Category Archives: Politics

A Comic Celebration to Remember!

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For two frigid but otherwise fun and fulfilling weeks on Chicago’s North Shore, the cast and crew of “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” staged a series of shows that rang in the New Year with satire, song and classic comic shtick. The three packed performances proved once again that The Practical Theatre Company and its motto “Art is Good” are alive and well in the Windy City.

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The Practical Theatre is like “Brigadoon” these days: a magical, fleeting moment of entertainment that vanishes as suddenly as it appears. For those of you who were not able to be among the receptive crowds that gathered at Studio5 in Evanston to witness this rare theatrical event – please enjoy the following photos, taken by former Chicago Tribune photographer Chuck Osgood at final dress rehearsal.

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The Opening Number: “It’s been a year to remember — to forget!”

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“Ed & Ellen & Ned” — Ed (Paul Barrosse) & Ellen (Victoria Zielinski) and Ned (Dana Olsen) share a moment in an airport bar with a young man (Daniel Rashid) who digs older women.

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Eva B Ross sings “Thou Swell” backed by Steve Rashid (keys) & The Studio5 All Stars: Rockin’ Ronny Crawford (drums), Joe Policastro (bass), Don Stille (accordion) and Don Stiernberg (guitar)

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“Limbo” — A bickering couple (Vic & Dana) find themselves in a state of suspended afterlife.

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“Parents” — Dana and Shelly Goldstein play parents with a lot of good (and not so good) advice for their high school graduate, bound for Northwestern University.

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“Please Come to Starbucks” — Paul is a forlorn, lovesick guy from Cleveland who lost his girl (Vic) to the Southern California dream. He seeks her out in a mournful musical complaint.

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“Stop Talking About Him” — A young couple (Daniel Rashid & Emilia Barrosse) struggle with the nagging, negative, inescapable influence of Donald Trump on their relationship.

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“Cut In Line” — This is the moment that an unlucky guy (Paul) discovers that the guy to whom he just gave his place in line (Dana) is the 1,000,000th customer and winner of a million dollars!

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The Mr. Olsen’ Dancers perform “We’re In The Money”

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Dana & Eva perform a multi-lingual duet of “Let it Snow” — just before it goes way off the rails.

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With sexual harassment dominating the news, the dancers make a statement.

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Don Stille burns up his accordion solo in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers step lively in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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Emilia Barrosse opens the second act with an original stand-up comedy set.

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“Ed & Elena” — Ed (Paul) is about to get a big surprise from buxom blonde Elena (Vic).

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Steve Rashid performs a nostalgic musical tribute to George W. Bush — with beautiful, inspirational music by Steve and indescribable words by Dubya himself.

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers kick up a wild western rumpus.

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“Whisky Tasting” — Miss Vicky’s hootch has finally gotten the best of Paul’s boozing cowpoke.

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Groovy Shelly sings “The Middle Aging of The Age of Aquarius”

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“Meet the Robot” — Guess who’s coming to dinner? Your daughter’s synthetic human boyfriend, that’s who.

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A proper 19th Century minuet gets a bit topsy-turvy.

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Roland Masterton (Paul) and Elizabeth Cuddleton (Vic) share a long, long, long developing romance a’la Jane Austen — through correspondence, shipwreck, and a mortal duel .

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Donald J. Trump meets “Hamilton” in a rap production number. “How does a bastard, orange, TV show host with a toupe’, dropped in the middle of a polarized time in our America — with hands so freaking teeny — rise up to be the Mango Mussolini?”

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“What’s you name, man?” “Inmate number 45!”

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The Closing: “Resist! Resist! — and keep your sanity. Do your best, it’s a test — of our humanity.”

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Filed under Art, Comedy, Improvisation, Music, Politics, Uncategorized

Taking a Step. Okay, a Small Step…

Revolutions need a spark to begin.

Tonight, I take one revolutionary step.

For several decades, I’ve collected volumes of historic coins and stamps. Especially coins.

I was honored to receive the Abraham Lincoln coin. And the F.D.R. coin, too. Those people were giants. We were blessed to have them occupy The White House at a critical time in our nation’s history.

I was delighted with the shipments that brought me gold coins commemorating the terms of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. That Washington refused the opportunity to become our first king — and Jefferson’s poetry inspired humanity to champion our cause — must balance out their antebellum slave-holding sins.

Opening the packages that contained the coins honoring Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter and Obama filled me with pride and patriotism. Promise, intelligence, optimism, compassion and forward thinking were the hallmarks of their terms. I smiled as I slid each of them into their plastic page covers and snapped them into my binder.

Along the way, I endured drunken, racist Andrew Johnson, hapless Herbert Hoover, and Dick Cheney/George W. Bush. I had no problem with my Ronald Reagan coin, even though I believe he was a malevolent influence on our body politic.

Then – today – a package arrived with a Donald J. Trump Presidential coin.

No way. I can’t accept a Trump presidential coin.

I didn’t vote for him – and I don’t want him. He’s a menace to the nation we all profess to love.

So, I sent this note to the coin folks…

It made me feel better. And it may affect someone on the other end.

As I said — a revolution needs a spark to begin.

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Filed under Comedy, History, Politics, Polls, Uncategorized

The Anti-Trump Movement Doesn’t Need Black Bloc Violence.

I originally wrote this article during the heyday of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With the recent violence in Charlottesville and Berkeley, it bears repeating now. (Just replace the words “Occupy Wall Street” with “Anti-Trump” or “Anti-White Supremacist”.) 

It’s obvious to readers of this blog that I am in wholehearted solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the struggle for economic and social justice for the 99% of our citizens who have been increasingly denied their fair share of the American Dream.

As the OWS movement has spread from lower Manhattan to big cities and small towns across the country, few of these protests have attracted more national headlines than Occupy Oakland, especially after last week’s spasm of police violence energized the Bay Area movement, leading to today’s General Strike and the effective closing of the Port of Oakland by thousands of patriots rallying to the cause of the 99%.

However, among the media reports on today’s General Strike in Oakland, I was disturbed to read this article by Ben Margot of the Associated Press.

OAKLAND – Protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement smashed the windows of a Wells Fargo bank branch in downtown Oakland on Wednesday during a day of demonstrations in protest of wealth inequalities.

 A group of about 300 men, many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks, was part of a group of hundreds who set out to cause a general strike in the area around City Hall. The smaller group smashed several windows of the Wells Fargo branch while chanting, “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.” They also spray-painted an expletive on the outer wall of the bank. Employees were inside while this took place, but it did not appear that anyone got hurt.

 Who were these 300 vandals “many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks”? Were they right wing provocateurs infiltrating the OWS movement to discredit it?

The Raw Story blog shed more light on black bloc tactics in Oakland:

“The vast majority of the protesters remained peaceful, but a small group of black bloc protesters defaced ATMs and broke windows at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank branches as the protesters marched through downtown, according to the Oakland Tribune.

 A group of protesters also vandalized a Whole Foods store and someone spray-painted “fuck” on the side of the Christ the Light Cathedral.”

And who are “black block protestors”?

You can click on this link to get the full story – but basically, a black bloc is a tactic in which protestors wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, and other concealing garb to avoid identification and promote solidarity. Black bloc tactics include vandalism, rioting and street fighting.

Black bloc? Let’s just say no to the black bloc.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is doing just fine, thank you, without black bloc tactics. OWS is attracting the old as well as the young, middle class teachers and union workers as well as students and unemployed youths. Dressing in black and hiding your face while engaging in violent acts will not win the hearts and minds of the 99% in America.

If the police attack non-violent protestors, OWS keeps the moral high ground. If the police crack down on provocateurs that smash windows and paint obscenities on bank buildings, grocery stores and churches – then that’s just the cops doing their job.

Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by the Oakland police during a courageous act of non-violent resistance did more to win average Americans to the cause of the 99% than any of these window-smashing anarchists ever will.

Remember the words of John Lennon, who knew a thing or two about street demonstrations and the struggle for social justice.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

 You say you got a real solution

Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

We win a lot more hearts and minds when our movement looks like this…

Rather than this…

Or this….

Rather than this…

OWS must stay non-violent. The movement has already changed the national conversation in a positive way. The politicians, pundits and media are talking more about OWS and the legitimate concerns of the 99% than yesterday’s national debt hysteria.

Martin Luther King won. Ghandi won. Dressing up is a black disguise and busting windows is only a way to lose. So, take off those black masks. Put down those clubs. Pick up a witty, pithy sign – and join the peaceful movement that’s on the verge of changing the status quo.

Let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Filed under Politics

What More Can I Say? Go, Girls, Go!

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January 26, 2017 · 7:49 pm

An Image Worth a Thousand Words…

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January 20, 2017 · 11:03 am

Early Voting in Los Angeles

This was the scene at 10:00 am in North Hollywood, California, where a long line snaked around Amelia Earhart Park for early voting, — set to “Dialogue, Pts. 1 & 2”, a classic song by Chicago. The mood was decidedly pro-Hillary. And it’s no wonder, since Hillary is projected to thump Trump in the Golden State by a margin somewhere around 30%.

But take nothing for granted my fellow Californians.

Get out and vote.

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Filed under History, Politics

Get Out & Vote!

clintontrump5This Tuesday, Election Day, get out and vote.

And vote for Hillary Clinton.

If you’re a Democrat, of course, vote for Hillary.

If you’re a Bernie Sanders fan (as I was), reject Susan Sarandon’s third-party nihilism and vote for the only woman who can defeat the abomination that is Donald J. Trump.

3-photos-of-donald-trump-holding-up-a-hillary-clinton-for-prison-signIf you’re a woman, please — have you been listening to Trump? Vote for Hillary.

If you’re married to a woman, or just in love with a woman, or you simply like women – vote for Hillary out of respect for the women you appreciate and respect.

trump-crime-racistsIf you’re Latino, vote for Hillary in droves. He has made you and your parents his scapegoat.

If you’re African-American, vote for Hillary. After all, says Trump, what do you have to lose?

If you’re Muslim, or any religious minority with a history of persecution in this country, vote for Hillary. (This, unfortunately, includes all of us blue collar Irish and Italian Catholics.)

If you believe in science and the salvation of our planet, vote for Hillary. Trump says climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. (I don’t know that he actually believes this – but that’s what he says to get the votes of West Virginia coal miners and Oklahoma oil workers.)

s-l300If you call yourself a Christian, vote for Hillary. How many of The Beatitudes would Donald Trump agree with? Can you image Trump saying, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth?”

If you’re a parent, vote for Hillary. Do you want your children to grow up in a pro-bully culture?

I could go on.

But, really — this isn’t even close.

Vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

We must send Trump down to a landslide defeat.

g8-pa5kaIf you’re sane…

If you’re reasonable…

If you’re a rational human being…

Vote against Trump.

And make Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States.

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Filed under History, Politics, Truth