t was an historic day on both sides of the Pond — the 10th anniversary of the “Miracle on the Hudson” when Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the river, saving all 155 aboard, and the day the old Tappan Zee Bridge deliberately went down, taking with it coincidentally Theresa May’s Brexit deal dream as the House of Commons voted by a more than 2 to 1 margin to reject her plan for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.Read More
Patricia Mazzei’s recent New York TImes story on Florida Panhandlers doubly victimized by Hurricane Michael and the government shutdown ended with a quote that left many readers cold — and coldly infuriated. Crystal Minton, a federal prison secretary, is already challenged by being the single mother of 7-year-old twins and the caretaker for disabled parents. She’s facing a complicated work schedule in February but don’t cry for her, Argentina.Read More
The cherry blossom snow globe arrived last Thursday. Outside it’s the beginnings of what I hope will be a mild winter. But inside its magical sphere, two wands of blossoms flank a petal-strewn footbridge nestled on green earth in an eternal spring, for it can never be winter in the heart as long as there are cherry blossoms in the world or in the imagination.
I like to think of the cherry blossom snow globe as the object equivalent of the last plane out of Saigon. I had purchased it at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. Dec. 27 and had it mailed home as I was going to The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that evening to see “Miss Saigon” and didn’t want to take a chance that it would break there or on the train back.
So I watched the woman at the register take my address and stamp it. I wondered when I might see it again. I figured that mailing the snow globe might be one of the last things the workers there would do and that I would be one of the last visitors before the full effects of the government shutdown could be felt. As it turned out, I was right and, when it did arrive, just five days after I came home, I opened it with both a delicious sense of anticipation and a certain ruefulness.Read More
“Miss Saigon” — which I saw over the Christmas break at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. — owes its narrative to Giacomo Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly,” which tells the story of a innocent geisha’s fatal love for an American naval lieutenant in 1904 Nagasaki. In updating the tale to the waning days of the Vietnam War (1975), “Saigon” improves on the story by making the American serviceman — here Marine Sgt. Chris Scott — and his eventual American wife, Ellen, much more sympathetic figures, trapped by circumstances of war rather than being blinded by white privilege.
Having said this, I must add that “Saigon” is no Puccini opera. It’s melodic enough without being memorable in the vein of other one-note Cameron Mackintosh musicals like “Les Miserables,” forcing the singers to belt when they might be better off lilting, particularly in the screeching upper register. Like “Butterfly,” however, “Miss Saigon” remains a potent metaphor for an America that, despite its best intentions is thoughtless, even callous, in its treatment of foreigners, particularly those of color.Read More