Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thursday, October 20, 2016

…Down to the River

It’s been a long time since I made an addition to the blogroll, but I’m all too happy to share this new one: …Down to the River.

It is written by a friend I’ve known for over thirty years through my work at camp in Colorado and a shared love of teaching, good blues, and baseball.  I hope you’ll get acquainted with his world, enjoy it, and share it.

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 1971

PMW IDForty-five years ago this week, this long-haired skinny kid from Perrysburg, Ohio, landed at the University of Miami and walked into the Ring Theatre determined to become an Actor. He was sure he would be the next star of stage and screen and people would be lining up around the block to watch him perform everything from Shakespeare to Neil Simon. So he signed up for acting classes with the legendary Buckets Lowery, took dramatic lit from Dr. Delmar Solem and Dr. Charles Philhour, directing from Dr. Hank Diers, costuming from Dr. Roberta Baker, and learned all about scenery design, stagecraft, and history from the original Great One — and the last man standing — the Old Professor. He met his fellow classmates who were also setting out on this great adventure who became more than just classmates; they became lifelong friends. For three incredible years he was in shows (usually small parts whose first name was “The”) or back stage running the shows, or building sets, and afterwards hanging out for many a night in student housing as a charter member of the MNT Society.

No, he didn’t become a great actor because when he wasn’t on stage or in class or building scenery (and becoming a skilled carpenter), he was writing plays or stories … and it didn’t help that he had a face for radio. But if it wasn’t for the foundation of his friends, mentors, teachers, and partners that he built at the Ring, he wouldn’t have had the skills or courage to go on for a masters and doctorate in playwriting, which he’s still to this day trying to master.

So today, this not-so-long-haired, not-so-skinny guy who started classes at the Ring on his 19th birthday looks back from the verge of his 64th and says a humble and grateful thank you for these forty-five years of friendship. I couldn’t have done it without you. And maybe I’ll put you in one of my plays. Maybe you already are.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Hello, His Name Is Edmund

I met Edmund Lupinski in September 1971 when we were both cast in the University of Miami Ring Theatre’s production of George Farquahar’s The Beaux’ Stratagem, directed by the Old Professor.  (He had a lead as one of the beaux, I did two character parts.)  We did a number of shows together, everything from musicals such as Guys and Dolls to the 18th century comedy The School for Scandal, and I’ve always considered him to be a good friend.  He’s also a terrific actor, as you’ll see in this demo reel that he’s put together, including his most recent role on screen in Hello, My Name is Doris with Sally Field.  I thought I’d share this quick look at some of his work.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Oldest Friend

I’m taking off today to spend it with my oldest friend.  We met in June 1957.  My family had just moved into our new home in Perrysburg and he and his sister knocked on our front door and asked if there were any kids his age the he could play with.

We grew up together, going to school together, going through good times and tragedies, and nine years later, after he had moved to Florida, I was invited to come down to visit over spring break.  It was my first time in Florida, and as his mom said, once you get sand in your shoes, you have to come back.

How right she was.  In 1971 I moved to Miami to go to college.  But my friend had gone off to join the Navy, and we lost touch.  It would be another fifteen years or so before we met up again, and then only briefly.  It would be 2003 before we connected and arranged to meet as I changed planes in Chicago on my way to Toledo.

As it always is with old friends, it was like no time had passed at all as we shared a sandwich in the food court at Midway.  When I left, we promised to keep in touch, and we have, thanks to social media and the bond that was formed more than fifty years ago.

We got together two years ago (see below) at his place up the coast and we’ll do it again tomorrow down here.  And I hope when he knocks on the door in the morning, he’ll ask if there are any kids his age to play with.

photo 4

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friends, Family, and Cars

This is the beginning of a fun weekend.  My brother arrives this afternoon, then we’ll be spending the weekend deep in car talk.  We’re judging at the 9th annual Boca Raton Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, but before that we’ll be visiting with some friends, one of whom has an amazing collection of cars, many of which have graced these pages.


Stutz radiator cap

I get to judge the Mustangs, of course, and there will be some very rare ones there, including Carroll Shelby’s personal car.

I will have pictures from the show on Sunday, but between now and then things will be a little light around here as we warm up — it’s expected to be back up to the 80’s for the show — and enjoy the cars.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Thursday, October 23, 2014


As a contributor to Shakesville, I got to know some of my fellow contributors only through the blog and the backstage e-mails we exchanged.  That may seem like a remote way to make friends, but often the bonds that grow are as strong and meaningful as meeting in person.

I got to know Phil Barron as a warm and friendly person and a great writer — two qualities I aspire to.  So I was stunned and saddened to hear that he came down with a sudden illness earlier this week and then passed away yesterday.

I hold him, his wife, his family, and our community that loved him in the Light.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Reading

Friendly Help — J. Lester Feder at BuzzFeed has the story on Quakers helping gay Ugandans.

A group of American Quakers say they are offering a way out for some desperate Ugandans fleeing the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.

This group, based in Olympia, Wash., calls its project the Friends New Underground Railroad (FNUR) because it sees itself as following in the footsteps of the Quakers who helped bring slaves out of the American South before the Civil War. Working with fewer than 10 Ugandan “conductors,” they report having funded passage out of the country for 107 people with grants ranging from $52-$185. The refugees mostly travel in small groups on back roads and make their way to safe houses in neighboring countries. FNUR says they know of at least 12 people who have gone on to third countries like South Africa and Sweden, and they have received unconfirmed reports that around 30 have reached Europe.

The security precautions they say they take makes their work impossible to verify. The identities and locations of the conductors are kept secret even from one another. FNUR won’t identify any of the people they’ve evacuated because they say they don’t yet feel secure in their new location, though they say they financed the escape of 22 students in a Catholic seminary accused of homosexuality in the eastern town of Jinja whose case made headlines abroad. They won’t say which countries people escape to, who aids them once they exit Uganda, or how those who have gone onto Europe have secured the visas that other refugees can spend years waiting for because they fear the escape routes being shut off. One of the three co-organizers — the only one of the group with experience in international relief work — won’t be publicly identified by his real name, saying “we don’t want to put anybody in danger.” Instead he goes by Levi Coffin II, adopting the name of one of the Quakers who was a leader in the original Underground Railroad.

“We got into this because we were asked,” Coffin said in a phone interview from Washington state. The person who became Conductor Number One was a Ugandan acquaintance who asked for support when a group of LGBT people asked him to help get them out of the country. “Quakers have a long tradition of this kind of work… This is work that we were both literally and figuratively called to do.”

If their account is accurate, it is a remarkable feat for a handful of individuals with very little experience in international aid. (Their project was adopted by their congregation, the Olympia Friends Meeting, and has since teamed up with another similar effort and other Quaker meetings. It also was just endorsed by the national Unitarian Universalist Association.) Most Ugandan activists and international human rights groups are discouraging LGBT Ugandans from fleeing, since they largely go to Kenya and wind up in enormous refugee camps that are often just as dangerous for LGBT people as Uganda itself. Those lucky enough to be identified as candidates for resettlement abroad can spend months or even years waiting for a plane ticket.

HT to Julie.

An Agenda for 2014 — John Nichols at The Nation looks at what Elizabeth Warren is telling Democrats to run on this year.

Elizabeth Warren says she is not running for president in 2016—despite the enthusiastic “Run, Liz, Run” chanting that erupted when the senator from Massachusetts took the stage at this year’s Netroots Nation conference. But Warren came to Detroit with the platform on which Democrats should be running in 2016.

And in 2014.

Warren is frequently described as a populist. And she can certainly frame her message in populist terms, as was well illustrated by the strongest statement of her Friday Netroots Nation address: “A kid gets caught with a few ounces of pot and goes to jail, but a big bank launders drug money and no one gets arrested. The game is rigged.”

But as the Rev. William Barber, of North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” movement, reminded the conference in a Thursday evening keynote address, populism is not an ideology or a program unto itself. Populism can go left or go right. Populism can be cogent or crude. What matters is the vision that underpins a populist appeal.

What Elizabeth Warren brought to the Netroots Nation gathering was a progressive vision that is of the moment—a vision rooted in the understandings that have been established in the years since the “Republican wave” election of 2010. As Republicans in Congress practiced obstructionism, and as an increasingly activist Supreme Court knocked down historic democratic protections, Republican governors aggressively attacked labor rights, voting rights and women’s rights. Citizens responded with rallies, marches and movements—in state capitals, on Wall Street, across the country. They developed a new progressive vision that is more aggressive and more precisely focused on economic and social justice demands, and on challenging the power of corporations and their political allies.

Warren’s Netroots Nation speech incorporated what has been learned, and what has been demanded. She made a connection between the movements and the political process that has tremendous significance for the coming election cycles.

Warren’s Democratic Party has not fully recognized that connection—not by a long shot—but Warren gets it. And the response of the thousands of activists, organizers and communicators gathered at the Netroots conference suggests that “the base” is ready to rally around it.

So what is it?

“This is a fight over economics, a fight over privilege, a fight over power,” says Warren. “But deep down it’s a fight over values. These are progressive ideas; these are progressive values. These are America’s values. And these are the values we are willing to fight for.”

Bonus: Charlie Pierce on Sen. Warren.

Rick Scott Rakes It In — Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones on the people buying the Florida governor’s re-election.

Florida Governor Rick Scott really knows how to pick a fundraiser. Last month, he was scheduled to attend a $10,000-a-plate event at the home of a real estate developer who’d done prison time on tax charges. Hours after Mother Jones disclosed the event, Scott canceled it. Now, on July 21, Scott will headline a $10,000 per person fundraiser at the Boca Raton home of another deep pocketed donor who is the CEO of a private prison company that’s profiting handsomely over the immigration crisis at the Mexican border.

George Zoley is one of the founders of the GEO Group, the second-largest private prison company in the country. Among the 98 facilities the company owns or manages are several detention centers for undocumented immigrants run through contracts with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. One of those is a facility in Broward County, Florida, that’s been the site of at least one hunger strike and protests over allegedly poor treatment of the 700 immigrants held there, most of whom have no serious criminal histories.

In 2012, members of Congress demanded that ICE investigate the Broward facility after reports the center was holding people who should have been released and that it was not providing adequate medical care to the detainees. An investigation last year by Americans for Immigrant Justice also found credible reports of detainees suffering food poisoning from being served rotten food. The group noted instances of sexual assault among detainees and inadequate mental health care that may have contributed to at least three suicide attempts. Detainees also reported being forced to work for $1 a day and to pay $3 a minute for phone calls.

The Geo Group, which rakes in $1.5 billion in annual revenue, earns $20 million annually just from the Florida center.

The GEO Group also operates the Adelanto Detention Center that, with 1,300 beds for men, is the largest immigrant detention center in southern California. In 2012, a detainee there died from pneumonia. The US Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Detention Oversight concluded that the man’s death was preventable. Investigators determined that the medical staff had “provided an unacceptable level of care” and commit “several egregious errors” that led to the man’s death. Immigration reform advocates have reported various forms of abuse at the Adelanto facility: maggots in the food, inadequate medical treatment, mistreatment by the GEO staff, and the overuse of solitary confinement. These allegations landed the center on the nonprofit Detention Watch Network’s list of the worst detention facilities in the country.

The GEO Group is now expanding the Adelanto facility to add another 650 beds, which includes a women’s wing. The GEO Group expects the expansion to result in an additional $21 million a year in revenue. The GEO Group has also invested heavily in lobbying Congress, spending more than $3 million over the past decade to keep the money flowing to its detention centers.

Zoley netted $22 million in compensation from the GEO Group between 2008 and 2012. He’s donated a fair bit to the GOP and to Scott, who’s made privatizing Florida’s jails and prisons a priority of his administration. Zoley accompanied the governor to the UK in 2012 on a trade mission. The Geo Group donated $25,000 to Scott’s inauguration, and Zoley also personally donated $20,000 to help spiff up Scott’s living quarters in the governor’s mansion.

Zoley’s sponsorship of a fundraiser for Scott, who is in a tight race against former governor Charlie Crist, a Republican turned Democrat, isn’t surprising. (Scott’s office did not respond to a request for comment.) But the governor’s cozy relationship with the operator of some of the country’s biggest immigrant detention centers might not go over well with Latino constituents, who tend to oppose federal immigration detention policies.

Doonesbury — Fiction writing.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

To A Dog, You’re Family. To A Cat, You’re Staff

I’ve been given the sincere honor of house-sitting Benjamin and Madam while Bob and the OP are traveling for a few days.  We live very close to each other so it’s merely a matter of moving a few things like my laptop, and actually it’s closer to work than my place.

Anyway, it’s taking a little getting used to the new routine.  It’s been almost exactly twelve years since Sam died, but the programming kicked in; last night as we were taking our after-dinner walk around the block, more than once I prompted Ben to move along to the next bush by saying, “C’mon, Sam…”

The first time I did it I didn’t even think of what I had said until it dawned on me that I had said it.  I had a “Whoa” moment, smiled at the memories of taking Sam on his walks, and then, a few minutes later, did it again.  The good thing is that Ben did not notice.

We’re getting along fine, but as you can see by the picture I took before I moved in yesterday, he seemed to have his doubts.

Ben 07-18-14

All is well, now.  He slept in his bed and this morning we followed the set routine.  He’s at my feet now, patiently waiting for our morning stroll.

On the other hand, Madam the cat is tolerating me… barely.  I’m told she’s very affectionate once she gets to know you, but that’s not happened yet.  She’s showed up at feeding time, and last night after I got into bed, she came and looked to see who was sleeping in her bed.  She purred loudly but spent the night elsewhere, and after breakfast she disappeared to wherever it is that cats hang out.  I think they have a secret hiding place designated in each house in the Feline Master Plan to Rule the World.

I’m looking forward to getting to know Ben better, and I am sure I will soon be doing Madam’s bidding.  In fact, I see the glare of her eyes from across the room.  Coming, Your Grace….