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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 4/26/20

Good morning and happy Sunday!



I don’t know about you, but I’m just staring at a closet full of suits and sports coats, with nowhere to go. My shirts are all nicely laundered and, but for Zoom meetings, it’s “casual Friday” here pretty much all the time. What does one do with all the fancy duds? The answer apparently is “take out the trash.” People are dressing up for the “big occasion” of taking out the trash bin:

And this:



All of us are turning around in our minds the advantages and disadvantages of opening the country. When do we do it? And whom do we place at risk? These are not simply practical questions, but moral ones. Viewers of The Good Place, those who took moral philosophy in college, or high school debaters know about the “Trolley Problem.” The basic version of the Trolley Problem is that you are standing at a rail junction. A trolley is rushing toward the junction. The switch is set so that five innocent people tied to the track will die. Would you pull the switch (a passive and indirect act) and divert the train to the other track, where only one innocent person will die? Now, how about if, in order to save five innocent lives, you must affirmatively murder someone? Would you push a fat man off a bridge over the trolley line, preventing the trolley from hitting the five innocent people? In one instance, you are merely triggering a switch to force a trolley a different direction; in the other, you affirmatively must act to kill one person. In both cases, the result is the same. The question in both cases is whether it is ok for you to condemn the innocent person—to save five?

These sorts of cost/benefit analyses are made every day. Is it ever ethical to harm some in order to benefit others? The book Would You Kill the Fat Man?, by David Edmonds, is a great exploration of moral philosophy, starting with various permutations of the trolley problem and moving on from there.

For a good article summarizing the problem (and the book): Clang Went the Trolley

There will be many political, economic and medical decisions that be made in the coming weeks and months. These will have profound impacts on real people, whose lives hang in the balance. They ought not be rushed or politicized and should be considered in light of the best data. Most important, they should be made with the kindest of hearts. Whether our leaders are capable of such nuanced analysis is unclear.



Debra Epstein reminded me that when touting some great musicals and soundtracks, I left Cabaret off the list. She is so right. I have seen both the play and the movie many times, finding different layers each time and at each age that I saw it. The story paints a picture of pre-Nazi Germany, shows the decadence of Weimar Germany, addresses gender fluidity, and presents differing life choices and reactions (people with principles and those with indifference)…really quite a panoply of ideas and emotions. In my opinion the film was a tour de force that demonstrated the remarkable talents of Director Bob Fosse, Joel Grey, Liza Minelli, Michael York and others. The genius of Kander & Ebb (who wrote some new songs for the film) really comes through in “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” a chilling Hitler youth anthem that people assume was a true hymn of the time, but in fact was in fact written for this show.

Speaking of Kander & Ebb, how about Chicago? Less depth, but just as much entertainment—based on tabloid crimes and corruption in the hedonistic 1920s, choregraphed by Bob Fosse. Kander also wrote the standard, New York, New York for the eponymous under-appreciated film starring Robert De Niro and Liza Minelli and directed by Martin Scorsese (I recognize I’m in the minority on this—the movie received a nearly universal “meh” from reviewers).

For something totally different, I loved Moulin Rouge. I admit not all of Baz Luhrman’s stuff hits the mark, but I thought this was an outrageous, brave, brilliantly choregraphed and filmed homage to musicals, belle epoque France, and current music. A great take on La Boheme. That said, Luhrman’s masterpiece was Romeo + Juliet, starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, featuring Paul Sorvino and the late Brian Dennehy as the patriarchs of the Capulets and the Montagues.



I really can’t get enough of this. Here is the class “Sing, Sing, Sing,” from the Cory Band:



“At the grocery. Wearing my mask. Lady behind me, snarky & loud enough to make sure I heard, ‘I don’t guess she realizes that stupid mask won’t do any good.’ Me: ‘Honey, I’m an off duty nurse, I’m wearing it to protect YOU. But, I can take it off if you’d like.’ She practically ran.”



The Doctor-in-Chief says I’m good to go… [Thanks, Arnold!]

Have a great week,


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