This week, I got to sit and chat with another one of my dear friends, the indomitable Tali Tadmor. An extraordinary pianist and collaborator, Tali makes the rounds around town with the best singers and organizations- and when I say around town, I mean from LA Opera to Carnegie Hall. She’s good. I hope you enjoy our conversation- thanks for listening!
CEO of LA Opera, Christopher Koelsch, is my guest this week. He’s eloquent, steady and has a clear, unwavering artistic vision for the company. In our world, the man who directs traffic at the intersection of art and commerce is always in the hot-seat, and Christopher must have “Never let them see you sweat” printed on his wallpaper because he’s the coolest of the cool customers. We dig into some pretty interesting stuff- everything from the value of art itself to the artistic and financial challenges of some of our most controversial productions. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look into the life one of America’s top art administrators and as always, thanks for listening!
Multidisciplinarian, Julia Aks, is my guest this week. She’s a mezzo-soprano, friend, and colleague from LA Opera, but that’s not all she does. She’s an aerialist, actor, intermittent dancer, and probably also does a bunch of other stuff that we didn’t cover. She very well may be the next big thing in this here town, so keep a lookout. Happy Monday, everybody, and I hope you like our little chat!
Tenor, Brenton Ryan is my guest this week. He’s a swell guy, as all-American as you can get and is one heck of a good artist. He’s recently made his Met debut singing the role of Pedrillo in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio- the same show we’re performing right now at LAO. Brent is a well-spoken gentleman, and I’m very glad we got the chance to sit around and chat. Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy the conversation!
I have great friends. I think, or hope, you do too. There’s something about the closeness of being with my own gender that is comforting- the ability to speak frankly and in short-hand. I suppose that’s why we have, “guys night out” and, “girls night out”, right? Do we tell secrets? Or maybe we have a built-in understanding of each other- I really don’t know. Is it sexist to think this way? Lots of questions.
My favorite stories, for instance, almost always involve the love between men (and animals, too). Old Yeller, A Separate Peace, Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, almost all of Wes Anderson’s films and Jack London’s novels. Why does our culture shy away from masculine emotion so much- I even have trouble writing about it- seems embarrassing.
Anyway, I’m not too sure what this post is about except to say, tell your friends how you feel. Show them appreciation, give them a call and say, “Hey man, you’re pretty cool- I’m glad you’re my friend.” These are important things.
Happy Valentine’s Day, folks.
Comedian Jonathan Mangum is my guest this week. He co-hosts Let’s Make a Deal with Wayne Brady, and is a regular guest on Who’s Line is it, Anyway? He’s funny, witty and very pleasant as we discuss his professional background, improv training and the role of the artist in this heightened political climate. Have a great week, and I hope you enjoy the chat!
Morris Robinson, bass, is my guest on this episode. We talk about family, preparation, perseverance, and the importance of being a good colleague. Lots of lessons here, and not a word about politics, which is pretty weird for me. I hope you enjoy the interview and remember to give your donation to the ACLU. Thanks for listening!
Trump and his supporters call it, “shaking it up”, and “draining the swamp” and a dozen other idiotic catchphrases they’ve come up with. But make no mistake: This is a coup d’état. This is happening right now, in the United States of America, to all of us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or whatever. Trump and Bannon are going to burn it down, right to the ground, and not in a cool, crazy, interesting, hipster way, either.
Those of you who know me know that I am absolutely not a conspiracy nut- I have always prided myself on being a level-headed pragmatist. I’m not prone to fanciful thinking, and I consider myself to be as open-minded as the next guy.
Trump is holding all Americans and Congress, in particular, hostage by conveying prospective cabinet appointees who are not only grossly unqualified but who are the very nemeses of their intended departments. This accomplishes a few things. First, it puts Congress in a catch 22- They in no way can justify voting to accept Trump’s inept nominees, and the alternative leaves us without functioning legislative or judicial branches of government. Trump and Bannon will most likely maintain absolute control through seemingly justifiable executive power, and the blame will fall on anyone who opposes it.
We are right now, literally, one disaster away from Trump and Bannon taking complete control of all three branches of government.
But without intervention of some kind, his entire cabinet will most likely be filled with utter nitwits, sycophants, ideologues and the alt-right, and in the natural course of their work they’ll create enough chaos for Trump to maintain an imbalance in the system and in the streets, while allowing him to dismantle all forms of government regulations with the sole aim of creating profits for himself and his partners abroad. He will do this at the expense of national security, the environment, health care, employment- anything and everything.
But here’s the scary part.
I believe Steve Bannon is actually steering the ship, and Trump’s crushing insecurities, paper-thin ego and blind, monarchical ambitions are supplying Bannon with gale-force winds.
Steve Bannon is now the Chief Strategist to the White House and counselor to the President of the United States. There are less than a handful of people on the planet with more power and influence.
Steve Bannon sits on the council that oversees the targeting of Americans, and no law establishes the panel’s existence or governs its decisions. There is no due process and no public record of its operations or decisions. To this end, Bannon has also enforced a paper-trail blackout within the National Security Council itself.
Let that sink in.
Bannon is a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who was appointed executive chairman of Breitbart News Network after the passing of its owner, Andrew Breitbart, in 2012. According to former Breitbart editor-at-large, conservative talk show host Ben Shapiro, Bannon is a sinister character. “He is a vindictive, nasty figure, infamous for verbally abusing supposed friends and threatening enemies,” Shapiro wrote. “He will attempt to ruin anyone who impedes his unending ambition, and he will use anyone bigger than he is – for example, Donald Trump – to get where he wants to go.”
Here are some quotes from one of the most powerful and dangerous people on earth:
- “Are there racist people involved in the alt-right? Absolutely,” he told Mother Jones at this year’s Republican National Convention. “Look, are there some people that are white nationalists that are attracted to some of the philosophies of the alt-right? Maybe. Are there some people that are anti-Semitic that are attracted? Maybe. Right? Maybe some people are attracted to the alt-right that are homophobes, right? But that’s just like, there are certain elements of the progressive left and the hard left that attract certain elements.”
- “…there are some unintended consequences of the women’s liberation movement. That, in fact, the women that would lead this country would be pro-family, they would have husbands, they would love their children. They wouldn’t be a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.” — 2011 radio interview with Political Vindication Radio
- He “didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews … He said he doesn’t like Jews and that he doesn’t like the way they raise their kids to be ‘whiney brats.'” — The Guardian, from his wife in court documents filed in 2007.
- “Leadership are all c*nts” and “We should just go buck wild.” — The Daily Beast, from an email exchange.
But here is most shocking and dangerous quote of the bunch:
“I’m a Leninist … Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” — The Daily Beast
If you are a half-decent person who cares at all about the United States, the Constitution, security, peace, equality or, at the very least, democracy in general, Bannon is a clear and present danger to you and your loved ones. Period.
Lastly, Trump is illegitimate and his actions are Illegal. He is in direct violation of the First andTwenty-fifth amendments, and Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution. These are not opinions, these are facts, and unless Congress acts quickly to impeach him, there will be, at the very least, civil unrest and/or violent protest across our country. I can’t think of a scenario that would consolidate Trump and Bannon’s power faster, because the law will finally be on their side. Game over.
Remember, democracy is only alive when we all agree to the basic, fundamental principles laid out very specifically by our founding fathers. Without our implicit agreement, the Constitution, along with the Bill of Rights is nothing but an old piece of paper, and unless we do something, and fast, we’re going to lose it all to a madman and his cronies.
Now is the time for all Americans to come to the aid of their country- You can make a difference:
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Here’s part two of my chat with Eric Whitacre. This is how we talk a good part of the time, so I hope you enjoy this meandering conversation between friends. We cover a lot of ground, and I tend to talk less on this one, so that’s a plus. Thanks for listening, and have a great week!
Part one of a two-parter with Eric Whitacre. Eric and I have been friends for the better part of two decades, and that’s what you get with this chat. We ramble, laugh, joke, and get into some pretty serious issues- You know, all the stuff that friends talk about. It’s just us, behind the scenes, having a conversation, no more, no less. Enjoy, and thanks for listening!