Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is It Enough?

There's so much, as usual.  I never speak about my kids but they are the lights of my life.  We are going through the whole college process now (well, they are I am just sitting helplessly by).  I am proud and concerned.  Hope that I have given them the tools to flourish in the independent adult world and don't want to let go either.  When I hear in the news that a college sophomore has vanished into thin air after a night of fun and partying, it makes me so unsettled and rattled to the core.  Have I drummed it into my kids' heads to never leave a party alone or let a friend leave alone?  Once you put a cup down, it's history?  Every terrible story I've read, the female is left to fend for herself.  Beginning with Natalee Holloway and currently with Hannah Graham, the University of Virginia student missing for over a week, both alone.  Where were their friends?  Where's the buddy system that parents have repeatedly expressed over the years?  

Having a boy and a girl has made me keenly aware of the disparity between the sexes, but I think boys, too, should step up and make sure that their friends get home alright.  It shouldn't lay at the feet of the girls only.  The boys can step up and help keep everyone safe.  I know how unfair it is that the rules are still different for girls and boys.  I always thought it would be different by now, but inherently in the gender differences, it may always be unequal.  Like Emma Watson's great speech at the UN last week, I, too think it's important that boys and men play a role in the safety and responsibility of their friends and acquaintances. It's unbearable as a parent to have to be the doomsayer to one's children.  There are so many scary things in the world and none more scary than a bunch of young, drunk, drugged, out of control, testosterone/estrogen filled people.  No matter how much we, as parents, preach the dangers of alcohol and drugs, there's only so much we can do to keep them safe.

Just in these past couple of weeks, three young NYC boys died from drugs and alcohol.  THREE!!  There's no chance they hadn't heard about the dangers to themselves and others.  It's the same old story, everywhere you go.  So as I am embarking to let go, I try to have faith in the strength and good sense that my children have versus the "evil" that lurks in the world.  I am not the first parent to have these overwhelming fears and I won't be the last.  Please give them all the foresight to make good choices.  

Okay, enough for now.  It is, though, the overriding cone of silence I am living with right now.  

Sidebars:  I've said it before and I will say it again, if you have HBO, watch or DVR John Oliver's 30 minute show on Sunday nights.  It is both interesting and funny.  Thought provoking.  He speaks of many subjects that aren't in the regular newscasts or newspapers.  The Voice still brings me so much joy and satisfaction.  Jump in whenever you can.  The Good Wife was better in its second episode of this season, so I am still watching.  Madam Secretary is definitely worth watching.  Great cast.  Shark Tank came back last Friday.  Great show to create discussions with your family.  Mazel Tov to the Clintons on the birth of their first granddaughter, but does anyone wonder where Chelsea's in-laws are, the Mezvinskys?  All the photo-ops are the Clintons. It's turned grey and cloudy here in NYC.  Fall has arrived.  Enjoy wherever you are.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Okay, I can't let go of the new Broadway season yet.  Last week, I ranted that it wasn't the stars fault, that it all landed at the feet of the producers, but I am taking it back.  The celebrities bring the power to the production.  Just like the movies, the star casting gives the green light to any production.  If actors valued the theatre more than their salaries, maybe they could shift the tide.  There's no reason that the actors' salaries have to be $100,000 per week or more!  For the most part, the stars on Broadway have made a ton of money in the movies or on television.  Many haven't even been on the stage before.  Broadway has become summer camp for the celebrities and we are paying their camp fees.  It's absolutely ridiculous.  We, the patrons, are suckers. 

I love, love Hugh Jackman, but am I going to pay upwards of $400 to see him in a show that is 70 minutes?  I am certain that the only reason this play, The River, is being mounted on Broadway, is Hugh Jackman wanted to come back to Broadway.  And, if truth be told, he is the least offensive star because he has paid his dues on the stage.  He's done a lot for the Broadway community and raised a lot of money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.  BUT he's the exception.  The celebrities are culpable in all of this.  They are responsible for limited engagements and strictly limited engagements.  Making the ticket buying public pay exorbitant prices.  It's a disgrace where this has been heading and this season has to be the ultimate in greed.

Now, let's talk about the Tonys.  The Tonys are the awards given for excellence in the theatre, but with all these limited engagements what does it all mean?  What's the point of giving Tonys out to performers or producers if the shows are already closed?  The Broadway League and the Antoinette Perry committee are really going to have to take a long, hard look at the situation.  It's not right for Tonys to be given out to productions with very limited engagements.  What's the point?  The Tonys are also a marketing tool and if a show isn't running, it's useless other than enhancing the egos of the stars and producers.  Now, clearly, there have been shows that have received nominations that had closed, but the difference is they closed due to lack of money/box office/good reviews/finding an audience.  They didn't close because the stars are running off to their next job.  True Broadway actors want nothing less than a long run.  It's the stars that are helping change the game and this season exemplifies it all.

Sidebars:  Oh, my goodness, I have so many sidebars.  I will try to hone them.  Let's talk football for a minute.  Warmed my heart to hear that over 7500 Ravens fans showed up to trade in their Ray Rice jerseys.  A glimmer of hope.  The Derek Jeter Gatorade commercial is the epitome of class and I am sick of all the haters and critics.  Derek Jeter is the very best in MLB for the past 20 years.  No scandals, no drugs, just incredible ambassadorship for the game.  All you negative Nellies, look in the mirror, if you can even get up from your chair!!  The View is back with it's new panel of women:  Rosie O'Donnell, Rosie Perez, Nicole Wallace, and Whoopi Goldberg.  The papers weighed in after the first episode.  I think that they should've waited.  It takes a little bit of time to gel.  In my world, the jury is still out.  Nicole Wallace is trying too hard to be the lone conservative voice.  She doesn't have to begin each sentence, well from my point of view, or some such phrase.  I do think they will come together, but it will never be what it once was.  CBS scheduled a late NFL game which pushed the much publicized premieres of Madam Secretary and The Good Wife an hour late.  Why do that?  It's just so irritating and makes the DVR crazy. Madam Secretary was a very excellent first episode.  I hope that it continues to grow week in and week out.  The Good Wife season opener followed and I was sooooo disappointed.  I was irritated from almost the first minute and it never got better.  I hope they can turn that show around pronto!  Tonight, The Voice premieres with its new judges Pharell Williams and Gwen Stefani.  Very interested to see how that goes.  Also, season two of The Blacklist with the incredible James Spader begins after The Voice.  The much anticipated new series, Gotham, premieres opposite The Voice and Dancing With the Stars.  Set your DVR's people.  Oh, what a night!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stars Shining Too Brightly

I have so many thoughts in my head and I don't know where or what to begin with, but here it goes.  If you are a New Yorker, one of the best and most anticipated sections of the New York Times is Arts and Leisure devoted to the new Fall season.  This year was no different until I started turning the pages.  The economic reality slapped me in the face with every new page.  Every Broadway show opening is star driven and limited runs.  What does that mean to the theatre goer?  Astronomical ticket prices, if you can even snag a ticket.  When the last page was closed, I was throughly depressed and angry.  What the hell happened to the coveted long run?  It can't happen with all the stars taking over The Great White Way.  It's not all the fault of the actors.  The producers are not artists like they once were. They are all about money and not taking risks.  

Theatre used to be all about the product and then money.  Of course, I'm sure if you asked the impresario, David Merrick, he'd say money was a factor.  He spent tons of money to get the results on stage he wanted.  BUT the great Broadway producers wanted long runs.  That was the desirable outcome.  For those of you not NYers, the famous midtown restaurant, Joe Allen's, has posters of shows that closed in a night.  You will see some great theatre names that took risks and failed, but they tried.  Today's producers want guarantees.  Few producers want to be involved in something new and not star driven.  That's why supporting shows that don't have names or limited runs means so much to me.  Perfect example:  A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.  The entire creative staff's first Broadway venture, has no big names, and won the Tony for Best Musical!!  If shows like AGGLM runs a profit, maybe, just maybe it will make other producers brave.  I long for the days of the great risk takers.  

The other problem with the announced Fall season, it is clearly a rich persons game now.  The 1%ers have taken over Broadway.  It will cost dearly to see Helen Mirren in The Queen or Hugh Jackman in The River.  That's just two examples of the Fall.  Makes me sad.  It's bad enough that taking a family of four costs $600 minimum and that's just the tickets.  Broadway has a serious problem.  I don't have any idea how to fix it, but I do know if more risky shows recoup their investments, more investors will be willing to gamble.  Broadway was always a gamble and in the current state of theatre, everyone wants a sure thing.  That is counterintuitive to creativity. When I first started in this business of show, everyone said, "don't invest in a show, unless you can absorb the loss."  People invested for the fun of it, the ego, the opening night, the big man on the town. Now, most of the shows are a sure thing.  There isn't a doubt in my mind that any of these star-driven limited engagements won't make money.  None.  Takes the fun out of theatre.

Sidebars:  The American Ninja Warrior finished its season.  I had never really watched it before or understood it until this summer.  What incredible athletes participate.  I thought it was an NBC made up show, but the Ninja events are real and worldwide.  America's Got Talent's finale is tonight.  We will see who America voted for but truly, this was the best season yet.  No frontrunner.  Debra Messing's new show, Mysteries of Laura,  begins tonight right after AGT.  Worth a try.  As far as world news?  There's too much.  Just please pay close attention to the vote in Scotland.  They are voting tomorrow to secede from England.  There are very strong arguments on both sides, but watch the outcome and notice how many people get out to vote.  There are 6 million possible voters and almost 6 million are registered to vote.  This is a democratic country and the turnout is expected to be incredible, not like our embarrassingly low turnouts for elections.  Come on, people!  May we all feel the power of the people in Scotland whatever the result.  

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Sick to My Stomach

I am so appalled how many women don't get it.  I understand men not getting it but even they are evolving.  There were tons of women at the Ravens-Steelers game wearing their Ray Rice #27 jersey and supporting him. Wondering why he was fired.  It happened six months ago, so why get terminated now?  Seriously?  Ravens and Rice fans are killing me. They don't understand the gravity of what happened even after seeing him cold-cock her and drag her lifeless body so callously out of the elevator.  What could possibly affect them if not that tape? 

This is the same group, team, owners, coaches, fans, that unveiled their homage to Ray Lewis in a life-size statue at the entrance to the Ravens Stadium.  Remember Ray Lewis?  He was involved in a double murder in a late night brawl.  He somehow got off.  Paid the victims families.  No time served.  Returned to the line-up with deafening applause.  He is since retired and has become the go-to guy on the Ray Rice domestic violence abuse.  Ray Lewis mentored Ray Rice when he was drafted to the Ravens.  Maybe he was the wrong guy to take a young athlete under his wing.  Not laying it at Ray Lewis' feet, but he did get away with murder.  

In my own little way, I tried to start a movement to stop people from watching the Steelers/Ravens game last night.  Other Facebook friends re-posted my thoughts.  Wanted it to gain traction, but I started too late due to circumstances beyond my control.  I still am a Pollyanna.  I thought, just maybe, there would be a ground swell, not because of me at all, but because fans and NFL supporters are sick of the billionaire boys club owners, the overpaid athletes, and the ridiculous ticket and stadium prices.  But no, actually, the overnight ratings were 108% better than in the past.  Kills me.  No wonder the NFL is so powerful.  The "little" people don't care.  

Though there is a trend to not allow young kids to play.  Parents are getting wiser and realizing that the risk-reward ratio isn't worth it.  Most kids don't make it.  Many Pop Warner groups are shrinking and schools are taking a longer look at the policies surrounding practice and play.  But really, I am getting away from my original nausea.  I can't believe how disappointing women are to me.  As a group, they let me down all the time.  I am distressed that the younger generations have no idea how women got this far, take it all for granted, and, in some cases, have completely misconstrued what a feminist is.  If women don't stand up to the NFL and the Ravens, who will?  Who will make a difference?  Tony Kornhiser and Michael Wilbon are screaming loudly on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption.  Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote about all the "criminals" of the NFL being sought after for coveted television jobs.  It's not Andrea Peyser, featured columnist, who has made her recent career tearing down one woman after another.  

Women are so overlooked and we allow it to happen.  How many middle school or high school history courses are devoted to the women's movement?  From where I sit, it is zero.  So maybe it's not the younger generation's fault. The women that are not understanding what Ray Rice did or feel sorry for him or think that his wife must've done something to provoke him or just don't care because they just blindly love their football team, take a long look in the mirror.  You are contributing to the problem.  

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Thank you, TMZ

So who would have thought that the all seeing, all knowing, all powerful gossip venue, TMZ would turn out to be the Drudge Report of the new Millennium?  I mean, seriously, the fact that TMZ outed the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice elevator scene has left Roger Goodell and the NFL with their pants down.  TMZ.  The group that has spies and eyes everywhere hit both gold and took the NFL down to a new low.  

So if you aren't watching the news, on your computer, or social media, Ray Rice was a football player for the Baltimore Ravens.  He and his girlfriend, Janay, had a physical argument where he allegedly hit her.  We didn't see it.  We saw that he was dragging her lifeless body off the elevator at a Casino Hotel in Atlantic City six months ago.  It was always a little murky because both the justice system and the NFL didn't act swiftly or appropriately for what actually happened in that elevator.  Maybe Janay was drunk and out of control and he pushed her, maybe she hit him first, maybe this, maybe that.  There was no indication of the gravity of the situation as now seen on the interior camera view.  Janay and Ray said it was both their faults, they gave the NFL all the answers they wanted to hear, and the actions of the justice system is inexplicable. She then married him.  Who were we to say?  She loved him. He loved her. And then, TMZ released the video of the actual altercation inside the casino elevator.

Have you seen it?  It is brutal, shocking, and appalling.  I am grateful to TMZ for releasing it.  As bad as the video is, we needed to see it.  It is irrefutable.  It is domestic violence.  It happens all too often and all too often it is swept under the rug or forgiven.  The NFL and Roger Goodell said they didn't see it.  When Matt Lauer said that to Bryant Gumbel this morning, he couldn't contain his laughter.  It is laughable.  If they didn't see it, they didn't want to see it.  They had to know it existed. They are a multi billion dollar organization that has the power and ability to get any videotape from any security system.  They aren't naive, like I am. They would've gotten away with their wimpy two game suspension they gave Ray Rice, if TMZ didn't get their hands on this tape.  Roger Goodell would've been able to keep his head up after he revised the punishment for domestic abusers in the NFL last week: 6 game suspension the first time and banished from league for a second offense. He stood up and took responsibility for getting Ray Rice's suspension wrong and has a solid plan for he future.  What a bunch of BS.  Obviously, he must've known this tape was getting released.  He tried to get ahead of the game.  Roger Goodell, you should lose your job.  You care more about football than the life of a woman. 

And the justice system who basically gave Ray Rice a slap on the hand.  What the hell is wrong with that Judge and D.A.?  They have the Jameis-Winston-Florida-State-University-Syndrome. They didn't want to harm the team, take down a star athlete, disparage the Ravens organization.  They accepted his cockamamie excuses and apology to his fiancee and sent him to anger management or some such bullish*t thing.  It's a disgrace.  Remember the eyes of the law are supposed to be blind and balanced.  Whoops!  That isn't reality.  Was it ever?  Don't think so.  

So, here we sit.  Another appalling act against a woman and no one in power that's supposed to help and defend made the right choices.  If Roger Goodell and the NFL don't understand domestic abuse, maybe they should take pay cuts and have a team of experts on staff to vet any and all of the bullish*t stories they are handed. It is unconscionable that they all turned the other cheek again.  I do think Roger Goodell should be removed from his post.  This is a big misfire.  The Ravens terminated Ray Rice's contract yesterday as soon as the tape went viral. The NFL Players Association should leave it all be.  They can't back him up.  They can offer him counseling, but not a job.  The Judge and D.A. should be dumped out of office for not pursuing criminal charges.

I am gravely concerned for Janay's safety.  She is a typical case study in abused woman-dom.  Having a husband with a history of serious brutality, her future doesn't look bright.  Publicly shamed, humiliated, and out of work does not bode well for a loving and healthy relationship.  Even the healthiest of people find unemployment very stressful on a relationship, but on Ray Rice....

If you didn't see the full video, you really should take the time.  It's not just the punch but the aftermath that compounds the brutality of the scene: http://www.tmz.com/videos/0_ekaflcqq/

Sidebars:  I'll stay with the NFL, but on a lighter note.  Last night was Monday Night Football on ABC.  Last night, was also the finale of the summer trash series, Bachelor in Paradise on ABC.  Bachelor in Paradise was pre-empted for most of the country, but they still played it in the West.  Seriously?  Why ABC executives didn't move the finale night to another night so the whole country could watch is shocking.  Though they announced a season two renewal for next summer, the ratings had to stink last night.  The East coast airing was at 1:45am or some such ridiculous time.  Screwed the fans again.  Here's to Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys for picking up Michael Sam.  Though there was a loud decry from "Christians" in the Dallas area that were going to picket and oppose Jerry Jones hiring of a homosexual football player, it seemed fairly quiet in reality on Sunday.  Tonight is America's Got Talent.  Getting down to the final twelve acts.  Most of them are incredible.  It's not too late to give it a chance.  Enjoy your Tuesday, wherever you are.

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cry Me A Rivers

I really don't know if I can do this justice at all.  Joan Rivers was the definition of feminist to me.  She broke through every glass ceiling, got cut along the way, climbed back up and kept reinventing herself. She began her career in the all male dominated world of stand up comedians in the 1960's.  She caught the eye of the one and only Johnny Carson who loved her conditionally for many years.  He made her the first female guest host of the Tonight Show.  Joan Rivers had arrived.  She became more and more beloved by people all over.  Her husband, Edgar, made a deal at Fox for Joan to host her own late night show.  When she left Johnny Carson, he never spoke to her again.  Seriously.  It was the point in time that I thought less of Johnny Carson.  It was bullying and immature and when Joan's late show bombed, Johnny couldn't muster up the good grace to reach out to her.  Nope.  When Joan's husband killed himself at The Four Seasons (I believe) in Philadelphia, Johnny Carson couldn't find it in his cold heart to reach out.  Did that stop Joan?  Never.

Joan Rivers was cut from a very strong, resilient cloth.  She kept coming back.  With every setback, came a new success.  Is it because she is a true New Yorker?  Born and raised in Brooklyn with the heartiest of New Yorkers, she was a show business phoenix.  She conquered the world of QVC at their earliest beginning with a hugely successful jewelry line.  Still selling almost thirty years later.  Her success with the Fashion Police brought her another generation of fans.  That show can't go on without her.  How can it?  She was the core and the glue to make her colleagues laugh and gasp.  Her humor was cutting and biting, but nobody made more fun of her than she did.  Even in all the early years on Johnny Carson, all the jokes were at her own expense never at Edgar's.  She was always careful about that.  If you haven't seen her documentary, A Piece of Work, run, don't walk.  It was amazing in the movies and now will be even more impactful.

I feel all over the place and I can't do her or my feelings for her justice.  I wanted to be her friend.  Actually, I really wanted my Mom to be her friend.  Both strong, smart women.  It was my fantasy.  Joan was loyal to her family and friends.  I could feel that and never even met her.  I watched her E show with her daughter, sometimes deeply moving, sometimes fully staged, and always funny.  She was a devoted grandmother to Cooper. Their relationship seemed incredibly genuine and tight.  

When the news came last week that she had stopped breathing during a routine office procedure on her vocal chords, I really thought it was some kind of sick joke.  And then the days wore on, and the news was incomplete.  Sometimes it was dire and other times hopeful.  I and everyone that loved her were really holding on to the hopeful news reports. I knew that if she couldn't come out of the medically induced coma 100%, she wouldn't want to come out of it at all.  It's just that it's so sudden and she's gone too soon.  Some of you may say, well she was 81, but she had just done two Fashion Polices on the MTV Music Awards, Monday, and the Emmys, Tuesday. She flew to NYC to do promotion for her new book and do her stand up at the West Bank Cafe.  It will be one of my greatest regrets that I didn't make it to see her in that intimate setting in NYC.  She woke up Thursday, just like any other day, never thinking that it would be her last.  None of us did.  She went in for a routine procedure and, BAM, that's it.  How is it possible?  Seriously?  How could we lose someone so alive and vital?  

I am so sad.  If losing Robin Williams was big, this is even bigger for me.  She represented so much that I admired.  She was a fantastic role model for me as a young girl and still today.  I am not over it.  I will not be over it.  The loss feels personal and close to home.  This is just unfathomable.  My heart breaks for Melissa and Cooper.  Cindy Adams, one of her BFF's, NY Post columnist, and a dyed in the wool New Yorker, has written some great remembrances this past week and shared with her readers friendship stories. If you have a chance, read them.  I really feel heartbroken.  Gone too soon....

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflections of a New Day

The mind is never quiet, thankfully, really.  The alternative is nowhere I want to be.  I keep sending good thoughts and prayers for Joan Rivers.  The pathetic people that feel the need to post hateful and unkind statements make me sick.  Whether you like Joan Rivers or not, she is somebody's mother and grandmother.  She's somebody's friend, loved one.  Why social media has unleashed such hate is a mystery to me.  The poison people spew is unfathomable to me.  Sure I've heard people say mean things in private, but the need to post publicly mean-spirited and evil thoughts is mind boggling.  So I stand here sending continual good thoughts for Joan Rivers complete recovery.  We won't be able to handle anything less than 100%.  Please, Joan, fight and make us laugh again.  

In the same social media vein, did you hear the one about the teacher who tweeted out her private thoughts about her students?  She made comments about wanting to slap them and kill them, etc. and so forth.  Why the hell she felt compelled to make these statements public, I can't imagine.  Honestly, people come home from work and sit around with family and friends for generations and trash their bosses, coworkers, students, charges, etc.  It's dinner fodder.  It's sitting around during happy hour talking about your day.  If you don't know when to say things, keep your mouth shut. Now this beloved teacher (and she's beloved by her students) is fighting for her job.  Look at all the famous people who send out tweets and then have to apologize, delete, or cancel their accounts.  Stop throwing up every thought on social media.  It can't lead to anything good.  

Jimmy Carter.  For decades I have liked him, had a soft spot for him, and didn't accept the common opinion by Jews and Jewish organizations that he is anti-Israel or staunchly pro-Palestinian.  I admired that he created Habitat for Humanity.  He has spent the past few years standing up for women around the world.  BUT, now I am done.  He is allegedly speaking at a fundraiser in Detroit to raise money for Hamas.  What?  Can you imagine the outcry if he was speaking at a fundraiser for the KKK?  IBIS?  Al Queda?  This was a little note in the paper.  Not a headline.  If you wonder why Jews feel both so alone and so strong, this is a perfect example.  Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization. Alan Dershowitz, a huge outspoken attorney, decried that Carter's actions could be criminal.  If anyone hears more details about this, I want to know.  I find it disturbing on so many levels. 

On a personal note, today my little boy and little girl are beginning their Senior year in high school. It blows my mind.  Every parent that's been through it feels the common thread. Where did the time go?  How is it possible that the beautiful babies that we brought home from the hospital, cared for, bathed, fed, played with, read to, sang to, laughed with are making such a big step.  It feels like yesterday.  I have joked that 3rd Avenue will be a new river when they go off to college, but for now, I am going to cherish every moment and try my damndest to stay in the moment.

We spent Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia, one of this country's greatest cities.  If you've never been, put it on your bucket list.  There is so much to do and see.  The feeling of history oozes from every brick, crevice, and sidewalk.  It's deep with American history, ripe with more and more incredible museums, theatres, and cherished sites.  We went because the children wanted to go to a two day music fest, Made in America.  We wanted to go to see friends, family, and the Barnes Museum.  The second day of the concert, there was a sudden deluge of rain with thunder and lightning.  They made everyone leave the Ben Franklin Parkway for safety reasons, but, the most incredible use of social media, they tweeted that the concert would continue and come back. How fantastic!  The City of Brotherly Love pulled off a two day event with no serious incidents.  Bravo Philly. (Unlike the 3 day music fest in NYC on Randall's Island, where they evacuated everyone again on the third day and it was over). 

September is here.  It's the month of schools beginning, Jewish Holidays, primary elections, and my birthday.  Please enjoy your new day, new week, and new month. Feeling teary and grateful.

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