I don’t know about you but even before the pandemic and certainly before the election, I began to worry about what was happening to cause the ever-widening gap between citizens in the United States.
How had the words of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our very laws been made to look like yesterday’s mashed potatoes. How had “reasonable men and women” become frightened enough and desperate enough to lose their good old American Horse Sense and verbally and physically hurt their fellow humans who had another opinion. I had always known that the Civil War was still an open Southern wound, slow, if ever, to heal. In my opinion, the way the South voted as first a Dixiecrat bloc and presently a Republican bloc, proved that to me. However, there are so many good people of good intent working to heal those wounds, I had hopes.
Daily my hopes are being pounded into dust. I didn’t understand. Usually, after an election, there is elation for one group, dejection for another. Eventually, as a nation, we pull up our socks and hoping for the best, pull together for the good of all. After my own disappointment in 2016, I really did hope for the best and was willing to give one and all the benefit of the doubt. A doubt, unfortunately that over the years expanded exponentially. I digress.
How did we forget that the American Way is to come together? Furthermore, life isn’t just about me, right? It’s about me in concert, cooperation, and coordination with my family, my friends, all my relationships… which includes my citizenship. Even if elected officials negate their responsibilities, that doesn’t absolve me of my duties as an American citizen.
Little did I know that working against all that good old American way of thinking were some of my social media choices. I have written before about the use of propaganda in this digital age. How did I get snookered into the very action I was wailing about?
I had written about Cambridge Analytica and how they invaded through algorithms people’s privacy …. and forgot that one of the major contributors to their success and ultimately their downfall was Facebook.
Yesterday, a good friend asked if I had seen a recent Netflix Documentary, The Social Dilemma. I hadn’t.
STOP. WATCH IT. THEN DELETE.
I saw it last night.
If they can’t find you, they can’t influence you. And if you think you can withstand their influence, make an appointment with your therapist. Denial and Delusion is not the name of a law firm, it is what I am guilty of. How can I continue to wonder why this growing rash of violence, separation, discord evolved from air? It didn’t.
Corporate greed from a new corporate breed: PROFIT OVER PEOPLE
Until these social media corporations have the same regulations as telephone, radio, and television companies have, you can personally take action. And it is an action that is totally in your hands… literally in your hands.
LOVE, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Whatever Holidays you are celebrating I wish you love and joy. Herein are my gifts to you all:
P.P.S. I got some interesting responses to my latest Blah, Blah, Blog… Here are 2 of them:
1.This isn’t the first time Heather Cox Richardson and I have explored similar topics. Hers from an educated historian perspective me from the seat of my opinionated pants:
In Houston, Texas, today, police arrested a former police department captain for running a man off the road and pointing a gun at his head in a misguided attempt to foil a massive voter fraud scheme. Sixty-three-year-old Mark Anthony Aguirre claimed to be part of a citizens’ group investigating voter fraud. Believing his victim was hiding 750,000 fraudulent ballots in his truck, Aguirre rammed the truck with his SUV and held the driver first at gunpoint and then with his knee in the man’s back until police came. Upon inspection, it turned out the truck was full of air conditioning parts. The district attorney, Kim Ogg, said “His alleged investigation was backward from the start—first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened…. [W]e are lucky no one was killed.” And the reason for this crazy man’s head bent full of these crazy ideas is Greed. Greed by big corporate players like Facebook and greed by right wing hucksters like Doug Jones who draws attention to his website by gorging out conspiracy theories in order to keep his audience outraged which makes them keep coming back for more and let’s him sell them more and thus pull in huge amounts of moneyAs they say in all of the detective stories: If you want to catch the criminal follow the money.
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:
Every time I think I have a handle on how to handle the world I and fellow beings presently inhabit, I lose the handle. Why can’t I keep a steady hand on the wheel of my life? I know the rules of safety. I try my best to follow them… Social distancing, masking, hand washing, sanitizing, travel limits.
I am kidding you and myself because, of course I know why I can’t keep it steady. I am not in control.
I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place. I know the feeling well because I have been there many times before.
I think I am being vigilant. But then, I watch others out of my control, threaten themselves and others with their choices. It then becomes my responsibility to set limits and put out the no vacancy sign. It is so alien to the nature of this here beast.
My door has always been open. In the world today that is not an option. I can make some adjustments. And for this I am so very grateful that I am able to set up for a meal in the garden or the porch with safe spacing, masks and whatever else is necessary for the safety of all.
I did not know the depth and the extent of the migration of Black Americans from the South to the North and to the West from 1915 – 1970. For me, Ms. Wilkerson’s narrative is the foretelling of the ongoing struggle for Black equality we are experiencing at this time. She has chosen three protagonists from three different locations in three different decades of the migration. Their detailed journey from the white racism of the South that followed them to the white racism of the North and West is shocking and a necessary and important tool in understanding how racism, subtle and not so subtle works.
At the end of the book Ms. Wilkerson writes some notes about her methodology in putting this brilliant study together. She quotes from a 672 page report by a white-led Commission on the Chicago Riots of 1919 wherein the commission admonishes all.
THIS MUST CHANGE!
It is important for our white citizens always to remember that the Negroes alone of all our immigrants came to America against their will by the special compelling invitation of the whites; that the institution of slavery wast introduced, expanded and maintained by the United States by the white people and for their own benefit; and they likewise created the conditions that followed emancipation.
Our Negro problem, therefore, is not of the Negro’s making. No group in our population is less responsible for its existence. But every group is responsible for its continuance… Both races need to understand that their rights and duties are mutual and equal and their interests in the common good are identical… There is no help or healing in appraising past responsibilities or in present apportioning of praise or blame. The past is of value only as it aids in understanding the present; an understanding of the facts of the problem — a magnanimous understanding by both races — is the first step toward a solution.
Excerpt, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, page 543
The report came out in 1922. Last time I checked my calendar it was 2020.
THOUGHT 3: IF YOU’RE NOT IN THE OBIT, EAT BREAKFAST
There is no way that I am going to leave you without a smile on your face and a laugh in your heart. Even though my go-to cheerleader, Carl Reiner, left for quieter climes.
I am sure Carl and Snoopy were in complete agreement.
Here is a documentary he narrated when he was only 94:
Love, Sally-Jane ❤️
P.S. Happy July 4th. It’s way past time to put our money (and our votes) where our mouths are…
The woman in the closet video is definitely a reminder that you are not alone. And if, during this pandemic crisis, you haven’t experienced some paranoia, then please check your pulse because you probably don’t have one.
I don’t know about you guys, but my anxiety level is an up and down affair, and lately mostly up. The more tuned in I am to the current events of the day with news briefings, emails from political organizations that accurately highlight the criminal ineptitude of the current Senate and administration, the more increased my blood pressure. However, as I prepare to pack and fly north, I recognize even more how the pressure is rising.
And I am totally serious. (Photos of flight day to be shared later.) But with every item secured, the pressure went up a notch.
I thought to myself: “Self! You are making yourself sick.”
What to do???
And in a flash it came to me. Stop thinking of yourself. If I thought the quarantine was a challenge to my mental health, just try focusing only on yourself. STIFLING! BORING! CRUEL AND INHUMAN!
The operative word is inhuman. I understand survival is numero uno. However, I have come to realize without caring for friend, neighbor, family, we revert to the animal. And all you animal activists, I recognize the many animals that can make the human seem more selfish than most in the animal kingdom, so please don’t yell at me. I’m just saying that I think we have a more developed brain – not to be more selfish and “what about me?”, but to think of OTHERS. What a concept… think of others.
Well, I’m here to tell you that as my pressure was hitting a high point I remembered a friend of mine was going through a very rough time. It hadn’t anything to do with the virus. It was a very private misery. I literally stopped thinking about myself and thought about what she was going through. I wrote to her of my feelings for what she was going through. I didn’t even know it at the time… but, something lifted. Yes, and the pressure dropped. I got it.
The next time I begin to take myself too seriously I shall get out from under my own microscope. Unfortunately, these days, I cannot go ‘round with a real care package and hug. It’s the virtual picnic hamper, the virtual hug, the virtual everything. But don’t forget the real phone call… human vocal chords can work wonders.
For me, after thinking of others the next best way to distract me from me is to watch good funny movies.
Of late because I am old, I have focused on, for some, unheard of gems. And I only realized recently there was a master hand behind many of them. He is my very personal (though he doesn’t know it) 2,000 years older than me friend, Mel Brooks. These are movies that he didn’t necessarily write or perform in, but it’s his absurd sometimes not so funny and always irreverent humor rooting around in the mix of the movie.
The In Laws movie, circa 1979 with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin.
The In Laws movie, circa 2003 with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks
Ishtar, circa 1980’s. A major flop in the 1980’s and now it is a cult movie written and directed by Elaine May (and occasionally, Buck Henry) with Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Charles Grodin. Fantastically prescient about the coming trouble in the middle east and oh, so funny.Makes Wag The Dog look like a sitcom.
Bowfinger, circa 1999 starring Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy (when he was funny)
Waiting For Guffman, circa 1997, directed by Christopher Guest and written by Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy with Catherine O’Hara in the cast (previous to Schitt’s Creek fame)
And last and probably least…
So Fine, circa 1981, starring Ryan O’Neal and if you don’t blink Sally-Jane Heit as a brunette in a scene in Bergdorf Goodman; written by Andrew Bergman of the 1979 In Laws and other comedies.
And just so you don’t think I’m too old to appreciate the new…
After Life streaming on Netflix written by and starring Ricky Gervais. He has definitely got his finger on the pulse of the human condition and he is VERY funny!
Like they always say: What goes around comes around. Or, is it what comes around goes around? Either way have a laugh on me and always…
If you have a computer you have already received many emails concerning the whys and wherefores and how-tos of the coronavirus.
I’ve put together my own list with my own introductions to my nearest and dearest. I am sure there will be much duplication.
I think of these emails as the trajectory, the progression, if you will, of my own very late awareness of the virus. And what it means to me and my loved ones and even not to just my loved ones but to all humans everywhere. Yes, even those politicians and leaders who refused to lead us into global awareness as to what was happening. I do not wish anyone ILL. However, it is important to see how the world is leaderless… Oh, yes, there are health workers, and disease agencies that are tirelessly working to correct the politicians-of-every-nation’s inability to gather globally to stem the tide of this virulent virus.
Borders closed. Countries in lockdown. I ask myself. Is that what had to happen before attention was paid?
I do not think you have to be brilliant. I am not. It is now the middle of March and I don’t know all the facts (I truly don’t think anyone ever will) but the Chinese Government began talking about the Corona Virus in the beginning of January. The first reports I ignored. After all, no leader anywhere, except China was saying anything. From my perspective, China is very far away. I keep forgetting. We are all globally connected. In today’s world, Wuhan is next door to Brooklyn.
In this forwarded mélange of advice, take what you want and leave the rest.
1. Important New Dispatch:Dr. Jordan Shlain Reporting From the Front Lines
To my nearest and dearest – Yes, another recipe for continued good health. And if you do nothing else do like it says and keep lubricated. (Take your mind out of the gutter) and drink water. That’ll teach that virulent virus to bugger off.
And always remember. Love will keep us together as long as you don’t touch me…
4. 👆🏼That Widely Circulated List of COVID-19 Tips Is a Hoax
Ok. That does it! No more advice! There’s too much hysteria and panic which looks for answers that just aren’t there. Hey, guys, there’s no magic bullet! Use you common sense until a leader comes along that can lead us out of the wilderness or through the parting of the Red Sea.
Remember when we had leaders who told the truth and in dire circumstances such as we are experiencing now could be there to support, encourage and help? I wish one and all good health as we try to chart a course to safety.
So, I lied! Here’s one more from me to youse. It’s because it kind of explains where I am in thought.
I’m already limited by age and its attendant physical limitations and now I’m being asked to be limited voluntarily in terms of social engagement. I think it requires a major life rethink for me (change my behavior) and if you will help me, I am sure I can do it.
Using numbers paralyzes me. Statistical charts don’t really make a lot of sense to me. But with this article I finally understood what it is that I can do.
Now that you are on information overload let me wish you well on your life journey.
I think if we are careful we can survive and most importantly I think there are some very profound life lessons to learn.
There’s been a great deal said about the human condition. Not all of it very positive.
The worst is the tale of toilet paper. Toilet paper? Really! I never thought toilet paper would be the arbiter of what makes for a civilized society. Who knew?????
I do not want to be thought of as a bleeding heart sentimental fool (all of which admittedly I am), but what an opportunity this presents for us to go beyond the base (toilet paper, really?) human condition into an atmosphere of service and caring and, yes, love.
Of course, I could be writing this because I am vulnerable and if they decide to take us elder vulnerables and put us on ice floes that take us out to sea never to return (of course, because of global warming – which of course “does not exist” – there are no more ice floes).
Here is where I harken back to inspired leadership.
Two Presidents and their speechifying come to mind. Historically flawed, like all of us, they understood the need and the desire to help their citizens aspire to a higher code of conduct.
“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Ask not what your country can do for you. But what you can do for your country.”
~ John F. Kennedy
Right???? Of course, right!
P.S. Without humor, with or without the virus… we’re dead!
Listen, my friends I had to force myself to go and see it. Even after my daughter Lori made a special call to convince me to go. I put her recommendation into the back seat of my mind. I loved the recent Mr. Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. What more was the movie going to show me? Nothing I did not already know. Right?
I was soooo wrong. It has nothing and everything to do with Mr. Rogers. And even though reviews have been very positive, from my point of view, none of the reviews touched on why today, more than at any other time in this world, everyone needs to see this movie.
Let me try to write how I experienced as I watched the movie unfold. From the opening, before the credits, a “lego-set “of a residential area of a nameless city (although if you know Pittsburgh, you recognize the three bridges that cross two rivers or is it three… I forget) and suddenly Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers walks into the set and begins to do the Mr. Rogers opening.
But, it is different from the one he usually does in his show as he introduces a picture board of different characters… most of whom you know from his show and one who you did not know, the writer who under duress and in anger has been assigned to do a profile on Mr. Rogers. From that very first moment, I was captured, captivated, you name it. I was had. The mystery, and it is a mystery of a plot unraveled.
A little background: I am in Florida. It was a rainy day. Perfect afternoon for the movies. And perhaps a dozen others thought the same thing. And from that very same beginning moment, this small audience breathed as one. I mean it. We all inhaled at the same time. We exhaled at the same time. No one moved a muscle… no popcorn munching. No slurping. No candy wrappers. We were all suspended in the one hour and 59 minutes of this movie.
Now I am not going into any more detail about the movie. You want to know how this story unfolds. Go to your movie house. I know it is playing there now.
By the end of the film, as the credits rolled, this small audience in a darkened theatre released their breath and applauded as if they were in a live show.
Why? They were moved. The cathartic emotional release of all was palpable. We had all, together, been part of an experience where anger and bile were transformed into love and forgiveness; released into the stratosphere by the catalyst of a vulnerable and fallible human named Fred Rogers.
What are you doing still sitting reading this? Get up. Get out. Get transformed.
Look for the Silver Lining was one of my mother’s favorite songs so we know this is an ancient tune. Praise the internet for shortening research time. Look for the Silver Lining, written in 1919 (the year my mother married) by Jerome Kern and Buddy DeSylva for the Broadway show SALLY.
I was not a child until at the very least, 1938. I remember my mother telling me how she went to see Sally in the 1920’s, falling in love with the star of that show, Marilyn Miller and the Silver Lining song she sang.
As I write this now, I ponder, was that the reason I was named Sally? Then why did my mother add the hyphen and the Jane? Since she is the only one knows the answer, I shall add it to my ever-growing mountain of unanswered questions. Am’t I supposed to get smarter as I get older? I used to think so. I think whatever intelligence I thought I had has definitely reversed direction and is heading towards oblivion. And I have to tell you, on certain days I am mightily relieved… oblivion is so much nicer than the news.
But I digress (my favorite pastime and present-time, too)!
Here are my suggestions… I chose the song, Look For the Silver Lining because of two recent movies I was privileged to see, both documentaries.
Now for those of you who don’t know me – give me good trash! As a friend of mine once said, “Oh, Sally-Jane, she can be had by the commercials.” That was before I became addicted to streaming. And now I don’t know from commercials… so I save myself for the trash. That is, until seeing these two documentary films.
RBG, the title of the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsberg, our Supreme Court Justice, who like Atlas single-handedly holds the world safe to keep it from spinning out of orbit. Well, that’s what it feels like for me, my friends. In future history books, she will be known as The Great Dissenter. And I feel, every dissenting opinion she writes will, when we straighten up this mess, be turned into laws that will help not hinder the people. It is also the very candid and real journey of a woman climbing a female sand mountain. I would like to think it’s not as high a mountain as it used to be. But the verdict isn’t in yet, I fear.
This is not just another dance company looking for funds. (Tell me any cultural organization you know that isn’t having difficulty getting funding for their programs. Museums, orchestras, non-profit theatres they are all in trouble). This dance company has a very unusual program. As someone put it quite succinctly, ”this documentary titled, Moving Stories, shows dance as soft power supporting people that political and social failures have hurt.”
The film profiles the Dancing to Connect program of Battery Dance Company. Six empathetic and inspirational dancers from the company each travel to 6 different locations around the world – New Delhi, Bucharest (Roma children), Busam (where traumatized children escaped North Korea), and defectors from China mix with South Korean teens to create motion through their emotions, and a young Iraq hip-hop dancer, given lessons through Skype moves towards his destiny.
Moving Stories is about far more than how Dancing to Connect teaches stigmatized, abused, frightened children to dance. It is about how the children learn to unlock their hesitation and dance together. Together…. oh, what a lovely word!
Just so we are clear. I have not given up my good trash viewing. However, what I have done, for myself, and hopefully, for those who are interested is to signal for all who are depressed by a world gone mad – a light at the end of the tunnel. Otherwise known as hope (and I don’t care what you say this is not a dirty word… another lovely word… how’s this – “Together hope”?) Hey guys, who knows maybe the world has always been mad. Yet another question for my growing mountain of unanswered questions.
Maybe that is why the song popped into my head. Sure the lyrics are cornball and cliché, but isn’t it written somewhere, it’s only a cliché because it is true. Well, if it isn’t written somewhere, it is now.
Here are the cornball cliché lyrics:
Look for the silver lining Whenever a cloud appears in the blue Remember, somewhere the sun is shining And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you
A heart full of joy and gladness Will always banish sadness and strife So always look for the silver lining And try to find the sunny side of life
One more suggestion… Won’t you join me as we sing together in hope?