Tuesday, February 16, 2021

FEB. 25 @ 7pm PST: HICK: A LOVE STORY LIVE STREAMED!

 

Terry's HICK
As You've Never
Seen It Before!
More condensed
More Intimate
More Eleanor
with Paula Barish
as E.R.
STREAM IT LIVE!
Go to theexit.org for links to Facebook & Youtube.

Terry Baum's solo play, about the romance of butch journalist Lorena Hickok and patrician First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, has received rave reviews throughout the country -- from San Francisco to New York City to Washington D.C. In all these shows, Paula Barish reads E.R.'s letters on tape. Now, for this live stream, Terry and director Carolyn Myers are thrilled that Paula is joining them to transform HICK from a solo into a duo.  The performance is hosted by Christina Augello, artistic director of EXIT  Theatre.

The presence of Paula has inspired Terry to add more of E.R.'s letters, while condensing the story to 35 minutes. The live performance on the small screen brings an intimacy to the two women's relationship that is different from a stage production. This amazing and true love story is an important part of lesbian history. Mrs. Roosevelt's letters are quoted verbatim. They are used with the permission of the Roosevelt estate.

ALSO: Tuesday, Feb. 23 @ 7pm PST:
HANGING OUT IN THE EXIT CAFÉ
Host Amanda Ortmayer Interviews Terry & Carolyn
Go to theexit.org for links to Facebook & Youtube.

FIND MORE INFO ON HICK: A LOVE STORY, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Three Videos: Impeachment Trial

 


Monday, February 8, 2021

BAUMblog: My Friend is in the New York Times!


I'm not talking my friend is somewhere in the NY Times, mentioned in some article about someone/thing else or appears as an identifiable face in some photo. OH NO. My friend, Michael Goldhaber -- my OLD friend Michael Goldhaber -- has an interview/article about him running across TWO PAGES of the centerfold of the Sunday Review section, which is the most excruciatingly important weekly op/ed forum in the country.

I just thought you'd want to know that about me.


That's the link to the digital NYT, where the article first appeared. I'm hoping it's easier to access. I know a lot of you cannot access the NY Times. So...

The article begins:
  • Michael Goldhaber is the internet prophet you've never heard of. Here's a short list of things he saw coming: the complete dominance of the internet, increased shamelessness in politics, terrorists co-opting social media, the rise of reality television, personal websites, oversharing, personal essay, fandoms and online influencer culture -- along with the near destruction of our ability to focus.
  • Most of this came to him in the mid-1980s, when Mr. Goldhaber, a former theoretical physicist, had a revelation. he was obsessed at the time with what he felt was an information glut -- that there was simply more access to news, opinion and forms of entertainment than one could handle. His epiphany was this: One of the most finite resources in the world is human attention. To describe its scarcity, he latched onto what was then an obscure term, coined by psychologist Herbert A. Simon: "the attention economy."
  • ....Most obviously, he saw Mr. Trump -- and the tweets, rallies and cable news dominace that defined his presidency -- as a near-perfect product of an attention economy, a truth that disturbed him greatly.

Michael looked at the January 6 insurrection through the lens of the attention economy:
  • "You could just see there were so many disparate factions of believers there," he said, remarking on the glut of selfies and videos from QAnon supporters, militia members, Covid-19 deniers and others. "It felt like an expression of a world in which everyone is desperately seeking their own audience and fracturing reality in the process. I only see that accelerating...."
  • His biggest worry, though, is that we still mostly fail to acknowledge that we live in a roaring attention economy. In other words, we tend to ignore his favorite maxim, from the writer Howard Rheingold:

"Attention is a limited resource,
so pay attention to where you pay attention."

I find myself swamped by the attention economy -- even though I don't do social media, don't watch television, don't check the news on my phone, and don't subscribe to any streaming entertainment. There are still SO MANY WAYS I can find to distract myself. I subscribe to two print newspapers, three print newsletters, one print magazine and several online journals. I have a very active email correspondence. I feel a responsibility to keep up with what's going on politically so I can respond to important events in my blog. I also quite like to entertain myself and my email brings me so many options for that. At the moment, I'm jones-ing to read about lesbian weddings in the Style section of the NYT and then watch Marilyn Monroe's last unfinished movie on Youtube. Rosalia sent me a link.

It's not that it would be BAD to read Style and watch the movie. It's that I kinda flounder through my days in a constant state of overwhelm. I need to pay attention to where I pay attention.

Maybe Michael can give me some advice.

We've known each other since I started graduate school in New York in 1969. He was my roommate's cousin. I was awed by him -- I mean, a theoretical physicist! I must confess I only found out he was a THEORETICAL physicist when I read the article. But I knew he was not theoretically a physicist but REALLY and that was impressive enough.

When we both ended up in Berkeley, we became friends. When he talked about the attention economy decades ago, it made sense to me. He was writing a book about it and had gotten an advance from a mainstream publisher. But then his editor moved to another publisher. When your editor leaves, your book becomes what is called an orphan. No other editor wants to take it on, because it's not really THEIR project. And no other publisher is interested either. So that was the end of his book. Nowadays, he would probably publish the book himself. He has continued writing articles and also working on political issues, both local and national.

Starting in 2003, we did a weekly show for a while, talking about current events, OPERATION INFINITE NEWS. Our titled mocked the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which was named OPERATION INFINITE JUSTICE. That's so perfect, isn't it? The invasion was a war crime labeled as its opposite for publicity purposes. Talk about American Exceptionalism! We're so good at that -- finding glorious titles for our war crimes.
We had a lot of fun at first. Michael's as obsessed with reading the newspaper as I am. But it wasn't an easy thing keep up. Yes, it's done on television -- but with a very large team of writers. We were attempting something similar just the two of us.

I don't remember how long we did it -- six weeks? two, three months? It was just too hard for the two of us to comment on an entire week of news in a continually entertaining fashion. I think I was the one who wanted to stop. Maybe I had another project that called me. I wish we had some video footage
of it. But those were the days when not everything was recorded. The attention economy was not yet that developed.

In any case, I think we all should consider paying more attention to what we're paying attention to. We DO have control over it. And I'm thrilled that my old friend Michael's ideas are finally getting the ATTENTION they deserve.

Bloggelinis, I hope you will choose to pay attention to BAUMblog as long as I write it, but I will alway understand if you choose not to. HOWEVER if you're my friend & live in the Bay Area, then you HAVE TO pay attention to my plays by attending a performance. THAT is NOT optional.

Also, in my overwhelm, I went through a long period of not paying attention to your emails, even though I love to read & answer them. Why did I deny myself that pleasure? I'm back in the email saddle again and hope to catch up on everything. Terry

 

BAUMblog: "Her Wife," She said

 


Most weekdays, I join San Francisco Zen Center's morning meditation. Perhps "most" is pushing it. I INTEND to join it Monday through Friday. I frequently do. There is always a service of chanting and bowing after sitting. During the service, we see the Abbot in the Buddha Hall and follow along with his actions, while Kodo, a monk announces what comes next.

Yesterday, Kodo announced that we would be having a memorial service that would be led by Tova, one of the senior members instead of the usual service. One of Tova's very close friends had just died. She showed a photo of her friend (I think her name was Jamie, can't remember) and described her joyful and productive life. She said, "Jamie was very devoted to her wife and children."

Tova, a lesbian herself, did not emphasize the words "her wife." She didn't express pride that her friend was legally married to a woman or celebrate that fact in any way. Tova was merely DESCRIBING Jamie's life. She spoke as if two women getting married was a normal, even common, thing to do.

It was wonderful. It was healing for me.

I just want to acknowledge the enormous amount of suffering that has been alleviated by the victories of gay rights, culminating with the barriers to marriage falling away.

I know that there is still so much to do, in the world and in this country. I don't deny that. But when Tova said those words "her wife," she healed me a little.


All for now, Bloggelinis. Terry

Thursday, February 4, 2021

MORAL COMPLEXITY

 

George Washington, "The Father of Our Country"

I figure when the NY Times publishes an op/ed on what's going on in San Francisco, it's time for this San Francisco blogger to weigh in.

So I'm writing about moral complexity today. I want to talk about the decision by the San Francisco Board of Education to change the names of all schools that honor anyone with the slightest whiff of political incorrectness, including Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

As a San Franciscan, I find the action by the Board of Ed embarrassing.

Look, all those statues in the South that were taken down, that's a different issue. They were put up FOR THE SOLE REASON that those men fought to keep black people in bondage. Every one of those statues was a statement that the Confederates may have lost the war, but they had won the peace. And every black person who walked by those statues was very aware of that message. Those statues HAD TO come down. And any naming, like the military bases that honor generals whose GREAT ACCOMPLISHMENT was to defend slavery, must be changed.

But to say that we cannot honor anyone who did ANYTHING reprehensible by today's standards is stupid. As a woman, a Jew, and a lesbian, I tell you that I do NOT want people automatically thrown in the dustbin of history for committing sexist, antisemitic or homophobic acts. For one thing, that would require TOO MANY dustbins! All of history would be a bunch of dustbins!

Because....
GUESS WHAT! PEOPLE ARE HUMAN, WHICH MEANS COMPLEX, FLAWED, AND INCONSISTENT. AND THEY ARE LIMITED BY THE TIMES IN WHICH THEY LIVE.

AS ARE WE.

To name a school after someone is to honor that person. There's no question about that. To remove that honor and consign 44 people to the dustbin without seriously weighing the sum total of their lives, as the San Francisco Board of Education has done ... How can I put it? It's not a very educational thing to do.

Let's have discussions about these men and women.

Have the students in each school research and discuss the life of the person their school honors with big letters over the front door. Let the students at a school named for FDR seriously consider his terrible decision to intern all the Japanese Americans during World War II. Let them think about whether that outweighs all the good he did. Let the students learn to research, to debate, to think critically about history.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it?

And if, in the end, the students decide that FDR's internment of the Japanese does indeed outweigh his creation of a safety net to help people in need, his creation of the New Deal which broke the back of the Great Depression, and his courageous leadership during World War II -- I say, if they want to change the name of their school after they've contemplated the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly of FDR's life -- then I can accept that. I might disagree with them, but I can accept it.

For me, George Washington is the most problematic. The other Founding Fathers considered him THE essential man if the brand-new country was going to survive. He inspired awe. Just his presence as Chairman at the Constitutional Convention helped attendees rise above their differences and find common ground. He could have been king or President for life, if he so chose. But he chose to step down after two terms, creating a tradition of orderly succession.

And he legally owned other people. When I visited Mount Vernon, his beloved plantation home, I was overwhelmed with the reality that The Father of Our Country was a slaveowner. I could hardly breathe the whole time I was there.

And Washington KNEW slavery was wrong. Yet he only freed his slaves in his will. Is that more or less reprehensible than someone who actually believes that God destined black people to be slaves?

I think that's an interesting question for discussion. Should everything in the U.S. named for Washington change its name? That's an interesting question for discussion TOO!

The roots of this country are so twisted, tormented. We are still being punished for our original sin of slavery. SO LET'S TALK ABOUT IT!

And please, let's honor people for what they got right and think seriously before we throw them in the trash for what they got wrong.

If you'd like to protest the Board of Ed's decision, here's a petition to sign:


Bloggelinis: Maybe it's not the worst thing in the world, what the School Board is doing. But it's so EMBARRASSING when San Francisco provides fodder for right-wing satire and I AGREE with what Fox News about it. I just hate that. Terry

Friday, January 29, 2021

BAUMblog: Unity Schmoonity #2

January 29, 2021


Unity Schmoonity #2


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When last heard from, unity inspired a decent inaugural address and an otherwise dynamite poem. But it doesn't seem to do much for Republicans in Congress. I think Biden made a serious tactical error in puffing up that very vague concept, "unity." Because now the right-wing pundits can whine that he talked the unity talk but is not walking the unity walk --- THANK GOODNESS!

After all, there is nothing unifying about cancelling the Keystone Pipeline. Some folks thought the pipeline was the greatest thing since sliced bread, and other folks thought it meant setting fire to the planet and trashing ancestral Indian lands. Fortunately, Biden's granddaughters have no interest in unity, at least on matters of global warming, and he's got to stay in THEIR good graces!

Yes, I'm counting on Biden's granddaughters to pull Pops along. I know, I know, some were counting on Ivanka to temper Trump, and look how THAT worked out! But I think Joe's grandkids have a hell of a lot more integrity than Trump's daughter. Plus they're YOUNG. They're in the Screwed Generation. Those kids owe it to their contemporaries to use their power.

But I digress.

Unity. Sometimes known as bipartisanship when it has to do with Congress. And it IS a fine thing when both sides can support a bill. And I'm sure if Biden decided to give a great big tax cut to billionaires, he'd find PLENTY of unity with the Republicans.

I'm sorry, but this "unity" business is a pile of crap and it's what the Democrats have ALWAYS done -- that is, stake out a position a quarter of an inch to the left of the Republicans in order to find "unity," and then claim they were the party of We the People. But it simply won't do now because:
  1. Our problems are too urgent. Real solutions to the climate crisis, racial injustice, economic inequality, and rampant right-wing insanity (among other things) can be put off no longer.
  2. We the People busted our collective asses to get Biden elected, and we want payback.
  3. Biden's granddaughters.

I am not alone in finding Biden's vaunted "unity" a recipe for total failure.

Paul Krugman, in his "Four Rules That Should Guide Bidenomics in the NY Times, says"Don't count on Republicans to help govern." He points out that Obama was hamstrung by his desperate search for bipartisan support, when he could have passed a much bigger stimulus bill without it.

Krugman has a lot of credibility because he's the ONLY economist who predicted the 2008 crash. He got a Nobel Prize in Economics for actually looking at what was going on and where it was headed. Now he sees us headed into a real bad depression if the government doesn't supply major relief fast:
  • So the new administration will have to be aggressive, using whatever legislative strategies it must to get big things done. By all means, let Biden try to unify the nation; but first he has to save it.

When Biden called for "healing" and "unity" after the Capitol riots, Susan Bro felt compelled to speak up. Her daughter, Heather Heyer, was murdered in 2017 during the demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville. From the NY Times:
  • Healing requires holding perpetrators accountable, Ms. Bro said. Unity follows justice. "Look at the lessons learned from Charlottesville," she said. "The rush to hug each other and sign 'Kumbaya' is not an effective strategy."
Words of truth from the mouth of a mother.

Does anyone really think the man pictured in the photo on the right above, is willing to sing 'Kumbaya' with the man on the left? I get that the man on the left is just dying to do it. But it ain't gonna happen!

Jim Hightower, a wise and delightful progressive spirit, says in his newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown,
"Push hard and fast. Don't settle. Demand big change."
He's talking to Biden, to the Democratic Party, and to ALL OF US!

About old-line Democratic Party power brokers, Hightower has this to say:
  • Preferring to cling to power as a club of comfortable insiders, they're furious that we upstarts are making gains and pushing Democrats to be...well, DEMOCRATS!...
  • This is not '92 or '08, when incoming Democratic presidents simply said "thank you and goodby" to grassroots backers, then handed the government's economic keys to Wall Street banks and corporate lobbyists. This time progressive forces are neither weak nor meek, and we're not about to be shushed or shooed by Joe or a go-slow establishment.
I subscribe to the Hightower Lowdown, a four-page monthly newsletter. I highly recommend it. He's always inspiring, informative AND fun to read. He's got a weekly email and a podcast too. Connect with Jim Hightower, a progressive Democrat who was once elected the Secretary of Agriculture of TEXAS!

His slogan:
"Everybody Does Better When Everybody Does Better."
Were wiser words ever said? I don't think so.


Here is a very empowering short video from MSNBC with Anand Giridharadas who says, "We are living through a revolt against the future, and we have to be willing to fight tooth and nail, and we have to fight to win." I was directed to this by Common Dreams, "Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community," which I subscribe to. I strongly suggest you check out Common Dreams. It's very helpful to me.

What is to be done?

If you remember, I was inspired to do something to get all the seditious Congress people expelled from their jobs. I asked for help, and Carolyn and Laurie Graham immediately volunteered, I wrote a petition on Change.org and....dropped the ball. Totally. Just didn't do anything. I was overwhelmed by all of Change.org's suggestions of what I must do, I had trouble navigating their site... whatever. I never even published the petition. Or maybe I did. I'm not sure.

I do that sometimes. Just drop the ball. Not always. I do accomplish a fair amount, but sometimes I drop the ball. I apologize, especially to Laurie, who has now sent me a link to someone else's petition to get all the Congresspeople involved in any way with the insurrection booted out. So please sign this:



Bloggelinis, there's so much to do and it's hard to know what to do first. It was certainly much clearer when we could focus on getting Biden elected. That was a simple and invigorating goal. I think we all have to choose at least one thing. I'm not clear at the moment what my thing is, other than BAUMblog. Suggestions? Terry

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

BAUMblog: Navalny's Challenge to Us All

 

I am blown away by Alexei Navalny's courage.

Frequently people become so disgusted with the United States that they contemplate moving to another country. I always say, "No, you cannot do that. You have to stay here and help change this place. We're obligated to do this work." I have felt that, if you're not being threatened with a long jail sentence or something worse, you're obligated to stay.

ON THE OTHER HAND, your obligation ends if you are threatened by a long stay in jail or worse. In my eyes, you are COMPLETELY ENTITLED to flee the country and continue your work from exile or become an honored university professor in some nice quiet country or whatever.

And, if your government goes to all the trouble to POISON you and then you escape and recover -- well, you're NUTS to go to the trouble of GOING BACK.

Navalny is risking his life by his return to Russia. Putin has acted totally predictably by arresting him. How could he not? And now Navalny is dependent on the government that poisoned him for all his food and drink.

I think that Navalny did NOT go back to Russia to challenge PUTIN. He is putting his life on the line to challenge HIS FELLOW CITIZENS. He is saying to THEM, "I am willing to give up my life in the battle against this corrupt tyrant. What are YOU willing to do?"

He could not have known how the Russians would respond to his challenge. People might have said, "My roof is leaking and my kid is sick. I've got a lot on my plate. There's nothing we can do about Putin anyhow. Navalny, you're a fool. You should have stayed where you were safe."

Really, one could say that would have been a rational response. But that is not what happened. The Russian people have risen to Navalny's challenge.

The NY Times had a column by Alexey Kovalev, who is editor of Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet. The headline is:
"Not Just Another Day of Dissatisfaction in Russia."
Crackdown and coercion are no longer enough to discourage Russians from protesting: According to sociologists who studied Saturday's demonstrations, at least 42 percent of all participants were first-time protesters. Mr. Navalny has clearly struck a chord well outside his regular circle of supporters. The Kremlin, its room for compromise limited, is likely to respond with further escalation.

What that might lead to, no one can say. But one thing's certain: It doesn't bode well for anyone.
Sounds kinda scary, doesn't it -- for Navalny, for the demonstrators, for the country.

I cannot comprehend being as brave as Navalny. I don't think I'm capable of risking my life for my ideals. But I don't want to ever forget the example of his courage, which he is acting out before the world at this moment.

Bloggelinis, all for now.
Terry