Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

It turns out that it was not just the economy that brought out the Trump supporters but the shame that the white working class had previously felt about themselves. The Right was very successful in campaigning on the premise that it wasn’t the white working class that failed but some other villain – Muslims, Jews, Liberals, African-Americans, Immigrants, Gays, Feminists, the Media  – the list keeps growing.

The liberals and the media did not understand this deep level of classicism between the haves, have less or have-nots.

Right or wrong Donald Trump gave them back some pride. In doing that, he gave license to their rage and has done nothing to stop that.

I now live in an artsy, racially mixed (and by that I mean interracial couples)  neighborhood. I am at the beach and there are many visitors on the weekends. I was walking my dog and  there was a truck double parked facing in the wrong direction. A man driving by got out of his car to ask him what he was doing.  They were both white. The truck was an Escalade type thing. The car was the cheaper Mercedes model. The Mercedes driver wore a Hawaiian flowered shirt. They were arguing and it was getting ugly. As is my New York custom,  I crossed the street to avoid trouble. The truck driver yelled, “You are such a fucking faggot. You are a big loser. Did you vote for Hillary?”

The racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump used to advance his candidacy had found its way to my street. When things happen right in front of you,  it is hard to stay open and indifferent. White hate speech against white people in a very liberal neighborhood is new. It is nothing new for black or gay people anywhere. Venice is the kind of mixed arty community that people move into to avoid this. The big conversation among strangers here is how are the waves today or look at that sunset. The lid against hate has been blown off. 

I still say that I wasn’t brought up to hate. I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, McCarthyism and my parents’ fears.  I was raised not to sign anything, peacefully protest but not call too much attention to yourself by leading the march.  

A younger couple had heard it as well and they walked up to me. He is blond. She is Asian. They asked how it started. “Stay safe,” they say when they walk away.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Fake News

Fake News

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” Mitch Hedberg

Today President Trump closed his twitter account. The UN  divided up all the Syrian refugees  and every nation in the world took some in. Peace was declared in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Congo.  Other African countries are going to follow their example.  With a lot of effort on both parts, a peace agreement to the mutual satisfaction  of both sides, was finally reached between Israel and Palestine.  In a historic quick defeat resulting in no casualties, the Arab Nations banded together and defeated Isis. They are planning a joint effort against other terrorist groups as well. Boko Haram returned all the girls to Nigeria. They were unharmed and well taken care of. The Muslims Clerics issued a doctrine saying all girls must attend school. A mysterious virus is killing the opium and coca plants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Mexican cartels are looking into other businesses – perhaps building supplies. Scientists say that the hole in the ozone layer is noticeably smaller and that climate change is reversing due to the joint efforts of every country in the world.

The Republicans  have repealed and replaced Obama Care with a low-cost high level health care plan pleasing the medical profession, the patients and the insurance companies. Donald Trump has created so many new jobs that we need to take in more immigrants to fill them. Suicide and murder rates are the lowest they have ever been. America has been declared a smoke free country. A new drug has been approved that cures Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Autoimmune Diseases, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Racism. Pharmaceutical companies are working over time to cure-all other diseases as well. American billionaires have all banded together to eradicate homelessness and they are expecting everyone to have homes by 2025. The government has poured money into education and mental illness research and treatment. The police have issued a new  policy stating that if you get to your car while they are writing a parking ticket, they will rip it up. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in one hundred years.  Kindness is up fifty percent  and continues to soar.

If we are going to have fake news and alternative facts, let’s use it for good. Why not fake what we want the world to be like? Why not pretend to be the people that we didn’t think we could be?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Politics At the Academy Awards In Los Angeles

Politics at the Academy Awards In Los Angeles

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.” Winston S. Churchill

First part written on Saturday

I do usually cringe when celebrities use award shows to promote their political views. Trump is all Americans talk about these days anyway so I don’t think we will get though the Academy Awards without him. The Trump supporters will be disgusted by the out of touch Hollywood elitists who are trying to tell the normal people what to do. The liberals will say the overpaid celebrities are making it worse. The ceremony takes place in California and Hilary won easily here so we pretty much know how they feel. I think a few will be brilliant and most won’t. Something political will happen with best Foreign Film.  I liked Salesman the best  so I’m hoping for a win. It would be cool if Moonlight won.  Jimmy Kimmel is a given for political commentary, though he will probably tone it down for the event.  I hope it doesn’t turn into and the best anti Trump moment is. I think the speeches will be more about inclusion and diversity. Some of us are still PC.

To be continued tomorrow

Sunday

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. The show was a bit more stripped down and low-key than usual. It was going along smoothly and predictably. Everyone I wanted was winning. Jimmy Kimmel was the Greek chorus. A lot of it was expected  but he had a few really funny lines. In his praise of Meryl Streep for  her many overrated and underwhelming performances (Trump tweet), he asked if she was wearing an Ivanka? He told  all the people who worked for CNN and anyone with the word Times in their job – even Medieval to leave the room.

Viola’s speech was better than even I thought it would be. August Wilson would have been proud. Salesman won which it should have. The most powerful political statement of the evening  was read for the film’s director Asghar Farhadi who did not come in protest of the travel ban. All the “immigrants’ (I know because they said they were immigrants – I wasn’t judging)  expressed their disapproval and solidarity.

 Hollywood did what it does best at the Oscars. Hollywood celebrated its own with beautiful dresses, humor, reverence and appreciation. The attention was focused on the people in the room and the magic and healing of movies. Candy was flying everywhere. 

The reality is that I’ve always been a fan of the simple thank you at award shows. It was a simple thank you kind of night.

And then Oscar history was made. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway accidentally announced the wrong winner for best picture. I was worried when they came on. Warren always seems dazed to me and they are both way too vain to wear their glasses onstage. I was expecting some uncomfortable banter about that.  After La La Land’s producers made their thank you speeches, they were told it was a mistake and Moonlight had won. “This is not a joke.” and I quote.  Everyone was as dazed and confused as Warren (who apparently had been handed the wrong envelope).  It was a perfect Hollywood Ending with a twist.

Fly safe,

JAZ

If You See Something, Say Something – Living In America

If You See Something, Say Something – Living  In America

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”Martin Niemoller

I always said that I would be the first one out of Nazi Germany. I would have been gone as soon as I heard the hate rhetoric. Germany elected a monster with a lot of charisma. He told the people what they wanted to hear so how could they resist.

The economic crisis helped Hitler to come into power. He was democratically elected.
I’m not sure that you can blame the German people for that. Hitler did not campaign on the premise of starting a holocaust. He didn’t sound much more radical or antisemitic then any of the other candidates.

The collective crime of the German people was that they supported Hitler and his party even after they had started committing unspeakable crimes and that a sizable fraction of the population supported him in committing those crimes. The difficult thing about Democracy is that majorities are sometimes wrong and you have to decide if and when it is your moral duty to follow the wrong decisions or when to fight them.

I learned about the Holocaust as a little girl living in a refugee community of Holocaust survivors. Of course I would run. Now I am a grownup. I believe in the Democratic process of voting and the person that was supposed to win, won.

There are signs that are troubling. The U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, which acts as a check on the power of politicians and the government. Trump has already punished news organizations for critical stories by revoking their press credentials to his events and as President-elect continues to threaten them and deny access. I don’t think certain members of the press were particularly impartial during the election but that is one of the freedoms our country is built on.

There are things that were said in the campaign that breed similarity to a dictatorship. He talked about purging the government of all officials appointed by Barack Obama which is what Hitler did two months after getting into office. He is creating a tribe of people based on mutual hate and resentments. He is continuing to hold rallies (as did Hitler and Eva Peron).

I’m withholding my personal opinions and giving him a chance. I have to support the process of a Democratic election because I have seen the governments in Third World countries. I hope he does the good things that he says he will do. I’m reading and learning.  There has been a definite increase in racial harassment and xenophobia since Trump was elected. I understand that if an innocent Muslim or Latino is unsafe here, then I am also unsafe here. My new mantra is taken from homeland security. “If you see something, say something.”

Fly safe,

JAZ

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

What Kids Said When Donald Trump Won

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

“I don’t think he will make a good president. He doesn’t know how to use his Twitter account and so I presume he will be hopeless at nuclear codes.”

“If Donald Trump deports my mom can I come live with your family?”

“He seems very bossy.”

“This is a hijab. It’s really hot. I don’t sleep in it. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t say terrible, scary things.”

“I don’t think he will be on the list of good presidents in the history of good presidents in the US.”

“If the president says bad things about Mexicans, then other people will too.”

“If he is a bully, how did he get to be president?”

“I woke up to find out that Trump was President and my sister was using my expensive shampoo.”

“I really like it here. I don’t want to leave.”

“Will I have to be a slave?”

“He might be a good president if he controls his anger.”

“Will I have to wear numbers on my shirt?”

“I’m not speaking to white people today. It is their fault,”

“He gets angry and interrupts people. He goes bankrupt a lot. I don’t thing that is good for a President.”’

“Im worried my brother who has leukemia will lose his health care.”

“I am hopeful that Donald Trump will not end the world or the country.”

“He got the most votes. He won fair and square.”

“I hope he is a great president and he doesn’t build a wall and send my friends home. I hope he is the best, kind, amazing president.“

“I’m scared people will hurt me because I am a girl.”

“Im ok with the outcome as long as he makes America better again.”

“Black people don’t vote for white people unless they’re like cool. He said what people wanted to hear, and they voted for him. Also, don’t tell anybody this, but I cried in the bathroom this morning when I found out.”

Children are listening, Speak to them. Let your intelligence and not your fear guide your words.  Hear them. Listen to what they have to say. Make them feel safe.  Read to them.  Encourage them to read books by authors and about people who are different then you are. Teach them about the world.

Fly safe.

JAZ

Apologizing For Trump All Over The World

Apologizing for Trump All Over The World

“People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” Søren Kierkegaard

As Americans traveling in Europe we do apologize often for our behavior. But we may have outdone ourselves with Trump. Trump represents the America that the world hates. He embodies the worst anti-American stereotypes: vulgar, violent, cash-obsessed, racist.  I recently returned from Europe and the Middle East and found myself on the Trump Apology Tour. They are just baffled by how we have this Republican candidate.’To be a potential leader of a nation of immigrants and be anti-immigration and xenophobic plays into other countries fears.

The world seemed to like Obama. Traveling in 2008 was fun when it came to politics.  Since the rise of Trump, you can’t really travel out of the US without a barrage of  political questions.

In South Africa, I was often asked who do you think is worse Zuma or Trump? We’ve never competed with corrupt, dictator types before for unpopularity.  “Why is Trump so popular with Americans?” asked the man at border control in Jordan. Are they allowed to ask that while holding your passport? As usual, I immediately have to distance myself from the Donald. ”No Idea. It’s terrifying.” He smiled and stamped my passport. 

America is no stranger to embarrassing exports but we may have outdone ourselves with Donald Trump. They feel that what started as a bad joke might become a reality. Europeans are definitely feeling that now they have a reason to act superior.”What do you think of Trump?’ they ask. What I think is that Trump destroys everything I do as a traveler to make an impact on how people see Americans.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Election the Musical

Election The Musical

“This is the dangerous thing about musicals. Most of them assume that as soon as you find your voice, you’ll use it to sing to someone else.”  David Levithan

While I was watching the theatrics of both the RNC and the DNC, I found myself thinking of all the Broadway shows I had seen as a kid. It was not unlike the theaters I have sat in for most of my life – the set design, choreography, music, smoke machines, mood and stage lighting, costumes (the heroine wore white), speeches that should have been cut a bit in previews, videos, the grand showstopping finale and of course the critics.

It is months of planning, staging and rehearsal to communicate the message of the parties at the conventions.  In my head, while watching I began putting in the show tunes. Hamilton is too cool for this group, though I did hear it mentioned.  I was thinking more old school show tunes. I wish I could have done this for you but you will have to use your imagination.

Donald Trump was easy. I pictured him as Phineas Taylor Barnum in the musical Barnum singing There is Sucker Born Every Minute. (Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart)


Hillary was a bit harder. I didn’t see her as a leading lady. She was more like the smart or funny best friend. She was Chita Rivera – playing the best friend of Charity Hope Valentine, in Sweet Charity (Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields).


Ted Cruz was another simple one. I didn’t know any Evangelical musicals so I had to settle for Hello from Book of Mormon (Robert Lopez,Trey Parker, Matt Stone). I think it works especially in this video from the Tony Awards.

Bernie Sanders is probably not a singer. What about the Bernie supporters as the orphans in Annie (Charles Strouse, Martin Charnin) singing It’s A Hard Knock Life?

Bill Cllinton will be perfect as Conrad Birdie performing Honestly Sincere (Charles Strouse and Lee Adams) from Bye Bye Birdie.

I have a few for the Trump offspring but I decided to go with Heart (Richard Adler and Jerry Ross) from Damn Yankees.  It will be a better show that way.


The finale for the Republican National Convention instead of Queen could be Razzle Dazzle from Chicago. (John Kander, Fred Ebb) I prefer the Fosse musical for this one.

I like Lauren Bacall’s Welcome To The Theatre from the musical Applause (Lee Adams, Charles Strouse) for HIllary’s nomination at the DNC.

What’s a voter to do? I feel a bit like I’m listening to Guys and Dolls (Frank Loesser), Fugue For Tinhorns.

Thanks for reading. That is the fun thing about blogging and the internet. You can share any random thought that comes into your head with total strangers. I never really had any use before for the fact that I know the words to every musical I’ve seen as a kid.

Fly safe,

JAZ