Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Back to Show Biz

No political injustices outed.  No religious philosophy or devotion discussed, just a story about "the BIZ".
I find that I have come to that point in my career (perhaps my life) when remembering and writing about an experience is almost better than having to do it.  Like yesterday.
This is not to say that it was not fun, I had a blast, there was no pressure no stress but the reality of creating illusion is sometimes a chore.  
Hallmark Channel's show, Home and Family honored Robert Guillaume yesterday.  They gathered as many of his former co-stars from the two series he starred in as were available, and several others there via video clip to honor him. The retrospective on Robert's career in show business was concluded as Robert (Benson) Guillaume was given the "Hollywood Appreciation Award".
Those present in the Universal studio/house that is the set included, Katherine Helmond, Robert Mandan, Rene Auberjonois, Jay Johnson and Bob (me... or more accurately US) along with the dozen or so co-hosts that live in the Home and Family house.  Ted Wass, Jennifer Salt, Dianna Canova, Missy Gold and Billy Crystal made breif appearances via video messages.  They had gathered relative clips from Benson and SOAP in scenes we had done together years ago with Guillaume.  The show was heavy on SOAP clips although Benson was only on that show for two seasons while starring in his own spin off - Benson for seven years.  
Both of those shows were aired in the late 70's through the 80's.   Although it doesn't seem possible, mathematically that works out to be 38 years ago.  Time and age are very dysfunctional companions.  Thirty- eight years ago, when I was working with Robert Guillaume, I was in my late twenties.  It would be another decade before I would actually be 38 years old. Now, that is half of my life span ago.  Looking back is always a shorter trip than contemplating the future.  
SOAP had a younger cast which averaged around my age and an older cast that, well, were older. The older actors, playing our folks, were in their late 40's and early 50's at the time.  They were seasoned veterans of stage, screen and television.  They were the ones we looked to for the guidance of experience through uncharted show business waters.  It is strange to realize that I am older now than they were when we worked together.  This is especially true when this time machine of video clips transports you back to those days. There is nothing as humbling as having a split screen of yourself today looking at work you did almost 4 decades ago. I'm not sure I wish that experience on anyone. 

So here I am sitting on a couch in a fake home on the Universal Studio back lot, attempting to recreate the title shots of SOAP. I remember the original shot like it was yesterday, but today is very different from then.  My adult friends, my mentor actors and leaders shuffled on to the set in wheel chairs with walking canes and physical help.  Katherine Helmond, who was never a tall lady, seems so much shorter than my memory of Aunt Jessica Tate. Robert Mandan would no longer play the dashing philandering overstuffed Armani suite wearing Chester Tate, he would be cast as the grandfather today.  Robert Guilliaume has mostly recovered from a stroke many years ago, but he times his Wit a little more slowly and with limited physicality. I know they are all in their 80's now.  I could have looked up an exact age for each, but why would it matter anyway. This present moment is all that really matters. There have been so many from the cast who have died, it was thrilling to just be around the ones still here. 
Rene Auberjonois looks the same to me.  I have seen him more often over the last few years.  He was the only one there to represent the Benson Show family. He was just back from a trip to Australia, and that is a literal  fact.  He was jet lagged and fried. His plane landed two hours before his call time on the set. He was repeating the same calendar day in his life as he landed the day before he took off from down under.  It is another example of how time seemed to be an irrrelevant mash up, but more importantly it speaks to the trouble freinds would go through just to honor our friend Robert. 
It was one of the hottest days of the year in drought stricken Los Angeles but with a heavy dose of hummidity to make it sticky and uncomfortable. It was also the day the airconditioning failed to come on at the Johnson hacienda.  I took one shirt to wear and one to change into for the show.  Both were dripping wet the moment I put them on. 
The set for Home and Family is an actual house, well an actual movie house. It looks like the real thing except when you look up there is no ceiling nor attic. That space is filled with lights, grids for more lights, microphones and tiny airconditioning ducts that are totally ineffective against the heat from outside and the furnace blast created by the movie lights.  Even though I just put on my jacket for the takes, I had the look of a drowned New York subway rat washed up after Hurricane Sandy.  The makeup team resembled plate spinners as they ran from person to person trying to mop up and powder sweaty faces.  None of the faces seems to be as sweaty as mine.  I kept remembering that old show biz chestnut... "never let them see you sweat" - it was an impossible task to accomplish that day.  
I longed to be in a studio on the Universal Lot with fake walls, fake landscape back drops with tons of room and 30 degrees cooler than this "house". As I looked out the real window at real landscaping, on camera it looked very little different from a well painted back drop. It was hot and tight.  Along with a large regular cast, five guests (with at least one extra person to help them), gaffers, camera operators, cable pullers, sound men, stage managers, prop men, makeup ladies, segment producers wardrobe people and the set decorating crew there were maybe a hundred people crowded into a very warm crowded space.  There were even some shots outside in the yard and on the patio, so the doors needed to be open for cables.  I resorted to standing in a closet that had been converted into the sound department, just to get out of the way.  It was cozy, along with RF receivers, extra sound boards, microphones and cable there were three people claiming that space as their office.  They understood my interloping and tolerated me for a while.  
The coldest place on the lot was my dressing room trailer.  It was 40 degrees and felt like heaven.  Unfortunately it was parked a block away from the set and I was there no longer than 20 minutes over the course of the three hour shoot.  
Robert Mandan, Katherine Helmond, Robert Guillaume
(Chester, Jessica, and Benson)
They sent a car for me so I didn't have to drive. Thankfully so,  because the driver drove me through an entrance to the back area of Universal that I did not know even existed.  On our journey to the set my car passed by one of the Universal City tour trams loaded with tourists. I could hear the tour guide giving his spiel. The riders strained their necks to see who was in the back of the limo.  One person snapped a picture with an iPhone. Thank goodness the windows were heavily tinted. Their fantasies about who might be in that limo would certainly have been dashed if they had seen who it was in reality.  Once again we all participate in the illusion of fantasy even if I was miscast as the "mystery celebrity in the limo" that day.

It was all over too quickly.  I was also there to promote my DVD "Jay Johnson: The Two and Only" which I am told turned out to be a blurb on the credit line at the bottom of the screen.  It was not the reason for being there, it really was to honor Robert.
I was hot and miserable and knew that my red face was not televising well.  Puppet Bob was in perfect makeup and no shine whatsoever.  He is the poster boy for "never let them see you sweat" he never has.   I am sure that viewers watching at home felt like Bob had certainly held his age a lot better than me.  Just before we all ran for the air conditioning I snapped a quick picture of my friends on the couch. Bob Mandan made a Chester face, Katherine's smile shone as ever it did and with trophy in hand the honoree gave me a trademark sly grin. True Pros.  How lucky I am to work with them, to know them, and still be touched by their friendship.  No one said it out loud, but everyone knew it would probably be the last ever SOAP reunion celebration, I'm sorry that I didn't get a selfie with me and Bob in the picture.  But then again... I don't need a picture.. I have my memories and now have this blog to recall that special moment.  Soon it will not be about how hot it was that day, but how special it was. 
As you were,

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Church and Marriage

""The World is a stage and we are mere players" said Shakespeare, so this is my monologue.  In the words of Edward Albee, "I write to know what I am talking about."

Here is what baffles me, when did "marriage" become a Christian right to grant?  And how does the recent Supreme Court ruling constitute an assault on religion, especially Christianity?

Stage note - aside:
To circumvent a possible misunderstanding of my spiritual journey and study; and to limit comments intended to convert me or save me, let me explain.  

 I have come to my belief in the Omnipotence of Deity from conscious contemplation and serious study.  In this post I will reference Biblical passages that, in my opinion, support the thesis. They are merely footnotes. If Bible quotes are not "your thing" disregard. 
With that having been said:


Marriage is a legal distinction.  A governmentally sanctioned contract intended to facilitate the transfer of property and create a partnership that carries accepted rights and responsibilities.  It is a license issued by a governing political body, normally the State.  The legal enactment of this contract is carried out with the public affirmation of the two parties and witnesses to that process.  The governmental body which grants the contract also authorizes several kinds of public servants to oversee the process.  They include: a judge, a court clerk, a justice of the peace, a ships captain at sea and...any recognized member of the clergy (i.e. Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, Cantor or Ethical Culture Leader). They are all authorized to perform a marriage. In some states the clergy must first be certified with their own license granting them permission to do so from the State. Something akin to a notary public who is licensed to witness and verify signatures for the government. 
Organized religions of every kind have co-opted this right to perform this contract of marriage and attempted to imply that their authority for a marriage comes from God.  It clearly does not. The most elaborate wedding performed by a Bishop himself in a church with full ceremony, would not be legal if that ceremony did not include a "license" from the government.  Those couples married by a court clerk during a lunch break are equally valid as any religious ceremony... if they both have a license.  

This marriage license contract exists so that if one of the partners dies the other partner is not excluded from the possessions they both acquired together.  Simply put, because the law recognizes this union blood relatives of the deceased can not simply claim their property by inheritnce.  During the AIDS epidemic I knew of many couples who were victims of family greed.  These devoted couples saw a life time of possessions and real estate taken away from the surviving partner by blood relatives who did not "approve" of the relationship.  Since there was no license available for their bond, the property grab was totally legal.  Finally thanks to a Supreme Court decision, that never needs happen again. In fact the very case brought before the high court hinged on this very principle of survivor's rights. 

Setting property inheritance aside in the discussion of marriage, what about the bond of love itself? Isn't that marriage?
The attraction of one being to another has no explanation. Why anyone desires a relationship with anyone else is as mystical as love itself.  The need to be with another doesn't just exist for humans, it is everywhere.  Eagles, Wolves, Gibbon monkeys, French Angelfish and even Schistosoma Masion Worms mate with one partner for life. There are 7 other species we know of that are life long monogamists as well.  What drives animals to dedicate their lives to a single partner forsaking all others for life? It is the mystery of love.  In nature the mate is not always of the opposite sex, sometimes two females sometimes two males. There are certain species of worms that have no specific gender at all, yet they mysteriously bind together in some sort of love. Surely these relationships are God ordained; therefore God must have something to say about marriage. 
Well if he does have rules about marriage they don't exist in his Kingdom. At least not so, according to his earthly surrogate.  Here comes that scripture I was telling you about. It is from the word of Jesus in the book of Matthew.

Matthew 22:30

…But Jesus answered and said to them, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

Not just once but that concept is repeated again in Mark.

Mark 12:25

…Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven."

So if "marriage" is not a heavenly requirement of God, where is the authority for the Church to determine the application? Love is the only rule of heavenly relationships, like angels.  But what about love between persons of the same sex. What is the exact sex of an angel?
At this point I would expect someone to quote Leviticus 20:13 and Leviticus 18:20 as rebuttal. 
"If a man lie with another man as with a woman it is an abomination." 
Although it would seem from an absolute interpretation of this passage that lesbian couples are okay since it does not mention a woman being with another woman as with a man.  But that is not the point. 
What other abominations does the Bible point out that seem to cause less concern for God's wrath?

Proverbs 6:16 -19- There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

In my thinking there are certain radio hosts that seem to make a living by sowing discord among brothers. Why does that not get people to cry abomination? In fact Proverbs is just full of abominations that don't seem to concern some people as much as some other abominations.

Proverbs 12:22  Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord

Proverbs 15:8  The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord

A reason to rally against capital punishment? Would seem so..

Proverbs 11:20  Those of crooked heart are an abomination to the Lord

Proverbs 20:10  Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

Butcher get thy thumb off thine scale...

And number one on the top ten abominations to be considered...

Proverbs 28:9  If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

So .... marriage equality is now the law. It is a legal document that protects the rights of every couple equally. It seems like God would be in favor of equality and fairness. This legal license does not threaten the Church with abomination. There seem to be plenty of ignored abominations to go around. We do not get to choose our personal favorite abominations and  "turn our ear away from the law."  If we do that "even our prayer is an abomination." 

Scene and Curtain-  

As always the opinions expressed are solely my own, not intended to be the only interpretation, nor only point of view.  I would expect yours might be different and I respect yours as you respect mine. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Eddie Izzard has a wonderful monologue from his "Dressed to Kill" DVD on the conquest of the world with "The clever use of flags".  He claims that historically invaders planted flags and pronounced invaded land conquered. When the inhabitants of the land objected stating "We live here" the invaders would say, "Do you have a flag? Then it doesn't count."

Here is the reason that routine comes to mind. Along with some incredible memories I bought back from Ireland, I also returned with a head cold. This has kept me in bed for the day with only the television as a distraction from nose blowing.   After several weeks with limited (by choice) access to American news I was carpet bombed with never ending coverage about a flag. There seems to be nothing else of concern to any journalist on any station but the fate of this antiquated furling piece of fabric atop a South Carolina State Government building. 
I get it. I understand the connection this flag has to racism, oppression and recently mass murder in a church.  But it seems to me that it has taken on a mythology unto itself. "If we just take down that flag then racism will go away in America." As if covering up a fatal wound with a bandage keeps the patient from bleeding to death. 
Oh, but America is responding to this "flag crisis" with Walmart refusing to sell the emblem followed closely by Ebay, Sears and Amazon.  And although NASCAR will not out right ban the flag at it's events it will (and this is a quote) "Discourage the use of the flag."  And the American public has responded by purchasing up all the Confederate flags they can still get, surging the demand to a 3894% increase over average sales.   
And if it really is as important as to be the front page of every newspaper in the country today, why doesn't South Carolina just not fly the flag today? That's right,  just don't hoist it up the flag pole TODAY. Unfortunately the best the demonstrations in Charleston could do is get the state congress to agree to discuss the matter later this summer. Then the measure has to pass by a two thirds majority of the locals when the national news has moved on to some other over reaction.   
I am sure that the governor of the state, who has come out in favor of removing the flag, has the ability to order state flags at "half mast" in honor of the funerals of the 9 people beginning this week.  The Confederate flag isn't even their state flag so why can't she just order that flag to be flown not just at half mast but "no mast".  
As it is now the body of South Carolina congressman/Reverend Clementa Pickney, will lie in state at the capital building while atop the building flies the very flag waved by his murderer.  Thanks Walmart but,  the only Confederate Battle Flag that matters for the next week is the one on the South Carolina Capitol.  

It is a start to sanitize the public from symbols of bigotry and racism, but that is only the symbol of the issue.  Where was the public outrage a few weeks ago when President Obama launched a Twitter feed and with in minutes there were more than a quarter of a million replies using the word "nigger". The only outrage was later when he himself used the word in an interview. Once again we obsess on the minutia of the problem.  President Obama, used the word to make the very point that Americans are avoiding.  It is not so important that we just refrain from racism in public, we have to eliminate racism at the core of our being.  

Back to the brilliance of Eddie Izzard,  since we have a flag now that we all agree symbolizes racism and hatred... why don't we have a flag that represents tolerance and acceptance.  The idea drilled into us every July 4th is that the American Flag is such a symbol.  I wish it was so, but flying a flag outside your locked door where your assault rifle is loaded and ready in case "those people" try to come around is not the answer.  In that case it is a empty piece of cloth signifying nothing of substance.
As you were,

Friday, June 19, 2015

Over Heard, Over Served, Over Seas...

Pictures convey only part of the experience of traveling. We live in a world full of sound.   I find the sounds of Ireland sticking with me as vivid memories. There is no documentation that does them justice. And they do not exist in a vacuum. Recording them is like trying to convey the scene with only one color of the spectrum. 
There were the bells of distant cathedrals in Dublin, the giggles of the childern at play near the ruins of Athenry Priory, the absolute silence of the country side interrupted by the staccato bleet of a sheep, the wind that blew across your face atop the Cliffs of Moher and the sound of music, everywhere there was music, from the pub, from the buskers of the street and even the buggy driver humming to his horse. But it is the sound of the Irish people, their charm and friendly nature which I will miss the most. 
We had to get out into the countryside of Connemara to really hear the musical lilt of the Irish accent. German and American accents seemed to donimate the cities.  The true Irish lilt was occasionally so thick I was not sure if it was English or Gaelic. I was surprised to find so much Gaelic still in use. Some of the Aran islands do not speak English even today. School children are sent there to emmerse themselve in the native language.  
That is the case at Ennis Oirr.  This is where we met our cart driver Michael and his horse Bob.  Michael looked 87 years old but told us he was actually only 67. He was born on this island of only 300 residence, and has lived there all his life.  His wife spoke no English and they never spoke to their children in any other language but Gaelic.  Michael was very difficult to understand and when he was not turned around talking to us he was singing and humming softly while encouraging Bob the horse to continue on.  He had great stories about the island and shared them as Bob pulled us around the narrow stone walled roads. At one point Bob farted loudly in our direction. It stopped all conversation (and breathing) for a moment. Without missing a beat Michael began to sing "The answer my friend is blowin' in the Wind" with the elevation of his unruly grey eyebrow. 
We Americans have a hard time with this combination of Gaelic writings and Irish accents.  Written Gaelic is difficult to even sound out. The name for their head councilman is pronounced "Tea Shock", but it is spelled "Taosingh" You can be looking at the word while someone is pronouncing it and still not connect the two.  During the intermission of a play we attended, a hurried bartender pointed to someone who bluted out his order, "Whiskey" the American tourist said.  The bartender handed him a glass of water. It was a show that locals attended and the Gaelic word for water is pronounced "wisky". It is an American mistake. An Irishman always orders a drink by brand name if he wants to have an adult beverage. A pint of Guinness or a spot of Jameson is the proper order never just a beer or a whiskey
My friend Harry asked directions of a man in Athelone. He prefaced his remarks by saying, "Are you local?" The man replied, "Well I'm here now." 
While I was taking a picture of Sandi a couple of Irish men stopped so as not to "photo bomb" my composition. I was not quite ready to take the picture so I waved them on. Instead of crossing and continuing on their journey they attempted to pose with Sandi for a moment, "I thought you were wantin' us to be in the picture." They said with a wink. 
An older couple got on the train with their luggage but there was no place to put their bags. In a serious lilt we heard the man say, "I guess we'll have to stick it up the other end." 
Americans stand out like... well foreigners for the most part.  Not so much "ugly Americans" just cluless.  I heard a twenty something girl at the Cliffs of Moher blurt out a little to loudly, "Oh My God, like, who owns this place?"
I was not immune from being a clueless American myself. I kept asking what day we were going to Calamari when the name of the town is Connemara. And on the train when the announcer would announce the stops he would alway say, "Thank you for traveling" and end with the name of the train company which is, "Larnrod Eireann"   To me, every time he said it I heard, "Thank you for traveling "neither Here nor There."
We attended a play/musical concert of poems for the 150 Birthday of WB Yeats. We did not like the performances that much and referred to it after that as the "Yeats Infection". 
I fell asleep in the back seat of the car driving to one of our destinations. It was beautiful rock wall fences and rolling meadows full of grazing livestock.  Harry asked me how I could sleep while seeing such beautiful scenery. I said without thinking, "I was counting sheep". 
But the all time best thing I heard was from Sandi as we were walking the Cliffs of Moher.  The entire vacation was the time of our lives spent with Harry and Elizabeth Anderson. Not only is Harry one of the funniest people I have ever known, he is also my best friend.  At one point Sandi said to Harry in all seriousness, "I can laugh or I can walk but I can't do both at the same time." It was the naked truth.  There were many, many times we had to just stop walking because we all were laughing so much. 
Although we had our darts we never got to play a game at a pub.  The girls were not so much into it and believe it or not, dart boards were harder to find when distracted by a well poured pint of Smithwicks and Murphy's.  Harry and I played another game we bought at a local toy store called "story cubes".  It is a series of 9 dice with various pictures on each face.   The game involves rolling the dice and making up a story that includes the suggested actions on the dice.  We sat together at the nearest pub and played "by the pint".  I do not remember laughing that hard in a very long time, if ever.  What an experience of beauty, love and laughter. All things Irish as far as I can tell.
As you were,


Saturday, June 13, 2015


Only in Ireland, Dublin specifically would you find a church on the grounds of St. James Gate Brewery. But then again this happens to be where they brew Guinness.  Arthur Guinness is a virtual Saint in the city. I am surprised that there is no Catholic mass conducted using Guinness instead of wine.   
They sing his praises on every tour and especially at the Brewery tour. 
During a trip to New Grange which is about an hour out of Dublin, an American from Philidelphia asked if we had been on the Guinness tour.  The tip off was the Guinness hat and sweatshirt I was wearing at the time. He asked, "On the tour do they have a place where you can sit and have a pint?"  I laughed out loud and said, "The entire Guinness Storehouse is one large bar." That is not entirely true.  It is actually a gathering of Guinness resturants, stores and "consumption areas" in what can only be considered a Mall dedicated to an original grog called Porter Extra Stout which Aurhur introduced in 1759.  The rest as they say is Irish History.  It is odd for a guy like me who grew up in a very dry area of Texas to see people waiting in line with a glass of beer in their hands. I adapted to the custom very quickly. 
One of the best moments of Guiness day was the "connoisseur bar".  We would not have known it was available if friends had not told us about it.  It is a beautiful quiet bar isolated from the "theme park" aspect of the rest of the tour. A Guiness expert bartender gives history, stories, and most importantly samples of the Guinness product line called "variants".  And of course we are taught the proper way to pour a pint of Guinness. There are six steps in the process and it takes 119.5 seconds to perform correctly. Although it takes a couple of times to get it 100% right, newby Guinness bartendwers like myself are allowed to drink their mistakes.  Here is a picture of my second attempt, notice the extreme concentration on my face.  
Is that dedication to the art of Guinness? or a stuper caused by some other reason?  The answer is both. The dedication to the art of Guinness is supported by the stupor caused by perfecting the art of Guinness. 
Of course this was only one day in a couple of weeks in Ireland.  It is as beautiful as I was always told it would be. No wonder why green is so closely associated with Ireland. Everything is green, and so many kinds of green. And Dublin is the city of writers. James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde (to name only a few). The inhabitants value the arts and there are book stores... actual books being sold there, on almost every corner of the city. I don't know my heritage.  I have never gone on Ansestry.com, the only thing I have ever been is Texan. However, I have such an affinity for this island Country I plan to forge my ansestry to make myself Irish. 
As I write this Sandi and I are on the train to Galway to meet my best friend and his wife.  So far the vacation has just been a warm up for the fun to come.  Erin go Braless....  lock the pubs and hide the darts but keep the Jameson flowing.
As you were,

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

New York My Lady

New York City is a wonderful friend. If it has gender I suppose I think of her as a lady. A lady that I lived with for a while and occasionally come back to visit. She always puts on make up and throws a party when she knows I am returning. Oh, I know it is not just for me, she dresses up for all her old boy friends.  But she has this way of making us all think we are the only one in her life. It is an illusion that can be busted by just looking around at the sheer number of people here to see her.  
Not to say that she is always perfect; behind the makeup those who know her well can see the beauty marks, but the familiarity of those imperfections make you feel at home.  You really don't know her if you haven't seen her naked.  She always seems to  deliver perfect weather when I come, especially when I am traveling with my wife. NYC always wants to make my wife jealous and remind her that there is a competition for my attentions. I reason that it is because I am one of her favorites.  It is my own self-delusion. I know she can be fickle and a consumate tease. 
This time of year she holds the party of all parties, The Tony Awards.  This is an occasion to celebrate her adopted children. Some think of them as the "special kids", those actors, singers, gypsys, designers and yes even a ventriloquist who have come to bask in the Great White way of her extroverted charms. This theatre gang is a unique club but inclusive of all who seek after and discover that light. I was lucky enough to be invited into that circle several years ago and return to share in the celebration when I can. 
What I love most about the grand lady called New York City is her energy.  Whatever you want, whenever you want it, she has it available.  She is the perfect hostess but not a cheap date; why do you come back if you can't afford the cover charge.  
This time is no more special than the last time, but each time recalls the best time and makes the current time seem special. However, as I walk down 7th Avenue something is different. One of the regulars is no longer here.  The Ed Sullivan Theater hosts neither Ed nor David Letterman.  It is sad to see the marquee lacking the iconic Late Show logo.  The lady has a a way of erasing any physical trace of past affairs even long term engagements.  The Helen Hayes Theatre, my home for a while, is lacking an occupant as well.  I want to beg her to let me come back and do my show there once again, at least until the next occupant needs the space. But it is not the way the Lady will have it.  It is enough that I had a turn and got to dance at the party. She gave me my reward. It is the Tony Award her ultimate gift. It sits upon my mantel and spins at my whim reminding me not to be greedy. There are so many others waiting to experience her magic; it is  huburis and nostalgia that keep me from understanding.  
And that is really the bottom line.  I did not leave New York, she just told me it was time to go. She was ready to move on but I had not yet reached that point. She has so many suitors, but for me it  will forever be an unrequited love. And in my moments of clarity I know it is the best for both of us. We will always have memories of the good times and none that were bad. 
What more can you ask of an old friend?
As you were,

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Caitlyn Jenner?

While the world was clicking on pictures of the July cover of Vanity Fair magazine to see pictures of the new born sexagenarian Jenner, I was obsessing over another story in the news. 
It seems that the TSA failed to stop 95% of the items that were smuggled through security at major airports.  Fortunately the guys attempting to smuggle the items aboard were on our side and working to improve the system.  However, 95% is a dismal failure at protection of the flying public.

How many heads are we allowed to carry on?

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am not a fan of the TSA as an organization.  I have always thought they were rude, inconsiderate, minimum wage earners who assume all passengers are guilty before they walked barefooted though the metal detector. As much as I thought they could improve their "bedside manner", at least I thought the system was working.  

Now we find out that not only are they rude and ignorant, they are also incompetent and  ineffective as a deterrent.  So.... why are we putting up with this invasion into our rights if it is only 5% effective in keeping the traveling public safe?
My name sake Jeh Johnson, head of Homeland Security, vowed he would "get it fixed".  I hope he can. Although one would think that 14 years of draconian practice would have given us a better system by now.  How much longer do you need?  The reason I'm asking is I am flying coast to coast the end of the week, could you get the TSA success rate to a passing grade before then?
Here is the problem as I see it in airports across the country. There are three kinds of TSA agents employed to search us travelers. 

1) The tough guy rent-a-cop.  This is a person who can't make it into the police force for whatever reason so they decided they can be authoritative and a little bit of a bully at the Airport.
2) The Couch potato screener.  These are over weight humans who would be sitting at home watching a video screen anyway so why not get paid to do it. The show on the airport television is not as interesting, but then again they don't have to pay any attention.  
3) The Bored dropout. Being a TSA agent sounds better than "fry cook at Wendy's". As soon as they find any other job they will be gone and can't wait until that moment happens. 

Yeah I know that not all TSA agents fall in these categories.  I have even met some that seem responsible, polite and competent. But 95% failure to stop deadly items from getting on planes is unacceptable. That means it is not just the "staff" that is not working, the entire system is a failure. 

So could we please pay more attention to a TSA make over than an aging athlete's gender make over?The TSA directly affects the lives of thousands of people, while the "Jenner gender" affects only one. 
As you were,