Open Thread: Shakespeare in the KULCHA! Wars

As reported in the Washington Post:

Two right-wing activists interrupted the Friday evening performance of a controversial production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in New York’s Central Park, causing a stir on social media — where numerous videos of the protest proliferated — and resulting in one woman’s arrest.

In the videos, a woman identified as Laura Loomer, an employee of the far-right website Rebel Media, can be seen storming the stage during the scene of the title character’s assassination, shouting “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right! This is unacceptable!”…

Within the commotion, a second pro-Trump protester, Jack Posobiec, can be seen standing and yelling in the audience, “You are all Goebbels!” and “The blood of Steve Scalise is on your hands!”…

In a string of tweets, the Public Theater confirmed the interruption at its Friday show and said it had been “part of a paid strategy driven by social media.”…

Posobiec, a Washington-based Trump supporter who formerly also worked for Rebel Media, told The Washington Post on Saturday that, contrary to some media reports, he and Loomer did not coordinate their protests. Rather, he had attended the performance at the encouragement of alt-right personality Mike Cernovich, who posted a “challenge” on Periscope last week offering a $1,000 prize for anyone who could get tickets to the play and interrupt the show….

Cash Rules Everything Around Them — dolla-dolla, get tha monee…


(John Wilkes Booth)
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Monday Evening Open Thread: What Would Some Tudor Playwright Know About the Autocratic Abuse of Power?…

New York’s Public Theater lost financial support from two high-profile corporate donors, Delta Air Lines and Bank of America, on Sunday amid intense criticism of its production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” which depicts the assassination of a Trump-like Roman ruler.

The companies’ decisions came after days of criticism online and in right-leaning media outlets that was amplified by Donald Trump Jr., a son of the president, who appeared to call into question the theater’s funding sources on Twitter on Sunday morning…

Bank of America followed hours later, saying it would withdraw financial support from the production of “Julius Caesar” but would not end its financial relationship with the theater, which a bank spokeswoman, Susan Atran, said had lasted for 11 years…

The play, which has been in previews since May 23, is scheduled to open Monday at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park as part of the Public Theater’s free Shakespeare in the Park festival.

“Its depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level,” Jesse Green of The New York Times wrote in his review.

The “vividly staged” production hews to the traditional interpretation of Shakespeare’s work, he wrote. “Even a cursory reading of the play, the kind that many American teenagers give it in high school, is enough to show that it does not advocate assassination. Shakespeare portrays the killing of Caesar by seven of his fellow senators as an unmitigated disaster for Rome, no matter how patriotic the intentions.”…

Other corporate sponsors of the Public Theater, including The Times, have also faced calls on social media to denounce the play or end their relationship with the Public.

A spokeswoman for The Times said the company, which has sponsored Shakespeare in the Park for 20 years, would not change course. In a statement, the company said: ”As an institution that believes in free speech for the arts as well as the media, we support the right of the Public Theater to stage the production as they chose.”…

So, give the Grey Lady credit where due… at least the credit of understanding that Ankh-Morpork New York City dwellers and paid NYT subscribers don’t care how badly the tender fee-fees of Lord Smallgloves and his yahoo online armies are wounded.

Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, what’s on the agenda for the evening?



#ThrowBackThursday: “Who Goes Nazi?”

“The past is never dead; it’s not even past.” Via Tom Scocca’s twitter feed, a Dorothy Thompson Harper’s article from 1941:

It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis…

Mr. B has risen beyond his real abilities by virtue of health, good looks, and being a good mixer. He married for money and he has done lots of other things for money. His code is not his own; it is that of his class—no worse, no better, He fits easily into whatever pattern is successful. That is his sole measure of value—success. Nazism as a minority movement would not attract him. As a movement likely to attain power, it would.

The saturnine man over there talking with a lovely French emigree is already a Nazi. Mr. C is a brilliant and embittered intellectual. He was a poor white-trash Southern boy, a scholarship student at two universities where he took all the scholastic honors but was never invited to join a fraternity. His brilliant gifts won for him successively government positions, partnership in a prominent law firm, and eventually a highly paid job as a Wall Street adviser. He has always moved among important people and always been socially on the periphery. His colleagues have admired his brains and exploited them, but they have seldom invited him—or his wife—to dinner.

He is a snob, loathing his own snobbery. He despises the men about him—he despises, for instance, Mr. B—because he knows that what he has had to achieve by relentless work men like B have won by knowing the right people. But his contempt is inextricably mingled with envy. Even more than he hates the class into which he has insecurely risen, does he hate the people from whom he came. He hates his mother and his father for being his parents. He loathes everything that reminds him of his origins and his humiliations. He is bitterly anti-Semitic because the social insecurity of the Jews reminds him of his own psychological insecurity.

Pity he has utterly erased from his nature, and joy he has never known. He has an ambition, bitter and burning. It is to rise to such an eminence that no one can ever again humiliate him. Not to rule but to be the secret ruler, pulling the strings of puppets created by his brains. Already some of them are talking his language—though they have never met him…

I think young D over there is the only born Nazi in the room. Young D is the spoiled only son of a doting mother. He has never been crossed in his life. He spends his time at the game of seeing what he can get away with. He is constantly arrested for speeding and his mother pays the fines. He has been ruthless toward two wives and his mother pays the alimony. His life is spent in sensation-seeking and theatricality. He is utterly inconsiderate of everybody. He is very good-looking, in a vacuous, cavalier way, and inordinately vain. He would certainly fancy himself in a uniform that gave him a chance to swagger and lord it over others…

Mr. G is a very intellectual young man who was an infant prodigy. He has been concerned with general ideas since the age of ten and has one of those minds that can scintillatingly rationalize everything. I have known him for ten years and in that time have heard him enthusiastically explain Marx, social credit, technocracy, Keynesian economics, Chestertonian distributism, and everything else one can imagine. Mr. G will never be a Nazi, because he will never be anything. His brain operates quite apart from the rest of his apparatus. He will certainly be able, however, fully to explain and apologize for Nazism if it ever comes along. But Mr. G is always a “deviationist.” When he played with communism he was a Trotskyist; when he talked of Keynes it was to suggest improvement; Chesterton’s economic ideas were all right but he was too bound to Catholic philosophy. So we may be sure that Mr. G would be a Nazi with purse-lipped qualifications. He would certainly be purged…



Early Morning Open Thread: Mr. Pence Goes to Hamilton

Virtue signalling — and I don’t mean by the audience/cast. Per the Chicago Tribune:

Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Friday was the latest high-profile person to attend the Broadway hit “Hamilton,” but he became the first to get a sharp message from a cast member from the stage.

Actor Brandon Victor Dixon, who plays Aaron Burr, the nation’s third vice president, gave a speech Friday for his political descendant after the curtain call, telling Pence the multiracial and multicultural cast is worried about the Trump administration.

“We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” Dixon said. “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”

Pence ducked out before Dixon finished the unprecedented message. But a show spokesman said Pence stood in the hallway outside the entrance to the auditorium and heard the full remarks.

The vice president-elect’s appearance at the Richard Rodgers Theatre triggered both cheers and boos when he slipped into row F in the mezzanine.

“Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us, just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen,” Dixon said from the stage. “We’re all here sharing a story about love.”…

Mike Pence, Public Scold of All Immorality, showed up at Hamilton for two reasons. First, getting good seats at the most popular show in one of the world’s top theater cities shows that he, VP-Elect Mike Pence, is now a Very Important Person. (If you were Mike Pence, you wouldn’t believe it without outside confirmation, either.) Second — most important, I’m guessing — Hamilton is a musical about a bunch of New York City immigrants, played by a cast of not-white actors, many of them openly LGBT. People like Mike Pence go to Hamilton to confirm their conviction that New Yorkers have always been filthy immigrants who proudly mock God and “history” while celebrating their perversities with every variety of that noisy jungle music. Getting boo’d at Hamilton gives Mike Pence immense ‘street cred’ with the neo-Nazis clotting around Steve Bannon, official Trump strategist-in-chief; since Bannon has a lot more influence with Trump than Mike Pence will ever accrue, Pence probably enjoyed the public opprobrium more than he did the play itself.
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Excellent Long Read: “Leonard Cohen Makes It Darker”

Suspect there may be a few here who also admire this spiritual seeker / musician. David Remnick, in the New Yorker:

Leonard Cohen lives on the second floor of a modest house in Mid-Wilshire, a diverse, unglamorous precinct of Los Angeles. He is eighty-two. Between 2008 and 2013, he was on tour more or less continuously. It is highly unlikely that his health will permit such rigors ever again. Cohen has an album coming out in October—obsessed with mortality, God-infused, yet funny, called “You Want It Darker”—but friends and musical associates say they’d be surprised to see him onstage again except in a limited way: a single performance, perhaps, or a short residency at one venue. When I e-mailed ahead to ask Cohen out for dinner, he said that he was more or less “confined to barracks.”

Not long ago, one of Cohen’s most frequent visitors, and an old friend of mine—Robert Faggen, a professor of literature—brought me by the house. Faggen met Cohen twenty years ago in a grocery store, at the foot of Mt. Baldy, the highest of the San Gabriel Mountains, an hour and a half east of Los Angeles. They were both living near the top of the mountain: Bob in a cabin where he wrote about Frost and Melville and drove down the road to teach his classes at Claremont McKenna College; Cohen in a small Zen Buddhist monastery, where he was an ordained monk. As Faggen was shopping for cold cuts, he heard a familiar basso voice across the store; he looked down the aisle and saw a small, trim man, his head shaved, talking intently with a clerk about varieties of potato salad. Faggen’s musical expertise runs more to Mahler’s lieder than to popular song. But he is an admirer of Cohen’s work and introduced himself. They have been close friends ever since…

Marianne’s death was only a few weeks in the past, and Cohen was still amazed at the way his letter—an e-mail to a dying friend—had gone viral, at least in the Cohen-ardent universe. He hadn’t set out to be public about his feelings, but when one of Marianne’s closest friends, in Oslo, asked to release the note, he didn’t object. “And since there’s a song attached to it, and there’s a story . . .” he said. “It’s just a sweet story. So in that sense I’m not displeased.”

Like anyone of his age, Cohen counts the losses as a matter of routine. He seemed not so much devastated by Marianne’s death as overtaken by the memory of their time together. “There would be a gardenia on my desk perfuming the whole room,” he said. “There would be a little sandwich at noon. Sweetness, sweetness everywhere.”

Cohen’s songs are death-haunted, but then they have been since his earliest verses. A half century ago, a record executive said, “Turn around, kid. Aren’t you a little old for this?” But, despite his diminished health, Cohen remains as clear-minded and hardworking as ever, soldierly in his habits. He gets up well before dawn and writes. In the small, spare living room where we sat, there were a couple of acoustic guitars leaning against the wall, a keyboard synthesizer, two laptops, a sophisticated microphone for voice recording. Working with an old collaborator, Pat Leonard, and his son, Adam, who has the producer’s credit, Cohen did much of his work for “You Want It Darker” in the living room, e-mailing recorded files to his partners for additional refinements. Age and the end of age provide a useful, if not entirely desired, air of quiet.

“In a certain sense, this particular predicament is filled with many fewer distractions than other times in my life and actually enables me to work with a little more concentration and continuity than when I had duties of making a living, being a husband, being a father,” he said. “Those distractions are radically diminished at this point. The only thing that mitigates against full production is just the condition of my body.

“For some odd reason,” he went on, “I have all my marbles, so far. I have many resources, some cultivated on a personal level, but circumstantial, too: my daughter and her children live downstairs, and my son lives two blocks down the street. So I am extremely blessed. I have an assistant who is devoted and skillful. I have a friend like Bob and another friend or two who make my life very rich. So in a certain sense I’ve never had it better. . . . At a certain point, if you still have your marbles and are not faced with serious financial challenges, you have a chance to put your house in order. It’s a cliché, but it’s underestimated as an analgesic on all levels. Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”…



Open Thread: Not Single Spies, But in Battalions

Those financial filings should certainly prove interesting, per the Buzzfeed article:

In the early 1990s, Trump’s companies filed several major bankruptcies, and the massive court filings in those bankruptcies have been a key part of previous reporting on Trump’s finances.

But those files — totaling thousands of pages — have not been available online before today, though they have been pored over by reporters at a range of outlets. With Trump’s finances the source of intense speculation and interest a month before the election, BuzzFeed News is making them available in full for the first time…

The documents are, in particular, court filings from three of his bankruptcies in 1991 and 1992: The Trump Taj Mahal Casino, Trump’s Plaza, The Trump Castle…

Click over for the full document links.

Speaking of Deadbeat Donnie, I woke up from a nap with a weirdly vivid image of Roger Ailes, Roger Stone, and Sean Hannity as MacBeth’s witches, hovering over an array of soundbanks and monitors, feeding advice to you-know-who while Paul Ryan moaned about the perfumes of Araby. Anybody want to help me with cast the other characters?…

(As a matter of fact, yes I do have a paperback of Barbara Garson’s most famous work around here somewhere…)



Tuesday Evening Open Thread: Ban Sidhe

Ask me, I’d say he was undergoing advanced hair repair therapy, because in press photos from the weekend his latest dye job was matching offputtingly well with the fluorescent-lime bracelets and trinkets in the audience. (Dude: Use some of the cash you’re grifting from the RNC to pay a skilled wig crafter, and save us all a lot of ugliness, okay?)

But maybe he is feeling a cold trickle of electoral doom down his spine…

Apart from politics, what’s on the agenda for the evening?


(via NYMag — yes those are Kara Walker shadow puppets!)