Non est scriptor coegi licentia

no car memory

no drivers licenseWhen I posted on Facebook a link to this post about trying to get from Binghamton to Albany, it generated a fair amount of conversation.

One buddy of mine asked: “Not that it’s any of my business, but curiosity is killing me: Why not drive?” I replied, “Because I have no license.” Or according to a translator: “Non est scriptor coegi licentia.”

This is true, as far as it goes. But more accurate, I suppose, is that I’ve NEVER had a driver’s license. Not ever. And while it’s just the way I am, it’d be disingenuous to think it wasn’t peculiar to most Americans. So I suppose it’s time to take a deep dive into that fact.

So I started free-associating and came up with over 1800 words. This means I’ll have to break this up into three chunks.

I don’t “get” cars

My parents both drove. My sisters both drive. It was never that important to me, except for a couple of brief times, which I’ll share with you eventually.

I have no car memory. That is, I didn’t care about cars growing up. I don’t know what model of cars my parents owned except one, I think, was a “woody,” with a faux wood exterior.

And I didn’t keep track of what kind of models each car maker made. I mean Chevrolet had the Chevette and some other “ch” lines. Ford had the Fairlane and the Mustang. But that’s about it. To this day, when I see a car model category on JEOPARDY, I respond exceedingly poorly.

Moreover, I never daydreamed about driving a car. I got around pretty well on foot, going to school and church, even walking three miles each way on Sunday afternoons to go to a second church. I had my bicycle, and occasionally, rode the bus.

In fact, my recurring nightmare was being in the back seat of a car, and the vehicle crashes through the side of the bridge, sinking rapidly into the river. (It was probably the Court Street Bridge into the Chenango River in Binghamton.)

The ex-husband of a friend of mine would ask me, “How do you not drive?” And since I never did, I had no good answer.

Ridin’ thumb

Even before I went to college, I started hitchhiking, from Binghamton to New Paltz, where my girlfriend at the time was attending. I took that stretch of road several times.

Speaking of which, the most serious car accident I was ever in happened when I was getting out of a car after a ride. A woman who had some physical limitation was unable to apply the brakes and plowed into that car while I was halfway out. I swore I’d never be like the driver in a situation like that.

I spent two days in the hospital, a week resting at home, then, when my right shoulder gave out, four weeks of physical therapy.

At some point, I got what was the first of seven driver’s permits, the document one needs to try to learn to drive. I think my first lesson was in the Okie’s Volvo? Saab? In any case, it had a manual transmission, and she screamed at me because I was going to burn out her clutch. And that was the end of that.

Later, she had a red car with push-button automatic transmission. Once I tried to drive it around the parking lot of the Colonial Arms apartments in New Paltz. It was uneventful until I accidentally went in reverse, knocking over a Dumpster! Surprisingly, the car appeared OK.

During this period, my good friend Uthaclena once tried to teach me to drive. I must have been quite terrible since he STILL shudders when he talks about it. I thought I was doing fine.

More soonish.

 

June rambling: a blow to the head

Sign by LP Green, 2021

How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.

Future-proofing the presidency. How to thwart the next American tyrant.

Trump’s Next Coup.

Chicago’s predictive policing program told a man he would be involved with a shooting.

Far-Right Gang Killed Cop In Plot To Blame 2020 Protest Violence On ‘Leftists’.

Hatred lives in a Nashville millinery shop.

NEJM: Dilemmas of Double Consciousness — On Being Black in Medicine.

John Oliver: Asian Americans.

The Mogul and the Monster. Jeffrey Epstein’s longstanding business ties with his most prominent client, billionaire retail magnate Leslie Wexner. hold the key.

What happens if the U.S. can’t reach herd immunity.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
– Anne Lamott

Solidarity

Even though most establishments no longer require mask wearing for the fully vaccinated – and I am – I’ve opted to wear a mask indoors for the nonce. This is in support of the store workers, most of whom are still required to mask up.

Signs Of a Toxic Work Culture—And How To Correct Them.

 Remote Workers Could Quit When Asked to Return to the Office.

Best Websites to Help Kids Learn From Home in 2021.

Amy Biancolli: lessons from a blow to the head.

 7 VA Loan Tips for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Spouses.

 Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So they built a ‘miracle’ village.

How to Be Sustainable in College: 18 Green Tips for Students.

Eric Carle didn’t want his hungry caterpillar to get a stomach ache.

When I heard that F. Lee Bailey, the “high-flying defense attorney” had died, the first person I told was Paul Rapp. Seriously.

Larry Gelman, R.I.P.

Jack Parker White (1931-2021). He was the husband of my wife’s cousin Diane, who I’d see almost every year at the Olin family reunion near Binghamton. He, my late FIL Richard, and I would test each other over baseball statistics.

Speaking of baseball, Ken Levine on how he’d fix MLB. I agree with most of these, especially getting rid of the abomination of “the stupid extra-inning rule where a runner starts at second base.” But the shift, and fouling off ideas I wouldn’t change.

How ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’ Saved Disney.

 Sister Cindy Is a TikTok Star. “Some of those who turn out to see her [said] they question whether her internet celebrity status is deserved.” Is “internet celebrity status” deserved?

Johnny Carson as Reagan, a “Who’s On First” spoof.

15 Clichés To Avoid With a Ten-Foot Pole.

Now I Know: The Buses That Make a Bee Line and The Tribe With the DIY Spies and Evolution, Eyebrows, and the Pets We Love and The Kids Are All Right and Why The NYC Police Darkened Their Blues and Refrigerators that Ribbit?

MUSIC

Nite Ride and Sunrise by Jean Sibelius.

You Really Got Me – MonaLisa Twins.

The Last of England by Nikolas Labrinakos.

In Her Family – Peter Sprague,  featuring Rebecca Jade.

Black Dog –  Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Coverville 1359: The Bob Dylan Cover Story VIII and 1360: Cover Stories for Psychedelic Furs, Keane and the Four Tops.

Tiny Dancer – Elton John.

Flags at half-staff: who’s being honored?

COVID deaths, mass shootings, notable deaths

half-staffWalking home from the store back on March 31, I wondered why the flag nearish the police station was at half-staff.

According to this: “Governor Andrew M. Cuomo ordered flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff in honor of New York State Trooper Joseph Gallagher, who died from injuries he suffered three years ago when he was struck by a vehicle while on duty assisting a disabled motorist. Flags will be at half-staff beginning on [March 28] and through interment (April 7, 2021).”

This may explain why the nearby school had its flag at full staff. It’s not a state building. It is also possible they didn’t get the memo since my wife’s school has complied.

Flags Express notes when a state, or the nation, lowers flags. Just in March, Alaska had three successive days. March 29: Vietnam Veterans Day. March 30: death of former Alaska State Representative Katie Hurley. March 31: the passing of former Alaska State Representative Ramona ‘Gail’ Phillips.

From one to the next

March 23-27, 2021 – Half Staff Alert – Entire United States. “As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 22, 2021, in Boulder, Colorado… I [Joe Biden] hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, March 27, 2021.

“I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”

The problem is that …in response to… “the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 16, 2021, in the Atlanta Metropolitan area,” the flags were at half-staff from March 18-22. In other words, the country went from noting one set of “senseless acts of violence” to the next. (I wonder what is meant by “sensible acts of violence.”)

So flags were ostensibly at half staff in New York State from March 18 through April 7, and a casual observer would not know why. The US flags were down for April 2-5 because the Capitol policeman killed on April 2.

Occasions

It’s interesting to see what warrants a state to have its flag at half-staff. Illinois did it for a YEAR because of COVID deaths. Other states took similar measures for much shorter periods.

Maryland designated February 20, the anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ death, as Civil Rights Heroes Day. Florida noted January 27, 2021, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Georgia lauded Atlanta Braves’ baseball legend Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron from January 22-27.

This is an interesting cultural study. Anyway, I’ve signed up for alerts for New York State and the United States.

Review: The Man Who Sold His Skin

What is art?

the manwho sold his skinThe Man Who Sold His Skin is one of the Oscar nominees for Best International Feature Film. It was written and directed by Kaouther Ben Hania and represented Tunisia. It is mostly in Arabic, though some of the dialogue is in English and French, with subtitles.

Sam Ali (Yahya Mahayni) is a young Syrian, deeply in love with Abeer (Dea Liane). A misinterpreted utterance in a public venue gets him into trouble and he ends up as a refugee in Lebanon. He has a chance encounter with a hot, trendy artist Jeffrey Godefroi (Koen De Bouw), thanks to Godefroi’s aide Soraya (Monica Bellucci).

Jeffrey wants to tattoo Sam’s back and then tour with his “creation.”. Sam agrees because he would be able to travel to Europe and optimally find Abeer.

This is fascinating stuff. Who owns the artwork? How does one make a profit as an artist? And what consideration does the “art”, who is, after all, a human being, receive? Can you “sell” the art? How would THAT work? The conversations with the exhibition halls and the insurance agents are heady musings.

Can you DO that?

Moreover, is the relationship a form of exploitation, or even slavery, of a refugee or a rare opportunity? Is Sam even seen as a person or something less than?

The way art has been recently traded in cryptocurrencies makes the notion of this film far less absurd than it might have been only a few years earlier. And the ending, I swear, I’ve seen a variation of in recent months, but it works. And I won’t tell you where because I hate to provide spoilers.

I was most fond of The Man Who Sold His Skin. The Rotten Tomatoes critics were 94% positive, although the audiences were only 74% thumbs up. John Powers of NPR says, “It weaves together satire and humane political awareness to create an original fable about art, privilege, freedom, and identity.”

All of the Best International Feature Film nominees, except the winner, Another Round, were on Hulu.

My favorite numbers from musicals

“there will be no morning star.”

musicalsBack in April, Mark Evanier linked to someone’s Top 100 Broadway Songs of All Time from 2020. Some took great umbrage with the list, especially with EIGHT songs from Hamilton, and SEVEN from The Book of Mormon. Plus there was a dearth of songs from Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, and Kurt Weill.

Conversely, Dave’s Music Database from 2016 has NO songs from Hamilton. Whereas WhatsOnStage created a pretty balanced list in 2017.

In honor of what would have been the month for the Tonys, I’m going to, instead, pick my favorite numbers from musicals. Moreover, and this will be difficult, I’m going to limit it to one song per show.

I’m not going to worry if it was a song added to the movie version of the Broadway productions. You’re the One That I Want from Grease can be considered. Heck, someone put Over the Rainbow on a list. But nothing from Jersey Boys, or Tina, or Mamma Mia, or Summer, songs that were pop tunes long before the musical.

I recognize that I too would, without discipline, would lean heavily towards the songs in my lifetime. Most of the earlier ones I associate as part of the Great American Songbook. Whereas the later tunes I recognize, mostly from the movie versions of musicals and I have a specific PERFORMANCE in my mind’s ear.

FWIW. Heading towards my favorites. I could have picked at least 20 more songs, including A Musical from Something Rotten!

Mel Brooks

Springtime for Hitler (The Producers, 2001) – the stunned silence of the audience from the 1968 movie at 2:25 is delicious.
Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music, 1973) – I know this largely from the version by Judy Collins
Some Enchanted Evening (South Pacific, 1949) I used to intentionally come up with the mondegreen Sam and Janet Evening
I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables, 1985) – it’s terribly schmaltzy, in a good way
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered – (Pal Joey) – I opted for Ella

Close Every Door (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, 1972) – I always thought Joseph was a thin album, but this was the strongest piece by far. Yes, Donny Osmond.
It’s a Hard-Knock Life (Annie, 1977). This became a pop song in the 1990s, as I have it on one of those compilation discs.
Oklahoma (Oklahoma!, 1943). If I didn’t know how to spell the 46th state, I do now. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and More were considered.
All that Jazz (Chicago, 1975) I also like Cell Block Tango.
Summertime (Porgy and Bess, 1935)- SO many versions, several on the same album.

More Rodgers and Hart

Falling in Love with Love (The Boys from Syracuse, 1938). A song from the Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart. I could have picked This Can’t Be Love, or Sing for Your Supper, covered by the Mamas and the Papas, from this show.
Circle of Life (The Lion King, 1997) – I’ve seen this at least four times, not counting the animated version. Twice a Broadway-level performance at Proctors in Schenectady, once at a high school, and once in a church production featuring my daughter
Don’t Rain on My Parade (Funny Girl, 1964). Barbra’s like butta.
Mack the Knife (The Threepenny Opera, 1928). Of course, it’s the Bobby Darin version, but I like the original too.
Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat (Guys and Dolls, 1950). About 1960, my father worked on a production of this show for Binghamton Civic Theater.

Money makes the world go round – Cabaret. I saw the movie with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey when it first came out. The title track is probably a better SONG, but this resonated more.
Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar, 1971) A pivotal album for me as I went to college. Perhaps I Don’t Know How To Love Him or Heaven on Their Minds could have been chosen.
Edelweiss (The Sound of Music, 1959). This was such a convincing song that people actually thought it was a real folk tune And it’s the reprise that gets to me.
The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In (Hair, 1968) – the reprise of Manchester, England, not the jaunty first version but an anguished one gets to me.
The Time Warp (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1973) The bass vocal line is right in my vocal range.

Who’s gonna pay…

Seasons of Love (Rent, 1996) – higher math.
And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going) from Dreamgirls. This is your basic showstopper.
Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton, 2015). Leslie Odom Jr. said he decided he wanted to do this show after hearing 21 seconds of this song. I could have picked My Shot, Wait for It, or a number of others, but this sets the table.
Tradition (Fiddler on the Roof, 1964). The fact that this story translates into so many languages and cultures is a sign of its enduring strength. I could have picked If I Were A Rich Man or Sunrise, Sunset, but this too sets the table. My second favorite musical.
Tonight/ Quintet (West Side Story, 1957) – when I heard this in the 1961 movie, I practically cried. You can do multiple melodies like that. This is why this was my favorite musical. Oh, and the other songs too, such as Somewhere and America.

What’s on your list?