• Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 1/28/21

Good morning, The other day I was speaking with a friend who remarked, “I think it is really important that you actually number the Musings.” I told him I thought the numbering provides some sense of perspective on how long we’ve been doing this. He indicated he would never have guessed this would have gone on much beyond 20 or 30 days—both because of the anticipated brevity of the lockdown and my eventually running out of gas. Sadly, COVID has proven to be more tenacious than originally anticipated! And I suspect I’m along for the ride… GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK In my panning of The Midnight Sky, I noted several great George Clooney movies. Peter Bain reminds me of one of the best, in a style only Peter can conjure: “On the George Clooney fan front, which I share with you, let me recommend (if you haven’t already seen it) Good Night and Good Luck. Clooney directed it. David Straitharn absolutely nails Edward R. Murrow, and we are given a history lesson about why the press matters and how delicate our democracy is (timely enough?). It centers on the few weeks during which Murrow, his producer Fred Friendly (Clooney), Bill Paley and CBS decide to finally take on (and take down) Joe McCarthy. Black and white, riveting, and should be compulsory viewing for every American.” While acknowledging great movies that celebrate the great American tradition of powerful and consequential journalism, this could be the right time to rewatch Spotlight, All the President’s Men, and The Post. SOME MORE HISTORY AND DOCUMENTARIES

  • One Night in Miami—I just watched this imagining of the night after the first Clay (soon to be Muhammed Ali) defeat of Sonny Liston. The players are Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcolm X. The great Leslie Odom, Jr. (who played Burr in Hamilton) plays Sam Cooke. A great picture of the characters, the time in the history of Black America, and the events. Brilliant concept, well acted and directed with great interplay of these iconic men discussing their celebrity and how they might use their celebrity to improve the world. Definitely catch it on Amazon Prime.

  • The Dissident, recommended by Barry Cayton—This is the story of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi and his murder. This is not a historical enactment, but more of a 60 Minutes documentary with interviews, videotape near the Istanbul embassy, and reenactments. It definitely provides an interesting perspective on the Saudi kingdom, the court intrigue and the events surrounding the murder.

  • Giving Voice, recommended by Ed Nahmias—This is a New York Times critic’s pick documentary about the national August Wilson Monologue competition. This really shows how theatre can speak to, through and about teenage actors throughout America. Our own Center Theatre Group conducts the monologues each year for local high school students.

THE HAJ TO RUNYON CANYON Those who look for quick in-city hikes in Los Angeles are familiar with Runyon Canyon, which sits directly north of Hollywood. We figured Christmas day morning would be a good day to set out on this otherwise crowded hike, which offers breathtaking views of the city. We should have known from the lack of parking that our intent would be thwarted. Once we finally found parking, we climbed up the hill toward the southern gate to the hike. It is how I imagine hordes of people on a pilgrimage to Lourdes might be—climbing upward from different directions, joining together as the various paths combine into one. Suffice it to say that our fellow pilgrims came with various points of view. There were the typical pairs with one person (usually the woman) wearing a mask and the other without. There were those who willingly accepted masks that were being handed out by a single city worker at the entrance. And there were the many brave and maskless. We lasted only a little while, as the press of our fellow travelers, many huffing and puffing in close proximity, suggested it would be best to turn around… ARE WE FINALLY IN THE CASHLESS ERA? I don’t know about you but I don’t remember the last time I carried around cash. With touchless pay, I’m guessing we may not carry credit cards anymore. Perhaps we finally can be rid of “small change” and the cost of having to mint so many coins each year. After all, government will need to start saving money wherever it can. It costs 1.99 cents to mint a penny. It costs 7.53 cents to mint a nickel. Only when you get to dimes and quarters does the mint “turn a profit.” Time to abandon the two smallest value coins while we watch pocket change become less relevant each year. Is it possible that in ten years more coins will be in coin collections than in pockets? NOT SO OPTIMISTIC From Alan Rosenbach: “I'd like to share your optimism about our divided country coming back together. I can't. This country has always been divided. Usually, roughly half the country leans left and the other half leans right. It's often been pretty close (Dewey beats Truman). The difference is that the divide used to be based on different philosophies about how to run the country. Maybe a little voter suppression thrown in there that few Americans understood. Now the word "divided" has a new meaning. One side believes in misinformation and respects Donald Trump, even though he lies about "winning in a landslide" or "my inauguration was bigger". Their belief in misinformation is probably less important than the fact that they still adore him--even after his tweets clearly contributed to the DC catastrophe a few weeks ago. In the past, politicians lied about policies. These lies were harder to verify and it was easy for politicians to pass blame to the other party. In contrast, Trump's lies are about the past. More importantly, he lies about past events that are easily verifiable. “ THE LAST OF THE SIX WORD PHRASES OF THANKS I still am captivated by the “modern Haiku” idea of The New York Times, asking readers to summarize their thanks for the year 2020. Here is the last batch of favorites: Red or white, and occasionally rose. There’s really more kindness than hate. Zoom Thanksgiving beats an ICU Christmas Daughter lovingly uninviting me for Thanksgiving. We’re falling in love over FaceTime. Lost job. Lost boyfriend. Found happiness. Will you marry me, Taylor Hollenkamp? (COMMENT: To understand this one, Google it. But this was one woman’s way of proposing to another via the Times. Very sweet). All the best, Glenn

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