For me, SNL set the standard for funniness four decades ago with a fake car commercial in which a mohel does a briss to show the smoothness of the ride. Hillary's skit as Val the bartender did not approach that level. But she was appealing, good-natured, and self-deprecatory. Well done. And I liked the way Huma Abedin was worked into it. It doesn't hurt Hillary that I can imagine her as my bartender; few of the Republican candidates pass that test.
My friend Matsimela saw this Thursday afternoon on the NYC subway.
Matt Baume is right. I have been wondering how many women Matt Damon has paraded in front of the cameras on red carpets. Look, I think Mr. Damon is a lovely guy, and I am sure he means well. But he should please just STFU.
Randy Shulman's blistering review of Stonewall. Below, Brian T. Carney's review for the Blade.
Schlocky 'Stonewall' misses the point http://t.co/MNFXas4l8Z— Washington Blade (@WashBlade) September 24, 2015
Congrats to Viola Davis for making it across the line, and for putting her historic win in context.
The Advocate reports:
A new clip of the Stonewall film has been released, and it features a pioneer of the LGBT rights movement.
The video introduces the viewer to Marsha P. Johnson (The P stands for 'Pay It No Mind'!), who is known as one of the first LGBT activists to fight back during the Stonewall riots. She and her friend Sylvia Rivera were prominent activists in New York who fought for gay liberation and rights for transgender women.
Previously, the trailer for the film, directed by Roland Emmerich, has been criticized for eclipsing the role of trans activists and people of color in its depiction of one of the most famous moments in LGBT history. The Stonewall riots, a series of 1969 demonstrations against police in Greenwich Village, are considered the birth of the modern LGBT rights movement.
Key And Peele spoof America's favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Stage and screen actor Dean Jones, known for his Disney films and to Broadway fans as the original Bobby from Stephen Sondheim's Company, is dead at 84. May he rest in peace. The above recording session clip from 1970 is thrilling. And Elaine Stritch looks so young.
A memorial gathering for Kyle Jean-Baptiste was held today at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. He fell to his death from a fire escape on August 29. At 21 he was the youngest and the first African American to play Valjean on Broadway. May he rest in power.
Three words from a Trump tweet: Clownstick von Fuckface.
He sure keeps us guessing, doesn't he: Pope Francis gives blessing to author of gay children's book http://t.co/bPtZ7BiQ8c— huffpostgay (@huffpostgay) August 28, 2015
Another charming gesture by Pope Francis. That is fine as far as it goes; but I am a policy man, and pastoral gestures are not enough. He will be in D.C. three weeks from now as part of his visit to the United States. The closest I expect to get is when he visits St. Matthew's Cathedral, which is three blocks south of my apartment. I wish him well, and certainly consider him a vast improvement over his predecessor. But I am now 59. I was 23 when I first was in D.C. during a papal visit in 1979. I long ago stopped waiting for what my friend Craig calls Holy Mother the Church, Inc. to reform itself. I send my best wishes to those who made a different choice and continue to push for change from within the community of the faithful.
In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:
Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.
When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.
This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.
After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.
The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."
#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards
Straight Outta Compton is a stirring and superbly done movie. Not to be missed. It is eerie how current it is. This is compelling storytelling.
Part of the controversy over the new Roland Emmerich film about the Stonewall riots, of which we have only seen the trailer, is bound up in ongoing battles over historical revisionism and the substitution of favored myths for evidence. For those interested in what really happened, I recommend David Carter's Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution.
My Blade column this week looks at Keith Hamilton Cobb's tour de force performance in his all-too-timely play, American Moor, now showing at Washington's Anacostia Playhouse:
The lively arts can give us fresh eyes when they beguile us into identification with other people and places. In the body and voice of a living performer, a long-vanished composer or playwright can provoke a flash of recognition. Such moments can bind us together more than political arguments could do. Yet their transformative power flies on delicate wings. It requires collaboration and vision and receptivity and mutual challenge. Our impulse to connect can be thwarted in a hundred ways.
The urge to come together despite difference is brought powerfully and movingly to life in the play American Moor, written and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, at Anacostia Playhouse through August 16. The situation is an actor's audition. His agent used to tell him, "You're an actor. You can do anything!" But people didn't buy him as 'anything,' only as one thing. He is invisible, as Ralph Ellison wrote, because people refuse to see him. So the tall black thespian, with unrealized visions of Hamlet, Prince Hal, and Romeo dancing in his head, tries out for Othello.
While waiting, he recalls his student days when he recited Titania's "forgeries of jealousy" speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream. His skeptical teacher asks why he chose Titania. "I like what she says," he answers. "The Faerie Queen?" the teacher mocks. "Yeah, sure." Decades later, his intoxication with Shakespeare still inspires him to climb into selves unlike his own. He channels Desdemona's thoughts of Othello: "For the fact that such as you so much as breathes I am jubilant. I feel you deeply, great and lovely thing, in my heart, and in my throat, and in my belly."
Ironically, the actor himself is caught in a mistaken identity, like an unarmed black man stopped by police on a false suspicion. The young white director's privilege blinds him to the possibility that the tall black actor might understand the tall black character better than he. The actor confronts him: "It will not grace my cause, nor Othello's cause, the play's cause, the American theatre's cause, to pretend that I don't know that you are frightened of me. You are afraid of me. I am afraid that nothing will ever change. And these are the forgeries of jealousy."
Emmerich, who is gay, insists that the movie features activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro. I will withhold judgment until I see the movie.
Blast from the past--favorite lines from Shakespeare Theatre production of Coriolanus, 1999-2000 season, delivered by Keith Hamilton Cobb (@KeithHamCobb) as Tullus Aufidius:
Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarr'd the moon with splinters: here I clip
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sigh'd truer breath; but that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold.
(Keith Hamilton Cobb as Tullus Aufidius. Photo by Carol Rosegg.)
Mighty white of them. It's as if they were listening to @KeithHamCobb in his searing American Moor, as he challenges the director during an audition for the non-operatic version of Othello:
You ain’t gotta pick me. But you’re gonna respect that walkin’ in the door, purely by virtue of being born Black in America, I know more about who this dude is than anybody could ever teach you.
I seem a little angry to you?... You think any American Black man is gonna play Othello without being in touch with his anger... at you? If that’s what you think, then you better go back to having white guys do it...
I cannot praise highly enough the author and star of American Moor, Keith Hamilton Cobb (@KeithHamCobb), at Anacostia Playhouse through August 16. If you love theater, and Shakespeare in particular, do not miss this. His passion, love, intelligence, and rage are powerfully and movingly expressed. The situation is an audition for Othello, but the first character he inhabits is that of Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Wonderful stuff.
There is so much hating on Kanye West, I thought I'd show you this video in which his decency shines. Caitlyn Jenner gives him credit for helping Kim Kardashian deal with Caitlyn's transition. And in case you forgot, Kanye came out strongly against homophobia in hip-hop ten years ago.
I wish I were there. So proud of these guys.