Here are five: Mike Birbiglia, Friedrich Trump; Al Lowenstein; Anthony Scaramucci; Sandy Kominsky. (Women? Tina Brown has launched a great new podcast. Trans? Tina Brown’s first episode is an interview with Jill Soloway, whose psychiatrist dad became her second mom a few years ago, so she wrote Transparent — get it? trans parent? — and not that long ago decided that she, too, fell under the trans umbrella.)
Mike Birbiglia. I think I told you about his Broadway Show, The New One. If I didn’t, I may have been worried you’d find it anti-baby. But it’s not — as Mike explains in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Which is separate from the Times’ review (“Genius. Sublime.”) Full disclosure: I have a tiny piece of this one.
Friedrich Trump. No, not Fred, arrested at a Klan rally in 1927. Friedrich, Fred’s dad. Did you see? Banished from Germany for failing to do his military service. (Supply your own bone-spur snark here: ___________________.) If only Prince Luitpold had let him stay.
Allard K. Lowenstein. The one-term Congressman who led the “Dump Johnson” movement that helped end the Vietnam War — William F. Buckley, Jr.’s favorite “Firing Line” sparring partner — eulogized by both Buckley and Ted Kennedy after he was murdered by a deranged acolyte — Mississippi freedom fighter — friend of Eleanor Roosevelt . . . Al once asked me, when I was 22 or so, “what are you doing about South Africa?”
I was nonplussed.
What on earth would I be doing about South Africa? I was still furnishing my first apartment with cardboard furniture.
But it was a question that’s stuck with me, as you can see, and that applies, of course, as I came to realize, not only to South Africa, but to any circumstance of suffering and injustice. Indeed, it was in South Africa that Al helped write Bobby Kennedy’s “Ripple of Hope” speech. Here is the two-minute lead-in. It unaccountably leaves off just before the part you know: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope; and, crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
A few years later, still in the early Seventies when no one — including me! — was brave enough to put his real name on a book I wrote, Al put his real name on it, providing its only blurb. (” . . . Remarkably honest.”)
One of Al’s campaign posters hangs in my office and when young candidates come by, I make a point of telling them who he was. Here is a 1983 documentary of his life: CITIZEN. (And/or the eulogy above.)
I offer all this in part simply because I just rediscovered the link to that documentary and wanted to share it. But also to remind myself and anyone who will listen of a time when we had serious champions of justice and intellectual rigor, like Al Lowenstein and William F. Buckley, Jr., Ted Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and John Kennedy and — oh, wait! — Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale and George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore and Barack Obama and Joe Biden and so many more.
I don’t see the same qualities in Donald Trump or his associates; or in those he stumps for, like Judge Roy Moore and Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Anthony Scaramucci. From a friend in response to Monday’s post: “Scaramucci was at Neuberger Berman when I worked with him. He was a compliance department nightmare. A self-promoting scam artist. He has just enough charm to obscure just how awful a person he is. He’s not stupid, but he is not as smart as he thinks he is. He will do whatever it takes to promote himself and his own interests.”
Sandy Kominsky. You need to watch the pilot of The Kominsky Method on Netflix. I’m pretty sure you will then binge on the subsequent episodes the rest of the weekend. Charles and Michael Douglas shared the same oncologist for the same problem — one day, as we were waiting to go in, Michael Douglas was coming out. Sometimes — witness this amazing show — oncology works. Enjoy!
Have a great long weekend!
(I’m declaring Friday a possible holiday.)
Quote of the Day
Two things are infinite ... the Universe and human stupidity. And I'm not sure about the Universe.~Albert Einstein
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