey” identifiable by her outfit: a North Face jacket, black leggings, and big sunglasses, among other attire. The song highlighted young Jewish women’s outdoorwear as linked to their outsider status on campus. According to the student songwriters, expensive consumer products, down to the Ugg boots and complicated Starbucks drinks, highlighted the wealth of these out-of-state students. “Coasties” effectively flaunted family wealth, their North Face jackets a stand-in for the high-priced out-of-state tuition their families were paying.
  • Your Car. My step-sister highlighted this divide, and the problem it will create. The thesis: With the growth of self-driving cars and naviation, personal driving will be outlawed as something dangerous to one’s health and the health of others. If that happens, what does that do to privacy? No more can you go someplace anonymously. You’ll be tracked: by your car, by your cellphone, by your navigation app? Who owns those records? Who can look at those records? More importantly, who can be prevented from looking at those records. All questions that in our rush to adopt a technology, we are likely not exploring.