On Sunday, Tara and I enjoyed an incredible array of performers at the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. EIGHT different music or dance or music-and-dance groups performed. I continue to be astounded at the wealth of talent in the Bay Area community.
Yerba Buena is downtown, between Third & Fourth Streets, across from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It's a lovely oasis in the middle of skyscrapers and has its own small museum. I got there early in case it got crowded, and watched performers rehearsing. I love watching rehearsals. That's my favorite part of theater.
As you can see, it's a small stage in a small park. The chairs were set up in two's, with six feet between each two.
The wonderful thing about Yerba Buena is that the free events are never crowded. I don't know why. I guess that whole place -- park and museum --
has never taken off as an "in" place to be. That's just fine with me, since I wasn't fond of packed crowds even BEFORE the pandemic.
The event was titled "WELCOME BACK TO THE PERFORMING ARTS!", presented by Lamplighters Music Theatre, SF's very own Gilbert & Sullivan troupe.* And what a welcome it was. The whole program was scheduled for two hours, but ran three. That was perfectly fine as far as Tara and I were concerned.
*(The Lamplighters are no slouches. One year, they won the Grand Prize at the International G&S Festival in England.)
All the acts were signed for the hearing impaired by two truly wonderful. You haven't lived until you've seen Gilbert & Sullivan signed. The characters and situations are so exaggerated, and the music is so FAST! The two signers were obviously having a lot of fun. I couldn't take my eyes off them. This is Cathleen Riddley, signing the Modern Major general song.
The photo right is the filled park. We even had the gift of perfect weather! That doesn't happen often.
Watching wonderful performers LIVE LIVELIVELIVE LIVE!
felt so...I don't
know...NORMAL. Did I really used to do this at least a few times a month? Oh, how I've missed it.
I'm only going to show photos of three of the groups. This next one is Ars Minerva, which I'd never heard of before. This company revives long-forgotten baroque operas. They performed excerpts from Messalina by Pallavicino & Piccoli from the 17th Century, which the company describes as "a sex farce with teeth." The title character is a very scandalous Roman empress who lived in the first century and whose life inspired other operas, all of them titled Messalina --- the most famous by de Lara. When I googled the composers of the Ars Minerva Messalina, I found NOTHING! This company doesn't mess around when it says it does "long-forgotten" operas! The singing was great and the costumes were fabulous.
I didn't capture the first phase of Messalina's costume. She enters, prepared for a night on the town -- incognito. The pink rose skirt you see here began flipped up and over the naughty empress's head as an elaborate hood to hide her identity. So first a hood, then a kinda wiggy skirt, and THEN she pulls the skirt off and
she's "naked" (in a body stocking) covered only by her blond tresses and a pink rose! AND she could sing beautifully! AND she looked great in a skin-tight body stocking! AND it was free! Who ARE all these crazy artists in San Francisco who are so talented and wonderful and perform for free or almost nothing?!? Why don't they go somewhere else where they might get famous and make some money or at least have cheaper rent?!?
Next up: Theatre Flamenco SF, with the artistic director, Carola Zertuche, dancing. Flamenco is so elemental: The dancer, the singer, the accompanist. What else could anyone possibly need? Each performer is a superlative artist and gets a chance to show their stuff. But in the end, the two that are seated are there to support and inspire the dancer.
It was a true feast of music and dance in the park in the gentle sunshine. Hmmmmm.... Maybe THAT'S why people keep hanging on in San Francisco!
And THEN we went across the street to savor Diego Rivera's largest and most complex mural that is now in SF Museum of Modern Art. It's in their free public space, whose entrance is around the corner on Howard. You absolutely have to see this gigantic work of art. Rivera named it The Marriage of the Artistic Expression of the North and of the South on this Continent. It is commonly called Pan American Unity. Rivera was commissioned to paint it for the "Art in Action" program hosted by the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. People could watch Rivera working on it. Unfortunately, he didn't finish it before the Exposition ended, so it wasn't fully displayed at that time.
Be sure to pick up a copy of the very detailed brochure that talks about the history of the mural, its symbolism, and identifies every person and thing that Rivera painted.
Click "ART IN ACTION" on the left to watch a video of Rivera painting the mural.
Click the photo right to read/see a wonderful NY Times article about the moving of the mural from CCSF to SFMOMA. (I know that some will not be able to use the link. Sorry.)
Pan American Unity was intended for a library in SanFrancisco that was never built because World War II stopped all non-essential construction. The mural languished in crates on Treasure Island for 20 years. During the McCarthy era in the 1950s, no one wanted it because of Rivera's communist politics. Finally in 1961, it was installed in the theater at City College of San Francisco, the lobby having been redesigned for it. I have been to several productions there, so I've enjoyed this mural over the years. I used to get to the theater at least a half an hour early, so I could spend some time with the mural. I could NOT figured out how it ended up tucked away there. The answer: Because of McCarthyism! Nobody wanted it!
In the CCSF theater, I saw the opera Frida, based upon the life of Rivera's wife. Frida Kahlo. The actress playing Frida not only looked like her, but was an an incredible singer and actress AND a student at CCSF!! (Again, the theme of amazing talent in the Bay Area.) One of the costumes for the opera was a reproduction of what Kahlo wears in the mural! You can spot her in her Zapotec dress. You can't tell from my photo, but Frida is in the precise center of the mural. They were actually divorced when they arrived, separately, in San Francisco. Frida had an adoring San Francisco MD, Dr. Leo Eloesser, who treated her physical AND emotional ills. On his advice,she moved in with Diego, and their love blossomed anew. Thus, her centrality in the mural.
Once again, Rivera’s art sparked controversy -- not because he painted his communist politics but because he portrayed the cruelty of Nazi Germany. It was his way of urging the U.S. to intervene in World War II and protect all of the Americas, including Mexico.
When Kahlo was discharged from the hospital and felt physically and emotionally stronger, she and Rivera remarried at San Francisco City Hall on Rivera’s 54th birthday.
Pan American Unity is something that should be visited many times, so it's good that it's free. Here are a few close-ups:
Well, Bloggelinis, this was a truly great San Francisco day. But I have to tell you, I woke up at 5am thinking about Afghanistan. The day before, I spoke to my friend, Carol Ruth Silver, who helped found a school there and has visited many times. She said the most important thing we can do is contact our President, Senators & Congresspeople and urge them to bring in as many Afghan people as they can as soon as possible, to resettle here. We did it for the Vietnamese. We can do it for the Afghan people. So here again is the contact info: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials . Terry
Oh September 11, 2001, the Twin Towers fell, as a result of a horrific terrorist attack planned and executed by Saudi Arabians. The mastermind of the attack, Osama Bin Laden, had been given shelter by the Taliban, an extreme fundamentalist Moslem movement that ruled Afghanistan. Three days later, on September 14, the U.S. Congress voted on whether to invade Afghanistan.
Only one person, out of 535 members of Congress, voted against the invasion of Afghanistan: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents Berkeley and Oakland.
Now, 20 years later, the U.S. forces are withdrawing in defeat, leaving the country in total chaos as the Taliban resume control. I'm relieved we're withdrawing and heartbroken at the horrible mess we made. It is important to look back on what Barbara Lee said before she cast her lonely vote against invasion. She was given only a minute and a half. She spoke for 2 1/2 minutes. She saw the future.
PLEASE WATCH THIS SHORT VIDEO.
IT IS VERY MOVING TO SEE
HOW EMOTIONAL, HOW GRIEF-STRICKEN LEE IS.
Click the photo to see the video:
The conventional wisdom was that, by voting no, Lee had destroyed her political career. She'd just gone too far out, even for the Bay Area. Of course that was not true, not for a moment. So many of us felt like she did. Immediately there were bumper stickers everywhere: "Barbara Lee Speaks for Me."
Lee wrote an essay a few days after her vote. Please read how she expanded on her decision:
We must respond, but the character of that response will determine for us and for our children the world that they will inherit. I do not dispute the president's intent to rid the world of terrorism — but we have many means to reach that goal, and measures that spawn further acts of terror or that do not address the sources of hatred do not increase our security.
Secretary of State Colin Powell himself eloquently pointed out the many ways to get at the root of this problem — economic, diplomatic, legal and political, as well as military. A rush to launch precipitous military counterattacks runs too great a risk that more innocent men, women, children will be killed. I could not vote for a resolution that I believe could lead to such an outcome.
So Colin Powell -- a five-star general before he was Secretary of State -- could imagine many other ways of responding to the terrorist attach of 9/11.
Really, when you come right down to it, the invasion Iraq represented a tremendous failure of imagination:
A total inability to imagine what might result from the invasion
A deadening refusal to explore other options.
While a lot of people are attacking Biden for withdrawing, I have read many columns by veterans of Afghanistan who saw, up close, that this war was futile from the beginning, and they all support Biden's decision. To read the words of a man who lost his legs in Afghanistan, click this headline:
As much as I support Biden's decision to leave Afghanistan, I have to face the fact that, his plans to help those Afghans who worked with the us are woefully lacking.
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
Contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they take
in Afghan refugees without all the paper work. We need to accept everyone who wants to leave right now. Let's save the paperwork for later. Many of the people who worked for the U.S. don't speak English. It's outrageous to expect them to fill out complex forms in an unknown language before they can get out. This is not a radical idea. Many people are saying this. Here's the link: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
Sometimes, the most important thing you can do is
STOP SOMETHING BAD FROM HAPPENING.
Bloggelinis, we've got a democracy emergency here in California. We've got this recall election of the Governor coming up on September 14. It is a completely undemocratic, and even unconstitutional, event. We need to work really hard starting now because people are now receiving their mail-in ballots, and keep it up until Election Day. Otherwise, we could end up with a right-wing Republican governor for our fair state.
That's right, Bloggelinis.
A RIGHT-WING REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR IS A VERY STRONG POSSIBILITY UNLESS WE ALL BUST OUR ASSES UNTIL SEPT. 14 TO GET THE WORD OUT TO VOTE "NO" ON THE RECALL.
First, people -- in this case Republicans from San Diego, the most conservative city in California -- pay to circulate petitions calling for a special election to recall an elected official. If you have enough money, you can get pretty much ANYTHING on the ballot.
THE BALLOT LOOKS LIKE THIS:
So first you vote on whether you want to throw Gov. Newsom out of office. A "Yes" vote means you DO want to throw him out. A "No" vote means you want him to remain Governor.
At this moment in the polls,
the "Yes" and the "No" votes are running neck-and-neck!
There are 46 candidates to replace Newsom. Now, if the majority votes "No" on Side 1, it doesn't matter how people vote on Side 2. Newsom remains Governor. But if the majority votes "Yes" on Side 1, that's another thing entirely. Whoever gets the most votes on Side 2 -- and it doesn't have to be a majority -- becomes the new Governor. Newsom is NOT allowed to be a candidate on Side 2.
If you are having trouble grasping the mechanics of this recall, it's
understandable because the whole thing is RIDICULOUS! IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE! So here is an op-ed from the NY Times to clearly explain this bizarre phenomenon, the California recall.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the School of Law at UC Berkeley, writes:
Imagine that 10 million people vote in the recall election and 5,000,001 vote to remove Mr. Newsom, while 4,999,999 vote to keep him in office. He will then be removed and the new governor will be whichever candidate gets the most votes on the second question. In a recent poll, the talk show host Larry Elder was leading with 18 percent among the 46 candidates. With 10 million people voting, Mr. Elder would receive the votes of 1.8 million people. Mr. Newsom would have the support of almost three times as many voters, but Mr. Elder would become governor.
That scenario is not a wild hypothetical. Based on virtually every opinion poll, Mr. Newsom seems likely to have more votes to keep him in office than any other candidate will receive to replace him. But he may well lose the first question on the recall, effectively disenfranchising his supporters on the second question.
This is not just nonsensical and undemocratic. It is unconstitutional.
In other words, far more people will have voted for Newsom for Governor than for any other candidate... BUT HE WILL HAVE LOST.
Chemerinsky goes on to describe the two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that make such an election unconstitutional and suggests that the current Supremes just throw out the damn recall election, which they can do. Good luck with THAT idea, Erwin.
Larry Elder, who will very probably be Governor if Newsom loses on Side 1, is a right-wing Republican talk show host who has used his platform to spread the lies of anti-vax conspiracy theorists. Elder wants to abolish the minimum wage and bring back capital punishment. He is a Black man who believes racism is not a problem in America. It would be a catastrophe for this state if Larry Elder ends up Governor.
AND IT VERY WELL COULD HAPPEN.
Gavin Newsom hasn't committed any of the outrages that cause people to want to throw a Trump or a Cuomo out of office before their term is up. This recall movement has no horrible abuses or violations of oath of office that they can point to. No, his opponents just don't like the decisions Newsom has made, like abolishing capital punishment. They will NEVER forgive him for that. Fine! Then they should run someone who represents their side in the next election, which is in 2022, only one year away. That's democracy. But they really have very little chance of winning a normal election for governor in this very blue state. Their chances of undoing the last election through a recall are much better. It costs the taxpayers a lot of money to hold an election. So Republicans are forcing the state to spend $276 million (according to the state Dept. of Finance) on this undemocratic recall. Suddenly, saving taxpayers' money isn't important to Republicans if it gives them a chance to grab power they could never grab otherwise.
Many Democratic voters don't even know that the recall is happening. They just aren't paying attention. Or, if they do know, they think that California is SO blue, that defeat is in the bag.
BUT IT'S NOT IN THE BAG,
AND EVERY VOTE TO STOP THE RECALL IS IMPORTANT.
The Republicans know this is their only chance to grab the governor's office, and they have been very busy contacting all the people who:
Want to bring back capital punishment
Want to eliminate the minimum wage and..
Demand the freedom to catch the delta variant any damn way they please.
And that's why "Yes" and "No" are tied in the polls.
I signed up to phone bank and canvas. It felt so good. I'll definitely phone bank this week, and I'm hoping I'll be doing door-to-door canvassing. That's the most time-consuming way to campaign and also the most effective. There's nothing like a heart-to-heart chat with an undecided voter. While masked and distanced, of course. I'm also putting a sign in my window.
Put a sign in your window.
Tell everyone you know how important it is
to vote "No" in the recall.
Forward this blog far and wide to Californians you know.
And I would ask all of you non-Californians -- many of whom have lived here -- to donate money to the "No" campaign. Any amount will help. A right-wing governor here will be very bad news for the whole country.
Governor Newsom was the first in the nation to mandate that all school staff be vaccinated or tested weekly. I'm grateful to him for that. I want him to be in charge while we deal with the Delta variant. We are in danger of replacing Newsom with someone who gives a radio platform to anti-vax conspiracy nuts, a man who believes the freedom to infect others is a god-given right.
THIS IS SERIOUS, FOLKS!
Newsom was elected in 2018.
He has one more year in office.
He deserves to finish his term!
You know, even though I'm a native, I've never thought very much about what it means to be a Californian. I'm very identified with my city and with my country. But a state, especially one so big, is an abstract concept. It's defined by invisible lines -- sometimes drawn quite literally in the sand. All of California's borders are like that -- except of course the western border, the Pacific Ocean.
California didn't used to be so Democratic. After all, the voters here sent Reagan on his political journey. Many, including me, feel Reagan seeded the low-tax anti-government pro-big business movement that fully blossomed under Trump.
But our state has come to be a place where the future happens -- be it gay marriage (thank you,Gov. Newsom) or Clean Power. At this moment in our political life, it would truly be a tragedy if an undemocratically elected right-wing Republican became governor. If Elder had been Governor, he would have appointed a Republican to replace Kamala Harris as Senator, giving the G.O.P the Senate majority. The fierce struggles now going on in the Senate would not be happening. The progress we've made under Biden would be a distant dream.
Don't let the Republicans fire our democratically elected Governor!
FLORIDA (The Borowitz Report)—In a potentially ominous development for the Florida governor, a new poll shows Ron DeSantis hemorrhaging support among voters who identify as opposed to dying.
According to the poll, DeSantis’s favorability numbers are plummeting among Floridians who describe themselves as “somewhat,” “very,” or “strongly” opposed to being dead.
Asked to name the issue most important to them, an overwhelming majority of anti-dying voters cited “continuing to exist,” with the economy and immigration placing a distant second and third.
Harland Dorrinson, an aide to the Governor, dismissed the poll numbers as “a distraction” and said that “this obsession with not dying is the kind of political correctness the people of Florida are tired of.”
“Governor DeSantis has had a very strong pro-dying message, and that’s not going to change,” the aide said.
Andy Borowitz is a Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes The Borowitz Report, a satirical column on the news.
Bloggelinis: Any Borowitz captures the absurdity of these times better than anyone. Terry