It’s Been A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Year With Trump.

TrumpBannerI must admit that when I first saw Donald J. Trump riding his Trump Tower escalator on June 16, 2015, descending into the bowels of the GOP Presidential primary, I was intrigued. There was never a remote chance I’d vote for such an arrogant blowhard – especially when, fresh off his escalator, he declared that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” But I sensed that Trump was more than just another right wing political hack, playing to people’s fears and spouting Republican boilerplate.

campaign-2016-trumpHere was a spoiled, egocentric, reckless autocrat with no loyalty to anyone or anything but his own personal brand. This was going to be interesting.

After flushing his party’s last hope of attracting Latino voters down the Trump tube, he followed his slur on Mexican immigrants with a promise to build a border wall (that Mexico will pay for) and to ban all Muslims from entering the country. Then, when Senator John McCain expressed reservations about his unorthodox agenda, Trump attacked the former Vietnam POW, saying McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was captured and “I like people who weren’t captured.”

150827102252-donald-trump-july-10-2015-super-169It was plain to see The Donald was a dynamic and destructive force that the GOP would find hard to ignore, repudiate or control.

And it was also apparent that, no matter what shocking or offensive thing he blurted, Trump was attracting a base of supporters, many of whom wholly approved of the controversial things he said. And many right wing pols and pundits who didn’t approve were willing to forgive, overlook, and rationalize utterances that would have doomed a more conventional candidate – of either party.

158557565EM035_2012_Miss_UnAs Trump careened through each news cycle like a rip-snorting orange bull in a china shop, I enjoyed watching Republican politicians squirm, afraid to alienate Trump’s growing legion of angry, white, poorly educated fans.

Ah, the poorly educated.

After winning the Nevada Caucus in February, Trump joyously crowed that, “I love the poorly educated.” Small wonder. While his antics turned off college educated suburban voters, Trump’s less educated, less economically advantaged followers embraced his bombastic style, his millionaire trappings, his easy answers to tough questions and the notion that he was funding his own campaign. To them, Trump looked like a truth-teller who couldn’t be bought

GTY_donald_trump_ml_160304_16x9_992Meanwhile, Trump’s feckless primary opponents were unable to deal with such an unconventional, unapologetic and unblushing political bomb thrower — and were systematically dispatched.

Trump was a rascal, a rogue and a ratings winner.

When the dust settled, he was also the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

160503_POL_trump-president.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2At the start, those TV ratings mattered most: to the major media outlets – and to Trump’s campaign.

Trump was (and still is) given more coverage than any another candidate, as the cable news networks lingered (and still do) on empty podiums waiting for Trump to emerge and launch into another of his rambling stump speeches, which they often covered (and still do) in their entirety. We’ve never seen anything like it. No wonder Trump could fund his own primary campaign: he didn’t have to pay for TV time. He was the uncontested king of free media.

But what Trump did with all the free media exposure was most fascinating.

_88160170_trump-promoDonald Trump said things that no Republican candidate had ever said in recent memory. He was, in some ways, if we’re being completely honest, a breath of fresh air. Sometimes.

In an early primary debate, Trump told Jeb Bush to his self-satisfied face that his brother George W had not, in fact, kept America safe. Trump actually had the stones to say that the World Trade Towers came down on George W’s watch – and that the Iraq War was a disaster based on lies. It was amazing. Did Trump really say — onstage in a GOP primary — that the Iraq War was a failure predicated on lies? Watching Trump wreak havoc in those primary debates was a guilty pleasure.

635728260394906410-AP-GOP-Trump-2016And, afterwards, damned if wasn’t still leading in the polls!

Even the most die-hard liberal (like me) had to be thrilled to hear Trump toss such a devastating bomb into the orthodox Republican myth-making machinery – and come out ahead with GOP voters.

As the primary contest continued, Trump continued to toss GOP boilerplate onto the bonfire of his vanity: rejecting free trade, questioning the NATO alliance, suggesting that South Korea and Japan might arm themselves with nuclear weapons — and expressing admiration for Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

Donald-Trump-ChokingAll of these positions would normally disqualify a Republican candidate. But not The Donald.

Which puts the GOP in a box.

And by “box”, I mean a pine box.

Trump may be the death of the Republican Party as we’ve known it since the mid-1960s – when President Johnson and the Democrats passed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, thus leaving the racist elements of their party receptive to the GOP’s cynical “Southern strategy”.

(Author’s note: BTW — can we please dispense with calling the Republicans “the party of Lincoln”? Would a true party of Lincoln be led by a Southern Senator who dedicated himself to making our first black President a one-term failure? Would the party of Lincoln pass laws in state legislatures designed to deny African-Americans the right to vote? Answer? No. Not in 1865 and not today.)

imagesBut, back to Trump.

While I’ve had to admit I was intrigued by his offbeat candidacy and I’ve truly enjoyed the excruciatingly uncomfortable position in which he’s put mainstream GOP candidates and conservative punditry – I’ve grown weary of the Trump circus.

I’ve seen the crazy clowns and the elephants and the “Make America Great Again” hats and balloons – and I’d like it all to be over. There’s going to be a lot of crap to clean up after the Trump parade, so let’s get out our brooms now.

At this point, it looks like the majority of American voters are going to wipe Trump’s grime off the electoral map. If the vote were taken today –here’s what the electoral results would be, based on the current polling.8-19

It appears that sanity will prevail over vanity.

Donald Trump Makes Campaign Swing Through IowaYet, now that the party conventions are over and the Olympics are over, the media pundits tell us that the American people are just now focusing on the Presidential election and that Trump’s latest “pivot” may win back some of the college-educated, suburban and minority voters who have rejected him. Some of these talking heads suggest that the race will tighten – and some, for the sake of promoting the horse race, assert that Trump may still have a chance of becoming our 45th President.

Yeah, and he’ll build that wall.

And Mexico is going to pay for it.

trump-nopeIt’s been a mad, mad, mad, mad year with Donald Trump. It’s been entertaining. It’s been surprising. It’s been nutty as hell. But when I see the rage, paranoia, xenophobia and hysteria he fuels in his fans, it’s becoming more and more frightening.

So, for that and so many other reasons, I’m with Hillary.

I look forward to the coming year, when Donald Trump will still be on television every day – but I can avoid seeing his face because I won’t be tuning in to his brand new TV network. (Sorry, Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon.)

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Fallo da solo Italian Cinema!

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This week’s Barrosse family film series continues with a bit of homemade Italian cinema…

img_2318A few years ago, my family traveled to Italy in the company our good friends, the Rashids. We’ve known each other since college and have shared a long, rich history in music, comedy and theatre. Despite all that, we still get along.

We began our two-week Italian sojourn in Florence and took in many of the incredible sights that unparalleled city offers – then made our way to Pisa, Siena, Assisi, and a variety of small towns in southern Tuscany.

img_1846Our final week was spent largely in the small, historic hilltop village of Camporsevoli, near the border with Umbria, where we rented a venerable and very comfortable house, Casa del Neri, from the wonderful Grossi family, who own and manage the estate.

Picturesque Camporsevoli is like a tiny magical kingdom right out of a Shakespearean comedy, complete with a lovely church, clock tower, winding cobblestone streets, classic statuary, imposing gates and lush gardens. It’s an ancient place (two Etruscan tombs are preserved in the village cellars), and it’s been in the Grossi family since the middle of the 1800’s.

004_displayAs soon as we saw Camporsevoli – we knew we had to use it as a backdrop for a performance of some kind.

Thus was born “La Commedia di Camporsevoli”, written and shot over three merry, memorable days in a fabulous place to which we all hope to return someday soon.

italyaThe entire movie was shot on my iPhone. Not my new iPhone, mind you – but my ancient iPhone from three long years ago. That was all the equipment we used. And if that’s not homemade enough — the owner of the estate graciously agreed to play the priest. (He stole the show!)

Simple, bare bones film making — and lots of fun.

Si prega di godere il nostro piccolo film!

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Emilia’s First Comedy Special…

Readers of this blog are doubtless aware that one of my three daughters is a standup comic – and that she appeared this summer in her first comedy special, filmed at iO West in Hollywood. (What? You somehow managed to miss all those promotional posts?)

1226306Emilia drew three wonderful, receptive houses that weekend, July 8-10 — but for those who didn’t get a chance to see the show (and for those who’d like to re-live it) – this video captures all the fun.

Emilia’s been performing her unique brand of comedy in clubs from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York City – and San Francisco, too. The material she wrote and knit together for “Headlong Into The Apocalypse” is the very funny fruit of her first couple of years working in the comedy vineyards.

e-cropSo, if you’ve got a little less than 45 minutes of free time on your hands – and you could some laughs focused refreshingly above the waist – check out “Emilia Barrosse: Headlong Into The Apocalypse.”

And if any of you know Donald Trump, please forward him a link to this video. He’ll hear his name a couple of times.

We know how much he enjoys that.

Headshots

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The Reasonably Fit, Slightly Overweight, Middle-Aged Guide to the Outdoors.

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My wife and I are reasonably fit, slightly overweight, middle-aged hikers who cherish our adventures in the great outdoors – and our visit to Glacier National Park in Montana was a highlight in our hiking history.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 1.24.21 PMKnowing we were in for a memorable mountain trek, we decided to shoot a video account of our journey on the trail to Sperry Chalet. (See video above.)

The trail to Sperry Chalet rises 3,360 feet over slightly more than six miles from the Sperry Trailhead, located across the road from the Lake McDonald Lodge.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 1.28.53 PMThe guidebooks call this hike “strenuous” – but, despite the July heat, the bugs, and the challenging elevation, we call it doable: provided you take your time, bring plenty of water, and start off early in the morning to beat the heat.

Sperry Trail hikers will be rewarded for their climb to the chalet by fast-flowing mountain streams, a variety of dramatic waterfalls, magnificent trees, verdant foliage, carpets of wildflowers and air that’s as fresh as it gets.

sperry-chalet_521752When you reach your destination, Sperry Chalet does not disappoint. It was originally built by the Great Northern Railway in 1913, and is now listed as a Historic Landmark.

Many visitors to the chalet push on the nearby Sperry Glacier – but we opted to hang out at the chalet, enjoy the homey dining room, and take in the dramatic views.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 1.28.04 PMThe Sperry Trail was built in 1902 and 1903 by college boys from Minnesota, and was likely the first organized trail-building effort in the park. These two reasonably fit, slightly overweight middle-aged hikers wish to thank those industrious, visionary college boys.

Onward and upward!

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America Moves Forward.

DNC

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July 28, 2016 · 9:13 am

Apocalypse Now!

E Art Today jpegThe Apocalypse begins tonight. And it’s going to be lots of laughs!

iOOur very funny daughter will take the stage at iO West on Hollywood Boulevard tonight for her first standup comedy special event — “Emilia Barrosse: Headlong into the Apocalypse” — which runs July 8, 9 & 10th at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $10 — and you can get them here.

We’ll be filming the Saturday and Sunday shows. So, let us know if you’re coming to the show by responding at this link.

It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a great night of comedy.

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Only 2 Days Until The Apocalypse!

E 2 DaysThat’s right. The Apocalypse is tomorrow. And it’s going to be really, really fun!

iOThat’s when Emilia Barrosse will take the stage in her first standup special event at iO West on Hollywood Boulevard!

“Emilia Barrosse: Headlong into the Apocalypse” runs July 8, 9 & 10th at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $10 — and you can get them here.

We’ll be filming the Saturday and Sunday shows. So, please let us know if you’re coming to the show by responding at this link.

Don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a great night of comedy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Beauty, Comedy, Improvisation