“Given the current economic climate,” read this afternoon’s press release from Funny Girl producer Bob Boyett, “many Broadway producing investors have found it impossible to maintain their standard level of financial commitment.”
In other words, the revival of the Jule Styne-Bob Merrill Broadway blockbuster that had starred Barbra Streisand in 1964, and gave us the song “People,” is dead — as far as Los Angeles is concerned. The new show, starring Six Feet Under‘s Lauren Ambrose as comedienne Fanny Brice, was to open in downtown L.A.’s Ahmanson Theater in January — the springboard to an April Broadway run.
Dream on, with this economy, though.
As the New York Times noted, “Pulling the plug on a previously announced Broadway production is rare, especially when (as in this case) theaters have been booked and actors cast.”
I have been photographing the Occupy camps since the inception of Occupy Los Angeles. I’ve spoken to many people and have thoroughly visited each layer of the emerging strata in the Occupy movement. I have seen it evolve.
On Day One it was as if the raucous levity of Venice Beach had been transplanted to Los Angeles City Hall. But within several days, the occupation had matured. People were tired. For even the most hardy, nights of sleeping on the ground in a not-so-private atmosphere and sharing a rancid pit toilet with hundreds of others is understandably wearing. What is this movement to become?
There is no mainstream media outlet objectively reporting the story. The pushing and pulling of the facts to fit readership deny the true story. Admittedly, I come from a bias of support for the movement. However, there can be no greater support for the movement than holding a great big mirror in the direction of its errant ways.
What does the 1970s feminist art movement have to do with Occupy Wall Street? Quite a bit, I found out when I recently attended Still Doin’ It: Fanning the Flames of the Woman’s Building, an exhibit and performance experience at the Otis College of Art that was part of the Pacific Standard Time project. That kaleidoscopic endeavor, sponsored by the Getty Museum, looks at Los Angeles art from 1945-1980 and takes place in museums and venues across Southern California over the next 12 months.
The early participants of the Woman’s Building, including founder Sheila Levrant de Bretteville and performance artist and Otis professor Suzanne Lacy, described the motivation that drove them to that institution in 1973. At that time women artists and their work were largely ignored by the established arts institutions, and emerging women artists found few opportunities for support or mentorship of their art.
By now it’s obvious that Occupy Wall Street’s sophomore month is spawning a spin-off sideshow – a kind of reality TV moment in which conservative media apologists for the “one percent” alight from taxis and wade into crowds of protesters who are wearing hoodies and black bandanas. Into the belly of the collectivist beast, as it were. The pundits then vigorously articulate their grievances against the 20thCentury to the Occupiers and the merely curious who have gathered round.
The trail for these adventurers was blazed by Fox News eminence grise Geraldo Rivera, whose tumultuous forays into Ziccotti Park have made him a martyr to tax-paying “53 Percenters” from Montauk Point to Santa Clarita.
Last week Reason TV, an arm of the libertarian magazine Reason, produced a video in which radical free-marketeer Peter Schiff made a similar pilgrimage into the lion’s den.
Named one of UTNE Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Our World,” Dave Zirin is among the few journalists who approach sports from a progressive perspective. He’s a prolific author and commentator, and his writing for The Nation offers a welcome respite from the drone mentality of mainstream sports coverage.
Most recently, Zirin has co-authored The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World (Haymarket Books). The book revolves around Carlos’ black-gloved salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, an historic moment executed in conjunction with gold-medal winner Tommie Smith. With Zirin joining Carlos on an extensive book tour, the Frying Pan caught up with Zirin by email to ask about his book and what it’s like to write about sports for The Nation.
Frying Pan (David Davis): Why do the upraised black-gloved fists of Carlos and Smith still resonate more than 40 years after the 1968 Mexico City Olympics?
I’ve recently found myself fascinated (and a little obsessed) with the lives of three superstar women who aren’t afraid to expose their weaknesses to a world that is only familiar with their strengths.
Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda were each interviewed on TV in the same week that a DVD arrived from Netflix, Eleanor Roosevelt—An American Experience.
Of the many traits they have in common, the one that struck my interest was that they each developed such a late-career sense of self-esteem. Each acknowledged that she didn’t come into her personal comfort zones until she was in her 70s.
“Me too,” I kept mumbling, “me too.,”
Now in my 80s, I am convinced that these may be the most fulfilling years for some of us.
Each of these remarkable women speak about childhood wounds.
I recently received an invitation to my 10-year high school reunion, and let’s just say I have absolutely no intention of going. First of all, every day on Facebook is a high school reunion. But second, for me, as well as many others, high school was brutal. And for anyone who forgets that and is filled with a silly nostalgia for yesteryear, I encourage a viewing of the movie Heathers or even a recent episode of Glee – both of which are full of popularity contests, cliques, and the compulsion to “look good” at all costs. After high school, everyone tells you that the days of “trying to fit in” and being “cool” are over.
“The real world,” they say, “is about succeeding at college, getting a career, etc., and has nothing to do with being the captain of the football team.” But after my 10 years in this so-called “real world,”
What would cause 13 mostly 30- and 40-something electricians to come up with an event like the “Solidarity Sleepover” at Occupy LA? It all started with a text message. Howard Brown, adventurer, electrician and Occupy LA supporter wrote me, “would like 2 c mas union presence.” I had not been down to Occupy LA and before I put my name near it, I needed to do some recon to check it out. I had heard that it was this leaderless movement that really had no strong positions on anything because they could not get a consensus from the group. Being a lifelong Democrat, that sounded vaguely familiar. So down to City Hall I went with my good friend Gary in tow. I figured I needed some backup in case somebody tried to put a red Che Guevara beret on me when I wasn’t looking.
What Gary and I found instead were really cool,
After visiting a few times, I decided to go for broke and join the occupation to see it all first hand. It was very interesting to entertain the misconceptions people might have about this movement. Some may think it’s populated by arrogant 20-somethings looking for attention and a party atmosphere with leftovers from Burning Man and Coachella attendees. Some may think it’s a few leftist apologists and homeless people intermingling uncomfortably. Some may think it’s a breeding ground for anti-American anarchists and communists plotting the takedown of our infrastructure. Others think it’s just a passing fad like pointy shoes and Bedazzler jackets.
I had some of these misconceptions myself. I didn’t know what to expect, but I had to reject these doubts before I could really see what was taking place. I visited during a Demands Committee meeting and the General Assembly, the nightly gathering for decision-making, to get a better reading of what was taking place.
Last April, I went to visit my 25-year-old son, Armando, who lives in El Salvador. Armando – who is half Salvadoran – has been living in the capital, San Salvador, for the past two years, trying to make it as a freelance artist. When I got down there, I decided right away that I wanted to buy a car seat for cute, little three-year-old Alfonso (the son of Armando’s then-girlfriend), who was riding around in the car “freestyle” so to speak, with some pretty crazy Salvadoran drivers making me nervous.
Armando reassured me 10 ways to Sunday that he was a “careful” driver and that Salvadoran law did not require car seats for kids. Laws aside, I was determined to do the right thing and get a car seat so Alfonso could be a little safer.So began my week-long quest to find a car seat in a country where the decision to strap in your child is left to the “common sense” of the citizenry.
An apple a day and eating your peas led to good health, we once thought. Now, according to major food manufacturers, fruits and vegetables are “job killers” that will devastate the American economy.
In April of this year, the Federal Trade Commission, along with three other Federal agencies (FDA, CDC and USDA), released a set of proposed guidelines for marketing food to children to reduce sugars, fats and salts in the diets of American youth, and increase fruits, whole grains and vegetables. In 2008 Congress, led by Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Tom Harkin (D-IA), asked for these recommendations to address the nations’ growing childhood obesity crisis.
A coalition of major manufacturers of processed foods (including Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms and SpaghettiOs), fast-food chains and the media industry that depends on their advertising dollars are spending millions on lobbyists to derail the proposed voluntary guidelines.
(Editor’s Note: Yesterday Peter Dreier compared this year’s breakout film, The Help, to an earlier but more accurate Hollywood portrayal of the civil rights movement. Today Vivian Rothstein, a veteran of the Mississippi Freedom Summer, weighs in with comparisons of her own.)
From watching the recent box-office hit, The Help, you’d think the women’s liberation movement had triumphed by 1963, when the film is set. In the story, white women appear to be the primary enforcers of racial segregation; it would also seem that white and black women, working without any organizational support, can profoundly change social conditions — and that white women make the top decisions in literary publishing houses. None of which was true back when I went South to work in the 1965 Mississippi Freedom Summer project.
Men are nearly invisible in the film – so is the Jim Crow power structure that allowed Southern white men to perpetuate unequal school districts,
David Shoemaker, writing as The Masked Man on the sports site Grantland, describes a recent storyline on the professional wrestling TV show Raw, in which wrestlers and other employees walked off the job. The Masked Man sets off the fictional labor uprising against the actual – and unsurprisingly colorful – history of labor grievances in professional wrestling.
In one instance, wrestler and future Minnesota governor Jesse “The Body” Ventura attempted to organize a union, though he got little traction among fellow wrestlers. It was later revealed that Hulk Hogan had ratted him out to Vince McMahon. Ventura later won a significant lawsuit against his employers.
More recently, the Masked Man writes, “In 2008, three wrestlers — Raven, Chris Kanyon, and Mike Sanders — sued WWE for ‘cheating them out of health care and other benefits’ and insisted that the ‘independent contractor’ designation was a sham since WWE had ‘virtually complete dominion and control over its wrestlers.’”
The sham “independent contractor” designation is a serious issue for workers in more than a few industries.
(Editor’s Note: The Help, a Hollywood film set in the Deep South during the civil rights struggle, recently scored box office gold. It seemed a rare moment in which social activism was successfully married to commerce. But was historical accuracy sacrificed for popularity – especially to reach white audiences? Two veteran political activists discuss The Help and put it in context. Today Peter Dreier compares this movie with the lesser known The Long Walk Home. Tomorrow: Vivian Rothstein, who participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer, offers another view of The Help.)
Film director Tate Taylor scored a late-summer box office smash with his adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel, The Help. A surprise hit with movie critics, too, The Help is set during the racial battles of 1963. It focuses on the efforts of African American maids to maintain their dignity despite the routine discrimination and vicious slights they confront while living in segregated Jackson,
As Occupy Wall Street approaches its one-month anniversary, protest zones have been spontaneously set up from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. Familiar bylines in America’s newspapers and on its blogs have, accordingly, been trying to explain the events.
1. The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg tries, in this week’s Talk of the Town opener (“A Walk in the Park”), not to sound too much taken in by the spirit of the protest, while at the same time acknowledging the charm of its spontaneity: “They’re making it up on the fly. They don’t really know where it will take them, and they like it that way. Occupy Wall Street is a political project, but it is equally a cri de coeur, an exercise in constructive group dynamics, a release from isolation, resignation, and futility. The process, not the platform, is the point. Anyway, [it] is not the Brookings Institution.”
Oh, the 1960s!
Back then I was one of those middle-class married women who never dreamed of a career. Then came Betty Friedan and The Feminine Mystique. And so in my early 40s, I enrolled in the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work master’s degree program.
On the very first day of class my professor wrote on the blackboard, “Social workers believe in ambivalence.” I was home. I had always been uncomfortable with unalterable truths — generalized philosophies and rules and theories that were supposed to apply across time, place and circumstances.
Now that, 50 years later, there is so much attention being paid to aging (and it’s me the experts are referring to in their speculations), I’ve become weary of all the guarantees being offered for a healthy, long — and I do mean long — happy life.
Ten members of the Irvine 11 were sentenced last week to community service, fines and probation for disrupting a speech by the Israeli ambassador on the campus of UC Irvine. It’s not as important to me whether or not these Muslim activists were within their rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as that they were ready to take the risk that civil disobedience implies for their strongly held beliefs.
As a veteran of the 1960s civil rights movement, I know how breaking a law in pursuit of a higher justice can be a life-changing experience. When I was 18 I joined 400 others protesting discriminatory hiring practices at a San Francisco auto dealership by going limp in the car showrooms.
The status quo does not change without pressure from below. And in the U.S. often that pressure has taken the form of several hundred people “putting their bodies on the line” —
Ernest Melendrez, like many others who work for nonprofit organizations, is passionate about his job. The long hours, modest pay and oftentimes emotionally trying work require the deepest level of commitment. His passion for the work he does at Friends Outside, a nonprofit focused on prisoner reentry, comes from his own life experience. From the time he turned eight, Ernest found himself in and out of the juvenile and corrections systems in California and Arizona. By his final reentry into the “outside” in 2007, Ernest had made up his mind: He was ready to live. At only 35 he still had a lot of life to experience outside the walls of San Quentin and Folsom.
I sat down with Ernest last week to talk about his life both in and out of incarceration. As part of California’s prisoner re-alignment program, California’s 58 county jail systems will gradually begin housing and supervising thousands of nonviolent criminals and parole violators due to overcrowding in state prisons.