FEMALE RAGE’S GREATEST ANTHEM

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/beth wareham

How fast we grow up. Seems like yesterday I was watching a silly young assistant dance down the halls of the office singing “put a ring on it.” Married for more than a decade, I thought a better line would be “wrap an anaconda around it.”

I had written off the songstress urging wedding rings. Marriage is, after all, the most dangerous activity we all partake in. I have more than one friend who was either murdered or disappeared, always at the hands of the husband.  Men take their wives’ money and take off, unloving from start to finish. Men are as equally victimized in different ways but I have to leave their defense in their hands because I only understand my side, the wife’s.

But back to the pop singer.  She released the offensive “Single Ladies” in 2008. We assume, then, that Jay-Z had his affair with the fashion designer in the years between ’08 and when she began work on the magnificent LEMONADE

Magnificent it is. Some of the visuals are derivative (This performance piece was on display at the Modern Museum of Art in 2006). The long grass evokes the best of director Terrence Malick as his soldiers slither through it to take the top of the Japanese-held hill. It has a life of its own, that grass. It sees all of humanity’s foolishness and just keeps softly moving in the wind.

That gentleness has been banished in her amazing song with Jack Black DON’T HURT YOURSELF.

Here are some of my favorite lyrics to her philandering narcissistic husband:

You hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself

When you diss me, you diss yourself

Don’t hurt yourself

When you hurt me, you hurt yourself

When you love me, you love yourself

I am the dragon breathing fire

Beautiful man, I am the lion

I am not broken; I’m not crying

I’m not crying, you ain’t trying hard enough

You ain’t loving hard enough

When you lie to me, you lie to yourself

You know I give you life and if you try this shit again, you’ll lose your wife.

Between the song “Girls” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” something happened to Beyonce that was no doubt very painful. But in those 4 years something miraculous happened too. She felt every crook and cranny of her power as a beautiful, talented, rich woman. Jay-Z is now beside the point.

Beyonce grew and became a real artist, a transformation that never fails to leave me in awe. She was on the edge of the an emotional pit and she jumped in and faced it. Then, she did what is even harder. She crawled out, stood up in front of her tormentor and the whole damn world and told her truth.

Beyonce, you are my new hero.

 

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Write your own damn book.

 

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/beth wareham

Synchronicity is not my thing. It’s too subtle and I’m a two-by-four kinda gal. But strange signals are coming to me in such rapid succession, even my gray matter is a’swirl.

The year began with a fall out over a book I wrote and three scenes I included – with permission – that, upon reading – made the permission-giver feel funny.  I had already had a contract with a film producer who LOVED those scenes and there it was, my childhood friend had peed on my livelihood. Regrettable. The issues got sorted on…mainly by me working up something with equal humor – and I went on my way, swearing not to hang out with people who didn’t understand where creativity came from.

After passing through my childhood friend’s first bad reviews, I encountered a readership that was wildly curious about how much of the heroine was me and what did my husband think about all this?  He read it and helped with typos. If a man knows art and creativity, it’s him. He was happy his wife was busy and fulfilled. Besides, he’s got better things to do, what with his own books and all.

Years after that first book came out though, my husband my husband – a man of few words – yelled “THAT BOOK WAS ABOUT ME!” Someone else had brought it up at lunch and I had forgotten I had written it.

I began remembering other scenes of writer discomfort. A friend, after writing an amazing memoir of how her father created a baseball team instead of a family, met me for dinner pale-faced and announced “my mother is reading the final draft” as she pulled up her chair.  I remember her talking about what a tense week that was.

To add fuel to my fire, I hit Elena Ferrante’s second half of her final book in the Naples series and it was all about her neighborhood hating her writing about her neighborhood. The Solaras threatened her and she saw how gross the place really is. I thought “same old shit” as I read but don’t tell me! I’m not finished with these remarkable books yet.

Finally, on a much more serious note, another writer, now in her late 80s, called today requesting I remove two pages of text that disturbed a family member. I heard the pain in her voice and I knew exactly where it came from: the creator inside wants to protect what is so difficult to show to the world.

I told her what I tell all my writers: You’re not going to do it, are you?

To a person, they say no.

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ONLY THE SUPERCOOL KNOW IT

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EINSTEIN CHANGED EVERYTHING

/Bernard Holland, excerpted from Something I Heard, Lisa Hagan Books, 2016

“EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH” changed my life. Everything I thought musical theater was abruptly wasn’t. St. Paul had his road to Damascus; mine was the Brooklyn-bound No. 4 train to Atlantic Avenue.

Philip Glass and Robert Wilson first brought “Einstein” to the surface in 1976 after exploratory trials in Europe with two performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. It reappeared in 1984 and 1992 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The first revival was my introduction. The second revival left me just as disoriented as the first.”Einstein,” or a lot of it, returns in a concert version at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, performed by the Philip Glass Ensemble. There have been two audio recordings that I know of, the one on Nonesuch, from 1993, perhaps better than the one on Sony Classical, from 1985.

He should, before its remarkable group of players, singers, stage directors

and set designers shuffle too far into old age.

For accounting purposes, “Einstein on the Beach” can be described asa series of stage pictures, dances and narrations lasting about five hours and set to music by a dozen or more chorus singers, a violinist (the Einstein of the title), more singers and a few woodwinds and electronic keyboards.”

Einstein” begins with a train and ends with a bus. In between are a courtroom, a jail, a glowing monolith moving in signature Wilsonian slow motion, a trip to the supermarket, lovers exchanging gooey vows on a park bench and much, much more. Einstein in a snowy fright wig and suspenders sits downstage and saws furiously on his violin through much of the evening. The chorus intermittently appears and disappears from sight.

People smarter than I have expended a lot of brain power trying to figure out what “Einstein on the Beach” means. I don’t think it means anything. It is majestically two-dimensional. Its references to the atomic age, criminal justice, true love, air-conditioning and Patty Hearst are merely art materials, like red paint or blue. Those who want to link it to our inner beings or to outer space are welcome to try.

To best say what “Einstein on the Beach” is, consider first what it isn’t. Forget Aristotle, tragedy, unified time and place, beginning, middle and end, and all other cultural baggage. Something happens onstage; then Mr. Glass and Mr. Wilson change the subject. They do it without warning: no coda, no slowing down, no stretto, no summing up.

The music stops as if you were pushing a button on your radio. It starts again the same way. Charles Ives gave us a preview of no-ending endings about 1920, with “The Housatonic at Stockbridge.” The orchestral version floats along in a kind of misty indeterminacy and then, with a downward half-step in the violas, simply disappears.

Expect no overture from “Einstein,” nothing to put listeners in their seats and prepare them for what is going to happen. This is not Verdi; there will be no first-act finale to send audiences humming to the lobby bar. Indeed, there is no intermission. If you are bored or in need of the necessary, Mr. Glass and Mr. Wilson invite you to create your own private intermission. Take your time getting back to your seat. You probably won’t have missed a thing.

That is because “Einstein” likes to repeat itself. My fondest recollection of both revivals remains the delicious Lucinda Childs and her tape-loop- like recitation of a trip to “a prematurely air-conditioned supermarket.” With Ms. Childs’s every sing-song repetition, the allure of “bathing caps with Fourth of July plumes on them” is more hypnotic.

“Einstein on the Beach” is also different for musicians and tends to terrorize the unsuspecting and conservatory-trained who are asked to play it. One can be the best counter of rests and the master of tricky entrances in the orchestra, but those skills will have been mastered in European music based on change and development.

In Mr. Glass, so little happens so many times, with so many small additions and subtractions in line and rhythm, that sameness — or the illusion of sameness — becomes a series of traps.

 

What’s needed is a new performance technique, indeed a rewired brain. Classically trained musicians tell of complete mental exhaustion after dealing with this music. Not even the best symphony orchestras do it well. There is the tale of the principal double-bass player in an eminent Midwestern orchestra so confused by the demands of a Glass piece that one of the composer’s operatives had to stand behind him at performances and give verbal cues.

 

A friend of mine came upon Mr. Glass after a rehearsal during the Philadelphia Orchestra’s summer season in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., years ago. “How are they doing with your piece?” he asked.

Mr. Glass answered, “Are you kidding?” and walked away.

Like his colleague Steve Reich, Mr. Glass has relied on a core of New York professionals: instrumentalists and singers with one foot in the Juilliard School and the other in rock music. Michael Riesman has always led the Philip Glass Ensemble and continues to do so. Rock thrives on sameness, intractable repetitions and the patience to deal with both. A certain empty-headedness comes into play, but an exalted empty-headedness, actually a form of high intelligence.

One theory of education says that learning is not accumulating information but discarding what your mind doesn’t need. Musical people like me are too cluttered. I sweat when the music goes from 6/8 to 3/4 time and can only wonder at the ability of these players to do

 sameness and difference so confidently. A new generation of outsiders is a lot better at it than their immediate predecessors.

 

Mr. Glass found his style of composing as a student in Europe, when asked to transcribe a performance by the Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar in a film. “In Western music,” Mr. Glass has written, “we divide time — as if you were to take a length of time and slice it the way you slice a loaf of bread. In Indian music (and all the non-Western music with which I’m familiar), you take small units, or ‘beats,’ and string them together to make up larger time values.”

Mr. Glass’s going-nowhere-fast school of music synchronizes with the glacial going-somewhere-slowly visual art of Robert Wilson. In “Einstein,” the pace of physical movement acts in inverse proportion to the onlooker’s feeling of space: the slower the bigger.

We are all products of our hometowns, and one can imagine Mr. Wilson, who is from Waco, Tex., looking out over the vastness of the cattle range and seeing a lot of the same thing moving little, if at all. Maybe the reason Texans seem so much more vivid than the rest of us is that they need personalities strong enough to wrestle to the ground those hard gray-blue skies and seemingly endless stretches of land, devoid of contour and drained of color.

“Einstein on the Beach” is the ideal entertainment for people smart enough not to think too much. Relevance, allusion, historical significance, metaphor, symbol and myth may make the inquiring mind go round, but too much meaning can also clog the arteries.

Let “Einstein on the Beach” be your Lipitor. Look at it (if you have the chance) and listen to it. “Einstein” may well be speaking volumes to your subconscious without your knowing. Ask your subconscious if you must, but it will probably tell you to mind your own business.

 

Tap here for an excerpt of the Einstein on the Beach

To order Bernard Holland’s SOMETHING I HEARD for essays on the good, the bad and the ugly in the 20th century’s classical music scene from Shostakovich’s epic struggle with the Soviets to Yo-Yo Ma’s difficulty in traveling with a very pricey cello.

To order, click on the title: Something I Heard.

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THE GIRLS OF SUMMER: Fiction on Sale

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FAST FURIOUS FICTION ON SALE
TO FUEL THOSE POOLSIDE AFTERNOONS

 

The only time we get to read for pleasure is a long-haul plane flight or a summer weekend when the world is just a little bit slower. Oh, and those 8 minutes before we fall asleep at night, exhausted but determined to read a page or two to keep our heads alive. Below we offer the reader a range of rapid reads, all meant to entertain at a really low cost – say $2.99 – or less than the price of an iced latte. Lasts longer too.

Happy summer.

 

All she wanted was some donuts…a sugar rush to drown out her loveless suburban life and cheating bald husband. What she got was her true self back, with the help of two really young, really hot gang bangers. You’ll be done reading in 2 hours and you won’t know what hit you. But you’ll be smiling, that we can promise.

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Kindle is on sale for 2.99, paperback is 12.99

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“This is the most insane fun I’ve ever had reading a book in my life.

I called in sick so I could finish it.”

– T. Beckett Scotland, Film Producer, The Devil of Blue Mountain

 

If you like a Quentin Tarantino movie crossed with aliens and drug cartels, this is your book.  It’s so much fun, you just might snort out loud, alarming your seat mates.

KINDLE ON SALE 2.99

Paperback    10.00

 

 

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White Deer of Autumn, author Gabriel Horn, has created an beautiful portrait of a young girl coming to grips with her heritage, her community, and a world where her highest ideals – those of the natural world – are being destroyed by seemingly unstoppable evil – the British Petroleum oil spill.

This beautiful young adult novel won the 2016 International Book Award winner, 2016 Indie Excellence Book Award winner, 2016 Paris Book Festival Award winner, the 2016 Award for Literary Excellence from the Friends of the Florida Library and a winner of the 2015 Florida Book Award.

 

 

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41sJGzMvtlL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg“Johanna Baldwin is a magical and original writer whose unique voice has a gift for making allegory and fantasy surprising and emotionally plausible. Her delicate touch brings freshness to unexpected themes and opens a door to worlds hidden within the every day world.”

— Naomi Wolf,
The Beauty Myth

Kindle:  2.99    Paperback  15.00

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