- Glenn Sonnenberg
Musings from the Bunker 9/3/20
It’s Thursday, so a variety of stuff from a variety of sources…
First off, thanks Arnold Rosenstein for the above meme—probably one of the best to date!
PERSPECTIVES ON THE CANDIDATES
Some people worry that the President has identified “law and order” as the theme that will take him to reelection. If so, expect many more confrontations between protestors (and, yes, a few rioters) and the National Guard, whom the President no doubt won’t hesitate to call out, over the objection of Governors.
Here is a perspective from a friend who has determined not to vote for either major party candidate:
Big problem. Biden is not a strong leader, even though he is a nice guy. Trump is an awful guy but a strong mindless leader. Also, while I am writing this, I don’t like Biden’s policies…I didn’t vote for President last time and I won’t this time. Lousy choices Glenn.
But I would vote for you!!!!!!!!!
So if Mitt Romney votes for his wife and Bob votes for me, she and I will be tied for the Presidency!
A BOOK ON CONSPIRACIES AND COUNTER-FACTUAL ARGUMENTS
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, by Kurt Andersen: David Rievman recommends this book. If you can quote Demosthenes, Philip K. Dick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan in one passage, you’ve got something going for you…!
• “The easiest thing of all is to deceive oneself; for we believe whatever we want to believe.”—DEMOSTHENES
• “Unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities. Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”—PHILIP K. DICK
• “You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”—DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN"
LEONARD BERNSTEIN, REDUX
I received several thoughtful responses to my choice of the Overture to Candide two Saturdays ago. This is from my go-to expert on musicals, Howard Kroll:
As far as Leonard Bernstein, I think On The Town is his best work (and apparently forgotten by you). Candide’s Overture is one of the best Overtures in musical history – parts of Candide are brilliant and others are horrendous.
Just as an aside, do you realize how many Rodgers & Hammerstein major musicals have someone die? Oklahoma, Carousel, South Pacific, King & I.
Howard, I didn’t forget about On The Town. I just didn’t think it was his best work. That said, for those who want to see a bit, here is the amazingly cheesy trailer for the movie starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and Ann Miller, with the quaint tag-line near the end: “Twice as Gay as Anchors Away!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ri4OegFn3Jk
Regarding the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon that seems focused on deaths of significant characters, I hadn’t really considered it, so thanks for the insight. Thankfully no one died in Flower Drum Song (well, other than the near-death of the American musical in this tone-deaf rendering of Asian-American life).
GINGER OR MARY ANN?
Slightly less high-brow is Marc Rosenbach’s musings after reading Alexander Pope’s “Ode to Solitude,” written when the poet was only 12 years old:
I marvel that Pope wrote that beautiful poem at age 12. It takes me back to my forgettable formative years when my depth of intellect was challenged by the fiercely debated argument of the time. Ginger or Mary Ann. At that age, the choice was simple. I fancied hot and shallow so Ginger occupied my fantasy thoughts (that was code). It wasn’t until years later that I realized Mary Ann was both hot and smart, making her the obvious choice.
ABSURDITY OF THE DAY
This was passed along by several friends. This woman recently published a book arguing that looting is a legitimate way of expressing protest. I’m not sure when the left-most wing of political discourse officially “jumps the shark,” but this just might be it. This positioning—that looters are in fact protestors and protestors are in fact looters—and that lawlessness is a legitimate means of political discourse, feeds into a narrative that may help re-elect Donald Trump. Here are her own words:
[Looting] attacks the very way in which food and things are distributed. It attacks the idea of property, and it attacks the idea that in order for someone to have a roof over their head or have a meal ticket, they have to work for a boss, in order to buy things that people just like them somewhere else in the world had to make under the same conditions. It points to the way in which that's unjust. And the reason that the world is organized that way, obviously, is for the profit of the people who own the stores and the factories. So you get to the heart of that property relation, and demonstrate that without police and without state oppression, we can have things for free.
Importantly, I think especially when it's in the context of a Black uprising like the one we're living through now, it also attacks the history of whiteness and white supremacy. The very basis of property in the U.S. is derived through whiteness and through Black oppression, through the history of slavery and settler domination of the country. Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police. It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that's a part of it that doesn't really get talked about—that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory.
That someone purports to hold these views and they are seemingly acceptable in some academic circles would seem more likely to be found in a parody in The Onion, if it weren’t actually true: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2020/08/27/906642178/one-authors-argument-in-defense-of-looting
Enough for now…