who’s afraid

Today’s post comes from tim
i was quoting edward albee on friday as he died.
i have a great friend who was going through a moment with her dysfunctional family and i recalled a conversation i had with edward albee it must have been at the pen pals authors series where joe was also there and the three of us got to spend a couple of minutes discussing the questions of life.
 i asked edward albee why he always chose to build his plays around dysfunctional families and relationships. he looked at me like it was way too obvious and said” they are the ones with stories to tell.
my family is dysfunctinal to my wife to me they are normal except for the screwed up one i wont talk to anymore. my moms family is a sorry bunch of sobs and my dads is a string of great people with challanges.
edward albee wrote in whos afraid of virginia wolfe of the son he and his wife made the center of their universe. i saw mercedes ruehl and patrick stewart play it at the guthrie and enjoyed it as much as richard burton and elizabeth taylor in the 60’s movie.
when i talk about movies i love and stories i love and pantings and music i love i can usually identify why. with whos afraid of virginia wolfe its a case of if you dont get it i cant help you.
i miss these rocks who are dying off as we grow older and dont see many new rocks coming up to replace them. bis was so big and today its big yeah but its not big like it was when the world was removed from the place where celebrities lived.
who were some of the biggies you miss or will miss?
 The New York Times critic Ben Brantley once wrote about Albee’s contribution to the theater world: “Mr. Albee has unsparingly considered subjects outside the average theatergoer’s comfort zone: the capacity for sadism and violence within American society; the fluidness of human identity; the dangerous irrationality of sexual attraction and, always, the irrefutable presence of death.”

44 thoughts on “who’s afraid”

  1. This may seem a bit unusual coming from a liberal but I miss William F. Buckley. The Republican political philosopher would have single handedly ended the political career of Donald Birther King Trump, just as he sent the John Birch Society into exile for a generation. I miss a sane Consecutive voice.

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    1. Mine may be equally unusual, wessew: Christopher Hitchins. Even more oddly, I didn’t read everything he wrote or caught many forums in which he debated, but it comforted me to know that his acerbic, irreverent, and brilliant being lived among us. We had two things in common: esophageal cancer (although his type, unlike mine, was a consequence of heaving drinking and smoking), and atheism.

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  2. It is one of the constants of culture that people always feel the most interesting voices are passing away and not being replaced by similarly memorable voices. Older, famous figures in the culture seem like giants, giants that we keep losing and can never replace. I don’t believe that. We simply don’t have the ability to recognize those most original and consequential figures in our own generation. There were long stretches of time when even Shakespeare was dismissed as a popular fellow whose stuff no longer is interesting. Thoreau was considered an eccentric crank by his contemporaries, and Melville languished in obscurity until he was rediscovered and crowned a great artist.

    I’ve long suspected that we continue to produce creative geniuses at pretty much the same rate as we ever did, only we are not able to see and appreciate them until time has sorted things out. Sam Clemens was a funny and thoroughly original voice at one time. Will there never again be a fellow so fresh and amusing? I think there is a chance Garrison Keillor will be taught in university courses on American humorists and cultural critics. There is also a chance Keillor will be written off (perhaps temporarily) as a regional humorist who repeated a handful of fresh insights until they became boring. I just don’t know.

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    1. I have tried to avoid lapsing into fuddy-duddyism, that the world is going to hell, that change is bad, that wisdom is lost, that there will “never be anyone like.” No force on earth will make me like some new voices, such as Prince, but that does not mean I think they are lesser than. I regret the voices we do not hear, often because of the strident tone of public discourse, the dehumanizing aspects social media, the loss of the social connection/conscience in the media, how we only have commentary and not reportage, how sports and entertainment have become too important, how education is pandered as quick and easy.
      In this spate of medical stuff I am going through I realize that I am now OLD. Techs and nurses and receptionists objectify me/treat as stupid before they know me, or they treat me obsequiously.
      Steve, I would bet that the creators from our era who will be studied and applauded 100 years from now are almost entirely people of whom we are unaware, as per Thoreau and Meliville.
      OT fun item: the New York Mets have a pitcher with the last name of Blevins.

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  3. Good one, tim. Kevin Kling comes to mind – I think he’s my favorite storyteller – I’ve seen him in person maybe three times in various places, some where I heard some stories repeated, and they never get old for me. I could be a Kevin Kling groupie.

    Anne Lamott – I just so appreciate the details she notices and brings in to her writing. Guess there are others I could say the same for, will think more on this.

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  4. Help me out here, tim, I’ve reread the following sentence several times, and I still have no idea what it means: “bis was so big and today its big yeah but its not big like it was when the world was removed from the place where celebrities lived.”

    Molly Ivins is one voice that I really miss, especially in the current election season. She was such a breath of fresh air, and I sure could use one right about now.

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    1. sorry pj
      a little more disjointed than usual in this one. i thught i sent the finished up piece i polished a bit but sent this one instead and bless dale he posts my warts

      i meant that the big stars back in the day were big stars. humphry bogart, jimmy stewart bette davis etc

      today we have tom hanks and who bill murry?

      brad and angelina make me wonder if the world has become a place where surface is the most important factor

      elections make me believe surface and down deep are too similar in disjointed ways.

      people are all screwed up except for me and you…..

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Your comments, tim, about Hollywood stars seem to me to point to the difficulty of comparing one era to another. Earlier in the history of Hollywood the film industry had a phase during which it ran on “the star system.” Studios tied up recognizable stars with contracts that prevented them from working for other studios. Films were promoted based heavily on the stars involved. One result is that actors like Clark Gable were constantly pressured to appear in garbage films that exploited their star power but had little else going for them. Many movies were created with no more of a plan than to give stars like May West or Cary Grant a vehicle to use star power to fill theater seats.

        That wouldn’t cut it today. The most prominent stars of the industry still have prominence and commercial appeal, but the whole industry has evolved past the star system. The business of film making has gotten vastly more expensive and complicated. Just one of the new factors is the way films now cater to international audiences. Films made in Hollywood have strong financial motivation to include prominent actors from China or other nations, and that reduces the importance of star power. Instead of star power the most successful actors build careers on adaptability and skill (Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren).

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  5. Politically, I miss Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey. And anybody who was willing to work with the other party to do good for their constituents, not just block actions simply because they don’t like the president or because someone from the other party proposed it.

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    1. I was at a fundraiser for Paul one week before he died. There must’ve been 100 people there. He signaled for me to come to him. I looked around thinking that it wasn’t really me he wanted to join him, but he kept signaling so I made my way through the crowd to him. He threw his arms around me for a full bear hug, then whispered in my ear, “Thank God, a normal sized woman!!!” He was 5’3″ to my 5′ height. I have a picture of that moment. The day he died, I was at the drugstore picking it up.

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    2. I was going to mention Paul Wellstone too.
      A few weeks ago when I was working that convention at the college and the speaker from the Wellstone Foundation would describe Paul and she would hold her hand off to her side and above her head and say “He was a man….” and then she’d drop her hand to her chest and say “…about this tall.”

      Do you think he could have stuck with it through this kinda year? Would he have abandoned hope before now?

      Liked by 3 people

        1. It’s dangerous for me to venture too far into politics simply because I don’t keep up as much as some of you.

          But, my comment about Wellstone is in comparison to people like Tim Penny or Bill Kuisle. They both got involved fighting for change and people rallied behind them and eventually they got discouraged and dropped out of politics.
          So over the years, do you still think Paul Wellstone would have stayed in the fight? How many times do you get knocked down and beat up before you decide it just isn’t worth it?
          Don’t get me wrong; I would still be supporting him as I know others would be too. But I wonder…

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        2. Paul Wellstone had multiple sclerosis and may well have been forced to retire for health reasons by now, had his plane not gone down. I think, though, that the Senate would have been a better place for whatever length of time he continued to serve.

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        3. I understand what you’re saying, Ben, and, of course, your guess is as good as mine. Somehow, though, I think of Wellstone as being of more of a Hubert Humphrey mold. I’d like to think he would soldiered on for liberal causes in whatever way he could.

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      1. sometimes its hard and you want to wring your hands but i think more often it mkes you certain you are on the correct path and makes your convictions stronger than ever.

        there has never been a clearer choice. its very scary to realize the percentage of the population that is able to overlook the obvious problems. how bad would it have to be before they said no? i cant imagine how much worse it could be. really. what would be one step further?

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  6. It is hard now to remember how many people detested Paul Wellstone. They were mostly conservatives, but not all. (I remember some liberals whispering ugly things about him for his fundraising.) When a complicated and disruptive social leader dies there is often a sort of truce in which critics figure, “Well, he’s dead. I can settle for that.” And then you no longer hear the unkind comments that were circulating when the disruptive person was alive and provoking people to think. In my lifetime I’ve seen that happen with FDR, JFK, Martin Luther King and others, even (remarkably) Malcolm X. Before my lifetime, it happened dramatically with Lincoln. Lincoln was jeered and dissed mercilessly until he died. He would have lost the 1864 presidential election if it had been held a few months earlier than it was.

    Why do I mention this? Greatness is often conferred on unpopular leaders when they are dead and thus not as threatening as they once were. That means that some of the voices for reform that are currently very controversial are likely to be seen later as great leaders who were not appreciated by their contemporaries.

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  7. Greetings from Death Valley, California. Being in the West has brought to my mind Ward Bond, a great supporting actor in so many films set the West. Never a leading man except for the TV show Wagon Train, his visage fit these vistas so well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. me too. you brought him to life for us and keep him alive in memory with the mention every now and then of his name
      ps. i think the survivors should pop the top on the bottle and enjoy it together. it will taste sweeter drinking to the memory of their friends than alone in comiseration.

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  8. It’s hard to imagine a world without Bob Dylan in it. I remember reading an interview with him years ago during which he complained about the state of modern folk music. He was annoyed that folk singers don’t sing folk songs any more – everyone feels they have to write their own original songs. The interviewer said “Hmmm….who do you suppose started that?”

    Hippo birdie two ewes, Anna!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I miss Pete Seeger. He was a strong voice for justice and sang old folk songs and new songs and his original songs. I was reminded of him today when I was trying to distract the twins from a major meltdown with this video:

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I also miss Joni Mitchell and Judy Collins. I know both are alive, but I don’t know if they are still singing. Husband and I are going to Minot, ND to the Norsk Hostfest next week to hear Emmylou Harris. I will have some posts from the Hostfest, believe me. They have a lefse making competition, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Hostfest is a celebration in Minot of all things Scandinavian, with the emphasis on Norwegian culture. I have lived here for 27 years and I never went. It is the kitchiest, corniest but most lovely gathering.

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