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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/25/20

Musings from the Bunker #257 (Wednesday November 25) Happy Weekend! Well, sort of... Of all the holidays that allow us a day off (typically a Monday) or the floating Christmas or New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving is the only secular holiday that performs surgery on the sacred “work week.” Because it is forever to be celebrated on a Thursday, the Friday immediately following often also is taken off (or at least is a “light day”) by most of us. This is our only four-day weekend mandated by tradition. While Thursdays are often reserved for other people’s contributions, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and it is only appropriate that a message of gratitude occupy that day. So here, on a Wednesday, are some great contributions from others: WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS I have done lists of movies set in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas. Martine Singer reminds me that I haven’t discussed movies set in Paris. Few, of course, rival the City of Light in beauty, history, and mood. Here are a few modern classics:

  • Midnight in Paris remains my favorite of modern movies set in Paris. Owen Wilson, as a screenwriter, wanders the streets of Paris at night and is transported to 1920s Paris. As he returns to this era, he meets Cole Porter, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemmingway and others. He then is transported to Belle Epoque Paris, meeting Gaugin and Degas. The film, winner of Best Original Screenplay, is a beautifully filmed homage to Paris, the arts, nostalgia and to the question of “which time was the best of times.”

  • Moulin Rouge, the Baz Luhrmann masterpiece based on La Boheme, starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman (with a great supporting turn by John Leguizamo as Toulouse-Lautrec). This film brilliantly melded together a classic story, modern pop and rock music, and remarkable cinematography in a great historic spectacle.

  • Amelie, a lovely story of a waitress in Montmarte raised as a child in near isolation, who finds she is able to affect the lives of people around her.

  • Les Miserables. Sure it’s overloaded with emotion and some occasionally overwrought renditions by pop artists. But this Victor Hugo mid-19th century story remains as fresh now as ever. It is everything Phantom of the Opera is not. Law and order versus the circumstances of one’s condition. Too many tunes and too many great scenes not to be a classic. While the stage play may have been better, the movie is solid.

  • Hugo, definitely not the typical Martin Scorsese film, a beautifully done film about a kid and a clock, a mystery and a train station in Paris. Sacha Baron Cohen has a role as a police officer in this movie of magic and fantasy.

  • La Vie en Rose, a biography of the classic Parisian chanteuse. I confess to not having seen this—yet… But intend to enjoy it soon, as it’s been recommended by several people I trust.

There are some older films as well… While most of the action in Casablanca takes place in the eponymous city, the flashbacks of Rick and Ilsa’s relationship are set in Paris, lending the right amount of romance that only that city can provide. Other classics include An American in Paris, The Red Balloon, and Charade. Here are some picks from the New York Times:

For those who are movie trivia experts, Jean Seberg, who starred in Breathless (cited in the NYT list) also starred in Paint Your Wagon, the only movie with Clint Eastwood in a singing role. Really.

There are many other great films that are in French (and not on this list), but one not to be missed is an eight-minute high speed car ride through Paris at night. Martine assures me she is not the driver:

C'était un Rendez vous 1976 – YouTube:


Glenn Raines reports another Facebook anomaly, when it populated his feed with ads for Afro Hair Products after he liked the BET Network, shared rap music and supported Black Lives Matter. I suppose this says something about the geniuses in Silicon Valley and/or our society at large—why would someone conclude that liking these things necessarily dictates the person must be Black?

And Richard Green points out that Amazon Music claims to be streaming Herbert von Karajan “live now.” This of course would be quite a feat, as the great maestro of the Berlin Philharmonic hasn’t been with us since 1989. Seeing this sparked in me the memory of all those Deutsche Grammophon record albums, with their classic yellow labels.


Mandy Lowell provides one of the most cogent communications from an expert, with the type of clear advice one would hope our national leaders might provide. These points are edited from a letter from Professor Paul J. Utz, a physician scientist in immunology and rheumatology at Stanford, to his friends. He runs an active research lab that studies autoimmunity, infection, and vaccines:

  • Safe and effective vaccines are on the horizon. A new COVID-19 Task Force arrives in January, and they are already very active in coming up with a science-based plan to get control of the virus. Science appears to be making a comeback.

  • There remains cause for major concern. One only needs to read about the 1918 “Spanish Flu” outbreak (which probably actually originated in Kansas) to see where we are headed as a nation. Some cities and states have simply refused to follow common sense mandates, and they are now paying the price. The flu virus a century ago took off exponentially as people were forced indoors in fall and winter. The virus is spreading exponentially. Exponential is bad.

  • Reports of parties at colleges and indoor dinners with unrelated families are common. Political rallies indoors and outdoors have been documented to cause super-spreader events involving attendees, and even secret service agents and our current President and his family and staff. Please don’t let your guard down, particularly now. What we do now won’t be fully felt for 2-4 weeks. Thanksgiving and then the winter holidays will provide opportunities for the virus to get even worse.

  • Even if you are a strong proponent of freedom of speech and civil liberties, this is a time for the whole nation (actually planet) to come together. During WW2, it must have been incredibly inconvenient to have strict curfews and “no lights” in Hawaii and on both coasts, so the enemy could not see where to bomb. Following the rules was viewed as a form of patriotism. Wearing a mask, distancing, and eliminating gatherings until this virus is under control seems to me to be the same. The virus is our enemy.

  • Even if you survive, there is a huge amount of evidence suggesting that CoV-2 causes long term health problems including lung damage, severe fatigue and myalgias, “brain fog”, autoimmunity, etc. Multiple papers have been published in the last month showing autoimmunity in severe COVID-19. I treat patients with autoimmunity, and trust me you don’t want such diseases. So please – despite the fatigue we all feel, this is ironically the time to push even harder and increase our guard, not let it down…

In the words of Sergeant Esterhaus in Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there!” Warmly, Glenn

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