I had the good fortune to be at the Opening Night of All the Way starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame and the very best New York theatre actor, John McMartin (whom I've had the honor of knowing for my entire NYC life). Coming into the night, I had mixed feelings. I knew it was long. The playwright, Robert Shenkkan, has always been verbose. We got to the Neil Simon Theatre to a very unusually on time Opening Night crowd. The show began only ten minutes late! From the get-go, they had me. I love politics and I didn't know the history. It opens with LBJ on a virtual Air Force One, flying the body of JFK back to D.C. with Mrs. Kennedy. He becomes the unlikely President of the United States.
The historical significance is still affecting us to this day. LBJ as President changed the whole trajectory of the Democrats and Republicans. Who knew? I presume if you are over 65 years old, you lived it and were old enough to understand what was going on, but I didn't. I was 4 years old in 1963. I remember the tragic day in Dallas, but what happened the next four years...nothing. I was stunned by the bitterness and the fighting from all sides trying to pass the Civil Rights Bill. I couldn't believe all the dissension from both sides of the aisle and the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. There were strong feelings on all sides and compromises needed to be made at the expense of what was right. There was bloodshed in the South during this time. There were protests. Disappearing people. Corpses found. It was a very tense time. None of that is a surprise, but what I didn't know? I didn't know that is exactly when the South turned from 100 years of Democrat rule to Republican rule and the Dems have not been able to get a foothold since. There were many Southerners that jumped from the Democratic Party to the Republican party. That's how much they didn't want to let go of the old South and segregation. Strom Thurmond jumped ship. Can you believe he was ever a Democrat? I was thinking maybe the South was Democratic because they hated Lincoln so much they couldn't be Republicans. Don't know if it's true but makes sense. I just was stunned by the complete openly racist, Southern loving politicians that couldn't bear to stand strong with LBJ and what was good for the nation.
The Civil Rights Bill changed the entire fabric of this country. We still feel the repercussions today. It seems unfathomable that with time the "Old South" hasn't softened at all. Even with 50 years of perspective, it just has gotten more divisive and more deeply racist. Ignorance is the fuel that feeds so many in the deep South. Clinging to the past. Re-enacting battles of the Civil War as if there will be a different outcome....
If you love history and politics and are in NYC, go see All the Way. If you can't, read the Robert Caro book on this period. I think it's book #3 of his LBJ annals. It's illuminating.
Sidebars: Episodes ended its season last night and again, I am saying, if you aren't watching it, you are missing it. You can binge watch this easily. 30 minutes an episode. The Good Wife was a new episode, finally, last night. Honestly, I am having Sopranos flashbacks. It feels so long ago since the last new episode that I couldn't remember the players or the connecting story lines. That is a very dangerous trend to spread the episodes out so far. It becomes difficult to get back in the swing. Amazing Race always enjoyable. It really is. Tonight is The Voice, blind auditions continue. Opposite that is the finale of the most uncomfortable Bachelor season. Juan Pablo picks a bride or does he? I think regardless of whether or not he picks one of the two remaining women, it will go no further. Once real life intercedes, done, stick a fork in it. Oh, on PBS there is a fantastic show traveling Israel with Peter Greenberg and Prime Minister Netanyahu. It is incredible whether you've been or not. Don't miss such a great hour of travel. Did anyone watch Cosmos on Fox Sunday night? I love Neil DeGrasse Tyson, super smart, great personality, and handsome. I have DVRd it so I will get back to you, if I can remember. Spring is in the air here in NYC for a couple of days. We are all begging for it to be here permanently. Enjoy your day!
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