Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Say No To This

The headline: “President-elect Trump Demands Apology from HAMILTON Cast”

That breathless news story of today, the timing of which has caused many people to note that it owes its existence to the need to bury a different breathless news story (namely a $25 million settlement of a civil case involving a certain real-estate “university”), is nonetheless what I’m going to focus on today, here, since … well, there are a couple of tiny things to note about it. And those things are anything but tiny.

Especially to someone (me) who has spent the bulk of his life pretty tight with the arts, and artists, and free creative expression.

Quickly now, the back story:

Current Vice President-elect, Michael Pence, paid a visit to Broadway’s revolutionary mega-hit, ‘Hamilton’ last night and reports from inside the theater confirmed a less than enthusiastic reception. The forthcoming Vice President got a mixed reception from the packed as he was both cheered and booed upon arrival.

So the current President-elect did the Presidential thing, which of course was to immediately climb onto the Twitter machine without adult supervision:

Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”

Further back story:

Following the show (as reported by the Washington Post in the quote below), Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor currently portraying Aaron Burr, read a brief statement to the Vice President-elect on behalf of the company:

‘You know, we have a guest in the audience this evening,’ he said to audience laughter. ‘And Vice President-elect Pence, I see you walking out, but I hope you will hear us just a few more moments. There’s nothing to boo here, ladies and gentlemen. There’s nothing to boo here. We’re all here sharing a story of love. We have a message for you, sir. We hope that you will hear us out.’

As he pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket, Dixon encouraged people to record and share what he was about to say ‘because this message needs to be spread far and wide.’

‘Vice President-elect Pence, we welcome you, and we truly thank you for joining us here at “Hamilton: An American Musical.” We really do,’ Dixon said to further applause. ‘We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.’”

The current President-elect tweeted, by way of response:

“The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!

Great art doesn’t always feel safe. Great art doesn’t always spare your feelings. Great art doesn’t always confirm your beliefs. Great art doesn’t always stay polite. Great art doesn’t always conform to its audience’s idea of propriety.

Great art takes risks and dares you to experience them too. Great art challenges your feelings and your beliefs. Great art is a bumpy ride. And great art wouldn’t be great art if it did exactly what you wanted, all the time – that being the case, it would be pablum.

So the President-elect’s tweets make sense. Because all his life he’s reacted badly to having his feelings and beliefs challenged, to having people do something other than exactly what he’s wanted, all the time.

Not long after the President-elect expressed all that dismay, and demanded apologies, one supporter of his on Twitter (whose Twitter handle I won’t include here, because I’m uninterested in giving that supporter any more exposure) tweeted this:

An artist’s job is to make people smile, not to make political statements. Apologize to Mike Pence, or stop calling yourselves artists!

The President-elect seems so concerned about the artistic environment being a safe and special place – when his political friend’s feelings may be endangered. He wants an apology from the “Hamilton” cast – for expressing those subversive thoughts about the effect they hope their show has.

He’s not likely to get it.

Fair is fair: I’m pretty damned concerned about the coming Administration’s policies making the American environment into a not-very-safe or special place for many groups of people – when their rights and freedoms, livelihoods and very lives may be endangered. And I want an apology from the President-elect – for the past seventeen months of expressing truly subversive thoughts in the past seventeen months about the effect he hopes his “show” has.

I have a feeling I’m not likely to get that, either.

But what’s obvious is the President-elect’s (and his groupies’) fundamentally stunted understanding of free, creative, artistic expression.

Happily for him – and for us – I have the sense that he’s going to experience a lot more of it in the next few years.

He’s going to get an education, all right.

Apologize, … or stop calling yourselves artists”?

Say no to this.

RESIST.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | arts, current events, music, news, politics, theatre, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lashing Out

So here we are, now just over two months away from a Trump Administration.

Regular readers of the Blogge will know that I’ve spent the last seven weeks recapping my activity upon the mighty Facebook, wherein every morning I have stood up in firm opposition not just to the campaign of the man who is now the President-elect, but in firm revulsion to the actual man.

What’s really frustrating is that all those haikus and all those links to articles and all those heartfelt-but-snarky memes and all those FB status posts of mine … fell on the ears of the already-converted.

And probably fell upon very very few of the People who needed to know what kind of star to which They were hitching Their wagon. Or, much more disconcertingly, the People who knew exactly what awful attitudes and behavior Their votes would sanction, not just in Their candidate but by extension in Themselves … and were okay with that.

And I live in a very very deep blue state, surrounded by other very very blue states. And so, from the relative safety and security and naivete of that bubble of belief that I was living in a country whose population was, by and large, decent … did I do enough, could I have done more, could I have done enough, did I have any hope of doing any more to reach the People Who Needed To Be Swayed?

And by “People Who Needed To Be Swayed”, I mean …

the People who don’t think They know any gay or lesbian people, so why should They care, and anyway they make Them feel icky, so why should they have rights? …

the People who don’t think women are any great thing to be respected …

the People who think anybody remotely brown is inherently inferior to Their white Selves …

the People who think it’s okay to discriminate against or protest against or legislate against or get violent against anybody who doesn’t worship Their particular version of God …

the People who think college degrees are for suckers, since They know what They know, and that’s enough for Them? …

I think that in any case, I’m not in the right frame of mind, yet, to reach out and try to communicate with the People who will one day need to be reached. And I don’t think They are, either.

 

When Snoopy stands on top of his comic-strip doghouse and reaches out a hand of friendship to the ferocious housecat next door, he does so while wearing a hockey glove on that hand. Which gets a laugh from the reader. And in the next strip, Snoopy promptly gets the hockey glove absolutely shredded by cat claws. Which also gets a laugh.

Right now, I’m not sure which character I am, in that little comic strip analogy.

Because … well, I’ll be honest. My version of reaching out, right now, today, only 24 hours afterward, to the People who have collectively caused my country to be prospectively led by an utterly dangerous person – and yes, it’s still my country, y’all, as much as it is yours, and we have to figure that out, too … well, my version of that reaching out might easily be characterized as lashing out.

And I’m not even a member of nearly any of those groups that the Vulgar Talking Yam and his Supporters will go after first. In the list of “First They Came For”s, I’m kinda low on the priority list. For the moment, at least.

See, there I go. Lashing out. It’s not something I’ve ever advocated. As a church-goin’, church-giggin’ person, it’s really not my top thing. And on the rare occasions in the past when I’ve done it myself, it hasn’t worked out well anyway. Frankly I’m just not that good at it.

So it’ll be a moment or two before I can come up with something constructive. I have no doubt that I will. But today may not be when it occurs to me.

Lemme get back to you on that.

 

So. Were my artistic expressions really enough?

Did they do any more than galvanize the already-sufficiently galvanized? Did they energize anyone to actually go out and vote, who wasn’t planning to anyway? Did they convince anyone who was a Bernie guy (person) (whatever) like me to go out and vote for Hillary, and not for Gary or Jill because in our admittedly flawed system a concentrated level of support for Hillary was the only realistic avenue for stopping the Short-Fingered Vulgarian, for the good of the Republic and for the good of the concept of civility and decency?

Were haikus really enough?

I’m worried that I know the answer to that question, and that it’s not the answer I would have wished for. And I’m worried that, in the cold morning light and with the sharp focus of hindsight, it’s been revealed unto me as exactly the tepid effort that it seems now.

Midterm elections are, at least so far as we now know, just two years away.

Thinkin’ that soon it’ll be time to get started on more than just seventeen syllables worth of outrage at a time.

November 9, 2016 Posted by | arts, civil rights, current events, Facebook, government, news, politics, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poetry’s Last Stand

In which your humble correspondent attempts to wrap up the current (and final?) election season, on his Facebook page, in verse.

[For reference by future scholars who unearth this text, once thought lost forever: in the seventh week of this experiment, they actually held the election. Cleverly, this text was released to a breathlessly-anticipatory public before any polls had closed, thus rendering it a time capsule of The Time Before… (fill in the blank).]

[Also, something happened that had not happened in 108 years: little bears won a fun game.]

 

Wednesday, November 2: Today’s Trump Haiku:

Three-thirty A.M.

Is the right time for few things

Least of all Tweeting

 

Thursday, November 3: Today’s Trump Distraction Haiku:

The Chicago Cubs

For one glorious evening

Overwhelmed all this

 

Friday, November 4: Today’s Trump Media Coverage Haiku:

Today would have been

Cronkite’s hundredth. What would he

Say about all this?

 

And a small P.S.:

(The sad truth: Cronkite

Wouldn’t be “sexy” enough

For cable news now)

 

Saturday, November 5: Today’s Trump Haiku:

I’m a bit nervous

About all those “poll-watchers”

*You know what I mean*

 

Sunday, November 6: Today’s Trump Haiku:

If Trump’s elected

I don’t think it’d be called an

Administration”

 

Monday, November 7: Today’s Trump Haiku Two-Fer:

I too felt the Bern

Now we need to make sure he’s

A Committee Chair

 

Life isn’t perfect;

Hillary either. Trump though?

FRAKKIN’ DISASTER

 

Tuesday, November 8: Today’s Trump Haiku Election-Day Dump: (I had a bunch of ’em in reserve)

Smart not to pay tax?

Can you do business without

Roads, the power grid…?

 

Release all eMails”

Strikes me as: not something a

Guilty person says

 

Surround yourself with

The people you want to be”:

Corey Lew’ndowski

 

Trump likes “Citizen

Kane” … this one seems just as apt:

It Can’t Happen Here”

 

Haiku is a lame

Kind of poem. Why do peo-

ple like haiku? Sad.

November 8, 2016 Posted by | arts, current events, Facebook, Famous Persons, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment