Un-American Activities: “God, guns + gays”

The Anti-American

Un-American Monica Goodling

I know y’all just love it when I get all political and shit. But, as Edward Albee wrote in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, “…you make government and art, and realize that they are, must be, both the same…”

I can’t think of anything more scandalous, anything we should be more concerned with, or anything more egregiously un-American than Monica Goodling’s abuse of power and fundamental lack of belief in both Democracy and the Constitution of this country.

Now, I’m generally not one to name-call–well, not when matters are serious, at least–but it doesn’t make sense for us to allow people who have obviously set their will against the rights and freedoms of American citizens to corner the market on divisive political pejoratives. So, I’m calling them out for what they are: Un-American.

Quoting from the NYT article:

In her position as White House liaison for the Justice Department, Ms. Goodling was involved in hiring lawyers for both political appointments and nonpolitical career positions. Regardless of the type of position, the report said, Ms. Goodling would run applicants at interviews through the same batch of questions, asking them about their political philosophies, why they wanted to serve President Bush, and who, aside from Mr. Bush, they admired as public servants, the report found. Sometimes, Ms. Goodling would ask: “Why are you a Republican?”

In Ms. Goodling’s notes from the interviews, she would give a shorthand assessment of how well they fared on threshold political issues, as in the notation for one candidate who she wrote was aptly conservative on “god, guns + gays.”

In forwarding a résumé in 2006 from a lawyer who was working for the Federalist Society, Ms. Goodling sent an e-mail message to the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, saying: “Am attaching a résumé for a young, conservative female lawyer.” Ms. Goodling interviewed the woman and wrote in her notes such phrases as “pro-God in public life,” and “pro-marriage, anti-civil union.” The woman was eventually hired as a career prosecutor.

Now, obviously, she’s the fall-guy for the Justice Department under a Presidential administration that has an endemic problem when it comes to upholding American values, which I define as a general willingness to do good, to let others live lives of their own choosing, and the right for all men and women (even trannies) to be equally represented under the law: I can say with all seriousness that I believe the majority of Americans stand behind these tenets.

But still, there’s something particularly enterprising about Ms. Goodling’s pro-active approach to violating the Constitution. This article seems to imply that she might have even gone above and beyond the precedents set by John Ashcroft.

Yeesh…

Dance briefly makes home page of NYT

The good news: It’s a piece by L. Ro.

The bad news: Of course it’s a ballet piece.

Eh, better than being ignored altogether.

Actually in the middle; somewhat better

(Photos by Stephanie Berger)

This will by no means be a full-throttle review, but, between seeing the final performance of William Forsythe’s 1988 work, “Impressing the Czar,” at the Lincoln Center Festival, and then reading Gia Kourlas’s review of it in The Times, some interesting things come to mind.

I was first exposed to the center section–or second movement–of this dance when the Kirov performed it at the end of a rather long evening. You might recall that it inspired a post of mine outing the biggest culprits of never-ending dance-making.

Well, Sunday, I enjoyed this particular section a lot more than my first viewing. Largely, I think, because the ensemble of the Royal Ballet of Flanders is simply better than the Kirov. If there weren’t as many individual jewels in this troupe, there was at least a higher mean of talent.

Second, and I will no doubt receive some flack for this, I will admit to having had a beer, or two, during the night at the Kirov: It was necessary; don’t ask me why. And I think the mild alcoholic buzz exacerbated my patience, and chiefly, Forsythe’s musical choices really inhibited me from giving that dance a chance.

Well, the Flanders’ performance was on a Sunday afternoon, and it isn’t really my style to drink during the daytime, so I was able to view the work with stone cold sobriety. And, oddly, it made the dance–and even the unnecessarily loud and garish music–somewhat better.

(Now, before y’all go off your rocker about the beer thing, keep in mind that a large portion of any audience will also be drinking it up out there, so if you’re making art and you expect that it can only be appreciated by sober minds, then you’re wasting your time. Performances are social events. People drink when they’re being social. They should be able to enjoy your art and have a glass of wine.)

After the first section–the Baroque-ish menagerie of activity that dizzies more than anything else–”In the middle, Somewhat elevated” comes across as a calculated, shrewdly composed dance, both a comment on the inner-world of ballet dancers and a titillating tour de form.

From the opening measures of the music, I recalled my hatred of the Kirov performance. A steady ticking of a brush against a high-hat punctuated by brash chords: All of it electronic. And to me, that’s the most dated thing about this work. The electronic sounds are stock and standard of the 1980′s synthesizer lexicon, only applied to a more “artsy” endeavor.

And speaking of dated. That is the criticism Gia Kourlas leveled at this dance work in her review, although she focuses on the final two movements for this criticism, both against the spoken text and the final dance itself.

But I think Ms. Kourlas misplaced this particular reaction. Continue reading

On Leasing Identity: Welcome To The Coke Theater…err…I mean, KOCH Theater

It’s a funny business, fund raising. And the naming game is right at the top of schemes that arts organizations employ to get the wealthiest people to give huge gifts. I’ve always, at a basic level, distrusted this kind of philanthropy. (I may have blogged about this before.) But, it seems to be a great tool, tried and true for securing big money, and David H. Koch’s new gift to soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-The State Theater is a much needed subsidy. But I wonder if there isn’t something ultimately fatal about naming a venue to the highest bidder.

DON’T GET ME WRONG. The magnitude of Mr. Koch’s gift is truly astounding. But leasing the name of a venue–whether it be an opera house, hospital wing or sports arena–has the potential to inhibit cultivating a community relationship with an organization.

Because that’s exactly what’s happening. Mr. Koch (unfortunately pronounced “coke,” which most people will mistake for the soda company) has a 50-year lease on the building in accordance with his gift. Then his family has first right of refusal at the expiration of the fifty-year window, or, they can let some other billionaire (or corporation, who knows?) swoop in and re-name the theater…again.

This isn’t only happening in the arts. Sporting arenas are named after conglomerates like Staples and Disney. Madison Square Garden has the “WaMu Theater.” Tier 1 tennis tournaments, which used to be named only after the city they took place in, are now named after corporations; Pacific Life, Stella Artois, Mercedes-Benz, ad nauseum.

But corporate relationships are subject to the whims of business drama. A new CEO can entirely change the directions of a company’s philanthropic giving. As can new leadership at an arts organization cause certain individual and corporate money to disappear.

My concern is that a venue, especially a theater, is something we expect and hope a community builds a deep and lasting relationship with; one that endures for more than fifty years. And by allowing the identity of a theater to be subject to the liability of economic fluctuation, arts organizations are putting themselves at risk of inhibiting the way a community identifies with their products. Continue reading

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