Friday, May 21, 2010


This morning while I was waiting for the bus, a sweet elderly Greek woman joined me at the bus stop.  Through her broken English, I could make out that she was on her way to English classes and wanted some help practicing her most recent lesson en route.  What was most striking, though, was the fact that just like American tourists abroad, she spoke loudly and slowly as if that would help her message get through better.  When Americans do that, it's irritating.  When Gigia Immigrantakis does it, it's adorable.  Clearly it's not an issue of behavioral--we Americans are just annoying.

A friend announced her impending trip to the gynecologist in her Facebook status and followed it up with "See you on the other side."  I'm not sure whether it was a brilliant or unfortunate choice of words.  Either way, I giggled like a little girl.

In honor of Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City named a Broadway theatre after him.  What once was "Henry Miller's Theatre" is now the Stephen Sondheim theatre.  A Broadway house named after arguably the most influential artist in the history of American Musical Theatre.  And what venerable show will have the distinction of playing under the new marquee bearing this Broadway legend's name?  The Pee Wee Herman Show.  Connect the dot dot dot dot dot dot sitting dot dot waiting...tra la la!  Pity Gerard Alessandrini stopped writing Forbidden Broadway.  The spoof on THIS show practically writes itself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An academic argument?

Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow interviewed Dr. Rand Paul, the recent recipient of the Republican nomination for Kentucky's upcoming senate race. She (rightly, I think) told him that the media was going to get hung up on one specific issue--his statements about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, he alluded to the idea that business owners should be able to set their own rules for the patrons they serve.

The whole debate was fascinating and I applaud both Rachel Maddow and Rand Paul for their civil disagreement. (Video is below...and I highly recommend it.) Considering Dr. Paul's argument, I wholeheartedly support a business owner's right to bar patrons wielding guns from entering the premises. Likewise, I think the anti-smoking laws as applied to private businesses are ridiculous--if a bar or restaurant owner wants to cater to smokers, then those of us who don't like to smell like chimneys simply shouldn't patronize the establishment. And it's the same with seat belt laws. I wouldn't dream of riding in a car without a seat belt, but some knucklehead's choice not to wear one doesn't in any way affect their ability to drive.

Rachel kept trying to get a clear, concise answer from Dr. Paul clarifying his statements about the part of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits a business owner from barring clientele based on their race. Dr. Paul wouldn't give her a simple answer. But instead of a concise answer, he kept repeating platitudes to the tune of "I abhor racism, but the first amendment protects the numbskulls' rights to say offensive things."

While I agree that for the first amendment to work, we have to allow assholes their (ahem) assholery, essentially he was avoiding making a statement his opposition could use as a sound bite to call him a racist. Which makes sense politically, I guess. He's saying that no matter how abhorrent the idea of racism, the first amendment protects the rights of a racist to be a racist...and a racist business owner should be able to express that racism by limiting access to his business. Just like an anti-gun business owner should be able to bar guns from his establishment.

But when it comes to barring someone from a business because of their race, the government has a responsibility to step in.

What Dr. Paul fails to mention is that gun ownership (along with smoking and wearing seat belts) is a choice. Race is not. There's an idea that "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins"--the idea being that your freedom of expression ends when you impinge on another person's well-being. You can be a racist in this country, but not when it encroaches on someone else. You can be a sexist in this country, but not when it becomes sexual harassment. Business owners can bar people from entering the establishment based on modesty (No shirt, no shoes, no service)...they can toss people out for behavior deemed inappropriate...and until 1964 they could prohibit patronage based on race. But one of these things is not like the others. And the government rightly stepped in and corrected that.

Rand Paul spins a pretty argument--one that on the surface appeals to staunch defenders of free speech. But until Dr. Paul acknowledges that it is a perversion of the first amendment to use it to justify the creation of "whites only" establishments, this issue will continue to dog his campaign...and may cost him the election.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

While we're waiting...

My computer is taking forever to boot. So while we wait, here's a photo I took last week at the High Line park. Yay pictures!

My computer is now up and running.  Adding the link and back to work.