If you haven’t checked out “Into The Mist”, don’t miss it. My wife Victoria and me performed in a variety of ways over the year — but this is truly the most unique venue we’ve every played. It’s like find your way through an old hotel to experience a door-to-door, interactive variety show. Actually, it’s hard to describe. Go “Into the Mist” yourself and have fun back in 1927!
My wife and comedic partner Victoria Zielinski will be playing Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway among a wonderful cast of characters inhabiting a hotel in 1927 as part of an immersive virtual experience called “Into the Mist”. What exactly is “Into the Mist”?
I’ll just let Steve Rashid explain…
A new year. A new day. A new hope. May 2021 bring us a measure of calm, peace and health we so desperately need.
As you know, our aim at Studio5 is to help build community through the performing arts. So I had an idea for a new project back in October, and the concept arrived fairly fully formed. I imagined an entire online world that would place a musical performance in a meaningful and entertaining context. Like time travel, it would be a virtual portal that would give the music an added, dreamy resonance.
I came up with an initial design, talked to a few people to gauge interest in being involved as performers, and got to work. Web designer, Lauren Biolsi, came aboard, and my sons, Robert and Daniel joined to co-produce with me. Three months later, here we are, with a live, immersive, interactive, 1920s jazz-themed event, featuring a diverse cast of over 20 musicians and actors spread literally from coast to coast.
Opening Friday, January 29th, we invite you to step with us … Into the Mist.
Music is a reflection of a time and a culture. That was never more true than in the Jazz Age: America in the 1920s. How exciting would it be to travel back to 1927 and hear a live band? How much more exciting would it be, if, before they started playing you had the opportunity to wander freely through the world of that raucous decade? What if you could choose to hang out in a speakeasy, attend a rent party, play blackjack against a shady dealer, watch some fancy footwork in a dance hall, converse with literary figures of the day, glimpse a fashion show, go to the cinema … and then gather with your friends in a club to hear a hot band? Sound like fun? That is the world that awaits you, starting January 29, 2021 at Studio5 online. Step with us … Into the Mist.
The significance of December 7, 1941 is something that most of our parents do not need to be reminded about. It was a shocking, indelible moment for them, much like September 11, 2001 was for another generation of Americans. I don’t want to spend time here comparing those two disastrous attacks: one by a hostile state, the other by a handful of extremists. That’s for another time, another post.
This is a day of remembrance.
There are few veterans of Pearl Harbor still with us. Not many are left who saw the Japanese planes diving out of the sky, felt the concussions as great battleships shuddered, burned, and sank. Not many left who can stand on the observation deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, gaze at that sunken iron tomb and say, “I knew a guy who went down with that ship.”
On December 7th, we remember what was lost at Pearl Harbor: the lives, the ships, the planes – our national innocence.
But on this day, we should also remember the miracle of Pearl Harbor: the incredible effort that raised so many of those ships from the bottom of the harbor, patched them up – and sent them back into the fight. Only three of the ships that were bombed in Pearl Harbor on that day of infamy were forever lost to the fleet.
And of the 30 ships in the Japanese fleet that attacked Pearl Harbor, only one survived the war without being sunk.
The dynamism, optimism and resolve displayed by those military crewmen and civilians who, within months, raised and repaired the devastated wreckage of Pearl Harbor are qualities that Americans must call on once again to overcome our national challenges. Would that our leaders would spend less time sowing the fear of future attacks – and more time appealing to the better angels of our national identity.
“Can do” was the unofficial motto of the Seabees, the legendary Navy outfit that led the reconstruction effort at Pearl Harbor.
Where’s that American “Can do” spirit now?
P.S.S. On this day, let’s remember one of the great WWII POW escape artists. If you have any pals who love The Great Escape or Shawshank Redemption, please point them toward the story of William Ash: Texan, RAF pilot, POW — and a guy who escaped the Nazi prison camps 13 times!
He’s the guy that inspired Steve McQueen’s character in The Great Escape.
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1481088858/
Kindle ebook: (free to Prime members) http://amzn.com/B00AF4I0K8
Comments from authors on UNDER THE WIRE:
What a splendid book! A young Texan brought up in the middle of the Depression who pulls himself up by his bootstraps, thereafter hikes to Canada to fly Spitfires for the Brits while America is still neutral. Just as the U. S. enters the war, he is shot down, and another exciting and terrible episode in his life begins. Living under terrible conditions he makes several attempts to escape until he finally succeeds in saving himself and many of his fellow POWs. This is a moving and heroic story of a young man who overcomes all obstacles with a sense of humor and succeeds in the end. Hollywood should snap this book up in a flash. Buy it, read it, enjoy it.
Charles Whiting, author of Hero: Life and Death of Audie Murphy
UNDER THE WIRE is a well-written and exciting memoir of wartime captivity that is packed with incident and vividly recreates the oft-neglected early days of Stalag Luft III and the now forgotten mass escape from Oflag XXIB, Schubin — a sort of dress rehearsal for the famous Great Escape. The author himself is one of the great unsung heroes of the Second World War, as are some of those whose adventures he records in this remarkable book. It also makes a refreshing change to read a memoir by someone who is politically literate and knew exactly what he was fighting against and what he was fighting for.’ There are passages in this book – particularly those concerning the political awakening of POWs and their determination to create a better post-war world – that make the reader want to stand up and cheer.
Charles Rollings, author of Wire and Walls, Wire and Worse
UNDER THE WIRE is everything I would expect from a memoir by Bill Ash — fast-paced, exciting and moving, but also colored by his mischievous sense of humor. He has a real gift as a storyteller — the characters and events come off the page as if we were meeting and experiencing them ourselves. Bill Ash was one of the great escape artists of the Second World War, and always managed to put himself in the centre of the action. He endured a lot, but never lost his essential humanity and zest for life, something that comes through very strongly in his book. That’s what makes UNDER THE WIRE such a joy to read — getting to know the irrepressible Ash and reliving his adventures with him.
Jonathan Vance, author of A Gallant Company: The Men of the Great Escape.
In this strange time when we await the transition from the unfortunate Trump administration to the most welcome Biden administration, let us consider the size of Biden’s victory over Trump.
As of this moment, Joe Biden leads Trump in the popular vote by nearly 5 million votes.
5 million votes. That’s a very big lead.
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have won more votes than the total voting age population of 7 states: Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont – a total of 4,716,657 voters.
Joe Biden has already won more votes than that – and the counting continues.
Go ahead, GOP, make my day.
As stated in a previous post, when we learned that Donald Trump planned to hold his first post-Covid-19 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my wife declared that we had to go. She was, as usual, right. We had to be there.
It was bad enough that the impeached, popular vote-losing, historically unpopular President originally intended to gather his MAGA minions on July 19th— the holiday known as Juneteenth — the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas finally learned they’d been emancipated by Lincoln’s proclamation back in 1863.
But there was more.
Worse than Trump’s Juneteenth affront was the city that he chose for his 2020 campaign kick-start. Nearly a century earlier, a white mob in Tulsa destroyed a prosperous African American neighborhood known as Black Wall Street, murdering hundreds of innocent Black men while burning more than 35 square blocks of homes and businesses to the ground. Trump wasn’t sounding a racist dog whistle. He was blaring his racist message through a stack of 100 Marshall amplifiers turned up to 11.
The swift critical blowback against Trump’s outrageous, race-baiting bit of scheduling forced him to move his rally from the 19th to the 20th – but that was just the first taste of defeat for Mango Mussolini that fateful weekend. He envisioned his visit to Tulsa as a re-boot of the traveling Trumpian circus that had served his Presidential aspirations – and his ego – so well in 2016.
Trump and his various campaign hacks and flacks trumpeted the news that Tulsa’s 19,000 seat BOK Center was nowhere near large enough to hold the hundreds of thousands of fans who had pre-ordered tickets for the rally. So, the Trump campaign arranged an outdoor venue for the overflow horde of cult followers eager to bask in their master’s mendacious message.
But there was a problem with those ticket reservations. It starts with the fact that my wife and I had six tickets and our youngest daughter had two – and none of us had any intention of going to the rally.
It was our daughter who hipped us to the subversive plan days before we left for Tulsa. She’d learned through the youthful online grapevine that, inspired by a TikTok video, the kids were snatching up tickets for Trump’s Tulsa rally as a massive prank. The kids were out to punk Trump.
This fast-moving youth movement followed the lead of Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old grandmother from Fort Dodge, Iowa, who posted a TikTok video on June 11th suggesting that people book free tickets to the rally to inflate the attendance numbers and ensure there were empty seats. Laupp’s video earned more than 700,000 likes. Trump and his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, had no idea what was happening. They bought their own hype.
They swallowed the kids’ bait. Hook. Line. And sinker.
When my wife and I arrived in Tulsa on the 19th, we found a much sleepier downtown area than we imagined. My wife kept saying, “Where is everybody”?
By the day of Trump’s rally it was clear where everybody was: not in Tulsa!
Only 6,200 MAGAs showed up to bask in the first stop on President Man-Child’s Ego-Gratification Tour: just one-third of the BOK Center’s capacity.
What follows are images and commentary on Trump’s 2020 campaign Waterloo as we experienced it.
SPOILER ALERT: Those desperate excuses made by Trump loyalists about how the rally throngs were kept from getting into the BOK Center by protesters blocking their entrance? Pure lies, as you shall see…
Note the National Guard presence, the sparse crowd — and NO protestors. This was the pattern all day leading up to the rally.
The MAGA crowd is getting a little larger. But where are the protesters blocking the MAGAs from attending the rally? They don’t exist. Do you see any? Of course not. We are two blocks from the BOK Center at this point.
The Oklahoma National Guard is ready for action. Nervous kids doing their duty.
Another shot of the not-so- massive throngs gathering a couple blocks away from the BOK Center. Still no protesters. Actually, no protesters will show up until all the MAGAs are in the building and the rally is already underway. Oh yeah, there WAS that one older lady wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt who was handcuffed and hauled away from the entrance.
There were at least three layers of security in order to get inside the gates leading to the BOK Center: concrete barriers, three rows of National Guard, and a fence. You’ll note that you don’t see any protesters blocking this entrance. It was the same at all entrances.
One you get past the concrete barricades and three rows of National Guard, there’s a fence — and then a temperature-testing site. Notice all the violent protesters blocking these MAGAs from entering? Of course not. Because they weren’t there! Sorry, Trump campaign. No excuses. Also — nobody is wearing a mask and there’s no social distancing.
Speaking of masks and social distancing. Oklahoma Senator Lankford (in the suit with red hair) was definitely not wearing a mask or social distancing. Nice example, Senator!At this point, the MAGAs have it made past the barriers, past the National Guard and past the fence. Now, they pause to get a mask (which hardly anybody wore) and have their temperature taken. Still no protesters blocking anything. No protesters at all.Now, it’s just a few hours until the rally starts — and all the MAGAs are in the building. There’s nobody left in line. If this was a Rick Springfield concert, a monster truck rally, or even a minor league hockey game there would still be folks in line. But all the members of Trump’s angry army coming to Trumpapalooza are already inside the BOK Center. No reinforcements are coming.The scene from one section of the upper deck. Trump fans! Tired of all the winning yet?
When we learned that Donald Trump intended to hold his first post-pandemic rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 19th, my wife and I knew we had to drive from our home in Los Angeles to be there in Tulsa. Not because we wanted to be among the throng of MAGAs at the BOK Arena for the Mango Mussolini’s Celebration of His Ego – but because we wanted to protest Trump’s insult to African-Americans in Tulsa and across our nation.
Trump’s choice of date and location for his rally was either an act of extreme ignorance or something much, much worse.
June 19th– or “Juneteenth” as it has come to be known – marks the day in 1865 when the slaves in Texas were finally informed by Federal soldiers that they had been emancipated since 1863 and were, in fact, free from bondage. So, given Trump’s history with regard to race relations, Juneteenth was a horrible date for a MAGA rally.
And why should Trump choose Tulsa?
Was he unaware of the fact that in June of 1921, Tulsa was the site of one of the most horrible episodes of white racist violence in American history?
Was Trump’s choice of Tulsa a racist dog whistle akin to Ronald Reagan’s campaign kickoff in Philadelphia, Mississippi – cite of the infamous murder of the Freedom Riders in 1964? Either he has no advisors with knowledge of 20thcentury U.S. history – or he’s running the same racist “Southern Strategy” that Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. “Willie Horton” Bush ran to victory.
So, off we went to Tulsa.
Last night, we enjoyed the celebration of Juneteenth in the Greenwood section of Tulsa where Black Wall Street once stood – and where the horrors of the 1921 massacre remain a painful, open wound.
What follows are some photos and video of our experience yesterday evening. It was a festival atmosphere, enjoyed by a multi-racial crowd of several thousand that largely wore masks and maintained social distance. It was a joy to be there.
Like any street festival, local musicians — from rap to jazz to funk to soul — entertained the crowd — waiting to hear from Reverend Al Sharpton.
And now some words from Reverend Al…
Tonight, Trump will hold his mini-Nuremburg rally. I’ll report on that scene later.
Would Trump Measure Up as a Boy Scout?
I’m proud to say that my older brother Peter and I were in the Scouting program — from Cub Scouts to Webelos to the Boy Scouts of America.
Peter and I proudly pledged to adhere to the Boy Scout Law.
We understood that the Boy Scout Law was a list of aspirational ideals that would make us better people and honorable citizens if we had the grit, faith and spirit to live up to them.
The Boy Scout Law, which I can still recite by heart, had a profound effect on me. I haven’t always lived up to the high standards they demand – but throughout my life, I’ve aspired to be equal to the personal ethics they challenge me to uphold.
So, let’s look at the 12 Boy Scout Laws.
How many of these laws does Donald Trump model in his everyday life?
A Scout is…
As I see it, the impeached, popular vote losing Donald J. Trump is Zero for 12 on observing the Boy Scout Law.
Seriously. Impeached President Trump violates every single one of the Boy Scout Laws.
If you can argue that I’m wrong — and that Trump is a Boy Scout, after all — please post a comment and make your case. Which of the 12 Boy Scout Laws does Trump uphold and observe?
Here’s my take. What’s yours? (Please give concrete proof of Trump adhering to any of these laws.)
- Trustworthy: According to the New York Times, Trump had told more than 18,000 lies since he was inaugurated. And counting…
- Loyal: How many cabinet members and staffers has he fired for telling the truth and/or not kissing his ass square on the hole?
- Helpful: Has he ever made a bad situation better? Has he ever offered assistance to the needy? Read about Puerto Rico.
- Friendly: Not a chance. He’s a cruel, nasty bully — and a defensive, easily-offended snowflake and selfish jackass.
- Courteous: Stood in front of the Queen of England, walks in front of his wife, shoved other world leaders aside to get a better spot in a G-7 group photo, etc.
- Kind: Please. Donald and his KKK member father kept black people from renting their properties. They were even sued by the federal government.
- Obedient: You’re kidding. Obedient to whom?
- Cheerful: Only when he thinks he’s got a leg up on his enemies.
- Thrifty: Multiple bankruptcies. Massive, all-time-high, federal debt due to his needless tax giveaway to the 1%.
- Brave: His daddy arranged a Vietnam military draft deferment for his son’s specious bone spurs. Decades later, Trump was sent to his White House bunker in fear of Americans protesting police brutality.
- Clean: Okay, they say he’s a germaphobe— but why no mask?
- Reverent: Sure, this adulterous, porn star-banging libertine sucks up to the religious right. But is he really a Christian believer? Not a chance. Ask Jeffrey Epstein. Or Michael Cohen. Or Stormy Daniels. Or Karen MacDougal. Or the, at least, 25 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment, abuse, assualt – and rape.
Can you imagine Trump reciting the Boy Scout Law today — and not being struck by lightning?
Go ahead, Trump supporters. Explain.
I challenge you — especially those I’ve known since high school in my beloved hometown, Cleveland, Ohio — to show me, Boy Scout Law by Boy Scout Law, how Donald J. Trump measures up to the standards we pledged to uphold as young men in the late 1960’s and early 70’s.
I’m waiting to hear if you can actually mount a case for Trump. Can you actually defend the behavior of this thin-skinned, narcissistic, racist, Adderall-snorting, anti-scientific, anti-intellectual, willfully ignorant, 6-times bankrupt, wannabe strongman dictator?
You have by Election Day, November 3, 2020 to make your case.
I swear by the Boy Scout Law to give you a fair hearing.
As for the Scouts motto, “Be Prepared”?
Consider his flat-footed, ignorant, personally defensive response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Pathetic.
We must never forget that impeached President Donald Trump tear-gassed and flash-banged peaceful young protestors today – so that he could stage an awkward photo-op in front of an historic church that did not invite him, did not come out to welcome him, and whose bishop and rector he had not even communicated with in advance of his self-serving, last-minute, momentary visit.
Preparing for his ill-conceived photo-op, Trump fumbled with a Bible, confused as to how to hold one. Had Trump ever held a bible — or read one — he might have come across the words of Jesus Christ from his sermon on the mount, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, 5:1-12.
Whether you’re religious or not, please take a moment to read the recorded words of Jesus of Nazareth in his most comprehensive statement of humanistic philosophy.
Then ask yourself — is this Trump’s philosophy?
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Let’s be clear. Trump is no Christian. He’s a blasphemer. His bellicose “get-tough” approach is nothing that Jesus would condone. Jesus was all about love, compassion and empathy. Trump is about power — and himself.
Election day can’t come soon enough.
Blessed are they that vote their conscience.
However we define ourselves on the political spectrum — or whatever easy political label we’re comfortable with – can we all agree on the following statements?
- Climate change is real and MUST be addressed with URGENCY.
- The gap between Rich and Poor in America has grown grotesque and unsustainable.
- Medical Care is a Human Right.
- Women deserve Equal Rights and Equal Pay.
- Women have a fundamental right to make their own reproductive decisions. (It’s their bodies, boys.)
- The influence of big money donors in politics corrupts the democratic system.
- America must stand as a beacon for Human Rights, Freedom of the Press and Democracy.
- NATO is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
- The European Union is a good thing. (Certainly better than two World Wars in the 20th century.)
- The worldwide influence of the Putin-led Russian Oligarchy is a bad thing – and not something patriotic Americans should ignore — or, as Trump does, apologize for and promote.
- Competent governance by experts in their fields is good.
- Incompetent governance by political hacks and industry lobbyists is NOT good.
- Racism is NOT to be encouraged.
- Factionalism is NOT to be encouraged.
- Willful Ignorance is NOT to be encouraged.
- The lessons of Science must be promoted and respected.
- The lessons of History must be promoted and respected.
- Immigrant children should NOT be separated from their families and put in cages.
- Generations of immigrants have been the lifeblood of American advancement.
- The Gospel of Jesus is not the religion of today’s right-wing Evangelicals.
- The separation of Church and State is fundamental to American freedom.
- The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have others do unto you) is a good rule to live by whether you are religious, atheist or agnostic.
Do you agree with these statements?
Then, don’t fret whether the Democratic nominee is Bernie, Biden, Warren, Mayor Pete or Amy Klobuchar.
Every Democrat (except, perhaps, Oligarch Bloomberg) would agree on these things.
So, vote what you know in your bones to be right.
Donald Trump, the horrible GOP Mango Mussolini, doesn’t give one tiny shit about any of the things listed above.
But every Democrat agrees with nearly everything on the list.
VOTE BLUE – NO MATTER WHO!
I’m a comedian and television producer by trade — and a passionate history buff by avocation.
I don’t call myself a historian. I haven’t devoted enough years in research libraries or earned an advanced academic degree – but I’ve read enough history to know that we Americans are living in a perilous moment in time.
Right now – in the 2020 Presidential election — the future of our democracy is in the balance.
Lepore and Snyder teach lessons Americans must learn.
Putting these two distinguished historians work together with the everyday evidence available on objective newspaper front pages and TV news broadcasts, it’s clear that the election and maladministration of Donald Trump is as dangerous and pivotal a moment for American Democracy as we’ve experienced since 1776.
Let me count the ways…
Just like the Nazis rounded up “the other” in concentration camps, so has the Trump regime locked immigrant Central American families in makeshift camps – and put their children in cages.
The architect of Trump’s awful, inhuman border policy is his close aide Stephen Miller — an abominable, heartless white nationalist.
Think right wing autocracy can’t happen here?
Read Timothy Snyder’s short and powerful book – and you’ll be shaken to your democratic core.
It CAN happen here.
We can see the potential death of democracy in the feckless cowardice of the Republican Senate. By acquitting Trump of his obvious high crimes against the constitution, they bent their knees like the fearful, faithless German legislators who paved the way for Hitler’s rise to tyrannical authority.
And the world reaped the whirlwind.
Today – it’s not just American government in the balance.
It’s human survival.
Trump says climate change is a hoax.
Trump put a coal industry hack in charge of the EPA.
Trump has put a private industry fox in every public agency henhouse.
Trump is putting bootlicking lackeys in charge of the intelligence agencies.
Trump’s Justice Department under William Barr is enthusiastically investigating Trump’s perceived enemies.
And the spineless GOP legislators are letting Trump do it.
We can’t let them get away with it.
I’m a comedian — but I’m not joking. It’s not an exaggeration.
Our democracy is at stake.
This election year, our American democracy is at stake.
We’ve all got to Vote Blue – No Matter Who!