Thoughts That Lead To Memories…

These days as my mind travels between masks, mandates, and misinformation, I attempt to find subject matter and viewer material that takes me away from the news you almost can’t get away from.  My newest distraction device is my Kindle. I shall come right out and say it. I don’t like it. I don’t think I shall ever like it.  It will never replace the beauty of the real book., As the years roll by and my ability to hold a book like Robert Caro’s The Power Broker wanes, I needed to make a change. After reading that 1,336 page book, I was forced into physical therapy for various overused body parts. It was definitely worth it, but I thought there has to be a better way. There is. The Kindle.

When I need to get away from the prevalent pontifications (enough already, all you politicians, Harry and Meghan, any Kardashian), I have found two methods. The Kindle offers easy purchase and reading of alternate favorites.  Historical novels…  The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers explores the history of an African-American family in the South from the time before the American civil war and slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement to the present… brilliant.  Abir Mukherjee’s historically fascinating mystery series, Wyndham & Banerjee Mysteries about a former Scotland Yard Detective in Calcutta circa 1921 The British in India make the anti-bellum southern plantation owners look almost kind. I said almost. And non-fiction history, The Forever Wars by Dexter Filkins about the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq, America’s ongoing battle with Islamic Fundamentalism after September 11, 2001.

Yeah, yeah, eclectic selections for an eclectic mind ball.  But we all know that.

Now let’s throw in my evening television streaming.  Slim pickings until recently.  It got so bad I had to make do with reruns of Poirot, Miss Marple and Schitt’s Creek. This was no hardship. They are funny and lovely and still interesting even though I know “who done it”.   And then as September 11th, 2021 began to appear on the horizon, the streaming fare became more bountiful.  And it is interesting how without any prior planning what I was reading dovetailed with what I was watching.  

The first was the Netflix movie, Worth.  The movie follows Kenneth Feinberg (Michael Keaton) who was appointed as the Special Master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.  In the months and years that followed the event, he led a team in allocating a price of the lives lost for the victims’ surviving families. Was there ever supposed to be a time when for whatever reason one could put a dollar value on a human life. Back in olden days, like yesterday, a peasant’s life had no value. Actually, peasants never had any value. They were expendable. I don’t know about your heritage but I do know about mine and that’s precisely why my ancestors without language or means traveled to an unknown world in steerage (with the animals which is why they called it steer-age) from various parts of Eastern Europe and Russia because those crazy Americans prior to their Revolution had this crazy idea that all men are created equal. Insurance companies were very unhappy with Thomas Jefferson as were his slaves. Jefferson was a brilliant man with limited vision. I can’t say he was alone. There has always been an over abundance of stinking thinking peoples.

My two historical novels, one about the American South and one about the British in India, where no matter what your achievement or class you were expendable, was a prologue to Worth.

Along comes Spike Lee and his documentary, NYC Epicenters: 9/11 → 2021 ½. I tried. I really tried to watch the whole thing. I stopped in the first hour of the first part of the series.  After he made his views and opinions quite clear by the way he presented his interviewees I became bored.  And then I read a review in The New Yorker by their new television critic Doreen St. Felix about the last two hours of the documentary.  I decided to give it another try. And she was right. It begins with a glorious, technicolor, paean to New York City.  Right out of a movie.  And it is right out of a movie… On The Town with Gene Kelley, Frank Sinatra, Jules Munchin, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.  I knew I was being set up but I didn’t care.  Seeing the city in all its 1950 glory was worth it.  

I want to give myself a medal because I hung in until the end. I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t tear myself away as the tragedy began to unfold. I think one of the reasons I felt so paralyzed was because it brought back my own memories of that day.  I was in my mid-town apartment in NYC. I lived on the 8th floor. It was my neighbor’s birthday and with other 8th floor folk we were about to knock on his door with a candled cupcake to sing Happy Birthday.  Before we even knocked, he opened his door and told us to go home and turn on our television sets, “A plane just flew into the World Trade Center.” I remember saying what one of the interviewees in the documentary said, “I can’t believe it. A new pilot lost his way and accidentally flew into the building”

Before I moved to mid-town, I lived for years across from The World Trade Center in Battery Park City. I was in and out of that building every day. The bar at Windows on the World restaurant was where I took friends and guests (sometimes they were actually the same) to give them the full breadth of the city. It was exciting. It was exhilarating. No other view like it.  They were WOWED. So was I.

For the first time, since 9/11/2001, I viewed the footage of what went on in my old neighborhood. I literally froze in my seat. I remember what I did after the second plane hit the second building. I had one daughter who lived off Central Park West on 92nd street. She had a one-year old baby.  

Irrationally, as they were at the opposite end of the city from where the horrors were happening, I needed to assure myself they were all right. I walked (there were no subways or any transportation) from 54th and 6th avenue to 92nd Street, passing the ash covered zombie ghosts walking up from Ground Zero. A terrifying and wrenching sight, completely incomprehensible.

When I arrived at their apartment, I kissed and hugged my children. I never wanted to let them go. It was incomplete. I needed to check my other two daughters and their children. They lived in Northampton, Massachusetts. I had a small house in Great Barrington. My NYC daughter tried to convince me Northampton had no reported terrorist incidents. I was not convinced. They had already announced there would be no trains out of the city from any of the terminals. I walked over to Pennsylvania Station.  The last Amtrak train from NYC to Albany, stopping at Hudson, New York was going to leave. No tickets were available. With every amount of emotion I could muster, I asked the Conductor if he would let me stand to Hudson. I said I didn’t need to sit. He never replied. He just turned away from me calling, “All aboard.” I took that as a sign and just slipped onto the train and stood for the two hours to Hudson where I had called a friend who was coming to Hudson to pick me up. I got my squeeze and a kiss.

I never did make sense of what happened. I did know the initial support of the world against the villains was a gift that was squandered. A missed opportunity where a human tragedy could have brought the world together was traded for WAR.  

And as a gift to yourself, if you haven’t seen the movie, watch Wag The Dog by David Mamet with Robert de niro and Dustin Hoffman. DO IT NOW.  

,The non-fiction book The Forever Wars by Dexter Felkins is the continuation of 9/11.  Felkins is in Afghanistan in the early 2000’s interviewing an Afghan and asking him what he thought about 9/11.  His reply gave new meaning to the word perspective.  He responded that his world, for as long as he could remember, was always a version of 9/11.  The Afghan people have been at war willingly or not FOREVER.  From the War Lords to the British, back to the War Lords, to the Russians, back to the War Lords, to the Taliban, to the Americans, back to the Taliban.  I get the feeling it’s time for the War Lords to regroup and give it another go.  And the beat goes on…

I shall conclude with my favorite Voltaire quote (he’s a very dear and very close friend)

HISTORY DOESN’T REPEAT ITSELF.  PEOPLE DO.

It is always the simple idea that is the most difficult to enact. 

Will human beings ever realize how much we need each other?
To exist… we really need each other.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

The Making of a Millennial

You know how I love to tell a story.  So, sit back and relax.

My driver’s license is about to expire, just in time to get the new real identity card that everyone will need to have by 2023. I needed several different forms of identification.  I was going through my files to locate them when I came across a letter you wrote to your teacher when you were 11 years old… 

It was a letter explaining in exquisite literary detail exactly who you are, and amazingly, still are.  I marveled at your self knowledge and awareness… and you were only 11!  I realized you have always known the essential you… always.  It is a sad but real truth that at 11, who is going to listen to you, no less, believe you, I ask you… WHO?  No one, that’s who.  And rather than confront the powers that be, and that includes me, I am ashamed to say, (confrontation is truly alien to you) you chose to hide behind your books and for lack of better words your attitude, sometimes explosive, sometimes silent.

I feel like you should print this letter you wrote onto a sandwich board and when the next therapist, parent, sibling, friend or grandparent exclaims who you are and what you need, please walk onto the runway of your life wearing your board of definition and ask them politely to read your Declaration of Independence.  

I totally relate.  I always knew who I was and what I wanted but as in every generation, fighting society and family rules and society and family ethnics and ethics is a losing battle for an 11 year old.  “You’re a kid.  What do you know?”  Grrrrrrrr.

Well, you’re not 11 anymore, and I believe, now is your time TO BE.

I know it is very difficult to take any action no matter what the age or the direction.  Fear is a deadly paralyzer and the longer we wait the harder it is to move.  Late blooming is a universal perennial pattern of life.  It took me years to catch up to me.  I used to be much younger.  You should see my 8×10 glossy.

I  was the only one who held me back.  I listened to everyone tell me who I was and what I needed to do.  I was always a good actress, so what I did was act as if because I believed even though I knew I was moving in the wrong direction, I needed their support and approval. I blame no one but myself.  And I don’t even blame myself anymore.  Believe me, blame never repaired a flat tire.  Early on, unconsciously, I knew I did not have the courage to do the salmon thing.  You know swimming upstream against the current.  Of course, now I’m so old I don’t really have the energy to do that upstream stuff anymore.  That’s O.K.!  Along the way, life has had a strange way of giving me what I need when I needed it.  Sometimes it appeared a little early, when I didn’t know what to do, and sometimes a little late, when I knew what to do but didn’t.  Life’s a bitch.

A life disclaimer: Sometimes no matter how well you know yourself, your limited experiences (unfortunately mostly suffered by the young) prevents you from understanding what is important to you.  Our values are informed by our experiences… and ‘dats ‘da trut!  It took a long time to figure out what was important in my life.  Early traumatic beginnings fostered a need for control that almost spoiled the game of life in all its bountiful relationships, human and natural.  The day I realized my true life size… just a speck in the universe… meaning I did not need to raise the sun every day… oi vey so very heavy… my L5 healed, my chiropractor lost his job, and I found peace.  Not consistently, but enough of the time to give me the joyful along with the painful noise of life.

I can’t erase the fear for you and I don’t care how many cannabis stores there are in this country, I cannot create a no-risk-courage-gummy to help with decisions.  But I can assure you; you cannot make a mistake.  Every actor, artist, inventor, athlete, in fact, every creative person worth his or her or their  salt values the so-called “wrong turn” in their life, as a right turn into their enlightenment.

Try calling mistakes by its real name:  EXPERIENCE!  Wowie!  Zowie!

Of course, from my DNA and heritage, I want to remove the obstacles in your path and do it all for you.  This action, were it possible, would limit your experience and your growth.  Maybe it’s a good thing we don’t live near each other.  I can pretend I would never do such a thing.

Here’s the best thing my miraculous millennials and I will never know whether you do or you don’t…

TAKE WHAT YOU WANT AND LEAVE THE REST

If you decide to take nothing, that works for me too.  You can do what computers allow us to do… DELETE. Then call me and say, “What email?!”

That’s good for me!  Was it good for you??

❤️ Love, Sally-Jane

Press Plaque Buildup

My Dear Friends ~

If I don’t measure the amount of media in my daily diet, I will suffer from Press Plaque Buildup.

The main symptom of this disease is cynicism.  Sometimes I don’t even know I have fallen into this state.  I am so involved in staying involved and current, I don’t see my hope and positivity  slip and slide right out of my brain ball into the flotsam on the jetsam (the lost and local river of my mind).

I am pulled back from the precipice by art or music or nature or my favorite online newsletter BRAINPICKINGS.  Replace the word NEWS with ART…which it is for me an ARTLETTER for the mind.

Recently, my level of press plaque buildup has hit a new high.  What with Afghanastan , vaccinate vs. unvaccinate, mask or unmask, airline passengers assaulting attendants, to Boost or not to Boost,  Red States vs. Blue states, why was Ted Lasso Christmas Show shown in August, my brain was spinning from positive to negative from hopeful to hopeless.

TA-DA!!!!  Like the midweek pick up it purports to be there is this wonderful article on and about Leonard Bernstein and so much of what I thought and what he did and how he navigated his creative and difficult world brought back into the light and the hope.

If any of what I’ve written resonates with you, my dear friends and family, I wish you a speedy recovery from the crazy world we live in, which by the way has always been crazy…take a look at any era… lions chasing Jews/Christians in an arena (personally I prefer to watch the Jets chase the Marlins), Whites chasing anyone of any color, Christians chasing Muslims in the Holy Land, Southerners chasing Northerners followed by Northerners chasing Southerners….endless. 

To help that recovery, please read and I promise you will be converted from a Cynic, which we all now is nothing but a disappointed idealist, to your true, beautiful hopeful self.

Right??  Of course, right!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

How Do You Get To Carnegie Hall?

My Dear Friends…

I often ask myself why certain life stories inspire my Blah, Blah Blogging?

Self:  Why did Buddy Guy in the recent American Masters series on PBS inspire you to write about him?

More Self:  I can always depend on you to ask the right question at the right time.

Even More Self:  Who are you talking to? 

Back to the first Self:  Don’t ask. Just go with the flow.

There are so many reasons I tuned into the story of Buddy Guy:

  1.  I love the Blues. I have a vision of myself from forever as a singer of the Blues. Sitting atop a piano, looking strangely like a bad imitation of Julie London, plaintively crying a river of blues. My audience suitably sobbing (free tissue packs included in the price of admission.) Scratch a comedienne and you’ll find a tragedienne.
  2. I knew the name Buddy Guy.  I didn’t really know who he is.
  3. American Masters always find really interesting people to profile.
  4. Their documentaries are gloriously, artistically interesting and informative.

Buddy Guy is a blues guitar player in the style of his heroes and mentors, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters. Familiar names but little known to me.  Buddy was born 83 years ago in a small town in Louisiana. From the beginning he never thought of himself as special. And as I listened to him describe his life in this small town, where his family were share croppers and as a child, he picked cotton. Before I even heard him play, I felt I was being osmotically drawn to him right through all the electronic apparatus between him and me. As I watched and listened to him learn to play, at first with only two strings before he had enough money to buy a real guitar, I thought… ”What is it about this man that touches me so deeply? First, his humility… what can I say, is humbling. At a time when everyone is “look at me-ing” all over the place, he put his focus where it belonged… on discovering, exploring, and practicing his gift.

He needed to breathe.
He needed to play.
One was inextricably linked to the other.
I related. Even when I didn’t want to, that is how I lived.

BREATHE IN… 1,2,3

WORK… and a-1 and a-2 and a-3

In the first moments of this profile, I watched as he listened to the greats of his time, first in Baton Rouge then after moving on to Chicago.  All he ever wanted to do was try to play like they did.  He never thought he’d ever become a professional musician. He just wanted to play his guitar.  Chicago was a mecca for the Blues. He could and did watch. He could and did listen. For him it was simple. He needed to breathe. He needed to play. This was all very familiar to me. I was hooked.

Throughout the documentary, various personalities, guitar players (of all ages), managers, agents, tell Buddy’s story.  And then we have the Brits. I find it interesting that most Americans of the 50’s and 60’s and even into the 70’s (my ignorance astounds me, but then it always has) didn’t know about Buddy or Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters, or John Lee Hooker, but Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones knew. Eric Clapton knew. Stevie Ray Vaughn knew, and when Buddy went to London as a tourist…. the Brits pounced on him and made him play with them and it was the breakthrough he needed because it was when the Stones toured the States that they demanded and got these great unknown (Ha! Ha!) guitar players included in their tours. 

An amazing piece of Black History. Of course there are so many unknown amazing pieces of Black History to shake up the shame I share with whoever is willing to share it with me.  

Another piece of my ignorance follows the various interviews of one, John Mayer. I had only heard of him as the escort of various People Magazine movie and television stars.  (Please don’t give me grief. People magazine is my go to the beauty salon, doctor offices, necessary reading material. I call ahead to be assured the establishments carry the latest issues.) So who knew from John Mayer? Turns out these movie stars knew a good thing after all.  He was truly erudite, intelligent and bonkers over Buddy. And I understand he can play guitar as well as other things, too.

Buddy Guy’s life story stirred my thinking about the creative process.

As I view some of the artists today, I am saddened. It’s not as if I do not see the talent, the gift. In my thinking however, the gift really is only one small part of an artist’s process. Without discipline, without working the gift, it can only go so far. In fact, I would say, without the kind of practicing that Buddy Guy did, his glorious gift would never have developed the way it did. Practice doesn’t guarantee success, but without it the shelf life of the artist’s gift is a short one.  

Right???  Of course, right!!!!

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. So THAT is how you get to Carnegie Hall…

P.P.S. More enticement to watch documentary…

How A Judgemental Know-it-all Can Change Her Mind

Dear friends and family,

I wrote this Blah, Blah Blog yesterday.  This morning I read about the  new approach the prosecution is preparing for the impeachment of our former President.  I now think the trial is going to be a constructive and instructive history lesson for all Americans and frankly, for everyone in the world who is interested in “FREEDOM AND JUSTICE FOR ALL”.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I am going to share what I wrote yesterday as a look into my own thought processes which normally are hidden and unfathomable even to me.  I’d like to think it shows with continued exploration and investigation,  I can be reached and even to the point of , dare I say it, changing my point of view.  I don’t know about you, but in the climate of today’s polarizations on almost everything, that is a really big deal. 

YESTERDAY’S THINKING AND WRITING:


A dear friend recently asked me if I was going to watch the televised impeachment trial.

I said I would not.

Not because I am not curious and concerned which I most certainly am.

My personal belief, after listening many times to his speech to the gathered mob in front of the White House on January 6th,  is that our former President is guilty of inciting a mob to attack the Capitol.  Also, my personal belief is that in counting the votes, it is most unlikely he will be found guilty.  I ask myself, “Myself, why do I want to put myself through the disappointment of once again watching as the course of justice moves along “party lines”.  And listening again to the rehashing of the lies, the same ‘ole-same ‘ole of no one listening to no one, which is utterly negative and depressing.”  And so I shall await the expected verdict as I finish reading the extraordinary autobiography of Frederick Douglass.

Like I said, it’s an old childhood coping mechanism I developed against disappointment.

Allow me to elucidate.

As a child in a very large family where I always felt like an alien, my first defense was, of course, I was adopted.  These were not my real parents.  And these were not my real siblings.   But my most favorite coping mechanism was my fantasy of being rescued. 

 

Many were the nights where I would go to the living room where the radio/phonograph was (no television at that time) and put on a record of classical music (it mattered not which… although I did tend towards Chopin and Johannes Strauss waltzes) and danced until I dropped or until someone in the family complained (a frequent occurrence).  The dancing was definitely a release but the dream that attended the dance was more important.  As I danced, my fantasy was that Cecil B. De Mille was walking by my house (in Boro Park, Brooklyn), heard the music, looked in through the windows to see me giving it my all, immediately  he went to my front door, My mother would answer. Mr. De Mille would give her his card and tell my mother that he needed me desperately for his next movie. Reluctantly and sometimes not so reluctantly she agreed, packed my ballet bag with my leotard, dancing shoes, and a package of Twinkies and I was off to Hollywood where I had always known I had belonged.  

Eventually, I had to come down from fantasy to reality, my parents still owned me and being number 7 of 8 meant my siblings claimed me for errands and punishments befitting my station which meant I had to affect my own escape when I was able… it took a while, but I did.   The best part of these childhood fantasies? They have moved with me. 

At 87 years of age that child is still alive and well in me and I’ve got some doozie headline fantasies to prove it:


TODAY:

That was yesterday’s mashed potatoes and tomorrow I hope the promise of a more vital prosecution is fulfilled. And just remember, if not… there are always reruns of All In the Family.

Love, Sally-Jane ❤️

P.S. Randy Rainbow did this fabulous political parody from the musical, Fiddler on the Roof. For me, this says it all! ENJOY!

P.P.S. Don’t let your blood pressure rise during the trial.  Here’s my remedy:

MEA CULPA (or THE INSIDIOUSNESS OF SYSTEMIC RACISM)

Dear Friends and Family,

First, let me tell you a story.  

After the story, I shall share a very important article from The Atlantic and a really sharp video from a comedienne I’d never heard of before, (how unaware can an aware person be?) regarding the same subject from different people with the same ideas. Are you bored, yet? Well, after I tell my story, I promise, you won’t be.

Over a week ago, I received an email from a dear friend from across the pond (Atlantic Ocean for the uninitiated). London, England to be specific. She and her husband have been in real lockdown since the discovery of the more contagious variant of Covid 19.  So no complaints about what you can or cannot do…. they cannot do or go ANYWHERE! Get it? Good!  

Well, as they sit long term in their home, computer working, staring into space counting steps and other things, they have become Titans of Television. They are oh so grateful to the streaming services.

In particular, in her email, she mentioned a Netflix series called Lupin.  She exclaimed how wonderful it was… a very clever French Detective Series with wonderful scenes of Paris and an extraordinary leading man. She had never seen him before and she raved about what a great actor and how gorgeous he is. She is as critical as I am (amazingly, on certain occasions she can be even more judgmental than I can… hard to imagine) but since we usually agree on what we read and see… plays, movies, television, I knew I would have to watch it.

The very next night I turned it on. At the beginning of episode 1, the script brings you into the bowels of the Louvre, where the cleaning staff gathers to do their nightly chores. For the first 10 minutes of the episode, I searched for and could not find this extraordinary leading man. All the cleaners passed before my eyes and I kept waiting for him. Finally, it occurred to me that this very beautiful black actor, Omar Sy, was the man. 

I couldn’t believe me! Consciously, I never thought the leading actor she raved about would be black.

OK… going back to title of this piece, it never occurred to me the lead would be an unknown-to-me black actor, who is actually very well known in France.

Shame on me. 

My own systemic racism showed itself. I am a voracious reader of writers of all persuasions, as well as a writer myself who is appalled not just by systemic racism, but by all the white overprivileged people who chant, “I AM NOT A RACIST!”. It is the rare white person that is truly color blind. I grew up in Brooklyn. I went to schools in Manhattan.  My classes were always mixed. I shall not use that ridiculous phrase, “Some of my best friends are…” Even so, I thought I was one of those rare white ones.  

I am not. For me to feel comfortable again, and I confess after this self revelation, I am so very uncomfortable, I have to crawl out and away from my dark denial into the light of  who I really am… with all my zits and warts, and work this denial out of my system. 

Now let me talk about my journey with and in denial. My experience tells me I use denial to protect my ego. I believe the ego is my defense system and you can’t be an artist without a strong ego.

As an artist, rejection is a primary color. Every artist exposes themselves to a very personal onslaught of slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The product involved in this rejection and criticism is ME… my soul, my heart, my very skin. Without risk, there is no art. It is easy to say “you win some, you lose some”. In risking, the artist completely exposes him or herself. Without the defense of the ego, aka: denial, I would have evaporated a long time ago. As I matured, and please believe me, I am never going to finish that process… (no complaints, just a confession.) Over the years, I realized very slowly that denial was losing it’s sparkle. It was a growth inhibitor. While I thought it was protecting me, it actually made it very easy to repeat some very negative behaviors: abusive relationships, unhealthy habits like smoking and eating, and exposing some personality and character traits that developed from being brought up in the usual normal dysfunctional family.

Previously, if there was something in my life that was too painful to bring into consciousness I kept it buried (denial) in what I thought was a safe place. Now, I work very hard at acknowledging my denial. And when I do acknowledge, make no mistake, peeling the layers of denial away to tell myself the truth is a very painful process. And that is why most of us back away from exposing that denial.

My mother always told me, “Sally-Jane, the truth will set you free, but first it’s really gonna piss you off.” Actually it wasn’t my mother, it was one of my many therapists.

Yes, my sweet friends and family, coming out of denial is extremely painful. Birth usually is.

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. A few quotes that will help me along the way come from Richard von Weizsacker, circa 1985, making a speech as the Federal President of Germany commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the end of World War II:

Seeking to forget makes exile all the longer; the secret of redemption lies in remembrance.

***

Whoever refuses to remember the inhumanity is prone to new risks of infection.

***

All of us, whether guilty or not, whether old or young, must accept the past.

P.P.S. Before I forget… (A great title for a one woman show), here is the Atlantic Article

Denial Is the Heartbeat of America.

And Amber Ruffin’s monologue:

Switching Gears… but first….

My Dear Friends and Family,

I feel a little bit like Peter Finch in the film Network. Remember he played a television broadcaster who amidst the pressure of his work world and the world around him, had a mental breakdown on television screaming, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!!!”

Well, as I watch the media play into the hands of Trump as they did in 2016… not realizing, or maybe conspiratorially they are aware that by their incessant Trump coverage bad, good or indifferent, they are going to get him elected.  In this day and age, the PR pundits from P.T. Barnum to Rush Limbaugh, are right:  There is no such thing as bad publicity.  

I cannot hear or see about anyone except Trump. If I were someone who watched a great deal of television and I wasn’t sure about my vote I wouldn’t even remember who the other guy was so, “what the hell…”.  For those who think I am exaggerating, I AM NOT!  And  at the same time, OMG! I hope and pray I am wrong.  

But like Howard Beale, Peter Finch’s character in Network, I can’t take this anymore!! 

So I’m going in another direction where the human experience offers an opportunity to alter a self destructive path to planet annihilation.  And you thought I was going to make a funny.

Well, in the hopes of the return of my sense of humor, I want to offer for your consideration, two fantastical documentaries on Netflix:

This is about Craig Foster, a videographer living in South Africa, fast approaching a Howard Beale-esque burnout and how he saves his life, by making a 180 degree turn, removing himself to a hut on the Atlantic Ocean near the Cape of Good Hope. He begins a daily swim and dive in the cold and stormy Atlantic. \He encounters an Octopus. He makes this discovery the center of his daily dives for almost a year.  

OK, my only experience is watching other people eat the poor animal.  Not an animal I would consider pet worthy. But I’m a Brooklyn girl and not too many pet Octopuses in my experience.

This is not about pets.  This is about our relationships in what is left of the world we live in and I promise you… in a time of  pervasive meaninglessness you will find meaning and purpose in his journey.  And here is the best part: You can apply his journey to your life.  Of course it’ll be different because we all are different. Basic human geshrai is basic… and it needs to be visited… NOW!

This gentleman… and literally he is a gentle man… at 93, takes us painfully through the decimation of our planet from the year of his birth through today. When he was born, 1927, our world was in what was called the Holocene Era where there appeared to be a balance between wild places (aka nature) and modern civilization (the industrial revolution gone mad).

For me, it was extremely painful to watch the not so-slow-destruction of our planet because during most of my particular generation we gave very little thought to other geographic spaces that held the natural balance. Oh, yes, we wanted to travel to foreign, distant and unique places around the globe, but never thought about what was happening in these habitats; the flora, the fauna, the air. 

For those who want to see what and how it happened and most importantly what we can do to reverse the death of earth planet, David Attenborough gives a balanced, measured and simple accounting. It’s not about climate change. Although, that is in it. It’s not about blame. Although, it’s impossible for you and I and all us humans not to acknowledge our responsibility. He explains how we are losing the battle to save the planet and at the same time, he gives us hope.  I’ll run with that. Actually at 87, I shall walk with that.  Join me!

I chose these two documentaries because in each we have an opportunity to correct some negative, hopeless, scenarios. I don’t want to feel shamed in front of my children and grandchildren that I left them such a crappy place to live.

This is my response to a special feeling of being pelted by media negativity. As a mere mortal, I have a limited ability to withstand the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes of their depressing onslaught.  

Repeat with me what Howard Beale of the Network said: 

“I’M AS MAD AS HELL AND I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

And then go outside and PLANT A TREE!!!

My Love, Sally-Jane

Plant a tree for a better tomorrow…

There’s a Place For Us

My Dear Friends ~

We are in a desperate search for stories about positive human connections. Here is my nomination for one the best stories…

I just viewed a PBS documentary film:

Harbor From the Holocaust

Upwards of 20 thousand Jews that were saved from Hitlers holocaust by their ability to get a visa to Shanghai. 

All others countries had closed their doors to Jews. A quirk of timing allowed a Chinese diplomat in Vienna to issue thousands of Jews visas to Shanghai just before the Japanese invaded China. 

The story is beyond moving and oh, so relevant today considering our own  difficulties with immigration and assimilation.

Please don’t miss this documentary. We all need the hope and the caring and love of one another.

I promise it’ll make you feel good.

Love ~ Sally-Jane

P.S. My friends, here is further reading on the history of the Jewish diaspora to Shanghai – GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN JEWISH REFUGEES IN SHANGHAI from the Holocaust Encyclopedia.

We the People… (Except Black People…)

My Dear Friends and Family,

A friend recently sent me a link to this article by George Conway in the Washington Post. To say I had a strong reaction is an understatement! I couldn’t understand how reading a list of his bona fides insanity and ridiculousness could possibly be worth my time. Between the pandemic news of the day and the election news of the day, we are taking a battering.

After my reply to her that there was no payoff for me in reading it, I picked up and started reading Isabel’s Wilkerson’s latest book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

(You may recall my rave review of her book,The Warmth of  Other Suns in a previous blog.)

Well, my friends I had to interrupt my reading at Chapter 2 to write to you…

WE ALL NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! It reveals the truth of how the monster made it this far and what we all did or didn’t do to contribute to our current painful reality. It is from this painful acknowledgement that the solution can be found.

And if I didn’t believe there was a solution to the absurd and terrifying situation we are in, then I’d go out without a mask, touch my face, never wash my hands, go to school in Georgia and buy a Harley so I can join the South Dakota Bike Rally. 

So while I finish this book, I hope you’ll start it. Then, let’s tawk! 

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S.

P.P.S. And finally, amidst all this confusion someone speaks how we can understand and come together…

M&M’s: Pandemic Essentials

Dear Friends and Family, 

I really don’t get the hullabaloo concerning masks.  If I understood that if I didn’t wear a mask I would be affecting and infecting not only myself but friends, relatives and neighbors and I couldn’t go shopping or walking about, why would I even give it a second thought?  I would say to myself  right out, “Put the mask on, jerkball!!”

Of course, if I didn’t believe that people had been and were continuing to be deathly ill and dying and dead from Covid 19 and that it was nothing but a  political manipulation by “The Enemy”, (and will someone please tell me what the enemy looks like so I can be prepared?), I might think differently.  But please tell me, what human in the universe has not heard of or know someone who has contracted the virus.  If you are someone who is that someone (talk about isolation!) please tell me where is your desert island and aren’t you just a little bit lonely?

Below is a very simple demonstration of why the mask is essential to your and everyone else’s health.

If anyone is still skeptical after that video, which is as apolitical as it gets,  then all I want to say to you is, “Don’t be a jerkball.  I don’t care who you vote for but I do care that you LIVE.  Got it!  Get it!  Good!”

And now let me give you a slice of hope and happiness as an antidote  to those the little germs from the previous video. I think it is interesting how  even in social distancing (and such distances in this video… around the world and back), these wonderful people obviously use their creative juices to give themselves and others joy and beauty. 

I firmly believe, as others tear at the fabric of civility in whatever is left of this civilization, this is the kind of enterprise that is destined to keep us together.

Right?  Of course, right!

Love, Sally-Jane

P.S. And whatever you think or do or say, never lose your sense of humor. Survival isn’t possible without one. Thus spake the Oracle (and my cousin Bernie).

There are all kinds of masks…

And there is all kinds of music…