Saturday, November 28, 2020

Tommasini on Pianos

Well, not exactly: Anthony Tommasini has an article in the Times called "Why Do Pianists Know So Little About Pianos?"  The URL for the article might be somewhat revealing:

Of course, it's not just about piano tuning; it's about the variability of pianos and the mechanical complexity of the instrument. I would have amplified this:

Not only can violinists, clarinetists, harpists or flutists tune their instruments, and even bend pitches in performance, they also, by and large, know much more about how their instruments work.

If I were writing this article, I would explain how you tune different instruments. On violins (and other orchestral bowed string instruments), you turn the tuning pegs that that are at one end of the instrument, at the top of the neck. On wind instruments, including the flute, you can generally make small adjustments to how the head joint connects to the main body of the instrument, that is, you can pull it out a bit to lengthen the instrument and make a downward adjustment to the pitch. Harpists tighten or loosen the strings by turning a key in the tuning pins that run across the top of the instruments.

Tommasini says this, of instruments used at Carnegie Hall:

(These instruments, by the way, only last about five or six years, and in some cases 10; today’s pianists aren’t hitting the same keys Rubinstein touched.)

And....I'm curious about this one. My bet is that these pianos are taken out of service, reconditioned, and sold. Pianos generally last decades; a friend of mine owns a piano from the 1930s, if I'm remembering this correctly, and another from the 1960s. I read an article some years ago about Stephen Kovacevich buying a new piano, again, one from the 1930s. He is a pro and probably practices four hours a day. But he hasn't replaced that piano every five or six years.


Back at my apartment, the technician finally dropped by, tuned my piano and made mechanical tweaks to a few of the keys. Afterward it felt and sounded vastly better. I have no idea what was involved.

It's not too late to learn some details about piano maintenance, of course. Long ago, I took a weekend-long flute repair class from James Phelan, who is now an important flutemaker in Boston, the US's unofficial flute capital. At the end of the class, I could disassemble a flute, reassemble it, and make some simple repairs. 

Still, when my instruments needed repairs, back they went to the factory, or, if I was at my parents' home in NJ, to the flute technician there who worked on everyone's flutes (I wish I could remember his name...Herbert something, and he was a few towns away). I think the story is pretty much the same for other instrumentalists, especially professional string players whose instruments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars: they go to the repair pros.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

And While We're At It

 Fuck the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to define religious freedom as permitting large gatherings during a pandemic; that is, it's fine that your right to freely practice your religion might spread a disease that can kill you or severely damage your health.

There are literally centuries of history of the government taking action to protect people during epidemics and pandemics. It's nothing new and people haven't been getting away with these garbage arguments about religious freedom.

I'd say that there is something wrong with clergy who think it's more important to have large gatherings than to protect their congregations from COVID-19. If there's a god, or if there are gods, I doubt that he, she, or they want their followers to die from the act of worship. If you think that your god only hears your prayers if you say them in a room with many people.....I must ask, why do you think that your god lacks concern for your personal health and wellbeing?

Damn You, Peter Gelb

Lincoln Center Fountain
Photo by Lisa Hirsch

You might have heard the sentiment in the title from me before. This time, the reason for the table-pounding and eye-rolling is pretty simple: the Met, which furloughed about a thousand people in March, including the orchestra and chorus, and hasn't paid them since, is now looking for substantial pay cuts from those employees, in exchange for paying them "up to $1,500 a week."

In other words, they're trying to break the unions.

And today the organization had the goddamn nerve to send this:

In this most unusual of holiday seasons, we are reminded of the importance of family, togetherness, and the arts, all of which have been so terribly disrupted this year. 

As a special Thanksgiving greeting, we would like to share with you the below video featuring students from across the country, assembled virtually by the Met’s education department and given a chance to sing together at a time when in-person choirs have been made impossible. The musical selection comes from Beethoven’s Fidelio, which would have been part of the 2020–21 season, and the performance celebrates the power of music to create a sense of community and resilience in the face of adversity, while looking forward to the day when we can all be reunited.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Met. We wish you and your families the very best. 

Best wishes from all of except, maybe, from the people we haven't bothered to pay since March. Just to remind you: it's not the responsibility of the chorus, orchestra, stagehands, ushers, dressers, custodians, makeup artists, and other employees on the theatrical side to keep the Met on a good financial footing. They're not responsible for budgeting, fundraising, or the administration of those funds. They aren't the people responsible for the Met's poor ticket sales, immense budget, and failure to build a sufficient endowment, and they're not the people who should be punished for the failures of the people who do have the responsibility to raise money, spend it wisely, and sell tickets.

Administrative Note

Something I posted on Twitter the other day:

For the record, I am not moving my blog to Substack; I am not starting a newsletter on any platform; I am not going to charge you to read anything I write. (Note: this doesn't apply to, say, a magazine that you need to buy to read an article or review of mine.)

As I noted later, if you're going to charge people to read your newsletter,  in my view, you are committing to writing good-quality newsletters on some kind of regular basis. Maybe it's weekly, maybe twice a month, maybe, if you're wildly prolific, daily. (I am acquainted with a now-former columnist who wrote 800 words five days a week for his column for more than 30 years. It's possible to do this, but it's very, very difficult.) I had a couple of years when I wrote a post more or less daily, which was a lot easier to do when I took a dedicated shuttle to work and had a table and wifi available. In theory, I could do such a thing now, what with WFH, but I haven't been. Maybe next year?

But getting back to the point, no, I'm not going to charge for the blog. I have been very, very lucky and I have a job I like that I can do from home and that pays me well.

That said, there are multiple way to read this blog:

  • Right here, by visiting the URL
  • Using a feed reader, such as Google Reader, The Old Reader, Feedly, etc. (Me? Bitter? Yes.)
  • In your email, by asking you to add your email address to the list of addresses that are automatically emailed each post as it's published. Why Blogger doesn't have this as a user-facing feature, I don't know, but as you might have noticed, there was very little development done on Blogger for a long time, which seems to have changed in the last 18 months. Just let me know in comments or by emailing me (lhirsch at Gmail dot com).

Monday, November 23, 2020

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Season Announcement Season

Well, it's around six weeks to January, meaning that season announcement season is almost upon us. Santa Fe Opera, which usually announces its year+1 season during maybe May or June of year got the word about 2021 out in October this year. Generally a couple of smaller organizations announce toward the end of the calendar year, with Seattle Opera and San Francisco Opera coming sometime in January for the year-year+1 season.

I'm certainly curious about whether the announcements will be at the usual times, what they will look like, and how much hedging there will be. If I were San Francisco Opera, I'd hold that announcement as long as I could, based on existing contracts with singers and arrangements with other companies, say, to rent sets belonging to other organizations. I'd also hedge like crazy about contingencies, such as the availability of vaccines, medical advice. Nobody knows now and few will know in late January, 2021, how many doses will be available, how many people will be vaccinated by the second weekend of September, and what audience members might be required to prove about their vaccination status. 

These are tough times to be the general director or chief executive of a musical organization, There's a lot of tension between the need to sell tickets (or raise money by other means) and the desire not to kill performers, stagehands, and the audience. 

The Song of the Lark

The Song of the Lark
Jules Adolphe Breton
Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

I've meant to read Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark for a number of years. For one thing, I'm a fan of the genre: novels about divas, whether real or fictional. In the former category, you'll find Marcia Davenport's Of Lena Geyer, which seems to be built around the lives of the author's mother, soprano Alma Gluck, Olive Fremstad, and Geraldine Farrar. (If you don't believe me about the latter, I believe that Geyer has...a relationship....with a famous conductor. Okay, that could be any number of singers, but Farrar's affair with Arturo Toscanini is notorious.) In the latter category, we have Robertson Davies's wonderful A Mixture of Frailties and James McCourt's magnificent Mawrdew Czgowchwz, which is about fandom as well as about the singer in question. Yes, I do have to look up the spelling every time I write about it, and yes, actually, she's fictional, but also loosely based on a singer whose initials she shared, and some of the characters are real divas in disguise.

I did finally read The Song of the Lark a couple of months ago, as an accompaniment to Wagnerism, and, well, there were a few surprises.

The novel is centered around Thea Kronborg, a child of Swedish immigrants, who grows up in Colorado about an hour from Denver. She is musically talented and her parents make sure she has piano lessons, from a faded German musician who has drinking and other problems. She doesn't have much in the way of friends among her peers, though there are rivalries; she does have a large family and a loving, perceptive mother. (Her mother was one of my favorite characters in the book.)  Her closest friends are adults, including Ray Kennedy, an older railway man who adores her, and Dr. Howard Archie, unhappily married and 20 years or more her senior. Eventually, she moves to Chicago to study with a far better piano teacher, who discovers that she has a voice. Singing lessons, and eventually a career, ensue.

This is a famous book by a well-known author, and it's partially based on the life of Olive Fremstad, a famed soprano active at the Met from 1903 to 1914. Cather was a music critic at one time in her life, sharp and perceptive in her observations, and gets all of the musical and operatic details right. (This is rarer than you might think.) However, as a novel, it's very much a mixed bag. Thea's relationships with others and herself are done well and there are lovely observations about life in the high desert.

But the book is also deeply flawed. Cather builds her plot to a particular possibility, concealing certain facts from Thea but not you, then yanks the rug out from under you and jumps 10 years into the future, leaving all details about what happened with the possibility unexplored and unexplained. I would definitely have liked to read about the discussion that took place between two of the characters. I don't know why Cather makes this huge jump in time; did she feel unable to adequately present what happened? 

We see Thea and two important male characters in NYC in that ten-years-later period, briefly. Then there's an epilogue, and some things have happened, but they are also unexplained, although certain events are implied. This wasn't Cather's first novel, and this must have been deliberate, but oh boy, I am so curious about why she made some of these choices. They leave the book with enormous plot holes and rob the it of some character development. I was left scratching my head.

In addition, none of the discussions of the book that I've seen mention the casual racism, toward Black people, Native Americans, Mexicans, and Jewish people, as far as I can tell even in Alex Ross's Wagnerism. There is some stereotyping of Swedish and German people as well. I was shocked when I read the racist passages and I'm shocked that nobody mentions this.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Friday Photo

Old-style Routemaster bus
Taken in the general vicinity of St. Paul's Cathedral
London, May, 2014

New-style Routemaster bus
30 Cannon St., London
May, 2014


Monday, November 16, 2020

Museum Mondays

From the exhibit The Birth of Gothic Sculpture
Perhaps an annunciation?
Musée National du Moyen Age
Paris, October, 2018

From their stances and relationship, this could be an annunciation.


Sunday, November 15, 2020

Job Search: The Industry

Well, this is interesting, a rare opportunity for someone involved in opera to join The Industry and work with Yuval Sharon. I bet there are more than a few folks out there who would fit in well. I can think of several directors who've done great work in the Bay Area in the last few years, for example.

Today we are excited to announce an expansion of The Industry’s artistic voice: We are beginning a search for two additional Artistic Directors to work with our founder, Yuval Sharon, to lead the organization as a collective.
Over the past 10 years under Yuval’s vision, The Industry has developed the values and methodology crucial to take on the challenges that lie ahead in the performing arts. Our risk-taking, flexible model of creating collaborative site-responsive work, often out of doors or in unusual venues, is made for these uncertain times. And so, while we wait until we can gather, we plan.
In the past six months, introspection has been essential and urgent for survival for non-profits, businesses, and individuals everywhere. And for this organization, our deep inward looking began late last year. As we headed into our landmark 10th year, we grappled with how to evolve and grow. What we discovered is that to continue to thrive, we needed to reimagine our artistic leadership model.
Inspired by SWEET LAND’s creative team structure, where artistic partners made decisions together, we have created a new model that formalizes our collaborative methodology by inviting artists to share our Artistic Director position. This Artistic Director Collective will expand our programming with a multiplicity of voices, increase our engagement with audiences and Los Angeles, and solidify our commitment to becoming antiracist by hiring BIPOC candidates.
For more information on who is involved, how it will work, and the job description, please visit our blog.

We know that it will take bold individuals and actions to move the performing arts forward. This new leadership model builds on our legacy of innovation and is a statement about who we want to become and the change we want to make. We are excited about what will emerge from this model and to share with you all the new artists, experiences, and dialogues ahead.
In strength,
Yuval Sharon & Elizabeth Cline

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Loving Sopranos

 The NY Times has been running a series of articles called "Five Minutes to Make You Love [something]." They're little glimpses into particular repertories or instruments.

This week, they've got "Five Minutes to Make You Love Sopranos." Okay, this isn't a problem for me; I have a lot of soprano recitals and love many many sopranos. The choices are generally good, although I think that however great she was, Callas's voice qua voice is an acquired taste for lots of listeners. And for Caballé, I would have picked "O patria mia," from Aida, given her incredible ability to float high notes that go on forever. I have to applaud the two Leontyne Price selections (Tommasini, "D'amor sull'ali rosee" from Il Trovatore, and Fleming, "Zweite Brautnacht", from Die Aegyptische Helena, a fabulously exciting recording) and the variety of others.

I think a couple of common aria types are missing. One is a coloratura showcase, so I have a couple of my own favorites here for you.

First, here's Rosa Ponselle in the greatest recording of the soprano's big aria from Ernani that I've ever heard. Ponselle was a dramatic soprano, a Norma and Aida, but she could move a very big voice with incredible speed and lightness. Listen to her trills and especially the turn as she comes out of the long trill in the fast section. Also, this remains one of the most beautiful soprano voices on record, pure velvet.

Next, the wonderful Luisa Tetrazzini in "Ah, non giunge" from La Sonnambula. This  one is for the pure joy of singing.

The other is dramatic sopranos being...well, loud. Here's Dame Eva Turner's classic 1928 recording of "In questa reggia" from Turandot.

To close, here's the great Kirsten Flagstad singing Senta's ballad from The Flying Dutchman.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Upcoming at San Francisco Symphony

Davies Symphony Hall
Photo by me

[Moving to the top of the blog because this is on Saturday, November 14.]

From the subscriber/ticket buyer email:

The San Francisco Symphony, Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, and our Collaborative Partners join forces in a free online event that reflects the forward-looking and vibrant creativity of our Orchestra. This one-hour concert program is anchored by the world premiere of Throughline, a new SF Symphony commission specially composed for this occasion by Nico Muhly, with performances by SF Symphony musicians and all eight Collaborative Partners, filmed in locations across the globe. The program also includes performances of Ellen Reid’s Fear / Release for percussion quartet; John Adams’ Shaking and Trembling from Shaker Loops, conducted by Salonen; Kev Choice’s Movements, an SF Symphony commission recently released as part of the CURRENTS series; and the opening movement from Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in F minor, Opus 95.

Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home is dedicated to the memory of longtime SF Symphony friend and supporter Ann Getty. The event will be accessible to the widest possible audience, streaming worldwide free of charge at and broadcasting locally on KQED Public Television Nov 14 at 7pm PST. The program will re-broadcast on NBC Bay Area on Nov 30 at 7pm PST. 

Bang on a Can OneBeat Marathon Live Online

Bang on a Can has a four-hour online event this coming Sunday, November 15, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. EASTERN time. (That's 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the West Coast, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. London.) It'll be streamed at

OneBeat is somehow a State Department thing, from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Okay, make of that what you will, especially during current times.

Here's the (approximate) time schedule:

OneBeat Marathon Performance Schedule 
November 15, 2020 12pm-4pm EST. Set times are approximate. 

12:00pm EST

Alexander Arkhincheev
Irkutsk, Russia 

Amir ElSaffar

Dumama + Kechou feat. Hunterchee
Berlin, Germany | Cape Town, South Africa | NYC, USA 

Jinda Kanjo
Kobani, Syria

1:00pm EST

Tiga Trio
Ng Chor Guan, Jay Afrisando, Daniel de Mendoza

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | Minneapolis, USA | Bogotá, Colombia

Kyungso Park
Seoul, South Korea

Dahlak Brathwaite
Sacramento, USA

Meng Xi + Jess Tsang + Amy Garapic
Beijing, China | NYC, USA

Shruti Bhave
Mumbai, India

2:00pm EST

Lara Klaus, Daniela Serna, Mafer Bandola, Sara Lucas & Pat Swoboda

Recife, Brazil | Bogotá, Colombia | Barquisimeto, Venezuela | NYC, USA

Accra, Ghana

Samah Boulmona
Beirut, Lebanon

Anna RG
Vermont, USA

Peni Candra Rini
Jakarta, Indonesia

3:00pm EST

Minsk, Belarus

Aurora Nealand
New Orleans, USA

Johanna Amaya Conejo
Bogotá, Colombia

Biodun Kuti + Mark Stewart
Philadelphia, USA | North Adams, USA

Monday, November 09, 2020

San Francisco Symphony Cancels Remainder of Season

Davies Symphony Hall
Photo by me

Sigh: I figured this was coming. Among other things, SFS canceled the upcoming auditions for principal cello and principal flute.

I think you can safely assume that San Francisco Opera is next, although given that their scheduled performances aren't until April and May, they might wait to cancel. In addition, maybe the concert performances by Irene Theorin and Lianna Haroutounian can be done as virtual performances. They're terrific singers and I'd pay to see them.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—The San Francisco Symphony today announces the cancellation of all concerts through June 30, 2021 due to COVID-19. “While it is deeply disappointing to have to cancel the remainder of the planned concerts in our 2020-21 Season, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 make it clear that this is the best course of action for the Symphony at this time,” says San Francisco Symphony CEO Mark C. Hanson. “By canceling these performances, we are able to turn our full attention to investing in the creation of compelling and timely digital content and experiences that both fit within required safety guidelines and take advantage of them as a catalyst for innovation. As we look ahead to 2021, we will continue to take a flexible, collaborative approach to identifying areas of opportunity, and planning meaningful projects that serve our community and excite our audiences.” New digital programming for January–June 2021 will be announced at a later date. Should live concerts in Davies Symphony Hall become possible, the San Francisco Symphony will announce new performances accordingly. 

On November 14, the San Francisco Symphony presents Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home, a free concert event that reflects the forward-looking creativity of the SF Symphony and the vibrant personalities of the Bay Area and beyond, featuring Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen, all eight Collaborative Partners, and musicians of the SF Symphony. The one-hour concert program is anchored by the world premiere of Throughline by SF Symphony Collaborative Partner Nico Muhly, commissioned by the Symphony for this occasion, as well as music by Ellen Reid, John Adams, Kev Choice, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Throughline: San Francisco Symphony—From Hall to Home will broadcast locally on November 14 at 7pm PST on KQED Public Television and simultaneously stream worldwide at, where it will remain for on-demand viewing. The program will re-broadcast on NBC Bay Area on Monday, November 30 at 7pm PST. 

On Saturday, December 5, the San Francisco Symphony presents a festive virtual Deck the Hall celebration hosted by conductor Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, marking the event’s 40th anniversary with a program of holiday music and audience sing-alongs. The program includes selections from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and holiday favorites, arranged for string quartet; Harry Simeone’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, narrated by NBC Bay Area news anchor Raj Mathai and conducted by Wattis Foundation Music Director of the SF Symphony Youth Orchestra Daniel Stewart; and more, featuring musicians of the San Francisco Symphony, organist Jonathan Dimmock, members of the SF Symphony Chorus directed by Ragnar Bohlin, and the San Francisco Boys Chorus directed by Eric Choate and Todd Jolly. The concert program will broadcast on December 5 at 3:30pm on NBC Bay Area; December 6 at 11:30am on Telemundo 48, and will be available for on-demand streaming at

All four video episodes of the San Francisco Symphony’s digital CURRENTS series, which have been released since the series launched in July 2020, are being televised throughout the fall on NBC Bay Area or on Spanish language companion station Telemundo 48. Hosted and curated by conductor Michael Morgan and members of the San Francisco Symphony, the CURRENTS series explores the intersection of classical music with other musical cultures, illuminating the connections and ways that they influence each other and evolve together. Bay Area Blue Notes, focusing on freedom and expression in Jazz, will broadcast November 28 on NBC Bay Area at 3:30pm; and Enter the Pipa, which looks at stories, sounds, and traditions of San Francisco’s Chinese community, will broadcast December 19 on NBC Bay Area at 3:30pm. ¡Viva México!, exploring Mexico’s multi-generational musical culture, and From Scratch, exploring art and activism in Oakland’s Hip Hop culture, have already aired and are available for on-demand streaming at

Finally, the SF Symphony’s popular 1:1 Concert series has increased in frequency from one afternoon a week to two days a week. Now accommodating sixteen audience members weekly at Davies Symphony Hall, the Symphony plans to add a third set of weekly 1:1 Concerts in an additional location in Fall 2020.
These intimate concerts are shared only by one performer from the San Francisco Symphony and one audience member at a time, with the musical selections chosen by each performer and announced in person. The performances last 20–30 minutes and take place on the two outdoor terraces on the Orchestra Lobby level at Davies Symphony Hall. Members of the public may visit for more information and to sign up for the opportunity to attend 1:1 Concerts.  

Museum Mondays

From "The Birth of Gothic Statuary"
Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris
October, 2018


Saturday, November 07, 2020

Friday, November 06, 2020

The Secret Life of Groceries

Kombucha, pre-packaged coffee drinks, and lots of other beverages
Woodland Market, downtown San Francisco
Photo by me

I read the NY Times review of Benjamin Lorr's The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket a few weeks ago and immediately reserved it at the public library. Now I wish I'd bought a copy, just so I could lend it out. I'll be trying to force it on people, left and right.

Yes, it's about American grocery stories, with an initial focus on Joe Coulombe and Trader Joe's, because TJ's, during its earlier years, worked contrary to every other grocery store. After it was purchased by the German ALDI grocery corporation, not so much, although it does still seem to treat its employees more like people, less like replaceable cogs in a machine. The author contrasts TJ's with Whole Foods, which - guess what? - has changed, and not for the better, since being acquired by Amazon.

You get a pocket history of how the grocery store came to be. It's a very American institution - on my first trip to France, in 1979, Parisians were still shopping in small, specialized neighborhood stores.

Lorr gets into how products get to the shelves via several special areas: the truck drivers who move products around the country, a condiment called Slawsa, made up of cabbage and salsa, which has quite a history, and shrimp. The story of Slawsa tells you a lot about how very difficult it is to take a product from a family kitchen to a grocery's shelves, and why, and what happens to that family recipe when it's produced in large quantities.

The trucking story is fascinating and mostly extremely sad. If you already hate deregulation, well, this will give you a chance to hate St. Jimmy Carter, whose administration deregulated trucking. Truckers have truly terrible lives and are more or less married to their trucks.

Lastly, by the time you're done with this book, you'll be seriously wondering whether you should stop shopping in grocery stores altogether. The shrimp story is completely appalling and not at all a secret, though Lorr manages to get very close to the Thai shrimp fishing industry. Basically, what you learn is that there is so much unethical and downright criminal behavior in the production of food that unless you're buying directly from the producers, you have absolutely no idea how it got from production to your refrigerator. If you're buying your fruits and vegetables from farmers markets or community supported agriculture, and your dairy and meat, poulty, or fish very locally, you might be okay.

But this isn't the case in the most of the US. If you're inland, you might or might not have access to freshly caught fish. (I live a few miles from the Pacific.) If you're in Maine, you don't have the year-round growing season we have in California (I have a lemon tree in my yard!), and the citizens of Maine should be able to get oranges in February. Locally grown and processed chicken and beef is expensive and simply out of reach of most people, though in my little Northern California bubble, yes, I can buy these things. Dairy products from Clover or Alexander or Straus; meat from Marin Sun Farms; wild-caught local fish from various sources; vegetables from Full Belly Farm and other small farms; bread from La Farine (though I don't know how they source their flour, etc.) You could try growing your own, though I think subsistence farming is complicated and difficult. How do you feel about raising and killing pigs, chickens, and lamb, if you eat meat and poultry?

I zipped through The Secret Life of Groceries as quickly as I did for several reasons: it's a great story, the book is short, and Benjamin Lorr is a terrific writer. He's eloquent, personally involved, can turn a phrase beautifully, is sometimes very, very funny, and almost always wryly witty. I don't have a huge interest in yoga (Pilates is more my style), but his book on Bikram yoga sounds fascinating,'s on my list.

Friday Photo

The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles
June, 2019


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Your Vote Counts

Americans, I am proud of you and the turnout for today's election, whether you voted by mail-in/absentee ballot or in person (early or today).

Your vote matters! A few local- and state-level elections have been decided by a single vote. The 2016 presidential election was likely decided by about 80,000 votes spread over three states (the loser had a national three million vote majority over the winner). The 2000 presidential election was decided by 537 votes plus some votes on the Supreme Court.

So vote, if you are registered, you can get to your polling place, and you haven't voted yet.

Monday, November 02, 2020

Health Care Enrollment - ACA/Obamacare

Open enrollment starts today for plans under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). During the Obama/Biden administration, the federal government advertised this widely. Under the current administration....they want to kill the ACA, so they're not advertising much, if at all.

You have until December 15 to enroll. 

  • If you're enrolled through the federal government, go to to start the process.
  • If you're enrolled through your state, go to your state's web site. In California, it's, for example.

Museum Mondays


De Young Museum
San Francisco, CA
October, 2006